The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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May 9

Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.

Reading 1 - Deu 26

"This important law concerning tithes is brought before the ecclesia of Moses. It reinforced the wisdom of the Deity that He requires a return from that with which He blesses His people. It is only right that this be so. And the liberality of Yahweh is revealed in the fact that the tithe was only a tenth of the whole, as representative of all the divine blessings. Significantly, this chapter concludes the Mosaic Code, and completes the instruction. The tithe thus summarizes the believer's attitude towards his God.

"Moses speaks concerning (1) confession of dependence to be made when presenting the firstfruits: vv 1-11; (2) confession made when presenting tithes by the third year: vv 12-15; and (3) Moses' solemn admonition to observe these laws and statues: vv 16-19.

"The section shows Yahweh as the Giver of Good (Jam 1:17). The memorial Name of 'Yahweh thy Elohim' is used 299 times in Deuteronomy. It expresses a personal and exclusive relationship between Yahweh and Israel. This was expressed by the ritual of the tithing. Every Israelite had to individually avow that the inheritance he enjoyed was from Yahweh and not by personal merit. It thus proclaimed the doctrine of grace and gratitude, the offering in return thus being one of understanding and reason (Rom 12:1). In presenting his 'basket of firstfruits,' the worshipper pledged his life and service to Yahweh. And in presenting the tithes every three years, he had to publicly declare that he had withheld nothing that was Yahweh's due (v 14); and Yahweh, on the basis of that, invoked a blessing upon the people and the land" (Grahame Mansfield).

Reading 2 - Song 6:12

"Before I realized it, my desire set me among the royal chariots of my people [Or, among the chariots of the people of the prince]" (Song 6:12).

These phrases have been repointed and retranslated and reinterpreted in many ways; the meaning is uncertain. As it stands, it appears the bride of the shepherd is swept off her feet... to find herself riding in one of the King/General's war-chariots.

One interpretation of the whole is this: she who had been seeking her lover, the simple shepherd, suddenly and surprisingly finds herself in the company of a great king and leader of the army -- who IS her shepherd-lover! He has had, in effect, a dual identity! Perhaps this whole Song is intended to emphasize this point, among others: that the Good Shepherd with whom we fell in love, who loved us and laid down his life for us, will be found -- at the last -- to be as well the great King and Ruler of the World. The loving "husband" will also be the victorious "general" and all-powerful monarch: 'Here, my Beloved, is the wedding present I bring to you: all the nations of the earth! Our inheritance!"

Notice also the conjoining of these two disparate figures in the last book of the Bible: the bride/marriage/love figure and the general/war/battle/victory figure (Rev 19-21). Our Lord is both the "lamb" slain from the foundation of the world -- and the great "lion of the tribe of Judah"! Surely this is intended to evoke an echo of the surprise of the young woman in the Song of Songs!

Reading 3 - Acts 21:17

"When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers received us warmly. The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present. Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry" (Acts 21:17-19).

Since he had last "greeted the ecclesia" at Jerusalem (Act 18:22), Paul had:

all in the face of bitter opposition and violence!

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