Showing posts from July, 2011

The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 13 - 31 July 2011

The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 13 - 24 July 2011 Isaiah 55:1-5 Psalm 145:8-9, 15-22 Romans 9:1-5 St. Matthew 14:13-21

Background: The Northern Kingdom II The position of both Judah (South) and Israel (North) placed them right in the middle of the fortunes and aspirations of the empires that surrounded them.The most dominant power that threatened the situation in Israel was the Assyrian Empire, and its leader Shalmaneser III (858-824).His raids into the territory threatened Damascus, Tyre and Sidon, and even Egypt itself.It is during this period that we meet the prophets Elijah and Elisha who struggle with the incursion of other cults and cultures in Israel.A new king rules in Assyria (Adanirari III) from 810-783, and then Assyria sinks into a period of weakness from 783-745.Israel reestablishes itself under the King Joash (798-783) and the prophetic work of Amos (who is actually a citizen of Judah) and Hosea becomes active.The bloom is short lived, however.In 745, Tiglath Pilese…

The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 12 - 24 July 2011

The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 12 - 24 July 2011 I Kings 3:5-12 Psalm 119:129-136 Romans 8:26-39 St. Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Background: The Northern Kingdom I.
The Solomon that exists in our minds eye – wise, decisive, builder of the Temple – had another aspect to his kingship that made for the downfall of the empire built by his father David, and by his own efforts.  Like other ancient near eastern kings, Solomon had an extensive public works project, made possible by the curvée, a system of forced labor that enabled the construction of these facilities.  After Solomon’s death, the northern tribes asked his heir, Rehoboam (931-913) to lighten the load of the curvée.  His response was a resounding “no!” and as a result the tribes asked Jeroboam, a former high official of Solomon exiled in Egypt, to take the throne of the Northern Kingdom (Israel).  He agreed, and Rehoboam was left with only the tribe of Judah to rule.  Since the Temple at Jerusalem was the national temple of the …

The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 11 - 17 July 2011

The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 11 - 17 July 2011 Isaiah 44:6-8 Psalm 86:11-17 Romans 8:12-25 St. Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Background: The United Monarchy The next few background articles will attempt to familiarize you with the political entities that encompass most of the prophetic works of the Hebrew Scriptures.Today we will focus on the so-called “United Monarchy”.This period is preceded by the amphichtyony(a loose confederation of tribes) during which the Israelites were “ruled” by judges – ad hoc leaders that rose to points of national crisis and conflict.With the incursion of the “Sea Peoples” (read Phoenicians) and the on-going Canaanite city-states (read Philistines) increased pressure on the Israelites necessitated a new manner of governance.Four characters enter the scene at this point, Saul (ca. 1050) – appointed King of Israel and Judah, reigned for 40 years.Samuel appears around 1040 who prophecies on both sides of the question of whether or not to have a monarchy, and…