25 April 2010

Apr 25

Reference links:
Old Testament

Unlike Shamgar, the judge got a measly two sentences at the end of yesterday's reading, today's judge, Deborah, gets a whole day's worth of reading to herself. An early passage sums up the story,
Deborah, the wife of Lappidoth, was a prophet who was judging Israel at that time. She would sit under the Palm of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites would go to her for judgment. One day she sent for Barak son of Abinoam, who lived in Kedesh in the land of Naphtali. She said to him, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: Call out 10,000 warriors from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun at Mount Tabor. And I will call out Sisera, commander of Jabin’s army, along with his chariots and warriors, to the Kishon River. There I will give you victory over him.”
What I find most interesting about Deborah's story is that there appears to be no fuss over the fact that a woman was a prophetess and one of the great judges of Israel. This is especially interesting when you consider that the text later does point out the oddity of a woman going into battle.
Barak told her, “I will go, but only if you go with me.”
“Very well,” she replied, “I will go with you. But you will receive no honor in this venture, for the Lord’s victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh.
Of course, Deborah and Barak were victorious. However, they are not the only ones who win praise that day. Sisera, the leader of the enemy, had fled to the home of Jael. She pretended to hide him and then,
when Sisera fell asleep from exhaustion, Jael quietly crept up to him with a hammer and tent peg in her hand. Then she drove the tent peg through his temple and into the ground, and so he died.
Gruesome, but effective I suppose.

New Testament

Today we read again about how Jesus prayed before his arrest. This version of the story differs from Matthew and Mark's versions in interesting ways. Unlike the earlier versions, this version does not name the disciples that Jesus brings with him (Peter, James, and John, in the earlier narratives). Was Luke intentionally deemphasizing the role of those disciples during the prayer? Perhaps he just wanted to maintain continuity between the events that come before and after the prayers (the last supper and Jesus' arrest) by keeping all of the disciples around for all three events.

This version of the story has an angel appearing to strengthen Jesus. In the earlier versions, we just have Jesus directly appealing to God. According to the footnote, the two verses that describe the angel do not appear in early manuscripts of Luke. A third interesting difference is that in Luke's version of the story, Jesus only goes back to find the disciples asleep one time, not three.

(One uninteresting difference between Luke's version and the earlier versions is that the earlier versions are set in an olive grove in Gethsemane while this version is set on the Mount of Olives.)

Psalms and Proverbs

The second of today's proverbs entertains me:
Without oxen a stable stays clean,
but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.