12 August 2010

Aug 12

Reference links:
Old Testament

The rest of chapter 3 is more lists thinly veiled in prose. After that, we read about how the enemies of the Jews are threatening to violently oppose the Jews rebuilding the wall. In response, Nehemiah has half of the men stand guard and arms the men who are not currently on guard.

Which is interesting and all, but I am more interesting in what I noticed today: the Bible is referring to them as Jews! I know I am a little slow since that apparently started back in Ezra. But that was still an interesting discovery.

We end today's reading with a very interesting passage. Nehemiah condemns those who take advantage of their fellow Jews. Furthermore, he tells them to no longer charge interest on borrowed goods and to return the lands that people gave up in exchange for help through the hard times.

One reason this passage is interesting is the ideas it presents: people should not take advantage of each other, and they should take care of each other in times of hardship.

Even more interesting is the fact that Nehemiah does not quote the scriptures to support his position. This is odd considering that Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy all contain the provision against charging interest to other people of Israel. This, to me, gives strong support to the scholarly opinion that even the Torah was not yet in its final form at this time or, if it was, it was not commonly accepted as authoritative scripture yet.

New Testament

I have a question that may sound snarky but which I mean sincerely: How often do Christians actually try to follow Paul's advice about abstaining from marriage? In today's reading and yesterday's reading, Paul makes it pretty clear that marriage should rank below singleness in the preferences of a Christian. How often do Christians even attempt to decide firmly not to marry and try to control their passion? Certainly, there are some churches that teach the opposite of this, where the single members of the congregation pushed to get married as quickly as they can find a suitable partner. Are they just flat out ignoring these passages?

Today's reading also shows that Paul clearly expected the end times to happen very soon, probably within his lifetime.
The time that remains is very short. So from now on, those with wives should not focus only on their marriage. Those who weep or who rejoice or who buy things should not be absorbed by their weeping or their joy or their possessions. Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.
Psalms and Proverbs

Three proverbs today! This one's my favorite:
Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity,
but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.