16 June 2010

Jun 16

Reference links:
Old Testament

Lots of churn in Israel today. We go into a bit more detail about the short reigns of Nadab son of Jeroboam and Baasha (who is, apparently, the son of Ahijah; I wonder if that's the same Ahijah as the prophet).

In particular, we learn that Baasha became king when he killed Nadab. Baasha rules for quite a while (24 years) and then we start cycling through kings quickly. First Baasha's son Elah becomes king. After 2 years, Zimri, a leader in the army, murders Elah while he is drunk. He only reigns for 7 days before the people decide they don't want a murderer for a king and instead choose the commander of the army, Omri, to be king. Tibni tries to become king but gets killed. After Omri's death, his son Ahab begins to rule.

By this time, the writing is pretty formulaic. Throughout the descriptions of the various kings of Judah, we see the repeated themes of
  • the new king being even more evil than any of the kings before
  • the new king killing all of the descendants of the old king
  • God getting angry at the evil of the new king
  • the new king eventually failing (sometimes this failure is only declared and happens to the son of the king, sometimes the failure happens to the king directly)
We also read this random throwback to Joshua 6:
It was during his reign that Hiel, a man from Bethel, rebuilt Jericho. When he laid its foundations, it cost him the life of his oldest son, Abiram. And when he completed it and set up its gates, it cost him the life of his youngest son, Segub. This all happened according to the message from the Lord concerning Jericho spoken by Joshua son of Nun.
This is in reference to Joshua's curse upon anyone who tried to rebuild Jericho.

These elements make me think that this whole section was composed just to fit a certain pattern, to check off certain requirements in the mind of the author(s). It has little narrative value and seems to have little direct symbolic value. Rather, the narrative value seems to be "the kings were bad" and the symbolic value probably has something to do with the number of kings and the contrast of the churn of these kings with the stable reign of Asa of Judah.

After all that, we switch gears and meet Elijah. He gives a prophecy against King Ahab. He then goes off to live in the wilderness where God sends ravens to feed him. He eventually goes to live with a widow and her son. While living with her, the Lord makes sure that she always has flour and oil enough to feed the three of them. After the widow's son dies, Elijah brings him back to life.

If these sorts of miracles seem kind of familiar, you'd be right. Even after one days reading, we can see that the authors of the gospels had Elijah in mind when they attributed various miracles to Jesus.

New Testament

Peter visits Cornelius. Even though Cornelius is a gentile, Peter visits him. His earlier vision with the unclean animals helped him realize that he can and should interact with gentiles. The descent of the Holy Spirit onto those gentiles only serves to reinforce this position.

It makes perfect sense that as the apostles started to realize that Jesus' return was not actually immanent they would try to find ways to strengthen their community. Perhaps they had grown all they could staying strictly within the Jewish community, so they felt like it was time to branch out and start accepting gentiles.

Psalms and Proverbs

We seem to be in a section of super short psalms. Today is only three verses.

This is a good proverb:
Love prospers when a fault is forgiven,
but dwelling on it separates close friends.
and this one reminds me of the Tea Party...
Evil people are eager for rebellion,
but they will be severely punished.
'Tis one thing to recognize when a rebellion is necessary. 'Tis another to actually want one to happen.