Comments

Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost - October 28, 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 42:1-6,10-17

40:9-14: If Job can take on the role of king in a divine style, and can manage the world, especially the wicked, then the Lord will acknowledge his victory.

40:15-34: God asks: can you handle Behemoth and Leviathan, primeval monsters of the land and sea respectively – and mythical symbols of chaos and evil?

42:1-6: In the Masoretic Text, three phrases are interjected (vv. 3a, 4), two of which are quotations from 38:2, 3b; the third is “Hear, and I will speak”. Most commentators consider them to be marginal annotations. [NJBC]

42:2: “that no purpose of yours can be thwarted”: This echoes the phrase applied to the builders of the Tower of Babel: “nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them” (see Genesis 11:6). [NJBC]

42:5: NOAB says that hearsay understanding of Yahweh has been replaced by vision or experience of him. It is enough for Job that his creator has come to him personally.

42:5: Job’s model service has been based on faith. That faith has been strong enough to withstand the assault of his friends’ argument, but at what cost in struggle and pain! [NJBC]

42:6: This is a problematic verse. If “repent” means that God changes his mind, then see also Exodus 32:14 (the golden calf) and Jeremiah 18:8, 10 (the potter and clay) for other instances. “Dust and ashes” are a symbol of weakness and humility; see also Genesis 18:27 (Abraham, of himself) and Job 30:19 (Job). [NOAB] (It may be that Job despises himself for demanding an audience with God.)

Job cannot be saying that he is sorry for his sins (a move that his friends have unsuccessfully tried to persuade him to adopt); the whole tenor of the book is against such a view. Neither is it clear that he repents of his more outrageous statements in the debate. Note Yahweh’s verdict in v. 7: Job has spoken of God “what is right” [NJBC]

42:7-10a: This narrative has the following important implications:

  • It establishes the truth of Job’s vehement affirmations against his friends. Their doctrine, the conclusions they drew, and their accusations against him were false; their bigotry and lack of charity (by which they thought they were defending God and his justice) were culpable and have provoked God’s anger.
  • Yahweh treats them with mercy and indulgence; his forgiveness is easily obtained – but by means of the man whom they had condemned as obstinately wicked.
  • If the friends must humble themselves, Job also must forgive them. They have added immeasurably to his suffering; nevertheless, he must be reconciled to them and become their redeemer, acting out what he has claimed in 31:29. [JBC]

There is here an approach to the idea of vicarious atonement, developed further in the fourth Servant Song (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). If Job is such an effective intercessor, it is partly because of the sufferings he has borne. Even when his friends were abusing him, he was actually being qualified to obtain for them the forgiveness they would need. [NJBC]

42:8: “burnt offering”: 1:5 tells us that Job has offered “burnt offerings” weekly for his seven sons. It may be that the implication is that the friends’ speeches through much of the book amount to blasphemy.

42:9-16: It is a misreading to consider the restoration of Job to be the point of the story. The author would not deny that God also rewards people, but this is at the divine pleasure. [NOAB]

42:11: Alienation from “all his brothers and sisters” and others is not mentioned at the beginning of the story (1:1-2:10). NJBC suggests that the author is probably quoting from a pre-existing form of the Job story which did include ostracism.

42:14: “Jemimah” means dove, “Keziah” cassia (a perfume), and “Keren-happuch” horn of antimony (black eye shadow). Uncharacteristically for the time, they receive inheritances along with their brothers. [HBD]

Psalm 34:1-8,(19-22)

This psalm is an alphabetical acrostic, each verse beginning with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet, as are Psalms 9, 10 and 25. [CAB] [NOAB]

The superscription, “Of David, when he feigned madness before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away” does not match the details of the story in 2 Samuel 11:14-21. [CAB]

The teaching is typical of traditional wisdom doctrine: all goes well for the righteous who “lack no good thing” (v. 10). Wisdom literature teaches recognition of the supremacy of God over one’s life and the need to express this recognition by obeying his commandments and worshipping him. See also Psalms 1 and 37. [NJBC]

Verses 1-3: A brief hymn of praise. [NOAB]

Verses 4-6: The story of the psalmist’s experience. Other such stories are found in 18:4-6, 36-44; 30:6-12; 32:3-5. [NOAB]

Verses 7-22: These verses commend to the congregation (the just) the same kind of faith in God that the psalmist has, and assures them that God will never be found wanting. See also 32:6-11. [NOAB]

Verse 7: “angel of the Lord”: See also Exodus 14:19 (crossing the Reed Sea) and 23:20 (promise of the conquest of Canaan). Note the contrast with the actions of the “angel of the Lord” in 35:5-6. There he pursues the ungodly. [NJBC]

Verse 9: “his holy ones”: This is probably the only time in the Old Testament that “holy ones” are people. Usually the word refers to members of the heavenly court. [JBC]

Verse 11: “children”: Literally sons. One of the origins of Old Testament wisdom traditions is the home, where parents would teach their children right conduct. An address “to sons” is common in wisdom literature elsewhere in the ancient Near East. See also Proverbs 4:1; 5:7; 7:24; 8:32; Sirach 2:1; 3:1. [NJBC]

Verse 11: Proverbs 1:7 says: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction”. Proverbs 2:1 speaks to the seeker of wisdom as “My child”.

Verses 12-14: 1 Peter 3:10-12 offers similar advice. [NOAB]

Verse 20: Fulfilment of this verse of scripture in Jesus is mentioned in John 19:33-36.

Hebrews 7:23-28

In the Qumran community, Melchizedek was regarded as an angelic, heavenly figure, and judge, who rescues the righteous. [NOAB] See 11QMelch (Melchizedek text). [NJBC]

Verses 1-10: From Genesis 14:17-20, the author deduces that the mysterious priest-king Melchizedek was greater than both Abraham and his descendent, Levi. [NOAB] The assumption that Melchizedek was a priest of the God of Israel is accepted by the author.

Verse 2: “one-tenth”: Genesis does not make clear who paid tithes to whom. The idea that Abraham paid them was a contemporary understanding: 1QapGen (Qumran Genesis Apocryphon) 22:17 says “... (Abraham) gave him [Melchizedek] a tithe of all the flocks of the king of Elam and his allies”. See also Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 1.10.2. [NJBC] [Martinez]

Verse 2: “‘king of righteousness’ ... ‘king of peace’”: These were popular etymologies of Melchizedek’s name. The author probably gives them because Melchizedek is regarded as a prototype of Jesus, the Messiah, and the messianic blessings include justice and peace: Isaiah 9:5-6 says “... For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”. See also Isaiah 32:1, 17. [NJBC]

Verse 3: “Without father, without mother ...”: Melchizedek’s ancestry, birth and death are not recorded in the Bible. [NOAB] According to a principle of rabbinic exegesis, what is not mentioned in the Torah does not exist. This is a partial, although probably insufficient, explanation for the ascription of eternal life to Melchizedek. Perhaps Psalm 110:4 led to this ascription both here and at Qumran. But this ascription leads to a problem: are there two eternal priests, Melchizedek and Jesus, even though the author says that Melchizedek only resembled “the Son of God” (v. 3)? [NJBC] Similar problems are found elsewhere where the midrashic technique is used (in the rabbinical literature, e.g. in Midrash Rabba). The only eternal priesthood for the author is indeed that of Christ.

Verse 5: “tithes”: Per Numbers 18:20-32, the Israelites had to pay to the levitical priests one-tenth of all products of the land. [CAB]

Verse 5: “a commandment in the law”: In v. 12, the author will argue that the priesthood and the Law are so closely related that the passing away of the former involves the passing away of the latter. [NJBC]

Verse 7: “It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior”: He who can demand payment is “the superior”, namely the levitical priests (v. 5) and Melchizedek (v. 6); however, in Genesis Melchizedek had no right to demand payment; it was a pure gift. Melchizedek is especially superior because the payer was the recipient of God’s “promises” (v. 6).

However, the words in this verse contradict what is said in the Old Testament: see 2 Samuel 14:22 (Joab blesses the king) and Job 31:20 (the poor bless Job). The author may have this particular liturgical situation in mind. [NJBC]

Verse 8: “those who are mortal”: i.e. levitical priests. [NOAB]

Verses 9-10: “Levi”: i.e. not just the son of Jacob but also the priestly tribe descended from him. [NJBC]

Verses 11-14: The levitical priesthood is inadequate because it is provisional and temporary. [NOAB]

Verse 11: “perfection”: V. 19 uses “perfect” with respect to the Law, so “perfection” here means cleansing from sin and the consequent ability to approach God, rather than priestly consecration, the meaning elsewhere in Hebrews. [NJBC]

Verse 11: “for the people received the law under this priesthood”: NJBC offers on the basis of which the people received the law. The Law was given to Israel as a means of union with God, and the priesthood was the instrument by which the Law was meant to achieve its purpose.

Verse 13: “the one”: i.e. Jesus, the priest “according to the order of Melchizedek” (v. 17), about whom Psalm 110:4 speaks. [NJBC]

Verse 14: “our Lord was descended from Judah”: The author accepts the tradition that Jesus was of the family of David: see also Romans 1:3. [NJBC]

Verses 15-19: On the other hand, a “priest ... resembling Melchizedek” is eternal, as Psalm 110:4 shows. [NOAB]

Verses 15-16: “another priest arises, resembling Melchizedek”: The author argues that Jesus’ priesthood supplanted that of the Levites. [JBC]

Verse 16: “an indestructible life”: The principal point of comparison between Melchizedek and Jesus is that both are eternal. Jesus possesses this “life” because of his resurrection, in virtue of his exaltation, not because of his divine nature. 5:5 says: “So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you’”. [NJBC]

Verse 16: “a legal requirement concerning physical descent”: Old Testament priests had to be descendants of Levi who were of the family of Aaron: see Numbers 3:3, 10. [NJBC]

Verses 18-19: While the author was no doubt aware that the Aaronic priesthood was to be eternal (see Exodus 40:15), this does not come into his argument because, in vv. 23-24, he contrasts the transitory life of individual Jewish priests with the eternal life of Jesus and he asserts that Jesus’ eternal priesthood was confirmed by God’s oath, while God made no such oath about levitical priests (v. 20-21). But the main reason for the transfer of the priesthood was that Jesus has achieved that of which the Old Testament priests were incapable. [NJBC]

Verse 19: “a better hope”: It is based on the accomplished sacrifice of the Son of God, through which we have access to the Father. See 4:16. In Hebrews, “better” designates the new order: see also 1:4; 7:22; 8:6; 9:23; 10:34. [NJBC]

Verse 19: “approach God”: In the Septuagint translation of Leviticus 10:3, the priests are those who approach God. [NJBC]

Verse 22: “a better covenant”: This covenant is “better” than the old because it will remain as long as the priesthood on which it is founded remains, and the eternity of that priesthood has been confirmed by God’s oath. Thus, Jesus, the priest of this covenant, is himself “the guarantee” of its permanence. [NJBC]

Verse 24: “permanently”: The Greek word, aparabaton, can mean permanent or untransferable. While the context favours the former, the notions are so closely linked that one involves the other. [NJBC]

Verse 25: Scholars argue that Jesus continually offers sacrifice. The intercession of Jesus is also mentioned in Romans 8:34, in like words: “... It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.” [NJBC]

Verse 26: “above the heavens”: In ancient thinking, heavens were in a hierarchy, with God in the highest heaven, so “heavens” here are lower heavens. This seems to be a reference to Jesus’ passage through the intermediate heavens into the heavenly sanctuary, the abode of God. See also 4:14 and 9:24. [NJBC]

Verse 27: A levitical priest was only required to offer such sacrifices on the Day of Atonement, not “day after day”. The author exercises license to prove his point. For the offerings which were required daily, see Exodus 29:38-42; Leviticus 6:6-16; Numbers 28:3-8. [NJBC]

Verse 28: The author deals with the possible objection that the Mosaic law set aside the priesthood of which Psalm 110:4 speaks. He says that the promise of the new non-levitical priesthood came long after the Law that established the Old Testament priesthood, and it set up as high priest not the weak, transitory high priests of the Old Testament but the Son who has been consecrated for ever. [NJBC]

Mark 10:46-52

The parallels are Matthew 20:29-34 and Luke 18:35-43. [NOAB]

Note the contrast between Bartimaeus’ healing and that of the blind man:

  • Bartimaeus seeks out Jesus himself while the unnamed man is brought to Jesus.
  • Bartimaeus’ healing is immediate, while the earlier healing is gradual. [NJBC]

Perhaps Mark is suggesting that understanding of Christ’s mission has grown. (Peter gradually recognizes Jesus as Messiah in 8:27-30.)

Matthew (in 20:34) records a healing gesture, but Mark does not; he emphasizes the man’s faith rather than the cure.

Verse 46: “They came to Jericho”: The story of the cure of the unnamed blind man begins similarly: “They came to Bethsaida” (see 8:22).

Verse 46: “Bartimaeus”: In Aramaic, bar means son of. [NOAB] It is unusual for Mark to name the person healed. (He identifies Jairus, but not his daughter: see 5:21-43.) Neither Matthew nor Luke name him. [NJBC]

Verse 47: “shout out”: The Greek word occurs in connection with manifestations (see 6:49) and recognitions of Jesus’ transcendence. It is also found in 1:24; 3:11; 5:7, 9; 9:24, 26; 11:9. [JBC]

Verse 47: “Son of David”: This title designates Jesus as heir of the promise made to David through Nathan: see 2 Samuel 7:12-16; 1 Chronicles 17:11-14; Psalm 89:28-37. Up to this point, except for Peter, only demons have recognized Jesus’ true identity. [NJBC]

Verse 48: “ordered him to be quiet”: In 3:12 and 8:30, Jesus orders silence.

Verse 50: “cloak”: For situations in Mark where references to garments indicate that someone was leaving behind the old order, see 2:21; 5:25-30; 6:56; 9:3; 11:7-8; 13:16; 15:20, 24. Mark probably uses the word “cloak” here to symbolize this: most of the references are to cloaks (plural).[NJBC] However NOAB says that the “cloak” is Bartimaeus’ outer garment.

Verse 51: “My teacher”: rabbouni: a term of respect. [CAB]

Verse 51: “What do you want me to do for you?”: Blind Bartimaeus has seen the nature of Jesus’ kingly authority better than James and John. [JBC] Jesus may be asking what kind of help do you want me to provide to you?. Bartimaeus makes his intent clear: he wishes to understand Jesus’ teachings and to be healed of blindness; he is not seeking the political independence of Israel.

Verse 52: “made you well”: The Greek word was a technical term in early Christian circles for salvation and resurrection life, so it may be that early Christians took this healing as an anticipation of the resurrection life of Jesus and of those who believe in him. The word is also found in Matthew 9:21-22; Mark 5:23, 28, 34; Luke 8:36, 48, 50; 17:19; 18:42. It also carries with it the idea of rescue from impending destruction or from a superior power. [NOAB]

Verse 52: “on the way”: In the early centuries, Christianity was known as The Way.

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