Archive for the ‘2 Chronicles 35’ Category

Introduction to the Book of Lamentations   Leave a comment

Above:  Heading and Opening of Lamentations

Image Scanned from an Old Bible

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READING LAMENTATIONS, PART I

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The tradition that the prophet composed the Book of Lamentations immediately after the Fall of Jerusalem (586 B.C.E.) and prior to departing involuntarily for Egypt is deeply ingrained in many minds.  That tradition is evident in the brief preface in the Septuagint and the Vulgate:

When Israel had been taken into captivity and Jerusalem had become a wilderness, it happened that the prophet Jeremiah sat down in tears; he uttered this lament over Jerusalem, he said….

–Quoted from a footnote in The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

This tradition has its origin in an interpretation of 2 Chronicles 35:25:

Jeremiah also made a lament for Josiah; and to this day the minstrels, both men and women, commemorate Josiah in their lamentations.  Such laments have become traditional in Israel, and they are found in the written collections.

The Revised English Bible (1989)

King Josiah of Judah died in 609 B.C.E.

The Book of Lamentations laments the Fall of Jerusalem (586 B.C.E.) and never mentions King Josiah.  The language is similar to that in the Books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel.  Much of the language is sufficiently vague that the laments can apply to many disasters, other than the Fall of Jerusalem.

The text does not answer the question of authorship.  One may perhaps legitimately hypothesize that the prophet Jeremiah contributed to the Book of Lamentations.  The most likely scenario is that the Book of Lamentations is the product of authors.

The Book of Lamentations, completed before the dedication of the Second Temple (516 B.C.E.), embraces the Deuteronomic theology of divine retribution (as in the Book of Jeremiah).  Lamentations also contains material from various sources.  There are four voices–those of the Poet, Fair Zion, the Man (personified Israel), and the Community–in five poems.  Chapters 1-4 are Hebrew acrostic poems.  Chapters 1, 2, 4, and 5 have 22 verses each.  Chapter 3 has 66 verses.

The placement of the Book of Lamentations varies.  The Book of Lamentations, classified as a prophetic book in Christian Bibles, exists in different places, relative to other books, in Christian canons of scripture.  It is between Jeremiah and Baruch in Roman Catholic Bibles, between Jeremiah and Ezekiel in Protestant and Anglican Bibles, between Baruch and Ezekiel in Ethiopian Orthodox Bibles, and between Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah in The Orthodox Study Bible (2008).  The Book of Lamentations, in the Writings (not the Prophets) section of the Hebrew Bible, sits between Ruth and Ecclesiastes.

Major lectionaries ignore most of the Book of Lamentations.  The Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) does this:

  1. 1:1-6 is one of two possible First Readings for Proper 22, Year C.  On that Sunday, 3:19-26  is an alternative response.
  2. 3:1-9, 19-24 is a reading for Holy Saturday, Years A, B, and C.  But how many congregations who follow the RCL conduct the Holy Saturday liturgy?

The introduction to the Book of Lamentations in The Catholic Study Bible, Third Edition (2016), acknowledges that the Roman Catholic Church, outside of Holy Week,

has otherwise tended to neglect the book.

–1142

Indeed, the current Roman Catholic Mass lectionaries assign little–yet more than the RCL does–from the Book of Lamentations:

  1. 1:1-6 is the First Reading for Proper 27, Year C.
  2. 2:2, 10-14, 18-19 is the First Reading for Saturday, Week 12, Ordinary Time, Year 2.
  3. 3:1-9, 19-24 is the First Reading on Holy Saturday, Years A, B, and C.
  4. 3:19-26 is the First Reading on Proper 22, Year C.
  5. 3:23-33 is the First Reading on Proper 9, Year B.

The introduction to the Book of Lamentations in The Catholic Study Bible, Third Edition (2016), continues from the quote above:

It is not hard to see why; a more anguished piece of writing is scarcely imaginable….But with its unsparing focus on destruction, pain, and suffering the book serves an invaluable function as part of Scripture, witnessing to a biblical faith determined to express honestly the harsh realities of a violent world and providing contemporary readers the language to do the same.

–1142-1143

Observant Jews read or hear the Book of Lamentations read liturgically on the ninth day of Av (in July or August), the day of public mourning and fasting in commemoration of the destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C.E. and the Second Temple in 70 C.E.  The ninth day of Av is also a day to commemorate other disasters and catastrophes in the Jewish past.  The recitation of the Book of Lamentations occurs in candlelight or dim light, while the reader and the congregation sit on the floor or low benches.

Rereading the Book of Lamentations in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic may help individuals and faith communities express an honest, Biblical faith in a world in which many people, institutions, and societies have lost their minds and gone off the rails, and in which returning to the old normal is impossible.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE BERKELEY, IRISH ANGLICAN BISHOP AND PHILOSOPHER; AND JOSEPH BUTLER, ANGLICAN BISHOP AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN FRANCIS REGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF NORMAN MACLEOD, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS COUSIN, NORMAN MACLEOD, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RUFUS JONES, U.S. QUAKER THEOLOGIAN AND COFOUNDER OF THE AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITTEE

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM HIRAM FOULKES, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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The Superscription of the Book of Habakkuk   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of Habakkuk

Image in the Public Domain

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READING HABAKKUK, PART I

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Habakkuk 1:1

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The situation for Judah had become worse since the days of the prophet Nahum, shortly before the Fall of Nineveh (612 B.C.E.).  King Josiah of Judah (r. 640-609 B.C.E.; 2 Kings 22:1-23:30; 2 Chronicles 34:1-35:27; 1 Esdras 1:1-33; Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 49:1-6) had died in combat against Pharaoh Neco II (r. 610-595 B.C.E.).  The Egyptian leader had sought to establish power in Syria; Judah was between Egypt and Syria.  The Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire had terminated Neco II’s plans for Syria.

In the wake of King Josiah’s death, Judah had become a vassal state of Egypt.  Pharaoh Neco II had chosen the next two Kings of Judah.  Jehoahaz/Jeconiah/Shallum (2 Kings 23:31-35; 2 Chronicles 36:1-4; 1 Esdras 1:34-38) had reigned for about three months before becoming a prisoner in Egypt.  Then Neco II had appointed Eliakim and renamed him Jehoiakim (r. 608-598 B.C.E.; 2 Kings 23:36-24:7; 2 Chronicles 36:5-8; 1 Esdras 1:39-42).  Jehoiakim was always a vassal while King of Judah.  After being the vassal of Neco II of Egypt for about three years, he became a vassal of the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire in 605 B.C.E.  He died a prisoner in that empire.

Two more Kings of Judah reigned; both were vassals of the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire.  Jehoiachin/Jeconiah/Coniah (2 Kings 24:8-17; 2 Kings 25:27-30; 2 Chronicles 36:9-10; 1 Esdras 1:43-46) reigned for about three months before going into exile in that empire.  The last King of Judah was Zedekiah, born Mattaniah (2 Kings 24:18-25:26; 2 Chronicles 36:11-21; 1 Esdras 1:47-58).  He reigned from 597 to 586 B.C.E.  The last events he saw before Chaldean soldiers blinded him were the executions of his sons.

The Book of Habakkuk exists within the context of three years–605, 598/597, and 586 B.C.E.–and two Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian invasions of Judah.  The book, in its original form, dates to closer to 605 and 598/597 B.C.E. than 586 B.C.E.

The superscription tells us almost nothing about the prophet.  “Habakkuk” derives from an Arabic word meaning “dwarf.”  He may have been a cultic prophet.  The superscription does not even reveal the name(s) of the King(s) of Judah when Habakkuk prophesied.

The Book of Habakkuk contains fifty-six verses in three chapters.  The Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) gives short shrift to the book, assigning only eight verses once every third years.  Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4 is one of two options for the Old Testament reading on Proper 26, Year C.  The lectionary includes:

the righteous live by their faith

(2:4b), taken out of textual context.

I invite you, O reader, to join me as I read all of the Book of Habakkuk, in historical and textual context.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 5, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOROTHEUS OF TYRE, BISHOP OF TYRE, AND MARTYR, CIRCA 362

THE FEAST OF BLISS WIANT, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER, MISSIONARY, MUSICIAN, MUSIC EDUCATOR, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR, ARRANGER, AND HARMONIZER; AND HIS WIFE, MILDRED ARTZ WIANT, U.S. METHODIST MISSIONARY, MUSICIAN, MUSIC EDUCATOR, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF INI KOPURIA, FOUNDER OF THE MELANESIAN BROTHERHOOD

THE FEAST OF MAURICE BLONDEL, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PHILOSOPHER AND FORERUNNER OF THE SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL

THE FEAST OF ORLANDO GIBBONS, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER; THE “ENGLISH PALESTRINA”

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The Superscription of the Book of Zephaniah   Leave a comment

Above:  Zephaniah Addressing People

Image in the Public Domain

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READING ZEPHANIAH, PART I

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Zephaniah 1:1

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The text of the Book of Zephaniah reveals little about Zephaniah ben Cushi.  We read that he prophesied during the reign (640-609 B.C.E.) of King Josiah of Judah.  One can read about Josiah’s reign in 2 Kings 22:1-23:30; 2 Chronicles 34:1-35:27; 1 Esdras 1:1-33; and Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 49:1-4.  King Josiah’s religious reformation, prominent in his positive evaluation in the Hebrew Bible, seems not to have occurred yet in the Book of Zephaniah.  For this reason, dating the Book of Zephaniah to early in King Josiah’s reign–between 630 and 620 B.C.E.–is commonplace.

The prophet, whose name meant, “YHWH protects,” was an aristocrat, perhaps a descendant of King Hezekiah (r. 727/715-698/687 B.C.E.), the last religious reformer monarch prior to Josiah.  Zephaniah was a prominent resident of Jerusalem who had connections to the Temple and the royal family.

The original form of the Book of Zephaniah is not the version in Bibles.  The final version, a product of the time after the Babylonian Exile, contains obvious evidence of editing after the time of Zephaniah ben Cushi.  I know about this matter in the Books of Hosea, Amos, and Micah, as well as the First Isaiah material from the Book of Isaiah, based on recent blogging through Hebrew prophetic books.  When I encounter obviously subsequently edited texts, I acknowledge their nature.  I do not try to rationalize away the objectively accurate state of affairs.

The geopolitical situation had changed since the days of Hosea, Amos, Micah, and First Isaiah, about seven decades prior.  The Assyrian Empire had entered terminal decline.  The Chaldeans/Neo-Babylonians were rising.  The (Cushite/Nubian) Twenty-Fifth Dynasty of Egypt, which had encouraged regional rebellion against Assyria, had fallen.

Zephaniah was a contemporary of Nahum, Habakkuk, and Jeremiah.

My immediate plan is to blog through Zephaniah (of course) then the other short books of Nahum and Habakkuk, each one with three chapters.  Then I intend to blog my way through the (long) Book of Jeremiah, with fifty-two chapters.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 2, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BLANDINA AND HER COMPANIONS, THE MARTYRS OF LYONS, 177

THE FEAST OF ANDERS CHRISTENSEN ARREBO, “THE FATHER OF DANISH POETRY”

THE FEAST OF CHRISTOPH HOMBURG, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MARGARET ELIZABETH SANGSTER, HYMN WRITER, NOVELIST, AND DEVOTIONAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN OF SWEDEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY, BISHOP, AND MARTYR, CIRCA 1075

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The Rebuke and Repentance of King David   Leave a comment

N

Above:  Nathan Rebukes David

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XXXIX

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2 Samuel 12:1-25

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Hide your face from my sins

and blot out my iniquities.

–Psalm 51:10, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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This story comes to us via 2 Samuel, in the context of the Ammonite war.  1 Chronicles 19-20 omits this story, which portrays David in an unflattering light.  As a serious student of the Hebrew Bible ought to know, the Chronicler liked to make David look good.

King David had abused his power severely.  He had violated a marriage, fathered a child out of wedlock, and used Bathsheba for his purposes.  David had also attempted to cover up his sins in a manner that was far from subtle.  When Uriah the Hittite, Bathsheba’s husband, had refused to play along, David had arranged for his death in combat.  David had committed murder.

Was not David supposedly a man after God’s heart?

To David’s credit, however, he responded appropriately when Nathan the prophet confronted him.  Nathan had courage; David could have had him killed, too.  David’s hands were bloody before he heard of Uriah the Hittite, too.  Yet David had enough integrity to confess his sins and repent.

David repented then received forgiveness.  He did not, however, escape punishment for his sins.  According to the Bible, many of the subsequent woes of David’s reign resulted from the events of 2 Samuel 11.  Unfortunately, the innocent first child of David and Bathsheba also paid the price.  That child died.  The couple had another child, Jedidiah, also known as Solomon.  And David showed some sensitivity to Bathsheba’s feelings.  He took long enough!

I openly dislike David.  I conclude that if David was a man after God’s heart, I do not want to know such a deity.  I, however, hold that David was not a man after God’s heart, but that Josiah, one of David’s successors, was.  (Read 2 Kings 22-23; 2 Chronicles 34:1-35:27; and 1 Esdras 1:1-33, O reader.)

Power carries many temptations.  Power also enables people who have it to indulge certain temptations.  Many of us may want to commit certain sins yet lack the opportunities and means to do so.  I reject the false dichotomy between power corrupting and power revealing character.  Both are accurate and applicable.  Both are also evident in stories of King David.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 1, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIONYSIUS EXIGUUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND REFORMER OF THE CALENDAR

THE FEAST OF DAVID PENDLETON OAKERHATER, CHEYENNE WARRIOR, CHIEF, HOLY MAN, AND EPISCOPAL DEACON AND MISSIONARY IN OKLAHOMA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FIACRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

THE FEAST OF FRANÇOIS MAURIAC, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC NOVELIST, CHRISTIAN HUMANIST, AND SOCIAL CRITIC

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The Reign of King Jehoahaz/Jeconiah/Shallum   6 comments

Above:  The Seal of the Kingdom of Judah

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 2 KINGS 22-25, 1 ESDRAS, 2 CHRONICLES 34-36, EZRA, AND NEHEMIAH

PART VI

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2 Kings 23:31-35

2 Chronicles 36:1-4

1 Esdras 1:34-38

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But now you have cast off and rejected your anointed king:

and poured out your wrath upon him.

–Psalm 89:37, A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989)

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Before I get into the substance of this post, I must explain two names.  The Bible contains references to four Jeconiahs and fourteen Shallums.  To confuse matters in this case, “Jeconiah” applies to two of Josiah’s four successors.  Furthermore, the Book of Jeremiah mentions three Shallums.  One of the Shallums in Jeremiah is one of the Jeconiahs.  For the record, Jehoahaz (r. 609 B.C.E.) equals Shallum (Jeremiah 22) and Jeconiah (1 Esdras 1:9, 34-38).

The topic of this post is Jehoahaz, King of Judah.  A serious student of the Bible may recall that there was also a King Jehoahaz of Israel (r. 817-800 B.C.E.) in 2 Kings 10:35 and 13:1-9.

Jehoahaz means “YHWH has grasped.”  This is ironic because the tangible grasper evident in the accounts is Neco II, Pharaoh of Egypt.

Judah became a vassal state of Egypt.  Jehoahaz, after a brief reign (about three months), became a prisoner in Egypt.

Neco II had killed Josiah (2 Kings 23:21-27; 2 Chronicles 35:1-19; 1 Esdras 1:1-22).  After seizing and deposing Jehoahaz, he chose the next King of Judah.  The Kingdom of Judah had entered its terminal spiral toward oblivion.

One may notice the brevity of the accounts of the final four Kings of Judah relative to the lengths of the accounts of Josiah.  Perhaps the brevity constitutes a theological commentary on and an evaluation of the final four monarchs of Judah.  Perhaps the brevity of the coverage of the last four Kings of Judah in 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and 1 Esdras indicates an opinion that they were insignificant.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 5, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ALFRED TENNYSON, ENGLISH POET

THE FEAST OF ADAM OF SAINT VICTOR, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ALBRECHT DÜRER, MATTHIAS GRÜNEWALD, AND LUCAS CRANACH THE ELDER, RENAISSANCE ARTISTS

THE FEAST OF GEORGE FREDERICK ROOT, POET AND COMPOSER

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The Death of King Josiah   2 comments

Above:  King Josiah

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 2 KINGS 22-25, 1 ESDRAS, 2 CHRONICLES 34-36, EZRA, AND NEHEMIAH

PART IV

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2 Kings 23:28-30

2 Chronicles 35:20-27

1 Esdras 1:25-33

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For I am full of trouble;

my life is at the brink of the grave.

–Psalm 88:3, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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The Assyrian Empire had fallen in 612 B.C.E., despite the reference to the Assyrian king in 2 Kings 23:29.  The Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire had conquered the Assyrian Empire.  The political situation was unstable in 609 B.C.E.  Some remnant of Assyrian power may have remained.  Pharaoh Neco II (r. 610-595 B.C.E.) sought to establish Egyptian power in Syria.  His route went through Judah.  Josiah wanted to extend his power, too.  Josiah died, either in Megiddo (2 Kings 23:29) or Jerusalem, of mortal wounds inflicted in Megiddo (2 Chronicles 35:24; 1 Esdras 1:31).  Neco II’s bid to extend Egyptian power into Egypt failed; Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian forces made sure of that.

Two recurring themes overlap in the readings for this post.  The first theme is that anyone may, at least once, speak for God.  In this case, the unlikely prophet (partly right) was Neco II, who encouraged Josiah to leave.  The other theme is that disregarding divine instructions, such as those even an unlikely prophet may speak, can lead to one’s death.  One may recall another example of this happening when an unnamed “man of God” from Judah died in 1 Kings 13.  One may also remember that Josiah left that prophet’s memorial intact in 2 Kings 23:15f.  Pulling these threads together may lead to great understanding of the texts.

People were correct to lament the passing of Josiah.  The Kingdom of Judah had about 22 years left.  His successors were terrible.

Even heroes have flaws.  What if Josiah had not acted foolishly in 609 B.C.E.?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 29, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARY, MARTHA, AND LAZARUS OF BETHANY, FRIENDS OF JESUS

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Posted July 29, 2020 by neatnik2009 in 1 Esdras 1, 1 Kings 13, 2 Chronicles 35, 2 Kings 23, Psalm 88

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King Josiah’s Great Passover   Leave a comment

Above:  Solomon’s Temple

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 2 KINGS 22-25, 1 ESDRAS, 2 CHRONICLES 34-36, EZRA, AND NEHEMIAH

PART III

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2 Kings 23:21-27

2 Chronicles 35:1-19

1 Esdras 1:1-22

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He struck down the firstborn of their land,

the firstfruits of all their strength.

–Psalm 105:36, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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First, let us get the Books of Esdras straight, so that we may know what I mean by 1 Esdras 1:1-22.  The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha contains a useful chart explaining the names of all the Books of Esdras.  Depending on how one counts, there are as many as five Books of Esdras.  The Douay Old Testament lists Ezra as 1 Esdras and Nehemiah as 2 Esdras.  The Revised Standard Version, the New Revised Standard Version, The New English Bible, and The Revised English Bible call the Apocryphal or Deuterocanonical (depending on one’s theological orientation) paraphrase of 2 Chronicles 35-35, Ezra, and part of Nehemiah  (with the tale of three young bodyguards in the court of King Darius I) as 1 Esdras and the apocalypse as 2 Esdras.  The Orthodox Study Bible (2008) lists 1 Esdras as 1 Ezra, Ezra as 2 Ezra, and Nehemiah as Nehemiah.  The apocalypse (2 Esdras) is, according to various sources, alternatively 3 Esdras, 4 Esdras, and, compositely, 2, 4, and 5 Esdras.  For my purposes, Ezra is Ezra, Nehemiah is Nehemiah, 1 Esdras is the paraphrase, and 2 Esdras is the apocalypse.  This is the naming system according to most English translations.

1 Esdras, originally in Greek, dates to no later than 100 B.C.E.  It opens with King Josiah’s great Passover and concludes with Ezra reading the Law to the people.  The focus of 1 Esdras is the Temple in Jerusalem–rather, both of the Temples.  And, just as chronology is not the organizational principle in Ezra and Nehemiah, neither is it the organizational principle in 1 Esdras.

The great Passover of Josiah was part of the monarch’s religious reform policy.  That policy pleased God yet did not prevent the coming judgment, 2 Kings reminds us.

Some minor discrepancies exist between texts.

  1. 1 Esdras 1:10 (originally Greek) reads, in part, “…having the unleavened bread.”  This is a bad translation of 2 Chronicles 35:10 (originally Hebrew), which reads, in part, “by the king’s command.”
  2. 2 Chronicles says that there were 5,000 small cattle and 500 large cattle for the Levites.  1 Esdras says there were 5,000 sheep and 700 calves for the Levites.  If I were a literalist, I would care.
  3. Chronology remains an issue.  As I wrote in the first post in this series, 2 Kings 22 establishes the beginning of Josiah’s religious reforms in the eighteenth year of his life.  In 2 Kings 23, therefore, the great Passover occurred that year.  However, 1 Esdras follows the chronology from 2 Chronicles  34 and 35, placing these events in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign instead.
  4. Differences in names may count as discrepancies yet not contradictions.  A careful student of the Bible should be able to think of more than one example of a character with names.  For the record, Conaniah (2 Chronicles 35:9) is reasonably close to Jeconiah (1 Esdras 1:9).  Jeiel and Jozabad (2 Chronicles 35:9) could easily be Ochiel and Joram (1 Esdras 1:9).  And Heman and Jeduthun (2 Chronicles 35:15) could be alternative names for Zechariah and Eddinus (1 Esdras 1:15).

Josiah was trying–really trying.  Kings had staged grandiose Passovers at the Temple prior to this Passover.  For example, Hezekiah, Josiah’s great-grandfather, had staged a grand Passover in 2 Chronicles 30.  Yet this was the first Passover on such a grand scale since the time of Samuel, prior to the monarchy.

However, a portent hung over the glorious occasion.  Josiah was mortal.  His successors were terrible.  The Kingdom of Judah fell.  Exile began.  Yet hope remained, even then.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 29, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARY, MARTHA, AND LAZARUS OF BETHANY, FRIENDS OF JESUS

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Active Faith IV   1 comment

Sacrifice of Isaac--Caravaggio

Above:  The Sacrifice of Isaac, by Caravaggio

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Almighty God, you sent your Holy Spirit to be the life and light of your church.

Open our hearts to the riches of your grace,

that we may be ready to receive you wherever you appear,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 44

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Chronicles 33:1-17 (Monday)

2 Chronicles 34:22-33 (Tuesday)

Psalm 89:1-18 (Both Days)

Hebrews 11:1-7 (Monday)

Hebrews 11:17-28 (Tuesday)

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How blessed the nation that learns to acclaim you!

They will live, Yahweh, in the light of your presence.

–Psalm 89:15, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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That is the theology in the accounts of Kings Manasseh and Josiah of Judah.  We read of Manasseh (reigned 698/687-642 B.C.E.) in 2 Chronicles 33:1-20 and 2 Kings 21:1-18.  The story in 2 Kings is more unflattering than the version in 2 Chronicles, for the latter mentions his repentance.  Manasseh’s grandson, Josiah (reigned 640-609 B.C.E.) is on the scene in 2 Chronicles 34-35 and 2 Kings 22:1-23:30.  His fidelity to the Law of Moses delays the destruction of Judah, we read.

Hebrews 11 focuses on faith.  Verse 1 defines faith as

the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

In context this definition of faith is consistent with the understanding of St. Paul the Apostle, for whom faith was inherently active, hence the means of one’s justification with God.  In the Letter of James, however, faith is intellectual, so justification comes via works.  This is not a contradiction, just defining “faith” differently.  Active faith is the virtue extolled consistently.

I argue with Hebrews 11:17-20.  The near-sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22) was a form of child abuse.  There was no way it did not damage the father-son relationship.  Earlier in Genesis Abraham had interceded on behalf of strangers in Sodom (Chapter 18).  Yes, he had relatives there (see Genesis 13, 14, and 19), but he argued on behalf of strangers.  In Chapter 22 he did not do that for his son, Isaac.  God tested Abraham, who failed the test; he should have argued.

Did I understand you correctly?

would have been a good start.

May we have the active faith to follow God.  May we know when to question, when to argue, and when to act.  May we understand the difference between an internal monologue and a dialogue with God.  Out of faith may we act constructively and thereby leave the world better than we found it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 23, 2016 COMMON ERA

WEDNESDAY IN HOLY WEEK

THE FEAST OF GEORGE RUNDLE PRYNNE, ANGLICAN PRIEST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY THE ILLUMINATOR, PATRIARCH OF ARMENIA

THE FEAST OF HEINRICH VON LAUFENBERG, GERMAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT TURIBIUS OF MOGROVEJO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF LIMA

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/devotion-for-monday-and-tuesday-after-proper-14-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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Something Old, Something New   1 comment

Josiah

Above:  Josiah

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Almighty and ever-living God,

increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and love;

and that we may obtain what you promise,

make us love what you command,

through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 23

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Chronicles 34:1-7 (Thursday)

2 Chronicles 35:20-27 (Friday)

2 Chronicles 36:11-21 (Saturday)

Psalm 71:1-6 (All Days)

Acts 10:44-48 (Thursday)

Acts 19:1-10 (Friday)

John 1:43-51 (Saturday)

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I find my security in you, LORD,

never let me be covered with shame.

You always do what is right,

so rescue me and set me free.

Listen attentively to me and save me.

Be my rock where I can find security,

be my fortress and save me;

indeed you are my rock and fortress.

My God, set me free from the power of the wicked,

from the grasp of unjust and cruel men.

For you alone give me hope, LORD,

I have trusted in you since my early days.

I have leaned on you since birth,

when you delivered me from my mother’s womb.

I praise you continually.

–Psalm 71:1-6, The Psalms Introduced and Newly Translated for Today’s Readers (1989), by Harry Mowvley

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The story of King Josiah of Judah (reigned 640-609 B.C.E.) exists in two versions, each with its own chronology.  The account in 2 Chronicles 34:1-35:37 is more flattering than the version in 2 Kings 22:1-23:30.  Both accounts agree that Josiah was a strong king, a righteous man, and a religious reformer who pleased God, who postponed the fall of the Kingdom of Judah.  The decline of the kingdom after Josiah’s death was rapid, taking only about 23 years and four kings.

Josiah’s reforms met with opposition, as did Jesus and nascent Christianity.  The thorny question of how to treat Gentiles who desired to convert was one cause of difficulty.  The decision to accept Gentiles as they were–not to require them to become Jews first–caused emotional pain for many people attached to their Jewish identity amid a population of Gentiles.  There went one more boundary separating God’s chosen people from the others.  For Roman officialdom a religion was old, so a new faith could not be a legitimate religion.  Furthermore, given the commonplace assumption that Gentiles making offerings to the gods for the health of the empire was a civic, patriotic duty, increasing numbers of Gentiles refusing to make those offerings caused great concern.  If too many people refused to honor the gods, would the gods turn their backs on the empire?

Interestingly enough, the point of view of much of the Hebrew Bible is that the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah fell because of pervasive idolatry and related societal sinfulness.  The pagan Roman fears for their empire were similar.  How ironic!

The pericope from John 1 is interesting.  Jesus is gathering his core group of followers.  One Apostle recruits another until St. Nathanael (St. Bartholomew) puts up some opposition, expressing doubt that anything good can come out of Nazareth.  St. Philip tries to talk St. Nathanael out of that skepticism.  “Come and see,” he replies.  Jesus convinces that St. Nathanael by informing him that he (Jesus) saw him (St. Nathanael) sitting under a fig tree.  Father Raymond E. Brown spends a paragraph in the first of his two volumes on the Gospel of John listing a few suggestions (of many) about why that was so impressive and what it might have meant.  He concludes that all such suggestions are speculative.  The bottom line is, in the words of Gail R. O’Day and Susan E. Hylen, is the following:

The precise meaning of Jesus’ words about the fig tree is unclear, but their function in the story is to show that Jesus has insight that no one else has…because of Jesus’ relationship with God.

John (2006), page 33

Jesus was doing a new thing which was, at its heart, a call back to original principles.  Often that which seems new is really old–from Josiah to Jesus to liturgical renewal (including the revision of The Book of Common Prayer).  Along the way actually new developments arise.  Laying aside precious old ideas and embracing greater diversity in the name of God for the purpose of drawing the proverbial circle wider can be positive as well as difficult.    Yet it is often what God calls us to do–to welcome those whom God calls insiders while maintaining proper boundaries and definitions.  Discerning what God calls good and bad from one or one’s society calls good and bad can be quite difficult.  May we succeed by grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 5, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF DAVID NITSCHMANN, SR., “FATHER NITSCHMANN,” MORAVIAN MISSIONARY; MELCHIOR NITSCHMANN, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND MARTYR; JOHANN NITSCHMANN, JR., MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; ANNA NITSCHMANN, MORAVIAN ELDRESS; AND DAVID NITSCHMANN, MISSIONARY AND FIRST BISHOP OF THE RENEWED MORAVIAN CHURCH

THE FEAST OF BRADFORD TORREY, U.S. ORNITHOLOGIST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HARRY EMERSON FOSDICK, NORTHERN BAPTIST PASTOR AND OPPONENT OF FUNDAMENTALISM

THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE UNITED REFORMED CHURCH, 1972

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-the-fourth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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2 Chronicles and Colossians, Part III: Suffering and the Glory of God   2 comments

king-josiah

Above:  King Josiah

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Chronicles 34:1-4, 8-11, 14-33 (September 15)

2 Chronicles 35:1-7, 16-25 (September 16)

2 Chronicles 36:1-23 (September 17)

Psalm 19 (Morning–September 15)

Psalm 136 (Morning–September 16)

Psalm 123 (Morning–September 17)

Psalms 81 and 113 (Evening–September 15)

Psalms 97 and 112 (Evening–September 16)

Psalms 30 and 86 (Evening–September 17)

Colossians 2:8-23 (September 15)

Colossians 3:1-25 (September 16)

Colossians 4:1-18 (September 17)

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Some Related Posts:

Colossians 2:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/week-of-proper-18-tuesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/proper-12-year-c/

Colossians 3:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/first-day-of-easter-easter-sunday-year-a-principal-service/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/first-day-of-easter-easter-sunday-year-c-principal-service/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/week-of-proper-18-wednesday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/week-of-proper-18-thursday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2012/10/13/proper-13-year-c/

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In the readings from 2 Chronicles we find good news followed by bad news succeeded by worse news followed by good news again.  The tradition which produced those texts perceived a link between national righteousness and national strength and prosperity.  That sounds too much like Prosperity Theology for my comfort, for, as other passages of the Bible (plus the record of history) indicate, good things happen to bad people, bad things happen to good people, good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people.  The fictional character of Job, in the book which bears his name, suffered, but not because of any sin he had committed.  And Jesus, being sinless, suffered, but not for anything he had done wrong.

Many of the instructions from Colossians are comforting and not controversial–or at least should not be.  Living according to

…compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience

–3:12, Revised English Bible

seems like something almost everyone would applaud, but it did lead to controversies during our Lord and Savior’s lifetime and contribute to his execution.  I, as a student of history, know that many people have suffered for following that advice.  When society favors the opposite,

compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience

lead to trouble for those who enact them.

Other advice is culturally specific.  Colossians 2:16-21 comes to mind immediately.  It, taken outside of its context, becomes a distorted text.  In 1899, for example, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS), the old Southern Presbyterian Church, cited it to condemn observing Christmas and Easter as holy occasions:

There is no warrant for the observance of Christmas and Easter as holy days, but rather contrary (see Galatians iv. 9-11; Colossians ii. 16-21), and such observance is contrary to the principles of the Reformed faith, conducive to will-worship, and not in harmony with the simplicity of the gospel in Jesus Christ.

Journal of the General Assembly, page 430

Still other advice should trouble us.  I will not tell a slave to obey his or her master, for no form of slavery should exist.  And I, as a feminist, favor the equality of men and women.  So 3:18-25 bothers me.  4:1 does, however, level the slave-master playing field somewhat, however.

Suffering flows from more than one cause.  If we are to suffer, may we do so not because of any sin we have committed.  No, may we suffer for the sake of righteousness, therefore bringing glory to God.  May virtues define how we love, bringing glory to God in all circumstances.  And may we not become caught up in the legalistic minutae of theology and condemn those who seek only to glorify God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 25, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE ELDER, SAINT NONNA, AND THEIR CHILDREN:  SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE YOUNGER, SAINT CAESARIUS OF NAZIANZUS, AND SAINT GORGONIA OF NAZIANZUS

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH FEDDE, LUTHERAN DEACONESS

THE FEAST OF JOHN ROBERTS, EPISCOPAL MISSIONARY TO THE SHOSHONE AND THE ARAPAHOE

THE FEAST OF SAINT TARASIUS, PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/devotion-for-september-15-16-and-17-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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