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, May 04, 2006

Improprieties: Bible Comment on Deuteronomy 23 with poem from the Koran, Concerning Usury

Daily Readings
Proverbs 5, Numbers 30, Deuteronomy 23, Matthew 28

Daily Text: Deuteronomy 23

One way of seeing the text of Deuteronomy 23 is to envision three sets of improprieties:
• those that prevent admission to the Assembly of the LORD, whether these are sacral or political or both
• those to be avoided when encamped against an enemy, and
• those generally prohibited.

Eunuch’s, bastards, Ammonites, and Moabites find themselves completely excluded from membership (citizenship) in Israel according to Deuteronomy 23, while Edomites and Egyptians may be included after living within Israel for three generations.

Siege conditions bring up new circumstances and arguably three of them are delineated in vss. 9-16. All of them assume that the LORD is present to fight for them, and his presence requires a kind of holy living that is unique to Israel. On two counts the conditions have to do with purity issues, nocturnal emissions and daily bodily functions. The third is built upon Israel’s own deliverance from slavery and on it is the expectation that if and when slaves escape from the besieged city and give themselves up to Israel’s army, they are to be given permanent asylum within Israel without their being re-enslaved.

Finally, prostitution, charging interest on charitable loans, postponing vows to the LORD and harvesting your neighbors crops are warned against. You may eat of your neighbor’s grapes and corn as you pass through his field, but you may not take anything away. Amazing really the variety of improprieties mentioned. They do not fall within parallel categories, that is some are religious matters, others are political and finally there are social and economic prohibitions and rights that must be observed. Part of the reason for the mixture is that Israel’s God participates in all of life. There are no strong>mproprieties or prohibited areas for the LORD.

Concerning Usury
The Koran

To him who is of kin to thee give his due
and to the poor and to the wayfarer:
this will be best for those
who seek the face of God:
and with them it shall be well.

Whatever ye put out at usury
to increase it with the substance of others
shall have no increase from God:
but whatever ye shall give in alms
as seeking the face of God
shall be doubled to you.

Collect for the Day
Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [BCP:826:35 For the Poor and the Neglected]


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