Today's Readings: 1 Chronicles 6 | Ezekiel 19 | Luke 16
Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 1Chronicles 6
1Ch 6 is the genealogy of the tribe of Levi. Details of the family tree are as follows:
Levi is the father of Kohath, Gershom, and Merari.
Kohath is the father of Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel, as well as 9 of the 22 divisions of the Levites (1Ch 23:12-20).
Amram is the father of Moses and Aaron.
Aaron is the father of Eleazar and Ithamar; from Eleazar come 16 of the 24 divisions of priests; from Ithamar come 8 of the 24 divisions of priests (1Ch 24).
Izhar is the father of Heman (1Ch 6:33-38); from Heman come 14 of the 24 divisions of singers (1Ch 25:4).
Uzziel is the father of Elizaphan (Exo 6:22).
Gershom is the father of Asaph (1Ch 6:39-43); from Asaph come 4 of the 24 divisions of singers (1Ch 25:2).
Gershom is also the father of 9 of the 22 divisions of the Levites (1Ch 23:7-11).
Merari is the father of Ethan/Jeduthun (1Ch 6:44-47); from Ethan come 6 of the 24 divisions of singers (1Ch 25:3).
Merari is also the father of 4 of the 22 divisions of Levites (1Ch 23:21-24).
The above may be summarized in the following table:
Fathers and sons in lineage of Levi, from which come the...
9 of 22
Levi: Kohath: Amram: Aaron: Eleazar
16 of 24
Levi: Kohath: Amram: Aaron: Ithamar
8 of 24
Levi: Kohath: Izhar: Heman
14 of 24
9 of 22
Levi: Gershom: Asaph
4 of 24
4 of 22
Levi: Merari: Ethan/Jeduthun
6 of 24
4 of 22
Reading 2 - Ezekiel 19:1-4
"Take up a lament concerning the princes of Israel and say: 'What a lioness was your mother among the lions! She lay down among the young lions and reared her cubs. She brought up one of her cubs, and he became a strong lion. He learned to tear the prey and he devoured men. The nations heard about him, and he was trapped in their pit. They led him with hooks to the land of Egypt' " (Eze 19:1-4).
The lion, of course, refers symbolically to the tribe of Judah (Gen 49:9). Lions were a common sight in Judah in Ezekiel's day. Lions were reckless, capricious, and selfish.
"This section... is a lamentation for two of the last princes of Israel, and for Israel itself. When Josiah was killed at the battle of Megiddo, he was still a young man -- under forty years of age; his sons were therefore very young to succeed to the throne of a kingdom in such precarious times. It is perhaps for that reason that the two who are mentioned in the lamentation are spoken of as whelps. The 'mother' is the kingdom of Judah. On the death of Josiah it is said 'the people of the land' -- that is the mother country -- took Jehoahaz, and anointed him as king in place of his father... He was 23 years old, and only reigned three months, when the Pharaoh of Egypt, returning from Megiddo, deposed him and carried him to Egypt as a prisoner [2Ki 23:31,33,34; Jer 22:11,12,18], setting Jehoiakim on the throne of Judah to reign there as a vassal king [Eze 19:5]" (WH Boulton, "Ezekiel" 86).
Reading 3 - Luke 16:19-31
It has been generally argued by Christadelphians that Jesus, in Luke 16:19-31, is deliberately using false ideas in a sort of parody. Truth be told, we are often reluctant -- when preaching to others -- to be drawn into a discussion of the "rich man and Lazarus." Our reluctance testifies to the difficulties inherent in this approach, and maybe also a little discomfort at the thought of such a large portion of the words of Jesus being -- fundamentally, even if ironically or sarcastically -- erroneous!
In the absence of any more reasonable explanation, this approach would have to do. But perhaps there is a "better way" to read the parable.
First of all, some background. The Greek language has a system of punctuation marks somewhat similar to ours. Originally, this was not so; there was no punctuation, and moreover, the writing was not separated into words. ("The oldest Greek manuscripts had no chapter and verse divisions, no punctuation marks and hence no separation into sentences, and not even any separation between words. All they have are line after line, column after column, page after page, through a whole book of the New Testament": Earle, "NIV: The Making of a Contemporary Translation"). Punctuation marks were first introduced in the days of Jerome (c. 400 AD), who translated the Bible into Latin.
The best-known example of such "repunctuation," at least to Christadelphians, is Luke 23:43, which the KJV translates: "Verily I say unto thee, Today thou shalt be with me in paradise," but a much more appropriate translation might be "I say to you today (or even, 'Today I say unto you'), you shall be with me in paradise."
But other instances may be found. For example, the KJV translates Luke 16:22,23 as: "The rich man also died and was buried. And in hell he..." But Willliam Tyndale (1525) translated this as: "The rich man died and was buried in hades." Likewise, even the Douay (Roman Catholic) version (1582) reads: "The rich man died also, and was buried in hell."
The Greek also has a "kai" ("and") between "buried" and "in Hades." So perhaps the most literal translation would be: "The rich man died and was buried, EVEN in Hades" (the "kai" used for emphasis, and here translated "even"). Or, alternatively, "The rich man died and was buried AND was in Hades" -- i.e., "he died and remained in Hades" -- until -- when? The resurrection, of course!
The repositioning of this one period (English "full stop") changes, at a single stroke, the whole tenor of the parable. Now it is no longer Jesus' (ironic, but also false) description of what happens immediately after death. Rather, it is his description -- in a perfectly Biblical fashion -- of what will happen some considerable time after death and burial, when he returns to raise, judge, and either reward or punish all the responsible.
A couple of other points may clarify this:
V 22: "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side (or 'Abraham's bosom')." "Abraham's bosom" is supposedly a specific place in the underworld of Jewish mythology, where immediately after death the "immortal souls" (!) of the righteous are joined together with those of Abraham and all the faithful fathers.
We know already that Jesus did not believe this. The question is: did he speak in a parable as though he did?