26 July 2010

Jul 26

Reference links:
Old Testament

Nothing particularly insightful to say. More rehashing of the books of Kings. Jehoshaphat, son of Asa, was a pretty good king of Judah. He had great military and financial success, and he followed the ways of the Lord. However, he felt the need to get all buddy buddy with King Ahab, allying with Ahab in war and marrying one of his sons to one of Ahab's daughters.

The story of Jehoshaphat and Ahab's alliance is, as before, a rather amusing one. Ahab's prophets all prophecy the success of a war against Ramoth-gilead. However, Micaiah predicts failure. Micaiah is quite the character, fearless and sarcastic, he knows that Ahab will not listen to him and doesn't care.

Ahab decides to go to battle, but dresses as a common soldier to escape the notice of the armies of Ramoth-gilead. Yet, for all that, he is killed by a stray arrow, thus showing Micaiah's prophecy to be true.

New Testament

Paul expounds upon the idea that God will shower glory upon his select who come from both the Jews and Gentiles. Also, more about how keeping the law is not the way to go about being saved.

Reading Paul's writing, I am reminded of the story of Rabbi Hillel's explanation of the Torah. Paul says,
Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law.
and
For Moses writes that the law’s way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands
Yet a story about Hillel,  a very influential Rabbi who lived before Jesus shows that even by the time that Paul was writing, this sort of understanding of the law is misleading (I won't say wrong since Paul was a Pharisee, but certainly misleading). In this story, a Gentile asks Hillel to explain the Torah while he stands on one foot. Hillel says, "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanations; go and learn."

From this point of view, the law is not meant to be kept for its own sake, but is seen as a way learn about and internalize compassion for others.

Now, I am not claiming all of the Jews of Paul's time felt this way, but it does bring an interesting perspective to Paul's analysis of the law.

Psalms and Proverbs

Good proverb!
Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor;
only fools insist on quarreling.