10 January 2010

Jan 10

Reference links:
Old Testament

Sarah dies today, at a ripe 127 years old, and Abraham buys a nice piece of land to bury her in. I am entertained by the reverse haggling process that Abraham and the Hittites go through.
  • Abraham: Please sell me some land so I can bury my wife.
  • Hittites: You're an awesome dude, bury her in one of our finest tombs.
  • Abraham: Sweet! Will you ask Ephron to sell me his cave.
  • Ephron: I'll give it to you!
  • Abraham: No, I'll totally buy it from you. How much is it worth?
  • Ephron: It's worth 400 pieces of silver, but who cares? Bury your wife there.
  • Abraham: Here's your monies!
We also read today how Isaac gets his wife. Abraham sends his servant to his kin to find a wife for Isaac; he does not want him to marry one of the local Canaanite women. More fan fic opportunity: perhaps Abraham disapproved of a local sweetheart of Isaac's.

Abraham's servant prays that when he asks for some water, the woman who gives him water and then offers to water his camels be the one destined to be Isaac's wife. Fortunately for him and his camels, that happens immediately. The woman at the well was Abraham's grandniece, Rebekah (which would make her Isaac's first cousin once removed? I always get confused by such things). If I had prayers that specific answered that quickly, I might reevaluate my position on God.

Rebekah, was "very beautiful and old enough to be married, but she was still a virgin". What was her actual age? Was she happy about being sent among strangers to marry someone she had never met? Did she have her own hopes and dreams about some young man near her home?

New Testament

Today, Jesus performs miraculous healings for the faithful. Jesus' touch heals a leper. Jesus remotely heals the servant of a faithful Roman officer. He heals Peter's mother-in-law and a bunch of demon-possessed people. Wait... demon-possessed people? Hmph, those do not exist. Rather lessens the impacts of the rest of the healings. I suppose we can be generous and say that Jesus healed what was called demon possession which we now recognize as something else.

Since Peter's mother-in-law was healed, he must have been married. I wonder how his wife (and family?) felt about Peter wandering about with Jesus. Was she convinced because she had seen Jesus' ability to perform miracles? Was she upset because her husband abandoned her, leaving her in a weak position socially and economically? In any case, Jesus tells his disciples not to care about the loved ones they abandon, so I suppose we shouldn't either, right?

The reason the author of Matthew shared all these healings was to show that Jesus fulfilled Isaiah 53:4,
He took our sicknesses
and removed our diseases
When I look up Isaiah 53:4, I see
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought he troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for our own sins
The first 1.5 lines alternately get translated as "Yet it was our sicknesses he  carried; /  it was our diseases". I have two quibbles with this this supposed fulfilled prophecy.  Usually when a footnote gives an alternate translation, it is because the translators thought that the alternate was less likely than the original.  By that logic, the author of Matthew seems to be misquoting Isaiah.

Now, suppose the alternate quote is correct. We still face the problem of context.  The alternate version of the full first two lines would read
Yet it was our sicknesses he carried;
it was our diseases that weighed him down.
Taking diseases burdens the one who takes them, at least according to the original content. This contradicts the image of Jesus and healing presented in the New Testament.

Psalms and Proverbs

Nice bit from today's Proverbs reading (well, once you edit it a bit):
Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!
Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
Write them deep within your heart.
Then you will find favor with both God and people,
and you will earn a good reputation.