Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost - August 8, 2021

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.

2 Samuel 18:5-9,15,31-33

Verse 5: “Abishai” is Joab’s brother; “Ittai” is a Gittite (v. 2). A Gittite was a resident of Gath, one of the five Philistine coastal cities. Goliath (see 21:19) and Obed-edom, whose house was a temporary resting place for the Ark after it was returned by the Philistines (see 6:10-11), were also Gittites. 15:19-22 tells of Ittai’s choice to follow David.

Verse 6: “forest of Ephraim”: NJBC says that this was a region of thickets. In any event, it was rough terrain, better suited to experienced troops. Ephraim was east of the Jordan.

Verse 7: “twenty thousand men”: Exaggerated numbers are common in ancient writings, both biblical and non-biblical. For example, see 12:30 (where it is scarcely credible that David would take a crown weighing “a talent of gold”, about 30 Kg or 65 lbs, off his head). and 1 Samuel 4:10 (where thirty thousand Israelite foot soldiers were killed). [ NOAB]

Verses 14-15: These verses appear to be from a different version of the story.

Verse 18: “no son”: This is apparently inconsistent with 14:27 which says that he had three sons; however, Absalom may have made this statement either before his first son was conceived, or after premature deaths of all his sons. [ NOAB]

Verse 22: Bearing bad news elicits no rewards. [ NJBC]

Psalm 130

The next psalm also includes both personal and community-oriented verses. Psalm 22 also starts as an individual lament and ends in counselling the nation: in vv. 23-28.

Verse 1: “depths”: The Hebrew word is only found in four other Old Testament texts: Isaiah 51:10; Ezekiel 27:34 and Psalm 69:2, 14. [ NJBC]

Verse 2: See also 1 Kings 8:39-40 (Solomon’s prayer of dedication of the Temple). [ NJBC]

Verse 3: “who could stand”: The Hebrew is similar in sound to “out of the depths”. In Amos 7:2, we read: “When they [the locusts] had finished eating the grass of the land, I said, ‘O Lord God , forgive, I beg you! How can Jacob [Israel] stand [survive]? He is so small!’” . [ NJBC]

Verse 5: “in his word I hope”: Hope in Yahweh’s word is also mentioned in Psalm 119:74, 81, 114, 147. [ NJBC]

Ephesians 4:25-5:2

4:25: In Zechariah 8:16-17, Yahweh counsels: “Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace, do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath”. In Romans 12:4-5, Paul says: “For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another”. See also Colossians 3:9. [ NOAB] [ CAB]

4:27: In Psalm 4:4, a psalmist advises: “When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent”. James 1:19-20 says: “You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God's righteousness”. [ CAB]

4:29: Colossians 3:8 expresses a similar idea: “But now you must get rid of all such things – anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices”. [ CAB]

4:30: “do not grieve the Holy Spirit”: Isaiah 63:10 tells us: “... they [the people of Israel] rebelled and grieved his holy spirit; therefore he became their enemy; he himself fought against them”; 1 Thessalonians 5:19 advises: “Do not quench [as in quenching a fire] the Spirit”. [ CAB] All Christians together form a living temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells (see 2:21-22). [ NJBC]

4:30: “seal”: A seal was a mark of ownership, e.g. of a slave. In Greek mystery religions, members marked themselves with the name of the deity to whom they belonged and who protected them. Here, baptism is a visible sign of incorporation into Christ.

4:31: The vices listed are all ones disruptive to communal life. Such a list of vices is common in contemporary moral tracts and elsewhere in the New Testament (e.g. Romans 1:29-31 and Galatians 5:19-21). See also 1QS (Rule of the Qumran Community) 4:9-11 and CD (Damascus Document) 4:17-19. [ NJBC]

1QS 4:2-11 says: “These are their [the spirits of truth] paths in the world: to enlighten the heart of man, straighten out in front of him all the paths of justice and truth, establish in his heart respect for the precepts of God; it is a spirit of meekness, of patience, generous compassion, eternal goodness, intelligence, understanding, potent wisdom which trusts in all the deeds of God and depends on his abundant mercy; a spirit of knowledge in all the plans of action, of enthusiasm for the decrees of justice, of holy plans with firm purpose, of generous compassion with all the sons of truth, of magnificent purity which detests all unclean idols, of unpretentious behaviour with moderation in everything, of prudence in respect of the truth concerning the mysteries of knowledge. ... However, to the spirit of deceit belong greed, frailty of hands in the service of justice, irreverence, deceit, pride and haughtiness of heart, dishonesty, trickery, cruelty, much insincerity, impatience, much insanity, zealousness about wrong things, appalling acts performed in a lustful passion, filthy paths for indecent purposes, blasphemous tongue, blindness of eyes, hardness of hearing, stiffness of neck, hardness of heart in order to walk in all the paths of darkness and evil cunning. ...” [ Martinez]

CD 4:15-19 says: “These are Belial’s [Satan’s] three nets ... in which he catches Israel and makes them appear before them like three types of justice. The first is fornication; the second, wealth; the third, defilement of the temple. He who eludes one is caught in another and he who is freed from that, is caught in another ...” [ Martinez]

4:32: Christian conduct is a corollary of Christian doctrine. See also Philippians 2:5-8 and Colossians 3:1-3. [ NOAB]

5:1: “imitators of God”: As in Matthew 5:43-48. Paul speaks (elsewhere) of imitating Christ and him rather than of imitating God: see 1 Corinthians 4:16, 11:1; Galatians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; Philippians 3:17. [ CAB]

5:1: “children”: In Semitic usage, being children often indicates living by an example set by someone else. [ JBC]

There is perhaps a connection here to the Jewish bar Mitzvah, meaning son of the Law or Commandments. When a person celebrates his bar Mitzvah, he has concluded a period of study of the Law and takes on adult responsibility and devotion to God. Perhaps Paul (and the author) had this much more adult concept in mind.

5:2: “fragrant offering and sacrifice”: In Old Testament sacrifices, a fragrant odour ascending to God is often mentioned (e.g. in Exodus 29:18 and Leviticus 3:5). “Fragrant offering” and “sacrifice” are found together in the Septuagint translation of Psalm 39:7. [ JBC]

John 6:35,41-51

Verse 35: “hungry ... thirsty”: In 4:14, Jesus says to the Samaritan woman at the well: “‘... 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’”. In 7:37-38, Jesus says: “‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink’”.

Verse 36: “seen me”: In spite of “me” being present in most manuscripts, BlkJn omits this word. Though the crowd have seen his signs (see v. 26), they “do not believe” him, and so cannot believe in him, and see him as the answer to their needs.

Verses 37-40: BlkJn offers: Everything which the Father gives me shall come to me, and him who comes to me I shall not reject; because I am come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that of everything that the Father has given me I shall not lose anything, but will raise it at the last day. He notes the curious alternation of neuter and masculine: Everything ... him ... anything ... it ... everyone him ..., and notes that the neuter seems to have a collective sense, designed to emphasize the corporate unity of believers.

Verse 37: The Father gives to Jesus, and draws to him (see v. 44), those who come to him.

Verse 39: “lose nothing”: In 17:12 and 18:9, at the end of his ministry, Jesus claims that this has been accomplished. [ BlkJn]

Verse 41: “the Jews”: Earlier, in 4:45, John has spoken of “the Galileans”, a more precise term. BlkJn suggests that Jesus may be suggesting that the Galileans are no better than the people of Jerusalem, whose lack of faith forms the theme of the last chapter.

Verse 41: “complain”: The Israelites murmur against Moses in Exodus 15:24 and 16:2. God gives them manna: see Exodus 16:4-12. They continued to grumble at God’s gifts. Psalm 106:25 outlines the event. [ BlkJn]

Verse 42: John uses the first question to introduce the second one. The second is not found in the synoptic gospels. See Luke 4:22 and Mark 6:2ff.

Verse 42: Matthew 13:55-56 also tells us of people’s familiarity with Jesus and his parents: after he has taught in the synagogue in his “hometown”, some wonder: “‘Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us?’”.

Verse 43: “Do not complain”: BlkJn offers Stop grumbling.

Verse 44: “I will raise ...”: Some scholars consider this to be an editorial addition, perhaps part of the effort to bring together those who see eternal life as future and those (Johannine authors) who see eternal life as beginning now.

Verse 45: The quotation is from Isaiah 54:13. [ BlkJn] Note also Jeremiah 31:34: “No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more”.

Verse 46: In the prologue to this gospel, we read in 1:18: “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known”. See also 3:33 and 5:37. [ NJBC]

Verse 51: “came down”: The Greek verb, katabaino, is used in three tenses to emphasize three aspects of Christ’s descent from heaven:

Verses Tense Emphasis
vv. 33, 50 present his repeated coming to the faithful (as in the Lord’s Supper)
vv. 38, 42 perfect his eternal status as the Incarnate
vv. 41, 51, 58; 3:13 aorist his coming as an event in history ( 1:14)

Verse 51: The last clause leads into the next section.

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