Sunday, February 3, 2013

Significance of The Donkey On Palm Sunday

      Donkeys (or asses) are mentioned many times in the Bible, beginning in the first book and continuing through both Old and New Testaments, so they became part of Judeo-Christian tradition. They are portrayed as work animals, used for agricultural purposes, transport and as beasts of burden, and terminology is used to differentiate age and gender. In contrast, horses were represented only in the context of war, ridden by cavalry or pulling chariots. Owners were protected by law from loss caused by the death or injury of a donkey, showing their value in that time period. Narrative turning points in the Bible (and other stories) are often marked through the use of donkeys - for instance, leading, saddling, or mounting/dismounting a donkey are used to show a change in focus or a decision having been made. They are used as a measure of wealth in Genesis 30:43, and in Genesis chapter 34, the prince of Shechem (the modern Nablus) is named Hamor ("donkey" in Hebrew).
      According to Old Testament prophesy, the Messiah is said to arrive on a donkey: "Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey!" (Zechariah 9:9). According to the New Testament, this prophesy was fulfilled when Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on the animal (Matthew 21:4-7, John 12:14-15). Jesus was aware of this connection (Matthew 21:1-3, John 12:16).
      In the Jewish religion, donkeys are not a kosher animal. They are considered avi avot hatuma or the ultimate impure animal, and doubly "impure", as they are both non-ruminants and non-cloven hoofed. However, they are the only impure animal that is falls under the mitzvah (commandment) of firstborn ("bechor") consecration that also applies to humans and pure animals. In Jewish Oral Tradition ( Talmud Bavli), the son of David was prophesied as riding on a donkey if the tribes of Israel are undeserving of redemption.

  
Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King: Matthew 21 from (NIV)

21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
“Say to Daughter Zion,
    ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosann to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

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