Comments

Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost - October 7, 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.

Job 1:1;2:1-10

In the first test, Job loses both his wealth and his children.

1:1: “Job”: The name “Job” appears in the prophecy of Ezekiel 14. Ezekiel 14:14 says “Noah, Daniel and Job ... would save only their own lives by their righteousness”. Job can mean hated or penitent. [CAB]

1:1: “Uz”: It was either part of Edom or in northern Arabia. Genesis 36:9-28 lists “Uz” as a descendant of “Esau, ancestor of the Edomites”. See also Lamentations 4:21. [NJBC]

1:3: Job is enormously rich.

1:5: Job seeks always to compensate for the indulgent, profligate lives of his children by offering sacrifices on their behalf to “sanctify them”. [CAB]

1:5: “cursed”: The Hebrew word literally means blessed. It is probably a euphemism, as it is in 2:5 and 2:9. [NJBC]

1:6-12: Note the parallel (earlier) story in 1 Kings 22:19-28 (the prophet Micaiah goes against Ahab’s court prophets by predicting the failure of an attempt to regain a city, and is imprisoned as a result). [NJBC]

1:6; 2:1-9: The charges raised with God about Job’s character, and the doleful consequences. [CAB]

1:9: “Does Job fear God for nothing?”: Or do human beings serve God because of what they receive from him? One of the most fundamental questions in the Bible. [NOAB] “For nothing” means without looking for payment or reward, i.e. out of love. Satan and Job’s three friends see Job as seeking reward for holding God in awe. [NJBC]

1:11-12: Satan’s proposal puts God in a no-win situation. If God refuses, it looks as though he fears there may be a basis to Satan’s claim; if God accepts, he comes out of it looking heartless. [NOAB]

1:13-22: Job loses all of the possessions listed in 1:2-3. [NJBC]

1:15: “Sabeans”: People from southern Arabia. CAB considers another spelling to be Sheba. Isaiah 45:14 tells us that they are “tall of stature”; Joel 3:8 suggests that they are “a nation far away”. Both “Seba” and “Sheba” are mentioned as having kings in Psalm 72:10.

1:16: “The fire of God”: Evidence of God’s direct intervention in human affairs, as in the times of:

  • Moses: see Exodus 19:16-19: “... the LORD had descended upon it [Mount Sinai] in fire”, and
  • Elijah: see 1 Kings 18:38, Elijah’s contest with the priests of Baal, and 2 Kings 1:10-12, consumption of some of Ahaziah’s troops by fire sent from heaven shows that Elijah is a man of God. [CAB]

1:17: “Chaldeans”: They were from Babylonia, in what is now southern Iraq. [CAB]

1:21: Note that Job pronounces the name of Yahweh three times, and uses a standard liturgical formula (“blessed ...”). [NJBC]

2:1-3a: These verses repeat 1:6-8 almost word for word. [NJBC]

2:3: “for no reason”: The Hebrew word is the same one translated as “for nothing” in 1:9, but with almost grim humour the meaning is inverted. [NJBC] Satan offers to destroy Job without seeking reward or payment.

2:2: “Satan”: He is a kind of a prosecuting attorney whose duties are to discover and prosecute misdeeds in the divinely controlled territories. [CAB] He is not yet the demonic personification of later Judaism and Christianity. 1 Chronicles 21:1 says “Satan stood up against Israel, and incited David to count the people of Israel.” [NOAB] In Zechariah 3:1, Satan is the accuser. [NJBC]

2:7: “loathsome sores”: These were not necessarily the result of leprosy (Hansen’s disease), but a skin ailment, otherwise unknown. [NOAB]

2:8: “potsherd ... ashes”: Potsherds were to be found in the garbage (rubbish) dump outside the village. Garbage was burnt.

2:9: “your integrity”: Job’s wife still believes in his integrity, as does his friend Eliphaz in 4:6. The Hebrew word is related to the one translated “blameless” in 1:1. [NOAB]

2:9: ”Curse”: The word in Hebrew literally means bless. Job’s wife is advising a rather swift form of suicide. She wishes to shorten Job’s torture. The word is a euphemism: no scribe would write such a blasphemous phrase as she utters. [NOAB] [CAB]

2:10: Job’s words parallel those in 1:21. Job is now truly holding God in awe “for nothing”. Yahweh’s trust in his servant is shown to be warranted, and Satan’s skepticism is disproved. He is not mentioned again in the book. [NJBC]

Psalm 26

One scholar sees this psalm as a communal protective psalm. [NJBC]

The structure of the psalm is chiastic: vv. 11-12 echo vv. 1-3 and vv. 8-11 echo vv. 4-5. Note the inclusio: “walked in my integrity” (v. 1) with “walk in my integrity” (v. 11) [NJBC]

Verses 1-3: 1 Kings 8:31-32 (Solomon’s prayer of dedication) provides a typical life-setting: “‘If someone sins against a neighbour and is given an oath to swear, and comes and swears before your altar in this house, then hear in heaven, and act, and judge your servants, condemning the guilty by bringing their conduct on their own head, and vindicating the righteous by rewarding them according to their righteousness’”. See also Psalms 7:10; 11:4; 17:3. [NJBC]

Verses 4-6: See also 4:2-4. For other negative confessions, see 101:3-4 and Job 31. Psalm 1:1 speaks about not associating with the wicked: “Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers”. [NJBC]

Verses 6-8: “wash my hands ... around your altar ... where your glory abides”: The references to the altar and the Temple, and the similarity to Exodus 30:17-21, point to a priest as the speaker. [NJBC] The psalmist’s protest of innocence is dramatized in a liturgical ceremony. [NOAB]

Verse 6: “wash my hands in innocence”: Deuteronomy 21:6-8 commands absolution of the innocent from sin by washing. See also Psalm 51:7. [NOAB]

Verse 8: “where your glory abides”: Isaiah 4:5 speaks of symbols of God’s glory appearing over Mount Zion: “Then the LORD will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over its places of assembly a cloud by day and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night. Indeed over all the glory there will be a canopy”. See also Ezekiel 43:4-5. [NOAB]

Verse 11: 24:4-5 tells us that “Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false, and do not swear deceitfully. They will receive blessing from the LORD, and vindication from the God of their salvation”. See also 73:13. [NJBC]

Verse 12: There is a further link between the outer sections of the psalm: “My foot stands on level ground” with “without wavering” (v. 1). [NJBC]

Hebrews 1:1-4;2:5-12

Note 2:1-3, the reason for writing the book: we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. If Christ’s message is valid, and deviations from God’s ways lead to punishment, how can we escape judgement if we ignore salvation through Christ?

1:1-4: These verses bear a resemblance to some of the writings of Philo.

1:2: “in these last days”: Literally at the end of these days. In the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, a formula is in the end of days; the author of Hebrews has added “these”. The formula usually refers to the end-time. [NJBC]

1:2: “by a Son”: Literally: through one who is a Son. [NJBC]

1:2: “through whom he also created ...”: Christ was mediator (agent) in creation. In the Old Testament (and the Apocrypha), this is the role of personified Wisdom: in Proverbs 8:30-31, Lady Wisdom says: “was beside him [God], like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race”. See also Wisdom of Solomon 7:22. [NJBC]

1:2: “worlds”: Several worlds, both visible and invisible. The invisible worlds are the heavens. See 2 Corinthians 12:2 (“third heaven”) and Hebrews 4:14 (“the heavens”).

1:3-4: Possibly a liturgical hymn. Similar wording occurs elsewhere in the New Testament. [NJBC]

1:3: “reflection”: The Greek word can also mean radiance. NJBC notes that reflection is more likely here; it is an echo of Wisdom of Solomon 7:26. Again, “exact imprint” is also found in Wisdom of Solomon 7:26 (translated as “spotless mirror” in the NRSV).

1:3: “sustains”: The Greek word also has the sense of guides. Jesus’ sonship and priesthood are the basis for salvation.

1:3: “at the right hand ...”: Jesus fulfills Psalm 110:1: “The LORD says to my lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool’”. For references to the glorification of Jesus, see Acts 2:34-36; Romans 8:34; Colossians 3:1; 1 Peter 3:22. Glorification is always mentioned immediately after mention of the resurrection. [NJBC]

1:4: “name”: In Semitic thought, a change in name indicated a change in the person who received it. Here the new name is Son: see v. 5. [NJBC]

1:5-14: A demonstration, based on quotations from the Old Testament, that while angels are in divine service, Christ is superior to them. [CAB]

2:1-4: Christ being superior to angels places a greater obligation on those to whom the faith has been handed down by eye witnesses to Jesus’ life. Failure to keep to the faith will have dire consequences. [NOAB]

2:5: “angels”: Regarding the present world being under the dominion of angels, see two verses:

  • The Septuagint translation of Deuteronomy 32:8 says: “When the Most High divided the nations, ... he set the bounds according to the angels of God”
  • In Daniel 10:13, Michael the archangel is one of the “princes”; he has power to assist Daniel. [NJBC] [BLXX]

2:6-8: The quotation is per the Septuagint translation. [NOAB] It is also applied to Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15:27 and Ephesians 1:22 and probably in 1 Peter 3:22, so one wonders whether this was part of a common early Christian tradition of Old Testament interpretation. [NJBC]

2:9: For Jesus’ exaltation as a consequence of his humiliation, see also 12:2 and Philippians 2:6-11. V. 17 says that his suffering enabled him to be “a merciful and faithful high priest”. [NOAB]

2:9: “for a little while”: The meaning here is little in time but in the psalm the meaning is little in degree.

2:9: “taste death”: i.e. experience death’s bitterness, per Isaiah 51:17. In Matthew 16:28 and Mark 9:1, Jesus speaks of tasting death. [NOAB]

2:9: “by the grace of God”: A few manuscripts have apart from God. They may be correct, on the principle that the more difficult reading should be preferred, especially since a scribe may have changed (softened) the words through a theological scruple. The words then express Jesus’ feeling of abandonment in death: in Mark 15:34, he asks: “‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”. [NJBC]

2:10: God is the creator in whom all that he has made finds its purpose. In 1 Corinthians 8:6, Paul writes: “... for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist”. See also Romans 11:36. [NOAB]

2:10: “make ... perfect”: This phrase is characteristic of Hebrews. It (or variants of it) are also found in 5:9; 7:19, 28; 9:9; 10:14; 11:40; 12:23. It also means bring to maturity. [NOAB]

2:10: “pioneer”: The same word is translated as “Author” (in Acts 3:15) and “Leader” (in Acts 5:31). [NOAB]

Mark 10:2-16

The parallel to the whole passage is Matthew 19:1-15. Luke 18:15-17 is a parallel of vv. 13-16.

Jesus’ teaching on divorce and remarriage is a further challenge to those who will follow him. It appears to be absolute. Other passages (Matthew 5:32; 19:9; 1 Corinthians 7:10-16) introduce some exceptions to Jesus’ absolute teaching. Matthew 5:32 says “... anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” and Matthew 19:9 says “... whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery”. In 1 Corinthians 7:10-16, Paul, on his own authority as an apostle, permits divorce when a non-Christian partner insists on a divorce from a Christian. We can see that the Church thought it necessary to modify the principle in actual application. In Matthew 18:18, Jesus says “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”. [BlkMk]

Comments: “The Pharisees were divided ...”: While all agreed that divorce was legal, the school of Shammai permitted it only if the wife were guilty of unchastity or gross immodesty, while the school of Hillel held that a man might divorce his wife even if she spoiled the food. Jewish marriage was not a contract between equals: a woman was given in marriage, she did not marry. But, as noted below, there was a certain protection in the Law for the more helpless party. Further, while a wife could not divorce her husband, she could go before the court and force him to divorce her if he engaged in certain occupations (such as tanning), had certain diseases, took vows to her detriment, or forced her to take such vows. Furthermore, the rabbis bitterly condemned indiscriminate divorce, even if it was legal. [BlkMk]

Verse 2: The Pharisees’ question may have been designed to bring Jesus into conflict with the much-divorced Herod family. [NJBC]

Verse 4: Deuteronomy 24:1-4 mentions a man divorcing his wife, but not a woman divorcing her husband (possibly because polygamy was practised). For a man to divorce his wife, he had to follow a specific procedure: he had to write his wife a certificate of divorce, stating the grounds. If she remarried and was again divorced (or her second husband died), the first husband could not marry her again. See also Jeremiah 3:8.

Verse 5: The Law was shaped to the character of those for whom it was written. [NOAB]

Verse 6: Genesis 1:27 says “God created humankind in his image, ... male and female he created them”. See also Genesis 5:2. [NOAB]

Verses 7-8: The quotation is from Genesis 2:24. [NOAB]

Verse 9: Jesus abrogates Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Judaism placed a high value on marriage. A man was expected to marry by the age of 18 and was not considered a complete person until he had fulfilled this duty. Celibacy was frowned on generally. [BlkMk]

CD (Damascus Document) 4:19-5:2 seems to forbid polygamy rather than remarriage after divorce, though 11QTemple (Temple Scroll) 57:17-19 forbids remarriage after divorce.

CD 4:19-5:2 says: “The builders of the wall ... are caught twice in fornication: by taking two wives in their lives, even though the principle of creation is ‘male and female he created them’. And the ones who went into the ark ‘went in two by two into the ark’. And about the prince it is written: ‘He should not multiply wives to himself’. ...” [Martinez]

11QTemple 57:17-19 says: “... He shall take no wife apart from her because only she will be with him all the days of her life. If she dies, he shall take for himself another from his father’s house, from his family”. [Martinez]

Verse 10: This was clearly a difficult teaching for the disciples to accept.

Verse 11: Luke 16:18 is parallel. [NJBC]

Verse 12: In Palestine, women could not sue for divorce, so this provision was inapplicable there; however Roman law permitted a woman to divorce her husband. [NOAB] [BlkMk] On the other hand, Jesus may be saying that partners in marriage should be equal: a revolutionary concept in Palestine at the time.

Verses 13-16: For Jesus and children, see also 9:33-37.

Verse 14: For other mentions of Jesus’ emotions, see 3:5 (“anger”); 8:12 (“sighed deeply in his spirit”); 14:33-34 (“distressed and agitated”). [NJBC]

Verse 16: In contemporary writings, children are portrayed as examples of unreasonable behaviour or as objects to be trained, but here they are persons who enjoy a relationship with Jesus and the Kingdom of God. [NJBC]

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