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Today's Readings: 1 KINGS 15 | Jeremiah 41 | Mark 15

Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.

Reading 1 - 1Kings 15:17

"Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and fortified Ramah to prevent anyone from leaving or entering the territory of Asa king of Judah" (1Ki 15:17).

"We read of a very early king of Israel, Baasha, making his iron curtain. He fortified the border, 'that he might not suffer any to go out or come in to Asa, king of Judah' (1Ki 15:17).

"Why did he do that? Other books of the Old Testament supply the answer. Like the builders of the Berlin wall he was not concerned about keeping an enemy out, but with keeping his own people in. All the God-fearing people in the idolatrous north wanted to emigrate to the south, where the Temple in Jerusalem kept true worship alive.

"Baasha's iron curtain was inefficient. He lacked the barbed wire and minefields beloved of modern dictators. The Second Book of Chronicles tells us that when good king Asa purged all the idols out of the Kingdom of Judah, this was the result: 'He gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and them that sojourned with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh and out of Simeon. For they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the Lord his God was with him' (2Ch 15:9)" (Alan Hayward, "God's Truth" ch 10).

Reading 2 - Jeremiah 41:16-18

"Then Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were with him led away all the survivors from Mizpah whom he had recovered from Ishmael son of Nethaniah after he had assassinated Gedaliah son of Ahikam: the soldiers, women, children and court officials he had brought from Gibeon. And they went on, stopping at Geruth Kimham near Bethlehem on their way to Egypt to escape the Babylonians" (Jer 41:16-18).

"Geruth Kimham" is literally "the residence of Chimham". What is the point of this? JJ Blunt, in his book, "Undesigned Scriptural Coincidences", suggests the following, which connects this incident with one in the days of David and the rebellion of Absalom:

"David having won the battle, and recovered his throne, prepares to repass the Jordan, and return once more to his capital. His friends again congregate around him, for the prosperous have many friends. Amongst them, however, were some who had been true to him in the day of his adversity; and the aged Barzillai, a Gileadite, who had provided the king with sustenance whilst he lay at Mahanaim, and when his affairs were critical, presents himself before him. He had won David's heart. The king now entreats him to accompany him to his court, 'Come thou over with me, and I will feed thee with me in Jerusalem' [2Sa 19:23]. But the unambitious Barzillai pleads fourscore years as a bar against beginning the life of a courtier, and chooses rather to die in his own city, and be buried by the grave of his father and of his mother. His son, however, had life before him: 'Behold thy servant Chimham; let him go over with my lord the king; and do to him what shall seem good unto thee. And the king answered, Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do to him that which shall seem good unto thee' (2Sa 19:37). So he went with the king. Thus begins, and thus ends, the history of Chimham; he passes away from the scene, and what David did for him, or whether he did anything for him, beyond providing him a place at his table, and recommending him, in common with many others, to Solomon before he died, does not appear. Singular, however, it is, and if ever there was a coincidence which carried with it the stamp of truth, it is this, that in Jer 41, an historical chapter, in which an account is given of the murder of Gedaliah, the officer whom Nebuchadnezzar had left in charge of Judea, as its governor, when he carried away the more wealthy of its inhabitants captive to Babylon, we read that the Jews, fearing for the consequences of this bloody act, and apprehending the vengeance of the Chaldeans, prepared for a flight into Egypt, so 'they departed,' the narrative continues, 'and dwelt in the habitation of Chimham, which is by Bethlehem, to go to enter into Egypt' (Jer 41:17). It is impossible to imagine anything more incidental than the mention of this estate near Bethlehem, which was the habitation of Chimham -- yet how well does it tally with the spirit of David's speech to Barzillai, some four hundred years before! for what can be more probable, than that David, whose birthplace was this very Bethlehem, and whose patrimony in consequence lay there, having undertaken to provide for Chimham, should have bestowed it in whole, or in part, as the most flattering reward he could confer, a personal, as well as a royal, mark of favour, on the son of the man who had saved his life, and the lives of his followers in the hour of their distress; and that, to that very day, when Jeremiah wrote, it should have remained in the possession of the family of Chimham, and have been a land called after his own name?" (USC).

Reading 3 - Mark 15:22

"They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull)" (Mar 15:22).

What do we know about the site of the tomb?

It was rock-hewn (Mar 15:46).
"In the place" (Joh 19:46), "near at hand" (Mar 15:42).
A private garden belonging to a rich man (Mat 27:57).

The traditional site, where the "Church of the Holy Sepulchre" is located today, was probably inside the city walls at that time, and thus disqualified... for Jesus was crucified outside the city.

Another possibility, "Gordon's Tomb", was discovered in 1867 -- north of the old city, near the Damascus Gate, under a hill somewhat resembling a skull. (An English explorer named Gordon discovered and excavated this tomb.) The entire area was found to be honeycombed with tombs dating to first century. One tomb nearby bore the inscription: "Buried near my Lord".

The sepulchre is in what was obviously once a garden -- a small level yard with a few fruit trees and plants. At the north end is a high perpendicular wall. There is an opening with a runway suitable for a rock wheel, and a burial room about 10 feet square.

Golgotha signifies "skull", from the Hebrew "galal" = circle (cp Galilee). Most likely, then, it was this hill north of Jerusalem, on the Damascus Road, where criminals were executed. To it was attached the name of "Skull" because

  • it was the place of death,

  • shaped like a skull, with recesses for eyes, mouth, etc,

  • and perhaps the site where Adam died [it is an ancient tradition that Adam died at what later became Jerusalem]; and

  • perhaps the site of the burial of Goliath's head/skull.

If the ancient tradition is correct, that Golgotha derived its name from being the burial place of Adam... then here, supposedly, was laid to rest the skull of the first Adam; and here, also, the last Adam came to restore that which his predecessor lost.

A more likely supposition, however, is that Golgotha was the site of the burial of the skull of Goliath (1Sa 17:54). Thus Christ, in his death, figuratively bruised the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15) just where David buried the head of the Philistine, the "man of sin".

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