Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost - August 22, 2021

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 8:(1,6,10-11),22-30,41-43

Verse 1: “city of David”: It was south of the temple area. By the time 1 Kings was written, the area was known as “Zion”. [ NOAB]

Verse 2: “Ethanim”: This is the name of a Canaanite month (September-October). The festival was probably the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths), a harvest festival. [ JBC]

Verse 6: “cherubim”: Cherubim were winged heavenly beings, later understood as a class of angel. Possibly influenced by the Assyrian angelology, they were depicted as attendants who guarded God and the Ark from profanity. [ ODCC]

Verse 8: “poles”: Used for carrying the Ark in procession. They were so long that they protruded through the curtain at the entrance of the Holy of Holies. Per Exodus 25:15, they were never to be removed from the Ark. For processing with the Ark, see 1 Samuel 4:3-4 and 2 Samuel 6. [ CAB]

Verse 8: “to this day”: An indication that the author wrote before the destruction of the Temple in 587 BC. [ JBC]

Verse 9: “nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone ...”: i.e. no statuettes of gods or idols – which would be found in the arks of other tribes.

Verse 10: “ a cloud”: A cloud is also a sign of God’s presence in Exodus 19:16; 33:9; 40:34-35. [ JBC]

Verses 12-21: Solomon’s address to the people can also be seen as a prologue to the prayer. NOAB says that most of the prayer was probably composed by the Deuteronomist editor centuries after Solomon. This would be standard practice for ancient writers of history. Not having video clips at their disposal, they regularly composed appropriate speeches, dialogues, prayers, etc. for their characters in the history they were writing.

Verses 12-13: These verses compare the darkness of the Holy of Holies, where God has chosen to dwell forever, with the “cloud” (v. 10) that is the symbol of his presence. [ JBC]

Verses 14-61: JBC says that these verses contain three discourses attributed to Solomon, but written in Exile:

  • vv. 15-21: The author associates the eternity of the Temple with the eternity promised to David’s line in 2 Samuel 7 – an association of great significance for the exiles.
  • vv. 23-53: This is a litany-like prayer, stressing the same theme (see especially vv. 23-26). The author expresses those sentiments of repentance and trust that he wishes the exiles to feel and show.
  • vv. 56-61: A prayer composed to inspire confidence in the exiles by recalling God’s infallible fulfilment of his promises when his people hear and obey him.

Verse 15: “with his mouth”: A reference to Nathan’s prophecy in 2 Samuel 7. [ JBC]

Verse 16: God’s choice fell first on David and his dynasty, then on Jerusalem and the Temple, which henceforward came to be associated with the destiny of the everlasting dynasty. See also 1 Kings 8:13; 11:13, 32, 36; 14:21; 15:4; 2 Kings 8:19; 19:34; 20:6; 21:7. [ JBC]

Verse 16: “my name might be there”: For God’s presence being where his name is, see also vv. 27-30 and Isaiah 30:27 (“See, the name of the Lord comes from far away, burning with his anger, and in thick rising smoke; his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue is like a devouring fire”). [ JBC]

Verse 19: “you shall not build the house”: A reference to 2 Samuel 7:4ff. The author of Chronicles gives the reason as being that David “shed so much blood” (1 Chronicles 22:8). [ JBC]

Verse 23: Reciprocity of fidelity is a Deuteronomic teaching. See also Deuteronomy 4:39 and 7:9 (“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments ...”). [ JBC]

Verses 27-29: The author argues that God is present well beyond the Temple: an idea of great comfort to the exiles. Many pre-exilic Jews held that God’s only earthly abode is the Temple: Jeremiah 7:1ff. [ JBC]

Verse 30: “pray toward this place”: Further evidence of being edited from exile. This, and similar, phrases are found in vv. 35, 43-44, 48. [ JBC]

Verse 31: “oath”: If someone were accused of sinning but claimed innocence, he could be given “an oath to swear”, which included curses, i.e. dire consequences which people believed would happen to him if he was, in fact, guilty. If he was prepared to swear in the Temple, he must have seen himself as innocent, i.e. that the curses would not happen. Thus the prayer is that God punish the perjurer and deliver the innocent: see also Exodus 22:6-12; Numbers 5:19-31; Judges 17:1-2; Ecclesiastes 9:2.

Verse 33: “turn again ...”: By acknowledging their guilt and praising God in the Temple, sinners can, according to God’s law, hope to bring to an end God’s wrath and subsequent punishment. See also Joshua 7:19 (Joshua urges Achan to confess his waywardness to him, and through him, to Yahweh) and Ezra 10:7-19 (Ezra urges the returned exiles to make confession for taking foreign wives). [ JBC]

Verse 34b: Further evidence of being written in, or edited from, exile. [ NOAB]

Verses 41-43: “foreigner ...”: The text makes clear that the foreigner is not a resident alien. Perhaps these verses speak of a (rare) time of Judaic proselytizing – in Babylon. Or perhaps the Temple is functioning as a standard place of worship for all who are in the territory. This shows remarkable openness, considering the standard view of Jewish particularism. Recall the story of Naaman the Syrian, in 2 Kings 5. The universalist attitude behind this prayer is typical of exilic and post-exilic times: see also Isaiah 40-55; Jonah; Tobit 13:6-11; Zechariah 8:18ff. [ JBC]

Verse 44: “toward the city”: Prayer towards Jerusalem by those in exile or abroad is also mentioned in Daniel 6:11. [ JBC]

Verse 46: “carried away captive”: 2 Kings 15:29 tells us of the deportation to Assyria: “In the days of King Pekah of Israel, King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria came and captured ... Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali; and he carried the people captive to Assyria”. In 597 BC and 587 BC, Nebuchadnezzar deported large numbers of Jews to Babylon: see 2 Kings 24-25. The author speaks in prayer on behalf of these later exiles in vv. 47-53. See also Jeremiah 29:5-8 and Tobit 13. [ JBC]

Verse 54: “he arose”: Solomon is already standing (see v. 22), so how can he arise? JBC says that the Hebrew word translated as “stood” in v. 22 can also mean was in front of, without implying the person was actually standing. Although Israelites normally stood when praying (especially in New Testament times), it is clear from this verse and from such texts as Nehemiah 9:3-5; Isaiah 45:23; Daniel 6:11 and Psalm 99:5 that they occasionally knelt and even prostrated themselves.

Psalm 84

Superscription: “Of the Korahites”: The Korahites were the Levitical group responsible for singing in the Temple (see 2 Chronicles 20:19). They are also mentioned in the superscriptions of Psalms 42; 44-49; 85; 87-88. [ CAB]

Verse 1: “lovely”: Can also be translated dear. The Hebrew word is yedidot. Solomon’s name at birth (see 2 Samuel 12:25) was Jedidiah (Hebrew: Yedidyah), meaning beloved of Yahweh. So “dear” may be an allusion to Solomon. [ NJBC] For love of the Temple, see also Psalm 42. [ JBC]

Verse 4: “Selah” : This word is probably a liturgical direction, added to the original text of the psalm. It may mean lift up, either to indicate the lifting up of the voices of the singers in a doxology, or to call for lifted-up instrumental music in an interlude in the singing.

Selah is one of the greatest puzzles of the Old Testament. Its meaning seems to be connected with rising or lifting. But it is not clear whether the congregation rises or lifts up its hands, head, or eyes, or whether the music rises at the indicated points. The word probably indicates that the singing should stop to allow the congregation an interlude for presenting its homage to God by some gesture or act of worship. [ ICCPs]

Selah is also found 74 times in 39 psalms in the book of Psalms and three times in Habakkuk 3 (part of a psalm preserved there).

Verse 6: This verse seems to speak of watering the desert. See also Isaiah 35:6ff; 41:18ff. One scholar suggests that the pilgrimage is like a new Exodus: Isaiah 43:19-20 says, in part. “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert”.

Verse 6: “Baca”: The location of the desolate valley of Baca is unknown. [ CAB]

Verse 8: This prayer for the king dates this psalm as pre-exilic. For the close association of the king with the Temple, see 2 Samuel 7:1-13 and Psalm 132. The king guarantees safety for pilgrims.

Verse 11: “sun”: See also Isaiah 60:19-20; Revelation 21:23; 22:5. [ NJBC].

Ephesians 6:10-20

5:21-6:9 concerns conduct in the Christian household – in an ancient culture. The basic ideas are mutual respect with honesty and a considerate attitude towards others. The head of the household is subject to the same authority (Christ) as other members of the household.

Verse 10: “be strong”: In 1 Corinthians 16:13, Paul urges members of the church at Corinth: “Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong”. [ CAB]

Verse 11: “wiles”: or stratagems – a combination of tactical shrewdness and ingenious deception.

Verse 11: “devil”: The word diabolos occurs only here and in the Pastoral Epistles in the New Testament. Paul usually uses satanas . [ JBC]

Verse 12: “rulers ...”: See also 1:21; 2:2; 3:10; Colossians 2:15; Romans 8:38; Revelation 12:7-9. [ CAB]

Verse 12: “blood and flesh”: mere mortal beings. [ NOAB] The REB has “human foes”.

Verse 12: “spiritual forces”: The REB has “superhuman forces”.

Verse 13: “whole armour of God”: This is God’s own armour. Isaiah 59:17 also uses a military metaphor: “He [ Yahweh] put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in fury as in a mantle”. See also Isaiah 11:5. Another literary precedent is Wisdom of Solomon 5:17-20. [ JBC] Paul uses this metaphor in 1 Thessalonians 5:8. In Wisdom 5:20, Yahweh carries “stern wrath for a sword”. [ CAB]

Verse 17: “sword”: In Hosea 6:5, Yahweh says: “... I have hewn them by the prophets, I have killed them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light:. See also Isaiah 11:4; Revelation 1:16; Hebrews 4:12. Revelation 19:15 also identifies the sword with the word of God. [ CAB]

Verse 18: “keep alert”: Literally awake. This is part of early catechetical teaching (also found in 1 Corinthians 16:13, Colossians 4:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:6, 1 Peter 5:8, Revelation 3:2; 16:15) which had its roots in the teaching of Jesus: in Mark 13:33, he advises: “Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come”. See also Luke 21:36.

John 6:56-69

Even as the life of the Son and the Father are one ( 14:10, 5:21ff), a life they in turn share with the Spirit ( 1:32ff; 15:26), in the Eucharist the Christian receives the shared life of God himself. [ JBC] Partaking in the Eucharist establishes a communion of life between Christ and the believer (see 1 Corinthians 10:16).

Verse 63: “gives life”: In 1 Corinthians 15:45, Paul writes: “it is written, ’he first man, Adam, became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit”. Recall John 3:6: “What is born of the flesh is flesh; what is born of the Spirit is spirit”. Only a person born of the spirit will be able to accept the truth of Jesus’ words. Recall 1:4: “in him [“the Word”, the Logos] was life, and the life was the light of all people”. The word is the principle of life. Here, in the context of the Feeding of the Five Thousand, words means not just what Jesus said at the Last Supper but all he said in expounding the meaning of his life and in evoking faith. [ BlkJn]

Verse 64: See 5:38; 6:37; 8:25, 46-47; 10:25-26.

Verse 65: Ephesians 2:8 says: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God”. [ NOAB] John the Baptizer speaks of the Father eliciting faith: “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven”. See also 6:37. [ BlkJn]

Verse 65: “I have told you”: i.e. in vv. 44ff.

Verse 66: “turned back”: The Greek phrase, apelthon eis ta opiso, occurs again in 18:6, where it is used of the soldiers who recoiled from Jesus when he presented himself to them in Gethsemane. The parallel is no doubt intentional: in both passages, the self revelation of the Christ repels unbelievers. [ BlkJn]

Verse 67: “the twelve”: John assumes that the reader already knows who “the twelve” are. BlkJn sees all except “the twelve” deserting Jesus. John gives little emphasis to the Twelve.

Verse 68: In the Synoptic gospels, Peter’s confession shows that the disciples have begun to perceive Jesus as Messiah; in John, Jesus is the Messiah from the start. Here Peter echos v. 63b.

Verse 69: “Holy”: Elsewhere in John, this word refers to Christ’s mission (“sanctified” in 10:36; 17:19; etc.). BlkJn notes that “the Holy One of God” is a messianic title.

Verses 70-71: Though Jesus had chosen the Twelve, his choice did not guarantee their faithfulness. [ BlkJn]

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