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In the Year of our LORD Jesus Christ
-- As of January 20, 2017
A Sigh Of Relief With The Inauguration Of Donald John Trump as President of the United States of America, And Hope For A Prosperous Future For All United States Citizens (we who are a nation called "the melting pot of the world"). We shall be great and exceptionally great again.

It is likely that the entries to this blog will be less frequent than in years past. I do intend to keep this blog active, and to offer insightful information and/or opinion (and sometimes humor and/or entertainment on occasion) when I do post.

Peace and Liberty. Semper Fidelis.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Zacharias, father of John the Baptist

On the 9th of Av, 6 B.C.

In the days of Herod, the king of Judea, there was a certain priest -- by name,
Zacharias -- of the daily (Temple) service: Abijah.

His wife was of the daughters of Aaron -- her name, Elizabeth. In the sight of GOD, they were both righteous,
walking in all the commandments and ordinances of YHVeH, blameless(ly).

No child was theirs, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were well advanced in their days.
(Luke 1:5-7)

Observation on Luke 1:5-7

In the Gospel of Luke, the history starts out with a parallel between Zacharias and Elizabeth with that of Abraham and Sarah. The Greek word for well advanced is probebaikotes (προβεβηκοτες).

In the Septuagint, or Greek manuscripts of the Old Testament, the low end use of this word probebaikotes appears to apply to a 70 year old King David in I Kings 1:1. The age continues upward to the more ancient, such as the 110 year old Joshua (Joshua 23:1,2; cf. 24:29).

Therefore, in spite of the priestly limits of age 60 for Temple Service, Zacharias served beyond the age a priest was supposed to serve in the Temple. In 6 B.C., the Temple had only been in "serviceable" use for about 6 years on a regular basis. The outer courts and colonnades were still under-going additions and changes. It is possible, that the Levites who were doing the work were being tapped out with priests who were of age in each of the courses or patristic house / lineages. If that is so, Zacharias, like Abram, may well have been about 84 at this time, and his wife perhaps about 10 years younger; neither being less than 70 years old.

It came to pass, namely in his serving as priest, in the order of his daily course (at the Temple) before G-D.

According to the custom of the priests, (his) lot
was to burn incense -- entering into the Temple House of YHVeH.

It was the hour of incense, and all the multitude were outside, praying. But to him, the Angel of HASHEM appeared standing out, on the right, from the altar of incense.

Seeing (this), Zacharias was stirred up emotionally with great alarm and dread, and quaking fear fell upon him.

(Luke 1:8-12)

Observation on Luke 1:8-12

The course of Abijah in the summer months would have fallen for service on Tisha B’Av: the commemoration of the destruction of the Jewish Temple by Nebuchadnezzar. The custom of the priests was to draw lots for who was to serve in what capacity.

For example, when Simon the Cyrenian came in from the wilds of Judea (Mark 15:21) through the dung gate of the Hinom Valley, he had drawn the Levitical lot that told him he was to be a disposer of blood. The very word disposers, was also the translation of "gods" or "theoi" among the Greeks (Herodotus, 2.52). Simon the Cyrenian's participation with the Cross appears implied in Psalm 82, but that is another topic.

It was the duty of Zacharias to enter the Holy Place, and to offer prayer, and to purify the area with the smoke of incense prior to the offering of the Daily Sacrifice. He was chosen by lot, and his skin was required to be blemish free; allowing him to pass behind the outside Altar of 3 Fires.

Again, because of a shortage of those of the course of Abijah, the age factor of service ending at age 60 was waved. Zacharias was to enter alone, make his rounds, and exit alone. The ritual should have perhaps taken him a total of 7 -10 minutes max inside the Holy Place.

When Zacharias entered, he immediately experienced the same inward feeling of great fear, dread, and inward corruption as did Daniel in the presence of Michael in Daniel 10:7ff. The Greek word that Luke uses here with Zacharias is etarachthe (εταραχθη).

The Septuagint uses it in place of the Hebraic Mehuma (מהומה) some 6 times. Its usage suggest that the body undergoes uncontrollable tremors, like an earthquake that won’t stop. The flesh will roll back and forth, and boils will formate and disappear, formate and disappear.

The Angel said to him, Do not tremble with fear, Zacharias, your request and petition has been heard. Your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son.

You shall call his name Yochanan. [John]. He shall be your joy and exultation, and many will rejoice over the birth of him. He will grow greater and greater in the sight of HASHEM. Wine and intoxicants he may not at all drink.

The Holy Spirit will fill him while he is yet in the womb of his mother. He will turn many of the Sons of Israel on towards HASHEM their GOD. He will go ahead before Him in the spiritual power of Elijah: to turn the hearts of the fathers upon (their) children, the disobedient to just wisdom, making HASHEM prepared for a people already having been made ready.
(Luke 1:13-17)

Zacharias said to the Angel, By what shall I know this? I am quite old, and my wife is well-advanced in her days.

Answering, the Angel said to him, I am Gabriel -- the one standing before GOD. I was sent to speak up alongside with you, to give good news to you of these things. Look and see! You will be silent, not able to speak, until the day these things begin to come into existence,
because you believed not my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.
(Luke 1:18-20)

[Note Gabriel’s words in the first person -- my words, which will be fulfilled in their time. Not G-D’s words to you, but my words to you.]

The multitude(s) were expecting Zacharias, and they marveled in his delay of coming out of the Temple. He was not able to speak to them, but they knew that he had seen a vision in the Temple: he was signaling (this) to them, but remained a mute.

And it came to pass, when the days of his service were fulfilled, he went away to his house. After these days, his wife Elizabeth conceived, but she hid for 5 months, saying, Thus has HASHEM done to me in the time which He saw (fit) to remove the reproach of me (from) among men.

(Luke 1:21-25)

So often, the Church misses the miracle of Yochanan / John, for his birth was miraculous like Isaac born of Abraham and Sarah. It is also reminiscent of King David.

Every generation from Abraham to Jesse, that within the Messianic line, had those sons who would carry the messianic lineage when the parent was an average of 84 years old at the time of the child's birth. But now, with John, not only was the father likely in his 80s, but the mother also. With this news, people KNEW Messhiach was about to come! Simeon and Anna regularly began to seek the newborn Messiah at the temple...both being of an age in the neighborhood of 100 to 116 years old or thereabout each. And in December of 5 B.C., having lived through all that they had lived through and seen in their lifetimes: they were NOT disappointed.

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