Matthew 23:37-39

Matthew 23:37-39
Wednesday of Holy Week – A Women’s Lectionary


37 “Jerusalem,A Jerusalem, the city that killsB the prophetsC and stonesD those who are sentE to it!

Notes on verse 37a

A “Jerusalem” = Ierousalem. From Hebrew yerushalaim (probably foundation of peace); {from yarah (to throw, shoot, be stunned; to flow as water so figuratively to instruct or teach) + shalam (to make amends, to be complete or sound)}. This is Jerusalem, dwelling of peace.
B “kills” = apokteino. From apo (from, away from) + kteino (to kill). To put to death, kill, slay. Figuratively, this word can mean abolish, destroy, or extinguish.
C “prophets” = prophetes. From pro (before, in front of, earlier than) + phemi (to declare, say, use contrasts in speaking to shed light on one point of view); {from phao (to shine) or phaino (to bring light, cause to appear, shine, become visible or clear)}. This is a prophet or poet – one who speaks with inspiration from God.
D “stones” = lithoboleo. 7x in NT. From lithos (stone literal of figurative) + ballo (to throw, cast, place, put, drop). This is to stone as in kill by throwing stones at.
E “sent” = apostello. From apo (from, away from) + stello (to send, set, arrange, prepare, gather up); {probably from histemi (to make to stand, stand, place, set up, establish, appoint, stand firm, be steadfast)}. This is to send forth, send away, dismiss, send as a messenger. It implies one that is sent for a particular mission or purpose rather than a quick errand. This is where “apostle” comes from.

How often have I desiredF to gather your childrenG togetherH asI

Notes on verse 37b

F “desired” = thelo. This is to wish, desire, will, or intend. It is to choose or prefer in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean inclined toward or take delight in. It can have a sense of being ready to act on the impulse in question.
G “children” = teknon. From tikto (to beget, bring forth, produce). This is a child, descendant, or inhabitant.
H “gather…together” = episunago. 8x in NT. From epi (on, upon, what is fitting) + sunago (to lead together and so to assemble, bring together, welcome with hospitality, or entertain); {from sun (with, together with) + ago (to lead, bring, carry, guide, drive, go)}. This is to gather together, group together, assemble.
I {untranslated} = tropos. 13x in NT. From the same as trope (turning, change, shifting); from trepo (to turn). This is turning and taking on a new direction or manner. It can refer to way, fashion, style, or character. This is where the word “trope” comes from.

a henJ gathers her broodK under her wings,L and you were not willing!M 

Notes on verse 37c

J “hen” = ornis. 2x in NT. Perhaps from oros (mountain, hill); from airo (raise, take up, lift, remove). This a bird particularly a rooster or hen.
K “brood” = nossion. 1x in NT. From neossos (young bird, young one); from nossos (young bird); from neos (young, new, youth). This is a birdling, young bird.
L “wings” = pterux. 5x in NT. From pteron (feather, wing); from petomai (to fly). This is a wing or pinion.
M “were…willing” = thelo. Same as “desired” in v37. See note F above.

38 See,N your houseO is leftP to you, desolate.Q 

Notes on verse 38

N “see” = idou. From eido (to be aware, see, know, remember, appreciate). This is see! Lo! Behold! Look! Used to express surprise and or draw attention to the statement.
O “house” = oikos. This is house – the building, the household, the family, descendants, the temple.
P “is left” = aphiemi. From apo (from, away from) + hiemi (to send). This is send away, release, permit, forgive, allow to depart, discharge, or send forth.
Q “desolate” = eremos. Properly, a place that is not settled or farmed, not populated. It could be a deserted area or a desert place. It could be seen as secluded, solitary, or lonesome. Any kind of vegetation is sparse, but so are people generally.

39 For I tellR you, you will not seeS me again until you say, ‘BlessedT is the one who comesU in the nameV of the Lord.’”W

Notes on verse 39

R “tell” = lego. This is to speak, say, name, call, command. It is generally to convey verbally.
S “see” = horao. To see, perceive, attend to, look upon, experience. Properly, to stare at and so implying clear discernment. This, by extension, would indicate attending to what was seen and learned. This is to see, often with a metaphorical sense. Can include inward spiritual seeing.
T “blessed” = eulogeo. Related to “tell” in v39. From eu (good, well, well done, rightly) + logos (word, statement, speech, analogy; a word that carries an idea or expresses a thought, a saying; a person with a message or reasoning laid out in words; by implication, a topic, line of reasoning, or a motive; can be used for a divine utterance or as Word – Christ); {from lego (see note R above)}. Properly, this is speaking well of – speaking so that the other is benefited. It can mean praise, bless, thank, or call for a blessing. This is where “eulogy” comes from.
U “comes” = erchomai. This is to come or go.
V “name” = onoma. May be from ginosko (know, recognize, learn from firsthand experience). This is a name, authority, cause, character, fame, reputation. The name was thought to include something of the essence of the person so it was not thought to be separate from the person.
W “Lord” = Kurios. From kuros (authority, supremacy). This is a respectful address meaning master or sir. It refers to one who has control or power greater than one’s own. So, it was also applied to God and Jesus as Master or Lord.

Image credit: “Mother Hen” by Rob, 2002.

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