14.01.01 Mt. 23:37-39
JESUS LAMENTS OVER JERUSALEM
37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! She who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, yet you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will never see Me again until you say,
‘He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One’!” (Ps. 118:26).
Throughout the long history of Jerusalem, God has often warned His people, and they have often rejected His messengers and killed them. Many times God desired to protect His people, but they refused to listen. Protection offered as a bird protects its young is a common Jewish image in ancient writings. So at this point, Jesus looked into the future saw the coming destruction of the temple and city that He loved, and He applied the common figure of speech that was familiar to everyone.
Jesus saw souls lost in eternity and the persecutions future generations would endure. He not only envisioned all the suffering they would face, but also the false messiahs they would pursue, only to be disappointed. For example, Rabbi Akiba (or “Akiva) was the religious leader of the second major revolt (132-135) and declared Simon bar Kokhba as the messiah. It is an irony that Bar Kokhba means “Son of the Star.” This alludes to the Old Testament prophecies (Num. 24:17, Isa. 60:3) concerning “star.” By this time though, the Romans had enough of Jewish nationalism, and Emperor Hadrian destroyed Jerusalem, decreeing that it was illegal for any Christians or Jews to live in the city. He then placed a curse upon the Jewish land by renaming it Philistinia, in honor of the enemies of the ancient Jews, the Philistines. This is the popularization of the name which today is known as Palestine. The Jews were so greatly disillusioned with messianic dreams that any discussion of a messiah was suppressed for the next twelve hundred years. Most scholars believe the time of the Gentiles began with the temple destruction and First Revolt. However, complete dispersion of the Jews from Jerusalem occurred in A.D. 135 as the result of Simon bar Kokhba. They wandered aimlessly without a country for centuries until 1948 when the state of Israel was re-established.
“As a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” Jesus’ desire to be protective of His people again demonstrated that His love for them remained unchanged. That refutes the theory that the church eventually replaced Israel in God’s plan for humanity, and He does not care for them as a nation. His emotions were extreme. On one hand, He was dealing with anger concerning the corrupt religious leaders while on the other hand He had the deepest compassion for the common people. He wept for them with an understanding that eventually future judgment would meet them.
Decades later, near the end of the first century, a righteous Jew lamented over the city of Jerusalem in the wake of the Roman destruction. The imagery of his words is quite similar to those of Jesus, which underscores the use of colloquialism among the common people. Since the author was not a messianic Jew, it is highly unlikely that he quoted or paraphrased Jesus, but rather, simply expressed his heavy heart.
Thus says the Lord Almighty: “Have I not entreated you as a father entreats his sons or a mother her daughters or a nurse her children, that you should be my people and I should be your God, and that you should be my sons and I should be your father? I gather you as a hen gathers her brood under her wings. But now, what shall I do to you? I will cast you out from my presence. When you offer oblations to me, I will turn my face from you; for I have rejected your feast days, and new moons, and circumcisions of the flesh. I sent to you my servants the prophets, but you have taken and slain them and torn their bodies in pieces; their blood I will require of you,” says the Lord.
4 Ezra 1:28-33
Some scholars have argued that this passage was not written by a Jew, but is the creation of a Christian who inserted this passage into the apocryphal book. That might be true, but since other Jewish writers reported similar sentiments, the objective here is not to authenticate the origin, but simply to illustrate the similarity of ideas.
. Deut. 28-32; Hosea and Ezekiel 16.
. Deut. 32:11; Ps. 17:8; Isa. 31:5; 2 Baruch 41:3-4.
. See also Richard Horsley. “Popular Messianic Movements around the Time of Jesus.” Catholic Bible Quarterly. Vol. 46. 1984. 471-495.
. Pasachoff and Littman, Jewish History in 100 Nutshells. 95-97.
. The name originated centuries earlier, possibly by the Greeks, as a mockery or degrading name for the Jewish land. However, it was never popular until Hadrian made it the “official” name of the country.
. Pasachoff and Littman, Jewish History in 100 Nutshells. 95-98.
. Scholars debate on the classification of 3rd Ezra (a/k/a 1 Esdras) and 4th Ezra (a/k/a 2nd Esdras). Sometimes these are listed in the Apocrypha (see 02.02.03) and other times they are listed in the Pseudepigrapha (see 02.02.24). The reader is reminded that quotations from non-biblical sources are not to be understood as being of equal authority with the biblical narratives. See 01.02.04.