Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Fifth Sunday after Epiphany - February 5, 2017

Saint Dominic contemplating the Scriptures Saint Dominic contemplating the Scriptures
Author's note:
Sometimes I have material left over when I edit Comments down to fit the available space. This page presents notes that landed on the clipping room floor. Some may be useful to you. While I avoid technical language in the Comments (or explain special terms), Clippings may have unexplained jargon from time to time.

A hypertext Glossary of Terms is integrated with Clippings. Simply click on any highlighted word in the text and a pop-up window will appear with a definition. Bibliographic references are also integrated in the same way.

Isaiah 58:1-9a,(9b-12)

See also Micah 6:6-8. James 1:27 says: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” [ NOAB]

During and after the Exile, days of fasting multiplied: see Zechariah 7:1-5; 8:18-19 and Joel. Eventually one great day of fasting was placed on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).

Verse 1: “trumpet”: Used to announce a fast day: see Joel 2:15 and Ezekiel 33:3. [ NOAB]

Verse 3: “fast”: See also Leviticus 23:26-32. Jeremiah 36:9 says “In the fifth year of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah, in the ninth month, all the people in Jerusalem and all the people who came from the towns of Judah to Jerusalem proclaimed a fast before the Lord”. [ NOAB]

Verse 3: “oppress all your workers”: In Exodus 3:7, this refers to Egyptian slave masters. [ NJBC]

Verse 7: In Matthew 25:31-46, the judgement at the end of the era depends on the kindly acts mentioned here. [ NJBC]

Verse 8: “light”: 42:6-7, part of a Servant Song, says “I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness”. [ NOAB]

Verse 8: “rear guard”: 52:12 says “For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard”. [ NOAB]

Verse 9: “the pointing of a finger”: Proverbs 6:12-15 says “A scoundrel and a villain goes around with crooked speech, winking the eyes, shuffling the feet, pointing the fingers, ... on such a one calamity will descend suddenly; in a moment, damage beyond repair”. [ NOAB]

Verse 12: “Your ancient ruins”: The Temple was rebuilt in 515 BC: see Ezra 6:16; the walls were rebuilt in 445 BC: see Nehemiah 6:15. [ NJBC]

Verses 13-14: Strict observance of the Sabbath was increasingly emphasized in post-exilic Judaism: see also 56:2; Matthew 12:1-8. [ NOAB] Associating the Sabbath with concern for the poor explains the addition of these verses. [ NJBC]

Verse 14: This verse repeats the liturgical refrains found in Deuteronomy 32:13; Habakkuk 3:10, 19 and Amos 4:13. [ NJBC]

Verse 14: “for the mouth of the Lord has spoken”: This repeats 40:5. [ JBC]

Psalm 112:1-9,(10)

This is an alphabetical acrostic like Psalm 111: every line begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It is similar to Psalm 1, but is more concerned with righteousness (vv. 1-9) and less with the punishment of ungodliness (v. 10). [ NOAB] The similarities with Psalm 111 are:

Psalm 111 Psalm 112
v. 3 vv. 3, 9
v. 4 v. 4
v. 8 v. 8

Verse 1: “Praise the Lord”: In Hebrew, Hallelujah. The preceding and following psalms also begin in this way. [ NOAB]

Verse 1: "his commandments": In Psalm 111:1, the equivalent is “the congregation”.

Verse 8: “in the end they will look in triumph on their foes”: An idiom: see also 54:9; 118:7.

1 Corinthians 2:1-12,(13-16)

Verses 1-5: For the cross as central to Christian life and faith, see also 11:25; 2 Corinthians 4:10; Philippians 3:18; Galatians 3:13; Romans 3:25; 6:3. The power of God is evident through the works of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 11:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; Galatians 3:2, 5) and manifests its perfection through human “weakness” (v. 3). [ CAB]

Verse 3: “in weakness ...”: Unlike itinerant philosophers, who made a good living from the credulity of the simple. [ NJBC]

Verse 5: “the power of God”: i.e. God active in history. [ NJBC]

Verses 6,8: “rulers of this age”: It is possible that Paul is referring to cosmic demonic powers: see Ephesians 1:20-21; 3:10; 6:12. He may be referring to both the current political and religious leaders and to demonic powers. In Acts 4:25-28, the reference is clearly to the current leaders. [ NOAB]

Verse 8: “Lord of glory”: A divine title in 1 Enoch 63:2 and equivalently in Psalm 24:8. [ NJBC]

Verse 9: Human inability to grasp God’s purposes was known in the Old Testament, but while JBC says that the quotation may be a mixture of Isaiah 64:4 and Psalm 31:19, NJBC suggests that this is not an Old Testament quotation at all.

Verse 12: “the spirit of the world”: Possibly the mentality of a corrupt society. [ JBC]

Verse 16: The quotation is from the Septuagint translation of Isaiah 40:13. In Isaiah, “‘the Lord’” is God; here it is Christ. [ NOAB]

Matthew 5:13-20

Verse 13: See also Mark 9:49-50; Luke 14:34-35. [ NOAB]

Verse 13: “salt”: Salt is both a spice and a preservative: like a good teacher. Another possibility for salt losing its taste: salt was heavily taxed. It was adulterated by mixing it with a cheap white powder. In this way it could lose its strong taste. [ NJBC]

Verse 14: “light”: For light imagery applied to Jesus, see 4:16; Luke 1:79 (Zechariah’s prophecy); 2:32 (Simeon, Nunc Dimittis); Philippians 2:15; Ephesians 5:8. [ NOAB] [ NJBC]

Verse 14: “A city built on a hill”: See Isaiah 2:2-5. [ NJBC]

Verse 15: See also Mark 4:21; Luke 8:16; 11:33. Live for others, not just for yourself: see also 25:26; 2 Corinthians 4:7. [ NJBC] [ NOAB]

Verse 16: See also 1 Peter 2:12. [ NOAB]

Verse 16: “your Father”: See also 5:45, 48; 6:1, 9, 14, 26, 32; 7:11. [ NJBC]

Verse 18: “one letter”: In Greek, iota, the smallest letter. [ NJBC]

© 1996-2016 Chris Haslam

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