Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Monday, May 23, 2005

Action and Teaching

Daily Readings
Proverbs 30 + Joshua 13 + Amos 1 + Philippians 2:1-3:1

Quote of the Day
Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4

Daily Text: Joshua 13:1-7
Now Joshua was old and advanced in years; and the LORD said to him, "You are old and advanced in years, and very much of the land still remains to be possessed. 2This is the land that still remains: all the regions of the Philistines, and all those of the Geshurites 3(from the Shihor, which is east of Egypt, northward to the boundary of Ekron, it is reckoned as Canaanite; there are five rulers of the Philistines, those of Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron), and those of the Avvim, 4in the south, all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah that belongs to the Sidonians, to Aphek, to the boundary of the Amorites, 5and the land of the Gebalites, and all Lebanon, toward the east, from Baal-gad below Mount Hermon to Lebo-hamath, 6all the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon to Misrephoth-maim, even all the Sidonians. I will myself drive them out from before the Israelites; only allot the land to Israel for an inheritance, as I have commanded you.
7 Now therefore divide this land for an inheritance to the nine tribes and the half-tribe of Manasseh."

Action and Teaching
At this point in the book of Joshua the author makes a turn from seeing Israel as a people who have been promised a land to conquer, to a people who have conquered and now begin to settle that land. Joshua is to distribute the land that he has gained and he is to do this before he dies. His age is catching up with him and in 13:1, 2 this is brought to his own and our attention. He is also to teach the people how to live as people of God in this land and this comes in chapter 23 with the same words as we see introducing chapter 13. In between are ten chapters demonstrating that Joshua distributed the land as commanded by God. The broad outlines of the land yet to be conquered are sketched by the divine voice in verses 2-6a, and then God promises to be responsible for conquering this remaining land. What he wants Joshua to do is distribute the land he already holds [vs. 7].

Joshua continues to be portrayed as the faithful leader of God’s people. He follows Moses’ commands and Moses’ example in this. In the last half of this chapter, there is a retelling of how Moses distributed immediately what he conquered on the East side of the Jordan River. Israel has been well-led through the Exodus and into the land. Remembering that the Deuteronomist is compiling these words for the encouragement of Israelites in exile eight centuries later, we see clearly how important this record of faithful leadership is, for that has not been the experience of the Israelites who have followed. The prophet Ezekiel says it most clearly in chapter 45:8, 9 “…my princes shall no longer oppress my people; but they shall let the house of Israel have the land according to their tribes. Thus says the Lord God: Enough, O princes of Israel! Put away violence and oppression, and do what is just and right. Cease your evictions of my people, says the Lord God.”

The textual study of this section of Joshua has been studied and restudied, interpreted and reinterpreted by many scholars. The boundary lists and town lists in these next chapters have been thoughtfully subjected to critical literary scrutiny and many possible interpretations have been levied. Butler’s [Joshua, 1983] summaries and theological interpretations will be used as a guide as we sort our way through these texts. While these lists hold little interest for the average Christian, anyone who has ever bought a piece of property and walked its boundaries can catch a glimpse of the interest that Jewish tribal descendants have had for these descriptions. All of it bespeaks a God who has been faithful, and leaders who are willing to be faithful.

The Master
Thomas Curtis Clark
We need him now—his rugged faith that held
Fast to the rock of Truth through all the days
Of moil and strife, the sleepless nights; upheld
By very God was he—that God who stays
All hero-souls who will but trust in Him,
And trusting, labor as if God were not.
His eyes beheld the stars, clouds could not dim
Their glory; but his task was not forgot:
To keep his people one; to hold them true
To that fair dream their fathers will to them—
Freedom for all; to spur them; to renew
Their hopes in bitter days; strife to condemn.
Such was his task, and well his work was done—
Who willed us greater tasks, when set his sun.


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