Comments

Revised Common Lectionary Commentary

Clippings: Harvest Thanksgiving - 2012



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.

Joel 2:21-27

A minority of scholars see Joel as living during the reign of Joash (837-800 BC). The majority see the book as post-exilic but vary as to whether it is early or late. Some of the arguments for dating this book are:

  • Many classes of people are mentioned in the book but nowhere is a king or royal court mentioned. In a time of emergency, the king represented the people before God. So Joel was written when there was no longer a monarchy.
  • Despite the fact that the Babylonians ended the kingdom of David and destroyed the Temple (in 587 BC), they and their rulers are not mentioned. So Judah had already been conquered by the Persians (539 BC) at the time of writing.
  • The Temple plays an important role in the book. So, if there was no longer a king, the book must have been written after the Temple was rebuilt, i.e. after 515 BC.
  • Both Tyre and Sidon are mentioned as existing. Tyre was destroyed in 332 BC and Sidon in 343 BC. So the book was written before 343 BC. [NJBC]

Joel takes the characteristic forms of classical prophecy and expands their apocalyptic and liturgical dimensions. [NOAB]

Joel uses the catastrophe of the plague of locusts as a dire warning. He goes on to depict the advent of the day of the Lord and its final judgements and blessings (2:28-3:21)

A large swarm of locusts in the area in 1915 came from the northeast. [NJBC] Plagues of locusts do occur today in Ethiopia. In Exodus 10:13, the locusts come to Egypt from the east. [CAB]

1:1: The prophet’s inspiration and authority are not self-generated, but come from God, whose will is disclosed through the prophet, whose personal agent he is and whom alone he must obey. See also Hosea 1:1-2 which says: “The word of the LORD that came to Hosea ... When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea ...”. Micah 1:1; Zephaniah 1:1; Haggai 1:1; Zechariah 1:1 are similar. [NOAB]

1:8ff: The priests are to mourn like young widows – implying that God has been husband to Judah. [NJBC]

1:10: “the ground mourns”: The earth itself mourns. [NJBC]

1:12: “people”: The Hebrew word is adam. [NJBC]

1:13: “sackcloth”: A traditional sign of mourning. [NJBC]

1:13: “Grain offering and drink offering are withheld from the house of your God”: The main point of contact with God has been eliminated.

1:15-20: The approach of the day of Yahweh is often pictured as God’s anger against his opponents. At times, it is his anger against Israel’s enemies, but it comes to be directed against Israel. Other examples are found in Isaiah 2:5-22; Amos 5:18-25; Lamentations 1:12; Jeremiah 46:10. [CAB]

1:19: “fire ... flames”: Signs of the destruction being from God: see Zephaniah 1:14-18.

2:1: “trumpet”: In Amos 3:6, the prophet asks: “Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster befall a city, unless the LORD has done it?”. See also Hosea 5:8 (“horn”); Zephaniah 1:16; Revelation 8:6-13. [NOAB]

2:2: “blackness”: The Hebrew is obscure. Some scholars argue for the Hebrew word being one which translates as dawn. [NJBC]

2:3: “Before them ...”: Joel reverses the imagery of Isaiah 51:3: “... the LORD will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song”. [NJBC]

2:4-9: The locusts approach with the relentless and devastating force of a powerful army. See also v. 25 and Revelation 9:7-10 (“In appearance the locusts were like horses equipped for battle ...”). [NOAB]

2:6: Nahum 2:10 says: “Devastation, desolation, and destruction! Hearts faint and knees tremble, all loins quake, all faces grow pale!”. [NOAB]

2:10: At the time of divine visitation, the sun, moon and stars will refuse to shine: Amos 8:9 makes a similar prediction: “On that day, says the Lord GOD, I will make the sun go down at noon, and darken the earth in broad daylight”. [NOAB]

2:12: “fasting ... weeping ... mourning”: Acts of penance. [CAB]

2:13: “rend your hearts”: The heart was thought to be the seat of intelligence and will. This verse is rooted in Israel’s ancient formulations of faith: see Exodus 34:6 (“‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness ...’”); Nehemiah 9:17, 31; Psalm 86:15. [NJBC]

2:14: “blessing”: To Joel, temple offerings are a blessing. [NOAB]

2:16: “Let the bridegroom ...”: Even preparations for the marriage ceremony should be put off. [NJBC]

2:17: “Between the vestibule and the altar”: i.e. in the inner court of the Temple. The “altar” is that of burnt offering; 2 Chronicles 4:1 says of it: “... an altar of bronze, twenty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and ten cubits high”. [NOAB]

2:18: “jealous”: The Hebrew word includes the notion of zealous. Deuteronomy 4:24 says that “... the LORD your God is a devouring fire, a jealous God”. [NOAB]

2:20: “northern army”: The north was the traditional direction for trouble, so much so that to be called a northerner was to be considered a troublemaker. [NJBC] There may also be an allusion to the invading armies of Babylon and Assyria. [CAB] See also Jeremiah 1:13-16; 4:6 (“Raise a standard toward Zion, flee for safety, do not delay, for I am bringing evil from the north, and a great destruction”). [NJBC]

2:20: “eastern sea”: Most likely the Dead Sea [NOAB], but possibly the Persian Gulf.

2:20: “western sea”: The Mediterranean. [NOAB]

2:20: “its stench and foul smell”: The smell of the rotting carcases was noted in the 1915 plague. [NJBC]

2:23: “early rain”: The text is obscure. NJBC translates the Hebrew as teacher and says that “early rain” is possible: the Hebrew words are sufficiently similar. Whether or not this is the case, rain, justice and teaching are connected in Isaiah 30:19-26; 1 Kings 8:35-36; 2 Chronicles 6:26-27.

The word translated “vindication” can also be translated as righteousness, so the text may be saying that Yahweh has given a teacher in the cause of bringing the people to righteousness. In the Qumran literature, there is a figure called the Teacher of Righteousness who teaches righteousness; he is mentioned in 1QpHab (*Pesher on Habakkuk) 1:13; 5:10 and elsewhere. But the expression here is not exactly the same as at Qumran.

The light Palestinian plow was unable to penetrate the hard, parched earth, so the early rains were critical to agriculture.

2:27: By God’s gift of abundance, the Lord’s people will know that he alone is their god (see Isaiah 45:4, 5, 18; Ezekiel 36:11; 39:28) and dwells in their midst (see 3:17, 21). [NOAB]

2:28: “all flesh”: To Joel, this means primarily Jews, including those who have returned from exile: see 3:2, 17, 19-20; Ezekiel 39:29. For Peter at Pentecost, quoting this verse, it includes all nations: see Acts 2:17. [NOAB]

2:31: “blood”: i.e. red. [NOAB]

2:31: “the great and terrible day”: In the New Testament, this idea is found in Mark 13:24 (the Little Apocalypse) and Revelation 6:12. [NOAB]

2:32: Those who worship the Lord (see Genesis 4:26; 12:8; Psalm 116:13) will be delivered (see Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13). [NOAB]

2:32: “for in Mount Zion ... escape”: The same phrase is found in Obadiah 17.

Psalm 126

Superscription: “A Song of Ascents”: “Ascents” may indicate that this psalm was sung by pilgrims going up to Jerusalem.

See also Psalm 44.

Verse 1: “the fortunes of Zion”: See also 14:7; 53:6; 85:1. NJBC offers captives of Zion. The alternative translation in Comments is from the NRSV footnote.

Verse 1: “like those who dream”: REB offers like people renewed in health, which is also possible.

Verse 4: “Negeb”: The arid region to the south of Palestine. [NOAB] There the creek-beds only rush with water following the seasonal rains. [CAB]

Verse 5: This may be a proverb which is amplified in v. 6. [NJBC]

1 Timothy 2:1-7

Verse 1: The Christian prays even for bad rulers: In Romans 13:1, Paul counsels: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God”. [NOAB]

Verse 4: “to come to the knowledge of the truth”: The same phraseology is found in 2 Timothy 2:25; 3:7. The notion that knowledge of Christian truth is a fundamental requirement for salvation is also found in Colossians 1:5; 2:2, 7; Ephesians 1:9; 4:13 – but Christian conduct and good works are also necessary.

Verses 5-6: This is very like a hymn or confession spoken in a worship setting. Colossians 1:15-20 begins “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible ...”. See also Ephesians 1:15-2:3; 4:5-6. [CAB]

Verse 5: “mediator”: Hebrews 9:15 and 12:24 speaks of Christ as “the mediator of a new covenant”. [CAB]

Verse 5: “himself human”: Hebrews 2:14 says “Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things ...”. See also Galatians 3:19-20.

Verse 6: “ransom”: The price paid for someone’s freedom. Matthew 20:28 says that “the Son of Man came ... to give his life a ransom for many”. [CAB]

Verse 7: References to Paul’s past are more frequent in post-Pauline letters: see also Colossians 1:13-29; Ephesians 3:1-11; 1 Timothy 1:12-16; 3:14-15; 2 Timothy 1:3; 4:11, 15-18. See also Acts 9:1-22 (Paul’s conversion); 22:1-16; 26:9-18.

Verses 8-10: It seems that men were given to “anger” and “argument” and women to ostentation. 1 Timothy 6:4 and 2 Timothy 2:14, 23 say that false teachers promote debates and arguments.

Verse 8: “in every place”: i.e. in the liturgy. [CAB] A formula used in worship legislation, drawn from Malachi 1:11: “... from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts”.

Verse 8: “lifting up holy hands”: A common posture for prayer: standing, with hands outstretched. It is also mentioned in Psalms 141:2 and 143:6. [CAB] [NOAB] Liturgically this is referred to as the orans position, and is today normally adopted by the presider (celebrant) at the Eucharist during the prayer of consecration (eucharistic prayer). In the early Church, all worshippers would adopt this posture.

Verse 8: “without anger or argument”: i.e. at peace with one’s neighbour. In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus advises: “‘... when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift’”. See also Matthew 6:14; Mark 11:25; Philippians 2:14.

Verse 9: In 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, Paul explains how Christians in a Hellenic society should behave in a liturgical setting.

Verse 9: “suitable clothing”: See also 1 Peter 3:3-6. [[NOAB] Concern for attire was common in Greco-Roman philosophy. It is likely that men were also expected to wear suitable clothing. [NJBC]

Verse 10: “good works”: The importance of “good works” is also mentioned in 5:10, 25; 6:18; Titus 2:7, 14; 3:8, 14; Ephesians 2:10. [CAB]

Verses 11-15: The thought structure and wording are like 1 Corinthians 14:33-36: “God is a God not of disorder but of peace. (As in all the churches of the saints, women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only ones it has reached?)”. [CAB] Had women come to dominate the liturgy or the church?

Verses 12-14: NJBC says that these verses present a scriptural argument drawn from , and using the language of, the Septuagint translation of Genesis 2-3. They make two points:

  • The male has priority over the female because he was created first, and
  • As in Genesis 3:13, where deception is predicated of the female but not of the male, women are more likely to be led astray and so should not be teachers. (Paul himself assigns the blame to Adam, as the counterpart of Christ: see Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:45-49.)

Verse 12: In the author’s view, for a woman to have authority over a man would violate Genesis 3:16 (“he [proto-man] shall rule over you [proto-woman]”); however, in Pauline churches, women held responsible positions, and as in 1 Corinthians 11:5, they are assumed to have the right to pray aloud in Christian worship. Here the author is specifically concerned about women exercising teaching and preaching roles. See also 5:13 and Ephesians 5:22-23. [NJBC]

Verse 13: See Genesis 2:7, 21-22. [NOAB] The notion of the primary role of the male in God’s creation is also mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:7-12. [CAB]

Verse 14: See Genesis 3:1-6. The interpretation of Genesis 3:1-21 as identifying woman as the cause of humankind’s fall into sinfulness can be seen in Sirach 25:24: “From a woman sin had its beginning, and because of her we all die”. This contrasts with Paul’s treatment of the Fall in Romans 5:12-21 (“... just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned ...”) and 7:7-25. [CAB]

Verse 15: This verse has also been translated as:

  • She will be saved through the birth of the Child (i.e. Christ), and
  • She will be brought safely through childbirth. [NOAB]

Genesis 3:16 presents pain in childbirth as a punishment, but here it is a means of salvation! The author probably had in mind the false teachers (4:3-5) who forbade marriage. True faith insists on the goodness of human sexuality, as something created by God. Women are to be saved by the very thing that the false teachers reject! [NJBC]

Matthew 6:25-33

The parallel is Luke 12:22-31. [NOAB]

Verse 24: “wealth”: This word is a translation of mammon, the Aramaic word for tangible possessions, which can take control of human life. [CAB]

Verse 25: This verse and v. 34 form an inclusio. [NJBC]

Verse 25: Shelter was not a concern in Palestine.

Verses 25,31: “worry”: The Greek word, merimnao, does not mean be anxious but consider, think about, in the sense here of be preoccupied with or be absorbed by. It also occurs in v. 27. [NJBC]

Verse 28: “toil nor spin”: Perhaps references to men toiling in field labour and women doing housework. [NJBC]

Verse 29: 1 Kings 10:4-7 tell of the Queen of Sheba’s observation of Solomon’s wisdom and splendour. [NOAB]

Verse 30: “you of little faith”: You are unwilling to rest in assurance that God cares about your lives: see also 8:26 (Jesus stills the storm); 14:31 (Jesus walks on water); 16:8. [NOAB]

Verse 33: In Romans 14:17, Paul writes: “the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”. See also Mark 10:29-30; Luke 18:29-30. [NOAB] This is the climactic verse of the whole chapter. [NJBC]

Verse 33: “righteousness”: Another translation is justice. In Matthew, seeking the kingdom and seeking justice are not two distinct quests; Matthew wants to say that there is no authentic search for the kingdom except in a quest whose immediate goal is justice. The justice envisaged is not a justice in God alone but one that we are to produce on earth ourselves. [NJBC]

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