Monday, March 18, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Exodus 5 and Ignatius' Epistle to Polycarp 6-8

Exodus 5 - Then they go together – Moses and Aaron - to ask Pharaoh to let them go “hold a festival [“hag”] for me in the desert” [“hag” in Hebrew is related to hajj in Arabic].

Pharaoh wants to know “Who is YHWH, that I should hearken to his voice” (5:2). Pharaoh accuses them of just being lazy and looking for an excuse to get out of doing the work he wants them to do. Instead of letting them go, he increases their workload—they must now gather their own straw for the brick-making that they are doing. 

The “foremen” or “Israelite supervisors” (5:14) accuse Moses and Aaron of just giving the Pharaoh an excuse to punish them and make their lives miserable. And even Moses seems to have doubts about the mission he believes God has sent him on. He complains to God that the mission has only made things worse; they need God to DO something to help deliver his people.

Ignatius to Polycarp
6 – Addressing now the community rather than Polycarp, Ignatius encourages them to pay “regard to [their] bishop” (110). “[E]veryone must work together in unison at this training of ours; comrades in its wrestling and racing, comrades in its aches and pains, comrades in its resting and in its rising, like God’s good stewards and coadjutors and assistants” (110).

And using a military image, he encourages them to satisfy their “commander” and “be sure that no deserter is found in your ranks. For a shield take your baptism, for a helmet your faith, for a spear your love, and for body-armor you patient endurance” (110).

Be patient and gentle with one another so that you may always be a joy to me.

7 – He tells them that things in Antioch have calmed down thanks to their prayers. He asks Polycarp to pick a courier from the church to go the city for the purpose of communicating their joy at the peace they have found.

8 – Ignatius says he will be leaving for Neapolis by sea at any time, and he asks if they could write some of the churches that he will pass and tell them that they too can send emissaries to visit with him as he passes through.

He greets a number of individuals and then ends, “Rest in Him, in the unity and under the oversight of God” (111).

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