Comments

Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Seventh Sunday after Epiphany - February 18, 2001



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.

Genesis 45:1-15

NJBC says that this passage is probably mostly from the Yahwist (J) tradition. Vv. 14-15 may be from the Elohist (E) tradition.

God graciously contrives to bring good out of evil; for the brothers, in selling Joseph into slavery, have unwittingly carried out God's will. [NOAB]

Verses 1-2: Joseph's test has come to an end when he sees the profound change in his intended murderers. [NJBC]

Verses 5-8: Joseph attempts to put the brothers at ease, but only at v. 15 do they feel free to speak. [NJBC]

Verse 5: See also 50:20. [CAB]

Verse 5: "angry": FoxMoses translates the Hebrew as upset - at each other, or referring to each individual's feelings of guilt.

Verse 5: "to preserve life": Not only of the famine-stricken Egyptians but also of a "remnant" (v. 7), i.e. the family/clan which is the bearer of the promise to Abraham. See 12:2-3; 50:24. [NOAB]

Verse 7: "remnant": NJBC finds use of this word puzzling. It is found only here in the Pentateuch but it is common in Isaiah where it is paired with survivors, as it here: see Isaiah 10:20; 37:32. Joseph's family is not a remnant in the sense the word is used later.

Verse 8: "a father to Pharaoh": It is known as the title of an Egyptian vizier. The word is also used in this sense in Isaiah 22:21 (Eliakim is made "a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah") and 1 Maccabees 11:32 (Lasthenes was probably governor under King Demetrius) [NOAB]

Verse 10: "the land of Goshen": The present Wadi Tumilat, a narrow strip of grazing land in the Nile delta, adjacent to what is now the Suez Canal. [NOAB]

Verse 10: Comments: There they will be "near" (v.10) him: this and other clues in this chapter place the story in time: the royal court was in lower Egypt during two periods; the Hyksos period (1720-1550 BC) fits this and other data in the story: During the Hyksos period, the land was under pro-Semitic rule, so Joseph could well rise to the rank of prime minister. [NOAB] See also 41:39-41 (only Pharaoh is greater than Joseph).

Verse 12: "eyes ... eyes ...see": By placing the emphasis on seeing, Joseph ensures that the brothers will be reliable witnesses to Jacob that he is powerful. [NJBC]

Verse 13: "how greatly I am honoured": FoxMoses translates the Hebrew as all the weight I carry, i.e. my importance.

Verse 15: "his brothers talked to him": Something they could not do peaceably in 37:4. [NJBC]

Verses 16-20: A curious aside about how Pharaoh came to know about the arrival of Joseph's brothers. It is strange for two reasons:

  • Pharaoh tells Joseph what arrangements to make immediately after Joseph has given his own commission to the brothers, and
  • 46:31-47:6 gives the impression that Pharaoh there receives the news for the first time. So we probably have multiple traditions here. [NJBC]

Verse 18: "the fat of the land": Literally the best things. The anticipated bounties of settling in Egypt are brought out by this phrase, "the best of all the land" (v. 20) and "the good things of Egypt", all of which are the same phrase in the Hebrew - and by the repeated exhortation to "come" (vv. 18, 19). [FoxMoses]

Verse 20: "Give no thought for your possessions": FoxMoses translates the Hebrew as Let your eyes not look-with-regret, possibly meaning do not stint.

Verse 22: "but to Benjamin ...": This is the same situation as in Chapter 37, but this time the brothers do not react adversely to the favouring of the youngest son. [FoxMoses]

Verse 24: "Do not quarrel along the way": A realistic touch. [NJBC]

Verse 26: "He was stunned": Not surprising!

Verse 27: "they told him all the words of Joseph": In Chapter 37, they are damaging, but here they are life-giving. [FoxMoses]

In 26:1-2, God has forbidden Isaac to go to Egypt during a famine, but his son Jacob may now go as part of the divine plan, his people's destiny. [FoxMoses]

Psalm 37:1-12,39-40

This series of proverbial injunctions to the faithful rehearses themes of God's punishment of the wicked and his reward of the righteous whose way of life manifests generosity and the loving care of God. [CAB]

That this psalm is in acrostic form (with each stanza beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet) explains the lack of a clear outline and lack of logical progression of thought. [NOAB] [NJBC]

Verse 2: Recall Isaiah 40:7: "The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass". The heat of the sun may also be the cause. [JBC]

Verse 3: "the land": It is also mentioned in vv. 9, 11, 22, 29, 34. [NOAB]

Verse 9: "inherit the land": Leviticus 25:23 says that the land belongs to Yahweh and is his to allot to whom he will. Recall Deuteronomy 11:8-22: "Keep, then, this entire commandment that I am commanding you today, so that you may have strength to go in and occupy the land that you are crossing over to occupy, and so that you may live long in the land ..." and God's command to Abram in Genesis 12:1. [NOAB]

Verse 11: "the meek": The Hebrew word originally meant overwhelmed by want but came to have a religious meaning: those who are aware of their dependence on God. [NJBC] Jesus quotes this verse as one of the Beatitudes: see Matthew 5:5. [NOAB]

Verses 11-15: The wicked and their unsuccessful persecution of the godly. [JBC]

Verse 16: An idea common in wisdom literature: see Proverbs 15:16; 16:8. [JBC]

Verse 22: This verse illustrates the power of cursing in the ancient world. [JBC]

Verse 25: See also Job 4:7. [NOAB]

Verses 27, 29: "forever": As elsewhere in the Old Testament, this word means indefinitely, but it is capable of being expanded into a life that is immortal (in Wisdom) and eternal (in John). [JBC]

Verses 30-31: The close association of wisdom and the Law is also found in Sirach 24:22, Baruch 4:1 and elsewhere in wisdom literature. [JBC]

Verse 34: "Wait for the Lord": Patient waiting for Yahweh to act is the proper attitude, not querulous anxiety. See also 38:15; 62:1, 5; 130:5; Isaiah 40:31. [NOAB]

Verses 35-36: The prosperity of the wicked is transitory and unsubstantial. [JBC]

1 Corinthians 15:35-38,42-50

Verses 35-36: The diatribe-style questions are really an objection. [NJBC] He imagines an objector whom he refutes with an epithet common to that literary form, "Fool!". Nature itself shows that the death of a seed is not an obstacle, but a condition for its passage to a higher and richer life. [JBC]

Verse 35: "With what sort of body do they come?": This question was first raised in Judaism in 2 Apocalypse of Baruch, a book written some 30 years after 1 Corinthians. [NJBC]

Verse 39: God provides every being with a body adapted to the circumstances of its existence. [JBC]

Verses 40-41: "glory": The Greek word is doxa. It has a range of meanings, including brightness, radiance and reflection (of God's power). [JBC] It is true that earthly beings do not manifest their "glory" by emitting (or reflecting) light. The sun, moon and stars do not shine with equal brightness. [Blk1Cor]

Verse 40: "heavenly bodies": In Jewish tradition, stars were considered to be animate beings: see 1 Enoch 18:13-16 and Philo. [NJBC]

Verse 42: "perishable ... imperishable": NJBC offers in corruption and in incorruption.

Verse 43: "power": The Greek word, dynamis, is an eschatological term. [Blk1Cor]

Verse 44: "physical": The Greek word is psychikon, the instrument of the psyche, which is the principle of mortal existence. Blk1Cor translates it as natural, in the sense of as found in nature. "Being" (v. 45) translates psyche, which could be conceived as a purely material principle of animation: see Philo. In the Septuagint translation of Genesis 2:7, God makes Adam "a living being", psyche. Earthly being would have been a less ambiguous expression, but Paul has already used it (and its antithesis) in another sense in v. 40. [NJBC]

Verse 44b: Paul begins to answer the question: how do we know that there is in fact a resurrection body? The form of his thesis implies that he has some common ground with his opponents which he can use as a starting point. In order to reconcile the two accounts of creation, Philo distinguished the heavenly man of Genesis 1 from the earthly man of Genesis 2, and argued that the second historical man was a copy of the first ideal man. Paul accepts the distinction but maintains (obviously with Christ in mind) that the relationship should be understood differently. [NJBC]

Verse 44b: "spiritual body": This is a transformed mode of being, not merely a resuscitation of the physical corpse. [CAB] It is the human body as adapted by the Spirit of God for a completely different mode of existence. [NJBC]

Verse 45: "the last Adam": In Jewish theology, the end of the world will be like the beginning, so Adam has a role in the end-times: see 1 Enoch 85-90; Apocalypse of Moses 21:16; 39:2; 41:1-3. So Paul is able to present Christ as "the last Adam". Through his resurrection, he became Lord (Paul says in Romans 14:9: "For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living") so he is "life-giving". [NJBC]

Verse 45: "The first man, Adam": By adding "Adam" to the citation of Genesis 2:7b, Paul accepts the historical character of Adam, but in adding "first" he departs from Philo's view (given above). [NJBC]

Verse 46: To Philo, the heavenly man of Genesis 1 was both incorporeal and incorruptible, so his body could be described as "spiritual", but to Paul "spiritual" could only describe the risen body of Christ. [NJBC]

Verse 47: This verse amplifies v. 46, in terms echoing Philo's terminology. [NJBC]

Verses 48-49: Paul reiterates the thoughts of vv. 21-22 but from a slightly different perspective. Adam and Christ both represent a possibility of human existence, possibilities that are real since all are what Adam was and can become what Christ is. [NJBC] Note Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 3:18: "And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit". [JBC]

Verse 50: Jeremias, the great scholar, sees the two parts of this verse as complimentary, because he takes "flesh and blood" as meaning the living, and "the perishable" as meaning those who have already died, but it is perhaps more likely that "the perishable" explains why "flesh and blood" are incompatible with an eternal kingdom. [NJBC]

Luke 6:27-38

Verses 27-30: See also Matthew 5:39-42; Romans 12:17; 13:8-10. [NOAB]

Verse 27: "Love your enemies": This is a persistent theme in Luke/Acts, for example in stories about Samaritans: see 9:51-56; 10:25-37; 17:11-17; Acts 8:4-25. [NJBC]

Verse 28: Jesus gives the greatest example of this on the cross, if 23:34 is authentic. [NOAB] This verse, per the NRSV footnote, is not in all manuscripts. BlkLk suggests that 23:34 was omitted from some due to the conviction, common in Gentile Christian circles, that God did not forgive the Jews for the crucifixion, but punished them for it by the destruction of Jerusalem.

Verse 29: "offer the other also ...": This flies in the face of the natural tendency to place self-protection first. [NJBC]

Verse 29: "do not withhold even your shirt": Only a tunic and coat were worn, so Jesus advises (at least as an image) stripping oneself naked. [NJBC]

Verse 30: Matthew 5:42 says "Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you", a less radical command. [NJBC]

Verse 30: "begs from you": BlkLk suggests asks of you. REB offers a similar translation.

Verse 30: "do not ask for them again": NJBC and REB offer do not demand ... back.

Verse 31: Matthew 7:12 is similar. [NOAB]

Verse 31: Luke's audience (in the Gentile world) would have known the cultural ethic: if you receive something, reciprocate. Vv. 32-36 provide an interpretation of this verse which makes clear that Jesus expects much more. [NJBC]

Verse 34: "as much again": BlkLk offers like favours.

Verses 35c-36: As God stands to the needy world with the gracious gift of salvation, so disciples should stand to the poor of society in generous open-handedness. [NJBC]

Verses 37-38: Matthew 7:1-2 says: "'Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.'". [NOAB]

Verse 37: "forgive": NJBC says that "forgive" is not a good translation because it suggests forgiving one who wrongs you. The Greek word has economic force, so he offers pardon your debtors and you will be pardoned.

Verse 38: "lap": BlkLk translates the Greek word as bosom. He says that this is the full part of the garment above the girdle which could serve as a pocket.

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