15 January 2008

Matthew 14: Herod and Jesus

Yesterday I noticed striking parallels in the first two paragraphs of Matthew 14, which are almost exactly the same length (vv 1-12 = 170 words, vv 13-21 = 157 words). The first account is of Herod at a party, who on a promise to a dancing girl has John the Baptist beheaded (this is Herod Antipas, one of 3 sons of Herod the Great, along with Philip, mentioned in v. 3, and Archelaus). The second is of Jesus feeding the 5,000. I think Matthew is deliberately contrasting the two characters.

Both Herod and Jesus:
  • are confronted with a crowd of people
  • have requests lodged at them
  • make a promise to the people
  • order something to be "brought" "here" in their response to the request
  • hear about each other.

The great difference, of course, is that Herod was self-serving (didn't want to disappoint his guests, so he murdered), Jesus was other-serving. Herod was inspired by the allure of a dancing female; Jesus was inspired by the desperate need of the people. Herod brought death; Jesus brought life.

4 comments:

Eric said...

That's very interesting, Dane. I don't know how much you're aware of the new scholarship on Hebrew literature, but it is often opined that Hebrew narrators will put two scenes side-by-side that don't seem to have much to do with each other, and nudge the reader to start drawing implicit contrasts between the two. Matthew was such a good reader of the OT, maybe he picked it up unconsciously from them!

Dane Ortlund said...

Fascinating! Did not know that.

The Hausams said...

That is interesting! I'll have to go look again with fresh eyes at both passages. Thanks for sharing! Love to you and your sweet ones.

Dane Ortlund said...

Huge to the Hausams! I like the new blog look.