Friday, June 21, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Judges 18 and Augustine's Confessions 6

Judges 18 There is no king, and the Danites need a territory to live in. This migration apparently took place before the time of the judges—the closeness to the generation of Moses is apparent from the identity of the Levite, the grandson of Moses.

They send out five men to scout for land.  They too arrive in Micah’s house.  They recognize the young Levite and ask him if the mission they are on is one with God’s favor.  He tells them it is, so they go on to a place called Laish.  It is a prosperous land, far away from the Sidonians and the Aramaens.  They report back to their people and arrange a raiding party of 600 men. On the way back to take the land, they too stop by Micah’s house but this time to bring the priest and the whole shrine Micah had set up to be theirs.  They say to the priest, “Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one person, or to be priest to a tribe and clan in Israel?” (18:19)

The priest accepts this reasoning and goes with them. When Micah realizes what is happening, he pursues them and challenges them, but they are too many for him. So the Danites arrive at Laish, “to a people quiet and unsuspecting, put them to the sword, and burned down the city.  There was no deliverer, because it was far from Sidon and they had no dealings with Aram” (18:27-28).

They set up their own town, install the priest and his cultic shrine.  We are told at the end that he is Jonathan, son of Gershom, son of Moses and that the shrine he establishes for the Danites will be maintained “as long as the house of God was at Shiloh” (18:31).

Augustine (354-430 AD)
6 - Cramped is the dwelling of my soul; expand it, that you may enter in. It is in ruins, restore it. There is that about it which must offend your eyes; I confess and know it, but who will cleanse it? Or to whom shall I cry but to you? Cleanse me from my secret sins, O Lord, and keep your servant from those of other men. I believe, and therefore do I speak; Lord, you know. Have I not confessed my transgressions unto you, O my God; and you have put away the iniquity of my heart? I do not contend in judgment with you [Job 9:3] who art the Truth; and I would not deceive myself, lest my iniquity lie against itself. I do not, therefore, contend in judgment with you, for "if you, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?"

Cramped IS the dwelling of my soul right now – there are times when it – the tent - is large, and I see blessings even in my pain. But that is not now. How did knowledge of this suffering escape me when I was young? Seemed there was nothing but energy and direction planted in me – nothing felt cramped. I ask you God, as Augustine asked you then and billions have asked over the great bridge of time that spans the presence of human beings on this earth, for just the tiniest speck of you to come into me and revive my soul.

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