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, September 22, 2006

Weights and Measures: Bible Comment on Zechariah 5 with poem by Sophocles, The Higher Command

Daily Readings
Sirach 12, II Kings 6:1-23, Zechariah 5, Jeremiah 26

Daily Text: Zechariah 5

Weights and Measures
An ephah is a unit of measure, usually a little over 5 gallons. The ‘basket’ in the NRSV, to be a container of that size—not large enough for a human being. But this is a vision. On the top of the vessel is a lead weight, probably safely considered a weight as in weight and measure. So this vision concerns weights and measures and we may assume that the wickedness entails theft by cheating, something disordering to the social order. Following Petersen in all of this [528:245 ff.] we may note that as in the fifth vision, since the administrative order is new, that is shared governance by high priest and Persian Governor, Zechariah’s vision is stating that the old covenantal order set by the ten commandments is still in place. Given that priest and ruler cannot make the new order work like the old, then YHWH will enforce the social order Himself. Here this wickedness is carried away by two women with storks wings, carried away to the plain of Shinar where the tower of Babel was constructed in then present Babylon. By removing this evil to Babylon, where presumably it was at home, Israel was purified. Zechariah’s prophesy was then to assert that the old covenant of just weights and measures was still in force and that it behove the citizenry to observe the commandments. The practical message from these poetic, even fairy-tale like visions, thus becomes apparent to the reader whether in Zechariah’s day or our own. The entire social, governmental and cultural order may change, but the LORD’s expectations for the behaviour of His people is to be based on the Mosaic law. Without it there can be no faithfulness in relationship to Him or to others.

The Higher Command
from Antigone
495-406 B.C.

Antigone, a young girl, standing alone before Creon, tyrant of Thebes, defies the cruel decree of the tyrant. Basing her defense on “the unwritten laws of God that know not change” she anticipates the fundamental principle of the American Declaration of Independence (1776), and the International war crimes trial at Nuremberg (1946).

Creon. [To Antigone] Knew’st thou the edicts which forbade these things?
Antigone. I knew them. Could I fail? Full clear were they.
Creon. And thou did’st dare to disobey these laws?
Antigone. Yes, for it was not Zeus who gave them forth,
Nor Justice, dwelling with kthe Gods below,
Who traced these laws for all the sons of men;
Nor did I deem thy edicts strong enough,
That thou, a mortal man, should’st over-pass
The unwritten laws of God that know not change.
They are not of to-day nor yesterday,
But live for ever, nor can man assign
When first they sprang to being.

Collect for the Day
Lord Jesus Christ
alive and at large in the world,
help me to follow and find you there today,
in the places where I work,
meet people,
spend money
and make plans.
Take me as a disciple of your kingdom,
to see through your eyes,
and hear the questions you are asking,
to welcome all men with your trust and truth
and to change the things that contradict God’s love,
by the power of the cross
and the freedom of your Spirit. Amen.

[286:210 John Taylor, Bishop of Winchester]


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