Thursday, September 12, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: 2 Chronicles 22-23 and Augustine's Treatise on Profit of Believing 25

2 Chronicles 22 – The citizens of Jerusalem make Jehoram’s youngest son the next king of Judah; here the name given for that son is Ahaziah. He was 22 when he began his reign, but reigned only one year. He also was bad—his mother was Athaliah, granddaughter of Omri and she encouraged him to do bad things.

Ahaziah joins with the Isareli king, Joram, son of Ahab, in his war against King Hazael of Aram at Ramoth-gilead. When Joram is wounded in the battle, Ahaziah goes to visit him.

When he is there, they both go out to meet Jehu, son Jehoshaphat and grandson of Nimshi “whom the Lord and had anointed to destroy the dynasty of Ahab” (22:7). Jehu had the support of the prophetic party represented by Elisha. He founds the fourth dynasty of Israel according to Asimov’s Guide to the Bible, 365. Jehu kills Joram (of Israel) but also Ahaziah.
When Athaliah, King Ahaziah’s mother, sees that her son is dead, she sets about “to destroy all the royal family of the house of Judah. But Jehosheba, Ahaziah’s sister, takes his infant son Joash, and steals him away from the rest of the king’s children, who were about to be killed (22:11).

This daughter—sister of Ahaziah and daughter of Jehoram—is the wife of the priest Jehoiada. They hide him while Athaliah rules over the land for six years.

2 Chronicles 23 – But in the seventh year, Jehoiada enters into pact with certain influential military commanders and together they go through Judah, gather the Levites and heads of families of Israel, and bring them to Jerusalem.  “They all gathered at the Temple of God, where they made a solemn pact with Joash, the young king. They agree that the time has come for him to reign. The Lord has promised that a descendant of David will be our king” (23:3).

They divide themselves up into guards to protect the young king. They use David’s spears that are stored in the temple and “set all the people as a guard for the king, everyone with weapon in hand, from the south side of the house to the north side of the house, around the altar and the house. Then he brought out the king’s son, put the crown on him, and gave him the covenant; they proclaimed him king, and Jehoiada and his sons anointed him; and they shouted, ‘Long live the king!’” (23:10-11)

When Athaliah hears all this, she runs to the temple and sees the whole scene. She “tore her clothes in despair and shouted, ‘Treason! Treason!’” (23:13)

Jehoiada brings out the army captains and tells them to take her out and that “anyone who tries to rescue her is to be put to the sword” (23:14). She cannot be killed in the temple, but she is brought to the entrance of the Horse Gate of the king’s house and put to death (23:15).
“Jehoiada made a covenant between himself and all the people and the king that they should be the Lord’s people” (23:16). Then the people go and tear down the house of Baal; they kill Mattan, the priest of Baal, in front of his altars. Jehoiada assigns care of the house of the Lord to the levitical priests organized by David. He stations gatekeepers to prevent anyone unclean from entering the temple and he takes the captains, nobles, governors and people to bring the king down from the temple to the king’s house and the throne. He is the 9th king of the Davidic dynasty according to Asimov, 367.

Augustine’s Treatise on the Profit of Believing
25 - Wherefore it now remains to consider, in what manner we ought not to follow these, who profess that they will lead by reason. For how we may without fault follow those who bid us to believe, has been already said: but unto these who make promises of reason certain think that they come, not only without blame, but also with some praise: but it is not so.

For there are two (classes of) persons, praiseworthy in religion; one of those who have already found, whom also we must needs judge most blessed; another of those who are seeking with all earnestness and in the right way. The first, therefore, are already in very possession, the other on the way, yet on that way whereby they are most sure to arrive.

There are three other kinds of men altogether to be disapproved of and detested. One is of those who hold an opinion, that is, of those who think that they know what they know not. Another is of those who are indeed aware that they know not, but do not so seek as to be able to find. A third is of those who neither think that they know, nor wish to seek. There are also three things, as it were bordering upon one another, in the minds of men well worth distinguishing; understanding, belief, opinion. And, if these be considered by themselves, the first is always without fault, the second sometimes with fault, the third never without fault.

For the understanding of matters great, and honorable, and even divine, is most blessed. But the understanding of things unnecessary is no injury; but perhaps the learning was an injury, in that it took up the time of necessary matters. But on the matters themselves that are injurious, it is not the understanding, but the doing or suffering them, that is wretched. For not, in case any understand how an enemy may be slain without danger to himself, is he guilty from the mere understanding, not the wish; and, if the wish be absent, what can be called more innocent?

But belief is then worthy of blame, when either any thing is believed of God which is unworthy of Him, or any thing is over-easily believed of man. But in all other matters if any believe anything, provided he understand that he knows it not, there is no fault. For I believe that very wicked conspirators were formerly put to death by the virtue of Cicero; but this I not only know not, but also I know for certain that I can by no means know.

But opinion is on two accounts very base; in that both he who has persuaded himself that he already knows, cannot learn; provided only it may be learned; and in itself rashness is a sign of a mind not well disposed. For even if any suppose that he know what I said of Cicero, (although it be no hindrance to him from learning, in that the matter itself is incapable of being grasped by any knowledge;) yet, (in that he understands not that there is a great difference, whether any thing be grasped by sure reason of mind, which we call understanding, or whether for practical purposes it be entrusted to common fame or writing, for posterity to believe it,) he assuredly errs, and no error is without what is base.

What then we understand, we owe to reason; what we believe, to authority; what we have an opinion on, to error. But every one who understands also believes, and also every one who has an opinion believes; not every one who believes understands, no one who has an opinion understands. Therefore if these three things be referred unto the five kinds of [people], which we mentioned a little above; that is, two kinds to be approved, which we set first, and three that remain faulty; we find that the first kind, that of the blessed, believe the truth itself; but the second kind, that of such as are earnest after, and lovers of, the truth, believe authority. In which kinds, of the two, the act of belief is praiseworthy. But in the first of the faulty kinds, that is, of those who have an opinion that they know what they know not, there is an altogether faulty credulity. The other two kinds that are to be disapproved believe nothing, both they who seek the truth despairing of finding it, and they who seek it not at all. And this only in matters which pertain unto any system of teaching.

For in the other business of life, I am utterly ignorant by what means a man can believe nothing. Although in the case of those also they who say that in practical matters they follow probabilities, would seem rather to be unable to know than unable to believe. For who believes not what he approves? or how is what they follow probable, if it be not approved? Wherefore there may be two kinds of such as oppose the truth: one of those who assail knowledge alone, not faith; the other of those who condemn both: and yet again, I am ignorant whether these can be found in matters of human life. These things have been said, in order that we might understand, that, in retaining faith, even of those things which as yet we comprehend not, we are set free from the rashness of such as have an opinion. For they, who say that we are to believe nothing but what we know, are on their guard against that one name "opining," which must be confessed to be base and very wretched, but, if they consider carefully that there is a very great difference, whether one think that he knows, or moved by some authority believe that which he understands that he knows not, surely he will escape the charge of error, and inhumanity, and pride.

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