Friday, April 5, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Exodus 24 and The Didache 12-13

Exodus 24 – Moses goes up the mountain again, this time with Aaron, Nadab, Abihu (Aaron’s sons) and 70 elders, but only Moses is permitted to “come close” (24:2). 

Moses writes down all that the Lord tells him and in the morning erects an altar and 12 pillars or stones at the foot of the mountain.  He sprinkles blood on the altar and puts half of it in large bowls. The people confirm their allegiance to the covenant and he sprinkles the blood from the bowls on them, saying “This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you . . .” (24:8). 

Then Moses and his companions go up and they behold the God of Israel.  “Under his feet there seemed to be a surface of brilliant blue lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself. And though these nobles of Israel gazed upon God, he did not destroy them. In fact, they ate a covenant meal, eating and drinking in his presence” (24:10-11). Schocken editors translate the phrase “(something) like the work of sapphire tiles, (something) like the substance of the heavens in purity . . . as clear as the sky itself.” 

Then, Moses and Joshua, his companion and later successor as leader, go up further.  A cloud covers the mountain for six days.  “On the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from inside the cloud. To the Israelites at the foot of the mountain, the glory of the Lord appeared at the summit like a consuming fire. Then Moses disappeared into the cloud as he climbed higher up the mountain. He remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights” (24:16-18). Notice that this fire consumes whereas the fire Moses saw in the bush did not. The numbers throughout this chapter are all symbolic: 70, 12, 6, 40.

The Didache
Apostles and Prophets (continued)
12 – Everyone who visits the community “in the Name of the Lord” should be welcome, but at some point he must be “tested” so you can discern “the true from the false” (196).

“If the newcomer is only passing through, give him all the help you can—though he is not to stay more than a couple of days with you, or three if it is unavoidable. But if he wants to settle down among you, and is a skilled worker, let him find employment and earn his bread. If he knows no trade, use your discretion to make sure that he does not live in idleness simply on the strength of being a Christian. Unless he agrees to this, he is only trying to exploit Christ” (196).

13 – Prophets are given high status as are teachers. Prophets are the church’s “high priests” – they are entitled to the “first products of your winepress, your threshing-floor, your oxen and your sheep” (196). “If there is no prophet among you, give them to the poor” (196), but prophets are to be granted a “tithe” of everything.

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