Saturday, March 23, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Exodus 12:1-28 and The Epistle of Barnabas 10-11

Exodus 12:1-28 – The passage starts as an instructional on how the event shall be celebrated throughout Jewish history. The actual event begins around verse 21.

Here is the instructional: The month of Passover shall be reckoned the first month of the year for Jews.  On the tenth day of this month, every family must get a lamb (or join with a neighbor and get one)—sheep or goat—keep it till the fourteenth and then slaughter it in the evening.  Some of its blood shall be applied to the doorposts and lintel of every house partaking of that lamb, and that night they shall roast it whole and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs (12:6-8).

They must eat it dressed to escape.  This Passover shall be celebrated “with pilgrimage” as a perpetual institution. A period of seven days is added (from fourteenth day to twenty-first) on which no unleavened bread shall be eaten and with sacred assemblies on the first and seventh days of the observance (12:15-16). They must observe this rite forever. The rite is an occasion for children to be instructed in the history of their people.

And then the author returns to the actual event: The people do as Moses instructs. They pick out the lambs or young goats and slaughter them; they drain the blood into a basin and dip hyssop branches into the blood to brush onto the doorframes of their houses. They stay in their homes all night and when the Lord comes to “strike down the Egyptians,” He will see the blood and “pass over” their homes.

The Epistle of Barnabas
10 – On Dietary Laws: On Moses’ dietary laws, presented in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, he believes Moses was speaking “spiritually” not literally. “The meaning of his allusion to swine is this: what he is really saying is, ‘you are not to consort with the class of people who are like swine, inasmuch as they forget all about the Lord while they are living in affluence, but remember Him when they are in want—just as swine, so long as it is eating, ignores its master, but starts to squeal the moment it feels hungry, and then falls silent again when it is given good.’” (170)

References to eagles and hawks as forbidden foods pertains to their habit of living off the foods killed by others, not by their own “toil and sweat” (170).

All the other “unclean” animals are similarly allegorized as representations of bad human practices. “In these dietary laws, them, Moses was taking three moral maxims and expounding them spiritually; though the Jews, with their carnal instincts, took him to be referring literally to foodstuffs . . . SO now you have the whole truth about these alimentary precepts (171). This is a form of biblical literalism that even modern literalists do not subscribe to. Allegorical Absolutist!! And the pride in his writing I find hard to take. Here is the end of this chapter:

“So you see what a master of lawgiving Moses was. His own people did not see or understand these things – how could they? – but we understand his directions rightly and interpret them as the Lord intended. Indeed, it was to aid our comprehension of them that He ‘circumcised’ our ears and our hearts” (172).

11 – On Baptism and the Cross: Did the Lord “give a foreshadowing of the waters of baptism and of the Cross”? (172)

Barnabas points to words in Isaiah and Jeremiah that reference water or wood: God as the “fountain of life,” “spring of never-failing water,” “a tree planted where the streams divide” as all prefiguring baptism.

Ezekiel’s words - “a river issuing from the right hand, with fair young trees rising out of it; and whoever eats of them shall have life for evermore. Here He is saying that after we have stepped down into the water burdened with sin and defilement, we come up out of it in full fruitage, with reverence in our hearts and the hope of Jesus in our souls; and whoever eats of them shall have life for evermore means that he who hears these sayings, and believes, will live for ever” (173).

No comments:

Post a Comment