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

Friday, April 14, 2006

Exodus, Exile, Election: Bible Comment on Deuteronomy 4 with poem by Judah Ha-Levi, The Immortality of Israel

Daily Readings
Psalm 68, Numbers 10, Deuteronomy 4:1-43, Matthew 9

Daily Text: Deuteronomy 4:1-43

Exodus, Exile, Election
Deuteronomy 4 is a high point in the text of Scripture covering exodus, exile and election in the redemptive experience of Israel. When one reads this text the sense of being at the very heart of God and God’s people comes singing home. Christensen (494:73) after surveying the literature on this chapter makes the claim that “This text is a carefully constructed literary whole, from the hand of a single literary artist.” Whether early or late in the history of textual submission, this notion of integrity certainly leaps from the page.

The instruction that “You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it” (4:2) has taken on a life of its own in both Judaism and Christianity and the implications reside dynamically with us as much today as in any other era. The notion that living according to God’s way will bring one honor and respect from the surrounding peoples also fuels the principle in both Judaism and Christianity that the God-fearer lives very differently in moral and ethical terms from those who do not live in the fear of God. Plaut says that the word in verse 10 translated ‘revere me’ in the JPS translation and ‘fear me’ in the NRSV translation “does not convey the full meaning of the word. In the biblical view, man’s relationship to God goes beyond reverence. Yare means to stand in awe and deference, amazement, trembling, and fear” [185:1340]. Failure to live this way will lead to exile (4:27) and faithful observance will lead to honor, longevity in the land and full redemption (4:39-40). Grace and ecstatic thankfulness permeates the possibilities promised in vss. 32-40.

The Immortality of Israel
Judah Ha-Levi
translated by Israel Cohen

The sun and moon unchanging do obey
The laws that never cease or night or day.
Appointed signs are they to Jacob’s seed
That life eternal hath been them decreed.
And though, O Lord, thy left hand dealeth pain,
Thy right shall lead them back to joy again.
Let not despair oppress their quailing heart,
Though radiant Fortune from their midst depart.
But let this constant faith their soul uphold,
That ni the Book of Life their name’s enrolled
For all eternity: nor shall they cease
While night and day do alternate in peace.

Collect for the Day
Blessed are you, Lord God of truth and justice; you open our hearts and our mouths to pray and to praise. Guide now our feet in your holy way, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
[476:791:68 psalm prayer]


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