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, August 31, 2006

Mt. Moriah: Bible Comment on II Chronicles 3 with Hekalot Hymn, The Face of God

Daily Readings
Psalm 119:97-112, I Kings 6, II Chronicles 3, Jeremiah 5

Daily Text: II Chronicles 3

Mt. Moriah
What an interesting focus! Beyond the notation that the building began on such and such a date in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign there are two points made in II Chronicles 3. The first is that the location of the temple is the threshing floor of Orana the Jebusite. We remember how David met the LORD there when He stopped his avenging angel from killing the inhabitants of Jerusalem and then told David to sacrifice there, and David knew that this was the site for the temple [II Samuel 24; I Chronicles 22:1]. The Chronicler calls it Mt. Moriah! Another surprise for Mt. Moriah was where Abraham took Isaac to make sacrifice of him, and God met him there, as well. The implication can be drawn that on this holy site God would continue to meet his people in the Temple.

The further focus is that of the Most Holy Place, the Sanctuary, the dwelling place of God. The implication of this is that the Most Holy Place was on the threshing floor, over the stone that Abraham had planned to use even before the LORD himself provided sacrifice. The descriptions of the cherubim, the gold, the precious woods and the fabrics and fine linen dyed blue and (Tyrian) purple shot through with worked cherubim all tend to bring to bear the glorious holiness of the Divine One for whose Name nothing is too precious.

The Face of God
Hekhalot Hymn

transl. from the Hebrew by T. Carmi

Lovely face, majestic face, face of beauty, face of
flame, the face of the Lord God of Israel when He sits
upon His throne of glory, robed in praise upon His seat
of splendour. His beauty surpasses the beauty of the
aged, His splendour outshines the splendour of newly-weds
in their bridal chamber.

Whoever looks at Him is instantly torn; whoever glimpses
His beauty immediately melts away. Those who serve Him
today no longer serve Him tomorrow; those who serve Him
tomorrow no longer serve Him afterwards; for their
strength fails and their faces are charred, their hearts
reel and their eyes grow dim at the splendour and
radiance of their king’s beauty.

Beloved servants, lovely servants, swift servants, light-
footed servants, who stand before the stone of the throne
of glory, who wait upon the wheel of the chariot. When
the sapphire of the throne of glory whirls at them, when
the wheel of the chariot hurls past them, those on the
right now stand again to the left, those on the left now
stand again to the right, those in front now stand again
in back, those in back now stand again in front.

He who sees the one says, ‘That is the other.’ And he who
sees the other says, ‘That is the one.’ For the visage of
the one is like the visage of the other; and the visage
of the other is like the visage of the one.

Happy the King who has such servants, and happy the servants
Who have such a King. Happy the eye that sees and feeds
Upon this wondrous light - a wondrous vision and most strange!

Collect for the Day
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art,
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
[286: 477 traditional Irish]


Blogger Norm said...

What a holy place, this small Mt. Moriah! It is the historic location of very significant events in the lives of Abraham, King David and Jesus Christ, not to mention the eventual location of the Temple, and therefore, defining the physical location of Jerusalem herself and even the nation of Israel.

The Hebrew word Eura is the word for “provide”; God provided for Abraham at a place previously known as Salem; so from then known as Eurasalem, Jerusalem.

What does "Moriah" mean? "Moriah" is the Hebrew name for a type of sage (salvia) - perhaps this grew on Mt. Moriah? And perhaps hence the design of the menorah? The lamp stand in the holy place is menorah in Hebrew, the seven-branched lamp stand so beautifully described in Ex25:21-39. Its description uses botanical terms: cups, calyxes, petals and branches. Therefore, it is not unlikely that the menorah was patterned after a plant. Nogah Hareuveni in describing the menorah confirms that “In fact, there is a plant native to the Land of Israel that bears an uncanny resemblance to the menorah, even though it is not always seven-branched. It is a type of sage (salvia) called moriah in Hebrew. Varieties of this plant grow all over the world, but some of the species found growing wild in Israel very obviously resemble the menorah”. It provided light from evening to morning in the holy place.

9:02 AM  

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