Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Paragraphs 69 and 70

In like manner, when the hour of the Revelation of Jesus drew nigh, a few of the Magi, aware that the star of Jesus had appeared in heaven, sought and followed it, till they came unto the city which was the seat of the Kingdom of Herod. The sway of his sovereignty in those days embraced the whole of that land.

These Magi said: "Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east and are come to worship Him!"[Matthew 2:2] When they had searched, they found out that in Bethlehem, in the land of Judea, the Child had been born. This was the sign that was manifested in the visible heaven. As to the sign in the invisible heaven -- the heaven of divine knowledge and understanding -- it was Yahya, son of Zachariah, who gave unto the people the tidings of the Manifestation of Jesus. Even as He hath revealed: "God announceth Yahya to thee, who shall bear witness unto the Word from God, and a great one and chaste."[Qur'án 3:39] By the term "Word" is meant Jesus, Whose coming Yahya foretold. Moreover, in the heavenly Scriptures it is written: "John the Baptist was preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye: for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand."[Matthew 3:1-2] By John is meant Yahya.

Another review.

To continue this theme, Baha'u'llah is now drawing us forward to Jesus, showing how these two signs were present in His time, too.

While this paragraph seems to us to be very straightforward, there are a few things that we wonder about. First of all, He seems to be reminding us that these signs, and recognizing them, has led many over the centuries to the wealth, knowledge and wisdom that He mentioned at the end of the last paragraph as being the goal of sacred Texts. Remember, if we don't achieve these noble goals, then He regards "the consideration of such records a grave mistake and a grievous transgression". So here, He isn't repeating the importance of these Texts, nor is He reminding us that these stars in the invisible heaven bring consolation and assurance. He presumes that we know this, that we remember it from the last paragraph.

He also mentions an odd detail, that John was the "son of Zachariah". This tiny detail reminds us, in a subtle way, of the importance of lineage, which comes into play again with the Bab, who was a Siyyid, a descendant of Muhammad. This was very important in His claim of His station, and highly relevant to His uncle, who was also a Siyyid. It strikes us as important because Baha'u'llah has, until now, been very careful to show us only what each of the Messengers have in common, not what makes them unique. Remember, way back when speaking about Noah, He never mentions the Flood or the ark, only what He had in common with all the other Messengers. So for Baha'u'llah to mention so tiny a detail we feel is important to His argument. We believe He is preparing the ground, in a sense.

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