Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Eighth Sunday after Epiphany - February 27, 2000

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.

Hosea 2:14-20

The numbering of these verses is two higher than in the NRSV in some translations.

Verses 2-13: Israel will suffer public shame and personal privation like a harlot, because it has adulterated the worship of Yahweh with Canaanite Baalism. [ NOAB] Both the mother and the children are on trial. Both are the people of Israel.

Verse 3: See also Isaiah 47:2-3; Ezekiel 16:37-39; Revelation 17:16. [ NOAB]

Verse 3: i.e. make her vulnerable.

Verse 5: See also Jeremiah 2:23-25; 3:1-2. [ NOAB]

Verse 5: “my lovers ... they give me”: A reference to the immoral fertility rites of Canaanite religion. [ NOAB]

Verse 7: NOAB says that the metaphor of marriage is from the cult of Baal. For God as the giver of all good gifts, see Genesis 1:29-30; Deuteronomy 13; James 1:17.

Verse 9: See also Amos 4:6-8. [ NOAB]

Verse 11: See also Isaiah 1:12-17; Amos 5:21-24. [ NOAB]

Verse 13: “Baals”: Baal was the leading Canaanite deity. [ NOAB]

Verse 13: “incense”: Incense was particularly associated with pagan worship. [ NOAB]

Verse 13: “decked herself”: See also Isaiah 3:16-22. [ NOAB]

Verse 14: “the wilderness”: This signifies Israel’s early years after the Exodus when she was faithful to the covenant: see Exodus 19-24; Jeremiah 2:2-3. In Ezekiel 20:33-38, God states through the prophet that he will gather the people from the various countries to which they have dispersed and “will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples”. [ NOAB] However, NJBC says that “the wilderness” is meant almost literally: it is an ideal place to seek God; there the Israelites can re-establish contact with God.

Verse 15: “Valley of Achor”: When Israel entered the Promised Land, they sinned at “the Valley of Achor”: see Joshua 7:20-26 and Isaiah 65:10. [ NOAB] “Achor” means trouble.

Verses 16, 18, 21: “on that day”: This expression can refer to judgement (see Amos 5:18) as well as the time of salvation when Yahweh saves his people. While it has both aspects in Jewish and New Testament eschatology, in Hosea it is not strictly eschatological but expresses confidence in the future restoration of Israel. Later in Israelite history the ideas of new covenant and true peace are developed in eschatological thought. [ NJBC]

Verse 18: Per Leviticus 26:6, in return for keeping the first covenant, God will give the Israelites safety; he will also remove dangerous “animals” from the land and end warfare. See also Job 5:23; Isaiah 11:6-9; Ezekiel 34:25-31. Psalm 46:9 and Isaiah 2:4 also foretell the abolition of “war”. [ NOAB] Yahweh restores by mediating a covenant between Israel and creation. Even a right natural order depends on his free choice and covenant. The promise of ordering nature and cessation of war are common objects of hope (see Isaiah 2:4; 9:4; 11:6-8; 65:25; Micah 4:3), but they are seldom joined as here. See also Leviticus 26:6 and Ezekiel 34:25-28. [ NJBC]

Verse 19: “love”: The Hebrew word is hesed. [ NJBC]

Verse 20: “know the Lord ”: Not with speculative knowledge but with a religious recognition that brings devotion to his will. See also 4:1-2, 6, where knowledge of Yahweh is parallel to keeping his Law. Knowledge of Yahweh is religious knowledge in a comprehensive sense, and knowledge of God is especially knowledge of traditional Hebrew morality. That Hosea uses “know” rather than love is probably to avoid erotic overtones (in view of the foregoing verses). [ NJBC]

Verse 22: “Jezreel”: i.e. Israel. This uncommon usage comes from 1:4-5. There it is one of the names that symbolize Israel. [ NJBC] “Jezreel” means God sows: see v. 23.

Psalm 103:1-13,22

This might be classified as a hymn, but vv. 1-5 suggest that the words, though general, are intended to express the emotion of a particular individual on a specific occasion. [ NOAB]

Verse 3: For the association of the forgiveness of sin with healing of physical illness in the New Testament, see Mark 2:10-11. The association of sin with illness is found in both the Old Testament (Job; Psalms 32:3-5; 107:17) and the New Testament (John 9; James 5:14-16). [ NJBC]

Verse 5: “satisfies”: NJBC offers fills your lifetime with.

Verse 5: “good”: This may refer to God’s benefits in general or more specifically to the divine presence as it does in Exodus 33:19. [ NJBC]

Verse 5: For the eagle’s vigour being proverbial, see Isaiah 40:31. [ NOAB]

Verses 10-13: These verses immediately follow the quotation of Exodus 34:6 and provide a commentary on it. [ NJBC]

Verse 15: See also Isaiah 40:6-8. [ NOAB]

Verse 19: The conclusion. [ NOAB]

Verses 20-22: A hymn-like summons to all created things to join their voices with that of the psalmist. [ NOAB]

2 Corinthians 3:1-6

2:14: “fragrance”: Either that of incense in connection with processions of conquerors returning to their capitals or with sacrifice: see Colossians 2:15. [ NOAB]

2:14: “the fragrance that comes from knowing him”: NJBC offers the odour which is knowledge. He says that this image is influenced by Sirach 24:15. It is also found in 2 Baruch 67:6.

2:15: “we are the aroma of Christ”: Christ, as the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24), is not only preached by ( 5:20) but also manifested in ( 4:10-11) his ministers. [ NJBC]

2:16: “from death to death”: From inauthentic existence (see Colossians 2:13) to ultimate destruction (see Romans 7:5). [ NJBC]

2:16: “from life to life”: From authentic existence ( 4:10) to eternal beatitude ( 5:4; Romans 2:7). [ NJBC]

2:16: “who is sufficient for these things”: NJBC offers who is competent?: a resigned reaction to the awesome responsibility thrust on Paul: see also 1 Corinthians 9:16-18. [ NJBC]

2:17: “peddlers”: A very derogatory term. Presumably a reference to the “false apostles” of 11:4, 13. [ NOAB] See also 12:19; 13:3. [ NJBC]

3:1: Apparently Paul had been accused of commending himself. [ NOAB] He does do so in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 in order to distinguish himself from other itinerant preachers. [ NJBC]

3:1: “letters of recommendation”: Illustrated by Romans 16:1-2 and mentioned in Acts 9:2; 18:27. [ NJBC]

3:2: “written on our hearts”: While “our” is better attested, your makes more sense. The heart is the source of all human activity. [ NJBC]

3:3: “prepared by us”: The church at Corinth (Paul’s letter of recommendation) was the work of God; Paul was only the instrument (v. 5). [ NOAB]

3:3: “not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts”: Like the covenant announced by Jeremiah: see Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26; Proverbs 3:3; 7:3. [ CAB] [ NJBC]

3:3: “tablets of stone”: For the tablets of stone on which Moses received the covenant, see Exodus 24:12; 31:18; Deuteronomy 9:10-11. See also Romans 2:29. [ NOAB] [ CAB]

3:5: God empowers Paul (see 4:7) to carry out his mission, which is beyond the capacity of fallen human nature. [ NJBC]

3:6: Paul is forced to distinguish between the two types of covenant because his opponents were using the new covenant theme to insist on the Law. To this extent the new covenant participated in the destructive power of the old covenant ( 3:14).

3:6: “kills”: For Paul’s view of the purpose and effect of the Law, see Galatians 3:19-29 and Romans 7:7-13. Though the Law could not make people righteous (Galatians 3:21), it revealed God’s will so that they might recognize their sins. [ NOAB]

3:6: “the spirit gives life”: Christ (see 1 Corinthians 15:45) gives the new life (see 2:16) of authentic humanity. [ NJBC]

Mark 2:13-22

The parallels are Matthew 9:9-17 and Luke 5:27-39.

Comments: people of trades that made them ritually unclean: One list of such trades, in Mishna Qiddushin 4:14, is ass driver, camel driver, sailor, caster, herdsman, shopkeeper, physician (blood letter?) and butcher. Others add tanner, bath-attendant and tax collector.

Verse 14: “Levi”: The parallels with 1:16-20 suggest that he was one of the Twelve, but there is no one named Levi in the list of the Twelve in 3:16-19. Some manuscripts solved the problem by reading James the son of Alpheus here. [ NJBC]

Verse 14: “tax booth”: NJBC offers toll booth. Levi collected sales and transit taxes under contract to the Romans. [ CAB] [ NJBC]

Verse 15: “for there were many who followed him”: This parenthetical comment probably refers to “his disciples” rather than “tax collectors and sinners”. Mark has told about the call of only five men but assumes that many more had been called to follow Jesus. [ NJBC]

Verse 16: “the scribes of the Pharisees”: They were both employed and members of the Pharisees, a fraternity of pious men. One might ask: what were scribes doing in Galilee at a sinner’s house? [ NJBC]

Verse 17: Jesus sought to draw in (“call”) outcasts whom the Pharisees excluded from society. The Greek word translated “call” also meant invite (as to a banquet); Jesus’ invitation to the Messianic banquet (see also Luke 12:37 and Revelation 3:20) was extended not to the self-judged righteous but to “sinners”: see also Matthew 8:11-12 and Luke 14:15-24. [ NOAB] See also 1:14-15 and Luke 5:32. [ NJBC]

Verse 18: “fasting”: Jews do not have a season of fasting like Lent but they do have a few days of communal fasting, especially Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Per Didache 8:1, Jews kept private fasts on Mondays and Thursdays while Christians chose Wednesday and Friday (this being in memory of Jesus’ sufferings). Fasting was understood in four ways:

  • As humbling oneself before God: see Isaiah 58:3-9,
  • As strengthening prayer: see Tobit 12:8 and 2 Chronicles 20:3
  • As related to alms giving, and
  • As an expression of mourning (as here). See also Matthew 6:16-18. [ NJBC]

Verse 18: Note that the Pharisees do not ask about Jesus’ practice re fasting.

Verse 19-20: See also Isaiah 62:5; Luke 17:22; John 3:27-29. [ NOAB]

Verse 19: “bridegroom”: In rabbinic interpretations of the Song of Songs, the bridegroom was interpreted as God himself. Jesus claims that his public ministry is a unique time. [ NJBC]

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