Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Harvest Thanksgiving - 2020

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.

Deuteronomy 8:7-18

The quotation in the first paragraph of Comments is from 1:1, 5.

Comments: Second paragraph: Another translation: The translation is FoxMoses.

Verses 1-20: The temptation to pride and self-sufficiency. [ NOAB]

Verses 1-10: In the wilderness, God cared for his people daily: see Exodus 12:37-17:16; Numbers 11-14. [ NOAB]

Verse 1: “This entire commandment”: The Hebrew, mishwa , is a later usage referring to the Law as a whole.

Verse 2: “the long way that the Lord your God has led you”: Circuitous in geography and experience. [ FoxMoses]

Verse 3: A homiletic development of the manna narrative which shows the importance of living by the word of God. See Exodus 16 and Numbers 11:7-8, 16-23. Development of this theme is also found in Isaiah 40-55 ( Deutero-Isaiah) and Matthew 4:1-11. [ NJBC]

Verse 5: Suffering here is interpreted as discipline, analogous to a parent’s correction of a child. See also Hosea 11; Hebrews 12:3-11. God’s purpose is to humble the people’s pride and to test the quality of their faith. [ NOAB]

Verses 7-10: These verses are hymn-like praising the land. They begin and end with the gift of “good land”; indeed “land” occurs seven times. [ NJBC]

Verse 9: “iron ... copper”: There is a deposit of copper south of the Dead Sea. See also Job 28:1-5.

Verses 11-20: The peril of prosperity. [ NOAB]

Verses 11, 19: These verses form an inclusio. Do not succumb to amnesia! [ NJBC] Speaking of the Israelites during the Exodus, Hosea 13:6 says: “When I fed them, they were satisfied; they were satisfied, and their heart was proud; therefore they forgot me”. See also 6:10-12.

Verse 15: “poisonous”: FoxMoses offers burning. NJBC offers fiery See Numbers 21:6-9 (where the NRSV offers fiery as an alternative translation.). See also Isaiah 14:29; 30:6 for a fiery one shaped like a snake.

Verse 15: “from flint rock”: In Exodus 17:6, Yahweh says to Moses: “‘I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb [Sinai]. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink’”. See also Numbers 20:2-13 (Meribah).

Verse 16: “and in the end to do you good”: FoxMoses offers for it to go well with you, in your future.

Verse 17: Quoting the opposition is a prophetic technique. See also Isaiah 10:8-11; 14:13-14.

Verse 18: “remember”: FoxMoses offers bear in mind. In Deuteronomy, the covenants are reinterpreted as being conditional on keeping the Law.

Verse 19: “I solemnly warn you”: A judicial formula reminiscent of the language of a vassal treaty.

Verse 20: “destroying”: FoxMoses offers causing to perish.

Psalm 65

Jeremiah 5:22-25 says: “Do you not fear me? says the Lord; Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail, though they roar, they cannot pass over it. But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and gone away. They do not say in their hearts, ‘Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives the rain in its season, the autumn rain and the spring rain, and keeps for us the weeks appointed for the harvest.’ Your iniquities have turned these away, and your sins have deprived you of good.”

NJBC sees this psalm as a prayer for rain at the beginning of the agricultural year. He points out that sin can prevent the coming of rain: see 1 Kings 8:35-36; Amos 4:7-8.

In God, all humanity has a resource for forgiveness (v. 3), for deliverance from enemies (v. 5), for stability and order in nature, and for the productivity of the earth (vv. 6-13) [ CAB]

Verses 1-5: It is good to gather at the Temple to sing God’s praises. [ NOAB]

Verse 1: “in Zion”: This reference and mention of the Temple in v. 4 may indicate that the setting is the Feast of Tabernacles, a harvest thanksgiving. [ NJBC]

Verse 4: “goodness”: i.e. the presence of God, but also the benefits he provides, abundant rain and food. [ NJBC]

Verse 7: God keeps chaos at bay. Psalm 89:10-11 says of Yahweh: “You crushed Rahab like a carcass; you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm. The heavens are yours, the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it – you have founded them”.

Verses 8-11: The establishment of God’s kingdom will bring peace to the earth. Isaiah 2:4 foretells of Yahweh: “He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. [ NOAB]

Verse 9: In 104:13, a psalmist writes: “From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work”.

Verse 9: “the river of God”: Rivers are associated with God, and flow from him, in 46:4; Isaiah 33:21; Ezekiel 47:1-12; Zechariah 14:8; Revelation 22:1-2 (“the river of the water of life”).

Verse 9: “you have prepared it”:”It” refers to the soft ground. The meaning of the clause is you prepared the earth for the planting of grain (with the coming of the winter rains). [ NJBC]

Verse 11: “your wagon tracks”: The ancient idea of God being like a rain god who brought rain in a rain-cloud chariot is in view. [ NJBC]

Verse 12: “wilderness”: Perhaps steppe is a better translation. It is countryside that looks most infertile during the dry season but comes to life when the rains arrive. [ NJBC]

Verse 12: “the hills gird themselves with joy”: Actually it is the wine made from grapes grown on the hillsides that bring joy: a little poetic license. [ NJBC] See also Judges 9:12-13.

Verse 13: “they shout and sing together for joy”: Not just the people blessed with God’s bounty but all nature as well. See also Psalms 96:11-12; 98:7-8; Isaiah 42:11-12; 44:23. [ NJBC]

2 Corinthians 9:6-15

8:15-9:5: Administrative arrangements for the collection. [ NOAB]

9:6-15: To the very human arguments based on pride (see 8:8-10) and concern for his reputation (see 9:3-5), Paul now adds the promise of reward. [ NJBC]

9:6: That one reaps what one sows was proverbial among both Greeks and Jews. See Proverbs 11:21, 24, 26, 30; 22:8; Job 4:8; Sirach 7:3. [ CAB] See also Galatians 6:7-9. Paul suggests how much to give.

9:7: Paul also mentions cheerful, voluntary, giving in 8:3-8; Philemon 8-9, 14; Romans 12:8. A gift given simply because one has been ordered to give will not please God.[NJBC]

9:7: “God loves a cheerful giver”: Paul comes close to quoting from the Septuagint translation of Proverbs 22:8a. See also Sirach 35:9 and Deuteronomy 15:10. [ NJBC]

9:8: The Greek idea of self-sufficiency, the freedom and contentment derived from being beholden to no one, but with two Pauline modifications:

  • Wealth is a gift from God (see Deuteronomy 8:17-18), and
  • The purpose of wealth is to do good for others; in Romans 14:7, he writes: “We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves”.

9:10: Paul thinks of Isaiah 55:10: “... the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater”. There, rain is a gift from God. [ NOAB]

9:10: “ the harvest of your righteousness”: An allusion to Hosea 10:12, which advises: “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you”. [ NJBC]

9:11-15: Paul turns from the notion of reward to the broader theological implications of giving. Being generous glorifies God. [ NJBC]

9:11-12: Since grace is its cause (see 8:1), the reaction to Corinthian generosity will be thanksgiving addressed to God. In 4:15, Paul writes: “Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God”.

9:13: To thank God is to acknowledge his power and thereby give him glorify.

9:13: “Through the testing of this ministry”: NJBC offers through the proof provided by this ministry. The collection demonstrates the reality of authentic (godly) love. See also 8:8.

9:13: “obedience to the confession of the gospel”: Generosity to others in imitation of Christ (see 5:15 and 9:9) is the existential proclamation of the obedience of faith; in Romans 1:4-5, Paul writes: “... Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith”. Paul hopes that the collection will show to the Jerusalem Christians that the Corinthian Christians are as Christian as they are; however, by the time he wrote Romans 15:31, his optimism had abated somewhat. [ NJBC]

9:14: Perhaps Paul’s expectations of the response of the Jerusalem Christians is somewhat optimistic. [ NJBC]

Luke 17:11-19

Verse 11: “On the way to Jerusalem”: Luke’s description of Jesus’ journey towards returning to the Father begins at 9:51: “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.”. Later, in 19:28, Luke writes: “After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem”. Jesus has entered a new stage in his career; he is on the last leg of his journey to God. [ CAB] [ NJBC]

Verse 11: “through the region between Samaria and Galilee”: The word translated “region” is meson (meaning middle). This verse illustrates Luke’s ignorance of the geography of Palestine. In 9:52, Jesus left Galilee and entered Samaria, so being on the way to Jerusalem, he cannot now be in Galilee. [ BlkLk] Perhaps he means an area where Jews came into contact with Samaritans.

Verse 12: In the Bible, leprosy is a skin disorder of uncertain nature. Several diseases were referred to by this name: see Leviticus 13:1-59; Numbers 5:1-4. Matthew 8:2 tells of a single leper coming to Jesus and saying: “‘Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean’”. [ NOAB]

Verse 13: “Master”: Peter calls Jesus “Master” in 5:5; 8:45; 9:33. In v. 6, Jesus has told his disciples: if you had the slightest faith (faith the size of a mustard seed), you could work miracles.

Verse 14: “‘Go and show yourselves to the priests”: Leviticus 13:2-3 commands: “When a person has on the skin of his body a swelling or an eruption or a spot, and it turns into a leprous disease on the skin of his body, he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests. The priest shall examine the disease on the skin of his body, and if the hair in the diseased area has turned white and the disease appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a leprous disease; after the priest has examined him he shall pronounce him ceremonially unclean”. See also Leviticus 13:49 and 14:2-32.

Verse 15: “saw”: i.e. understood what had happened. Not only does he see that he is healed; he sees too that he has found God and his salvation. He is converted. [ NJBC]

Verse 15: “praising God”: Luke’s favourite response to manifestation of divine power and mercy. See also 2:20 (the shepherds); 5:25 (a paralytic), 26 (the crowd); 7:16 (at the raising of the widow’s son); 13:13 (a woman who had been crippled); 18:43 (a blind beggar); 23:47 (the centurion at the Cross); Acts 4:21; 21:20. The Samaritan praises God for what Jesus, God’s agent, has done. [ NJBC]

Verse 16: “thanked him”: The word used for thank has connotations of proclaiming God’s forgiveness. While the word in the Greek is eucharistein, it appears that it has not yet acquired an exclusively liturgical connotation. It also occurs in a non-*eucharistic sense in John 11:41, and frequently in the Pauline epistles. [ BlkLk]

Verse 16: “Samaritan”: On the role of Samaritans in Luke/Acts, see also Luke 9:51-55 (the people of a Samaritan village “did not receive” Jesus); 10:33 (the Good Samaritan); Acts 8:4-25 (Philip proclaims the good news in Samaria). To Jews, Samaritans were considered unclean and were despised, both because of their ancestry (they had mixed blood, being the descendants of Jews left behind during the Exile and of Gentiles whom the Assyrians resettled in Israel) and because they had their own temple and a variant version of the Scriptures. [ NJBC]

Verse 17: “the other nine”: Presumably they were Jews. [ NOAB]

Verse 18: In 7:2-10, we read of the centurion whose slave is gravely ill. He says to Jesus: “only speak the word, and let my servant be healed”. Jesus then says to the crowd following him: “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith”.

Verse 18: “foreigner”: i.e. not a member of the Jewish community. [ CAB]

Verse 19: “your faith has made you well”: The same Greek word for made well is used in Matthew 9:21-22; Mark 5:23, 28, 34; 10:52; Luke 8:36, 48, 50; 18:42. See also Mark 11:23-24. The Greek word carries with it the idea of rescue from impending destruction or from a superior power. [ NOAB]

For other miracles in Luke’s travel narrative, see 11:14 (curing the dumb man) and 13:10-17 (curing the long-crippled woman). See also 14:1-6 (curing a man with edema).

What was promised in 2 Kings 5:8-19a (the healing of Naaman, the Syrian commander) and repeated in 4:27 and 7:22 has come to fulfilment in Jesus: God’s salvation is for all peoples. [ NJBC]

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