Tuesday, October 29, 2013


The Zacchaeus story appears in Luke 19:1-10. The story actually begins, or the stage is set, in Luke 18:35-43.
I need to refer you to Jeremiah 34. In Jeremiah 34:8 King Zedekiah, in the face of an oncoming Babylonian invasion has proclaimed a Jubilee, a release of all the Hebrew/Jewish slaves. But, once the Babylonian threat passes, they revoke the Jubilee, in Jeremiah 34:11 they have reenslaved those who they have set free.

The Lord speaks to Jeremiah again and has him deliver a message to King Zedekiah:
The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the LordThus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I myself made a covenant with your ancestors when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, saying, ‘Every seventh year each of you must set free any Hebrews who have been sold to you and have served you for six years; you must set them free from your service.’ But your ancestors did not listen to me or incline their ears to me. You yourselves recently repented and did what was right in my sight by proclaiming liberty to one another, and you made a covenant before me in the house that is called by my name; but then you turned about and profaned my name when each of you took back your male and female slaves, whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them again into subjection to be your slaves. Therefore, thus says the Lord: You have not obeyed me by granting a release to your neighbours and friends; I am going to grant a release to you, says the Lord—a release to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine. I will make you a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. And those who transgressed my covenant and did not keep the terms of the covenant that they made before me, I will make like the calf when they cut it in two and passed between its parts: the officials of Judah, the officials of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf shall be handed over to their enemies and to those who seek their lives. Their corpses shall become food for the birds of the air and the wild animals of the earth. And as for King Zedekiah of Judah and his officials, I will hand them over to their enemies and to those who seek their lives, to the army of the king of Babylon, which has withdrawn from you. I am going to command, says the Lord, and will bring them back to this city; and they will fight against it, and take it, and burn it with fire. The towns of Judah I will make a desolation without inhabitant. 
Jeremiah blames the Babylonian invasion and exile on the revocation of the Jubilee.

When the Babylonians invade King Zedekiah flees to the plains near Jericho and there he is captured. The Babylonians gouge his eyes out and kill his sons.

I don't know if the blind man Jesus heals outside Jericho is King Zedekiah or represents King Zedekiah, or alludes to him, but it's something to think about.


The Zacchaeus story is pretty incredible, especially in light of the 2008 economic catastrophe.

Jesus is passing through Jericho.

All right, let's look at this from Zacchaeus' perspective. What is that guy thinking?

Zacchaeus is a very rich man, the 1% of Jericho, a bonafide kleptocrat, a looter. 

Zacchaeus knows he is hated, that the people of Jericho resent him, but he doesn't really care, they can take up any issues they have with the Roman soldiers and see how far they get.

What is Zacchaeus thinking when he hears that Jesus is coming?

First of all people aren't saying Jesus is coming, they're saying "Yeshua is coming", "Joshua is coming". Zacchaeus hears that Joshua is coming to Jericho. He's heard this story before. What is that story? Joshua comes to Jericho and the former Hebrew slaves are returning to Israel from bondage in Egypt. They come to Jericho, saying "let us in", "give back to us our wealth."  The Hebrews are ordered to circle Jericho blowing ram's horns. Well, that's not quite right, and where are english translations do an extreme disservice. They were ordered to blow "yobel" horns, Jubilee horns. The Hebrews are circling the city demanding a Jubilee. They are demanding to be let in, to be given what is rightfully theirs. The Jerichoites are hard-hearted and refuse to enact Jubilee. The walls fall down, and what happens in most revolutions when Jubilee is not enacted there is slaughter.

Zacchaeus knows this story. He knows this "Joshua" has also been proclaiming Jubilee. It's Joshua coming to Jericho blowing the trumpets of Jubilee. Zacchaeus readily identifies himself as "Jericho" in this story. "What the bleep is going on, is this for real, is this some kind of joke."

Zacchaeus goes out and the story says he climbs a tree. How convenient. The mob is there. Zacchaeus is their scapegoat, who just happens to be already up a tree. Is there a noose?...of course I'm just speculating, and just to speculate some more, I think the mob/crowd wants this "Joshua" to approve of the lynching, come on Joshua we have "Jericho" surrounded, just the say the word and we'll commence the slaughter. The crowd wants their Jubilee.

Jesus, of course, goes much farther. Jubilee is not just for the little people, it's for the rich. It's for both the "Hebrew slaves and "Jericho". Jesus tells Zacchaeus to come down, I'm going to your house. Zacchaeus by now has seen the wisdom of this Jubilee thing, to enact Jubilee before it comes to him getting killed. Zacchaeus returns the money he has stolen and looted. So Jesus says Zacchaeus is also the son of Abraham. Jesus' Jubilee includes everyone, the rich and poor, that Jesus has come to save those who were lost.