Love and Betrayal – 13th Nissan Evening

13th Nissan Evening …continued

From the Mount of Olives they continued down to Bethany, where Simon the Leper had invited them to dine in his house that night.  “Simon the Leper” was a label given to distinguish this Simon from the other Simons in the gospel accounts, it was a very common name. Many scholars believe that Yeshua had healed Simon of his leprosy and, in an act of gratitude, the cured man welcomed Yeshua and His talmidim into his home for a meal. According to Leviticus 13:46, lepers were considered unclean and “must live outside the camp.” They were to live outside their community and could not dwell inside their house. Leviticus 14 describes the rituals that this man would have gone through after his healing before he was declared clean by the priest and allowed back into his house:

Notice that on the eighth day the leper is cleansed first with the blood, then with the oil, and lastly with the offerings.

Now while Yeshua was in Bethany at the house of Simon ha-Metzora, a woman came up to Him with an alabaster jar of very expensive oil. And she poured it on His head as He was reclining at the table. 
But when the disciples saw this, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste?  It could have been sold for a lot, and the money given to the poor!”
But Yeshua, knowing this, said to them, “Why do you cause trouble for this woman? She’s done Me a mitzvah. You always have the poor with you, but you won’t always have Me. For when she poured this oil on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Amen, I tell you, wherever this Good News is proclaimed in all the world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”
Matthew 26:6-13 TLV

And while He was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as He was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.  
There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that?  For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her.  
But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.  For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me.  She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial.  And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Mark 14:3-9 ESV

This was the third time that Yeshua had been anointed by a woman with expensive perfume (Gk: myron). In the TaNaKh (Hebrew Scriptures) David was anointed to be king three times – the first was Samuel’s anointing (I Samuel 16:13); the second was after Saul’s death when the men of Judah anointed David king over the house of Judah (II Samuel 2:4); and the third was seven and a half years later when all the tribes of Israel came and anointed David as king over them (II Samuel 5:1-4).

On all three occasions the women anoint Yeshua with myron (“perfume, ointment”) which is also mentioned in Luke 23:56 as one of the ingredients brought for preparing Yeshua’s body. Mark 14:3 and John 12:3 identify the myron as pure nard (also called spikenard). Spikenard is a thick, aromatic, amber-colored essential oil derived from the spikey root of a flowering plant which grows in the Himalayan mountains of Nepal, China, and northern India. It has a strong, distinctive aroma that clings to skin and hair and continues to give off its perfume.

Spikenard is mentioned in the Song of Solomon as a symbol of love and devotion. In the first chapter, the Shulamite woman describes her love for her beloved:

Similarly, in chapter four, the beloved praises the beauty and fragrance of his lover:

The first and last anointings are recorded as being poured from an alabaster flask/jar. The best spikenard was imported from India in sealed alabaster flasks, which were opened only on very special occasions. 

Alabaster is a soft mineral (3 on the Mohs scale), with formula CaCO3, a carbonate of lime formed on the floors of limestone caves by the percolation of water, stalagmite. It has banded shades of color and is translucent or semi-translucent in nature, allowing light to pass through it. This property gives alabaster a warm, soft glow. The most prized and commonly used type of alabaster is the white variety, known for its purity and ability to transmit light effectively. Alabaster is referred to as one of the precious stones used in the decoration of Solomon’s temple (1 Chronicles 29:2). In the Song of Songs, the beloved man is described as having legs like “alabaster columns” (ESV) or “pillars of marble” (NIV, KJV). Ointment, oils, and perfumes used to be put in vessels made of alabaster to keep them pure and unspoiled. These vessels were often sealed or made fast with wax to prevent the perfume from escaping.

ἀλείφωAleiphō is the Greek verb used for the women’s act in the first (Luke 7:3846) and second (John 11:212:3) anointings, which were of Yeshua‘s feet. Aleiphō means “anoint” or “smear” and was often used for applying perfumes or ointments in festive, medicinal, and burial contexts.

καταχέωKatacheō is the Greek verb used for anointing of Yeshua‘s head (Matt. 26:7Mark 14:3). Katacheō means “pour down upon” or “pour over”.

Yet another verb that can mean “anoint” is used by Yeshua in Mark 14:8: “she has anointed (myrizō) my body in advance for burial” (cf. Matt. 26:12John 12:7). Myrizō means to apply myron (perfume, ointment). Like aleiphō, this verb is generally used in the contexts of applying medicinal ointments and in embalming. LSJ give the primary definition as “rub with ointment or unguent, anoint.” This suggests an action after this unknown woman poured the nard over Yeshua’s head.

The anointing of Yeshua‘s feet by the sinful woman, Luke 7:38, and by Mary, John 12:3, were acts of love and humble service as each of the women lowered herself to minister to the lowest part of Yeshua and sit at His feet learning of Him. The anointing of Yeshua‘s head involved instead standing above Yeshua, as He reclined at the table, and pouring out over His highest point to flow down over His whole body, even as kings or priests were anointed. The woman who performed this act is not named in the scriptures, but her deed is recorded in two of the Gospels and continues to be spoken of even as Yeshua declared: “Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will also be spoken of in memory of her” (Matt. 26:13//Mark 14:9). Yeshua highly valued her prophetic action.

The fact that those who criticized her actions countered that the ointment should have been sold and money given to the poor does not indicate that Yeshua was indifferent to the needs of the poor, but rather that He had empathized the need to care for the poor so much that her detractors thought this would be the best argument against her actions. Notice how He responded to their assertion of care for the poor: “you can do good for them.” Their responsibility was not to criticize another for failing to meet the needs of the poor, but to reach into their own pockets and use their own strength to meet their needs. The prophetic necessity of what this unnamed woman had done, however, was so great that Yeshua would not even allow this argument to be used against her.

The chief priests (members of the Great Sanhedrin) offered 30 pieces of silver, and Judas took it without hesitation or attempting to negotiate a higher price. The first reference to thirty pieces of silver in the Bible can be found in Exodus 21:32 when the Israelites were told that the payment to the master of a slave gored by an ox should be thirty pieces of silver. Genesis 37 describes Joseph as Jacob’s favored son whose older brothers are jealous and conspire to kill him, but Judah convinces them to sell him as a slave so they: “sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt” (Genesis 37:29). Joseph is seen as having prefigured Yeshua in many ways.

The gospels place Judas’ betrayal of Yeshua directly after a woman’s costly anointing of Him, contrasting the great value the women placed on Yeshua with the pitiful amount the chief priests offered for Him. It appears they wanted to give Judas the impression that they weren’t overly concerned about Yeshua, unwilling to acknowledge how concerned they were about His popularity and message. Offering the thirty pieces was also a way to subtly denigrate Him, pay the price of a slave for the King of the Jews.

The other place we see a payment of thirty pieces of silver is in Zechariah 11:12-13: I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter” – the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord.

The chief priests had plenty of opportunity to arrest Yeshua when He was preaching in the temple, but they feared the crowd would riot in support of Him so had been seeking a way to capture Him away from all the crowds. This is the sort of information that only one who was close to Yeshua could divulge.

There are many theories as to Judas’ motives for this betrayal. Some suggest that what prompted Judas to act as he did was a desire to bring about a rising of the people at the time of the feast, and to constrain “the dilatory Messiah to establish His kingdom by means of popular violence.” Others suggest Judas was provoked and exasperated, to the last degree, by the woman’s anointing of Christ with such costly perfume, and His defense of it, and because the ointment was not sold, and the money put into his hand. Others suggest that the motive that impelled Judas was probably not so much avarice as disappointed worldly ambition in wanting to reign in an earthy kingdom, the hope of which was lost with Christ’s insistence that He was to be buried. Still others suggest that Judas’ heart was gradually hardened by each theft of the groups’ funds and uneasy awareness that Yeshua likely saw through him, such that when he heard Christ’s announcement of his speedy death his only feeling was hatred and disgust as he saw no rewards for Christ’s followers, nothing but enmity and threatening danger on every side with no worldly advantage to be gained by fidelity to the losing side so he determined to make what profit he could under those circumstances.  The scriptures tell us of Judas’ actions but do not divulge his reasonings or motives, as is often the case when people commit such evil we are left wondering what led them to this end and how they justified it to themselves. It is a salutary warning to us all that one who walked so closely with Yeshua could become so ensnared by the Devil to betray Him.

Reference List

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In the comments section below share your thoughts on what you have read and answer some of the following questions…

* What application can you see in the leper being cleansed first with the blood, then with the oil, and lastly with the offerings?
* Why do you think the woman who anointed Jesus’ head is remembered, but not by name – we don’t know who she is only what she did?
* What do you think Jesus would have looked like with the thick, aromatic, amber-colored pure nard poured all over His head and running down His body?
* What is the significance of all three anointings of Jesus being done by women?
* What is the significance of the spikenard and the alabaster flasks?
* Why do you think the chief priests offered thirty pieces of silver and what do you think was God’s purpose in this?
* It is easy to get discouraged when we see people who appeared to have a close walk with Jesus committing great sin, yet one of the twelve executed the most awful betrayal of Him, so how are we to make sense of such and what can we do to avoid following that path?

Author: Anita

"For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption." 1 Cor. 1:26-30 ESV These verses are the story of my life. A shy, introverted woman who didn't know how to relate to others and had a fear of anyone in authority - foolish, weak, low and despised. The most unlikely candidate for any position of leadership. But God delights to choose such, to take those who are not and make them something in Christ, to do the impossible through the unlikely. In 2006 Jesus sent me to the nations with His glorious gospel to set the captives free and prepare His bride for the wedding of the Lamb.

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