Archive for the ‘Ahaz’ Tag

Week of Proper 10: Tuesday, Year 2   4 comments

Above:  King Ahaz of Judah

God With Us

JULY 14, 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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Isaiah 7:1-9 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

In the reign of King Ahaz son of Jotham son of Uzziah, king of Judah, King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah of Israel marched upon Jerusalem to attack it; but they were not able to attack it.

Now, when it was reported to the House of David that Aram had allied itself with Ephraim, their hearts and the hearts of the people trembled as trees of the forest sway before a wind.  But the LORD said to Isaiah,

Go out with your son Shear-jashub to meet Ahaz at the end of the conduit of the Upper Pool, by the road of the Fuller’s Field.  And say to him:  Be firm and be calm.  Do not be afraid and do not lose heart on account of those two smoking stubs of firebrands, on account of the raging of Rezin and his Arameans and the son of Remaliah.  Because the Arameans–with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah–have plotted against you, saying, “We will march against Judah and invade and conquer it, and we will set up as king in it the son of Tabeel,” thus says my Lord GOD:

It shall not succeed,

It shall not come to pass.

For the chief city of Aram is Damascus,

And the chief of Damascus is Rezin;

The chief city of Ephraim is Samaria,

And the chief of Samaria is the son of Remaliah.

And in another sixty-five years,

Ephraim shall be shattered as a people.

If you will not believe, for you cannot be trusted….

Psalm 48 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised;

in the city of our God is his holy hill.

2 Beautiful and lofty, the joy of all the earth, is the hill of Zion,

the very center of the world and the city of the great King.

God is in her citadels;

he is known to be her sure refuge.

Behold, the kings of the earth assembled

and marched forward together.

5 They looked and were astonished;

they retreated and fled in terror.

Trembling seized them there;

they writhed like a woman in childbirth,

like ships of the sea when the east wind shatters them.

As we have heard, so have we seen,

in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God;

God has established her for ever.

8 We have waited in silence on your loving-kindness, O God,

in the midst of your temple.

Your praise, like your Name, O God, reaches to the world’s end;

your right hand is full of justice.

10 Let Mount Zion be glad

in the cities of Judah rejoice,

because of your judgments.

11 Make the circuit of Zion;

walk round about her;

count the number of her towers.

12 Consider well her bulwarks;

examine her strongholds;

that you may tell those who come after.

13 This God is our God for ever and ever;

he shall be our guide for ever more.

Matthew 11:20-24 (An American Translation):

Then he [Jesus] began to reproach the towns in which most of his wonders had been done, because they did not repent.

Alas for you, Chorazin!  Alas for you, Bethsaida!  For if the wonders that have been done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes long ago!  But I tell you, Tyre and Sidon will fare better on the day of judgment than you will!  And you, Capernaum!  Are you to be exalted to the skies?  You will go down among the dead!  For if the wonders that have been done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have stood until today.  But I tell you that the land of Sodom will fare better than the Day of Judgment than you will!

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The Collect:

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, 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 10:  Tuesday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/26/week-of-proper-10-tuesday-year-1/

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2 Kings 16:1-20 tells of the reign of King Ahaz of Judah, which The Jewish Study Bible dates to 754/735-727/715 B.C.E.  Ahaz “did not do what was pleasing to the LORD his God, but followed the ways of the kings of Israel.”  We read in 16:4 that “He sacrificed and made offerings at the shrines, on the hills, and under every leafy tree” (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures).  We read also that King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah of Israel formed an alliance and attempted unsuccessfully to conquer Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah, and to install a compliant monarch not of the Davidic Dynasty.

This is the context for Isaiah 7.  As we keep reading past Isaiah 7:9, we find Ahaz putting on airs of holiness by refusing to ask YHWH for a sign of deliverance.  Yet the king received a sign anyway:  A young woman in the court would have a baby boy, to be called Immanuel, or “God with us.”  People would feast on curds and honey by the time young Immanuel could discern good from evil and choose the good.

This is the story as we have it in Isaiah 7.  Subsequent Christian tradition, embedded in the Gospel of Matthew, changes the meaning of this account.  And since the author of that Gospel quoted the Greek-language Septuagint, not the original Hebrew text, the almah, or young woman, not necessarily a virgin or even married, of marriageable age, became a virgin in Matthew’s Gospel.  Young Immanuel, of course, became Jesus of Nazareth.  “Matthew” understood the story of Jesus in the context of the Jewish Biblical narrative.  So he sought foreshadowing and prophesies of Jesus in the old texts.  Sometimes he imagined things.

Ahaz’s story continues in 2 Kings 16.  He allied himself with the Assyrian king, Tiglath-pilesar, after bribing him with “the gold and the silver that were on hand in the House of the LORD” and “the treasures of the royal palace.”  So the Assyrians rescued Ahaz from the Aramean and Israaelite forces, capturing Damascus, the capital of Aram.  There, at Assyrian-occupied Damascus, Ahaz saw a pagan altar, which he replicated in Jerusalem.  This was bad, but his public sacrifice at said replica altar compounded his error.  And Assyria demanded high tribute payments, which he paid in part by removing various Temple furnishings.

Judah was on the fast track to losing its sovereignty, something which Ahaz had compromised already.

I wonder how different the story would have been if Ahaz had trusted in YHWH, not Assyria.  God reaches out to us, even and especially after we have strayed from the righteous path.  The offer to come back remains open to us .  How do we answer?

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/god-with-us-2/

Week of Proper 9: Monday, Year 2   1 comment

Orthodox Icon of the Prophet Hosea

God, Who Takes Us Back

JULY 6, 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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Hosea 2:16-25 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

Assuredly,

I will speak to her

And lead her through the wilderness

And speak to her tenderly.

I will give her her vineyards from there,

And the Valley of Achor as a plowland of hope.

There she shall respond as in the days of her youth,

When she came up from the land of Egypt.

And in that day

–declares the LORD–

You will call [Me] Ishi,

And no more will you call Me Baali.

For I will remove the names of the Baalim from her mouth,

And they shall nevermore be mentioned by name.

In that day, I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; I will also banish bow, sword, and war from the land.  Thus I will let them lie down in safety.

And I will espouse you forever:

I will espouse you with righteousness and justice,

And with goodness and mercy,

And I will espouse you with faithfulness;

Then you shall be devoted to the LORD.

In that day,

I will respond

–declares the LORD–

I will respond to the sky,

And it shall respond to the earth;

And the earth shall respond

With new grain and wine and oil,

And they shall respond to Jezreel.

I will sow her in the land as My own;

And take Lo-ruhamah back in favor;

And I will say to Lo-ammi, “You are my people,”

And he will respond, “[You are] my God.”

Psalm 138 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with my whole heart;

before the gods I will sing your praise.

I will bow down toward your holy temple

and praise your Name,

because of your love and faithfulness;

3 For you have glorified your Name

and your word above all things.

4 When I called, you answered me;

you increased my strength within me.

All the kings of the earth will praise you, O LORD,

when they have heard the words of your mouth.

They will sing of the ways of the LORD,

that great is the glory of the LORD.

7 Though the LORD be high, he cares for the lowly;

he perceives the haughty from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe;

you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies;

your right hand shall save me.

9 The LORD will make good his purpose for me;

O LORD, your love endures for ever;

do not abandon the works of your hands.

Matthew 9:18-26 (An American Translation):

Just as he [Jesus] said this to them, an official came up to him and bowing down before him said to him,

My daughter has just died.  But come!  Lay your hand on her and she will come to life!

And Jesus got up and followed him with his disciples.  And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years came up behind him and touched the tassel of his cloak.  For she said to herself,

If I can just touch his cloak, I will get well.

And Jesus turned and saw her, and he said,

Courage, my daughter!  Your faith has cured you!

And from that time the woman was well.

When Jesus reached the official’s house,and saw the flute-players and the disturbance the crowd was making, he said,

Go away, for the girl is not dead; she is asleep.

And they laughed at him.  But when he had driven the people out, he went in and grasped herhand, and the girl got up.  And the news of this spread all over that part of the country.

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The Collect:

O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; 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 9:  Monday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/20/week-of-proper-9-monday-year-1/

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The prophesies contained in the Book of Hosea speak of events from the 700s B.C.E.  Israel, the northern kingdom, is still strong, and Jeroboam II occupies its throne.  In the south, in the Kingdom of Judah, Uzziah/Amaziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah ruled in succession, sometimes with overlapping reigns between two of them.  There will be punishment for the persistent idolatry, God says through Hosea, but God will take his people back afterward.

The book uses adultery as a metaphor for idolatry.  So God, metaphorically speaking, is the cuckolded husband while the faithless population is the adulterous wife.  God, in the first part of Chapter 2, comes across as a violent husband.  Such a metaphor does offend many modern sensibilities regarding domestic violence, as it should.  I am not here to make excuses for biblical authors, and I do not feel obligated to pretend that parts of the Bible are not genuinely disturbing in a bad way.

But may we continue to read.

The abusive, cuckolded husband portion of Chapter 2 (verses 3-15) gives way to a lovely passage about reconciliation.  All will be forgiven, and idolatry will become a thing of the past.

Each person is more than the worst thing he or she has done.  True, certain actions carry dire consequences, but there can be forgiveness with God.  Do we seek it?

The end of Chapter 2 applies the names of Hosea’s children to Israel.  God had commanded the prophet to marry Gomer, “a wife of whoredom.”  He did, and they had three children.  The first was a son, Jezreel, which means “God sows.”  This personal name is a reference to a plain and a city on said plain, as well as the murder of Naboth, whose vineyard King Ahab had coveted.  Then came a daughter, Lo-ruhamah, which means “Unpitied.”  Finally, there was a second son, Lo-ammi, or “not my people.”

That was then. We read in verses 24 and 25 that the earth will respond to Jezreel with new grain, wine, and oil; God will sow, as in scattering the seeds.  And God will take the unpitied daughter, no longer unpitied, “back in favor.”  Furthermore, those whom God has renounced will again be his people, and they will respond in kind.

I am careful to focus on the main idea, not become distracted by less important issues.  If you, O reader, seek from me a definitive answer to how judgment and mercy balance each other in the Bible (especially the Hebrew Scriptures), you are looking in the wrong place.  Yet I do offer this nugget of what I hope is wisdom:  both exist, side by side.  There is discipline, but there is also forgiveness.  May we, by grace, live so that we do not grieve God, but gladden the divine heart (metaphorically speaking) instead.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/reading-and-pondering-hosea-part-one/

Week of Proper 7: Monday, Year 2   3 comments

Above:  A Chart of the Kings of Israel and Judah

Needlessly Sad Stories

JUNE 22, 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 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