Day 5: Gen 13-15; Psalm 5; Matthew 5

Grateful today for all those people who probably simultaneously back in the fifteenth century invented the bookmark! Today for the first time since January when I picked up that virus and then had that heart attack, I feel well enough to resume my challenge to myself to read the Bible in a year, not that I will actually accomplish that. I missed that mark but who can foresee a heart attack, eh?

So here’s Abram. Sarai, Lot, et al back from Egypt with all their great wealth, silver, gold, and livestock. Not to mention who knows how many people. We are told in chapter 12 that Abram as 75 years old when he hiked on out of Ur of the Chaldees for the Land of Canaan (and probably setting off the hostilities that plague the Levant to this day what with tribal memories being long). Wonder how old they were in the events of chapter 13 when Abram and Lot decide to go their separate ways.

Must confess, at this point the plot seems a bit contrived to me. After all, the bunch of them and their livestock and herders all got along on the trip from Ur to Canaan, in Canaan, to Egypt, in Egypt, back from Egypt and now suddenly they don’t? All of a sudden there is contention and for the sake of convivial family relations it is best to split up and go their separate ways? With Lot conveniently choosing the cities of the Plain. Not to mention a bit of foreshadowing what with telling us that the people of Sodom are great sinners against the Lord, wicked people.

Of course, it is after Lot moves along that the Lord tells Abram how his offspring will be as uncountable as the dust of the earth. The Lord commands Abram to walk the breadth of the land and the Lord will give it to Abram and Abram builds another altar.

Here’s a link to Abram’s wanderings. He did get around:

Continuing with Gen 13…

You may recall that I am also reading a rabbinic commentary which explains the problems between Abram’s and Lot’s way. He points out the reference to the Canaanites and the Perizzites living in the land that the these two groups took turns using that particular land but that Abram and Lot were trying to use it both at the same time. Tough luck for the Canaanites and the Perizzites, I guess.

Another explanation is that Lot’s people, and Lot, were just plain wicked, cheating Abram, and that when Lot chose the cities of the Plain it was a rejection not only of Abram but also of his God and an embrace of the evil of the cities of the Plain.

The evil is explained by the extreme wealth that God had given these cities. They shut themselves up so that no could rob them. They also gave “contrary judgements” in court. This bit is too complicated to sum up but quite interesting reading.

The commentary makes a curious point about verse 14. It says it teaches us that the Lord did not speak to Abram while Lot was with Abram. Except that Lord seems to have spoken to Abram in Chap12:7 and Lot was around then.

Chapter 14: I always forget about that war because I am always so fascinated by Melchizedek, King of Salem, and what appears to be a Eucharist. Also he is the first person called a priest in Genesis. The rabbinic commentary says he is also the son of Shem the son of Noah. The commentary also says that God was displeased with Melchizedek and defrocked Melchizedek because he blessed Abram first and God second. Although how they know that I can’t figure out, unless it is because we never hear about Melchizedek in Genesis again.

Chapter 15 I’ve always wondered why Eliezer of Damascus, of whom we have heard not a mention until now, was Abram’s heir and not Lot, who was Abram’s nephew. Then there is that nasty sacrifice. And is that a coma Abram falls into? Is this whole chapter taking place in a vision in Abram’s coma? And in vs 17 what are “these pieces” that then smoking pot and the flaming torch passes between?
Psalm 5: One of the Psalms of David and I Know how he feels. Wanting God to hear him, wanting to know that God is listening. Yeah, I can definitely relate to that.

vs 5: I am not so sure about that… It does seems very much as if the boastful do indeed stand. And based on available evidence, it does not look as if God destroys all who speak lies. Would there be any politicians left? Or any human beings? Because surely all of us have uttered at least one lie in our lives?

vs7: The NRSV expresses it “but I, through an abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house.” I like that. God’s love invites me, God wants me.

vs8: I am often confused by other people, their expectations and often their seemingly malicious way of speaking to me. Do they mean to be malicious? Or am I interpreting it that way through the filter of my own issues? If so, dear Lord, you lead me, you show me the right way to go.

Vs11-12 Gotta remember this. Gotta remember this.

Matthew 5:

Vs1: It’s an odd thing… I have somehow always pictured Matthew 5 addressed to a crowd. Jesus on a mountain addressing a crowd. What have I been reading? Because it says Jesus saw the crowd, went up the mountain, the disciples came to him and he taught them. So the antecedent to the pronoun “them” is clearly “the disciples.” Sheesh, Gloriamarie, and you think you can read!

I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel as if I have spent all of my adult Christian life trying to understand what the Sermon on the Mount means and how to live it out. How to be the kind of person described by Jesus. After all, I tell myself constantly, what is the point of saying I am a Christian if I am not willing to be shaped by these verses?

I firmly believe that when I was conceived, God had a very specific idea of the person God created me to be. It is my vocation to be that person and somehow living these verses bring me closer to God’s idea.

Of course, living these verses is, to use a hackneyed expression, as counter-cultural as it gets. My employers constantly realized I did not share their values and was not motivated by the things that motivated them. I read these verses over and over, use them for Lectio Divina, pray over them as I pray the Daily Office in the Prayerbook or meditate upon the daily readings in the Rule of St. Benedict so that these words, all of the, get into my mind, spirit, imagination and take over. Maybe create their own neural pathways in my brain so that I think and act differently than ever before

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