31 March 2010

Mar 31

Reference links:
Old Testament

Today we read, yet again, about the three major festivals: Passover, the Festival of Harvest, and the Festival of Shelters. Since Passover started recently, the information is, at least, timely.

I rather like that the other two major festivals are focused on celebration. For the Festival of Harvest:
Celebrate with your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites from your towns, and the foreigners, orphans, and widows who live among you.
and for the Festival of Shelters:
This festival will be a happy time of celebrating with your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows from your towns. ... This festival will be a time of great joy for all.
Next we read some legal miscellany. The Israelites should appoint judges over the people. The text recognizes that even a wise judge would be led astray by bribes, and so judges should not accept bribes. Nothing is said about what would happen if a judge did accept bribes.
Never accept a bribe, for bribes blind the eyes of the wise and corrupt the decisions of the godly.
The decrees of the judges are final. Anyone who disputes the decrees of the judges must be put to death.
Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the Lord your God must die. In this way you will purge the evil from Israel. Then everyone else will hear about it and be afraid to act so arrogantly.
I find the reasoning behind this interesting. The purpose behind killing those who dispute a judge's ruling is to inspire fear. I suppose, in some sense, all legal systems are based on fear (of punishment, ostracism, inability to access resources, etc.), but I think I still prefer systems where the primary basis of the system is principle, not fear.

Finally, we read the guidelines that a king must follow, if the Israelites ever decide that they want a king. This is another one of those passages that reads differently depending on whether you believe it was composed before or after Israel started having kings.

New Testament

I found this passage from today's reading hilarious. I think because my brain seized on the word "puzzled", so I read it in a perplexed voice.
When Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, heard about everything Jesus was doing, he was puzzled. Some were saying that John the Baptist had been raised from the dead. Others thought Jesus was Elijah or one of the other prophets risen from the dead.
“I beheaded John,” Herod said, “so who is this man about whom I hear such stories?” And he kept trying to see him.
Beyond that, more repeats. Jesus feeds 5000 with five loaves of bread and two fish, Peter declares Jesus to be the Messiah, and Jesus predicts his death and resurrection.

Psalms and Proverbs

Kings have not been much of a topic in our readings so far, which makes today's readings stick out. As I mentioned, we read about guidelines a king must follow in Deuteronomy. In today's psalm we read of a king asking for God's blessing and guidance.