Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 1Ki 15:17
"Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and fortified
Ramah to prevent anyone from leaving or entering the territory of Asa king of
Judah" (1Ki 15:17).
"We read of a very early king of Israel, Baasha, making his
iron curtain. He fortified the border, 'that he might not suffer any to go out
or come in to Asa, king of Judah' (1Ki 15:17).
"Why did he do that? Other books of the Old Testament supply
the answer. Like the builders of the Berlin wall he was not concerned about
keeping an enemy out, but with keeping his own people in. All the God-fearing
people in the idolatrous north wanted to emigrate to the south, where the Temple
in Jerusalem kept true worship alive.
"Baasha's iron curtain was inefficient. He lacked the barbed
wire and minefields beloved of modern dictators. The Second Book of Chronicles
tells us that when good king Asa purged all the idols out of the Kingdom of
Judah, this was the result: 'He gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and them that
sojourned with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh and out of Simeon. For they fell
to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the Lord his God was with
him' (2Ch 15:9)" (Alan Hayward, "God's Truth" ch 10).
Reading 2 - Jer 41:16-18
"Then Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were
with him led away all the survivors from Mizpah whom he had recovered from
Ishmael son of Nethaniah after he had assassinated Gedaliah son of Ahikam: the
soldiers, women, children and court officials he had brought from Gibeon. And
they went on, stopping at Geruth Kimham near Bethlehem on their way to Egypt to
escape the Babylonians" (Jer 41:16-18).
"Geruth Kimham" is literally "the residence of Chimham". What
is the point of this? JJ Blunt, in his book, "Undesigned Scriptural
Coincidences", suggests the following, which connects this incident with one in
the days of David and the rebellion of Absalom:
"David having won the battle, and recovered his throne,
prepares to repass the Jordan, and return once more to his capital. His friends
again congregate around him, for the prosperous have many friends. Amongst them,
however, were some who had been true to him in the day of his adversity; and the
aged Barzillai, a Gileadite, who had provided the king with sustenance whilst he
lay at Mahanaim, and when his affairs were critical, presents himself before
him. He had won David's heart. The king now entreats him to accompany him to his
court, 'Come thou over with me, and I will feed thee with me in Jerusalem' [2Sa
19:23]. But the unambitious Barzillai pleads fourscore years as a bar against
beginning the life of a courtier, and chooses rather to die in his own city, and
be buried by the grave of his father and of his mother. His son, however, had
life before him: 'Behold thy servant Chimham; let him go over with my lord the
king; and do to him what shall seem good unto thee. And the king answered,
Chimham shall go over with me, and I will do to him that which shall seem good
unto thee' (2Sa 19:37). So he went with the king. Thus begins, and thus ends,
the history of Chimham; he passes away from the scene, and what David did for
him, or whether he did anything for him, beyond providing him a place at his
table, and recommending him, in common with many others, to Solomon before he
died, does not appear. Singular, however, it is, and if ever there was a
coincidence which carried with it the stamp of truth, it is this, that in Jer
41, an historical chapter, in which an account is given of the murder of
Gedaliah, the officer whom Nebuchadnezzar had left in charge of Judea, as its
governor, when he carried away the more wealthy of its inhabitants captive to
Babylon, we read that the Jews, fearing for the consequences of this bloody act,
and apprehending the vengeance of the Chaldeans, prepared for a flight into
Egypt, so 'they departed,' the narrative continues, 'and dwelt in the habitation
of Chimham, which is by Bethlehem, to go to enter into Egypt' (Jer 41:17). It is
impossible to imagine anything more incidental than the mention of this estate
near Bethlehem, which was the habitation of Chimham -- yet how well does it
tally with the spirit of David's speech to Barzillai, some four hundred years
before! for what can be more probable, than that David, whose birthplace was
this very Bethlehem, and whose patrimony in consequence lay there, having
undertaken to provide for Chimham, should have bestowed it in whole, or in part,
as the most flattering reward he could confer, a personal, as well as a royal,
mark of favour, on the son of the man who had saved his life, and the lives of
his followers in the hour of their distress; and that, to that very day, when
Jeremiah wrote, it should have remained in the possession of the family of
Chimham, and have been a land called after his own name?" (USC).
Reading 3 - Mar 15:22
"They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means
The Place of the Skull)" (Mar 15:22).
What do we know about the site of the tomb?
It was rock-hewn (Mar 15:46).
"In the place" (Joh 19:46), "near at
hand" (Mar 15:42).
A private garden belonging to a rich man (Mat
The traditional site, where the "Church of the Holy Sepulchre"
is located today, was probably inside the city walls at that time, and thus
disqualified... for Jesus was crucified outside the city.
Another possibility, "Gordon's Tomb", was discovered in 1867
-- north of the old city, near the Damascus Gate, under a hill somewhat
resembling a skull. (An English explorer named Gordon discovered and excavated
this tomb.) The entire area was found to be honeycombed with tombs dating to
first century. One tomb nearby bore the inscription: "Buried near my
The sepulchre is in what was obviously once a garden -- a
small level yard with a few fruit trees and plants. At the north end is a high
perpendicular wall. There is an opening with a runway suitable for a rock wheel,
and a burial room about 10 feet square.
Golgotha signifies "skull", from the Hebrew "galal" = circle
(cp Galilee). Most likely, then, it was this hill north of Jerusalem, on the
Damascus Road, where criminals were executed. To it was attached the name of
it was the place of death,
shaped like a skull, with recesses for
eyes, mouth, etc,
and perhaps the site where Adam died [it is an ancient
tradition that Adam died at what later became Jerusalem]; and
site of the burial of Goliath's head/skull.
If the ancient tradition is correct, that Golgotha derived its
name from being the burial place of Adam... then here, supposedly, was laid to
rest the skull of the first Adam; and here, also, the last Adam came to restore
that which his predecessor lost.
A more likely supposition, however, is that Golgotha was the
site of the burial of the skull of Goliath (1Sa 17:54). Thus Christ, in his
death, figuratively bruised the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15) just where David
buried the head of the Philistine, the "man of sin".