I have been struck at several points in Chronicles at how the priests were either not efficient or trustworthy so the carpenters take the money and no accounting is required of them. In 2 Chr. 29 the priests are less upright in heart than the Levites. Although I hesitate to say this is normal, it does seem to me that laymen sometimes are more keen and godly than their leaders even today – though really I should say SOME laymen are more godly than SOME of their church leaders I suppose. It certainly can be that when your job is to do with holy things and you see them live with them everyday, you take them for granted if you’re not careful, while some laity have more devotion in their practice than they give you credit for on the pedestal they put you on. I hope I am not like the priests in those passages! May carpenters aspire to such godliness as those in the days of the temple’s repair!
Towards the end of Chronicles Jehoiachin is said to be 8 years old when he begins his 8 month reign. I wonder if there isn’t a mistake here because 1 Esdras puts him at 18 years old which seems more likely in some ways. I also wonder if his older brother Zedekiah actually invited Nebucadnezzar back in the spring to get rid of his brother so he could reign instead. Esdras is funny for all its Greek names after so many Hebrew ones in Chronicles – Nabuchodonosor for Nebuchadnezzar etc. It means that ‘Jesus’ makes an appearance before the New Testament. 1 Esdras seems to be Ezra and Nehemiah mixed up, and has some interesting differences – instead of the Urim and Thummim, the priest is clothed in Doctrine and Truth, which I like the idea of. In 2 Esdras 5 I wonder if it is true that elder children are stronger and healthier than younger children. I think all my brothers and sisters are fitter than me, though I think I have less fillings in my teeth so perhaps it’s true. Poor old Esdras, getting told, ‘next week, next week’ (inshallah?) all the time, and when the answers come to his questions, like Job’s experience, the answers are good, but not completely satisfying. I like the KJV way of saying that each king in turn ‘had a great time’ (2 Es. 11.13) but not meaning he enjoyed himself necessarily. I like how the people regard the presence of the prophet in society is as a ‘cluster of the vintage, and as a candle in a dark place, and as a haven or ship preserved from the tempest’(12.42). May I be a prophet in this way! It is interesting that Righteousness is paired with whore, and a virtuous woman paired with iniquity (in 16.49,50) – in the NRSV they swap it round to make the parallels more acceptable (as a virtuous woman abhors a prostitute), though I have no problem understanding a whore envying a virtuous woman.
After Esdras I read Ezra (just about to start Nehemiah) and wonder at the Nethanims – why didn’t the KJV translate this word? I wonder what have generations of KJV readers assumed the Nethanims to be? Let me know. I love the phase in Ezra 9.7 thanking God for giving them ‘a nail in his holy place’ – my heart goes out to him as he really is only thanking God for the barest scrap of favour when they long for SO much! It’s Philippians 4 advice in practice – give your supplications WITH thanksgiving. They want the kingdom, the temple, the city, the land, and God gives them a nail to start with. That really is the thin end of the wedge, just a toe in the door!
Luke’s been interesting – 6.11 ‘they were filled with madness’ – you can take it both ways – that they were filled with rage, but also that they were filled with craziness because they must have been crazy not to understand and take Jesus’ point! That verse also has another KJV word which I find interesting – they ‘communed one with another’. There are 18 results for ‘communed’ in a bible search (not including the apocrypha) which all suggest ‘having a private word’ but to me it suggests a deeper level of communication, a sort of sharing of the spirit, which is then particularly worrying when Judas ‘communes’ with the chief priests and captains. His talk is not simply talk, just as talking with that attractive beauty at work may not be just talk, but may be a sharing of the spirit which begins to break a marriage, or in this case the life of Jesus. He should have communed with Jesus about it, not the chief priests and captains!
KJV fanatics say there’s nothing so beautiful as the glorious language of the King James. I’ll finish this post quickly with a few nice verses with language I like the sound of: Luke 6.19 – virtue went out of him – oh dear! Though it’s a nice idea understood properly – that virtue was flowing out from him to all! Luke 9.29 – white and glistering – nice word I think – glistening crossed with glitter perhaps: I hope that this years church Christmas Tree Forest will be glistering. When I looked it up in the dictionary I found the word ‘refulgent’ which doesn’t sound like a nice thing at all – his raiment was white and refulgent? Nah, KJV ‘glistering’ is better! I love the KJV way in Luke 13.8 ‘I shall dig about it and dung it’; and Luke 20.26 – they could not ‘take hold of his words’, not meaning they couldn’t understand him but rather couldn’t take them, twist them, and trap him with them as he took hold of their riddles, twisted them and sent them back to them, and his replies slipped through their fingers. And finally, a word which has come up a few times in my read so far: I like the owner of a house being described as ‘the goodman’ of the house. It sounds very Asian somehow, like ‘what’s your good name?’ as if I had a bad one. If you come and visit me, do ask for the goodman of the house, and I will come rushing to you in answer.