Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: 2 Chronicles 20 and Augustine's Treatise on Profit of Believing 23

2 Chronicles 20 – The Moabites, Ammonites and some Meunites [in Edom near Petra] come against them at Edom, near the Dead Sea. Jehoshaphat is afraid and proclaims a fast throughout all Judah. They assemble to seek the help of the Lord. The king calls upon God to remember that the people attacking are descendants of people the Israelites spared in taking over the Holy Land. “[W]e are powerless against this great multitude that is coming against us.  We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (20:12). With everyone gathered, the spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel, son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah. He tells them that the Lord will give them victory. “This battle is not for you to fight; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the Lord on your behalf” (20:17).

The next morning they go out to the wilderness of Tekoa. Jehosphaphat appoints men to sing and praise the Lord. “At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves. The armies of Moab and Ammon turned against their allies from Mount Seir and killed every one of them. After they had destroyed the army of Seir, they began attacking each other” (20:22-23). The Israelites come and take the plunder – the equipment, clothing, and other valuables – and on the fourth day they assemble in the Valley of Blessing, “which got its name that day because the people praised and thanked the Lord there” (20:26). The kingdoms all around hear what happened and are afraid of this peoples’ great might; the land has rest.

Jehoshaphat reigns 25 years and did what was right; but the high places remain. After this he also joins with Israel’s king Ahaziah “who was very wicked” (20:35). They build ships in Ezion-geber. Eliezer, son of Dodovahu prophesies against the king for joining with Ahaziah, and the ships “met with disaster and never put out to sea” (20:37).

Augustine’s Treatise on the Profit of Believing
I have tried in today's reading to insert words that make the text read a little bit more like modern English or sometimes to insert a word that seems to better get the meaning across. Hope this helps.
23 - But you will say, consider now whether we ought to believe in religion. For, although we grant that it is one thing to believe, another to be credulous, it does not follow that it is no fault to believe in matters of religion. For what if it be a fault both to believe and to be credulous, as (it is) both to be drunk and to be a drunkard? Now he who thinks this certain, it seems to me can have no friend; for, if it is base [not respectable] to believe anything, either he acts basely who believes a friend, or in nothing believing a friend I see not how he can call either him or himself a friend. Here perhaps you may say, I grant that we must believe something at some time; now make plain, how in the case of religion it be not base to believe before one knows. I will do so, if I can.

Wherefore I ask of you, which [do] you esteem the graver fault, to deliver religion to one unworthy, or to believe what is said by them who deliver it[?] If you understand not whom I call unworthy, I call him, who approaches with feigned breast [with phoney intent]. You grant, as I suppose, that it is more blamable to unfold unto such a [person] whatever holy secrets there are, than to believe religious men affirming anything on the matter of religion itself. For it would be unbecoming [of] you to make any other answer. Wherefore now suppose him present, who is about to deliver to you a religion, in what way shall you assure him, that you approach with a true mind [an open mind], and that, so far as this matter is concerned, there is in you no fraud or feigning? You will say, [to] your own good conscience that you are [in] no way feigning [pretending], asserting this with words as strong as you can, but yet [only] with words. For you cannot lay open man to man the hiding places of your soul, so that you may be thoroughly known.

But if he shall say, Lo, I believe you, but is it not more fair that you also believe me, when, if I hold any truth, you are about to receive, I about to give, a benefit? What will you answer, save that you must believe.

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