Friday, May 31, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Joshua 9-10 and Origen's De Principiis: Book Three 1-2

Joshua 9 - The kings west of the Jordan band together to fight the Israelites.  They are kings of the Hittites, Hivites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites and Jebusites. 

The Gibeonites who are near the invading Israelites decide to fool them, dressing up in rags and taking along old wineskins, etc to try and make it look like they have come from very far off.  They approach the Israelites with the proposal to make an alliance with the Israelites.  The reason they pretend to be from far away is so the Israelites will not think they live in areas that they should take over.  The Israelites agree that they may live amongst them as their servants, but they agree not to fight them.  Even when they learn the truth, they are bound by their word.  But they do remain as vassals of the Israelites.

Joshua 10 – King Adoni-zedek of Jerusalem contacts four other Amorite Kings (of Hebron, of Jarmuth, of Lachish and Eglon) and gets them to attack the Gibeonites for making peace with the invaders.  Joshua comes to their aid and he defeats them; they flee and get caught in a terrible hailstorm. 

It is here that we find the passage of poetry that speaks of the sun standing still: Joshua said to the Lord, “‘Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and Moon, in the valley of Aijalon.’ And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies . . .There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded a human voice; for the Lord fought for Israel” (10:12-14).

They capture the kings; Joshua puts them to death and hangs them on five trees for one night.

The next day they take Makkedah and Libnah, Lachish, Gezer, Eglon and Debir.  It says here that Joshua “left no one remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded” (10:40). Later we will learn that the devastation was not really complete.  They end up struggling with all these people for many years, trying to keep their people from getting caught up in their customs and worship practices.

Origen (185-254 AD)
De Principiis (First Principles)
Chapter III – On the Holy Spirit
1 – The next topic Origen will explore with his mind and heart is the Holy Spirit. If we see God as “the parent of the universe” and Christ as His Son, Origen asserts that we are not the only ones. Some famous Greek philosophers and also the “Barbarians” by whom I believe he means the Jews have – some of them – posited that there is a Son of God. But he believes that the only “way to explain and bring within the reach of human knowledge this higher and diviner reason as the Son of God, that by means of those Scriptures alone which were inspired by the Holy Spirit, i.e., the Gospels and Epistles, and the law and the prophets according to the declaration of Christ Himself.”

“For although no one is able to speak with certainty of God the Father, it is nevertheless possible for some knowledge of Him to be gained by means of the visible creation and the natural feelings of the human mind; and it is possible, moreover, for such knowledge to be confirmed from the sacred Scriptures.” And not only can we find this in the New Testament, we can find it in the Old as well.

2 – “Now, what the Holy Spirit is, we are taught in many passages of Scripture, as by David in the 51st Psalm, when he says, ‘And take not Thy Holy Spirit from me;’ and by Daniel [4:8], where it is said, ‘ The Holy Spirit which is in thee.” The New Testament has many references to the Holy Spirit. “In the Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit was given by the imposition of the apostles’ hands in baptism.”

“Who then is not amazed at the exceeding majesty of the Holy Spirit, when he hears that he who speaks a word against the Son of man may hope for forgiveness; but that he who is guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit has not forgiveness, either in the present world or in that which is to come!”

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