A TARGUM ON MARY’S MAGNIFICAT (Luke 1:46-55)

December 23rd, 2016 by yohan abeynaike

During the Second Temple period with the Jewish community scattered in different regions and the spoken language being in transition, the Jewish Rabbis used a number of techniques to teach the Jewish Scriptures to the people. One such technique was a Targum (or Targumim). In a Targum the text of the scriptures would be read together with spoken paraphrases, explanations and expansions so that the text would become clearer and relevant to the listeners.
What follows is an attempt at a Targum of Mary’s song, the Magnificat, found in Luke 1:46-55. This was inspired by a bible study held in the FOCUS office in December 2016.

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant…
My heart is filled with joy, every part of me feels thankful when I consider who you are and what you have done. You don’t look at the world, your creation, the way in which other ‘gods’ or other people look at it. You don’t consider a person’s age, wealth, heritage, popularity, ability, influence or academic background when you choose to bless. Elizabeth is old and barren… yet she is pregnant. I am young and a virgin… yet I have conceived. You are the Creator and Sustainer of all things. The whole world belongs to you. Yet, you chose me – a young girl from a remote village in a forgotten place in the Roman Empire. You saw me, you cared for me, you considered me worthy to be part of this new thing that you are about to do in the world. O Lord, I cannot find the words to express my gratitude to you.

From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name…

I cannot believe it! Hundreds and thousands of Jewish women throughout history have wanted to be in this position. In the years to come people from everywhere – from Asia, America, Africa, Australia and Europe – will read and hear about my story. They will play my part in dramas and movies, they will preach sermons about me, they will sing songs about me. So many would wish they were me… but who am I? I am nothing. Nothing that I have, is of my own doing. It is all you, O Lord.
But, I am scared sometimes. I don’t know what the future holds for me. What will my relatives say about the pregnancy? What will the neighbours say? Will they mock me, ignore me or stone me?
Yet, I know this is your doing, O Lord. You are awesome, powerful and incomparable. You are on a different level altogether. No one dares to oppose you. You will be my protector, my life guard, my bulletproof vest. I will never stop trusting in you. No matter what happens, in you I will be safe.

His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation…
There is no other like you. You are not stingy with your grace. You are not like Santa Claus giving gifts only to those who are good. No, you are the most generous giver. You desire for us to know you. You wish that we would receive your love. You want to bless us and give us good gifts like a parent gives to their child. You want us to follow you because it is good for us. You have done this for years and years. Many people in history have experienced it. I too, have experienced it. I long for my family, my friends, my batchmates, my society to experience it too.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts…
There is no way to fool him. He laughs at the boastful claims of the knowledge producers in our society. Can the scientist uncover all the mysteries of life? Can the economist satisfy all the people’s needs? Can the lawyer make a society more moral? Isn’t the claim that ‘all truth is relative’ – an absolute claim in itself? Why are they puffed up? Don’t they know that human knowledge will always be limited? It is only God who knows all things.
He will expose the hypocrisy and violence of our times. Haven’t words lost their meaning and impact when killing babies is referred to as ‘pregnancy termination’, killing civilians has become ‘collateral damage’ and killing communities is described as ‘ethnic cleansing’. The media continues to spin stories to protect the interests of the corporate and political powers. They are wise in their own eyes but God sees their nakedness. Yes, God sees and He will respond.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble…
Nations rise up against nations. Dictators spring forth from every corner. The US, Russia, China and India struggles to be the next big player on the world stage. From BBS to ISIS, terror is the common language that is spoken. Abductions, beheadings and drone attacks are carried out with impunity and neighbours have become enemies. They think they can go on forever but they forget the lessons of history.
God is still on the throne. He is the divine Wikileaks . All that is hidden will be exposed. The grease yakkas will be exorcised. The white vans will be crushed. The dark web will be lit up. The hate speech and tweets will be silenced. All those who are missing or killed are known to him by name and he will repay. No one can escape his just judgment.
He will bring about a new reign over the nations – a reign of justice and righteousness. In His kingdom, it is the meek who will inherit the earth.

He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty…
The nation has been robbed through expensive expressways and bond scams, the MPs raise their salaries while the people are called to tighten their belts, the oceans are being plundered through the Port Cities, the fish are being killed by fishing trawlers, giant Christmas trees spring up but they don’t provide any refuge.
God has seen the destruction that this system has caused. He has declared that people’s greed will never be satisfied. He will protect and provide for the needy. He will take his stand with them. He will bring a new order of things in His kingdom.

He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors…”
In a fast changing world with rapid climate change, increased earthquakes and tsunamis, God will remain the same. He will continue to be faithful as he has been throughout history. His rule will be the true yahapalanaya. His people know that God alone is their Helper and that His plans will not be foiled by any person, system or constitution. His ways are good and they are eternal and you can put your trust in Him. Hallelujah!

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. sandralingam  |  December 31st, 2016 at 6:26 am

    It is necessary at this juncture ,good thought

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