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Non-lectionary Bible study - part 2

My challenge to myself is to look at the non-lectionary passages in the Bible.   I've completed those in Genesis.  I hope to do Exodus in the next couple of weeks.  You are invited to come along with me. 

 

Bibles ready!   Follow along either with your own Bible or looking up the passages online.   I'm reading the NRVS myself.

 

 

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Exodus 1: 1 - 7  - the introduction to the book giving the names of the twelve sons of Israel who, each with his own household, settled in Egypt.   Over the years (centuries?) they became numerous and prosperous.

 

From 1: 8 to 2: 11  is covered in the lectionary and tells the story of Moses' birth.

 

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Exodus 2: 11 - end of chapter

Moses, now an adult, kills an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave.  He flees to Midian. settles there, marries Zipporah and has a son, Gershom. Meanwhile the Hebrews are living in slavery until God remembers them.

 

Exodus 3: 1 - 15 Lectionary

 

Exodus 3: 16 - Exodus 12

God tells Moses to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt to a 'land flowing with milk and honey'.  God also instructs that they should 'plunder the Egyptians'.  Reluctantly, claiming that he is slow of speech, Moses agrees when he hears that his brother Aaron will speak for him. 

A strange paragraph where Moses becomes ill and Zipporah cures him with their sons foreskin.

The reading continues with the story of Moses confronting the Pharaoh and asking that he 'let my people go', and the Pharaoh refusing, resulting in the seven plagues.  (All covered in the movie "The Ten Commandments".)

 

Is there something in these nine chapters that we should discuss? 

 

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Hi Seeler--You Wrote----Meanwhile the Hebrews are living in slavery until God remembers them.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------airclean--Seeler I don't think it would be right to say that the Hebews were in slavery till God remembers them . I think God always know where his people are an whats happening to them. I believe the very story of  Moses, shows God had a plan and it was already at work.

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airclean - Thank you for your post.   I'm only posting a summary of what I read.  I know you like Bible quotes.   Here is Exodus 2: 23b - 25:

"The Israelites groaned under their slavery, and cried out. Out of the slavery their cry for help rose up to God.  God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  God looked upon the Israelites, and God took notice of them."

 

My theology would be that God was with them all the time.  If so God would not have to 'remember' them.   You don't 'remember' the person you are standing beside, even if he is ignoring you.     I think that God was with the slaves, that God shared in their suffering (as a loving parent shares in the suffering of their children), and that God was always aware of them.   But the Bible says that when their cries rose up to God, God remembered his covenant with them, and took notice of them.

 

Have you read these chapters yet?  It's quite a bit to bite off at one time.

 

 

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Hi seeler --Yes I have read them. I think God is every were, so yes He did know the Hebrews were in slavery, as a matter of fact I think He, (that is God), arranged it for them. I also think God can see the future. So Moses place, in His plan . Had happened many years before.  God Bless

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airclean - I tend to agree with you that God is everywhere and that God knew that the Hebrews were in slavery.  But that is not what the Bible says in Exodus 2: 23 - 25

 

This section of Exodus seems to give a very personified picture of God.  God sits up in heaven, looking down on creation.  He followed one particular family for quite some time until they were well established and prospering in Egypt.  Then perhaps he turned his attention elsewhere.   Suddenly, a century or two later (but time means nothing to God) he hears their cries rising up through the clouds.  He looks down and sees the people suffering in slavery.  Then he remembers his promise to their ancestors. 

 

This is a very old way of thinking about God.   It is not my view.  

 

I think this passage has to be read in its historic context.   I don't think we can read our understanding into it; nor can we read concepts and understandings that developed centuries later, perhaps at the time of the prophets, into it.  

 

I am not a Bible scholar.  Could someone much more educated than me, enlighten me.  What is the source of this part of Exodus.  I am guessing either "J" or "El".   Not the later "D" or "P".   

 

 

 

 

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Hi airclean33

 

I have to agree with you that God already knew ---the people who were the salves didn't know God was already acting on their release ----so it looked like to them that God wasn't doing anything ----But God had already put Moses in the place where He wanted him to be ---God made sure Moses would live through the slaughter of the Israelites children and was then put into the hands of the Pharaoh's daughter.

 

So God was already acting on the issue at hand ---so the lesson here is ---It may Look Like to us that  God isn't doing much to help us when we need it but we don't know what is being worked on in the unseen realm to help our situation here on earth . Having Faith and great Bible Patience is needed. 

 

God Bless brother

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So we all agree that despite what the Bible says, God didn't forget the people.  

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"The Israelites groaned under their slavery, and cried out. Out of the slavery their cry for help rose up to God.24God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.2 God looked upon the Israelites, and God took notice of them" (2:23b-25, NRSV).

 

Exodus 1 already told us that God was looking after his people in Egypt. That's why there were so many of them! I don't see anywhere the text suggests that the people were forgotten.

 

When "God remembered his covenant with ...", what (not who) is God remembering? Covenants with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (e.g. Gen 15 [Abr], 17 [Abr], 26 [Isa], 28 [Jac]) promised many descendants and promised the land of Canaan. Apparently they already have many descendants, but not yet any land.

 

BTW, John Goldingay in Exodus & Leviticus fo Everyone prefers to translate the Hebrew as "God was mindful of his covenant with ..."

 

 

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Thanks RAN for  your input - I had never heard that translation before.   However, I"ve checked five translations of the Bible and found that four use 'remembered' and the fifth (New Jerusalem Bible)  uses 'called to mind'.   I think when the story was told the people believed that, on hearing their cries, God 'remembered'.

 

Moving on.  Is there anything in these chapters that should be included in the lectionary?  If so, what would you leave out to make time for them?   Or would you lengthen the time devoted  to the reading of scripture and dwelling upon it at a Sunday morning worship service?

 

 

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I find it helpful in reading the Bible to consider the time and culture in which the book was written and its probable author.   There are two theories for the book of Exodus.  One is that it was written shortly after the events took place and that the author was Moses himself.    The other is that it was written in parts over a period of time  from 1,000 to 800 BC to 600 BC.   The sources of the earlier parts are both J (Yahweh) and E (Elokim), edited and added to by P (Priestly).    The epic story of Moses is mainly J and E.  The laws (which we come to later in the book) are P.

 

Back to the reading - Exodus 12:  1 - 14 is covered in the lectionary

 

Exodus 12: 15 to end

The Hebrews (Israelites) aree given instructions to gather in their homes for a specially prepared meal and to mark those homes with blood.  That night an illness strikes and kills the first-born among the Egyptians (including their livestock), but passes over the homes identified as those of the Israelites.   Pharaoh gives permission and the Israelites  leave (carrying unleavened bread with them).   They also take Egyptian silver and gold.   They are instructed to regularly celebrate the feast of the Passover in remembrance of this night.

 

Exodus 13

Further Instructions for observing the Passover.

Instructions about the first-born belonging to God and the sacrifice needed to redeem him. 

The reason given why they didn't take a direct route  "although (that land) was nearer, God thought, "If the people face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt." So God led the people by the roundabout way of the wilderness . . .

The Israelities carry Joseph's bones with them, and are led by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

 

Exodus 14: 1 - 9

God hardens Pharaoh's heart and he changes his mind about letting the Israelites go.  The Egyptian army chases after the Israelites.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi seeler -- I see a recurring action of God. God leads Israel away from the desert   . Becuase He knew His next step was to harden  Pharaoh's heart to have him bring his army against God an Israel. The people were going to see the power of God.God had just slaped in the face every god Egypt had. Now He would destroy the army.This battle was to be Gods , not one Israelit would die.As will be at the end time.All Glory Be To God.

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airclean33 wrote:

Hi seeler -- I see a recurring action of God. God leads Israel away from the desert   . Becuase He knew His next step was to harden  Pharaoh's heart to have him bring his army against God an Israel. The people were going to see the power of God.God had just slaped in the face every god Egypt had. Now He would destroy the army.This battle was to be Gods , not one Israelit would die.As will be at the end time.All Glory Be To God.

LMAO

 

AC33, you slay me.  In the metaphorical sense, that is.

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Why do you think a loving God would harden the Pharaoh's heart, and cause more suffering and death?  The Israelites already have their freedom.  What could be accomplished by this action?   Did God not love the Egyptians?  

 

I think that if this were the lectionary reading for a Sunday when I was a guest preacher I would dig deeper into the Israelites understanding of the nature of God. 

 

 

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Hi seeler---Only GOD knows GODS mined. But reading through the Bible . I think King David.Says it best ,when he was a boy going agaist a Golioth.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1Sa 17:46 This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down, and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel,

--What do you think?

 

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Hi Chansen--You Wrote --

AC33, you slay me.  In the metaphorical sense, that is.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I would have it no other way old friend . I have never , nor will I ever wish you death. I wish and pray for your life , and familys as well. You have a great day. ---airclean33

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Yes, I realize you only want what's best for me, and what's best for me is to become a mindless drone and believe what you believe, so we'll be together at the end of time.

 

But not that kind of "together", of course.  Then we'll definitely be left behind.

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Airclean - I will reflect on David and Goliath when I come to that section, perhaps seeing if or how it relates to other violent parts of the Bible.  

 

In the meantime I agree that no one entirely knows the mind of God, except as it has been revealed to us.  I think that the best revelation we have is thatwhich we see in Jesus who taught us to 'love your enemies'.  

 

 

 

 

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Links to passages that are not included in the lectionary readings. (NRSV translation at oremus.org)

 

Exodus 1-11 (Slavery ... Moses ... Plagues)

Exodus 12-18 (Passover ... Wilderness)

Exodus 19-24 (Law & Covenant)

Exodus 25-34 (Tabernacle ...)

Exodus 35-40 (God fills tabernacle)

 

 

 

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seeler wrote:

Why do you think a loving God would harden the Pharaoh's heart, and cause more suffering and death?  The Israelites already have their freedom.  What could be accomplished by this action?   Did God not love the Egyptians?  

 

I think that if this were the lectionary reading for a Sunday when I was a guest preacher I would dig deeper into the Israelites understanding of the nature of God. 

I don't have an answer to this, but let me add some observations from 7:8-11:10, where the 9 plagues are described.

 

Sometimes (especially earlier) it says "Pharaoh's heart was hardened" (7:13,22; 8:19; 9:7; 9:35). By what, we aren't generally told. Usually national leaders settle on their course of action after consulting their advisors. 

Sometimes it says simply "he [Pharaoh] hardened his heart" (8:15, 32; 9:34).

And sometimes (especially later) it says "the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh" (9:12; 10:1, 20; 10:27; 11:10).

 

If a national leader makes a bad decision because he/she followed bad advice, is the leader no longer responsible? If the leader makes decisions that bring catastrophe on the country, do the innocent inhabitants not suffer? I don't think that means God does not love the innocent inhabitants. The struggle is to say just what it does mean!

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RAN - exactly!    The Pharaoh's heart was hardened.   Possibly he listened to advisors - they would argue the consequences of letting the Hebrew people go. Slaves were a valuable part of the economy.   Compare it to asking a rancher to let his horses go - just open the gates and let them run off  with some wild stallion named Moses.   No way!   

 

Then also we read  twice that the Hebrews plundered Egyptian gold.   So it seems to me that the Pharaoh hardened his heart and chased after the Hebrews, either to bring them back or to demand tribute. 

 

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Yes, it's easy to see why Pharaoh may have thought it was better for his rule over Egypt to keep the Hebrew slaves. Throughout the 9 plagues he had trouble making the final decision (and sticking to it). He kept changing his mind!

 

But the passage also says God played a part in Pharaoh's decison-making. That's the part that we tend to have trouble with.

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RAN wrote:

But the passage also says God played a part in Pharaoh's decison-making. That's the part that we tend to have trouble with.

 

It seems that this is where we have trouble determining the mind and nature of God.   Do we believe that God pre-plans and fine tunes our every decision and action, or do we believe that God gives us free-will to make our own decisions, while ever walking beside us as a loving, forgiving, benevolent presence?    I don't think we can have it both ways.   I can't see how a loving God would intentionally guide a person (or harden his heart) to do something so that the same loving God could punish him.  

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hi seeler----You wrote----

It seems that this is where we have trouble determining the mind and nature of God.   Do we believe that God pre-plans and fine tunes our every decision and action, or do we believe that God gives us free-will to make our own decisions, while ever walking beside us as a loving, forgiving, benevolent presence?    I don't think we can have it both ways.   I can't see how a loving God would intentionally guide a person (or harden his heart) to do something so that the same loving God could punish him.  ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------So many times I see Chritians saying or thinking GOD can only be, a GOD of Love. Are GOD is of LOVE, He is also a Mighty GOD. He demands that we do His will. He ask Pharaoh to let His people go. Pharaoh said no. He would not let Gods people Israel go.I believe up to this point God would have spared Egypt. Pharaoh had just said no to GODS will, and in doing so,had condemed himself and egypt. As Israel would learn ,after 40 years ,you must obay the will of God.As we today will learn , not to do what God has said an ordered, will put you on the wrong side of God, not in His Love but in His Judgement. Are GOD is just an fair . He has offered Life . But you may also chose death.If you kneel ,He will raise you up. If you try and put your self up, He will, bring you down.  God Bless

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RAN   Your Quote  

But the passage also says God played a part in Pharaoh's decision-making. That's the part that we tend to have trouble with.

 

God had a plan ---Pharaoh was a very stubborn man by nature ---God used this to His advantage and He helped Pharaoh's stubbornness along as He needed to --to fulfill His Plan which included bringing Pharaoh to honor Him as his God .. Jesus had not come yet so God dealt directly with His creation so sometimes free will was put aside by God to bring about the results God Himself wanted.

 

Sometimes God needed to harden Pharaoh's heart as he did in the past to others and sometimes Pharaoh because of his pride and arrogance hardened his own heart .

 

The potter has control over the clay most of the time but sometimes the clay is not the right consistancy and the clay then keeps the the potter in its grip of trying to figure out what is going on ..

 

Romans 9:18

Amplified Bible (AMP)

18So then He has mercy on whomever He wills (chooses) and He hardens (makes stubborn and unyielding the heart of) whomever He wills.

 

 

Peace ---this is just my view 

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So unsafe, I see it now.  From the beginning God had a plan to utterly destroy the Egyptians.  Even when it looked like the Pharaoh seemed to be doing the right thing (which was not part of the plan) God hardened Pharaoh's heart so that he would have an excuse to punish him and kill a great number of people.  

 

Sorry, but I still think that Pharaoh made his own choices. 

 

 

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Hi Seeler --

 

What I wrote is my view ---your view is different is all ---

 

Peace and have a great day .smiley

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Exodus 16: 16 to the end of the chapter

This picks up after a lectionary reading about 'manna in the wilderness' and continues about gathering and eating the manna.  With its emphasis on instructions for the Sabbath day I might guess this section is from the Priestly source "P".  

 

One thing that especially struck me in this reading way the idea of abundance.   There was  plenty for everyone.  No one needed to go without.  Even those who didn't manage to gather much, found at the end  of each day that they had enough for their family.   And the nature of the manna was such that it was impossible for anyone to hoard.   I think I could make a lesson from this reading.  Perhaps tie it in with justice issues of today.

 

 

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Exodus 17: 8 - end of chapter

It seems that the Israelites did not pass peacefully through other people's lands.  This reading tells of a battle between the Israelites and Amalek.  It introduces Joshua who apparently was a fighting man and head of the army.

 

Exodus 18 - 19:1   

This chapter starts with a family story.  Apparently at some point before the Exodus, Moses sent his wife and two sons back to her father.  The scripture doesn't cover this, nor tell us why.  Did he send them back for a visit?  It seems unlikely.   Did he send them back because he was disowning them?  I"ve read commentary that suggested this, but find nothing in the Bible to back it up.   Or, the most likely explanation to me, and also found in commentary, is that he was going into a dangerous situation in Egypt and sends them back to safety. 

 

Anyway, we learn that now that the Israelites are safely away from Egypt, and have won a battle, Jethro (the father-in-law) brings Zipporah and the two boys back to Moses, who we presum welcomes them back.  Jethro stays for awhile, takes part in a worship service, and advises Moses on how to organize the people so that he doesn't have to judge minor matters but can devote his time to what is important - his openness to God's guidance, and judging important matters. 

 

Is there anything here so compelling that it should be in the lectionary?   What message would it have for a Sunday morning worship service?  

 

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Hi Seeler--I think we may have forgot that Moses  father inlaw was a priest.Exodus2:16.I think he was sent, a great help in showing Moses how to sett the church up to work.

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seeler wrote:

Exodus 18 - 19:1   

This chapter starts with a family story.  Apparently at some point before the Exodus, Moses sent his wife and two sons back to her father.  The scripture doesn't cover this, nor tell us why.  Did he send them back for a visit?  It seems unlikely.   Did he send them back because he was disowning them?  I"ve read commentary that suggested this, but find nothing in the Bible to back it up.   Or, the most likely explanation to me, and also found in commentary, is that he was going into a dangerous situation in Egypt and sends them back to safety. 

 

Anyway, we learn that now that the Israelites are safely away from Egypt, and have won a battle, Jethro (the father-in-law) brings Zipporah and the two boys back to Moses, who we presum welcomes them back.  

I can't find any earlier reference to the younger son Eliezer. I think the last previous reference to Zipporah was in the strange story in 4:24-26, which ends with Zipporah (rather than Moses!) circumcising the older son Gershom.

Perhaps Zipporah was sent back to Jethro to give birth to Eliezer? (Another question that the bible doesn't consider important enough to answer?!)

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Exodus 19: 8b - 20

Preparations for the people to hear God's voice speaking to Moses (and Aaron) on Mount Sinai.

 

Exodus 21 - 24:11   

Following the lectionary reading on the Ten Commandments, the following chapters are commentary.    They deal with such matters and what is covered in the commandment against killing (if you strike your slave with a rod and he dies after a couple of days it is not considered killing), with slavery (including selling your daughter into slavery), and a long section about who is responsible if an ox gore somebody, or falls into a pit.   (which was probably useful to know in that day and age, and perhaps needs to be reinterpreted today - would it apply if your car smashes into  somebody else's car?)

Further instructions involve dealing with thieves and generally settling disputes (again often about livestock - these were herdsmen), observing the Sabbath, sacrifices, cooking and dietary rules, against worshiping other gods.  

 

Then there is a promise of protection against possible enemies, and the instruction against making a covenant with them and their gods or worshipping their gods.

 

After receiving these laws, Moses built an alter to God and the people celebrated in a ceremony involving being splattered with the blood of the sacrificed animal.  Moses read the covenant to  the people and they joyfully accepted it.     Moses, Aaron and 70 elders then went up the mountain.

 

I have heard recently that perhaps these commandments and commentary - which will go on in the 'books of the law' (the first five books of the Bible) - are not so much 'laws' as 'guidelines'.   As guidelines for a group of wandering herdsmen they are intended to help them live together in their time and place in community.   Perhaps we need to look at them in that light, and consider how they would apply to our lives today.   What guidelines do we need to live together in peace and harmony and in relation to our neighbours, our environment, and what we hold sacred?  

 

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Exodus 25 - instructions for building the tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant out of gold, jewels and richess (plundered from Egypt?)

I really don't see anything spiritually uplifting in this reading and I would be hard-pressed to deliver a sermon on it.

 

Exodus 26 - more instructions - curtains for the tabernacle.

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Exodus 27 & 28  -   more instructions - about the tabernacle - Aaron and his sons (Levites) shall be priests - instructions about their clothing.  

 

Exodus 29 - instructions for the ordaination of Aaron and his sons, involving the slaughter of animals, scattering blood, burnt offerings, and a ceremony lasting a week.

 

Exodus 30 - more instructions about building an alter and offering sacrifices.

 

I can see why these passages were overlooked in compiling the lectionary.

 

 

Exodus 31 - artists are chosen to oversee the decoration of the tabernacle and the alter.  Reminders to keep the Sabbath.

Then Moses is given two tablets of stone with the commandments on them.  

 

 

 

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Exodus 32: 18 - 33: 11

 

It seems that while Moses was on the mountain receiving all these instructions from God, the people were building their own god, a golden calf, and celebrating.  This passage tells of Moses' (and the Lord's) anger.  Moses destroys the tablets of the law and the golden calf, and orders the Levites to kill about 3000 of their people.  Then the Lord sends a plague upon them. 

 

Finally we find God renewing his promise to bring them to the land of Canaan and drive out the inhabitants there. 

 

 

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Hi Seeler--I wonder in exodus 25:17-22 --Did you note GOD was tell about two andels that would be put above the  mercy seat. Did you never wonder why?You Wrote--------------------

I really don't see anything spiritually uplifting in this reading and I would be hard-pressed to deliver a sermon on it.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Have a read se what you see. God Bless------- airclean33

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Sorry Seeler -- Thats angels.

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airclean - yes, I read everything that I post about.  I did notice references to angels in the overall instruction about building the tabernacle and the alter.   What do you think these angels represent?   And what to you think about angels in general?

In this case the angels were to be man-made, of gold, as part of the decoration of the mercy seat.   I think that, like the cross, the stained-glass, the candles and other trappings that we use in our churches, they were to show that this was sacred place, where one could renew their relationship with the Holy.

 

 

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Exodus 34: 1 - 28  

 

For a second time Moses goes up on Mount Sinai for forty days, and receives again the ten commandments written on stone.  He also receives further laws - mainly concerned about keeping the Israelites seperate from others, a few instructions that seem to be repeated from earlier in the chapter, and a few more (ie do not boil a kid in its mother's milk). 

 

 

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Following a short passage from the lectionary, our reading continues withont another break until the end of Exodus. 

 

Those following along may have noticed a change in both the content and the style in the most recent readings.   The first chapters,  up until the giving of the ten commandments seem a continuation of the epic story of the people of God from the beginning to Moses.  It concerns action and adventure, movement, excitement, and people - individuals and families, love and hate, jealosy and misunderstandings.  Books could be written, songs sung, movies made (and they have been) about the people and events covered.    But in the last few chapters, and continuing into Leviticus, we come to a different style and content.

 

I have heard one explanation for this as being that there were two different leaders called 'Moses'.  The first was a man of action, confronting the pharaoh and leading the Israelites out of Egypt, concerned with the big picture, a man of vision, leading the people to freedom.  But he disappeared in the clouds and smoke on Mount Sinai.    The person who came down from that mountain was a different man - a man concerned with laws, with keeping the Israelites separate and distinct from others,  with building a tabernacle (the for-runner to the temple), and who concerned himself with every little detail of their lives, even the clothes they wore and the food they ate.  

 

Another explanation I've heard for the difference between the first part of the book and the latter is their sources.  The first part was from the J source, with some E.  The latter part is mainly from the P, or priestly, source.  It was written or compiled at a time when the People were concerned about protecting and maintaining their identity, keeping themselves as a distinct people while surrounded with those with another culture and religion.  So they concerned themselves with setting up rules and rituals, especially confining their worship to that of the tabernacle,  that identified them - and this attitude influenced the writing of the final chapters of Exodus.  

 

Others may find no difference in the beginning and ending of the book.

 

 

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Exodus 35 - the people, on Moses instructions, willingly contribute their wealth and their skill to building the tabernacle (or meeting tent).

 

Exodus 36 - 39 - The tabernacle is built according to the instructions given earlier.  A lot of repetition here. 

 

Exodus 40 - Instructions for preparing the tabernacle and the priests for worship.  And the tabernacle was taken before them at each stage of their journey.  

 

Thus endeth the book of Exodus.   Next we will move on to the book of Leviticus.  An Anglican priest once told me that, in his opinion, this was the most important book of the Hebrew Scriptures.

 

 

 

 

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