Week of Proper 7: Monday, Year 2   4 comments

Above:  A Chart of the Kings of Israel and Judah

Needlessly Sad Stories

JUNE 25, 2018

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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 17:5-18 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Then the king of Assyria marched against the whole land; he came to Samaria and besieged it for three years.  In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured of Samaria.  He deported the Israelites to Assyria and settled them in Halah, at the [River] Habor, at the River Gozan, and in the towns of Media.

This happened because the Israelites sinned against the LORD their God, who had freed them from the land of Egypt, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.  They worshiped other gods and followed the customs of the nations which the LORD had dispossessed before the Israelites and the customs which the kings of Israel had practiced.  The Israelites committed against the LORD their God acts which were not right.  They built for themselves shrines in all their settlements, from watchtowers to fortified cities; they set up pillars and sacred posts for themselves on every lofty hill and under every leafy tree, and they offered sacrifices there, at all the shrines, like the nations whom the LORD had driven into exile before them.  They committed wicked acts to vex the LORD, and they worshiped fetishes concerning which the LORD had said to them,

You must not do this thing.

The LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet [and] every seer, saying:

Turn back from your wicked ways, and observe My commandments and My laws, according to all the Teaching that I commanded your fathers and that I transmitted to you through My servants the prophets.

But they did not obey; they stiffened their necks, like their fathers who did not have faith in the LORD their God; they spurned His laws and the covenant that He had made with their fathers, and the warnings He had given them.  They went after delusion and were deluded; [they imitated] the nations that were about them, which the LORD had forbidden them to emulate.  They rejected all the commandments of the LORD their God; they made molten idols for themselves–two calves–and they made a sacred post and they bowed down to all the host of heaven, and they worshiped Baal.  They consigned their sons and daughters to the fire; they practiced augury and divination, and gave themselves over to what was displeasing to the LORD and vexed Him.  The LORD was incensed at Israel and He banished them from His presence; none was left but the tribe of Judah alone.

Psalm 60 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1  O God, you have cast us off and broken us;

you have been angry;

oh, take us back to you again.

2  You have shaken the earth and split it open;

repair the cracks in it, for it totters.

3  You have made your people know hardship;

you have given us wine that makes us stagger.

4  You have set up a banner for those who fear you,

to be a refuge from the power of the bow.

5  Save us by your right hand and answer us,

that those who are dear to you may be delivered.

6  God spoke from his holy place and said:

“I will exult and parcel out Shechem;

I will divide the valley of Succoth.

7  Gilead is mine and Manasseh is mine;

Ephraim is my helmet and Judah my scepter.

8  Moab is my wash-basin,

on Edom I throw down my sandal to claim it,

and over Philistia will I shout in triumph.”

9  Who will lead me into the strong city?

who will bring me into Edom?

10  Have you not cast us off, O God?

you no longer go out, O God, with our armies.

11  Grant us your help against the enemy,

for vain is the help of man.

12  With God we will do valiant deeds,

and he shall tread our enemies under foot.

Matthew 7:1-5 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,]

Pass no more judgments upon other people, so that you may not have judgment passed upon you.  For you will be judged by the standard you judge by, and men will pay you back with the same measure you have used with them.  Why do you keep looking at the speck in your brother’s eye, and pay no attention to the beam that is in your own?  How can you say to your brother, “Just let me get that speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a beam in your own?  You hypocrite!  First get the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see to get the speck out of your brother’s eye.

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The Collect:

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 7:  Monday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/week-of-proper-7-monday-year-1/

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The Canadian Anglican Lectionary has skipped over many details to arrive at the summary, so follow the bouncing balls with me while I summarize those parts of 2 Kings over which the lectionary has skipped.

We begin in the Kingdom of Judah.

  • Jehoash/Joash (836-798 B.C.E.)
  • Amaziah (798-769 B.C.E.)
  • Azariah/Uzziah (785-733 B.C.E.)
  • Jotham (759-743 B.C.E.)
  • Ahaz (743/735-727/715 B.C.E.)
  • Hezekiah (727/715-698/687 B.C.E.)

(Dates from page 2111 of The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford University Press, 2004)

We have already part of the account of the reign of Jehoash/Joash of Judah from 2 Chronicles.  So we can move along to his son and successor, Amaziah.  He generally pleased God but did not remove the idolatrous shrines and altars.  The text criticizes him for killing just his father’s assassins but sparing their children.  (See 2 Kings 14:5-6 and Deuteronomy 24:16.)  He also lost a war to King Jehoash/Joash of Israel.

Azariah/Uzziah, Amaziah’s son, reigned for 52 years.  Like his father, he generally pleased God yet did not remove the places of idolatry.  The text says that God struck him with leprosy as punishment for this sin of omission.  So his son Jotham reigned as regent then king.  Jotham, the text tells us, displeased God and did not remove the shrines and altars either.

The narrator condemns Ahaz, Jotham’s son.  Ahaz, the text tells us, practiced idolatry openly.  He

even consigned his son to the fire,

which might indicate a rite of passage, not a child sacrifice, but does not sound good, whatever it was, and

sacrificed and made offerings at the shrines, on the hills, and under every leafy tree.

And Ahaz, while a captive of King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah of Israel, bribed the Assyrian king to deliver him.  The bribe consisted of the gold and silver at the Jerusalem Temple.   Ahaz also ordered the construction of a new pagan altar–a replica of one at Damascus–at Jerusalem then made a public offering at it.

Hezekiah succeeded his father, Ahaz, as king.  We will read about him another day.

A note about dating the reigns of ancient kings is in order.  I have checked various study Bibles and found slightly different regnal dates for the same monarchs.  The B.C./A.D. or, if you prefer, B.C.E./C.E. dating system is about 1500 years old.  So it obviously did not exist at the time of the events of which we are reading.  Converting dates from one calendar to another can also be tricky.  And ancient documents provided relativistic dates, such as

In the twelfth year of King Ahaz of Judah….

If one does not know when King Ahaz of Judah reigned, this does not help.  Furthermore, taking a literal reading of all these relativistic dates leads to chronological inconsistencies.  So sometimes an honest historian or student of history must plead confusion.

Now I move along to the Kingdom of Israel.

  • Jehoahaz (817-800 B.C.E.)
  • Jehoash/Joash (800-784 B.C.E.)
  • Jeroboam II (788-747 B.C.E.)
  • Zechariah (747 B.C.E.)
  • Shallum (747 B.C.E.)
  • Menachem (747-737 B.C.E.)
  • Pekahiah (737-735 B.C.E.)
  • Pekah (735-732 B.C.E.)
  • Hoshea (732-722 B.C.E)

(Dates from page 2111 of The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford University Press, 2004)

The last Kings of Israel came in for bad reviews from the narrator.  A recurring condemnation is that they persisted in the sins of their predecessors.  Among these sins was idolatry.  The last strong monarch of Israel was Jeroboam II, who reigned for 41 years and expanded his kingdom’s borders.  Then everything went downhill.  Zechariah was the last king of the Jehu Dynasty.  His reign ended because Shallum assassinated him.  Shallum reigned for one month before Menahem killed him.

Menahem was an especially bad character.  He attacked the territory of Tiphsah.  The people did not surrender, so he

massacred [its people] and ripped open all its pregnant women.

Like his predecessors, Menahem persisted in the traditional sins of the Kings of Israel.  He also paid tribute to the Assyrian king after an Assyrian invasion.  Pekahiah succeeded his father, persisted in the sins of the Kings of Israel, and reigned for two years, dying of an assassination.

Pekah, the next king, was the assassin.  The text says that he reigned for twenty years, but he ruled from Samaria for closer to two years.  The only way to avoid a contradiction between these two facts is to say that he was running a parallel government for the rest of the time.  The Assyrian conquest of Israel began during his reign, for the first part of the forced exile commenced.  Hoshea assassinated Pekah and became the last King of Israel.  He was really a vassal of the Assyrian king, however.

Here ends the history lesson and begins the rest of my text.

I admit it:  I have little new to say.  “Idolatry is bad.”  There is a post about that in this series.  “Theocracy is also a bad idea.”  I have written that in at least two posts, one of them in this recent series.  “Let us be quick to comfort, not cast blame, in difficult times.”  There is also a recent post about that.  So, instead of repeating myself in this post, I conclude with the preceding recap and move along.

The ten northern tribes lost their identities religiously before they lost them politically.  But their descendants live on the planet.   The populations are spread out across the Old World.  Their cultural markers have not faded entirely.  But the ten tribes did not return home.

The recent stories from 1-2 Kings have been sad.  They did not have to be this way, however.  May our choices work out better.

KRT

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