Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Genesis 30 and The Martyrdom of Polycarp 5-7

Genesis 30 - Children, all but one sons, are born from the following women in the following order:

Leah           Zilpah        Rachel                Bilhah
         1-Reuben    7-Gad         11-Joseph            5-Dan
         2-Simeon    8-Asher      12-Benjamin        6-Naphtali

After 20 years with Laban, Jacob decides to leave and return home.  As pay, Laban has promised him all the dark and speckled livestock but tries to cheat him out of even this by giving the start-up flock of dark and speckled livestock to his own sons.  But Jacob outwits Laban—devising a folk remedy involving striped and speckled rods, which by being made visible to the livestock in their mating times, produces the desired type of offspring.

Interesting also to note here is the rivalry between the sisters Leah and Rachel, a rivalry that seems to mirror the rivalry between brothers Esau and Jacob as well as the rivalry Sarah had with her maidservant Hagar. Notice in these stories, the older is never the one favored, reflecting perhaps God’s “preference” for the lowly and second-class (by human reckoning).

The Martyrdom of Polycarp
Chapter 5 – The writer of the account says that when Polycarp first heard of the inquiries being made by Roman authorities into the Christian community, he “showed not the least sign of alarm, and was all for remaining in the city. [But] the majority of us prevailed on him to leave, and so he made his way quietly to a small country property not far from the city” (126). He stayed there for a while, “praying for us all, and for churches all over the world, as it was his usual habit to do” (126).

A few days before his arrest, however, “he had a vision in which he saw flames reducing his pillow to ashes; whereupon he turned to his companions and said, ‘I must be going to be burnt alive’” (126).

Chapter 6 – Polycarp hid at a farm, probably one he owned. Those pursuing him “arrested a couple of young houseboys, one of whom confessed under torture.”  Circumstances indicate that Polycarp was betrayed by people of his own household.

By “chance” the name of the commissioner in charge of the search was Herod, and the writer says he “was resolved on bringing him into the arena [to die].” Polycarp “was to fulfill his destiny by sharing the experiences of Christ, and his betrayers [would] likewise be doomed to the punishment of Judas.”

Chapter 7 – The officers close in on Polycarp late at night. They find him “in bed in an attic. Even then he could have made his escape to another place, but he refused, saying ‘God’s will be done’. As soon as he heard them arrive, he went down and chatted with them; and everyone there was struck by his age and his calmness, and surprised that the arrest of such an old man could be so urgent. In spite of the lateness of the hour he at once ordered them to be given all the food and drink they wanted; and then asked if might be allowed an hour to pray undisturbed. When they consented, he got to his feet and prayed; so full of the grace of God, that two whole hours went by before he could bring himself to be silent again. All who heard him were struck with awe, and many of them began to regret this expedition against a man so old and saintly” (127).

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