05 November 2010

Nov 5

Reference links:
Old Testament

Today Ezekiel gives the people in exile with him a show. He is pretending to go into exile. This, apparently, is a message for the people in Jerusalem.

First of all, does Ezekiel really think that the people of Jerusalem are going to be impressed by someone who is already in exile pretending to go into exile? Second, this doesn't seem like much a prediction to make. Some of the people of Jerusalem have already been exiled and the tension lies thick between Babylon and Jerusalem. Predicting more exiles does not exactly constitute an out there opinion.

After that we get a bit which, if it was a prophecy, was actually a rather good one:
Even Zedekiah will leave Jerusalem at night through a hole in the wall, taking only what he can carry with him. He will cover his face, and his eyes will not see the land he is leaving. Then I will throw my net over him and capture him in my snare. I will bring him to Babylon, the land of the Babylonians, though he will never see it, and he will die there.
I don't know what's going on with the bit about the whole in the wall but, he did have his eyes gouged out before he was taken to Babylon,

Then some more standard fare: predictions of forthcoming destruction and railing against false prophets. This includes some railing specifically against false female prophets. I wonder if there were people considered true female prophets. In any case, apparently these female false prophets were fond of magic charms and veils.

We then read about how Ezekiel was visited by some leaders of Israel. I wonder, were they actually from Israel or were they in exile along with Ezekiel? In any case, they have set up idols in their heart, so God will turn against them.

The reading ends with a perplexing passage:
And if a prophet is deceived into giving a message, it is because I, the Lord, have deceived that prophet. I will lift my fist against such prophets and cut them off from the community of Israel.
So God's punishing people for sins he makes them commit? Rather lacking on both the justice and mercy fronts, I would say.

New Testament

More about Melchizedek. Melchizedek appeared in one story in Genesis and one psalm. These passages, especially the psalm, hint at a larger tradition which has been lost, but those are the only two Biblical references to Melchizedek outside of Hebrews. From this, the author of Hebrews constructs an elaborate theory about how Melchizedek is greater than Abraham and, therefore, greater than the high priests descended from Abraham. It's not, exactly, a bad story that he weaves, but it spreads the source material pretty thin.

It's also a huge stretch to say that just because Melchizedek's genealogy was not mentioned, he has "no beginning or end to his life" and "we are told he lives on". Maybe the author of Hebrews means this metaphorically, but in that case, the same could be said of anyone who's genealogy isn't mentioned.

The funny thing about all this head scratching and trying to figure out how Melchizedek could be a priest without being a Levite is that there is a simple solution: Abraham was honoring a priest of a different god, some god of the land Abraham was in.

The author's ending note is this: since Jesus never died, he is a priest like Melchizedek and since neither he nor Melchizedek was a Levite, they don't have to follow the Levitical laws. Ummm... yeah. That's a pretty parallel to draw, especially since Melchizedek's continuing life was only tenuously established in the first place.

Psalms and Proverbs

Nothing of note.