Monday, May 20, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Numbers 27-28 and Origen's De Principiis: Book One - 1-2

Numbers 27 – The question arises what to do with the portion of property belonging to a family if no son is left, but there are daughters.  Moses consults the Lord and He tells Moses their cause is just.  Daughters should be able to inherit if there are no sons.  If there are no daughters, the land should go to the man’s brothers or to his father’s brothers or the nearest relative in the clan.

The Lord sends Moses up into the Abarim Mountains (east of the Jordan) to view the land the Lord is giving to the people before he dies. Moses will not be permitted to enter “because in the rebellion of the community in the desert of Zin, both he and Aaron rebelled against my order to manifest my sanctity to them by means of the water” (27:14). Moses says, “May the Lord, the God of the spirits of all mankind, set over the community a man who shall act as their leader in all things, to guide them in all their actions; that the Lord’s community may not be like sheep without a shepherd” (27:16-17). Joshua shall be that man for now. Moses “commissions” him by laying his hand on him: “Invest him with some of your own dignity, that the whole Israelite community may obey him” (27:20).

Numbers 28 - The Lord again outlines for the people the various offerings that they must present to the Lord:
·      The Daily (Tamid) Holocaust--a young unblemished yearling lamb each morning and each evening, each with a cereal offering and a libation of wine.
·      On the Sabbath--an additional lamb offered each morning and evening (I think)
·      The New Moon Feast--first of each month, two bullocks, one ram and seven unblemished yearling lambs with cereal and libations to go along.  In addition, one goat shall be offered as a sin offering.  These all are in addition to the daily offerings. Schocken editors point out that this is a new feast, not in Leviticus 23.
·      At Passover--for seven days eat unleavened bread.  On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no work.  Offer a holocaust of two bullocks, one ram and seven yearling lams together with cereal offerings and libations.  And offer one goat as a sin offering.  On the seventh day also you shall hold a sacred assembly and do no work..
·      At Pentecost (the fiftieth day after Passover)--the day of first fruits (or feast of weeks), offer two bullocks, one ram and seven yearling lambs, etc., and one goat as a sin offering as before.

Origen (185-254 AD)
De Principiis (First Principles)
Book One
1 – On God – He says that some say “God is a body, because in the writings of Moses they find it said, the ‘our God is a consuming fire;’ and in the Gospel according to John, that ‘God is a Spirit, and they who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.’ Fire and spirit, according to them, are to be regarded as nothing else than a body.”

But he wonders what such people would say about the words from John that say “’God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.’ Truly He is that light which illuminates the whole understanding of those who are capable or receiving truth, as is said in the thirty-sixth Psalm, ‘In Thy light we shall see light.’ For what other light of God can be named, ‘in which anyone sees light,’ save an influence of God, by which a man, being enlightened, either thoroughly sees the truth of all things, or comes to know God Himself, which is called the truth? Such is the meaning of the expression, ‘In Thy light we shall see light;’ i.e., in Thy word and wisdom which is Thy Son, in Himself we shall see Thee the Father.”  Just because He is called “light” doesn’t mean that He is like the sun. One cannot obtain knowledge or understanding of the truth from any kind of corporeal source of light.

2 – If it is true that God “cannot be understood to be a body in the sense that light is, similar reasoning will hold true of the expression ‘a consuming fire.’” But while God cannot be understood as a reality which consumes material substances, God does “consume evil thoughts, wicked actions, and sinful desires, when they find their way into the minds of believers; and that, inhabiting along with His Son those souls which are rendered capable of receiving His word and wisdom . . .  He makes them, after all their vices and passions have been consumed, a holy temple, worthy of Himself.”

Similarly the Scriptures do not use the term “Spirit” in any corporeal way. I take it here he means that Spirit is not to be conceived of as something “ghost-like.” It is just the opposite.

“The apostle . .  says, ‘Even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.: nevertheless, when it [their heart] shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.’ [citing 2 Cor. 3:15] For so long as anyone is not converted to a spiritual understanding, Scripture itself is said or thought to be covered.”

“But if we turn to the Lord, where also is the word of God, and where the Holy Spirit reveals spiritual knowledge, then the veil is taken away, and with unveiled face we shall behold the glory of the Lord in the Holy Scriptures.”

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