During the 2017 Pentecost Season, alternative readings from the Hebrew Bible are offered. Scripture in Context will discuss both readings and the reading from the Christian Scriptures.
In many Episcopal congregations, instead of the readings discussed below, the readings for All Saints’ Day will be used on Sunday, November 5, 2017.
The Book of Joshua is part of the “Deuteronomic History” (Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings). These books are didactic – the message was that the fortunes of Ancient Israel depended on faithfulness of the people and their kings in worshiping YHWH.
The Book of Joshua covers the entry of the Israelites into the Promised Land by crossing the River Jordan, the swift conquest by Joshua of the people that were in the land (starting with Jericho), allocation of lands among the tribes, and concludes with the “Covenant at Shechem” by which the people swore (acting as their own witnesses) to be faithful to YHWH. If the events are historical, they would have occurred around 1200 BCE.
In today’s reading, YHWH committed continuing faithfulness to Joshua and directed that the Ark of the Covenant (which contained the tablets Moses brought down from Mount Sinai/Horeb) be carried by priests across the Jordan. Just as with the Sea of Reeds/Red Sea, the River Jordan stopped flowing and the people walked across the riverbed.
Micah was among the earliest of the 12 “Minor Prophets.” Their works are much shorter than those of the “Major Prophets” (Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel), and were assembled on one scroll in the Hebrew Bible. Most scholars date Micah’s prophesies to 722 to 700 BCE. This short Book is in three sections: oracles of judgment and condemnation, particularly of Jerusalem (Ch. 1-3); oracles of hope (Ch. 4-5); and a lawsuit by God, a judgment by God, and a lament that moves to hope (Ch.6-7).
In today’s reading, Micah condemned the false prophets in Jerusalem who gave favorable prophesies to those with means, but not to those in need (v.5). He warned the rulers of Jerusalem/Zion that the city and the Temple would be destroyed because of their corruption (v.11-12). He stated that the fate of Samaria/Israel/Jacob (conquered by the Assyrians in 722 BCE) would also befall Jerusalem. Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians in 597 BCE.
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians was Paul’s first letter and was written around 50 CE. Thessaloniki is a seaport and was the capital of Macedonia. The letter encouraged the community to be steadfast in the face of persecution. In today’s reading, Paul tells of his efforts in bringing the good news to the Thessalonians, and rejoices that they accepted the word as God’s word at work within them.