If you read the Bible as the font of all knowledge, and not just theological truth, this blog post is for you. This is the kind of biblical interpretation that you can only find here; I can promise you that and soon you will be thankful for it. Without further ado, let's get down to biblical interpretation.
What does the Bible say about the San Francisco 49ers?
This passage from Leviticus 25:1-13 is most pertinent for the 49ers:
1 The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying: 2 Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you, the land shall observe a sabbath for the Lord. 3 Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; 4 but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the Lord: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. 5 You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your unpruned vine: it shall be a year of complete rest for the land. 6 You may eat what the land yields during its sabbath—you, your male and female slaves, your hired and your bound laborers who live with you; 7 for your livestock also, and for the wild animals in your land all its yield shall be for food. 8 You shall count off seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the period of seven weeks of years gives forty-nine years. 9 Then you shall have the trumpet sounded loud; on the tenth day of the seventh month—on the day of atonement—you shall have the trumpet sounded throughout all your land. 10 And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family. 11 That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you: you shall not sow, or reap the aftergrowth, or harvest the unpruned vines. 12 For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat only what the field itself produces. 13 In this year of jubilee you shall return, every one of you, to your property.
Most relevant for our discussion is 25:8, “You shall count off seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the period of seven weeks of years gives forty-nine years.” Here we have the “49ers” mentioned by name, I think, and not only are they mentioned by name but in the following verses it is said that “the trumpet sounded loud” and it is called a “day of atonement” (25:9). This could, indeed, refer to victory in the Super Bowl and “atonement” for the loss to the Giants last year in the NFC championship. But it is then said that “you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you” (25:10). This could refer to a victory parade; the hyperbole of “hallow the fiftieth year” and “proclaim liberty throughout the land” might simply be coded language for the celebration of the championship in the Super Bowl. The following verses, however, in their notice of return “to your property and every one of you to your family… you shall not sow, or reap the aftergrowth, or harvest the unpruned vines. For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat only what the field itself produces. In this year of jubilee you shall return, every one of you, to your property” (25:10-13) might have more to do with California agricultural success and the return of people to the land. It might also have more to do with the unproductive nature of the quest for victory, too, that the “land,” the football field, did not produce what was necessary. It is fallow and it was intended to be fallow.
But the Bible must always be read in light of the Bible. Before rushing in to any particular conclusions, what is said about the Ravens in the Bible? Much more, actually, much more.
In 1 Kings 17:3-6, Elijah the prophet is instructed by God to "Go from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the Wadi Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the wadi, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there." So he went and did according to the word of the Lord; he went and lived by the Wadi Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the wadi.” The ravens, that is, carry out the word of God, giving sustenance to his God’s prophet, Elijah. Could we see Ray Lewis as a latter day football prophet?
But not only do the ravens feed the prophet, God feeds the ravens according to Psalm 147:9: “He gives to the animals their food, and to the young ravens when they cry.” The crying is probably a reference to Ray Lewis, although he is not a “young raven” according to the age of football players, and if this is the case then the “feeding” of the ravens could be seen as a Super Bowl victory. Jesus says much the same thing in Luke 12:24, “Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them.” God feeds the ravens. How else could feeding be seen but God's desire that the Ravens win the Super Bowl? That's how much God cares about football (and American football precisely, not Canadian football, or association football, or rugby football, but American football) and that the right team win it all!
Now, things can get darker when it comes to the ravens, too, as seen by this saying from Proverbs 30:17: “The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be pecked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures.” This is a powerful and germane verse, of course, since the “father and mother” of both coaches are the same! That is correct; the teams are coached by the brothers Harbaugh, one named Jim, the other John. I actually do not know which brother coaches which team, but the one that coaches the 49ers will have his eyes “pecked out,” metaphorically of course, “by the ravens!” I do not know how he might have mocked his father or scorned to obey his mother – maybe that’s metaphorical too! – but whichever one he is, John or Jim, his eyes are getting “pecked out,” in a spiritual, fulfill the Bible sort of way. These ravens are said to be “of the valley” and I do not know if Baltimore is in a valley, but north of Baltimore is “Hunt Valley” and not only is that close enough, but what are ravens who peck out eyes, metaphorically of course, doing if not hunting?
There seems to be an overwhelming amount of evidence here that the Bible suggests the Ravens will win the Super Bowl. The Ravens work on God’s behalf feeding prophets, such as Ray Lewis, and God cares for them and feeds them. They also peck out the eyes of those who scorn and mock their mother and father and though, as mentioned earlier, there is no actual evidence of any such scorning and mocking, let’s just let that pass.
It is true, of course, that the 49ers passage from Leviticus speaks of a great “Jubilee,” a celebration throughout the land, but this is connected more with agriculture, though it is possible that “the land” could be understood as the “land” represented by the football field, the mighty gridiron itself. If that is the case, however, we must say that following the 49ers will be a year that is “fallow.” As such, it seems to me that according to the Bible the Ravens will win the Super Bowl.
It is entirely possible, I suppose, that the Bible itself does not speak of football games, that it does not predict the outcome of games, but that these games might be predicated on the players and coaches and how hard they prepared for the game itself. It might be that no matter what, it is just a game, a time for spectators to relax, enjoy the game and have fun with friends. I suppose that the Bible is more about how we ought to live our lives than about predicting outcomes and futures. I suppose you ought not to bet on the outcome of a game based upon what I have written here, though I would be remiss not to mention that there sure are a lot of passages in the Bible that talk about “casting lots.” Not that God cares who wins. And it is probably not best to bet too much on my biblical interpretation, even metaphorically speaking.
John W. Martens
Follow me on Twitter @BibleJunkies