Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Holy Saturday - April 20, 2019

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 14:1-14

NJBC suggests that 13:28 belongs after 14:2.

Verses 1-22: A classic poem on the human condition. [ NOAB]

Verses 1-5: This elegy on human misery is linked with preceding passage by 13:28. Job sees his own suffering as the state of every human and thence draws his argument: why God should use his strength against such a mean creature is incomprehensible. [ JB]

Verses 1-12: Job affirms that the transiency of human life is ordained by God, but asks that humans might at least enjoy their days while they last. Unlike trees or dried-up streams of water, humans have no hope of renewal. [ CAB]

Verse 1: “full of trouble”: Even sinful [ NOAB]

Verse 3: “Do you fix your eyes on such a one?”: In 7:19, Job asks God: “Will you not look away from me for a while, let me alone until I swallow my spittle?”. [ NOAB]

Verse 4: A quite obscure verse; possibly some words are missing. Most translations paraphrase this verse. Some Church Fathers, relying on Old Latin versions or the Vulgate translation, saw here a reference to original sin, but it is not justified by the Hebrew. [ NJBC] Job acknowledges human’s essential vileness but pleads it as an excuse. The emphasis is laid on the physical (and therefore ritual) uncleanness that humans contract from the moment of conception (see Leviticus 15:19-28) and birth (see Leviticus 12:2-5) since he is “born of a woman” (v. 1). But this ritual uncleanness involves a corresponding moral weakness, a tendency to sin, and Christian interpretation has seen in this passage at least an allusion to what was later recognized as original sin passed on from parent to child. See also Romans 5:12-21. [ JB]

Verse 6: “desist”: JB offers leave him alone.

Verses 7-22: There is hope for “a tree” to live again, but not for “mortals”. [ NOAB]

Verse 12b: JB offers The heavens will wear away before he awakes, before he rises from his sleep> He says that eschatological imagery, by indefinitely postponing the possibility of awakening, is here used to stress man’s disappearance without hope of return. The expectation of resurrection at the end of time is apparently not yet within the scope of the author. For a further advance in the author’s thinking, see 19:25-26.

Verses 13-17: If death took over human existence for only a limited period and was followed by renewal of life, then God’s wrath could be avoided and his loving care might once more be evident to his creatures. [ CAB] Job contemplates, with eagerness and even passionate longing, the possibility of a restoration to God’s intimacy after death, a reconciliation in which God would show himself again the loving benefactor that he really is. [ NJBC]

Verses 13-14: Job toys with the idea of respite “in Sheol”, hidden from divine “wrath” that would eventually pass away. [ NOAB]

Verse 13: “Sheol”: See also 3:17-19. [ NJBC] Job supposes a remarkable duality in God: he would hide Job – from his own wrath. [ NJBC]

Verses 18-22: But in fact human beings die and disappear just as rocks and mountains crumble and fall. God’s relentless power leads to changes in one’s children, to separation from family and firends, and finally to pain and death. [ CAB] Job returns to sad reality. [ NJBC]

Lamentations 3:1-9,19-24

Comments generally follows ECLam.

The city confesses its sin and calls for retribution. [ CAB]

Verses 1-20: God’s promised punishment has brought ruin to his people, so that all that they once hoped for is gone, and bitterness prevails. [ CAB]

Verses 1-18: A psalm of personal distress and trust in God. The distress is expressed in terms recalling Job’s complaints against God: v. 1 see Job 9:34; v. 2 see Job 19:8; v. 3 see Job 7:18; v. 4 see Job 7:5; 30:30; v. 5 see Job 19:6,12; v. 6 see Job 23:16-17; v. 7 see Job 19:8; v. 8 see Job 30:20; v. 9 see Job 19:8; vv. 10-11 see Job 16:9; vv 12-13 see 16:12-13; v. 14 see Job 30:9; v. 15 see Job 9:18; vv. 16-18 see Job 19:10; 30:19. [ NOAB] Many of the images occur in Psalms, especially in Psalm 23, whose language the poet seems to be deliberately reversing: vv. 1-2 with 23:4, v. 6 with 23:6; v. 9 with 23:3, v. 15 with 23:5. [ NJBC]

Verse 1: “one”: CCB, REB and JB offer man.

Verse 3: “his hand”: See also Isaiah 5:25; 53:4. [ ECLam]

Verse 6: This verse is like Psalm 143:3. [ ECLam]

Verses 10-11: The enemy (“he”) is like a marauding bear or lion. [ NJBC] Amos 5:19 and Hosea 13:8 use the same figure. [ ECLam]

Verses 12-13: He is an archer shooting arrows into the victim’s body. [ NJBC] The arrow of tribulation and persecution have found their mark in the “vitals” (literally the kidneys); thus the poet is doomed to a slow and painful death. For the arrow metaphor, see also Psalm 38:1-2; Job 6:4; 16:12-14. [ ECLam]

Verses 15-17: The enemy is an ungracious host who torments his guest and feeds him gall and wormwood. [ NJBC]

Verse 15: The poet was forced to eat bitterness until he was filled to the brim, “sated”.

Verse 16: As a sign of his disgrace and mourning, he has heaped “ashes” on himself. In so doing he has got grit (“gravel”) in his mouth.

Verse 17: Overwhelmed by the catastrophic destruction of Jerusalem, in his suffering he has lost all inner “peace”. He cannot recall what it is to enjoy life. [ ECLam]

Verse 18: Only here is the enemy finally named: it is Yahweh! The basis for hope seems to have gone. [ NJBC]

Verses 19-51: A sage counsels submission and penitence in acknowledgement of God’s righteousness and mercy. [ NOAB]

Verses 21-39: God’s love endures and will prevail beyond the present time of punishment of the people for their disobedience. God sees and calls to account injustice, as well as sending both good and bad on the world. [ CAB]

Verse 24: “‘The Lord is my portion’”: As an Israelite, he has confidence that Yahweh’s eternal covenant with Israel applies to him individually. [ JBC]

Psalm 31:1-4,15-16

A thanksgiving song by one who has been delivered from afflictions (sickness, persecution), and who praises God in the Temple (vv. 23-24). [ JBC]

NOAB sees this psalm as being two laments:,

  • vv. 1-8: cry for help in vv. 1-3, the psalmist’s situation in v. 4, expression of confidence in v. 5, protestation of innocence in v. 6, grateful recognition of God’s help in vv. 7-8, perhaps followed by an oracle of assurance
  • vv. 9-24.: cry for help in v. 9, the psalmist’s situation in vv. 10-13, expression of confidence in vv. 14,19-20, prayer of vindication in vv. 15-18, grateful recognition of God’s help in vv. 21-24.

Verses 2b-3: Psalm 71:1-3 is similar. [ JBC]

Verse 4: “net”: The snare of the hunter symbolizes the opposition, perhaps unjust accusations (vv. 11,17-18). [ JBC] This motif is also found in 9:16; 10:9 and 25:15 (“My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net”). [ NJBC]

Verse 5: “spirit”: The breath of life: see Genesis 2:7 (“the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life”) and Psalm 104:29-30. Jesus used the first part of this verse as his prayer on Calvary: see Luke 23:46.

Verse 7: “because”: The aspect of thanksgiving is best brought out by translating the Hebrew as when. [ JBC]

Verse 9: JBC suggests that vv. 9-24 may be a separate psalm. The psalmist returns to his desciption of his distress in words that suggest mortal sickness, but it also appears that perhaps his enemies would utterly destroy him by false witness: see v. 13. See also Jeremiah 20:10. [ JBC]

Verse 12: “like one who is dead”: JB offers as good as dead; on the other hand, JBC translates the Hebew as unremembered dead, and says that this is an apt metaphor, in view of the limited knowledge of the next life in the Old Testament.

Verse 12: “broken vessel”: When a pot broke, it was (and often is) thrown away. See Ecclesiastes 12:6, part of a description of the approach of old age and death. [ NOAB]

Verses 15-17: These verses echo vv. 5-7. [ NJBC]

Verse 15: “times”: JBC offers destiny. In the ancient Near East, the events in life, especially birth and death, were seen as fixed by the gods. [ NJBC]

Verse 19: The thanksgiving begins in a hymn-like style and is followed by a testimony before the community, which is typical of this type of psalm. [ JBC]

Verse 22: “‘I am driven far from your sight’”: To be banished from God’s presence probably means being excluded from his life-giving presence in the Temple. In Jonah 2:4, Jonah prays “from the belly of the fish” “‘I am driven away from your sight; how shall I look again upon your holy temple?’”.

Verses 23-24: Praise of God possibly spoken by a priest to the community.

1 Peter 4:1-8

3:19: “made a proclamation to the spirits in prison”: In Genesis 6:1-4, angelic beings had intercourse with women, thus breaking the boundary between heaven and earth. In late Judaism, people believed that the action of these beings provoked the Flood. In 1 Enoch, a popular book when 1 Peter was written, Enoch, on God’s behalf, goes to tell these beings that they are confined to prison. In v. 19, the story of Enoch is applied to the risen Christ: the “spirits in prison” are these bad angels. [Year B Lent 1 Comments] See also Year B Lent 1 Clippings. The author argues that, just as Noah saved people from the water, Jesus saves through the water of baptism. [ JANT]

4:1-2: These verses are phrased awkwardly. The maxim in v. 1b is awkwardly juxtaposed wuth the opening reference to Christ’s suffering in the flesh. [ IntPet]

4:1: The imitation of Christ is the basis for Christian ethics. [ CAB]

4:1: “the same intention”: This is better taken as referring to the preceding context. [ NJBC]

4:1: “for”: The word is hoti. It is best translated as because, as is the case in 2:21 and 3:18. The Christian who takes up a life of suffering with Christ is threby dedicated to a moral life which rejects sin. See also 1 John 3:6 (“No one who abides in him sins ...”) and Romans 6:1-11. [ NJBC]

4:3-4: The negative assessment of Gentile morality is inherited by the early church from traditional Judaism. See Romans 1:18-32 and Ephesians 4:17-19. Early Christian preaching demanded a clean break from such unsociably immoral ways. [ CAB]

4:3: The list of vices is stock language of conversion stories. [ IntPet]

4:4: “blaspheme”: Former associates now abuse believers. In doing so, they harass the new Christians. [ IntPet]

4:5: “judge the living and the dead”: A creedal formula that presents the risen Christ as judge of all human beings, also in 2 Timothy 4:1. See also Romans 14:9 and Acts 5:42. [ NJBC]

4;6: “the gospel was proclaimed”: NJBC prefers he was preached, based on New Testament usage. Various people proclaim the gospel in Acts 5:42; 8:35; 11:20; Galatians 1:16. See also 1 Corinthians1:19.

4:6: “proclaimed even to the dead”: Jesus descended into Hell after his death (see Romans 10:7 and Ephesians 4:9) where:

  • he redeemed the saints (see Ephesians 4:8-9) or
  • he defeated the angel of death and Satan and the angels worship him (in Ascension of Isaiah 9-11) or
  • he freed the dead (in Odes of Solomon 17:9; 42:5-18). [ JANT]

NJBC says that the preaching about Christ is the normal preaching of the gospel on earth. The point of the text is to vindicate those Christians who had accepted the gospel on earth but who had since died. See 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. He says that this verse has quite a different theme from 3:19, “proclamation to the spirits in prison”.

4:5: “the living and the dead”: i.e. all people.

4:7-11: In 1 Corinthians 12:14-16, Paul tells us that (“the body does not consist of one member but of many”). [ NOAB] This section deals with the nature of Christian fellowship, reflecting traditional Christian material. Eschatological considerations underlie the exhortation to Christian behaviour. See also Matthew 24:45-25:13 (the faithful or unfaithful slave); Mark 13:13-37 and Hebrews 10:25. [ CAB] Romans 13:11-14 says that “... salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers ... “.

4:7: “The end of all things is near”: See also 1:5-7; 2:12; 4:5, 13, 17; 5:4, 10; Luke 21:36; 1 Corinthians 7:29; 10:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; James 5:8. [ CAB]

4:8: “maintain constant love for one another”: Christian love, agape, as love that builds up the community. [ JANT] See also Luke 7:47 (a sinful woman washes Jesus’ feet and is forgiven) and 1 Corinthians 13:7 (Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”). [ NOAB]

4:8: “love covers a multitude of sins”: This is a Christian proverb derived from the Masoretic Text of Proverbs 10:12, “... love covers all offences”. In Proverbs, the sins that are “covered” are those of the people loved; here they are those who love. [ NJBC] James 5:20 says “... whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner's soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins”. See also Galatians 5:14. [ CAB]

4:9: “Be hospitable”: Because ancient inns and hotels were often infested with prostitutes and bandits, Christians who travelled usually depended on the hospitality of other believers. Such support is true participation in spreading the gospel. See also Hebrews 13:2 and 3 John 5-8. [ NOAB] Hospitality is also mentioned in Romans 12:13; 15:7; 1 Timothy 3:2 (of a bishop); Titus 1:8.

4:10: See also Romans 12:3-8. In 1 Corinthians 12:4-31, Paul writes “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit”. [ CAB]

4:10: “stewards”: Christians are stewards, oikonomoi, in the household, oikos, of God. [ NJBC]

4:11: “Whoever speaks”: Teachers and preachers in the community should communicate the genuine message of the gospel. See also 1 Thessalonians 2:1-2. [ NJBC]

4:11: “To him”: This doxology is addressed to the Father, as in Romans 16:27 and Revelation 1:6. [ NJBC]

Matthew 27:57-66

The following was clipped from the beginning of the Comment, due to lack of space:

Jesus dies at about 3 p.m. (v. 46) on Friday, the day before the Sabbath (see v. 42). Because the Jewish day begins at sundown, and no work can be done on the Sabbath, there are only a few hours in which to bury his body. Deuteronomy 21:22 stipulates that the corpse of one convicted of a capital crime must be buried on the day of his death, so an effort must be made to bury Jesus before sundown.

Verse 57: “rich”: To afford a tomb, one needed to be rich. [ NJBC]

Verse 57: “a disciple of Jesus”: In Mark, he is a member of the Sanhedrin. The bodies of those executed were normally denied burial. [ NJBC]

Verses 59-60: Matthew brings out the dignity and grandeur of the burial, but it is likely that Mark’s account is more accurate.

Verse 60: “rolled a great stone”: The circular stone door rolled in a track. Recent excavations show that the tomb was in an abandoned quarry. [ NJBC]

Verse 61: The women are present as witnesses to the correct site, not only as mourners. Because women could not be legal witnesses, this verse has historical veracity. [ NJBC]

Verse 62: “The next day”: i.e. the Sabbath.

Verse 63: See 16:21 (“... Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised”); 17:23; 20:19. See also 12:40; 26:61; Verse 40. [NJBC]

Verse 65: “You have a guard of soldiers”: As translated, this is permission to use the temple police (who were under the authority of the Sanhedrin). Another translation is Take a guard, i.e. Pilate grants them a squad of Roman soldiers. [ NOAB]

Verse 66: “sealing the stone”: There may be an allusion here to Daniel in the lion’s den: see Daniel 6:17. [ NJBC]

John 19:38-42

Comments: Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin: See Mark 15:42-45. [ NJBC] 11:43

Verse 38: “Joseph of Arimathea”: See also Matthew 27:57-60; Mark 15:43; Luke 23:50-53. [ JANT]

Verse 38: “a secret one”: For other secret followers see 12:42 and 7:11-13. [ BlkJn]

Verse 39: “Nicodemus”: See also 3:1-17 (“He came to Jesus by night ...”) and 7:50-52 [ JANT] Only John tells us that Joseph of Arimathea is joined by Nicodemus. [ CAB]

Verse 39: “myrrh”: A resinous gum which, when mixed with crushed or powdered “aloes”, was used for embalming. [ NOAB] This may recall the anointing of Jesus: see 12:3. [ JANT]

Verse 39: “a hundred pounds”: These are Roman pounds, and are equivalent to 75 of our (avoirdupois) pounds, or 34 kilograms. [ JANT]

Verse 40: “linen cloths”: BlkJn says that the custom was to place the corpse on a strip of linen, wide enough and long enough to envelop it completely. This was the shroud. The arms would be secured to the body with linen bandages. Another bandage would be used to keep the jaw from opening.

Some scholars see John differing from the other gospels on this point; they point out that the others have “cloth” (see Matthew 27:59; Mark 14:56; Luke 23:53). I suggest that John has “cloths” because he includes the bandages, and that the other gospels only mention the principal cloth, the shroud.

Verse 41: “garden”: Only John notes that the crucifixion and burial took place in a garden. It is unlikely that an allusion to the Garden of Eden is intended, because the words in the Greek are different. [ BlkJn] The word John uses here is also found in 18:1 (“... across the Kidron ...”). It means an enclosed place belonging to an individual. [ JBC]

Verse 42: “the Jewish day of Preparation”: This would be preparation for Passover. It would have coincided with the Sabbath. [ CAB] There was plenty of time to make the necessary preparations while Jesus was on the cross. Joseph and Nicodemus seem to have done what they had to do properly.

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