23 January 2010

Jan 23

Reference links:
Old Testament

Jacob and his family go to Egypt. God talks to Jacob again, saying
I will go with you down to Egypt
All the English translations on Bible Gateway share the sense that God is going with the Jacob to Egypt. If you are on the lookout for indications that the Biblical God started out as a tribal God who morphed into a universal God overtime, this passage sticks out. I would expect a universal God to say "I will be with you in Egypt", not "I will go with you down to Egypt".

Another long genealogy. We learn that two of Benjamin's sons were Muppim and Huppim. I wonder if kids then made fun of siblings with rhyming names like they would today. Also, the text seems to make a big deal out of the fact that Jacob's family numbered 70 in Egypt, so, for the record, Jacob, his sons, and their children came to 70 people.

The famine continues, and food becomes more scare. I was wrong a few days ago when I  believed that Joseph was giving grain to the people of Egypt and selling it to people from foreign lands. Today we learn that Joseph had been selling the grain to both the people of Egypt and the people of Canaan.
By selling grain to the people, Joseph eventually collected all the money in Egypt and Canaan, and he put the money is Pharaoh's treasury.
Once the people had no more money, they give Joseph their livestock, and he eventually makes them Pharaoh's slaves.
So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh. All the Egyptians sold him their fields because the famine was so severe, and soon all the land belonged to Pharaoh. As for the people, he made them all slaves, from one end of Egypt to the other. The only land he did not buy was the land belonging to the priests.
However, we also learn that the slavery was really more like serfdom. Joseph would provide them with grain to plant and eat and they would provide 1/5 of their crop back to Pharaoh. Still not a great thing for Joseph to do, but better than what modern minds assume when they hear the world "slavery".

Joseph's family is doing just fine. They acquire property and grow in numbers. I guess it helps to be the family of the man who is second only to Pharaoh. Jacob is still living, and we learn that he will live to be 147 years old and die in Egypt. Getting closer to 120, but still not there yet. Jacob makes Joseph promise to bury Jacob in the land of Canaan with his ancestors.

New Testament

The Pharisees ask Jesus why his disciples do not participate in the tradition of ceremonial hand washing before eating. Jesus starts going on about inner purity verses outer purity. However, what is not made clear is whether or not Jesus' disciples wash their hands at all before eating. I sure hope so.

Good hygiene aside, we have another supposed fulfilled prophecy. Jesus claims that the hypocrisy of the Pharisees fulfilled a prophecy from Isaiah:
These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.

Their worship is a farce,
for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.
This fulfilled prophecy fares better than most, but still does not do great. In context (Isaiah 29:13), the statement is part of an actual prophecy. However, fulfilling this prophecy fails to impress. It is too general. You could say that it applied to some modern Christian denominations and be just as close (which group you think it should be applied to will, of course, depend on which group you are a part of).

Today a Gentile woman asks Jesus for help. They have the following exchange.
Jesus said to the woman, "I was sent only to help God's lost sheep -- the people of Israel."

But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, "Lord, help me!"

Jesus responded, "It isn't right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs."

She replied, "That's true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters' table."

"Dear woman," Jesus said to her, "your faith is great. Your request is granted. And her daughter was instantly healed.
What is going on here? Does Jesus really believe that he has been sent to only help Jews? Was the Roman officer he helped in Matthew 8 a Jew? Did Jesus change his mind on helping non-Jews because of this woman? If so, what are the theological consequences of God incarnate changing his mind? Was Jesus testing the woman's faith, planning on healing her daughter the whole time? This passage is very confusing.

Psalms and Proverbs
The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.

Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.

They speak without a sound or word;
their voice is never heard.
The skies certainly put one in touch with the numinous, and this is something we can all experience. I cannot fault who conclude from this feeling of the transcendent that there must exist some sort of being greater than ourselves. However, not everyone has those feelings, and those feelings are certainly not sufficient to help one conclude which, if any, of the versions of God is the true one.

Here are a couple of passages from today's psalm that will seem quite hilarious once we get to Leviticus.
The commands of the Lord are clear,
giving insight for living.
The laws of the Lord are true;
each one is fair.
Today's reading from Proverbs implies that the world that can be divided into the "righteous" and  the "wicked". You are, of course, supposed to avoid doing as the wicked do.
For evil people can't sleep until they've done their evil deed for the day.
They can't rest until they've caused someone to stumble.
The proverbs certainly seem to reinforce the belief held by some modern Christians that anyone who is not a Christian is evil and is actively working against Christianity (which is synonymous with good).