Life goes by day after day and season after season. Before we know it our reflection in the mirror seems foreign, like a strange god we do not know. The hairbrush is filled with gray hairs. How did they get there? Wrinkles and tiny edged creases fill in our lips and eyes. Seasons come with a different harvest as the cycle of life continues.
A dear friend reminded me the other day about a time when people were thankful for the harvest. Something as simple as a fresh watermelon out of the garden and a salt shaker could make a child’s eyes light up with delight. I began to share with her about trips to my grandma’s where we made homemade ice cream, churned butter, and at times could be found with an old mason jar, catching lightning bugs. Yes, my elder brother, sister, and I could be seen sneaking up under a hen to get a warm speckled egg or climbing n top a cow named ‘Ole Red.’
Other times, we’d take sticks, or an old spade and dig up Indian heads, broken pieces of glass, or at times we even found an antique glass quill holder, a scarred up decanter, or a coin. It was a different time. It was sunshine, playing outdoors, and simple treasures. Today things aren’t savored or even quiet. It’s rarely soft enough to hear a cricket sing. Pesticides have run off most of our bee population, and many times nature seems as muddled as the people. We have gotten caught up in noise. We are entertained by video games, significant sporting events, loud music, I-phone ringtones, loud in your face media coverage and even giving to those in need can be loud.
Yeshua said it could be as loud as a trumpet.
The inner area of the temple contained three courts. The Easternmost court was the court of the women, and it included the temple treasury where people donated their money. Many people groups could be found in the court of the women. The only stipulation was that women were not allowed to go any further. There were thirteen chests in the court of the women. These chests were called shopheroth. This Hebrew word is translated in your Bible as a trumpet. These thirteen chests were narrow at the mouth and wide at the bottom, hence the word, trumpet.
“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you; they have their reward in full” (Matt. 6:2 NASB).
Yeshua is sitting there watching this spectacle of money being placed in this trumpet-like chest. He sees those who slam their coins in the shopharoth’s mouth and make a loud trumpet sound for all to hear and see. The wealthy tend to showcase their possessions. They tend to drive noticeable cars and live in more noticeable estates. Their wealth and yes, at times, even their giving is seen and heard about all over town. Yeshua considers the wealthy making a show of their gifts, as one shrunken old woman, a widow, gives her two mites.
The “TALMUD” The body of Jewish civil and ceremonial law, says, it is as well not to give as to give with pomp and ceremony and openly. Hmm, have we gotten it wrong?
The widow was obedient. The law stated she could not give one mite or one prutah, as they were called. You see, two prutahs were the very lowest legal contribution one could make.
Therefore, she had a grand decision to make, either to not give at all or give all she had. Have you ever been in that position and given all? This poor woman dropped her small meager means into the opening of the chest. I’m sure the sound of her coinage barely made an audible ding. There was undoubtedly no loud noise when those two mites slid into the opening and fell
“Truly I say to you; this poor widow put in more than all of them…Luke 21:3 NASB. He made sure the Pharisee’s heard him with their pompous ritual that had become a show. Yeshua also said, “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:3-4 NASB).
A few other things besides, copper coins were mentioned as items to be done in secret.
“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you; they have their reward in full” (Matthew 6:5 NASB).
Let’s get back to trumpets and loud noises. There was two money chest at the gate of Susan. Trumpet one and two were for the half-shekel tax. This was the temple tax, the same money Peter needed and found in the fish’s mouth.
There was two money chest at the gate of Susan. Trumpet one and two were for the half-shekel tax. This half-shekel tax was what made Yeshua turn tables over in anger. Nine of the money chests were for the receipt of what was legally due by worshippers. However, according to Bible history, “There was also a special Treasury-chamber into which at certain times they carried the contents of the thirteen chests and besides, what was called a chamber of the silent.” (Alfred Edersheim, The Temple, Its Ministry, and Services).
This chamber was where devout persons secretly deposited money for educating and caring for the pious poor children. In the New Testament, Paul collected money for the poor and told the saints to have what they had decided in their hearts to give ready on the first day of the week when he came through that area. He implied that our Father loves it when we give with a cheerful heart and rightfully so. I must say, I believe He also loves a quiet giver and furthermore, He doesn’t live in buildings anymore but in our hearts. So let us give out of our hearts. Even if it is only a smile that we have to give, or a hug, or a piece of fresh watermelon. let us give with a heart full of love and concern for those like this widow in need.
Sources: The Whole Works of the Rev. John Lightfoot: Master of Catharine …, Volume 9. The Treasure page 313. By John Lightfoot.