Comments

Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost - August 19, 2012



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.

1 Kings 2:10-12,3:3-14

2:10: “slept with his ancestors”: This is a note by the Deuteronomist editor; it is a common editorial formula to mark the end of a reign. [NJBC] The format is similar to that in 11:41-43 (Solomon) and 14:19-20 (Jeroboam). Actually, David’s ancestral city was Hebron; he was buried in Jerusalem (see 2 Samuel 2:3-4; 5:1-9).

2:12-46: Solomon eliminates threats to his security in three steps: Adonijah (vv. 13-25), Adonijah’s supporters Abiathar and Joab (vv. 25-35), and Shimei (vv. 36-46). The point of this story is found in the remark made twice: that Solomon’s “kingdom was firmly established” (v. 12) and “the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon” (v. 46). [NJBC]

2:12: “Solomon”: This was probably his regal name. Before becoming king, he was called Jedidiah as 2 Samuel 12:25 indicates: “Then David consoled his wife Bathsheba, and went to her, and lay with her; and she bore a son, and he named him Solomon. The LORD loved him, and sent a message by the prophet Nathan; so he named him Jedidiah, because of the LORD”. [JBC]

2:13-25: Adonijah’s request for Abishag is foolish and ill-fated. The royal harem was the property of the king; aspirations to it were tantamount to designs on the throne. In 2 Samuel 16:20-22, Absalom is advised to “Go in to your father's concubines” to show the strength of his claim to the kingdom. On the other hand, because Abishag is still a virgin (see 1:4), technically Adonijah’s request is innocent; however Solomon uses it as a pretext to dispose of his rival. [NJBC]

2:17: “Shunammite”: A native of Shunem (near Mount Gilboa), in northern Palestine. [HBD]

2:26-27: Solomon has insufficient pretext for ordering the execution of Abiathar, so he exiles him to the nearby village of Anathoth. Jeremiah 1:1 tells us that Jeremiah was of the priestly family in Anathoth; this was many years later. [NJBC]

2:27: “thus fulfilling the word of the LORD that he had spoken concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh”: 1 Samuel 2:27-36 may be an insertion to justify the exclusion of Abiathar, a descendant of Eli, from the priesthood. It states that the punishment of Eli and his sons for eating the parts of sacrifices reserved for Yahweh is that Eli’s line will no longer be priests. [NOAB]

2:28-34: When Joab takes refuge at the altar, Benaiah, Solomon’s hatchet man, hesitates. V. 5 tells us of “the blood that Joab shed without cause” and names Joab as a murderer. Exodus 21:12-14 distinguishes between how one who has committed premeditated murder and one who has committed manslaughter shall be treated. In a case of murder, “you shall take the killer from my altar for execution”. Asylum at an altar was only possible for one who had committed involuntary manslaughter. [NJBC]

2:35: “Zadok”: The new high priest is of obscure origins, possibly even non-Israelite [NJBC] although other scholars believe him to have been of Aaronite lineage. High priests were descendants of Zadok down to New Testament times (with some interruptions). [HBD]

2:36-46: Two dialogues between Solomon and Shimei are presented. The differences between them show Solomon to be unethical:

  • In the first, the king forbids Shimei to leave Jerusalem (v. 36), but only if he crosses the Kidron valley (to the east) will he be killed. This cuts off Shimei from his home at Bahurim, on the Mount of Olives (see 2 Samuel 16:5; 19:16).
  • In going to retrieve his slaves, Shimei does violate the king’s first command (v. 36), but neither the spirit nor the letter of the clarification of it in v. 37, for Gath was to the south.
  • In vv. 42-45, Solomon makes two false claims about the first dialogue: that Shimei would be sentenced to death for leaving Jerusalem in any direction, and that Shimei had bound himself by a solemn oath. Further, Solomon gives Shimei no chance to answer the king’s direct question (in v. 43).

Solomon intends Shimei’s death by fair means or foul. [NJBC] Shimei had cursed David as David fled Jerusalem during Absalom’s revolt (see 2 Samuel 16:5-13). When David returned, Shimei met him at the Jordan with a thousand members of his tribe, confessed his sin, and pledged his allegiance (see 2 Samuel 19:16-23). David spared Shimei’s life at that time but on his deathbed instructed Solomon to have him put to death (1 Kings 2:8-9). [HBD]

3:4: “high place”: The Ark ceased to be kept in the temple at Shiloh from the time that it was captured by the Philistines. After they returned the Ark, David brought it to Jerusalem. Archeological evidence shows that Shiloh was abandoned after a fire. The Israelites seem to have taken over the Canaanite practice of worshipping on mountains. Only after the Temple at Jerusalem was built was worship on high places condemned. [NJBC] Hosea 4:13 mentions worshipping “on the tops of mountains” as deviant from God’s ways. Early on, kings could offer sacrifice as well as priests, but only on special occasions; later priestly acts were limited to priests. Saul offers sacrifice in 1 Samuel 13:9-10; David does so in 2 Samuel 6. See 1 Kings 8; 9:25 for Solomon offering sacrifice. Per 2 Chronicles 1:3, the meeting tent was kept at Gibeon, perhaps indicating that during this period Gibeon was the central shrine of Israel.

3:5: “dream by night”: For other encounters with God in a dream, see Genesis 20:3 (Abimelech); 28:12 (Jacob at Bethel); 37:4-10 (Joseph); Judges 7:13ff (Gideon); Job 4:13. Also see Zechariah, Joel and Daniel. [JBC]

3:7: “child”: Solomon was about twenty at this time. [NOAB]

Solomon’s faithfulness to God, according to the example set by his father is mentioned four times: in 3:3, 6, 7 and 14.

Psalm 111

Most scholars consider this psalm to be post-exilic. [NJBC]

In this psalm, salvation history has been appropriated and inculcated by wisdom teachers.

Verse 1: “Praise the LORD!”: The following two psalms open with the same words. [NOAB]

Verses 3-10: These verses emphasize work, action: “deeds” in v. 2, “work(s)” in vv. 3, 6 and 7, “gained” in v. 4, and “act” in v. 10. In all but one instance, the same Hebrew word, asa is used. Works are the events of salvation history. [NJBC]

Verse 4: V. 4b explicitly refers to Exodus 34:6 (although this is not clear in the NRSV), so v. 4a probably refers to Exodus 34:10. (Exodus 34:10, speaks of “marvels”, i.e. “marvellous works”.) [NJBC]

Verse 5: “food”: See Exodus 16 (the gift of manna). See also Psalm 105:40 (quail) and 106:14. [NJBC]

Verse 9 is a summary of salvation and covenant.

Verse 10: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”: These words also appear in Proverbs 9:10. This is a wisdom saying. [NJBC]

Ephesians 5:15-20

Verses 6-20: The vocabulary is reminiscent of the language in the Qumran literature. The author contrasts the children of darkness (disobedience) with the children of light. See also 1QS (Rule of the Community) 5:1-2; 3:10-11; 1:5; 2:24-25. As at Qumran, the light-darkness dualism is wholly ethical and not ontological, as in later Gnosticism. [NJBC]

Verse 11: “expose them”: NJBC offers reprove them. Jesus made this point: see Matthew 18:15-17. The responsibility to correct sinners was also important at Qumran: see 1QS (Rule of the Community) 5:24-6:1.

Verse 14: “Therefore it says”: These words introduce what appears to be a portion of an early baptismal hymn based on Isaiah 60:1: “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.”. [NJBC] [NOAB]

Verses 15-17: “wise ... foolish”: 1QS (Rule of the Community) 4:23-24 says: “... Until now the spirits of truth and of injustice feud in the hearts of man and they walk in wisdom and in folly ...”. [NJBC]

Verses 15-16: An idea also found in Colossians 4:5. [CAB] Christians are “wise” because we share in the wisdom of God, per 1:8, 17 and 3:10. Colossians 4:5 says: “Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time.” [NOAB]

Verse 17: “will of the Lord”: In epistles generally accepted as Pauline, the phrase is God’s will. Did the author slip in phraseology unwittingly because God and Christ are so closely related in his mind? Or did he use “will of the Lord” because his readers are newly baptised, and the baptismal promises are to Christ the Kyrios (Lord)?

Verse 18: This advice is also found in Proverbs 23:31-35: “Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your mind utter perverse things ...”. [CAB] At Pentecost (see Acts 2), those who received the Holy Spirit were accused of being “filled with new wine” (Acts 2:13). Wine was consumed abundantly in Greek mystery cults, and at times was abused in Christian gatherings (see 1 Corinthians 11:21).

Verse 19: “sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs ...”: Colossians 3:16 also speaks of singing “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs”. [NOAB] In Acts 16:25, when Paul and Silas are in prison “About midnight ... [they] Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them”. In 1 Corinthians 14:26, Paul instructs his readers: “When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up”. See also James 5:13.

Verse 20: Colossians 3:16-17 contains a similar idea: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”. [CAB]

John 6:51-58

John does not include the story of the institution of the Last Supper; he assumes that his readers know it. He teaches what it means.

John uses the word “flesh” (Greek: sarx) while the synoptic gospels and Paul use the word “body” (Greek: soma). Paul contrasts the spirit and the flesh. One scholar suggests that John used a more primitive account as a basis for these verses. Perhaps soma was adopted for its wide range of meaning and to avoid confusion with spirit vs. flesh. Ignatius of Antioch (107 AD) uses sarx, as does Justin Martyr (ca. 150 AD) except where he is quoting the synoptic gospels or Paul. [NJBC]

Jesus giving them his flesh to eat carries two symbolisms:

  • Sharing in his life of power and obedience – as well as his death, and
  • Sharing in the Lord’s Supper in which his death and his continuing presence with his own are represented. [CAB]

John never tells us that the “flesh” and the “blood” are received under the forms of bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper. [BlkJn]

Verse 51: There is an obvious parallel here to the words spoken by Jesus over the bread at the Last Supper, as recorded in 1 Corinthians 11:24 and in Luke 22:19, although allowance must be made for the characteristically Johannine substitution of “flesh” for body and the expansion of for you to “for the life of the world”. [BlkJn]

Verse 53: The separation of blood from flesh emphasize the reality of Jesus’ death. [NOAB]

Verse 56: “abide”: Note the sense of remaining in the Christian community. Some scholars consider that inclusion of this verse addresses a later crisis in the community, when some were leaving the Church. “Abide” also occurs in the Farewell Discourses (15:4-5), where the disciples are to remain attached to the vine.

Verse 57: “living Father”: The readers know that the Father sent the Son to give life (see 3:16-17). The life the Son has is his Father’s own life, which he has given to the Son (see 5:26). V. 57 extends the type of relationship which exists between the Father and the Son to believers who take part in the Eucharist. The pattern of relationships is like that in the Farewell Discourses: see 14:20-21 and 17:21a. [NJBC] This verse takes up the theme of v. 26, where Jesus answers the crowd with: “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves”. [BlkJn]

This passage speaks of salvation many times, sometimes in the present (a present reality) (in vv. 53a, 54a) and sometimes in the future (in vv. 54b, 57b, 58b). Salvation through participating in the Eucharist is happening now, and will happen in the future. While this is obvious in John, it can also be found in Matthew.

This chapter begins with the Feeding of the Five Thousand. To BlkJn, by recording this discourse here, John clearly intends us to understand the Feeding as taking the place of the Last Supper, as the occasion in the ministry of Jesus with which the Church’s celebration of the Eucharist was to be connected. Consistently, while John does tell us of the Last Supper (in Chapter 18), he gives it no eucharistic significance.

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