Saturday, March 30, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Exodus 18 and The Didache 2-4

Exodus 18 – Moses’s father-in-law, Jethro (AKA Reuel) brings Zipporah, Moses’ wife, and their two sons, Gershom/Sojourner There and Eliezer/God’s Help, to Moses at the mountain of God, and he rejoices to hear all that the Lord has done.  The Schocken Bible points out that the wilderness or “trek” narratives, Exodus and Numbers, have six stations or stops between Egypt and Sinai, and then six again from Sinai to the Promised Land.  Here they are at the midpoint of the journey. 

It is Jethro who notices that Moses really needs help in the work he is doing, judging the people’s disputes and advising them on what it is the Lord wants of them.  He suggests, “You will become worn out, yes, worn out, . . .for this matter is too heavy for you, you cannot do it alone” (18:18). He tells him “you are to have the vision (to select) from all the people men of caliber, holding God in awe, men of truth, hating gain,” and these men you should set over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens “so that they may judge the people at all times” (18:21-22). Sounds like the Roman military system. So, the introduction of law into the lives of the migrating people of God, will bring a degree of political organization as well as moral leadership.

The Didache
The Way of Life (Continued)
2 – The second commandment in the Teaching mean: Commit no murder, adultery, sodomy, fornication, or theft. Practice no magic, sorcery, abortion, or infanticide. See that you do not covet anything your neighbor possesses, and never be guilty of perjury, false witness, slander, or malice” (191).

Do not equivocate or speak falsely; do not be avaricious, hypocritical, spiteful or full of yourself. And do not “cherish” feelings of hatred you may have for others.

3 – Keep away from those who are bad. “Never give way to anger, for anger leads to homicide” (192). And “refrain from fanaticism, quarrelling, and hot-temperedness, for these too can breed homicide” (192)

Do not give in to lust or unclean talk.

“Do not be always looking for omens . . . for this leads to idolatry. Likewise have nothing to do with witchcraft, astrology, or magic” (192). These things also lead to idolatry.

“Tell no lies” and “do not be over-anxious to be rich or to be admired, for these too can breed thievishness” (192).

“Do not be a grumbler . . . for this leads to blasphemy. Likewise do not be too opinionated” (192).

Learn to be meek; “school yourself to forbearance, compassion, guilelessness, calmness, and goodness” (192).

“Accept as good whatever experience comes your way, in the knowledge that nothing can happen without God” (192).

4 – Day and night, “remember him who speaks the word of God to you. Give him the honor you would give the Lord; for wherever the Lord’s attributes are the subject of discourse, there the Lord is present” (192).

Seek the company of those who are holy. And “never encourage dissensions, but try to make peace between those who are at variance. Judge with justice, reprove without fear or favor, and never be in two minds about your decisions” (192).

Do not hesitate to give to those who are in need. Be sure to discipline your children; do not “withhold your hand from your son or daughter, but to bring them up in the fear of God from their childhood” (193).

If you are giving orders to those who work for you do not “speak sharply” especially if they share the faith. “God “has not come to call men according to their rank, but those for whom He has prepared the Spirit” (193). And if you are a servant, “obey your masters with respectfulness and fear, as the representatives of God” (193).

Do not neglect the commandments of the Lord, and do not add to them or detract.

“In church, make confession of your faults, and do not come to your prayers with a bad conscience” (193).

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