24 June 2010

Jun 24

Reference links:
Old Testament

Random miracle! Elisha and a group of prophets build a new meeting place. In the process, one of them drops a borrowed ax head. Elisha makes it float to the surface so it can be retrieved. I am glad borrowed goods will be returned successfully and all, but I don't completely see the point of this story (other than, I suppose, to continue showing that Elisha is powerful).

Elisha seems to have a much better relationship with the King of Israel than Elijah did. In today's reading, Elisha repeatedly warns the king where the Arameans plan to attack so that Israel can counter them. Eventually, the King of Aram catches on and tries to capture Elisha. Elisha calls upon the power of the Lord to trick the attacking army and trap them in Samaria, which seems to be the current acting capital of Israel. We then get this intriguing tidbit:
When the king of Israel saw them, he shouted to Elisha, “My father, should I kill them? Should I kill them?”
“Of course not!” Elisha replied. “Do we kill prisoners of war? Give them food and drink and send them home again to their master.”
The bit I find interesting is Elisha's "Of course not!". From the first pages of Joshua down through the battles of David, the answer has been "Of course!", and God heap punishment upon those who did not kill their war prisoners. When did this transition from "Of course!" to "Of course not!" happen, and why did we not hear more about it?

The rest of today's reading talks about the King of Aram's siege of Samaria. The city experiences a great famine, and eventually people start to eat their own children. The King of Israel fetches Elisha, intending to kill him because of the hardships visited upon the city. Although this might seem like a bad thing, it seems to be the very thing which spurred Elisha to action. It was not until the king took action that Elisha and/or the Lord saw fit to save Samaria.

In any case, God caused the Arameans to hears the sound of a great army approaching, and they fled. The people of the city of Samaria were then able to pillage the belongings the army left behind. Hurrah for no more starvation!

New Testament

Today we shift from what has been our narrative for the last few days (the adventures of Paul and Barnabas) to a new mode. Paul and Barnabas go separate ways over a disagreement over who they should take with them. Paul then starts to travel with Silas. As they start to travel, we get a super sudden (like, almost mid-thought) shift from third person to first person plural.

According to the footnote, this is where Luke joined Paul. This seems reasonable because the rest of today's reading becomes a lot more detailed about the travels of Paul and his companions. I could believe that Acts up until this point was written by someone who had the earlier parts told to them. Since the relation was second hand, those parts were less detailed. Now that the author is actually travelling with the person he is writing about, the level of detail increases.

Another interesting tidbit from today's reading: one of the converts in Macedonia is Lydia from Thyatira who is a merchant. Yay for female entrepreneurs!

Psalms and Proverbs

David continues to put his faith in God and cry for rescue from his enemies.