Week of Proper 6: Friday, Year 2   3 comments

Above:  King Joash (Jehoash) of Judah

Examples, Good and Bad

JUNE 19, 2020

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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2 Kings 11:1-4, 9-20 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

When Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah, learned that her son was dead, she promptly killed off all who were of royal stock.  But Jehosheba, daughter of King Joram and sister of Ahaziah, secretly took Ahaziah’s son Joash away from among the princes who were being slain, and [put] him and his nurse in a bedroom.  And they kept him hidden from Athalian so that he was not put to death.  He stayed with her for six years, hidden in the House of the LORD, while Athaliah reigned over the land.

The chiefs of hundreds did just as Jehoiada ordered:  Each took his men–those who were off duty that week–and they presented themselves to Jehoiada the priest.  The priest gave the chiefs of hundreds of King David’s spears and quivers that were kept in the House of the LORD.  The guards, each with his weapons at the ready, stationed themselves–from the south end of the House to the north end of the House, at the altar and the House–to guard the king on every side.  [Jehoiada] then brought out the king’s son, and placed upon him the crown and insignia.  They anointed him and proclaimed him king; they clapped their hands and shouted,

Long live the king!

When Athaliah heard the shouting of the guards [and] the people, she came out to the people in the House of the LORD.  She looked about and saw the king, standing by the pillar, as was the custom, the chiefs with their trumpets beside the king, and all the people of the land rejoicing and blowing trumpets.  Athaliah rent her garments and cried out,

Treason, treason!

Then the priest Jehoiada gave the command to the army officers, the chiefs of hundreds, and said to them,

Take her out between the ranks and, if anyone follows her, put her to the sword.

For the priest thought:

Let her not be put to death in the House of the LORD.

They cleared a passageway for her and she entered the royal palace  through the horses’ entrance; there she was put to death.

And Jehoiada solemnized the covenant between the LORD, on the one hand, and the king and the people, on the other–as well as between the king and the people–and they should be the people of the LORD.  Thereupon all the people of the land went up to the temple of Baal.  They tore it down and smashed its altars and images to bits, and they slew Mattan, the priest of Baal, in front of the altars.  [Jehoiada] the priest then placed guards over the House of the LORD.  He took the chiefs of hundreds, the Carites, the guards, and all the people of the land, and they escorted the king from the House of the LORD into the royal palace by the gate of the guards.  And he ascended the royal throne.  All the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was quiet.  As for Athaliah, she had been put to death in the royal palace.

Psalm 132:11-19 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

11  The LORD has sworn an oath to David;

in truth, he will not break it:

12  ”A son, the fruit of your body

will I set upon your throne.

13  If your children keep my covenant

and my testimonies that I shall teach them,

their children will sit upon your throne for evermore.”

14  For the LORD has chosen Zion;

he has desired her for his habitation:

15  ”This shall be my resting-place for ever;

here will I dwell, for I delight in her.

16  I will surely bless her provisions,

and satisfy her poor with bread.

17  I will clothe her priests with salvation,

and her faithful people will rejoice and sing.

18  There will I make the horn of David flourish;

I have prepared a lamp for my Anointed.

19  As for his enemies, I will clothe them with shame;

but as for him, his crown will shine.”

Matthew 6:19-23 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,]

Do not store up your riches on earth, where moths and rust destroy them, and where thieves break in and steal them, but store up your riches in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them, and where thieves cannot break in and steal them.  But wherever your treasure is, your heart will be also.  The eye is the lamp of the body.  So if your eye is sound, your whole body will be light, but if your eye is unsound, your whole body will be dark.  If, therefore, your very light is darkness, how deep the darkness will be!

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The Collect:

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 6:  Friday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/week-of-proper-6-friday-year-1/

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Since the Canadian Anglican lectionary skips eight chapters, I begin with a summary of them:

  1. Elisha worked wonders.
  2. Elisha anointed Jehu as King of Israel, thereby completing a task God had assigned to Elijah.
  3. Jehu overthrew King Ahaziah, son of Ahab.  Ahaziah of Israel died.  Jezebel died.  Many other members of that dynasty died.  Jehu ordered the killing of many followers of Baal and the destruction of the temple of Baal in his kingdom.  Yet, according to the text, he did not go far enough in combating idolatry.  Jehu died after reigning for 28 years.  His son Jehoahaz succeeded him as king in 814 B.C.E.
  4. In the Kingdom of Judah King Jehoram (Joram) reigned from 851 to 843 B.C.E.  He married Athaliah, a sister of King Ahab of Israel.  The text says that Jehoram (Joram) “followed the practices of the kings of Israel” and displeased God.  Judah also lost territory during the reign of Jehoram (Joram).
  5. His son Ahaziah (Jehoahaz) reigned for one year, ending with his death.

That brings us to the reading in 2 Kings 11, set in 842-836 B.C.E.

The authors of 1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Kings did not envision a multicultural western liberal democracy with freedom of religion.  I, of  course, support the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.  Yet I understand that it is a product of political thought subsequent to the time of the biblical writers.

History demonstrates that theocracy is detrimental to the alleged heretics.  Certain post-Constantinian Roman emperors persecuted the adherents of schools of Christian theology they considered heretical.  Later, in Europe, some Protestant potentates persecuted Roman Catholics, many Roman Catholic potentates did the same to Protestants, and both despised the Anabaptists actively.  And, in Puritan New England, authorities hanged Quakers and exiled other dissenters, notably Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson.

The Bible is many things, but not an authoritative treatise on political science.  The Kings of Judah and Israel (except for the few who were puppets of foreign powers) were absolute monarchs. They lived in a pre-Enlightenment world, one which had not enshrined the principle of liberty of conscience.  So we ought not to apply the worldview of the authors from the Old Testament times to today, for to so is to advocate theocracy, the murder or execution of religious dissidents, the suppression of alleged heresy, and the union of church and state.

Books such as 1-2 Kings did not exist in their current form until centuries after the events they describe.  The final editing of these texts occurred in the wake of the Babylonian Exile and the return from it.  Those who produced the final drafts believed that idolatry had been the downfall of the Jewish kingdoms.  So it is no wonder that 1-2 Kings, originally one book, tell the story this way.

I propose that the failing of many of these monarchs with regard to idolatry was to encourage it.  They were not solely responsible for the worship of other deities, a practice embedded deeply in the culture.  They could have, however, modeled good behavior and sound practice.

As for we commoners today, we can, each in his or her own setting, model good behavior and sound practice.  May we do so.  If we are already doing this, may we continue to do so.

KRT

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