Posts Tagged ‘Disciples’

Mark 3:13-20: Kingdom and the Restoration of Israel


Jesus appoints 12 desciples. Why? The Pulpit Commentary  answers it with the following.

  • He appointed twelve. The number twelve symbolizes perfection and universality. The number three indicates what is Divine; and the number four, created things. Three multiplied by four gives twelve, the number of those who were to go forth as apostles into the four quarters of the world—called to the faith of the holy Trinity.

    Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Hrsg.): The Pulpit Commentary: St. Mark Vol. I. Bellingham, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2004, S. 117
What an interesting way of thinkign about the twelve. However it is unlikly that is how Jesus sees the situation. Jesus acts in way which makes more sense aginat the backdrop of 2nd temple Judaism than with ‘spiritual mathematics’. It is more likely that Jesus, in callign 12 desciples, is offering, in symbolic action, a represenattion  that his ministry and followers are the restored people of God. 2nd Temple Jews looked foward to the arrival of God’s reign on earth, when the fortunes of ISrael would be restored.The twelve are the ‘redeemed communtity of the eschaton’ (Word Biblical commentary) which was an active hope within 2nd temple Judaism.
The hope of the 2nd temple Judaism person was not so much to get rid of sin and go to heaven. It was the hope, as illustarted by Sirach, that the tribes of Israel would be restored, that israel would no longer live under gentile oppression.
Sirach 36:10

Gather all the tribes of Jacob together,
     And inherit thou them, as from the beginning.
12      O Lord, have mercy upon the people that is called by thy name,
     And upon Israel, whom thou hast named thy firstborn.
13      O be merciful unto Jerusalem, thy holy city,
     The place of thy rest.
14      Fill Sion with thine unspeakable oracles,
     And thy people with thy glory.
15      Give testimony unto those that thou hast possessed from the beginning,
     And raise up prophets that have been in thy name.
16      Reward them that wait for thee,
     And let thy prophets be found faithful.
17      O Lord, hear the prayer of thy servants,
     According to the blessing of Aaron over thy people,
     That all they which dwell upon the earth may know
     That thou art the Lord, the eternal Go

God’s wrath has been upon Israel. They are in exile because God is angry with them. this anger is coporate and historical, and is not to be understood as individualistic and ahistorical as in muich of evangelicalism. When God’s wrath is pacified the restoration of the tribes of Jacob will take place.
Sirach 48

Who wast ordained for reproofs in their times,
     To pacify the wrath of the Lord’s judgment, before it break forth into fury,
     And to turn the heart of the father unto the son,
     And to restore the tribes of Jacob.


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