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

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Fall of Israel

Daily Readings
Sirach 29 + II Kings 17 + II Chronicles 28 + Jeremiah 50

Quote of the Day
The necessities of life are water, bread, and clothing, and also a house to assure privacy. Sirach 29:21

Daily Text: II Kings 17

The Fall of Israel
Israel comes to an end as a nation in this reading. From this time onward she will be known as Samaria, after her capital city, and the people are known as Samaritans even in the New Testament. Samaritans are despised by the Judeans, by the Jews. They came about in this way. The King of Assyria, Shalmaneser V, imprisoned Hoshea, the last king of Israel, and put Samaria under siege until it fell to Sargon II in 721 BC. Sargon removed by his own count 27, 290 citizens to Assyria and repopulated Samaria and its surrounds with people from other conquered areas—Babylon, Cutha, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim. They settled in with one singular difficulty. Lions began moving in and attacking the settlers. When Sargon II was told of this, he was also told that it was because these new settlers did not know how to worship the god of the land, YHWH. In response he sent back one of the priests to teach them how to worship the LORD. This was the source of the teaching of the Samaritans (John 4:7-42), this people of mixed ancestry, about the God of Israel. The teaching, however, did not stop them from serving the gods of their original lands.

Israel fell as a nation, according to the author, because they did not worship their God consistently. That is, they too worshipped the gods of the peoples who were there before them. In this extended treatise, vs. 7-18, their sins are recorded in detail. They resisted and rejected the commandments of the LORD their God embracing every false god available. Theology and politics become a seamless garment of explanation for the plight of the people of Israel. The nature of prophecy, prediction and plight, grows out of an intimate weaving of religious behavior and political consequence. Simply because Christians are so often resistant and resentful of the application of theological teaching to political process this point needs to be reiterated over and over. There can be no separation between theological teaching and political practice. Judgement of political practice and process must always be made by the faithful on the basis of religious teaching, and that is not necessarily synonymous with religious language, for the worst of human practice is often promulgated by the misuse of religious language. Such defines the nature of the false prophet and the true prophet in the Scriptures. The false prophet uses religious language to further his own or the ruler’s agenda, while the true prophet speaks out without regard for personal political benefit or to benefit the political agenda of the ruler. All of this is accomplished on the basis of the teaching of Scripture rather than simply the ‘language’ of Scripture. Two examples of this are the Christian Crusades where religious language is used to accomplish political interests and the United States today where politicians continually uses religious language to justify heinous action.
Silence the prophet and the world will to go to hell.

I Sit and Look Out
from” Leaves of Grass”
Walt Whitman

I sit and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all oppression and shame;
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at anguish with themselves,
remorseful after deeds done;
I see, in low life, the mother misused by her children, dying, neglected,
gaunt, desperate;
I see the wife misused by her husband—I see the treacherous seducer
of young women;
I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love, attempted
to be hid—I see these sights on the earth;
I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny—I see martyrs and prisoners;
I observe a famine at sea—I observe the sailors casting lots who
shall be kill’d, to preserve the lives of the rest;
I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons upon laborers,
the poor,and upon negroes, and the like;
All these—all the meanness and agony without end, I sitting, look out upon,
See, hear, and am silent.


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