9/7 Reading (Song of Songs 7-8; Matthew 5-6)

Song of Songs 7: WOW! Now this chapter is where things get interesting. A friend of mine made a comment several months ago that there was references to all sorts of sexual acts in this book, including oral sex. And yep, here it is. The man first describes the woman’s body in a similar fashion to how he did in earlier chapters. Of course this focuses on her entire body.

Just as a side note, here’s a blog post about this book and the sexuality in it: http://omgcenter.com/2012/10/17/the-sultry-song-of-solomon/

They end with the woman inviting the man to join her in the field for them to make love.

Here’s a screenshot of one of the sidebars from page 1087 OT. Always like these.

IMG_0568
Song of Songs 8: Just as the reference to sister happened in chapter 4, here we see the woman wish that the man was like her brother so they could be close, embrace, and kiss in the streets. Clearly they aren’t married. Also, I must’ve missed all the references to pomegranate throughout this book, which apparently is a reference to the woman’s vagina. Well ok.

Matthew 5: Here we get to the start of the sermon on the Mount. I read this chapter on March 8th and reflected there. Curious as to what I’ll notice this time versus 6 months ago.

The start of this chapter are the beatitudes. The CEB version uses the phrase “Happy are” and the NRSV uses “Blessed are.” Here they are from the CEB version:

3 “Happy are people who are hopeless, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
4 “Happy are people who grieve, because they will be made glad.
5 “Happy are people who are humble, because they will inherit the earth.
6 “Happy are people who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because they will be fed until they are full.
7 “Happy are people who show mercy, because they will receive mercy.
8 “Happy are people who have pure hearts, because they will see God.
9 “Happy are people who make peace, because they will be called God’s children.
10 “Happy are people whose lives are harassed because they are righteous, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
11 “Happy are you when people insult you and harass you and speak all kinds of bad and false things about you, all because of me. 12 Be full of joy and be glad, because you have a great reward in heaven. In the same way, people harassed the prophets who came before you.

I like what the notes say in the CEB version about this part:

In using the translation happy, the CEB is emphasizing the flourishing, contentment, and well-being of the persons described in Matthew 5:3-12. Jesus’ words may seem strange, though, since he regards as “happy people” those who are usually regarded as troubled or unfortunate. Located at the beginning of Jesus’ first major sermon, this alerts us to the topsy-turvy nature of Jesus’ teaching. It shoes us who experiences well-being and contentment under God’s rule rather than according to normal social conventions. In this way, each of these statements declares as happy people those ordinarily regarded as living miserable lives and provides them with an assurance in the form of a promise. Verses 3-10 form a self-contained unit, sharing the same literary pattern of a pronouncement of happiness followed by the reason. The last pronouncement (11-12) breaks this pattern and stands on its own.

Jesus now shifts into discussion of the law. The introduction section is pretty powerful. He makes it clear that he hasn’t come to do away with the law but to fulfill the law. He warns others that they must follow all of the laws or they will not be in the kingdom of heaven. That’s actually pretty harsh. If it honestly worked this way, then a large percentage of people who are believers would not end up in heaven. Here are the laws he addresses:

  • Law of murder – don’t kill people (pretty easy to follow). He goes further to say that it’s important not to hate others but to make amends.
  • Law of adultery – don’t cheat on your spouse. Jesus goes further and argues that lusting after a person who is not your spouse, even if you don’t act, is still adultery.
  • Law of divorce – Jesus argues against what was said about divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1. That text argued that a man could divorce his wife for any reason. Jesus said that a man could only divorce his wife when she commits sexual unfaithfulness. I know many marriages that have ended for other reasons. If it truly worked this way, they would be out of luck. This is one of those times that I seriously question if it really does work this way.
  • Law of solemn pledges – Jesus argues against making any pledges to do things. Instead just say yes or no.
  • Law of retaliation – Jesus argues against the “eye for an eye” claim from the OT. This is where he tells us to turn the other check when someone slap us. He’s arguing for more righteousness amongst his followers.
  • Law of love – Here he argues against the notion of hating your enemies. Instead he tells his followers to love their enemies just as God loves all people. This is interesting because I just got into a Twitter debate with someone yesterday who used the hashtag “Christianityishatred.” He argued that Christianity only promotes hatred. It was an interesting back and forth. I should probably take screenshots and put it in a Google Photos folder. We shall see.

Here’s a cool sidebar in Matthew 5 in the CEB (p. 14 NT):

IMG_0572

Matthew 6: I read this first time on March 9. This chapter continues with Jesus laying out how people should live their lives:

  • Showy religion – Don’t show off your religion to get attention. Don’t purposely draw attention to yourself when you give to those in need.
  • Showy prayer – it’s better to pray in private than in front of others as a way to draw attention to yourself.
  • Proper prayer – This part introduces the Lord’s prayer. It’s the beginning of this part that I find intriguing: “When you pray, don’t pour out a flood of empty words, as the Gentiles do. They think that by saying many words they’ll be heard. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows what you need before you ask.” I want to explore this further because of the negative comment about the Gentiles. I need to explore more about the author and his views on Gentiles, especially since this was most likely (I think) written after some of Paul’s letters. And as I remember, Paul worked with the Gentiles.
  • Showy fasting – It’s better to fast in secret than in front of others.
  • Earthly and heavenly treasures – Stop trying to collect and gain so much wealth as that isn’t important. I know that I sometimes wish we had more to be more comfortable, but this directly flies in the face of what seems to be going on in the US.
  • Seeing and serving – This section is interesting. Jesus talks about how the eye is the “lamp of the body” and as long as it is healthy then our entire body will be full of light. But if it isn’t healthy, then we will be full of darkness. He then says this: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” BOOM! Another admonishment of wealth.
  • Worry about necessities – Jesus warns the people not to worry about their next meal, their next drink, or even tomorrow because God will provide. Here we see another negative reference to Gentiles. After Jesus calls them “people of weak faith,” he says the following: “Therefore, don’t worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ Gentiles long for all these things.” Again, need to read more about the author of Matthew.

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