19 February 2010

Feb 19

Reference links:

Old Testament

Today's reading informs us that a portion of each peace offering belongs to the priests. The phrasing of this rule supports the view that Leviticus was written long after the time of Moses (emphasis mine):
The special gifts presented to the Lord have been reserved for Aaron and his descendants from the time they were set apart to serve the Lord as priests. On the day they were anointed, the Lord commanded the Israelites to give these portions to the priests as their permanent share from generation to generation.
This passage occurs before the passage in Leviticus where Aaron and his sons are anointed (2 paragraphs before, in fact). The whole community assembled at the Tabernacle entrance for the anointing. Given the alleged adult male population of 600,000, this must have been an incredibly dull event for everyone but the few people who were close to the entrance.

Moses anoints Aaron and his sons. This is the same anointing that was described previously in Exodus 29.

New Testament

As the common source for Matthew and Luke, Mark contains many stories that are redundant with what we have already read. This can make it challenging to find something new to say.

Today we reread the story of how Jesus rejects his real mother and brothers in favor of those who do God's will. The author of Mark puts this story in a more interesting context. In yesterday's reading, we read,
When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. "He’s out of his mind," they said.
Jesus was rejecting his family after they called him mad. Obviously, there were strains in the family relationships. This story also puts Mary in an interesting light. She is obviously much more conflicted about Jesus' claims to be the Messiah than popular portrayals of her indicate.

Another repeat is the parable of the farmer sowing seeds. Most of the seed does not yield fruit. It is eaten by crows or withers because of shallow roots, or choked by weeds. The disciples are confused by this parable and ask Jesus to explain it. The parable is supposedly confusing to fulfill a prophecy:
When they see what I do,
they will learn nothing.
When they hear what I say,
they will not understand.
Otherwise, they will turn to me
and be forgiven.
I already discussed how this is completely different than the original Hebrew. But Mark introduces some more interest. First, it differs from the fragment in Matthew. Second, it makes no sense! In particular, I cannot think of a reasonable way to interpret the phrase "Otherwise, they will" in the context of the rest of the passage.

I am amused by what Jesus says about the disciples' lack of understanding:
If you can't understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables.
I read that as, "Come on guys, this one is easy. If you cannot understand this one, there is no way you'll get the rest."

Psalms and Proverbs

Today's reading from Psalms continues the blame-the-victim theme from yesterday. This idea seems to run counter to the other Psalms where the psalmist complains about how the wicked prosper and the godly suffer.
Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent,
and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever.
They will not be disgraced in hard times;
even in famine they will have more than enough.

But the wicked will die.
The Lord's enemies are like flowers in a field --
they will disappear like smoke.

The wicked borrow and never repay, [no we don't!]
but the godly are generous givers.

...

Once I was young, and now I am old.
Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned
or their children begging for bread.
Only one verse from Proverbs today. I guess that is what they need to do to get it to span a year.