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.

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Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Stung by Honey Bee and Gored by Wild Goat

Daily Readings
Psalm 85 + Judges 4 + Hosea 6:11b-7:16 + II Timothy 1

Quote of the Day
I will listen to what the LORD God is saying,
for he is speaking peace to his faithful people
and to those who turn their hearts to him. Psalm 85:8

Daily Text: Judges 4:1-3
The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, after Ehud died. 2So the LORD sold them into the hand of King Jabin of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-ha-goiim. 3Then the Israelites cried out to the LORD for help; for he had nine hundred chariots of iron, and had oppressed the Israelites cruelly twenty years.

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

Stung by Honey Bee and Gored by Wild Goat
This little story is so fascinating that it is very difficult to choose a short passage. The Hebrew is so colorful and descriptive that it seems likely that this was a story told both children and adults for amusement, for hope and for the joy of national identification. Deborah, which means ‘Honey Bee, ’with God’s help stung the enemy causing total defeat, every man including their powerful General, Sisera. Barak, ‘Lightning,’ was the Israelite general who led the successful charge down on the powerful army with 900 iron chariots! But those chariots, if the parallels are accurate, became mired in the waters of the Wadi Kishon, just like the Egyptian chariots were mired in the mud of the Red Sea. If we can take a clue from 5:4, 20, 21 we might conclude that the heavens opened and rain flooded the battlefield, perhaps even as far as the Oak in Zaananim, vs. 11, Thus God confounded Israel’s enemies and they panicked and fled back toward their home city.

Sisera, in his panic fled north by himself. Perhaps it was pouring rain as is suggested in 5:20, 21. If so, by the time he arrived outside the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite he would have been exhausted, chilled, defeated emotionally, spiritually and physically. Welcomed by the wife of his ally, who is a Jewish woman married to Heber, Sisera is concerned only that she tell no man. The secret in this famous tale is that it is not by the hand of man that the victory comes, but by the hand of God and the hand of a woman—two women, truth to tell. This woman’s name, Jael, means ‘Wild Goat,’ and I can hear now the uncontrolled laughter of the children as they hear this familiar tale. Even the name suggests that this woman, loyal to her own people, rather than neutral as was her husband, Heber, was no ordinary woman, but one full of life, capable of judgement and immediate action. In exile, the Hebrew people would take hope, for the odds against them were also insurmountable until YHWH, God of Israel took a hand.

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

from The Song of Deborah and Barak
George Wither
1588-1667
1.
Sing praises, Israel, to the Lord,
That thee avengèd so,
When to the fight with free accord,
The people forth did go.
You Kings, give ear,
You Princes, hear,
While to the Lord I raise
My voice aloud,
And sing to God,
The Lord of Israel, praise.

7.
Arise, O Deborah, arise,
Rise, rise, and sing a song;
Abinoam’s son, O Barak, rise;
Thy captives haste along:
Their princes all
By him made thrall,
To the survivor be,
To triumph on
The mighty One,
The Lord vouchsafèd me.

12.
With them the Canaanitish kings
At Tana’ch fought that day,
Close by Megiddo’s water-springs,
Yet bore no prize away.
For, lo! The stars
Fought in thieir spheres;
‘Gainst Sisera fought they.
And some (by force)
The water-course
Of Kishon swept away.

15.
But, blest be Jael, Heber’s spouse,
The Kenite; blest be she,
More than all women are, of those
That use in tents to be.
To him did she
Give milk, when he
Did water only wish;
And butter set,
For him to eat,
Upon a lordly dish.

16.
She in her left hand took a nail,
and rais’d up in the right
A workman’s hammer, wherewithal
She Sisera did smite;
His head she took,
When she had struck
His piercèd temples through;
He fell withal,
And in the fall
He at her feet did bow.

1.
Sing praises, Israel, to the Lord,
That thee avengèd so,
When to the fight with free accord,
The people forth did go.
You Kings, give ear,
You Princes, hear,
While to the Lord I raise
My voice aloud,
And sing to God,
The Lord of Israel, praise.
411:130

(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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