21 June 2010

Jun 21

Reference links:
Old Testament

Started 2 Kings today. No summary needed because 1 and 2 Kings are pretty much one book. In fact, I hardly noticed we had made a transition until the fact of Elijah's being taken up tickled some neurons.

The King of Israel after Ahab was Ahaziah. He was destined to die because his father had sinned against God. He morally injured himself falling through the latticework of an upper room of his palace. Being somewhat interested in the architecture of the home, the description of Ahaziah's injury made me wonder about the home in ancient Israel. What were the living quarters of palaces like? What were common homes like? Did they follow the typical Mideastern/Mediterranean courtyard plan, favored for it's cool interior? How were they arranged within the community? Were homes clustered or spread out? Make me want to reread The House: Its Origins and Evolution. Anywho, that's completely beside the point of today's readings.

God decides to let Ahaziah die because he has the presumption to try to ask another God whether or not he will live. Elijah is referred to as "Elijah from Tishbe" as if there's some other Elijah we might get him confused with. The fire of God, summoned by Elijah, kills 100 men who were doing nothing more than following the king's orders (and not even being that pushy about it); Elijah didn't let up on the killing until the king's captain groveled.

After this, Elijah is taken into heaven by a whirlwind accompanied by a chariot of fire. Jesus didn't get anything as cool as that. Elisha inherits Elijah's power. He immediately uses it for some good (purifying the water in the town of Jericho) and then some bad (killing 42 children who made fun of him). If the text supported it at all, it would be so easy to frame this in terms of Elisha getting use to his power; he does not realize how much power his curses have now and so unintentionally murders the children. Instead, it appears that he is just a jerk with power (but he's God's jerk with power, so it's all okay, right?).

New Testament

Today's reading is easy to sum up: Paul and Barnabas preach to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Some Jews resent that and acted against them. The reading does contain this interesting line:
and all who were chosen for eternal life became believers.
One point for predestination, I suppose.

Psalms and Proverbs

Today's psalm talks about how God knows you completely and knows everything you do. Super inspiring to believers, I can guess, but super creepy to the rest of us.

I am intrigued by today's first proverb:
Anyone who loves to quarrel loves sin;
anyone who trusts in high walls invites disaster.
Looking at the different translations, this is obviously a difficult proverb. To me, this makes the most sense if it is understood metaphorically. The one verse on that link which translates this metaphorically (which, it's worth noting, claims to be from the same translation I am reading) as well as the text notes on the first translation imply that this should be taken as boasting inviting disaster. This is obviously not a metaphor in usage in the US these days. But I find it interesting that there is a metaphorical interpretation that makes sense in modern US metaphor (and is, therefore, almost certainly completely divorced from the actual text): high walls could be seen as cutting oneself off emotionally.