New Interpreter's Bible (12 Vols.) - Pre-Publication Examples

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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jun 17 2012 12:17 PM

I agree for anyone on the fence there is no reason not to take the plunge since Logos is glad to gives refunds if you find a product is not for you, I have only had to do that 4 times but never had any issues getting it done. But i just wish Logos would take the plunge and get this into production such a widely used work would't leave them them in a production cost hole very long at all, and indeed would bring a lot of new users on, as more than once I have seen people talk about NIB being their primary resource.


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Armwood | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jun 29 2012 1:36 PM


 SmileBig SmileSurpriseStick out tongueWinkSadTongue TiedIndifferentCryingEmbarrassedCoolGeekedZip it!WhisperHuh?SleepIck!ConfusedConfusedPizzaCoffee


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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Jun 30 2012 7:55 PM

Thinking of my country's national holiday happening tomorrow  and the USA's  later in the week. I thought I would post another example. 



When we read 1 Thess 4:13–5:11, we are prompted to think about end times, last things, and the ultimate destruction of the world as we know it. The proverbial “thief in the night” description of the day of the Lord of 1 Thessalonians (which is also mentioned in the Synoptics) appeared in medieval literature and continues to work its way in the thought of great texts today.125 Julia Ward Howe's “Battle Hymn of the Republic” (1862) lyrically captures the 1 Thessalonians' end-time rhetoric about the Lord's coming with trumpets sounding forth (1 Thess 4:15-16). Paul's brief comments about believers being “caught up in the clouds” has become the basis for many books and for a degree of anxiety about a “rapture” of believers. To be sure, these verses are saturated with apocalyptic imagery, that suggests an imminent end and final days. Yet Paul's apocalypticism inspired hope, gave comfort, and provided challenge to the socially alienated persons of his day. Reminders of God's provision for the absent (deceased) brothers and sisters in the future are powerful testaments to God's care for all believers in the present. Notices of permanent union with the Lord in the future are challenging statements about God's desire for believers to come together on earth right now, even though Martin Luther King, Jr.'s words are as true today as they were years ago: “At eleven o'clock on Sunday morning when we stand to sing `In Christ there is no East or West,'” we stand in the most segregated hour of America.”126 Talk of eschatological battle is a serious invitation for us not to settle for easy “peace and security slogans” or other superficial changes that leave many people still confined to the margins of existence. Thus, Paul's apocalyptic diction is not innocuous. It is radical and impinges on the quality of life lived in the present. In many ways, it is reminiscent of the apocalyptic spirit found in the Negro spirituals. Although the spirituals were noted for their otherworldly orientation, they also had this-worldly functions.127 The slave's world was full of trouble, storms, and hard times, as the songs “Soon I Will Be Done,” “Been in the Storm So Long,” and “I Been Rebuked and I Been Scorned” attest. These songs expressed longing and hope for another world. Among the this-worldly functions, however, were the building up of community solidarity and the practice of a veiled form of critique and communication.128 With an eye toward the future and yet with a challenge for community solidarity in the present circumstances, the slaves sang “Walk Together Children.” In “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Steal Away to Jesus,” the slave likely engaged in covert communication, cryptically requesting or signaling the help of the “underground railroad” (sweet chariot) to get “home” (the northern states or Canada). Thus, the spirituals included both “apocalyptic visions and heroic exploits of the Scripture,” despite the tensions between the two.129 On the one hand, the slaves spoke of a future day of judgment, as in “That Great Gittin' Up Morning,” “Roll, Jordan, Roll,” and “My Lord, What a Morning.” On the other hand, they spoke of biblical heroes (e.g., David, Joshua, Moses, and Noah) whom God had delivered in this world.130 Both the future and the present were important for them. In sum, the spirituals confronted the slaves' sordid experiences, remythologized the biblical concepts to speak cryptically but encouragingly, and provided a source of comfort and challenge. Their apocalyptic strain, like Paul's apocalyptic vision, read the present reality in the light of the future expectation.  --ABRAHAM SMITH, New Interpreter's Bible Volume XI

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Rev Chris | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 6 2012 11:46 AM



Would you be willing to post the commentary from NIB for Mark 6:1-13?  I left my hardcopy in my office and won't be able to get to it before my sermon.  If I missed it somewhere in this thread, I apologize.



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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 6 2012 2:49 PM

Hope this isn;t too late for you...


Mark 6:1-6a, Disbelief in Nazareth

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The three miracles in chapter 5 demonstrate the divine powers evident in Jesus’ miracles. Jesus overcomes the life-destroying powers of demonic possession, chronic illness, and death. Jairus and the hemorrhaging woman sought Jesus’ help because they had faith in what they had heard about him. Their faith forms a striking contrast to the reception Jesus receives in his hometown. His ministry there begins as did his initial ministry in Capernaum. Jesus astonishes those gathered in the synagogue with his teaching and healing (vv. 1-2; Mark 1:21-28). Readers might expect an example of healing or exorcism to follow as in Capernaum, but it does not.

Jesus’ natural family were excluded from the circle of believers in an earlier episode (3:21, 


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31-35). That episode establishes the contrast between the Twelve, whom Jesus chose to be with him (3:14); the natural family of Jesus (3:21, 31); and the wider circle of Jesus’ followers, his new family, those who do the will of God (3:35). Jesus’ return to Nazareth, with members of his new family (the disciples; v. 1) raises the question left open in the earlier episode: Will those with familial and social ties to Jesus believe?

Jesus’ human origins form a road block to the belief that should follow from experiencing the extraordinary wisdom and healing power exercised by Jesus. Reading the episode against the backdrop of honor and shame in peasant villages provides some insight into the hostile reception.228 Jesus has stepped out of the status and role in society that he had in the village of 1,600 to 2,000 people. Our only evidence in the New Testament for Jesus’ occupation is the term commonly translated “carpenter” (te"ktwn tekton; 6:3). This word can be used to describe anyone who works in wood or other hard materials. In that day, people would not have built whole houses out of wood, so as a carpenter, Jesus would have been called upon to produce door frames and other wooden objects, and would not build complete dwellings.229 Since Galilee was prosperous during this period, Jesus and his family were not impoverished tenant farmers or day laborers. But his status as a local craftsman would have been considerably lower than that of a member of the educated class, who could devote himself to learning the Law. Villagers commonly resent those who attempt to elevate their position above that to which they are entitled by birth. The attempt by Jesus’ family to stop his wandering and public preaching in 3:21 implies that from the perspective of the village, Jesus was thought to be dishonoring his family.

Mark shows no knowledge of any tradition about Jesus’ conception and birth. Designating Jesus as “son of Mary” rather than “son of Joseph” (v. 3) may have been intended as an insult by the crowd. The question “Where did this man get all this [wisdom and power]?” (v. 2) may imply a hostile answer: Perhaps he is the offspring of someone other than his father.230 As belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary emerged in later centuries, interpreters had to find other explanations for the siblings referred to in these passages (v. 3).231 Mark 6:17 uses the term brother for the half-brothers, Herod and Philip, who were Herod’s sons by different mothers. Therefore, it is not possible to tell whether the brothers and sisters of Jesus are biological children of Mary or her stepchildren. Mark is not interested in specifying the precise relationship between Jesus and his other siblings. The townspeople are scandalized by the human origins of Jesus, whom they know as a carpenter.

As Mark’s readers would expect, Jesus responds to what people are thinking about him. The proverbial saying “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown” (v. 4) has been expanded with two clauses: “among their kin” and “in their own house.” The original proverb spoke about the “homeland” (patri"v patris). The qualifying clauses narrow the region down to the prophet’s household and relatives. If this retort is understood as an insult, then Jesus has responded to his critics in kind.232 Since the miracles in the previous chapter emphasize the importance of faith in those who approach Jesus for healing, the conclusion that Jesus is unable to work many miracles in Nazareth is hardly surprising. Mark moderates that conclusion somewhat by commenting that Jesus did heal some people (v. 5). The next sentence applies the verb rendered “to marvel,” “to be amazed” (qauma"zw thaumazo) to Jesus. The same verb designates the response of those in the Decapolis to the possessed man’s story about Jesus’ healing (5:20) and to Pilate’s reaction to Jesus’ refusal to answer (15:5) and his early demise (15:44). The term does not imply either faith or insight into Jesus’ identity. In an ironic twist, Jesus is amazed at the lack of faith in his home village.


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1. The episode in Nazareth forms a somber counterpoint to the astounding success that has surrounded Jesus in other towns. Someone who can go into the chaos of the Gentile territory across the Sea of Galilee and emerge victorious cannot convert those in his own town! Since Paul assumed that Christians in Galatia were familiar with the fact that James, the brother of the Lord, was a prominent leader in the Jerusalem church (Gal 1:19; 2:9), Mark’s readers probably knew that members of Jesus’ family eventually came to believe in Jesus; 1 Cor 15:7 reports that the risen Lord appeared to James. Another brother in the list, Jude, was credited with composing a brief epistle.

Many people are surprised by this story. They think that the people who know Jesus best should have been the first to follow him. Yet they also know human experiences of rejection when attempts to reach out and help family members are rebuffed. People who are able to help others solve complicated personal problems are helpless when their own children are in trouble. When some eighth graders were asked why they thought Jesus was rejected, one boy commented, “Wasn’t his father, Joseph, dead? Well, what was he doing running out on his mother? She might have starved.” Mark’s list suggests that Mary had plenty of people to care for her, but this point has merit. The oldest son was expected to take his father’s place in the extended family. Jesus’ behavior must have been a painful puzzle to his family.233

2. The comments attributed to the townspeople remind us of an important fact about Jesus: He was a real human being. He had spent much of his adult life at a trade, working with wood. Some scholars even surmise that he might have spent time working on building the magnificent Gentile cities, like Sepphoris, that were not far from his village. The knowledge that Jesus gains of rich persons and their servants while working at this trade reappears in his parables. Modern readers, who find the divine powers are exhibited in the miracles difficult to imagine, find this passage reassuring. Jesus did not overwhelm people as though he were a larger-than-life action hero. If you were to meet Jesus at Levi’s dinner or on the job, Jesus would appear to be just another human being. Faith overcomes the scandal of the ordinary appearance of Jesus when it recognizes that God’s healing power comes to humanity through him.



Jesus now departs from Nazareth for another circuit of Galilean villages (6:6b). The disciples, who were selected during the first journey to be with Jesus and to participate in his ministry (3:14-15), begin to participate in preaching the gospel (6:7-13). John the Baptist, whose arrest signaled the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, is executed (6:14-29). (Some interpreters prefer to begin the second major section of the narrative with John the Baptist’s death, since the Gospel opens with the Baptist.234) Jesus rescues the disciples from another storm at sea (6:47-52). He then engages in controversies over observance of the Law (7:1-23) 


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and continues to attract crowds (6:53-56). The meals in other peoples’ houses, found in the previous section of the Gospel, are replaced by two feeding miracles in which Jesus provides for large crowds (6:33-44; 8:1-9). Most of these episodes confirm the picture of Jesus that has been drawn during the first preaching journey. The feeding miracles introduce a new note of Jesus’ compassion for the crowds (6:32; 8:2).

The miracle of healing the blind man in Bethsaida concludes the series of events around the sea (8:22-26).235 Since a matching cure occurs as Jesus enters Jerusalem (10:46-52) other interpreters prefer to see this episode as the beginning of the final segment in Jesus’ Galilean ministry.236

Mark 6:6b-13, Sending Out the Disciples

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Jesus has chosen the Twelve to participate in his ministry (3:14-15). He now sends them out with the authority to expel demons (vv. 7, 12-13) as well as to preach the news of the kingdom. Thus, unlike the individuals who responded to being healed by telling others about Jesus (1:45; 5:20), the Twelve participate directly in Jesus’ own activity of bringing about the rule of God. Jesus gives them the power to undermine the power of evil during their mission. However, most of the attention Mark gives to the disciples focuses on their failure to understand who Jesus is.237 This section deliberately recalls the initial choice of the disciples. Jesus calls the disciples to him (3:13; 6:7), and he intends for them to preach and exorcise (3:14b-15; 6:7, 12). Since their mission is successful, this section demonstrates that the disciples were able to carry out the ministry for which Jesus had chosen them. At the same time, they do not possess independent authority. They are extensions of Jesus’ own activity.238

The early Christian practice of anointing the 


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sick (cf. Jas 5:4) is attached to the mission of the disciples (v. 13). This correspondence encourages readers to see the origins of early Christian missionary activity in the authority and ministry of Jesus.239 Missionary pairs appear to have been characteristic of early Christianity. Jesus initially called pairs of brothers (1:16-20). Acts refers to Peter and John (Acts 3:11; 8:9), to Barnabas and Paul (Acts 11:25-26), and to companions whom Peter takes with him to Cornelius (Acts 10:23). The dangers of travel in antiquity make such arrangements necessary.240 Other interpreters have suggested that the use of pairs should be associated with the legal requirement for two witnesses to testify in a case (Num 35:30; Deut 19:15). A judicial note is introduced in the gesture of judgment against those who refuse to hear the messengers of the gospel (v. 11).241

A collection of rules to govern the conduct of traveling missionaries forms the central section of this pericope (vv. 8-11). The variants in Q (Matt 10:8-14; Luke 9:3-6; 10:2-12) contain even more radical conditions, emphasizing the urgency of eschatological judgment. The towns that reject the message can expect to experience God’s wrath (Luke 10:11-12). Although Mark’s “testimony against them” (v. 11) suggests condemnation in the judgment, there is no hint that this mission confronts people with the eschatological summons to repent.

The lists of provisions for the journey vary in all versions of the missionary command (Matt 10:9-10; Mark 6:8; Luke 9:3; 10:4). Such variations would be anticipated in rules passed on by oral tradition.242 Mark permits staff and sandals, apparently an accommodation to early Christian missionary practice.243 Q rejects these. The Q formulation echoes the views of ancient cynic philosophers who challenged the presumptions of culture by claiming that it created unnatural needs and passions, although the Cynics were noted for carrying a bag and a staff; the staff was sometimes used against the audience as well as against animals. Consequently, the details may have been intended to distinguish Jesus’ disciples from such wandering preachers.244 Mark’s instructions permit disciples adequate clothing, but not a second tunic, which would have provided protection from the cold night air. Rather, they are to trust God to provide lodging each night. They are not permitted to carry money or extra provisions from one place to another. Thus it is clear that the disciples are not engaged in preaching and healing in order to make money, which may have subjected them to the charge of being religious charlatans or magicians. The disciples were to depend on local hospitality. Since they were required to remain in the first house that welcomed them (v. 10), they could not move to a household that offered more luxurious accommodations. Mark lacks telling the reason for such hospitality referred to in Q (Matt 10:10; Luke 10:7) and Paul (1 Cor 9:14, 17-18): “The worker is worthy of his pay.”245

The final instruction provides a response for those who reject the disciples. Shaking dust off one’s feet was a gesture of cursing a place. The elements of curse and divine condemnation are more evident in Q (Matt 10:14; Luke 10:10-12). On the day of judgment, the rejecting towns will be worse off than Sodom and Gomorrah. Shaking dust off the feet may reflect the shaking of one’s clothing as a sign of renunciation (Neh 5:13; Acts 18:6). Clearing away even the dust under one’s sandals suggests an even more thorough rejection than shaking out garments or washing one’s hands (Matt 27:24). Mark may have moderated the severity of the judgment oracle in Q, since he does not anticipate Christian missionaries calling down curses on unreceptive towns. The tradition merely stands as a testimony before God that the 


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town has refused to hear God’s word. Mark’s judgment sayings correlate witness to or rejection of the Son of Man with a person’s status in the judgment (Mark 8:38).


1. The Twelve share in Jesus’ authority and mission. They do not become independent of Jesus. Both the teaching and healing they perform are extensions of Jesus’ own ministry. All ministry in the church recognizes an obligation to continue Jesus’ work. It sometimes appears that the church has set its own institutional survival ahead of the gospel. Religious leaders sometimes appear to engage in ministry to fulfill a personal need for prestige, influence, or even material gain. These simple instructions, which reflect the practice of early Christian missionaries, call those engaged in ministry back to the fundamental basis of all preaching, healing, and teaching: the ministry and person of Jesus. Whatever material resources ministers possess should serve the needs of those to whom they bring the gospel.

2. The variations in the rules for missionaries show that the earliest Christians recognized the need to adapt to the circumstances in which they found themselves. The important point made by the early rules takes a very different form when we think about Christian missions today. The principle that the gospel comes to bring healing, peace, and good news to people means that missionaries must adapt to the culture of those they come to serve. They are not agents of colonialism or political expansion. Even so, Christian missionaries sometimes die as martyrs when local violence breaks out around them. Sometimes a situation may become too dangerous or difficult for the missionaries to remain. The gesture of shaking dust off one’s shoes does not have to mean cursing those who will not listen. It acknowledges the mysterious elements in human freedom. Even the most sophisticated and culturally sensitive presentation of the gospel can be rejected. Christians are not to waste their resources in such situations. Others are waiting to hear the gospel.

Posts 570
Rev Chris | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 6 2012 3:03 PM

awesome - thanks!!

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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jul 10 2012 6:12 PM


Link to: Isaiah 49:1





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The division of chap. 49 into units is comparatively easy. Commentators are in general agreement about the assignment of these, and the form-critical task of describing genres is also relatively uncontroversial. This is true even as one encounters a fair degree of creative freedom on the part of the author in modifying and adapting older forms to his specific purpose. So, for example, there is general agreement that 49:1-6 constitutes a “servant song” and that, as with 42:1-4 and 42:5-9, we find an elaboration appended to the main unit at 49:7-12. This is then followed by a hymn (49:13), in the same manner observed at 42:10-13. The remainder of the chapter is taken up with the response to Zion, as one specific case of uncomforted existence, over against the people at large (49:13b). This rather lengthy unit is composed of smaller rhetorical strophes (vv. 14-18, 19-21, 22-23, 24-26) instead of discrete form-critical units.101

The genre assignment of the opening “servant song” is the most difficult of all. There are several distinctive features here. Early form critics (e.g., Begrich) spoke of a hymn of thanksgiving from an individual. This was an effort to account for the note of despondency around which the poem centers (v. 4), which is effectively responded to in the final verses, introduced by “and now” (vv. 5-6). At the same time, the commissioning language that introduces the poem (vv. 1-3) is undeniable; it has prompted others to speak of a royal (Kaiser) or royal-prophetic (Westermann, Melugin) commissioning report. 

Striking is the retrospective character of the report, which runs through v. 4 and includes a note of dejection: The servant has already labored in vain. If we speak of a commissioning, it is made against a backdrop of prior activity. Language familiar from the call of the prophet Jeremiah (Jer 1:1-9), for example, is not associated with the present-tense word to the servant from God; rather, it forms his own reflection on a vocation that already lies behind him. These distinctive features must be borne carefully in mind. “Hymn of Thanksgiving” is a correct designation insofar as it keeps this aspect to the fore. The one taking up the hymn is the servant, and his answered complaint entails his vocation as one “called from the womb,” like Jeremiah. “Commissioning” or “Recommissioning Report” is correct insofar as the word of response given to the servant in the final verse entails his specific vocation as servant (v. 6). The cause for thanksgiving is the restatement, made personally to the servant, of the role and function first established for him by God.

The question to be taken up involves the function of the elaboration at 49:7-12. Westermann has combined two units, each introduced by a messenger formula, into one and has labeled it “Deutero-Isaiah’s original utterance,” a “proclamation of salvation” in formal terms.102 What this solution entails is an elimination of the very problem constituted by the existence of two discrete oracles to begin with. As more recent interpreters have seen,103 v. 7 appears more prospectively related to the final servant poem at 52:13–53:12 than retrospectively affiliated with 42:5-9. The reverse is true of 49:8-12, which shares with 42:5-9 the singular expression “covenant to the people,” positively anticipating the servant’s success in liberating God’s people everywhere, rather than pointing to the destiny of suffering and affliction at the hands of the nations (cf. 49:7 and 52:13-15). It is difficult to know whether both, or just the first, have been editorially supplied in an effort to affiliate the servant’s work with the charge given the servant Israel at 42:1-9 (so the second) and the final destiny of the servant, whose suffering and death are recorded at 52:13–53:12 (so the first). Alternatively, only the first has been editorially supplied, under the influence of the final “suffering servant poem”; the second would then be God’s further word of response to the servant, elaborating in a distinctive manner the word given at 49:6. The




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 placement of the hymn at v. 13 is by now familiar (cf. 42:10-13; 45:8), and it points to a high degree of intentionality in the final shaping of the material.

49:1-7. The opening address to the coastlands and the people has its precise counterpart at 41:1. Now not God, from within the divine council, but the servant himself addresses the known world. The servant was before presented to the council and those assembled; now he steps forward and speaks as once God did. He reports the call that has already taken place (vv. 1-3). Language used to describe God’s relationship to Israel (44:1) is here applied to the individual servant (49:1b), who stepped forward at 48:16c. It is augmented with a more typically individual, “prophetic” predication, “from the belly of my mother he named me” (cf. Jer 1:5). This reference fits an individual better than Israel as a nation.104 The references to hiddenness, together with effective speech, match perfectly the role the servant has had up to this point (v. 2).

“Israel” in v. 3 cannot be an interpolation, but belongs inextricably to the text in its present and previous life (if such there be).105 Williamson’s argument that “Israel” is not to be taken as vocative, indicating the addressee (“you are my servant, O Israel”), but as predicative, making a statement (“you are my servant, [you are] Israel”) is also convincing.106 This frees the unit (and a syntactically problematic v. 4) for a fresh interpretation, which has as an additional benefit the possibility of coordinating this poem with preceding and ensuing discussions of the role of the servant. The servant presented by God before the divine council in 42:1-4 was the same Jacob/Israel servant consistently addressed that way in chaps. 40–48. Now the speaker—who nowhere explicitly adopts the title “prophet” (aybn nAbî)), nor is it applied to him—accepts as an individual the role set forth by God for the nation Israel. The servant knows himself to have been called by God and empowered for a hidden and, in its own mysterious way, speech-filled vocation (vv. 1-2). It is then clarified to him, “You are my servant—you are Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” It would be wrong to term this a call narrative because of the singularity of the office of prophet, witnessed to in the discourse, within the context of the larger book of Isaiah and its own complex presentation (see the Reflections at 48:1-22). Rather, it is a recommissioning in the light of developing circumstances at this particular juncture in the discourse, involving the role of Israel, the servant-author, and the nations.

To this the servant responds in objection. He has already labored mightily, but in vain. To what is this a reference? Wilcox and Paton-Williams answer: “These verses describe the recommissioning of the prophet, to do what Israel was called to do.”107 In other words, the prophet Deutero-Isaiah was frustrated in effecting Israel’s assumption of the role of servant, as sketched forth in 42:1-9 and in the following chapters in the opening section (chaps. 40–48).

I have argued elsewhere for a modification of this interpretation. The servant who has stepped forward in chap. 48 reflects on his frustration in accomplishing what was said of the servant in 42:1-9, and behind this failure lies the entire history of prophecy as that was directed through Israel to the nations (e.g., Jer 1:5, “I appointed you a prophet to the nations”; Jer 1:10, “See, today I set you over nations and kingdoms”). “That is, it is a mission based upon all prior prophecy at its own potential end point and dissolution. . . . This servant carries Israel’s history with prophecy in him, and in so doing, is ‘Israel’ in a very specific sense.”108 I would add here only that this profound insight, borne witness to by the servant, is seen by him through the specific lens of his having brokered the proclamation of chaps. 40–48, where God’s mission to the nations, through servant Jacob/Israel and through Cyrus, stands at the center of the discourse.

Language once applied to Israel is now applied to the servant, whose task (though once hidden) has been and remains to Jacob/Israel (v. 5). Here is the one place where the genre designation “thanksgiving” truly applies: “I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my




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 strength” (v. 5b). The servant recalls the task he has had with Jacob and Israel, and he knows it to be bound up with God’s honoring and strengthening of him. The final verse (v. 6b) reminds the servant of Israel’s task to the nations (so 42:6); this task is now to be his own, who had formerly been Israel’s faithful servant of address, in chaps. 40–48. The mission to the nations is not the “new thing” (48:6), but the individual servant’s bearing of it. His hidden mission to Israel is here augmented to include a public mission to the nations, as this was once Israel’s more broadly. These are the nations the servant addresses in v. 1. The “servant song” in its entirety (49:1-6) clarifies to them how it is that he has come to be empowered by God to this particular service. The one who spoke for God in similar, though hidden, terms at 41:1 now speaks publicly of God’s special word to him, the one who is “Israel” according to a prophetic calling, “light to the nations” (49:6).

Reference to the nations at v. 6 has triggered a gloss (v. 7), which serves to anticipate the servant’s final destiny (52:13–53:12). The one “deeply despised, abhorred by the nations” is the servant. Nevertheless, the unit insists, the nations will come to proper acknowledgment and worship, as had been promised earlier (45:14) in connection with the mission of Cyrus. What Cyrus was meant to effect through military victory, the servant will accomplish through suffering and death. This note is supplied by the servant followers of the servant, who have composed the final poem in tribute to the paradoxical accomplishment of the servant, who becomes a light to the nations through affliction, death, and blood expiation.

49:8-13. Whether this unit belongs to the same level of tradition is unclear. The central question in part is, Who is being answered (v. 8): Israel or the servant of vv. 1-6? It would not simplify matters to say they were one and the same; the identical problem of vv. 1-6 would surface. How does Israel have a mission to Israel?109 And in this unit (vv. 8-12), how does servant Israel establish the land for Israel? Even an exilic servant (over against Israel as such) does not work well, for it sounds as though the servant speaks to prisoners (v. 9) who are themselves being escorted by God from the broadest diaspora (v. 12). The task of apportioning heritages was an individual one, either assigned to Moses (Num 26:52-56; 34:1-15) or delegated by him to Joshua and Eleazar (Num 32:28-32; 34:16-29).

It is to be inferred that 49:8-12 is an elaboration akin to 42:5-8, further stipulating the role of the servant. The task that belonged to Israel as servant in 42:5-8 now belongs to the individual servant of 49:1-6. Since 49:1-6 is not divine speech commissioning the servant, but the servant’s own hymn of thanksgiving in reflection upon his past and future vocation, the elaboration of 49:8-12 cannot be his own word to himself or his own word to an Israel who will apportion the land and free the prisoners. Rather, it is an elaboration made by the servants, promising that God’s intention with the servant will finally prevail. They understand the servant as a prophet, like Moses, who is responsible for a new exodus like the first (vv. 9b-11), but far more expansive in its points of origin (v. 12) and far less fraught with wilderness privation. The individual servant is a “covenant to the people” (µ![ tyrb burît (Am). He is the concrete means by which God’s relationship with Israel is embodied and manifested. Moses cut a covenant; the servant is a covenant. Moses apportioned inheritences in a new land; the servant apportions desolated ones in a new wilderness. The servants’ editorial elaboration here points forward to chap. 54. At that juncture, fully comforted Zion herself sings out, as she and her children are reunited. The long poem concludes: “This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their vindication from me, says the Lord” (54:17). In other words, apportioning the land in the case of the new exodus has its focal point at Zion, whose righteous children are God’s servants.

The hymn that follows (49:13) comes at the same juncture as 42:10-13, indicating the studied character of this planned composition. Heavens and earth and mountains are to witness God’s comforting of Israel. In view of the preceding reference to the turning back home of scattered Israel (49:12), the reference is closely tied to the comforted diaspora of all compass points. Comfort begins with their return. The final reference, however, will trigger a response from Zion. Has God had compassion on the afflicted ones? One particular suffering case is crying out for attention and redress.




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49:14-26. The book of Lamentations showcases the extreme situation of Daughter Zion. Within the first chapter alone, five times the refrain is repeated, “she has no one to comfort her” (Lam 1:2, 9, 16, 17, 21). Zion’s fate is viewed, first, by means of personification, as the city takes the role of a lamenting widow (Lam 1:1) whose children are dead or dying (Lam 1:16, 18; 2:22; 4:2), while she herself has been invaded by enemies (Lam 1:3, 10; 2:4, 7, 16; 4:12; 5:18). Second, her fate is viewed by means of sympathetic narration, which sometimes spills over into plural confession and lament (Lam 3:40-47; 5:1-22), and which frequently acknowledges the rightness—though extreme—of God’s sentence (Lam 1:8-9; 2:8, 17; 4:11, 16, 22). The phrase quoted here, “The Lord has forsaken me,” has its unrelenting counterpart in Lamentations, alongside other charges and statements of anguish.

In some respects, the larger Isaiah discourse is an address to the situation described in Lamentations, and specifically the plaintive, “there is no one to comfort her” (Lam 1:17). Comfort is more than emotional understanding; it entails restitution and explanation—from God. Lamentations contains a far greater proportion of acknowledged guilt and wrongdoing on Zion’s part than we find in Isaiah. That is because that discourse and those circumstances are presupposed here, as the argument of Isaiah 40–66 attempts to move to the next stage in Zion’s destiny: comfort and restitution. Lamentations also contains the statement: “Your prophets . . . have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes” (Lam 2:14). The “prophet” of the Isaiah discourse is about both of these tasks, in the manner God now deems appropriate to the time and circumstance of Jacob/Israel and Daughter Zion.

As numerous commentators have noted, “Jacob” and “Israel” no longer appear after 48:14; they have been replaced by the personified Zion, who takes center stage. Alongside this, however, one needs to take seriously the transition reflected in 49:1-13, whereby the servant takes up the role of “Israel,” later to be accompanied by “servants” (54:17). The specific task of comforting Zion/ Jerusalem, set forth in 40:1-9, is here taken up by the author in his address of Zion’s charge, “the Lord has forgotten me” (49:14), with which this section opens.

The argument begins on Zion’s own territory. Mothers are not given to forgetting their children (see Lamentations); and even if they were, God would not forget them. By means of this address we come to see immediately how inextricably Zion’s own personal destiny is tied up with the destiny of her children. The servant understands Zion’s ruined physical condition, not for its own sake, but in connection with the return of children. The translation difficulty at v. 17 (cf. the NRSV and the NIV) stems from the similiarity in Hebrew between the words for “children,” “sons” (^°ynb bAnAyik), and “builders” (^°ynb bonayik, so several versions). Perhaps builders or sons are arriving to replace the former destroyers. There can be little doubt, however, that v. 18 describes the arrival of Zion’s children, whom she wears as a bride proudly wears ornaments.

Two unexpected facts are then related to Zion (vv. 19-21). She has children who were born during the time of her bereavement that, understandably, she did not know she had; and they are so numerous that her concern should shift toward coming to terms with anticipated complaints about crowded conditions. What a shock this news would be for the bereft Zion whom we encounter in Lamentations. The langauge of v. 21 could not make it clearer. Zion’s condition makes even Sarah’s look hopeful. A barren widow, cast off, exiled, alone (cf. Lam 1:1) has a right to ask where all these children are coming from.

The signal raised in v. 22 was promised by God in Isa 11:12, for the “outcasts of Israel . . . and the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” Reference is made there as well to God’s hand (11:11; cf. 49:21), which had been outstretched in judgment (5:25; 9:12, 17, 21; 10:4), but now extends to gather the remnant from numerous localities, all the way to the “coastlands of the sea” (11:11). The same geographical perspective and scope are in force here. The children returning to Zion come from all compass points, even if principally from Babylon, because of God’s word of promise from the days of Isaiah. With one hand God raises a signal; with the other, raised formerly in judgment, God gathers Israel, and in so doing judges the nations.

In a brilliant stroke, the question of who has reared the mysterious children is answered: Kings and queens were foster parents. In the first exo-




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 dus, Moses was reared in the foster care of Pharaoh’s daughter and her retinue, though suckled by a woman brought from his own people (Exod 2:5-9). Even that special treatment is trumped here (v. 23). Moreover, God had promised in the first exodus that by God’s act of deliverance Pharaoh and the Egyptians would know “that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites [the children of Israel] out from among them” (Exod 7:5; cf. Exod 14:18) in order to “make my name resound through all the earth” (Exod 9:16). The promise remained centered, however, on Israel’s own knowledge of God through this deliverance (Exod 6:7; 7:17; 10:2). The servant picks up that promise again here, as the “foster nations” come to Zion with her children: “then you [Zion] will know that I am the Lord” (Isa 49:23). The nations not only let Zion’s children go free, but also rear them and then escort them back home, eventually to do homage and acknowledge God’s name themselves (so 45:14). Isaiah (and his children) waited for the Lord (8:17); those who wait in the latter time, we learn, are not to be disappointed. Zion’s children testify to God’s faithfulness.

The final verses of this address to Zion (vv. 24-26) reassure her that, no matter how harsh the oppressors of her children are, they shall be rescued. The final line reminds us both of the promise to Moses of old and of the divine voice of 40:5 and the seraphim of 6:3. God’s rescue of this people, even in harsh judgment, is meant for one purpose only: to convey the knowledge of God to all flesh, as Israel’s savior, redeemer, mighty one.


1. It is one thing for God to answer Zion’s question, “Who reared these?” In a master stroke, appropriate to a new exodus with new parameters, God responds in such a way that the listeners should recall Moses, Pharaoh’s daughter, another people in bondage, and another experience of coming to the knowledge of God in deliverance and in judgment. Here Zion comes to the knowledge of God in an especially profound sense. What was true of God’s people in bondage in Egypt is yet more true of God’s people scattered to the four winds, the care of whom has been handed over to kings and queens.

What Zion knows of God at this dramatic moment extends as well to the question, “Who has borne me these?” Zion was alone, barren, exiled. The answer to that question is constituted by the return of children, on the one hand, and by the discourse represented by chapters 40–48, on the other hand. God has brought a people into being, out of exile, out of death, out of the “stuff of nothingness”: “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel . . . I have called you by name, you are mine.” Pharaoh’s daughter does not give the name, nor in this case can we track down Jacob/Israel’s “parents.” For all of the reliance on a powerful human metaphor—of conceiving, naming, mothering, suckling, rearing—the limits of that metaphor are then exploded. God has created a people, children of Zion, in the same way water is brought forth out of rock or springs appear in a desert: simply by God’s will and word. In the way the first human being was created (Gen 2:7) or Abraham was made a great nation (Gen 12:2), out of the ashes of God’s cleansing judgment, a new people is formed. As the barrenness of Sarah is no hindrance to God, neither is the barrenness of Zion. Jacob is not just chosen by God, but is “formed in the womb” (Isa 44:2), formerly and latterly.

The New Testament depiction of Jesus is at so many points indebted to this discourse that it is difficult to know where to begin and end. The virginal birth related by the evangelists Matthew and Luke belongs within a much wider nexus than Isaiah 7:14 alone (see Matt 1:23). It belongs within the context of the raising of Lazarus, healings, feedings, and raising up from stones children of Abraham, each traceable to the sovereign freedom of God witnessed to in discourse such as that of Isaiah, which reaches its climax in the rolling back of the stone and the harrowing of the underworld, that final exile and wilderness.




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There and here the text is not talking about magic or alchemy, the changing of categories of creation to thrill or astound, but the sovereign God’s ability to form out of the “stuff of nothingness”—the desert, the barren womb, the grave of exile, the depths of despair—new life and abundance. In each and every case there is some form of remnant and reminiscence, some “former thing” conjoined with the word of promise and God’s enlivening presence and spirit. What is created and fashioned and resurrected bears witness to the fidelity of God through time. It belongs to the warp and woof of both Testaments that God will neither abrogate material promises nor be limited by human imagination or religion. Former things and new things are two sides of one coin. Zion knows her children when she sees them, even as she cannot account for who bore them in her time of bereavement. Will her imagination and religion tolerate this bold freedom of God? That is one question. Will this freedom conform to a justice she has come to live by and trust, rooted in God’s character? That is the other. Only God can answer questions like these, which is why Zion began where she did, “The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me” (49:14). No other court of appeal will suffice when the problem must be taken to the highest court.

2. The chapter begins and ends with reference to the nations. What God is doing with Zion and her children is to be witnessed to by “peoples from far away” (49:1) and by “all flesh” (49:26). It is too light a thing, God tells the servant, for Jacob/Israel to be reunited with Zion, brought back from all compass points, or displayed before her for the very first time. The servant is to be a “light to the nations.”

What this phrase means has been variously interpreted. What seems clear is that the nations are to be illuminated through the servant’s activity and existence. A light is not a focus of attention itself, but serves to open eyes to something previously not perceived. This pledge has been set over against a sharply contrasting alternative—that is, that the servant will accomplish nothing and that the nations will ignore, wrongly perceive, or in fact prevent the servant from accomplishing what God desires. In other words, the alternative to the nations’ seeing something and acknowledging its divine origin, through the servant, is not to continue to go their own way, outside the range of God’s activity and purpose with the servant. It is to come into contact with the servant’s work in an unavoidable way and to persist in their oppression and their ignorance of the Holy One of Israel. God assures the servant that the first will happen, but the second will issue into final recognition: “Kings shall see and stand up, princes, and they shall prostrate themselves” (49:7). The path the servant will take, however, entails obvious affliction. The nations will come to the knowledge God seeks to convey by overcoming through acknowledgment of their wrongful stance and demeanor (see 49:7, 24-26).

To be a “light to the nations” does not, therefore, mean going out and converting “peoples from far away” by word and thereafter associating with them on equal terms. Instead it means bearing affliction and hardship—brought about on account of obedience to God—and precisely thereby conveying the knowledge of God. To witness to the God of Israel is not to share information with others but to be faithful to God in such a way that confrontation will occur but will not be an end in itself. The witness leaves the final accomplishment to God, assured that affliction and hardship will be the means through which “my salvation shall reach to the ends of the earth” (49:6).

The other side of this assurance is revealed at 49:26, by the servant, to Zion. God will “contend with those who contend with you” (49:25). By virtue of the work of the servant, God will judge the nations and take up the cause of Zion. The servant will not both grant knowledge and mete out justice, but God will do that on account of him. That is the servant’s word to Zion and her children, coming on the heels of God’s own word to him (49:6). Distinctions are not undone by God—all flesh knows the Lord is Israel’s savior—even as they are redeemed and reconstituted 




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 by a common confession, with neither the servant nor Zion nor the nations ever the same again thereafter. It is little wonder that Isaiah has the reputation in the history of Christian interpretation of being more evangelist than prophet.110

Posts 31
Luigi sam | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 11 2012 6:59 AM



i've not read full postings, but a mormon would be licking his lips on interpreting the word 'gods' in psalms as meaning "GODS", rather than judges - as contextual en-devours seem to point toward.


Posts 5318
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 13 2012 6:23 PM

Texas Pete:



i've not read full postings, but a mormon would be licking his lips on interpreting the word 'gods' in psalms as meaning "GODS", rather than judges - as contextual en-devours seem to point toward.


This is hardly an uncommon look as a brief look at the WBC would show...

Ps 82 opens abruptly, without an introduction, with an immediate focus on God (Yahweh) having taken his stand in the midst of a council, or assembly, of divine beings while he pronounces judgment (v 1). He is clearly in charge, presiding over the meeting. “God” is not further identified, but he is surely Yahweh, the “Great God” who is designated as the “Great King over all the gods” (מלך גדול על־כל־אלהים) in Ps 95:3; cf. 96:4 (Kraus, Psalms 60–150, 155). The “gods” (אלהים) are the divine beings who function as his counselors and agents. cf. v 6; Pss 8:6; 29:1 (“sons of gods,” בני אלים); 89:6–7; Exod 15:11; Job 1:6; 2:1; Gen 6:2. The scene is pictured as that of a divine assembly in which the great king pronounces sentence on some of the gods who have failed in their duties. Tsevat (HUCA 40 [1969] 127) notes that the psalm’s opening suggests that what “might normally be a routine assembly, where the gods report or participate in deliberations, has unexpectedly turned into a tribunal; God has stood up to judge the assembled.” See also, Mowinckel, PIW, I, 151. In this regard the meeting is similar to that in Job 1:6–12, which seems routine until Yahweh and Satan come into conflict over Job.


Tate, M. E. (1998). Vol. 20: Psalms 51–100. Word Biblical Commentary (334–335). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.



Posts 5318
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 13 2012 9:19 PM I noticed there are only 68 likes on Facebook. I am not sure how many people might consider purchasing it by liking it by people here.  But if you would like it with some kind words maybe some of your face book friends might preorder it and bring us up over the top. I am sure there must be more than just 68 of us who will say, this is a resource i like and am going to purchase, or if you would like to purchase it but can't afford it voting by saying this is a fine set i recommend. 


Posts 5318
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jul 17 2012 4:12 PM

Thanks to the 2 of you who liked NIB, maybe i was wrong about how many people actually want NIB, although I must admit I am one who generally don;t much like to Like a bunch of things on face book. Just thought you might like to help promote this to people you know, who might like to order it...


Posts 5318
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 18 2012 5:00 PM

Joshua 2:1-24, Rahab’s Help

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The story of Rahab is the story of her father’s house, as she repeats (2:12, 18; cf. 6:25): father, mother, brothers, sisters, and all who belong to them (2:13, 18; 6:23)—indeed, her entire extended family (6:23; the NRSV translates the phrase “father’s house” [ba tyb bêt )ab] as “family”). The mention of Rahab’s mother next to her father reflects the subverting of patriarchal households in Josiah’s reform. Rahab’s family’s fate is tied to her own, not because as the wealthiest member of the family she provides for the rest of them, as some have suggested,30 but for just the opposite reason: It has fallen to her as a mere daughter to help supply her family’s dire need through the unwanted and demeaning necessity of prostitution, for it is the poverty of her extended household that has forced her into prostitution in the first place.

There are several reasons besides the deuteronomistic Passover basis of this narrative for assuming that Rahab is a prostitute because her family is in debt. Poverty was by far the most common cause of prostitution in the ancient world, as it is in our world as well. Most of the story works like many of the folkloristic narratives of the Bible, by dealing in stereotypical extremes. Rahab takes the side of the “outside agitators,” on the extreme margins of society, against the king, at the extreme pinnacle of society. She advises the spies to escape to the hills, the traditional refuge of outlaws against royal authority. Her story is basically a folk narrative about poor people against kingly power, not about a well-off, if socially marginal, sexual escort. The narrative’s characters represent stock figures rather than nuanced individuals: a typical prostitute and her family, a typical king, typical outlaw spies. Moreover, the only reason why the prostitute’s family is brought into the story is that her story is their story—her prostitution reflects their poverty, and their poverty in all likelihood means their indebtedness. The story is adopted to appeal to debtor families who, far from condemning Rahab because of her prostitution or her act of deception, would sympathize with her and her family as fellow indigents and cheer her on as she dares to make fools out of the king and his men, to whom her family would have owed their debts.

There is no indication that Rahab owns the 


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house she resides in, as is often assumed. It is probably her father’s house, since the rest of her family are assumed to be living in Jericho. The house would have been kept in the family in part through Rahab’s prostitution. The phrase “the house of a prostitute” in v. 1 does not require that the prostitute own the house; the phrase “your house” in v. 18 does not occur in the Hebrew text, which has only “inside the house” (htybh ^yla )elayik habbaytâ). There is no reason to regard Rahab as a “madame,” as some do, or an innkeeper, as later tradition sometimes attempted to suggest (see the note to 2:1 and 6:17 in the NIV). Rahab’s prostitution is the narrator’s way of addressing the issue of indebtedness, for in most instances in the ancient world prostitution alternated with debt slavery. Often, if a poor family did not submit to one alternative, it was forced to submit to the other, if not to both. Rahab represents the indebted, as we might expect in a deuteronomistic text highlighting Passover, and her deliverance and the deliverance of her father’s entire house in conjunction with the slaughter of their creditors are tantemount to the remission of their debts.

The basic story of the prostitute against the king has been co-opted by the deuteronomistic writers for its populist appeal.31 Most of the narrative assumes that Rahab and her family are on the side of the spies and opposed to the king and his henchmen. In this aspect, the story pits the poor against the rich, the marginal against the dominant, and Rahab belongs on the side of the poor Israelites. The deuteronomist is opposed to all local warlords and minor rulers, like those featured throughout the narrative of conquest and enumerated in 12:9-24, a list headed by the king of Jericho. These represent the likes of Josiah’s adversaries, the potent oppressors of Josiah’s poor subjects and the target of his law of debt remission. In origin, the story tells about collusion between disaffected insurgents and a disaffected prostitute who have an interest in joining forces but who need to give guarantees that can be trusted. For this reason, the bulk of the narrative details the dialogue between spies (called messengers in 6:17, 25) and a prostitute as they negotiate the risky business of agreeing to terms and taking the requisite oaths (2:9a, 12-21).

In contrast to such a theme, however, in a few lines Rahab refers to herself as one with the king (2:9b-11). These lines have been added to the basic story by the deuteronomistic historian, in line with the conceptual polarization of Israelite and Canaanite. They interrupt the thread of Rahab’s opening to her parley with the spies: “I know Yahweh has given you the land . . . so, since I have dealt kindly with you, swear. . . .” The first of the interjected phrases, “that dread of you has fallen on us” (v. 9b), and the rest of vv. 10-11 have numerous deuteronomistic parallels, especially in Deuteronomy and Joshua.32 Yahweh, the God of heaven and earth, promotes the interests of the “nation” of the chosen grantees against the other nations of the earth. In this aspect, the story pits the supposed Israelite nation against the Canaanite nations, and Rahab belongs on the side of the Canaanites rather than the Israelites (her “us,” “we,” and “our” include the king and his men). The flax drying on the roof of Rahab’s house is the first direct indication that events are occurring during the time of Passover. Flax was harvested and laid out to dry just before the barley harvest, and, as reckoned by the agricultural calendar, it was the barley harvest that marked the time of Passover.

Rahab refers to two causes of her people’s fear: the drying up of the sea at Passover and the slaughter of the Amorite kings, Sihon and Og. It is partly ironic that in this speech she mentions the Passover—and mentions it first—since it is in the context of Passover and the debt remission it validates that the rest of her story puts her on the side of the Israelite poor. Looked at another way, however, it is appropriate. Having completed the new trek through the Jordan on dry land, Joshua constructs the cairn of stones at Gilgal to commemorate the crossing on dry land (“dry” [vby yabes] is repeated three times) so that all the 


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peoples of the earth may know that Yahweh is mighty and so that they may learn, like the Israelites, to fear Yahweh (4:22-24). In the deuteronomistic view, for both Rahab and Joshua the purpose of crossing on dry land is to put fear in the hearts of the nations so that they will collapse in the face of Joshua—that is, so that they are forced to acknowledge the justice of Israel’s liberation from Egypt. This is what Joshua comments on when the spies report to him (vv. 23-24), even though they have spent three days scouting out the hill country as well.

The phrase “inhabitants of the land” can be and was construed in two ways, only one of which applied in the folk narrative. The Hebrew translated “inhabitants” (!ybvwy yôsebîm) means, literally, “the ones who sit.” In many passages, it can refer either to rulers who sit on thrones (e.g., Amos 1:5: “I will cut off the enthroned one [NRSV, inhabitants] from Emeq-aven, and the one who holds the scepter from Beth-eden”) or to the strong who “sit” on their estates as the wealthy landowning class (e.g., the “lords” of Philistia and Canaan in Exod 15:14-15; note the parallels, “chiefs” and “leaders”). This is the meaning of the phrase in the folk narrative, which stresses the gulf between the rich (not “inhabitants,” but “landowners”) and the poor. The second phrase in v. 9b, “all the landowners of the country melt in fear before you,” is likely original to the folk narrative, since it is not deuteronomistic but is identical to the popular poetic line in Exod 15:15 (NRSV, “all the inhabitants of Canaan melted away”). From the perspective of Rahab’s deuteronomistic avowals, however, for which the distinction between Israelite and Canaanite is primary, the phrase probably was taken to mean “inhabitants,” as though “Canaanite” were a national category embracing all people regardless of social class, including women and children. From this perspective, king and prostitute, the richest and the poorest in the town, belonged to the same category of people.

As in the rest of Joshua, the LXX often represents a different Hebrew original from the MT. In several places in Joshua 2:1, the LXX seems more in tune with the folk narrative, in which the spies come to the town to make contacts there, than the deuteronomistic use of it. In the LXX of v. 2, the king is told that some spies have come to search out the town, not the land. In v. 13, the LXX has “the house of my father,” again the social unit responsible for covering family debts, instead of the MT’s “my father” at the head of the list of individuals. In v. 18, the LXX has “if we come to the edge of the town” rather than “come to the land” (NIV, “enter the land”; NRSV, “invade the land”). The idea that in origin the story applied only to some town fits with 6:17, 25, where the spies are called “messengers,” as though they had had business with someone in the town. Finally, the long phrase in v. 15b, “for her house was on the outer side of the town wall and she resided within the wall itself,” does not occur in the LXX and seems to be a late explanatory addition that accords poorly with the fall of Jericho’s walls and survival of Rahab’s house (6:20, 22). It is sometimes suggested that Rahab’s house stood miraculously while the rest of the wall fell down. This is unlikely, since it finds no association or resonance elsewhere in the text.

As already indicated, the red cord hung out by Rahab to protect her family from the impending slaughter is intentionally reminiscent of the blood of the pascal lamb, which protected the Israelite debt slaves at Passover (Exod 12:7, 13). Even this quasi-liturgical motif could have played a role in the original folk narrative, if conceived in terms of the Passover feast as a family rite rather than the state rite it becomes in deuteronomistic legislation.

Thus the historian conceives a role for both Rahabs: the Rahab who represents the impoverished in social terms and the Rahab who represents the Canaanites in national terms. The one is meant to appeal to the poor debtors among Josiah’s subjects, the other to “Canaanite” clients of Josiah’s landed elite opponents who might be enticed to submit to Josiah’s sovereign command.


1. Probably most readers of Joshua who reside in the so-called developed world, or First World, when presented with the story of a prostitute are apt to appropriate it primarily in 


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moral terms. Prostitution is bad, and a prostitute is a morally reprehensible individual; so Rahab must be a questionable character. Thus it is not surprising, such an interpretation might conclude, that she is a Canaanite, and in the end never really better than the rest of her fellow Canaanites. Such an interpretive approach must be abandoned, however, because it fails to take account of the pre-industrial contexts and meaning of prostitution.33 Furthermore, it lacks any realistic analysis of modern prostitution and its causes, lumping poor and dominated prostitutes together with wealthy and independent prostitutes, even though the former far outnumber the latter, and assuming that prostitutes may simply exercise freedom of choice to engage in “immoral” behavior.

As in the book of Joshua, debt, slavery, and extermination played an important role in the development of American identity and racial and ethnic classifications. In the colonial period of United States history, indentured servitude, a form of debt slavery, played a significant role in helping thousands of needy people, almost entirely young men, emigrate from Britain and begin a new life in America. These debt contracts provided a socially accepted and constructive way for landowners and householders to capitalize on the labor pool available for work in the colonies and for the sons of the poor to find a new dignity in the independence they soon achieved. At the same time, in using the debt contract to bootstrap themselves to prosperity, they became part of the advancing tide of deception, mayhem, and dispossession that confronted the Native American populace.

In the highlands of Central and South America, European colonists put Native Americans to work in mines and on vast latifundia as serfs and slaves. Descendants of these groups exist today in large numbers, though often they are poor and discriminated against. In the tropical lowlands, the colonists exterminated or expelled the natives and imported chattel slaves from Africa, mainly for sugar and later cotton production. This labor development led directly to the definition of “whites” versus “blacks” that still prevails in the United States. In the temperate climes, colonists drove back the native population and brought in British and northern European indentured servants, whose story eventually contributed to the myth of North American resourcefulness and self-reliance.

Debt slavery and debt prostitution still exist around the world. Debt slavery was outlawed in Pakistan in 1992, but is still common there, for example, on sugar plantations. Recently the president of Brazil was forced to admit that slavery, outlawed in Brazil in 1888, is common on the orange, coffee, and other plantations of the Amazon region. Most Brazilian slaves indenture themselves to estate owners to pay for the long journey from the northeast of Brazil. Once on location, they are forced to buy all their needs from the estate owner and soon find it impossible to repay their debt, which only continues to grow. In a similar way, prostitutes are frequently enslaved in East Asia and other parts of the world.34

It may come as more of a surprise that slaves are still found in the United States. Recently state officials in Los Angeles raided a sweatshop housing seventy-four immigrant Thai workers, mostly women, being paid slave wages for seventeen hours of work a day, supposedly toward paying off their fares to America. The state figured they were owed $3.5 million in back-pay, but instead laid plans to deport them, against the desire of many locals that all seventy-four be given green cards—in other words, be treated the way Rahab was treated by Joshua. As with many such attempts to enforce the law, this incident was regarded as a sign of the much wider practice of peonage and prostitution among poor Asian immigrants in southern California.

In comparable ways, such practices could be verified in many other parts of the country. The picture is complicated by a recent case in Chicago in which a woman was charged with selling her child to pay off a drug debt. With the reformist values represented in Joshua 2:1, God would 


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attack the creditor, pay the woman’s debt, and redeem the child. In Chicago, the public faulted all three parties in the case—dealer, woman, and child—but focused most attention on the mother’s wrongdoing, as though Rahab were most at fault because she is a prostitute.

When interpreting biblical texts, it is often worthwhile to identify the protagonists not with most of the people in the church, but with others whose lives are more like those in the text. The examples of forced indebtedness mentioned here represent a burden that has weighed on the poor for at least four millennia, and one that will, it seems, continue in more or less the same guise for the foreseeable future. Those who interpret Scripture in churches that are not poor need to recognize how this text (and many others) resonates with the experience of the poor.

By the same token, even within the church there are many, especially women, who, while not slaves, are oppressed by coercion of one kind or another. Thus in satisfying the needs of others they are unable to maintain their own importance and well-being.

2. Rahab is mentioned twice in the New Testament. In Heb 11:31, Rahab becomes one in the train of forebears who survived or prospered by faith, and in James she is a model of those who are “justified by works and not by faith alone” (Jas 2:24). The partial contrast between these two texts (Hebrews expounds on faith, while James advocates works) points up inevitable partiality of interpretation, even for New Testament writers dealing with the Scriptures. Nevertheless, these texts also complement each other. Brief though they are, both attribute to Rahab the same faith marked by the same work: safeguarding the Israelite spies. Thus in concert they articulate the familiar biblical theme that “faith without works is dead” (Jas 2:17, 26). From this biblical perspective, the figure of Rahab reminds the interpreter that faith may be expounded in terms not only of doctrine, but also of lives lived. Moreover, the lives of the faithful include not only deeds performed, but also perseverence and patience maintained in the face of adversity. To be faithful is both to do and to endure, and the vector of a person’s faith manifests itself through both.

Posts 31
Luigi sam | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jul 22 2012 9:27 PM

hi Dan.

re: your post on (Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:23 PM)

I like your reply since it is well referenced yet concise. I note the points,

however in addition the usage of the quote by Jesus seems to be missing from your reply - perhaps due to your conciseness. I note Job as being the the better example to your point however for.

In any case my point was more that these days the intended person or being labelled as a lesser 'god' should be greatly and carefully down-played to the status they have beneath and not equal to God - as mormons hope to be gods of their own world in their future.

 thanks again.


Posts 5318
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jul 23 2012 11:42 AM

Texas Pete:
In any case my point was more that these days the intended person or being labelled as a lesser 'god' should be greatly and carefully down-played to the status they have beneath and not equal to God - as mormons hope to be gods of their own world in their future.

I do understand and see your point, historically in the  ancient near east few peoples would have considered the concept of becoming a god, other than perhaps the royalty of Egypt and the like who thought of themselves as gods from birth. The old testament is replete with passages telling the truth that the gods around Israel were no gods at all, yet many people in the Bible show allegiance to more than one God. For the benefit of anyone believing there is more than one God, there are often places where it is made clear Yahweh is God all powerful, all are under him as highest God alone. Some others may seem powerful, indeed trickery or demonic powers may well appear to show power, but in the presence of God they will have their hands and feet removed showing how powerless they are in the presence of the true God. I strive to be like Christ through God's grace, but I personally know I am no god, I realize the LDS believe things far different than what orthodox Christians believe, but in the end many things can easily be twisted out of historical contexts to prove many things. 


Posts 255
Sogol | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jul 25 2012 7:35 AM


Thanks for keeping up the effort to get this over the top, Dan.

The bar doesn't look to have moved much lately, but I'm still hopeful that there are others out there that will be interested.

The NIB is just too good not to have on Logos!

Posts 5318
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 27 2012 11:50 AM


The NIB is just too good not to have on Logos!

I just wish Logos realized that, I have heard time and time again people saying they are interested in NIB but it would be the only reason to get Logos. Logos will find many new users the day NIB becomes available, heck even more than a few Logos users say they may get it when available but don't want to make the commitment to pre-ordering. Logos has the opportunity to have NIB out first, personally I am not too worried if Olivetree or Accordance gets it first i will be happy enough. But Logos might find that it looses a lot of preorders. Especially if Olivetree is the one that gets it released.


Posts 286
Mathew Voth | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 27 2012 12:39 PM

I agree. This  needs to get done! Maybe Logos could make each pre-pub order count as two!

Posts 5318
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jul 27 2012 1:01 PM

Mathew Voth:

I agree. This  needs to get done! Maybe Logos could make each pre-pub order count as two!

Well Logos did the opposite awhile ago… you remember things were about where they are now and  then they lowered, the price causing the bar to go way down, we have got it back up meaning lots more orders have been placed, but if they wanted to base it on numbers they must have gotten many more orders, just not enough to make their goal.They have the right not to make it or what until they get 500 more orders, it is just frustrating that what many consider the best resource out there is just out of reach.


Posts 5318
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 5 2012 2:13 PM

Judges 5:1-31, The Song of Deborah and Barak

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The Song of Deborah and Barak in this chapter is considered by most scholars to be one of the oldest pieces of literature in the Old Testament, perhaps dating to the twelfth century BCE. Its archaic Hebrew vocabulary and syntax have caused significant debates and disagreements about how best to translate certain lines of the poem. A comparison of the NRSV and the NIV translations reveals significant differences in 5:2a, 7a, 14a, and 16a, and these represent only the tip of the scholarly iceberg of studies devoted to this ancient poem.35 The poetic song in Judges 5:1 provides an alternative version of the story of God’s victory and the Canaanites’ defeat, narrated in prose form in Judges 4:1. The song fills in some additional details, adds whole new scenes, lacks the narrative version’s important theme of Barak’s loss of glory, and adds other themes not present in Judges 4:1. The song seems to assume that the reader is familiar with the events as narrated in the story. For example, Sisera appears without prior explanation or introduction in the poem itself in 5:20. The poem combines elements of a hymn of praise and a ballad that recounts a story in poetic form.

5:1-11. The overriding theme of this section of the poem is the overwhelming power of God contrasted with the weakness of Israel in the face of the Canaanites’ oppression. The song is sung by both Deborah and Barak “on that day,” presumably immediately after the victory narrated in chap. 4, which concludes with the same phrase in 4:23, “on that day.” This first section is framed by a related pair of themes at the beginning and the end: a note of joy and thanksgiving for those Israelites who volunteered to fight, followed by the refrain, “Bless the LORD!” (vv. 2, 9), and an imperative call for foreign kings to hear the song that Deborah and Barak are singing to the Lord (v. 3), matched by an imperative call to foreign travelers to listen to musicians as “they repeat the triumphs of the LORD” and “of his peasantry in Israel” (vv. 10-11).

Between these two framing sections, the poem draws a striking contrast between the powerful appearance of God as a divine warrior and the oppression and weakness of Israel in the face of the Canaanite tyranny (vv. 4-8). The scene in vv. 4-5 depicts the awesome cosmic disturbances that accompany the appearance of the Lord, who is ready for battle against the enemies of God. As God the divine warrior marches from the east in Edom to Israel, nature erupts with explosive force: Mountains quake; the earth trembles; the skies unleash a powerful and pounding rainstorm.

In contrast, Israel in the days of Shamgar and Jael was weak and powerless. Travelers and caravans avoided the roads for fear of the Canaanites. Normal life and commerce were interrupted (vv. 6-7). The NIV may be closer than the NRSV to the  meaning of v. 7a : The normal life of Israel’s peasantry ceased. This negative situation continued “until” (NIV) Deborah arose “as a mother in Israel.” The phrase is probably more than just an endearing title. “Mother in Israel” (larcyb !a )em beyisra)el) may represent the place and office of a wise woman prophet who delivers divine oracles to resolve disputes (see 4:5; 2 Sam 20:16-19).36 Verse 8a is difficult to understand, having to do either with Israel’s apostasy in choosing new gods (NIV and NRSV) or, more probably, with Deborah’s choosing new recruits for Israel’s army. Unfortunately, these new recruits had no weapons: “not a shield or spear was seen” (v. 8). Thus a weak and weaponless Israel will face the mighty Canaanites in battle. But the determining factor will not be the relative weakness or strength of these human forces. In this holy war conflict, the one truly relevant factor will be that God, the powerful divine warrior, will be fighting for Israel and against Canaan. Thus the rag tag army of Israel marches down from its humble highland settlements to the lowland walled and gated cities of Canaan: “Then down to the gates marched the people of the LORD” (v. 11b).

5:12-18. The important contrast in this section 


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is between those Israelite tribes that valiantly joined the battle and those other tribes who were reluctant or refused to do so. The section begins with a call to Deborah to “utter a song” as a call to battle and a call to Israel’s military leader, Barak, to lead away his captives. A “remnant” (dyrc sarîd) of all the Israelite tribes responds to their leaders’ call to battle as they march down “against the mighty” Canaanites (v. 13). This faithful remnant includes the tribes of Ephraim, Benjamin, Zebulun, Issachar, Naphtali, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, known as Machir (vv. 14-15a, 18). However, other Israelite tribes were hesitant and stayed at home rather than help their fellow Israelites. The “clans of Reuben” experienced “great searchings of heart” in deciding whether to leave their flocks of sheep to go to war (vv. 15b-16). The east Jordan tribe of Gilead refused to cross the Jordan River and come to the aid of Israel’s other tribes. The tribes of Dan and Asher preferred the relative security of their ships and the seacoast to the dangers of war (v. 17). The tribes’ reluctance reveals a lack of trust in God and a lack of commitment to the unity of Israel as the people of God. Nevertheless, the war against Canaan begins with an already weak Israel at half strength but, more important, with God fighting on Israel’s side.

5:19-22. This section of the poem narrates the battle scene between Israel’s God and the Canaanite kings. The section begins with the confident Canaanite kings who come and fight beside the waters of Megiddo (v. 19). The section ends with the loud beating of Canaanite horses’ hooves galloping in retreat (v. 22). On the surface, it seemed that Canaan’s army was fighting only a weak and weaponless Israelite militia. But Israel’s God was also fighting. God used the forces of nature, the stars and the rainstorm, to defeat the Canaanite general Sisera and his army of chariots (vv. 20-21; see 4:2). The torrential rains and flooding torrents of the wadi Kishon rendered Sisera’s chariots useless in the lowland mud. God unleashed forces far beyond the control or power of Israel’s small human army to win the victory over Israel’s Canaanite oppressor.

5:23-30. The next poetic unit juxtaposes a vehement curse and a lavish blessing. The curse is aimed at a presumably Israelite clan, Meroz, for its unwillingness to “come to the help of the LORD . . . against the mighty” (v. 23). The blessing is pronounced upon Jael, the non-Israelite wife of Heber the Kenite, who is remembered as “the most blessed of women” (v. 24). The rest of the unit retells in gory detail the way in which Jael assassinated the Canaanite general Sisera. The unit concludes with a poignant scene depicting Sisera’s mother waiting in vain for her son to return home from battle.

Sisera had come to this “tent-dwelling woman” and asked her for water. But Jael gave him milky “curds in a lordly bowl,” a mild sedative to set him up for her deadly deed (v. 25). The action slows down to a slow-motion crawl in the next two verses as Jael takes a tent peg in one hand and a mallet in the other. She then strikes Sisera with a crushing blow to the head, shattering and piercing his temple. Unlike the narrative version of this scene, where Sisera is lying asleep in the tent (4:18-21), here he appears to be standing or perhaps sitting in a chair. When Jael penetrated his body with the tent peg, “he sank, he fell, he lay still . . . he sank, he fell . . . he fell dead” (v. 27). Sisera falls dead literally in Hebrew “between her feet” or “between her legs” (hylgr @yb bên ragleyha, v. 27), a sexual euphemism found elsewhere in the Bible (Deut 28:57; Ezek 16:25). The sexual overtones of this death scene have been frequently noted, reaching as far back as the ancient Jewish rabbinical interpreters. This woman nurturer-turned-warrior symbolizes the close interplay of sexuality and death, of rape and war.37 But the tables have been turned. Used to killing men and raping woman, general Sisera is himself killed and “raped” by a woman. The non-Israelite Jael here becomes a cipher for Israel and Sisera a cipher for Canaan’s military might. The supposedly weaker Israel had been repeatedly oppressed and pillaged by the arrogant Canaanites in the past. But now with the help of Israel’s divine warrior, mighty Canaan has fallen into defeat and death.

For the closing scene of this unit, the narrator turns our attention to a scene in a Canaanite city where the mother of general Sisera waits at her window for her son to return from battle. Sisera’s mother wonders aloud and discusses with her women advisers why her son is taking such a long time to return (vv. 28-29). Their arrogant confi-


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dence that Sisera has surely been victorious is matched only by their greedy anticipation of fine clothes and other spoil that Sisera will steal from those whom he has defeated (v. 30). But one line in this chatter of smug Canaanite women leaps out in the light of what has happened earlier in the poem. One of the reasons they imagine for the delay in his return is the time it takes to rape the women of those who have been defeated. The NRSV and the NIV translations read “a girl or two for every man” (v. 30). The Hebrew is even more crude: “A womb [!jr raham] or two for every man.” But these Canaanite women (and their men) have not reckoned with the “one or two women” who are the heroes of this poem, Deborah and Jael. Nor have they reckoned with the God of Israel, against whom no human army can withstand. Thus Deborah, Barak, Jael, and God upended the prideful plans of Sisera and his Canaanite soldiers: the Canaanites “got no spoils of war” (v. 19), and Sisera “fell . . . between her feet . . . there he fell dead” (v. 27).

5:31. The poem comes to a close with a final prayer that contrasts the enemies and the friends of the Lord: “So perish all your enemies, O LORD!” The defeat and death of the Canaanites represent the fate of all God’s enemies, those powers and principalities that resist the will of God for Israel and the world. But the poem requests of God a very different fate for those who are faithful and love God: “But may your friends be like the sun as it rises in its might.” After the turbulent rainstorm and the clouds of battle and the stars fighting from heaven have concluded their work (vv. 4, 20-21), they now can step aside and allow a faithful Israel to assume its place of honor like the sun shining in full strength in the sky. Judges 5:1, so filled with the noise and tumult of war and earthquakes and thunderstorms, now ends quietly with the words, “And the land had rest forty years.”


1. The dominant feature of the Song of Deborah and Barak is its series of strong and dramatic contrasts: the powerful divine warrior and a weak Israel, the willing bravery of some Israelite tribes and the passive reluctance of others, the defeated human army of the Canaanites and God’s victorious forces of nature and the stars of heaven, Jael as a woman killing and “raping” Sisera, and Sisera’s mother under the illusion that her son would be the one killing and raping. Poetry is elevated speech that heightens contrasts, interprets reality, discerns truth, stretches imagination, and leads us deeper into mysteries in more playful, poignant, and powerful ways than ordinary prosaic discourse. Judges 4:1 provides us with the prose narrative version of the story, but the poetry of Judges 5:1 leads us to see more deeply the meanings and mysteries of God, who fights against God’s enemies and for God’s friends. One of the ministerial tasks of preaching, teaching, and counseling in a community of faith is to help people take up the prosaic and mundane realities of their lives and the events of our world and explore the deeper and divine realities, truths, and mysteries that lie embedded within them. The poetry of Judges 5:1 provides one of many models for thinking about ministry as poetic reflection on the seemingly mundane and ordinary parts of our lives. Just as poetry interprets prose, so also the pastor interprets the everyday life of his or her parishioners.

2. If the poem of Judges 5:1 is a series of contrasts, the primary contrast is between God’s power and effective use of forces from outside Israel versus the weakness and the timidity of Israel’s contribution to the major battle with the Canaanites. Israel was relatively poor, militarily weak, virtually weaponless, and not unified in its resolve. The source of Israel’s salvation would have to come from outside itself—from God, from the forces of nature that God used against Canaan (the thunderstorm), and from Jael the Kenite. Similarly, as Christians we confess that our salvation against the enemy forces of sin and death is rooted, not in our own efforts or capacities to save ourselves, but in the work of God and the agents through whom God works to bring to us the words and deeds of God’s sustaining love. Just as Israel was saved through 


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God’s complex integration of forces of nature, Jael the Kenite, and the bravery of some of the Israelite tribes, so, too, God works to ensure that we are nurtured in our faith and life through a complex integration of people, communities, family, friends, gifts of nature, and the like. Life in its fullness is a true gift from God.

3. Although God and forces outside of Israel itself were largely responsible for the victory against the Canaanites, the poem also makes clear that it matters whether God’s own people remain unified and work together toward the purposes of God. God has chosen in some way to be contingent on active human participation in the ongoing drama of God’s saving ways with God’s people and the world. God’s people ought not to take lightly the obligation to help one another, particularly in times of crisis, threat, or danger. The body of Christ requires all its members to be united together under the one head, who is Christ: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it” (1 Cor 12:26 NRSV). The poem in Judges 5:1 is an important model in this regard. The prose story of Judges 4:1 tells of how Barak lost glory when Jael killed the Canaanite commander Sisera before Barak had the opportunity (4:9, 22). But the poem of Judges 5:1 shows Barak immediately afterward joining Deborah in singing not only the praises of God but also the praises of Jael, the “most blessed of women” (5:24). Some commentators argue that the song in Judges 5:1 was originally only the Song of Deborah (5:7) and that Barak’s name was added only later to the introduction in 5:1. If that is true, the present form of the text still affirms Barak’s willingness to overcome his loss of glory and rejoice together with other members of the community.

4. Some features of this poem may be troubling to those people of God who cherish the hopes for peace (Isa 2:1-11), the resistance to violence (Matt 5:38-48), and the refusal to take vengeance (Rom 12:9) that are themes we find elsewhere in the Bible. What do we do with Judges 5:1 and its image of God as divine warrior; the ruthless violence of Jael against Sisera, which seems to be applauded; and the desire for vengeance against one’s enemies (5:31)? These are not issues that can be easily resolved, because they require ongoing reflection over all of Scripture and its diverse witnesses. But we can offer a few brief guidelines.

First of all, the image of God as divine warrior is pervasive throughout many different traditions in the Old Testament and even into the New Testament. But typically, as in Judges 5:1, God as divine warrior fights on behalf of the weak and the powerless against arrogant forces of oppression, death, and rebellion against God. When Jesus sent out seventy of his followers to preach and to heal and they returned to him, Jesus proclaimed that underlying the apparently mundane character of their ministry was an ongoing cosmic battle against the power of evil: “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning” (Luke 10:18 NRSV).

Second, the violence of Jael against Sisera was done by a non-Israelite acting as an advocate for the sake of others, and not to save herself. The poem portrays the act as God’s just punishment upon the arrogance and greed of an oppressor as exemplified in the scene with Sisera’s mother (5:28-30). The narrator of the poem does not present the story of Jael as a model to be emulated by God’s people when they are attacked so much as it is a portrait of the judgment God will bring upon those who live by violence and oppression. The Bible is fully aware of the ambiguity and danger in any use of violence even for reasons we may convince ourselves are just, but there are times when oppressors will bring God’s judgment of violence on themselves. Sisera is one such example.

Finally, the prayer to God that all the Lord’s enemies might perish (5:31) relinquishes this natural human desire for vengeance to God. The petitioner can let go of these negative feelings toward an enemy and entrust any just vengeance to God. The book of Psalms contains many so-called imprecatory psalms asking God for vengeance, and they serve this positive purpose, letting go of our sinful human inclinations to do vengeance and entrusting God to perform whatever justice needs to be done (see Psalms 7; 54; 143).


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Posts 15805
Forum MVP
Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 5 2012 5:19 PM

Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :):

Current pre-order progress:

Noticed "Almost there!" progress change => yet still needs more pre-orders to change status to "Under Development"

Keep Smiling Smile

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