Comments

Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost - August 18, 2013



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.

Isaiah 5:1-7

For similar images, see also Hosea 10:1-2; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 15. NOAB considers this poem to be an allegory; Comments follows NJBC in calling it a parable. C. H. Dodd defined a parable as a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought. An allegory encodes a relatively static series of comparisons which the author wishes to communicate; therefore its interpretation is not nearly so open-ended as that of a parable, which juxtaposes two basically dissimilar notions (e.g. the kingdom of God and the mustard seed), and in which the possible lines of comparison are not as clear or limited. [Blomberg]

Verse 1a: This is the introduction to the poem. [NOAB]

Verse 1: “love-song”: The Hebrew word dod (love) occurs frequently in Song of Solomon, where we also find vineyard used metaphorically of the beloved. Song of Solomon 8:11-12 says: “Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the fields, and lodge in the villages; let us go out early to the vineyards, and see whether the vines have budded, whether the grape blossoms have opened and the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love”. See also Song of Solomon 1:6 [NJBC]

Verse 2: “cleared it of stones”: See also Psalm 80:12-13 and Song of Solomon 2:15.

Verse 2: “choice vines”: The Hebrew word is soreq, meaning either red grapes or grapes native to the valley of Sorek, west of Jerusalem. [NOAB]

Verse 2: “wild grapes”: The Hebrew word is derived from a verb meaning to stink, so these are really rotten grapes! [NJBC]

Verse 3: Judah is invited to pass judgement on herself, much as Nathan, through a parable, had David pass judgement on himself: see 2 Samuel 12:1-12. [NOAB]

Verse 7: CAB agrees with the interpretation given in Comments, except that he sees the grapes as the expected moral fruits: “justice” and “righteousness”.

Verse 7: “righteousness”: The living, dynamic relationship between the nation and God, wherein the nation is spiritually and morally acceptable to God: see also 1:27; 9:7; 16:5; 28:17. Righteousness and justice are naturally coupled (see 1:27) and grow out of the covenant relationship, the existence of which is assumed. See Exodus 19-20 for the giving of the covenant. [NOAB]

Verses 8-30: Details of Israel’s social injustice: greed (vv. 8-10), self-indulgence (vv. 11-13), self-deceit (vv. 18-23). [CAB]

Psalm 80:1-2,8-19

Superscription: “Of Asaph”: Asaph was appointed by David to share in leading worship, and sang and/or played at the dedication of the Temple Solomon built, as 1 Chronicles 6:31-48 tells us.

Note the metaphors:

  • In v. 1, Shepherd = God; flock = Israel
  • In vv. 8-15: caretaker = God; vine = Israel. [CAB]

Today, we consider switching metaphors to be bad practice, but in ancient times, it was both common and acceptable.

Verse 1: “Shepherd”: See also Genesis 48:15 (Jacob refers to God as his shepherd); 49:24; Psalms 23:1 (“The LORDis my shepherd ...”); 77:20. [JBC]

Verse 1: “enthroned upon the cherubim”: See also 1 Samuel 4:4 (“the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim”); 2 Samuel 6:2; Isaiah 37:16. [NJBC]

Verse 2: “Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh”: 78:67-68 says “He rejected the tent of Joseph, he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim; but he chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, which he loves”. [NJBC]

Verse 3: “shine”: The REB offers shine upon us.

Verses 4-6: The prophets of the northern kingdom did not hesitate to declare the covenant nullified because of Israel’s infidelity: see also Amos 1:3-2:6 and Hosea 1:9 (“Lo-ammi” means not my people). [NJBC]

Verses 8-13: These verses depict Israel as a vine, once carefully tended but now forsaken. This metaphor is also found in Isaiah 5:1-7 (the Song of the Vineyard); 27:2-6; Jeremiah 2:2; Hosea 10:1; Ezekiel 17. [JBC]

Verse 8: “vine”: For the figure of the vine, see also Hosea 10:1-2 and Ezekiel 17. [JBC]

Verse 8: “nations”: See also 78:55. Deuteronomy 7:1 names them: “the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations mightier and more numerous than you”. [NOAB]

Verse 10: “mighty cedars”: Mighty trees that are like mountains are God’s work not that of humans. [JBC]

Verse 11: “sea”: The Mediterranean. [JBC]

Verse 11: “the River”: The Euphrates. 1 Kings 4:21 states the extent of Solomon’s kingdom: “Solomon was sovereign over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates to the land of the Philistines, even to the border of Egypt”. [NOAB]

Verses 12-13: 89:40-41 is similar. [NJBC]

Verse 12: “broken down its walls”: Vines were usually protected by walls as a guard against humans and animals. See also Isaiah 5:3-7. [JBC]

Verse 16: “may they perish ...”: While in vv. 3, 7 and 19 the prayer is that through God’s showing himself (smiling) Israel may be saved, here it is that his grimace may cause Israel’s enemies to perish. [NJBC]

Verse 17: “the one at your right hand”: NOAB sees this as a personification of Israel rather than the king. Psalm 110:1 says “The LORD says to my lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool’”. [JBC]

Verse 17: “the one whom ...”: The Hebrew is ben ‘adam, meaning son of man. [JBC]

Hebrews 11:29-12:2

11:29: For the miraculous passage of the Israelites through the Reed (Red) Sea, see Exodus 14:21-31. [NOAB]

11:30: For the miraculous destruction of Jericho, see Joshua 6:12-31. [NOAB]

11:31: For the role of Rahab the prostitute in the taking of Jericho, see Joshua 2:1-21; 6:22-25. [NOAB]

11:32: The REB offers: Need I say more? Time is too short to tell ... See Judges 6-8 (Gideon); 4-5 (Deborah and Barak); 13-16 (Samson); 11-12 (Jephthah); 1 Samuel 16-30 (David); 2 Samuel 1-24; 1 Kings 1:1-2:11; 1 Samuel 15:1-16; 13. [NOAB]

11:32: “Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah”: Judges of ancient Israel. [CAB]

11:33: “shut the mouths of lions”: In Daniel 6:22, Daniel tells the king: “My God sent his angel and shut the lions' mouths so that they would not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong”. [NOAB]

11:34: “quenched raging fire”: See Daniel 3. [NOAB]

11:35a: The REB has Women received back their dead raised to life. See 1 Kings 17:17-24 (Elijah revives the widow's son) and 2 Kings 4:8-27 (Elisha raises the Shunammite's son). [NOAB]

11:35b-38: 1 Maccabees 1:60-63 says that at the time of the desecration of the Temple in 167 BC: “According to the decree, they put to death the women who had their children circumcised, and their families and those who circumcised them; and they hung the infants from their mothers' necks. But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die”. See also 1 Maccabees 7:34; 2 Maccabees 6: 18-31; 7: 1-42. [NOAB] [NJBC]

11:37: See also 2 Chronicles 24:20-22 (Zechariah is stoned to death); Jeremiah 26:23 (Jehoiakim kills Uriah with a sword); 2 Maccabees 5:27 (Judas Maccabeus and his companions); 6:12-7:42 (the martyrdom of Eleazar and others). [NOAB]

11:37: “sawn in two”: This tradition is found in Ascension of Isaiah 5:1-14. Both Tertullian and Justin Martyr mention it. [JBC]

11:37: “tormented”: The Greek word is a technical term meaning stretched on a rack or wheel. This was the fate of some martyrs during the Maccabean revolt against the Syrians in the second century BC. See generally 2 Maccabees 5-7. [CAB]

11:38: “and in caves”: The REB has hiding in caves. See 2 Maccabees 6:11; 10:6. [NOAB]

11:40: “so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect”: NJBC says that those earlier in this chapter have now obtained what Christians still on earth possess only in an anticipatory way. He refers the reader to 6:11-12: “And we want each one of you to show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope to the very end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

12:1: “weight”: i.e. encumbrance. [NOAB]

12:1: “clings”: In most manuscripts, the Greek word is euperistatos. It occurs only here in the New Testament; its meaning is only conjectured. The P46 manuscript has euperipastos, meaning easily distracting. [JBC]

12:1: “run ... the race”: Paul uses this image in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. [NOAB]

12:2-3: Jesus is the model for endurance of hardship. [NJBC]

12:2: “pioneer and perfecter”: 2:10 says “It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings”. Christ is the prototype and consummator of God’s purpose for his people. [NOAB]

12:2: “pioneer”: The Greek word, archegos, is translated as “Author” in Acts 3:15 and as “Leader” in Acts 5:31. [NOAB]

12:2: “our faith”: Literally the faith. [NOAB]

12:2: “for the sake of the joy”: This can also be translated as instead of joy, i.e. Jesus’ repudiation of earthly kingship (Matthew 4:8-10, his temptation in the wilderness, and John 6:15, after the feeding of the five thousand) or his self-emptying (Philippians 2:6-9); however the exhortation that the addressees persevere in view of the triumphant end of the race suggests that the author understands Jesus’ example in the same way. [NJBC]

12:3-13: Discipline is the quality which is required of those who “run with perseverance the race that is set before us” (v. 1), as Jesus demonstrated and as scripture affirms, and as children reared by responsible parents have experienced. Through athletic-like training (v. 11), discipline now leads to a future peace and the reward of “righteousness”. There is no room for moral lameness or flabbiness in the demanding life of the faithful. [CAB]

12:5-6: The quotation is Proverbs 3:11-12. [NOAB]

12:8: “all children”: i.e. all children of God: see v. 6. [NOAB]

12:9: “the Father of spirits”: God is the author of humanity’s spiritual being: see Numbers 16:22; 27:16; Zechariah 12:1. [NOAB] [NJBC]

12:12: This is a quotation of Isaiah 35:3. [NOAB]

Luke 12:49-56

These sayings are all sayings on the end of the era. [NOAB] We are accountable for our behaviour. [CAB]

Verses 49-53: CAB says that these verses depict the domestic conflicts that will result from commitments made to Jesus. To NJBC, these verses give the rationale for opposition to Jesus, his disciple, and within the Church.

Verse 49: “fire”: In separating the dross from the genuine, fire is also a symbol of judgement. In Matthew 3:11, John the Baptizer says that Jesus “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire”. See also Matthew 7:19 (“Beware of false prophets ...”). See also Mark 9:48 and Luke 3:16. [NOAB]

Verse 50: In Mark 10:38-39, in answer to the request of James and John to share in his power, Jesus says “‘Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’”. There the cup is a symbol of death. In John 12:27, Jesus says “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say – ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour”. [NOAB] [BlkLk] In obedience to God’s will, Jesus goes on his journey to Jerusalem and his exodus, resolutely facing all opposition. [NJBC]

Verses 51-53: In Matthew 10:34-36, Jesus says “‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's foes will be members of one's own household.’”. See also Luke 21:16 and Micah 7:6. [NOAB] At Jesus’ baptism, in 2:14, a voice from God says “‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’”, so there will be some whom God favours, and others whom he does not. [BlkLk] Recall Simeon’s words to Mary in 2:34-35: “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul too’”. [NJBC]

Verse 52: “From now”: Literally, from the period now beginning. The Greek phrase also appears in also 22:69. [BlkLk]

Verses 54-56: Matthew 16:2-3 is similar. The crowds, because of their hypocrisy, refuse to see God’s key moment of salvation history, present in Jesus’ kingdom ministry. The “present” is the period of the kingdom. Winds from the “west” blew off the Mediterranean, bringing rain; those from the south blew off the desert. [NOAB] Those concerned with various kinds of portents cannot see the significance of God’s work through Jesus in “the present time”. [CAB]

Verses 57-59: Matthew 5:25-26 is similar. [NOAB] Now is the time to make amends for your waywardness. Do so before you appear before the judge! It is essential to come to terms with one’s situation now, lest severe punishment await one in the future. [CAB]

Verse 58: “magistrate”: The Greek word is constantly used for an officer charged with collecting debts. [BlkLk]

Verse 59: “penny”: The Greek word is lepton. The lepton was the smallest Greek coin in circulation. (In Matthew 5:26 and Mark 12:42, the widow’s offering at the Temple, the word translated “penny” is quadrans; there were two lepta to a quadrans. In Luke 12:6, the word translated “penny” is assarion; there were eight lepta to an assarion.) [NOAB]

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