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

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Internal Conflict

Daily Readings
Ecclesiastes 3 + Judges 12 + Tobit 1 + Mark 2

Quote of the Day
When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners. Mark 2:16, 17

Daily Text: Judges 12:1-7
The men of Ephraim were called to arms, and they crossed to Zaphon and said to Jephthah, "Why did you cross over to fight against the Ammonites, and did not call us to go with you? We will burn your house down over you!" 2Jephthah said to them, "My people and I were engaged in conflict with the Ammonites who oppressed us severely. But when I called you, you did not deliver me from their hand. 3When I saw that you would not deliver me, I took my life in my hand, and crossed over against the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into my hand. Why then have you come up to me this day, to fight against me?" 4Then Jephthah gathered all the men of Gilead and fought with Ephraim; and the men of Gilead defeated Ephraim, because they said, "You are fugitives from Ephraim, you Gileadites--in the heart of Ephraim and Manasseh." 5Then the Gileadites took the fords of the Jordan against the Ephraimites. Whenever one of the fugitives of Ephraim said, "Let me go over," the men of Gilead would say to him, "Are you an Ephraimite?" When he said, "No," 6they said to him, "Then say Shibboleth," and he said, "Sibboleth," for he could not pronounce it right. Then they seized him and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two thousand of the Ephraimites fell at that time. 7Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died, and was buried in his town in Gilead.

Lectio What one word or phrase from the Daily Text leaps out at you? ‘Comment’ below.

Internal Conflict
Was Jephthah in the middle of Ephraim and Manasseh? So it seems. Did he belong to one of those tribes? Whatever it was, after the sacrifice of his daughter, a military contingent from Ephraim came to complain that he had fought the Ammonites without enlisting their aid. This encounter occurred east of the Jordan River; Ephraim was settled west of it. Jephthah, as we have observed before, negotiates instinctively. Vs.2 is translated in Boling [424:211] as follows: “Jephthah said to them, “I was using diplomacy, I and my people. But the Ammonites answered me with oppression. I summoned you, but you did not rescue me from their power.” So he reasons with them, but they are there to fight. As ready to use diplomacy as Jephthah is, he also can fight immediately and he does, defeating the Ephramite contingents, as many as forty-two of them.

He then moved immediately to secure the fords of the Jordan against the Ephramite fugitives trapped on the eastern bank of the Jordan. Militarily this man was also very capable. To test whether or not any man trying to cross the river was an Ephramite his sentries asked them to pronounce a word with an ‘sh’ sound in it because Ephramites, for some reason could not do so. Boling [424:214] cites sources that claim this was a procedure used in the Middle Ages to ferret out enemies and also claims to have been told that in “World War II the Dutch underground was able to screen out German spies by making them pronounce the Dutch city name Scheveningen, which only the Dutch can do properly.” That was evidently the end of Jephthah’s being disciplined by the Ephramitic tribal leaders! Judging for a short six years himself, he left the country in peace for the following 25 years under Ibzan, Elon and Abdon. Jephthah thus proved himself capable of resolving both foreign and domestic issues—militarily, certainly, in the two cases we have seen--but in all probability with equally tough and sensible diplomacy in cases of which we have no record. Presumably, the spirit of the LORD remained active in his life with honorable and productive consequences.

Meditatio What would you add to this commentary on the Daily Text? ‘Comment’ below.

Judgment is Justest
Emily Dickinson

Judgment is justest
When the Judged,
His action laid away,
Divested is of every Disk
But his sincerity.

Honor is then the safest hue
In a posthumous Sun—
Not any color will endure
That scrutiny can burn.

(Alternative poem? Include under ‘comment’ below.)

Oratio Conspire to respond with an act of kindness for someone you encounter today. Make it loving, low key and low risk. Hold a door, clean a car, give a flower, notice the unnoticed, make Christ’s love real. Write your experience below under ‘Comment.’

Contemplatio Enjoy what God is doing through you.


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