Friday, May 24, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Numbers 35-36 and Origen's De Principiis: Book Two 1-2

Numbers 35 - Cities are set aside for the Levites who have no allotment of land.  Six cities are established as cities of asylum where homicides can take refuge.  In addition there are 42 other cities together with pastureland.  The land is to be ceded by the other tribes in accordance with the size of their respective allotments. The deal with the cities of asylum is that homicides shall not be subject to blood vengeance (by the family of the victim) “unless he is first tried before the community” (35:12).  Not only Israelites, but aliens and transients are also allowed to take refuge there.

The chapter then goes on to discuss the differentiation of crimes.  In general if a person kills another with a deadly weapon an avenger of blood (presumably a relative) may put the perpetrator to death on sight.  Likewise if a person accidentally kills another person he has planned to injure (but not kill) he may be killed on sight.  But if a man accidentally causes another’s death and there is no enmity then the community shall decide the case in accordance with certain principles: he shall be taken to the city of refuge and stay there until the death of the high pries.  If the homicide leaves the city on his own accord and is found by the avenger, he may be killed.  

Only after the death of the high priest (?) may the homicide leave without fear.  The evidence of one witness is insufficient for putting any person to death.  And no money payment shall be permitted to suffice as a punishment for a murder.  The perpetrator must be put to death.  “Since bloodshed desecrates the land, the land can have no atonement for the blood shed on it except through the blood of him who shed it” (35:33).
Numbers 36 - This chapter deals with the need to sort out how land bequeathed to women is to be handled when they marry. Moses settles it by requiring such heiresses to marry someone belonging to a clan of her ancestral tribe so that the heritage will stay with the tribe. This basically nullifies what was decided in 27 since women who inherit property must marry within the clan of their ancestors.

Origen (185-254 AD)
De Principiis (First Principles)
Book II - On Christ
1 – “In the first place, we must note that the nature of that deity which is in Christ in respect of His being the only-begotten Son of God is one thing, and that human nature which He assumed in these last times for the purposes of the dispensation (of grace) is another.”

He is called by various names: “He is termed Wisdom, according to the expression of Solomon: ‘The Lord created me—the beginning of His ways, and among His works, before He made any other thing; He founded me before the ages. In the beginning, before He formed the earth, before He brought forth the fountains of waters, before the mountains were made strong, before all the hills, He brought me forth.’” [Proverbs 8:22-25]

Paul calls Him the “first-born of every creature” in Colossians 1:15 and in 1 Corinthians 1:24, “the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

2 – We in no way mean to imagine in as anything “impersonal” by calling him God’s “Wisdom” – The “only-begotten Son of God is His wisdom hypostatically existing . . .” [substance or essence underlying all reality].

“Wherefore we have always held that God is the Father of His only-begotten Son, who was born indeed of Him, and derives from Him what He is, but without any beginning, not only such as may be measured by any divisions of time, but even that which the mind alone can contemplate within itself, or behold, so to speak, with the naked powers of the understanding. And therefore we must believe that Wisdom was generated before any beginning that can be either comprehended or expressed.”

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