Clean and pure

This week's Bible study post . . .

Zacchaeus. His name means clean and pure in Hebrew.  And he was not well loved by the people of Jericho. The people were sure that he was a crook. Why? Because, of course, anyone who was the chief tax collector must be a crook! He was rich, for goodness sake! There’s nothing clean and pure about a rich person who is in charge of the tax collections!

It appears that no one ever took the time to notice that Zacchaeus gave half of his income to the poor and if he was ever caught cheating he paid four times in damages.

They just hated him because that is what you’re supposed to do with tax collectors. They hated him because all rich people must be crooks. They hated him because there were political ads on the radio that told them to hate him because he was so awful. 

OK – that last part didn’t happen. 

“But wait,” you say, “the verses say that Zacchaeus said that he would give half his income away and that he would pay back four times if he cheated anyone. It doesn’t say that he was already doing that!”

I guess that depends on how you’re reading the passage.  Bible scholars continue to debate, but I think that the text, translated in most English translations as “will give” or “will pay” should be translated simply, “give” and “pay.” 

Zacchaeus, the one with the name that means “clean” and “pure”, sought out Jesus because he wanted to welcome someone who had already changed his life. He wanted to welcome the one who loved the ones that it seemed everyone else shunned, rejected, and hated.

What are your thoughts?

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