Archive for the ‘2 Chronicles 4’ Tag

The Second Oracle of Haggai   Leave a comment

Above:  Haggai

Image in the Public Domain

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READING HAGGAI-FIRST ZECHARIAH, PART IV

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Haggai 2:1-9

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Many of the priests and Levites and heads of families, who were old enough to have seen the former house, wept and wailed aloud when they saw the foundation of this house were laid, while many others shouted for joy at the tops of their voices.  The people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the weeping and the wailing, so great was the shout which the people were raising, and the sound could be heard a long way off.

–Ezra 3:12-14, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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But [the shouts] of the priests, Levites, and heads of families who were old enough to have seen the former house came to the building of this house with cries of lamentation.  Though many were shouting and sounding the trumpets loudly for joy–so loudly as to be heard from afar–the people could not hear the trumpets for the noise of lamentation.

–1 Esdras 5:63-65, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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The Second Temple, again under construction, was not going to be as large and impressive as the First Temple, destroyed in 586 B.C.E.  (See 1 Kings 5:1-6:38; 1 Kings 7:13-51; 2 Chronicles 2:1-4, 22.)  In Jerusalem, on October 17, 520 B.C.E., the question in many anxious minds was:

Will the Second Temple be good enough?

God answered affirmatively.  Also, God was with the people building the Second Temple.  That temple would be good enough because God would make it so.  God would fill the Second Temple (built on a more modest budget) with wealth and splendor acquired by the divine “shaking” of the nations.  The Second Temple was to be grander than the First Temple.

Jerusalem, October 17, 520 B.C.E.–the seventh day of Sukkot, the Festival of Booths (Leviticus 23:33-36, 39-43; Numbers 29:12-38).  The festival, eight days long, was rich with meaning.  It, a harvest festival, celebrated divine, sustaining care.  Sukkot also commemorated the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant into the First Temple, as well as the dedication of the First Temple (1 Kings 8:1-13, 62-66; 2 Chronicles 5:2-7:22).  Furthermore, the festival commemorated the divine liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and their dwelling in boots as they traveled to Sinai (Leviticus 23:42-43).  The festival of Sukkot, 520 B.C.E., was replete with meaning.

Compared to God, all human beings and efforts are subpar and inadequate.  That does not mean that we should do nothing, of course.  No, we ought to trust in God and do our best–collectively and individually–for God’s glory.  God will take care of the rest.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 12, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JASON OF TARSUS AND SOSIPATER OF ICONIUM, COWORKERS OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE AND EVANGELISTS OF CORFU

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The Vision of the Temple and the Return of the Divine Presence to Jerusalem   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of Ezekiel

Image in the Public Domain

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READING EZEKIEL, PART XVIII

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Ezekiel 40:1-48:35

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The last section of the Book of Ezekiel (40-48) contains a long vision of the return of the Divine Presence/Glory to the (Second) Temple and a transformed Judea.  One may recall that Ezekiel 1-7 and 9-11 concern themselves with the destruction of the (First) Temple and the departure of the Divine Presence to Jewish exiles in the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire.  One may recall the end of the previous chapter:

I will no longer hide my face from them once I pour out my spirit upon the house of Israel–oracle of the Lord GOD.

–Ezekiel 39:29, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

The vision that opens Ezekiel 40 provides a date–in terms of the Gregorian Calendar, April 28, 573 B.C.E.  The plethora of details regarding the future Temple (dedicated in 516 B.C.E.) can prompt the glazing over of many eyes.  Therefore, I focus on themes:

  1. Many of these details differ from those of the Tabernacle in the wilderness (Exodus 25-30 and 35-40), the First Temple (1 Kings 6-7; 2 Chronicles 3-4), and the actual Second Temple.  This is a matter upon which certain detail-oriented Jewish exegetes have fixated, to argue that Ezekiel 40:1-43:12 describes the (future) Third Temple.  However, if one does not interpret the description in 40:1-43:12 as a set of blue prints, one may recognize a description of a divinely reordered sacred space that sets the standard for the envisioned society.
  2. The separation of the sacred from the profane is complete (42:20), as in the separation of priests from non-priests (42:1-14).
  3. With the completion of the Temple, God returns to dwell in Jerusalem (43:1-12).  God’s chariot throne (Ezekiel 1-2 and 8-11) recurs.  The divine enthronement ritual resembles that of Marduk, the chief deity of the Babylonian pantheon.  God even takes over the rites of pagan deities.
  4. In 43:10-12, Ezekiel functions as the new Moses, delivering divine law to the people.
  5. Chapter 44 pertains to the roles of Levites and Zadokite priests.  One may recall that the Zadokite priests were Levitical priests who traced their ancestry back to the priesthood during the time of the Kings of Israel (pre-division) and Judah (post-division).  The chapter specifies the different functions of the Levites and the Zadokite priests.  In the new order, the rules will be different than they were during the monarchical period, we read.
  6. Consistent, with the ethos of ritual purity and impurity, God dwells among the among the people yet is remote.  Getting too close to God can prove hazardous to one’s health, especially if one is ritually impure.
  7. God is the source of life (Ezekiel 47).  Practically, even the Dead Sea becomes fresh water (47:8) because of the river of life flowing from beneath the Temple.
  8. The priests are superior to kings, called princes in the new divine order (Ezekiel 45).  The king enforces justice.  He, for example, mandates uniform weights and measures to prevent the cheating of customers.  (See Leviticus 19:35-36; Deuteronomy 25:13-16; Amos 8:5-6; Hosea 12:7; Micah 6:10-11).  Justice is a defining characteristic of God’s new order.
  9. God is central in the final vision in the Book of Ezekiel.  Each tribe–except Levi–receives an equal strip of land.  Equitability is the rule, with some interesting reversals from the past order.  For example, the descendants of Rachel and Leah, wives of Jacob, get closer to the sacred area (48:7, 23).  Within equitability, a hierarchy exists.  The purpose of that hierarchy is to protect the sanctity of the divine dwelling in the middle of the sacred area (48:14).  The priests and the Levites dwell in the central, divine allotment.
  10. Jerusalem belongs to everyone, not any one tribe (48:19).  God dwells there, after all.

After all the divine judgment in the Book of Ezekiel, divine mercy is the final word.  We read that God will act decisively and put the world right.  Then all will be wonderful.  We who live in 2021 wait for that day as much as Ezekiel and his generation did.

Thank you, O reader, for joining me on this journey through the Book of Ezekiel.  I invite you to remain by my side, so to speak, as I move along to Second Isaiah.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 5, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTHONY MARY ZACCARIA, FOUNDER OF THE BARNABITES AND THE ANGELIC SISTERS OF SAINT PAUL

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GEORGE NICHOLS AND RICHARD YAXLEY, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYRS, 1589; SAINT HUMPHREY PRITCHARD, WELSH ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR, 1589; AND SAINT THOMAS BELSON, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR, 1589

THE FEAST OF GEORGES BERNANOS, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC NOVELIST

THE FEAST OF HULDA NEIBUHR, CHRISTIAN EDUCATOR; HER BROTHERS, H. RICHARD NIEBUHR AND REINHOLD NIEBUHR, UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST THEOLOGIANS; AND URSULA NIEBUHR, EPISCOPAL THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH BOISSEL, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST AND MARTYR IN LAOS, 1969

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Details of the First Temple and King Solomon’s Palace   Leave a comment

Above:  Building Solomon’s Temple

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 LVIII

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1 Kings 6:1-7:51

2 Chronicles 3:1-4:22

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How dear to me is your dwelling, O LORD of hosts!

My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the LORD;

my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.

The sparrow has found her a house 

and the wallow a nest where she may lay her young;

by the side of your altars, O LORD of hosts,

my King and my God.

Happy are they who dwell in your your house!  

they will always be praising you.

Happy are people whose strength is in you!

whose hearts are set on the pilgrims’ way.

–Psalm 84:1-4, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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If one permits one’s eyes to glaze over, one may miss a crucial detail in 1 Kings:  the construction of the First Temple took about seven years yet the building of King Solomon’s palace required about thirteen years.  King Solomon did not live simply.  The people paid the price for his elaborate lifestyle.  Those Israelites (1 Kings 5:13/27, depending on versification) and foreigners (2 Chronicles 2:16) conscripted into labor paid another price, too.

Much of the Hebrew Bible (including the two Books of Kings) has existed in its current, edited, cut-and-pasted form since sometime after the Babylonian Exile.  The editor (perhaps Ezra) employed hindsight.

Then the word of the LORD came to Solomon, “With regard to this House you are building–if you follow My laws and observe My rules and faithfully keep My commandments, I will fulfill for you the promise that I gave to your father David:  I will abide among the children of Israel, and I will never forsake My people Israel.”

–1 Kings 6:11-13, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Regardless of how literally accurate a historical account may be, the interpretive lens of the author, reader, or hearer is his or her present-day vantage point.  Imagine, O reader, how Jews heard the old stories in the context of the Babylonian Exile.  Imagine, O reader, how those Jews understood that passage when Jerusalem was a ruin and the Temple had long been rubble.

“If” is a crucial word.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE MCGOVERN, U.S. SENATOR AND STATESMAN; AND HIS WIFE, ELEANOR MCGOVERN, HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF DAVID MORITZ MICHAEL, GERMAN-AMERICAN MORAVIAN MUSICIAN AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JAMES W. C. PENNINGTON, AFRICAN-AMERICAN CONGREGATIONALIST AND PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, EDUCATOR, AND ABOLITIONIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT LAURA OF SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA, FOUNDRESS OF THE WORKS OF THE INDIANS AND THE CONGREGATION OF MISSIONARY SISTERS OF IMMACULATE MARY AND OF SAINT CATHERINE OF SIENA

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King David, the Temple, and the Dynasty   1 comment

Above:  Icon of Kings David and Solomon with the Madonna and Child

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 XXXIV

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2 Samuel 7:1-29

1 Chronicles 17:1-27

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The LORD has sworn an oath to David,

in truth, he will not break it:

“A son, the fruit of your body,

will I set upon your throne.

If your children keep my covenant

and my testimonies that I shall teach them,

their children will sit upon your throne for evermore.”

–Psalm 132:11-13, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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This is a familiar story.  When reading a familiar story, one ought to read it closely, for one may not know it as well as one imagines.

I like wordplay, for I am a notorious punster.  Imagine my delight, O reader, in the wordplay regarding bayit, or house.  We read that King David dwelt in a bayit (palace), but God had no bayit (temple).  Extremely attentive readers of the Hebrew Bible may recall the references to the House of the LORD in 1 Samuel 1.  Nevertheless, 2 Samuel 7:6 has God deny ever having had a house.  This is a minor matter, but one worth mentioning, for the sake of thoroughness.  A note in The Jewish Study Bible points out that God had a house as well as a tent (Joshua 18:1; 1 Samuel 2:22), the tent indicating that

the LORD is not restricted to one fixed place.

The wordplay with bayit continues with God establishing a covenant and making David the founder of a house (dynasty).  The texts allude to King Solomon presiding over the construction and dedication of the first Temple (See 1 Kings 6:1-8:66; 1 Chronicles 28:1-29:9; 2 Chronicles 2:1-7:22).  One ought to know that hindsight is the lens through which people recall the past.

God changes the divine mind sometimes, according to scripture.  One example is 1 Samuel 2:30-31.  Keep the divine tendency to change the divine mind in your mind, O reader, when reading David’s prayer (2 Samuel 7:25-29; 1 Chronicles 17:23-27).

What am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my family, that You have brought me this far?

–2 Samuel 7:18b, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

Covenants are not contracts.  Covenants do not entail quid pro quos.  Covenants do entail grace, which, in turn, imposes obligations.  Many people are comfortable with quid pro quos and uncomfortable with grace.  Perhaps grace reminds them of this unworthiness.  Perhaps they prefer to have earned something.  Perhaps the obligations that accompany grace put them ill at ease.  Grace is free, not cheap.

I, having read the rest of the story of David and his dynasty, cannot reread these two versions of this portion of the narrative without feeling sadness over the wasted potential.  I know the rest of the story.  I know of the abuses of David and Solomon.  I know that scripture gives most of their successors negative reviews.  I know about the division of the kingdom and the fall of both successor kingdoms.  I know that David’s lineage continued, but that the dynasty ended.  And I, as a Christian, link this portion of the narrative (in two versions) with Jesus, not Just Solomon and the other Davidic kings.

We are all unworthy.  Grace is our only hope.  This realization may threaten our egos.  On the other hand, this realization may prompt us to live gratefully and to seek to honor God in our own lives, as we relate to God and other human beings.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEANNE JUGAN, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN LEARY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR AND THE MARGINALIZED

THE FEAST OF KARL OTTO EBERHARDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST, MUSIC, EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER

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