Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Notes on the Bible January 21

Genesis 49-50

Genesis 49 is an extended poem, a blessing addressed to each of the twelve sons of Jacob. Two things are clear. Judah has become the chief of the sons, the chosen line through whom the One would come. Joseph retains a major significance as well. These are indicated by the more extended treatments given to both Judah and Joseph. The mention of Shiloh in vs 10 (KJV, NKJV) has been a cause of a great deal of discussion. Most modern versions take it as an unusual form that should be rendered "He to whom it belongs. This and other possible alternate readings of the passage have been proposed. Part of the opposition to "Shiloh" comes because it has traditionally been understood as a Messianic passage, not only in Christian but in Jewish tradition (the note in the Stone Edition Tanach says, "Until Shiloh arrives, i.e., the Messiah, to whom the kingdom belongs"). Robert Alter comments in his The Five Books of Moses, "This is a notorious crux. The Masoretic Text seems to read 'until he comes to Shiloh,' a dark phrase that has inspired much messianic interpretation." My own sense is that the name Shiloh should be retained, and it would go in a list with other obscure names in the Old Testament that apply either to the Messiah or to the people of God. Another example would be Jeshurun in Deut 32:15.

Genesis 50. This wraps up the Joseph story, with Joseph burying his father, making final reconciliation with his brothers, and making arrangement for the return of his remains to the Land of Promise. Thus it sets the stage for the transition to Israel in Egypt, which picks up in Exodus 1. However, in our reading schedule, we will be moving to Job before Exodus.

Matthew 13:53-14:21

Here begins the period of opposition to Jesus, beginning with the people's rejection of him because they know his family, and continuing with Herod's misunderstanding of Jesus and his mission. Jesus' response, however, is to continue to have compassion upon these lost sheep, and to provide for them in accordance with his mission. See especially 14:14. He gives us here an example for what our own response to opposition should be--that we continue to have compassion on the lost, and minister to them as we are able.

No comments: