Sunday, January 14, 2024

Mount Zion (14.1–5)


And I saw, and see, the lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and the one hundred forty four thousand who have his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads were with him. And I heard a sound from heaven, like the rushing of many waters, and like the sound of immense thunder, and the sound that I heard was like harpists harping with their harps. And it was like they were singing a new song in front of the throne and in front of the four animals and the elders. And no one can learn the song if they are not one of the one hundred forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, because they are pure, the ones who follow the lamb anywhere he goes, the ones who are redeemed from men, first-fruits for God and the lamb. And no lie was found in their mouth. They are blameless.


Contrary to interpreters who identify the crowd of one hundred forty four thousand as a symbol for all Christians, or as a symbol for an elite subset of Christians, chapter 7’s selection of the crowd from among the twelve tribes of Israel implied a military census. This militaristic purpose of the crowd is reinforced here, where the crowd is identified as comprising exclusively men who ‘have not been defiled with women’. Their virginity is not a metaphor, but an extreme application of the requirement that men in Israel’s military must be ritually ‘pure’ through the avoidance of sexual ‘emission’. The same degree of mandatory asceticism is seen in the Dead Sea Scrolls sectarian literature, which stated that a man would be disqualified from participating in the ‘war’ of the eschatological ‘day of vengeance’ if he became ‘impure because of his fount’. These ‘first-fruits’ are the most ritually pure and devout men from the twelve tribes of Israel, chosen to stand in the eschatological army of the Anointed One.



2.6 ‘I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.’

110.1–2 Yhwh says to my lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.’ Yhwh sends out from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your foes.


3.12–13 They shall seek refuge in the name of Yhwh—the remnant of Israel; they shall do no wrong and utter no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouths.


2.3 Israel was holy to Yhwh, the first-fruits of his harvest.


23.9–11 When you are encamped against your enemies you shall guard against any impropriety. If one of you becomes unclean because of a nocturnal emission, then he shall go outside the camp; he must not come within the camp. When evening comes, he shall wash himself with water, and when the sun has set, he may come back into the camp.


1.21.5 David answered the priest, ‘Indeed, women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition; the vessels of the young men are holy even when it is a common journey; how much more today will their vessels be holy?’

2.11.11 Uriah said to David, ‘The ark and Israel and Judah remain in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do such a thing.’


19.15 And he said to the people, ‘Prepare for the third day; do not go near a woman.’

23.19 The choicest of the first-fruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of Yhwh your god.


23.9–10 Yhwh spoke to Moses: Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you and you reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the first-fruits of your harvest to the priest.


9.9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you

Dead Sea Scrolls

1QM 7 They shall all be freely enlisted for war, perfect in spirit and body and prepared for the day of vengeance. And no man shall go down with them on the day of battle who is impure because of his fount, for the holy angels shall be with their armies.

Psalms of Solomon

15.3 A new melody with an ode in gladness of heart, the fruit of the lips with the tuned instrument of the tongue, the first fruit of the lips from a devour and righteous heart

1 Corinthians

15.23 But each in his own order: the Anointed One the first-fruits, then at his coming those who belong to the Anointed One.

4 Ezra

13.3, 6, 35 As I kept looking the wind made something like the figure of a man come up out of the heart of the sea. […] And I looked and saw that he carved out for himself a great mountain, and flew up on to it. […] But he shall stand on the top of Mount Zion.

2 Baruch

40.1 ‘And they will carry him up to Mount Zion, and my Anointed One will convict him’

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