Saturday, August 11, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: Sirach [Ecclesiasticus] 45 and Acts 21:26 through Acts 22

Sirach 45 – Moses is celebrated in this chapter. God “gave him commandments for his people and showed him something of his glory” (45:3). God chose him “alone out of all mankind; he allowed him to hear his voice and led him into the darkness; he gave him the commandments face to face, the law of life and knowledge” (45:5-6).

God also made a covenant with Aaron: “He clothed him in glorious perfection and invested him with emblems of authority” (45:8). He gave him bells to wear so the sound of them could be heard in the Temple “as a reminder” (45:11). A great number of ornate embellishments are given to Aaron and his descendants, the priests. He was to give burnt offerings twice every day forever. It is to Aaron that He “entrust[s] . . .his commandments, [and] commit[s] to him the statues of the Law” (45:17). Aaron’s tribe has no share, however, in the lands distributed.

Phinehas is “third in glory because of his zeal in the fear of the Lord, because he stood firm when the people revolted, with a staunch and courageous heart; and in this way atoned for Israel” (45:23).

Acts 21:26-40 - After the seven days required for the purification ceremony, some Jews from Ephesus see him in the Temple and stir up a crowd against him. The conflict becomes pretty widespread – all over Jerusalem – and the Roman cohort finally tries to break it up. A mob screams for Paul to be killed. Paul asks to speak to them.

Acts 22 – He speaks to the crowd in Hebrew [so it says, though the note in my Jerusalem Bible says Hebrew was not used after the Exile – that what Paul spoke was Aramaic].

He tells them his history – born in Tarsus, trained with Gamaliel, a persecutor of the Christians until he has the conversion experience on the road to Damascus: the light [seen by all with him], the voice [heard only by him], being taken to Damascus blind where he meets Ananias who lifts the blindness. He is told he is to be Jesus’ witness to “all mankind.”

He tells of another vision he has after returning to Jerusalem three years after this. He sees Jesus in a trance and is told to go to make believers out of the pagans.  At this, the crowd goes wild again. They go to flog him, and he raises the issue of his Roman citizenship, so he is brought before the Sanhedrin.

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