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Matthew 10:29-31

Context
10:29 Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? 1  Yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 2  10:30 Even all the hairs on your head are numbered. 10:31 So do not be afraid; 3  you are more valuable than many sparrows.

Nahum 1:7

Context

1:7 The Lord is good 4 

indeed, 5  he is a fortress 6  in time of distress, 7 

and he protects 8  those who seek refuge 9  in him.

Matthew 6:28

Context
6:28 Why do you worry about clothing? Think about how the flowers 10  of the field grow; they do not work 11  or spin.

Matthew 6:33

Context
6:33 But above all pursue his kingdom 12  and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Lamentations 3:23

Context

3:23 They are fresh 13  every morning;

your faithfulness is abundant! 14 

1 sn The penny refers to an assarion, a small Roman copper coin. One of them was worth one-sixteenth of a denarius or less than a half hour’s average wage. Sparrows were the cheapest items sold in the market. God knows about even the most financially insignificant things; see Isa 49:15.

2 tn Or “to the ground without the knowledge and consent of your Father.”

3 sn Do not be afraid. One should respect and show reverence to God, but need not fear his tender care.

4 tn The Masoretic disjunctive accent marker (zaqeph parvum) divides the lines here. Most English versions reflect this line division (KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NKJV). Some extend the line: “Yahweh is better than a fortress” (NJB); “The Lord is good to those who hope in him” (NJPS); and “The Lord is good to those who trust him” (NEB). This issue is complicated by the textual problems in this verse.

5 tn The preposition לְ (lamed) probably functions in an emphatic asseverative sense, suggested by D. L. Christensen, “The Acrostic of Nahum Reconsidered,” ZAW 87 (1975): 22. This explains the preceding statement: the Lord is good to his people (1:7a) because – like a fortress – he protects them in time of distress (1:7b).

6 tc Some ancient versions read, “The Lord is good to those who trust him.” The MT reads לְמָעוֹז (lÿmaoz, “a fortress”): the noun מָעוֹז (maoz, “fortress”) with the preposition לְ (lÿ, see below). However, the LXX reflects the reading לְמֵעִיז (lÿmeiz, “to those who trust [him]”): the Hiphil participle from עוּז (’uz, “seek refuge”) with the preposition לְ. The variants involve only different vocalizations and the common confusion of vav (ו) with yod. Most English versions follow the traditional Hebrew reading (KJV, RSV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NKJV); however, several others follow the alternate Greek reading (NEB, NJPS). The BHS editors and several other scholars favor the LXX tradition; however, the Masoretic tradition has been defended by others. The Masoretic tradition is supported by the Dead Sea Scrolls (4QpNah). The problem with the LXX reading is the absence of the direct object in the Hebrew text; the LXX is forced to supply the direct object αὐτόν (auton, “him”; for a similar addition of the direct object αὐτόν by the LXX, see Amos 9:12). The main objection to the MT reading לְמָעוֹז (“a fortress”) is that לְ is hard to explain. However, לְ may be taken in a comparative sense (Cathcart: “Yahweh is better than a fortress in time of distress”) or an asseverative sense (Christensen: “Yahweh is good; indeed, a fortress in time of distress”). See K. J. Cathcart, Nahum in the Light of Northwest Semitic (BibOr), 55; idem, “More Philological Studies in Nahum,” JNSL 7 (1979): 4; D. L. Christensen, “The Acrostic of Nahum Reconsidered,” ZAW 87 (1975): 22. Elsewhere, the Lord is commonly portrayed as a “fortress” (מָעוֹז) protecting his people (Pss 27:1; 28:8; 31:3, 5; 37:39; 43:2; 52:9; Isa 17:10; 25:4; 27:5; Joel 4:16; Jer 16:19; Neh 8:10; Prov 10:29).

7 sn The phrase “time of distress” (בְּיוֹם צָרָה) refers to situations in which God’s people are oppressed by enemy armies (Isa 33:2; Jer 14:8; 15:11; 16:19; Obad 12; Pss 20:2; 37:39). Nahum may be alluding to recent Assyrian invasions of Judah, such as Sennacherib’s devastating invasion in 701 b.c., in which the Lord protected the remnant within the fortress walls of Jerusalem (2 Kgs 18-19; 2 Chr 32; Isa 36-37).

8 tn Heb “he knows” or “he recognizes.” The basic meaning of the verb יָדַע (yada’) is “to know,” but it may denote “to take care of someone” or “to protect” (HALOT 391 s.v.; see Gen 39:6; Job 9:21; Ps 31:8). Most English versions render it as “know” here (KJV, RSV, NASB, NKJV) but at least two recognize the nuance “protect” (NRSV, NIV [which reads “cares for”]). It often refers to God protecting and caring for his people (2 Sam 7:20; Ps 144:3). When the subject is a king (suzerain) and the object is a servant (vassal), it often has covenantal overtones. In several ancient Near Eastern languages this term depicts the king (suzerain) recognizing his treaty obligation to protect and rescue his servant (vassal) from its enemies. For example, a letter from Abdi-Ashirta governor of Ammuru to the Egyptian king Amenophis III ends with a plea for protection from the raids of the Mittani: “May the king my lord know [= protect] me” (yi-da-an-ni; EA 60:30-32). Similarly, in the treaty between Muwattallis and Alaksandus, the Hittite suzerain assures his vassal that in case he was attacked, “As he is an enemy of you, even so he is an enemy to the Sun; I the Sun, will know [= “protect”] only you, Alaksandus” (see H. B. Huffmon, “The Treaty Background of Hebrew YADA`,” BASOR 181 (1966): 31-37; idem, “A Further Note on the Treaty Background of Hebrew YADA`,” BASOR 184 (1966): 36-38.

9 tn Or “those who trust in him” (NIV); NAB “those who have recourse to him.”

10 tn Traditionally, “lilies.” According to L&N 3.32, “Though traditionally κρίνον has been regarded as a type of lily, scholars have suggested several other possible types of flowers, including an anemone, a poppy, a gladiolus, and a rather inconspicuous type of daisy.” In view of the uncertainty, the more generic “flowers” has been used in the translation.

11 tn Or, traditionally, “toil.” Although it might be argued that “work hard” would be a more precise translation of κοπιάω (kopiaw) here, the line in English reads better in terms of cadence with a single syllable.

12 tc ‡ Most mss (L W Θ 0233 Ë1,13 33 Ï lat sy mae) read τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τὴν δικαιοσύνην αὐτοῦ (thn basileian tou qeou kai thn dikaiosunhn aujtou, “the kingdom of God and his righteousness”) here, but the words “of God” are lacking in א B pc sa bo Eus. On the one hand, there is the possibility of accidental omission on the part of these Alexandrian witnesses, but it seems unlikely that the scribe’s eye would skip over both words (especially since τοῦ θεοῦ is bracketed by first declension nouns). Intrinsically, the author generally has a genitive modifier with βασιλεία – especially θεοῦ or οὐρανῶν (ouranwn) – but this argument cuts both ways: Although he might be expected to use such an adjunct here, scribes might also be familiar with his practice and would thus naturally insert it if it were missing in their copy of Matthew. Although a decision is difficult, the omission of τοῦ θεοῦ is considered most likely to be original. NA27 includes the words in brackets, indicating doubt as to their authenticity.

sn God’s kingdom is a major theme of Jesus. It is a realm in which Jesus rules and to which those who trust him belong.

13 tn Heb “they are new.”

14 tn The adjective רַב (rav) has a broad range of meanings: (1) quantitative: “much, numerous, many (with plurals), abundant, enough, exceedingly” and (2) less often in a qualitative sense: “great” (a) of space and location, (b) “strong” as opposed to “weak” and (c) “major.” The traditional translation, “great is thy faithfulness,” is less likely than the quantitative sense: “your faithfulness is abundant” [or, “plentiful”]. NJPS is on target in its translation: “Ample is your grace!”



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