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 Jehoia … like father like son

by davesandel on June 25th, 2020

Thursday, June 25, 2020                     (today’s lectionary)

Jehoia … like father like son

The history of Israel story moves quickly from father to son, from despot to despot, from mother to mother. There isn’t much mention of the mothers, except when they are despots too, like Jezebel. And those despot women rarely seem to have kids. Hollywood movies of these stories often highlight the beautiful wives, mothers too of course, but even then the women don’t get much shrift. They are set up as scenery along the way.

As the book of Kings slowly comes to an end, so does the kingdom of Judah. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed one challenge after another, and eventually destroyed Solomon’s temple as well. The people of Judah force-marched 600 miles from their country by the Mediterranean into the deserts of Babylon (50 miles south of today’s Baghdad in Iraq). Then they force-lived there  (“by the rivers of Babylon, where we sat down, and there we wept as we remembered Zion …”) for decades.

But this time is a watershed in Hebrew history. In Wikipedia a Israeli philosopher says “With the exile, the religion of Israel comes to an end and Judaism begins.” Jeremiah saw the exile as a lost opportunity. The final section of 2nd Kings portrays it as the temporary end of history. 2 Chronicles sees the exile in a brighter light, as the “Sabbath of the land.”

Babylon didn’t last long. Successfully seceding from Assyria (northern Iraq), this kingdom ruled by Nebuchadnezzar II followed Hammurabi after a thousand years, but then was conquered by Cyrus of Persia less than a hundred years after it began. Cyrus allowed the Israelities to return to Israel-by-the-Sea, a book of Torah was discovered, and the temple was rebuilt. Nebuchadnezzar must have been turning over in his grave.

But for now …

None were left among the people of the land except the poor.

The king of Babylon led captive

All the men of the army

And a thousand craftsmen and smiths.

For the glory of your name, O Lord,

Deliver us!

Others have stolen your inheritance

Given the corpses of your servants

To birds and beasts

Poured out our blood like water.

No one is even there to bury them!

God’s jealousy “burns like fire” against his chosen people. Their remorse is bitter fruit in the mouths of those left alive.

We are brought low

O help us, deliver us

Do not be angry forever

This is not complicated. Whoever loves me will keep my word.

And by the way, saying “Lord, Lord” does not necessarily constitute love.

I know, Lord, I know. I must DO something. Or at least DO NOT the really bad, idolatrous stuff. I look back at Judah, and I look around at Illinois … not much different, really. We maintain almost without noticing a routine arrogance of control. We do not look for guidance from God. I participate in this attitude, if only by my silence.

Deliver us

And pardon us from our sins

For your name’s sake, O God.

       (2 Kings 24, Psalm 79, John 14, Matthew 7)

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