Comments

Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Harvest Thanksgiving - 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.

Deuteronomy 26:1-11

Exodus suggests that the offering of the first fruits is only in gratitude for crops (see Exodus 23:19); however, Deuteronomy adds a link to the escape from slavery in Egypt and the entrance into the Promised Land. [CAB] The occasion may be either the Feast of Weeks (16:9-12, the Spring harvest festival) or Passover. These feasts were later amalgamated. [JBC]

Verse 1: For similar openings, see 6:10; 7:1; 11:29; 17:14; 18:9. [NJBC]

Verse 2: 12:5 commands: “you shall seek the place that the LORD your God will choose out of all your tribes as his habitation to put his name there. You shall go there, bringing there your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and your donations, your votive gifts, your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and flocks. And you shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God, you and your households together, rejoicing in all the undertakings in which the LORD your God has blessed you”. See also 12:11, 14.

Verse 3: “the priest who is in office at that time”: 17:9 says “the levitical priests and the judge who is in office in those days ... shall announce to you the decision in the [legal] case”. See also 19:17. [NJBC]

Verses 5-10: NOAB says that this is a basic confession of faith in the form of a story; however NJBC says that this interpretation is no longer generally accepted.

Verses 5-7: The pattern of oppression, cry for help, followed by divine action in response to prayer is typically deuteronomic. It is also found in Judges 3:7-11. [NJBC]

Verse 5: “Aramean”: The Israelites were chiefly, but not exclusively, Aramean in origin. Ezekiel 16:3 tells us that they had Amorite and Hittite blood. [JBC]

Verses 6-9: The use of the first person plural suggests that the response was made by the worshipping community. [NOAB]

Verse 9: “milk and honey”: The “milk” was from sheep or goats; the “honey” was grape juice reduced to a molasses-like syrup. It was usually fermented.

Verses 10-11: Note that the “priest” (v. 3) has no role here, as also in 14:22-27. This suggests a different source for these verses. [NJBC]

Verse 12-13: The same commandment is given in 14:28-29. [NJBC]

Verse 12: The “Levites” are mentioned as recipients of “the tithe”, for they have no land allotted to them; however, while they participate in the ceremony, they do not share in the leadership of it (with “the priest”). [CAB]

Verse 14: “I have not offered any of it to the dead”: Perhaps “the dead” is the vegetation deity, in whose honour funerary meals were eaten. 14:1 says “... You must not lacerate yourselves or shave your forelocks for the dead”. Incisions and shaving of hair were mourning rites. See also Jeremiah 16:6; 41:5. [NJBC]

Psalm 100

This psalm is known as the Jubilate Deo, its first words in Latin.

While the psalm does not specifically refer to God as king, its mood is similar to that of the preceding kingship psalms (95-99), all of which deal with the kingly rule of the God of Israel. This psalm is a doxology to these psalms. [NOAB] This theme was especially emphasized during the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles). Psalms 96; 98; 99 also call on Israel and other nations to join in the worship of Yahweh; they seek acknowledgement of his divine rule.

This psalm is two hymns: vv. 1-3 and vv. 4-5. The first hymn calls on people to worship God as the only god; the second calls on them to praise him for his faithful beneficence towards them. [NJBC]

Verse 1: 98:4a is identical. [NJBC]

Verse 3: “the LORD is God”: See also Deuteronomy 4:35 (“... the LORD is God; there is no other besides him”), 39. [JBC]

Verse 3: “It is he that made us, and we are his”: The Masoretic Text actually says: He made us and not we ourselves. [NJBC]

Verse 3: “we are his”: A footnote in the NRSV says that another reading is not we ourselves, which, says NJBC, is per the Masoretic Text. The Septuagint translation also has not we ourselves, so it is unknown what the NRSV is following. here.

Verse 5: “good”: Here, God’s concrete acts of covenant love (Hebrew: hesed) shown to Israel. [NJBC]

Verse 5: “his steadfast love endures forever”: Love per his covenants with Israel (Hebrew: hesed) is in view. These words are a refrain in Psalm 136 and occur in each of the first four verses of Psalm 118.

Philippians 4:4-9

Verse 1: “joy and crown”: Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20: “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? Yes, you are our glory and joy!”. [NOAB]

Verse 3: “my loyal companion”: Probably a leader in the church at Philippi. The Greek word for “companion” can be understood as a proper name, Syzygus. [NOAB] It may be simply an affectionate term, yoke-bearer. [NJBC]

Verse 3: “the book of life”: Daniel 12:1 says “... at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book”. For other references to the book of life, see Exodus 32:32; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27. [NOAB] [NJBC]

Verse 4: Paul also mentions rejoicing in Romans 12:12 (“Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer”) and Philippians 3:1 (“Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord”). [CAB]

Verse 5: “The Lord is near”: This notion is also expressed in Psalm 119:151. The original is marana tha, an Aramaic expression transliterated into Greek. meaning Our Lord is come or Our Lord, come. The use of this expression in 1 Corinthians 16:22 suggests that this was an early prayer originating in the Palestinian church. [HBD] See also Revelation 22:20. [JBC]

Verse 7: “which surpasses all understanding”: Ephesians 3:20 says “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine”. [NJBC]

Verse 8: “whatever ...”: The standard Paul advises the community to live by are distinctively Stoic. [NJBC]

John 6:25-35

Verses 22-24: BlkJn notes that these verses are logistically confused, possibly because of what John found in his source not being well aligned with his purposes. John has introduced an explanation of how the crowd reached Capernaum, but his explanation is not very likely, for a whole fleet of boats would be needed.

Verse 26: The crowd’s eagerness for free food resembles the Samaritan woman’s eagerness for water. She asks, in part, “give me this water, so that I may [not] ... have to keep coming here to draw water” (4:15). [BlkJn]

Verse 27: BlkJn points out that Jesus does not deny the importance of working to put bread on the table: that “... not ... but” is a Hebraism. Another example: Hosea 6:6: when God says, through the prophet, “I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice” he is not denying the value of sacrifice.

Verse 27: “food”: The Torah was familiarly known as bread. In 4:34, Jesus tells his disciples: “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work”. [BlkJn]

Verse 27: “endures for eternal life”: BlkJn offers lasts until eternal life. The preposition is eis; its literal meaning is into. “Endures” translates menei, which literally means remains. Note other occurrences of menei: 8:35 (“the son has a place there forever”); 12:34 (“the Messiah remains forever”), and (particularly helpful): 1 John 2:17 (“the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever”).

Verse 27: “eternal life”: In 4:13-14, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well: “‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life’”. See also Isaiah 55:2. [NJBC]

Verse 27: “Son of Man”: Elsewhere in John, “Son of Man” means a messenger from heaven to make God known (see 3:13) and the judge at the end of time (see 5:27). Here Jesus is speaking in Jewish terms: a son of man, whose coming was prophesied in Daniel 7:13-14 (“one like a son of man”, *Septuagint translation). People saw this figure as the coming Messiah: when he comes, he will glorify the people of Israel by transforming them into the everlasting kingdom of God. To us (as to John), Jesus is the embodiment of salvation, the mediator where heaven and earth meet.

Verse 27: “seal”: The Father has shown Jesus’ authenticity at his baptism. See also 3:17-21; 3:33; 5:19. [NJBC]

Verse 28: “works”: The Greek word is the same as is translated “work” in v. 27, but the sense is slightly different: here do, there work for. [BlkJn] Jesus speaks of himself as doing the “works” of the one who sent him in 9:4. See also 3:21; Revelation 2:26; CD (Damascus Document) 2:14-15. [NOAB] CD 2:14-15 says: “And now, my sons, listen to me and I shall open your eyes so that you can see and understand the deeds of God, so that you can choose what he is pleased with and repudiate what he hates ...”

Verse 29: “believe in him ...”: You are to have obedient trust in the one God “has sent”. [NOAB]

Verse 30: Faith cannot be proved! Recall 1 Corinthians 1:22: “Jews demand signs”. [BlkJn]

Verse 30: “are you performing”: This verb has a future sense. [BlkJn]

Verse 31: The quotation is a conflation of Exodus 16:4-5 and Psalm 78:24. For the gift of manna in the desert, see also Exodus 16:14,15; Numbers 11:7-9; Psalm 105:40. [NOAB] That manna would be given again is predicted in a number of places, of which one is 2 Baruch 29:8: “The treasury of manna shall again descend from on high and they will eat it in those years.” A second gift of manna is also mentioned in Midrash Rabba Ecclesiastes 1:9. [NJBC]

Verse 32: BlkJn says that Jesus’ saying is very compressed, almost to obscurity. Jesus implies that manna was not really “bread from heaven” and adds that there is a real bread from heaven (of which manna was the type).

Verse 33: The genders in the Greek are such that “that which” can be equally translated as he who. The ambiguity may be intended. There is a three-fold contrast:

  • manna fed, for a time, only the Israelites – and they later died (see 4:49)
  • the real bread feeds, for ever, all peoples – and gives them eternal life (see 4:27)

Jesus both came down from heaven (see 3:13) and is the means whereby the world attains to life (see 3:16). Vv. 35 and 51 explain how this is done. [BlkJn]

Verse 34: “give us this bread”: Like the Samaritan woman, who asks, “... give me this water, so I may never be thirsty ...”. There is a touch of irony in this request; the Jews do not really believe, and yet unconsciously they echo not only the Samaritan woman’s words at the well but also the Lord’s Prayer. [BlkJn]

Verse 35: The Eucharist is not yet clearly in view; the thought here is rather of the moment of conversion than of the continuing life nourished by the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. [BlkJn]

Note the progression from “bread from heaven” (v. 31) to “bread of God” (v. 33), to “bread of life” (v. 35). “Bread of life” is mentioned in one contemporary work, Joseph and Aseneth: an angelic being gives a heavenly substance to the pious on earth. In 16:8-9 of that book, it is likened to manna in the desert. See also Sibylline Oracles 3:746. [NJBC]

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