Archive for the ‘Deuteronomy 24’ Tag

Devotion for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday After Proper 27, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Boaz--Rembrandt van Rijn

Above:  Boaz, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Image in the Public Domain

Responsibilities, Insiders, and Outsiders

NOVEMBER 12, 13, and 14, 2018

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The Collect:

O God, you show forth your almighty power

chiefly by reaching out to us in mercy.

Grant to us the fullness of your grace,

strengthen our trust in your promises,

and bring all the world to share in the treasures that come

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 52

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The Assigned Readings:

Ruth 1:1-22 (Monday)

Ruth 3:14-4:6 (Tuesday)

Ruth 4:7-22 (Wednesday)

Psalm 94 (All Days)

1 Timothy 5:1-8 (Monday)

1 Timothy 5:9-16 (Tuesday)

Luke 4:16-30 (Wednesday)

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The Lord will not cast off his people:

nor will he forsake his own.

For justice shall return to the righteous man:

and with him to all the true of heart.

–Psalm 94:14-15, The Alternative Service Book 1980

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The composite pericope from 1 Timothy comes from a particular place and time, so some of the details do not translate well into contemporary Western settings.  May we, therefore, refrain from falling into legalism.  Nevertheless, I detect much of value in that reading, which acknowledges the existence of both collective and individual responsibilities and sorts out the boundary separating them in a particular cultural context.  One principle from that text is that relatives should, as they are able, take care of each other.  Another principle present in the reading is mutuality–responsibility to and for each other.

The lack of a support system, or at least an adequate one, is a major cause of poverty and related ills.  The support system might be any number of things, including:

  1. the social safety net (the maintenance and strengthening of which I consider to be a moral imperative),
  2. friends,
  3. relatives,
  4. neighbors,
  5. the larger community,
  6. a faith community,
  7. non-governmental organizations, or
  8. a combination of some of the above.

In the Book of Ruth Naomi and Ruth availed themselves of effective support systems.  They moved to Bethlehem, where Ruth was a foreigner but Naomi had relatives.  The women also gleaned in fields.  There Ruth met Boaz, a landowner and a kinsman of Naomi.  He obeyed the commandment from Deuteronomy 24:19 and left grain for the poor.  The story had a happy ending, for Ruth and Boaz married and had a son.  Naomi, once bitter, was thrilled.

One hypothesis regarding the Book of Ruth is that the text dates to the postexilic period.  If this is accurate, the story of the marriage of Ruth and Boaz functions as a criticism of opposition to intermarriage between Hebrews and foreigners and serves as a call for the integration of faithful foreigners into Jewish communities.  The Jewish support system, this perspective says, should extend to Gentiles.

Sometimes the call to exercise individual responsibility and to fulfill one’s role in collective responsibility becomes challenging, if not annoying.  One difficulty might be determining the line between the two sets of responsibilities.  Getting that detail correct is crucial, for we are responsible to and for each other.  The Pauline ethic (as in 2 Corinthians 8:7-15) which holds that those who have much should not have too much and that those who have little should not have too little is a fine goal toward which to strive, but who determines how much is too much and how little is too little?  And what is the best way to arrive at and maintain that balance?  These seem like communal decisions, given the communal ethos of the Bible.

If all that were not enough, we might have responsibilities to and for more people than we prefer or know we do.  John Donne wrote,

No man is an island,

Entire of itself,

Every man is a piece of the continent,

A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,

Europe is the less.

As well as if a promontory were.

As well as if a manor of thy friend’s

Or of thine own were:

Any man’s death diminishes me,

Because I am involved in mankind,

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;

It tolls for thee.

Do we dare to live according to the standard that anyone’s death diminishes us?  Do we dare to recognize foreigners and other “outsiders” as people whom God loves and whom we ought to love as we love ourselves?  Do we dare to think of “outsiders” as people to whom and for whom we are responsible?  If we do, how will we change the world for the better?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 6, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT VINCENTIA GEROSA AND BARTHOLOMEA CAPITANIO, COFOUNDERS OF THE SISTERS OF CHARITY OF LOVERE

THE FEAST OF ISAIAH, BIBLICAL PROPHET

THE FEAST OF JAN HUS, PROTO-PROTESTANT MARTYR

THE FEAST OF OLUF HANSON SMEBY, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/responsibilities-insiders-and-outsiders/

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Devotion for Friday and Saturday Before Proper 27, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Fig Tree

Above:  A Fig Tree, 1915

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-matpc-01901

If Only

NOVEMBER 9 and 10, 2018

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The Collect:

O God, you show forth your almighty power

chiefly by reaching out to us in mercy.

Grant to us the fullness of your grace,

strengthen our trust in your promises,

and bring all the world to share in the treasures that come

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 52

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The Assigned Readings:

Deuteronomy 15:1-11 (Friday)

Deuteronomy 24:17-22 (Saturday)

Psalm 146 (Both Days)

Hebrews 9:15-24 (Friday)

Mark 11:12-14, 20-24 (Saturday)

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Blessed is the man whose help is the God of Jacob:

whose hope is in the Lord his God,

the God who made heaven and earth:

the sea and all that is in them,

who keeps faith forever:

who deals justice to those that are oppressed.

–Psalm 146:5-7, The Alternative Service Book 1980

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For there will never cease to be needy ones in your land, which is why I command you:  open your hand to the poor and needy kinsman in your land.

–Deuteronomy 15:11, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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Deuteronomy 15:11 follows two pivotal verses:

There shall be no needy among you–since the LORD your God will bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you as a hereditary portion–if only you heed the LORD your God and take care to keep all this instruction that I enjoin upon you this day.

–Deuteronomy 15:4-5, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

“If only” is a major condition in that passage.

The readings from Deuteronomy acknowledge the reality of the presence of needy people and provide culturally specific ways to minimize the social problem.  These include:

  1. Forgiving debts of Hebrews (but not for foreigners) and the freeing of servants every seventh year;
  2. Refraining from exploiting strangers, widows, and orphans;
  3. Leaving olives on trees and grapes in vineyards for the poor to pick; and
  4. Leaving grain in the fields for the poor to glean.

Examples change according to the location and time, but the principle to care for the less fortunate on the societal and individual levels is constant.

Failure to obey these laws was among the charges Hebrews prophets made against their society.  The Temple system at the time of Jesus exploited the poor and promoted collaboration with the Roman Empire and a form of piety dependent upon wealth.  The story of the cursed fig tree in Mark 11 uses the fig tree as a symbol for Israel and the cursing of the plant as an allegory of our Lord and Savior’s rejection of the Temple system, for the two parts of the reading from Mark 11 function as bookends for the cleansing of the Temple.

And when the chief priests and scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching.

–Mark 11:19, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

Therefore I find a fitting segue to the pericope from Hebrews 9, with its theme of cleansing from sin by blood.  (Let us never give the Resurrection of Jesus short shrift, for, without the Resurrection, we have a perpetually dead Jesus.)  Jesus died because of, among other reasons, the threat he posed to the political-religious Temple system, the shortcomings of which he criticized.  The actual executioners were Romans, whose empire took the law-and-order mentality to an extreme.  Our Lord and Savior was dangerous in the eyes of oppressors, who acted.  God used their evil deeds for a redemptive purpose, however.  That sounds like grace to me.

If only more societies and governments heeded the call for economic justice.  If only more religious institutions sought ways to care effectively for the poor and to reduce poverty rates.  If only more people recognized the image of God in the marginalized and acted accordingly.  If only more governments and societies considered violence to be the last resort and refrained from using it against nonviolent people.  If only…, the world would be a better place.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 6, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT VINCENTIA GEROSA AND BARTHOLOMEA CAPITANIO, COFOUNDERS OF THE SISTERS OF CHARITY OF LOVERE

THE FEAST OF ISAIAH, BIBLICAL PROPHET

THE FEAST OF JAN HUS, PROTO-PROTESTANT MARTYR

THE FEAST OF OLUF HANSON SMEBY, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/if-only/

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Devotion for Monday and Tuesday After Proper 22, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Brooms

Above:  Brooms and Charcoal for Sale, Jeanerette, Louisiana, October 1938

Photographer = Lee Russell

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USF33-011853-M3

Mutuality in God and Human Dignity

OCTOBER 8 and 9, 2018

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The Collect:

Sovereign God, you have created us to live

in loving community with one another.

Form us for life that is faithful and steadfast,

and teach us to trust like little children,

that we may reflect the image of your Son,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 49

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The Assigned Readings:

Deuteronomy 22:13-30 (Monday)

Deuteronomy 24:1-5 (Tuesday)

Psalm 112 (Both Days)

1 Corinthians 7:1-9 (Monday)

1 Corinthians 7:10-16 (Tuesday)

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Alleluia.

Blessed are those who fear the Lord

and have great delight in his commandments.

–Psalm 112:1, The Book of Common Prayer (2004)

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I make no excuses for much of the content from Deuteronomy.  Consider, for example, O reader, the following passage regarding an allegation that a young woman has lost her virginity prior to her marriage:

But if the charge proves true, the girl was found not to have been a virgin, then the girl shall be brought out of the entrance of her father’s house, and the men of her town shall stone her to death; for she did a shameful thing in Israel, committing fornication while under her father’s authority.  Thus you will sweep away evil from your midst.

–22:20-21, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

As we continue to read, we learn that a man a married woman caught committing adultery, an engaged virgin and another man who have had sex, and a man who rapes an engaged young woman are to die.  Furthermore, an engaged young woman who has become a victim of rape incurs no legal penalty, but a man who rapes a virgin not yet engaged must pay a bride price and marry his victim.  (But what about the young woman’s wishes?)

Thus you will sweep away evil from your midst

repeats throughout Deuteronomy 22, echoing after each death sentence.

The readings from Deuteronomy exist in the context of responsibility to the community and to God.  Deuteronomy 24:5 makes plain the responsibility of the married people to each other.  All of these ethics exist also in 1 Corinthians 7.

The ethics of responsibility to God, the community, and each other apply well in other circumstances.  A healthy society avoids the tyranny of the majority or a powerful minority.  The historical record tells that sometimes (if not often) powerful groups will, given the opportunity, deny civil rights and liberties to members of other groups, thereby denying human dignity.  One might think of race-based slavery, civil rights struggles in many nations, struggles for equal rights for men and women, the oppression of the Gypsies, and the experience of Apartheid in South Africa.  Sadly, not all of those examples exist in the past tense.  Often people oppress each other in the name of God, whose image both the oppressed and the oppressors bear.  However, a proper ethic of responsibility to the community contains a sense of mutuality, which denies anyone the right to oppress or exploit anyone else.

May mutuality in God, informed by a sense of dignity inherent in the image of God, inspire proper treatment of each other.  That means, among other things, refraining from executing young women for not being virgins or forcing any woman to marry the man who raped her.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 2, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WALTER RAUSCHENBUSCH, WASHINGTON GLADDEN, AND JACOB RIIS, ADVOCATES OF THE SOCIAL GOSPEL

THE FEAST OF CHARLES ALBERT DICKINSON, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GEORGE DUFFIELD, JR., AND HIS SON, SAMUEL DUFFIELD, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTERS

THE FEAST OF HENRY MONTAGU BUTLER, EDUCATOR, SCHOLAR, AND ANGLICAN PRIEST

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/mutuality-in-god-and-human-dignity/

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Devotion for Friday and Saturday Before Proper 6, Year B (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Amaziah of Judah

Above:  Amaziah

Image in the Public Domain

Learning to Walk Humbly with God

JUNE 15 and 16, 2018

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The Collect:

O God, you are the tree of life, offering shelter to the world.

Graft us into yourself and nurture our growth,

that we may bear your truth and love to those in need,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 39

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The Assigned Readings:

1 Kings 10:26-11:8 (Friday)

2 Kings 14:1-14 (Saturday)

Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15 (Both Days)

Hebrews 11:4-7 (Friday)

Mark 4:1-20 (Saturday)

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The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,

and shall spread abroad like a cedar of Lebanon.

Such as are planted in the house of the Lord

shall flourish in the courts of our God.

They shall still bear fruit in old age;

they shall be vigorous and in full leaf;

That they may show that the Lord is true;

he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

–Psalm 92:12-15, Common Worship (2000)

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The readings for these two days are not entirely comforting and consistent with a Christian ethic.  Psalm 92 is straight-forward in its affirmation of divine righteousness and fidelity.  Hebrews 11 defines faith as

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

(Verse 1, The New Revised Standard Version, 1989)

then provides examples of people who, by acting out of trust in God, pleased God.  We know some deeds which displease God.  The Hebrew Bible tells us, for example, that God disapproves of idolatry and human explanation, so the condemnations of Solomon and Amaziah do not surprise me.  At least Amaziah disregarded custom and obeyed the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 24:16, to be precise) by not executing the children of his father’s assassins.  Nevertheless, Amaziah became arrogant when he should have been humble before God.  The same statement applied to Solomon.

Being humble before God enabled many people to follow Jesus, for they knew of their need for him and were not ashamed of it.  Many others who encountered our Lord and Savior, however, were haughty and opposed him.  Their spiritual blindness prevented them from understanding his parables then following him or continuing to do so.  The truth of God was in front of them plainly, but they did not recognize it as such.  Perhaps the main reason for this reality was that it threatened their status and egos.

We see what we want to see much of the time, for we walk around with spiritual blinders we have inherited or learned from others and those we have imposed on ourselves.  Many of us claim to follow God when God knows the opposite to be true.  May God forgive us for our spiritual blindness, may we recognize that blindness, and may we walk with God instead.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 19, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH OF NAZARETH, HUSBAND OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2015/03/19/learning-to-walk-humbly-with-god/

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Devotion for October 22 and 23 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   5 comments

stations-123

Above:  The Right Reverend Robert C. Wright, Bishop of Atlanta, Participating in the Stations of the Cross, Atlanta, Georgia, Good Friday, March 29, 2013

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Deuteronomy and Matthew, Part XVI:  Serving Others for God

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2019, and WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2019

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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:

Deuteronomy 21:1-23 (October 22)

Deuteronomy 24:10-25:10 (October 23)

Psalm 54 (Morning–October 22)

Psalm 65 (Morning–October 23)

Psalms 28 and 99 (Evening–October 22)

Psalms 125 and 91 (Evening–October 23)

Matthew 16:1-12 (October 22)

Matthew 16:13-28 (October 23)

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Deuteronomy 21:1-23 and 24:10-25:10 contain the usual unpleasantness, such as when to stone people (see 21:18-21, for example, then contrast it with Luke 15:11-32, the Parable of the Prodigal Son) yet also many practical rules about helping the less fortunate and the vulnerable.  Thus, for example, even female captives have rights, as do wives, and laborers of various national origins.  Furthermore, childless widows can find security via levirate marriage.  There was an ethic that all Israelites were slaves of God, so they each had obligations to his or her fellow human beings; therein resided the formula for a stable and just society.

Jesus, in Matthew 16, offered a model of service and self-sacrifice in contrast to the teachings of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

In serving one another we find true freedom to become what we ought to be:  those who recognize the image of God in each other and act accordingly.  The details of how to that properly and effectively vary according to time and place, but the principle is everlasting and constant.  So may each of us take up his or her cross and follow Jesus, who came to serve, not to be served.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 8, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT II, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF DAME JULIAN OF NORWICH, SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAGDALENA OF CANOSSA, FOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY AND THE SONS OF CHARITY

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER OF TARENTAISE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

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http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/deuteronomy-and-matthew-part-xvi-serving-others-for-god/

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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