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Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you;
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
War-horse - Jerusalem
and the war-horse from Jerusalem;
and he shall command peace to the nations;
Words - Prophet - Zechariah - Notion - King
These words from the prophet Zechariah remind us that the ironic notion of a king riding a donkey did not begin with Jesus and the dramatic, if unconventional, events of Palm Sunday. If we believe Matthew, Jesus’s manner of entry into Jerusalem was the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy. For a different perspective we can turn to Bishop John Shelby Spong, who in Liberating the Gospels argues that the Gospel writers used the words of Zechariah as source material, creatively embellishing what little they knew about Jesus’s arrival in Jerusalem, to make it conform to the centuries-old words of the prophet, therefore giving the Jewish Christians of the 1st century a sense of comfort and continuity — that Jesus, in even the tiniest details of his life, represents either a fulfillment or merely an ongoing embodiment of the imagery and tropes of Jewish prophecy.
For that matter, we know that King Solomon himself rode a mule on the day he was recognized as the King of Israel: see I Kings 1:33. Other references to kings, or other leaders, riding on donkeys can be found in the books of Judges and I Samuel.
Deal - Donkeys - Commentator - Jesus - Donkey
So what’s the big deal with donkeys? Somewhere I read a commentator suggesting that Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem as a kind of political satire, making fun on the pomp and finery of the Roman Emperor by, well, opting for a donkey instead of a mighty steed. But that doesn’t really hold water, especially given all the other mentions of donkey-riding authorities in the Hebrew Scriptures.
A more compelling argument is this: that when a king rode off to war,...
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