23 February 2010

Feb 23

Reference links:
Old Testament

All about skin diseases and mildew again today. In particular, an ancient Israelite, upon having their skin disease heal, could undergo a purification ceremony which, of course, involved sacrificing some animals:
If the priest finds that someone has been healed of a serious skin disease, he will perform a purification ceremony, using two live birds that are ceremonially clean, a stick of cedar, some scarlet yarn, and a hyssop branch. The priest will order that one bird be slaughtered over a clay pot filled with fresh water. He will take the live bird, the cedar stick, the scarlet yarn, and the hyssop branch, and dip them into the blood of the bird that was slaughtered over fresh water. The priest will then sprinkle the blood of the dead bird seven times on the person being purified of the skin disease. When the priest has purified the person, he will release the live bird in the open field to fly away.
At least only one of the birds is killed? Unlike the quarantining and inspections, this part seems to only have ceremonial value. The process of washing oneself and waiting before reentering the camp seems much more useful.

New Testament

We get a repeat of the story where Jesus feeds 5000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. In this version, we finally learn that the fish were shared with all of the people:
Jesus took the fies loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. He also divided the fish for everyone to share.
After all this commotion, Jesus asks for some time alone to pray. Later that night, and Jesus walks on water to calm the story and rescue the disciples from the wind and waves. The disciples
were totally amazed, for they still didn't understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.
What we do not have in this version is an account of Jesus calling Peter to him. That version of the story, where Peter's faith allows him to take some steps on water before sinking seems almost inconsistent in intent with this version, where the disciples are described as too hard hearted to understand the miracle.

Psalms and Proverbs

Same old, same old: God rescues people from despair. People will be amazed by what God has done, and those who are favored by the Lord feel joy. We do get one interesting verse though:
You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings.
Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand --
you don't require burnt offerings or sin offerings.
Now, given that we are in the midst of Leviticus for our Old Testament reading, I can say, with certainty, that someone is confused here. In Leviticus, God seems to take plenty of delight in sacrifices and offerings and seems to demand them with great regularity. This psalm directly contradicts that image of God. Ooops.

One of two verses in today's Proverbs reading has some useful advice:
Hatred stirs up quarrels,
but love makes up for all offenses.
I am not sure I would go so far as to say that love makes up for all offences, but it can help a lot.