Righteous Fury - The Money Changers

John 2:14-16, Douay-Rheims Version
… he found in the temple them that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting. And when he had made, as it were, a scourge of little cords, he drove them all out of the temple, the sheep also and the oxen: and the money of the changers he poured out, and the tables he overthrew. And to them that sold doves he said: Take these things hence, and make not the house of my Father a house of traffic.

For the longest time, I have wondered at that story… because I see people, all over the place, on TV, on the radio, even in pulpits, angry, yelling, “scourging” with their words, all kinds of people, from Democrats to Republicans, to people on welfare, to the rich, to people of different religions and backgrounds, to gays and lesbians and trans folk, et al… and I’ve yet to actually see an example of this sort of behavior actually fit the standards of “What Jesus would do”… because all of them who shout at all the “sinners” don’t seem to recognize, in themselves, their own sins, and just seem to be trying to blame everyone else, but themselves, for all the problems in the world…

But I ~finally~ found a working example, that fits, at the homeless shelter I’m staying at… I’m staying there because there’s no available housing here, right now, even though I could afford a place, and also because my family won’t have me in their home, and I can’t move out of state to live with other family, because I need to stay here, close to my daughter.

So, last night, after dinner, me and 3 friends went out for a smoke… yes I’m still a smoker =P anyways, Me, Phil, and a young couple who’ve been seeing each other for a while now, came around the corner to the smoking area to a crowd of about half the guys from the shelter, most of them younger, in their 20’s. Several of them were picking on this one kid, who’s a bit hyperactive and talks a lot… probably about stuff that’s not really appropriate most of the time, but ~shrugs~ most people just ignore that stuff :wink:

So 3-4 of the guys were picking on him about his “prowess”, while the rest just laughed, like it was funny… it just made me angry and sad, both that they were picking on this kid, and how disgustingly disrespectful what they were saying about women, in doing so… I don’t even want to repeat what they were saying, because they were ~also~ arguing about what was statutory rape, and what wasn’t, etc…

Then Phil turns to the other guy in our group, and says to him, “Some people just have no f-ing respect.” then walks into the middle of this crowd of about 15 guys, some of them towering over him, as Phil’s not that big and, lights up his cigarette. He just stands there for a minute, the guys not even noticing him there, and keeping on with all their loud, trashy talk… and we just kinda stood there, watching, a little surprised, since Phil usually just keeps to himself, “minding my business” he’ll say with a slight smile, if you ask him what he’s up to.

After one more loud mouth starts in on the kid, and finishes his verbal spew, Phil raises his head, and turns around, facing the loudest of the bunch… I’ll call him Joe… and loudly asks, “What the f— is wrong with you people, talking all this sh-- when there’s ladies present?”

Joe glares back at him, points up the road, and yells back, “If you don’t like it, why don’t you just keep walking?”, then he points at the younger girl in our group… she’s very friendly, and pretty, and some of the guys treat her poorly, as if she’s into them, just because she’s nice to them, when her boyfriend isn’t around… as if she’s “loose” when she ~isn’t~… so Joe points at ~her~ and says, “She’s not complaining, she probably likes it!”

Phil doesn’t say anything back, just then, but looks up the road, all slow, like in a movie, then carefully removes his sunglasses, folding them, and placing them in his coat pocket, then turns back to Joe and says, “Just because she doesn’t say anything, doesn’t mean she likes it, so why don’t you just stop talking so much bull ****?”

Joe puffs up and responds “Dude, I ~know~ what I’m talking about, I’ve been there and done it all.”

Phil says back, “I don’t give a F— what you think you know, I’m just sick of hearing all the s— talk, Especially when there’s ladies present.”

Everyone there is silent. It takes a few seconds, and then Joe says, “You right. I apologize.” then turns to the younger girl and say “I apologize to you, too. I’m sorry.”

Phil say back, much calmer now, “I don’t need your apology, I just want this stuff to stop,” then he turns his back on Joe and says to boy that was getting picked on, “and you don’t need to be adding to it, either.” After the boy nods in return, Phil puts his glasses back on, walks out of the crowd, and leans against the wall to finish his cigarette.

We’re awestruck for a minute, and then, as normal chatter resumes, our little group walks up the street a ways, Phil rejoining us, leaving the boys to themselves.

That was the end of it… sort of.

The next morning, after wake up call, we were in the lobby, and Joe was sitting in a chair by the door. Phil, head down slightly, headphones and sunglasses on, shouldering his backpack, walks out the door like he does every morning. A few seconds later he comes back in, sets his backpack down next to Joe’s chair, and pulls a strip of pictures, from one of those machine at the mall, out of his wallet and hands it to Joe.

After Joe’s looked at them for a few seconds, and nods, as if starting to understand, Phil says, “That’s ~my~ little girl. Every other girl in the world, is someone ~elses~, little girl, and the amount of respect that you show ~them~, is a measure of the amount of ~self~ respect, You have.”

Joe starts to apologize again, saying “Yeah, I know, I was out of line last night…”

Phil cuts him off, gently, with a shake of his head, “Everyone out there was. You were just the only one that defended it.” Phil takes back his pictures, puts them away, and looks up at Joe with a small smile, and a laugh, as if to say, “Don’t worry about it,” shoulders his bag, and walks out the door.

Was it about money changers exactly? No… What is ~was~ about was how men so often treat women, with no respect, as if they’re all whores, or like they ~want~ to be… and how bad it gets when you have a crowd of men, even if they didn’t ~mean~ to, at first, scandalizing ~themselves~ just for scandalizing women, as if to make a joke, or fun, out of it… simply because they weren’t paying attention to what it was they were ~really~ saying…

Jesus didn’t like it when the moneychangers where behaving as if to make a whore out of His Father’s Temple, and I don’t think He cares much for it when men behave as if to make whores out of His Father’s Daughters, either.

And yes, this story actually happened, pretty much as described… I just took a little liberty with what was said, just to clarify what was ~meant~… I shake inside a bit, imagining how much self-respect, and respect for others, that man has, and shows it, by walking in the midst of 15 testosterone boosted, over stimulated men, to do something like that.

Peace be with you,

~V~

The sins of the money changers and sellers of merchandise are often misunderstood. Jesus was angry because the Roman money which the people who came to the temple with had to be changed into shekels to pay the temple tax and to purchase sacrifices to be offered and the money changers were overcharging. The sellers of the animals also sold and resold the same animals many times. So there was a scam involving the temple priests, the money changers and the sellers of the animals.

The sin wasn’t on Jesus for being angry. Jesus was angry for the rampant corruption involving His Father’s house.

I had heard that the problem was not so much that commercial activity was going on (it was necessary), nor even that price exploitation was involved (although it may well have been.)

The issue was that these activities were taking place in the outer court of the Temple, the Court of the Gentiles; an area where persons not offering sacrifice could gather in prayer. This of course, not being possible in an area filled with the yelping of animals, price haggling, clinking of coins, raised voices, etc.

The “Father’s house” was to remain a “house of prayer.” It was the subversion of this purpose that our LORD was reacting to. The commercial activities would have been fine outside the temple walls.

God Bless and ICXC NIKA.

Thanks guys =) That’s rather what I said, in the 3rd post, just said a different way, for clarity.

Peace,

~V~

The Temple was surrounded by porticoes or colonnades which provided shelter from the elements, and also served as a meeting place and an area where worshipers could buy the items necessary for sacrifice and change currency. The Roman currency then in normal use was not allowed for such offerings. Coins minted in Jerusalem itself did not qualify either, as they were made of the cheaper bronze or copper. The only money accepted within the Temple grounds were Tyrian coinage (minted autonomously and not associated with Romans), the only ones that contained high enough silver content to be acceptable and thus have more value intrinsically.

‘Secular’ shops were available outside the Temple area. It is thought to be practical to have such shops within the Temple - some visitors have come all the way from distant areas, and bringing the necessary sacrifices from such great distances was not always convenient - something en route might make the sacrifice illegible for use, especially if it is an animal (say, an injury).

Also, such atmosphere in a place of worship is not unusual in the ancient world - in fact, it was the norm. Nowadays we are so used to churches being quiet places of prayer, but in those days, when you say ‘temple’, what comes to mind is a place filled with the noise of men and the sound of animal sacrifices. So the situation in the outer court was not really strange. Hence, it couldn’t be just the noise that Jesus was complaining about.

For the record, another one of the reason why Jesus drove the moneychangers out could be the money in use itself. Tyrian coinage used in the Temple carried the image of an eagle, the symbol of Tyre, and the Phoenician god Melqart on it, which would have made it offensive to the most devout Jews. An image of a pagan god in the holy sanctuary itself is nothing short of blasphemy!

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