Temple Model[My apologies for the absence, as this last week or so has been rather active over on, and I've been recharging my writing energy since the Easter-week flurry of articles...A?A? Also, Lord of the Rings Online launched, and I had a couple weeks of Open Beta to mess around with :) ]

Today, I would like to take a look at a part of Jesus’ last journey to Jerusalem, and at one section of scripture, in particular, that a number of scholars – both Christian and Jewish – believe contains probably the best example of remez ever recorded.

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.A?A?

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ’sinner.’ ”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.


Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.A?A? (Luke 19:1-10; 47-48)

OneA?A?reason for the brilliance of this remez, highlighted above from v.10, is that it spoke three distinct, but interrelated, messages to the three audiences within its hearing: Zacchaeus, the crowd, and the Sadducees.


During the Roman occupation phase of the Second Temple period, the Roman government required a burdensome level of taxation for the purposes of funding the troops required to keep order in the Palestine region – a direct result of the violence that has always accompanied that region of the world.A?A? As part of this taxation system, the Romans required that the Judeans collect the taxes and turn them over to the Roman government (purely for safety reasons – tax collectors were unpopular enough, and if they were Roman, they would require constant physical protection).

This left the Sadducees, the ruling party in Israel, in a quandry.A?A? In order to collect and manage taxes, they would be required to deal in Roman coinage, which bore the image of Caesar on it – a direct violation of God’s commandment against graven images and (potentially) worship of other gods.A?A? As such, anyone who dealt in Roman coin would be perpetually ‘unclean’.A?A?

In order to keep power and to find a ‘loophole’ in God’s law, the Sadducees created a class of people, called ’sinners’ – not because they were more sinful than anyone else, but because they were perpetually unclean, as defined by the religious authorities.A?A? Not only wereA?A?tax collectorsA?A?”unclean”, but their families were ’sinners’ as well, because of their physical contact with them.A?A? This was the primary reason that the Pharisees avoided this class of people, as they did not want to be ‘unclean’, as well.A?A?

The practical application of this was, if you were ‘unclean’, you could not enter the Temple grounds, even in the Gentile courts.A?A? So, in effect, the Sadducees – for the purpose of maintaining wealth and power – created a permanent underclass of people who could not worship God in the place He required for worship, the Temple.

Zacchaeus: The Lost Sheep

And so, when Jesus was travelling through Jericho, Zacchaeus – who was a short man, and who could also not mingle with the crowd because of his ‘uncleanliness’ – is up in a tree, so that he can see and hear Jesus.A?A? Jesus, upon seeing Zacchaeus, addresses him with a bit of a play on words:A?A? “I must stay at your house today” and “Today salvation has come to this house” plays on Jesus’ name – Yeshua – which means “God’s Salvation”.

Jesus then adds that he (God’s salvation) has come to Zaccheus’ house, “because this man, too, is a son of Abraham”.A?A? He then emphasizes this with his brilliant use of remez: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what is lost”.A?A? This phrase is a direct reference to Ezekiel 34, where God declared that He would seek out and save the lost sheep of Israel.A?A? This was an immense message of hope for Zacchaeus!A?A? Why?A?A? Because Jesus had just declared that he was a sheep, and not a goat – which was what the Sadducees taught that the ’sinners’ were.

This is just one example of Jesus’ radical approach to social justice for oppressed people, one we must consider, as well.A?A? In all of our denominationalism and fractious debate on “who’s in” and “who’s out” within Christianity, do we create ’sinner’ classes who are no more ’sinners’ than we are?

The Sadducees: Condemnation

Jericho, where this story takes place, was a “Martha’s Vineyard” of its day – where the rich and powerful went to live and vacation.A?A? As a tax-collection town, it was well-guarded, and it had an abundant water supply in the middle of the wilderness.A?A? From historical record, we know that it was primarily populated with Sadducees and their families.

If you will remember, remez requires that one know the verses before and after the verse quoted.A?A? In this case, by quoting Ezekiel 34, Jesus was ‘hinting’ at the following passages, which would have stung the Sadducees like a slap in the face:

“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.

” ‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD : As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD : clomid for women, lioresal without prescription. This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them. (Ezekiel 34:2-10)

In effect, Jesus is declaring that God will destroy the corrupt shepherds of His sheep – which in this case would be the Sadducees.A?A? So, not only was Jesus’ messianic path a threat to the Sadducees, but he was also declaring his direct opposition to them – which would help explain the Luke passage: “But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him.”.

The Crowd: Jesus’ Divinity

Finally, the people who were listening to Jesus would also have gotten an additional message by Jesus’ quotation of Ezekiel 34.A?A? Note the key difference between Jesus’ statement and the prophecy of Ezekiel:

Jesus: ‘For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what is lost.’ (Luke 19:10)

Ezekiel: ‘For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. (Ezekiel 34:11)

Jesus is not just declaring himself to be a true shepherd of the sheep of Israel – he is declaring himself to be the Shepherd, God in flesh.A?A? Some liberal scholars have debated whether or not Jesus ever declared himself to be God, to which even non-Christian Jewish scholars point to this passage (among others) to show that Jesus’ teaching was clearly that he was the Messiah and that his actions were the actions of God.A?A?

So What? nolvadex for cheap, purchase Zoloft.

For those fence-sitters today who like to say “Jesus was just a good man and a good teacher”, this is but one passage that can lead the reader to one of two conclusions: Either Jesus was telling the truth, which makes him more than a good man and a good teacher, but makes him God with us.A?A? Or, Jesus was lying, in which case he would not have been a good man or a good teacher, but a megalomaniac with a martyr complex.A?A? I believe with all my heart in the former, and I also believe that there is no middle ground on the subject of who Jesus was.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 25th, 2007 at 6:41 am and is filed under Hebrew Context, Lessons, Religion/Philosophy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Comments so far

  1. CRN.Info and Analysis on April 26, 2007 11:28 am

    [...] It’s a sad state of affairs when the “watchdogs” like Ken and Mr. Oakland have become more like the corrupt shepherds of Ezekiel 34, recondemned by Jesus in Jericho. [...]

  2. Bob Jones on June 27, 2007 11:14 am

    The sod interpretation:
    Tree is always the cross.
    So the picture is sin hanging on the cross.

    and the sod reveals How he will save the lost.

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