Moses and Zechariah move us from slavery to worship part 1

Theological Introduction to the Old Testament tells us[1], “In the book of Exodus we move from oppression to liberation to community to worship.” We have a similar retelling as it relates to the Gospel in Luke 1, the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah. Elizabeth was old and sterile. Gabriel meets Zechariah alone in the Holy of Holies and tells him about John the Baptist. Zechariah is without hope; he does not believe. As a result, Gabriel strikes him mute. There are interesting corollaries with Exodus. Elizabeth means, “Oath of Elijah.” “Zechariah” means “Remembrance.” “Gabriel” means “Strength of God.” The promise of Elijah is sterile. There is no hope. All that is left is remembrance of past glory.

We descend the rolling hills to climb to the mountain of God

All that is left is for the community to call out into the empty Holy of Holies about the terrible suffering of the people. Forget for the moment that Zechariah, as Ma’amadot, could not have been in the Holy of Holies. Only the High Cohen could enter the Holy of Holies, and then only at Yom Kippur, a way of dating the event. St. Luke thinks Zechariah was in the Holy of Holies.

Moses complains he is not worthy to proclaim God’s message. “Moses told הָאֱלֹהִים: ‘Who am I, to go to Pharaoh, and מִמִּצְרָיִם אוֹצִיא אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל?” אוֹצִיא comes from the same root as Mitzvah or that, which comes from the lips of God. Like Zechariah, Moses balks at the Mitzvah to proclaim the Good News. Like Zechariah, Moses is in a position to talk to the elders of the people. Both Moses and Zechariah are unwilling elders of the people.

There is another interesting pun going on in this passage, “God said: ‘I am the God of your father, the God of E Pluribus Unum, the God of Isaac, and the God of heal.” Exodus 3:9 tells us, “וְעַתָּה הִנֵּה צַעֲקַת בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל בָּאָה אֵלָי.” Now, the Isaac of the sons of those who struggle with God has come to me.” True, the spellings of Isaac and צַעֲקַת is different, but the sound is the same.

We see the same movement of oppression in Exodus and for Zechariah. It is the movement in Zechariah’s story, to liberate through the four carpenters. This brings Zechariah to the community who comes to see him at the naming of his son, John the Baptist, and to public service, which he relates in the Song of Zechariah, Luke 1:68-79, in particular  Luke 1:74-75.

Zechariah is also the name of the prophet who talks about the four carpenters, אַרְבָּעָה חָרָשִׁים, τέςαρας τέκτονας. The first of these is Elijah returned. The second, third, and fourth are Messiah Ben Joseph, Messiah Ben David, and Melchizedek, the charitable king. We wonder what Zechariah, named after the prophet thought when he hear Our Blessed Virgin recite a version of I Samuel 2:1-10. He must have understood these to be revolutionary words. “He shows the might of his arm, dispersing the arrogant of mind and heart. He overthrows rulers from their thrones, but lifts up the lowly. The hungry fills with nobility; the rich he sends away empty.”

Of Reno and Jerusalem panoramic views and living our lives in the present,” presents how Zechariah, St. Joseph, Joachim and Anne, and Jacob all knew what war was when waged against Rome. Assuming Zechariah knew the four carpenters tradition, he would have known Messiah Ben Joseph wages war against “Gog,” or Rome, and loses. Zechariah knew what Our Blessed Virgin, engaged to a Joseph meant. His son and Our Blessed Virgin’s son would not live to procreate his grandchildren. Neither John the Baptist, nor Jesus married or had blood offspring.

Moses must have thought the same as he received the command from the burning bush, Sinai. He was a convicted fellow, told to return to the scene of the crime and fight the ruler of the mightiest nation on earth. It is no wonder; he claimed he was not eloquent.

[1] Brueggemann, Walter; Petersen, David L.; Fretheim, Terence E.; Birch, Bruce C. (2010-03-01). A Theological Introduction to the Old Testament: 2nd Edition (p. 102). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.



2 thoughts on “Moses and Zechariah move us from slavery to worship part 1

  1. Pingback: Moses and Zechariah move us from slavery to worship part 2 « The stories of Curtis and Salvador

  2. Pingback: Moses and Zechariah move us from slavery to worship part 3 « The stories of Curtis and Salvador

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