23rd Sunday Ordinary Time – Jesus’ Odd Journey – Geography as Spiritual Theology

ephphathaNot only did Jesus travel to these places – what we take as an historical travelogue – but the author of the second gospel sets a layer of connections between his Greek text, within his Greek text, and with the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible). Thus, Tyre is not just an ancient Phoenician island off the mainland in the Mediterranean Sea.

And this will tell us a lot about the deaf person Jesus healed!!! Theologically, that is.

Witness how the excerpt from an historical book, a psalm (wisdom literature), and a prophet tell a story of pride, entitlement, rebellion, arrogance. This is the spiritual place Jesus visited connected to Tyre.

1 Kings 9:11–13            King Hiram of Tyre having supplied Solomon with cedar and cypress timber and gold, as much as he desired, King Solomon gave to Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee. But when Hiram came from Tyre to see the cities that Solomon had given him, they did not please him. Therefore he said, “What kind of cities are these that you have given me, my brother?” 

Psalm 83:5–8             They conspire with one accord; against you they make a covenant—the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites, Gebal and Ammon and Amalek, Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; 8 Assyria also has joined them; they are the strong arm of the children of Lot. Selah

Ezekiel 28:2f             Mortal, say to the prince of Tyre, Thus says the Lord God: Because your heart is proud and you have said, “I am a god; I sit in the seat of the gods, in the heart of the seas,” yet you are but a mortal, and no god, though you compare your mind with the mind of a god.  You are indeed wiser than Daniel; no secret is hidden from you…

Note how attestations from the same three types of biblical literature tell us about Sidon.

Judges 10:6            The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, worshiping the Baals and the Astartes, the gods of Aram, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines. Thus they abandoned the Lord, and did not worship him.

Susanna 56             Then, putting him to one side, he ordered them to bring the other. And he said to him, “You offspring of Canaan [Sidon] and not of Judah, beauty has beguiled you and lust has perverted your heart.

Ezekiel 28:21–23             Mortal, set your face toward Sidon, and prophesy against it, and say, Thus says the Lord God: I am against you, O Sidon, and I will gain glory in your midst.

Even the Sea of Galilee! It’s a dang lake. But, theologically, it’s a sea! The sea signifies that place apart from God – which Israel crossed and the Pharaoh drowned; where one feels overwhelmed; where those hungry for God wanter lost; where God casts sins; and a secure place of pride. 

Exodus 14:21–23 (NRSV) — 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. 22 The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. 23 The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers.

Psalm 69:1–3 (NRSV) — 1 Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. 2 I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters [of the sea], and the flood sweeps over me. 3 I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.

Amos 8:11f (NRSV) — 11 The time is surely coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. 12 They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.

Micah 7:18f (NRSV) — 18 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of your possession? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in showing clemency. 19 He will again have compassion upon us; he will tread our iniquities under foot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

Ezekiel 28:2 (NRSV) — 2 Mortal, say to the prince of Tyre, Thus says the Lord God: Because your heart is proud and you have said, “I am a god; I sit in the seat of the gods, in the heart of the seas,” yet you are but a mortal, and no god, though you compare your mind with the mind of a god.

Jesus stepped boldly into ‘enemy territory’ to preach and heal. Thus, this healing of a deaf person… (tomorrow)

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