EVERY LOFTY MOUNTAIN MADE LOW
Baruch had one of the more unusual backgrounds of all the prophets. He was a private secretary to another prophet, Jeremiah. He lived during the Jewish exile in Babylon (Iraq). Following Jeremiah's lead, he preached that the exile would end. He said that the people of Israel would return home in triumph. Baruch pictures mountains being leveled to facilitate this homecoming. The "mountains" are the political obstacles to be hurdled before it could happen. The church cites this passage to suggest a cosmic preparation for the coming of the Son of God.
HEROD THE TETRARCH
Luke dates the start of John the Baptist's ministry by setting it in the 15th year of the reign of Emperor Augustus: 29 AD. He notes that Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, was "tetrarch" of Galilee. The word is related to "monarch" which means "one ruler". A tetrarch is a quarter ruler. After Herod the Great's death, Rome decided to divide up the kingdom of Israel so that no one person would hold all of the power. Herod Antipas is the king most frequently mentioned in the gospels. He later arrested John the Baptist and sentenced him to death.
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