Biblical Studies

Members of any race, nation, gender or social condition

Commenting on Isaiah 56:3-8, which talks about the inclusion of foreigners and eunuchs among God’s people, foreigners and eunuchs, that is, who keep the Sabbath and the covenant, Walter Brueggemann notes that:

the community welcomes members of any race or nation, any gender or social condition, so long as that person is defined by justice, mercy, and compassion, and not competition, achievement, production, or acquisition. (Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to a Culture of Now)

Quite so! Brueggemann is also right, it seems to me, to suggest that this ‘stance of generous inclusiveness’ is a direct contradiction of the Mosaic rules in Deuteronomy 23:1-8. Isaiah’s words are an example of prophetic critique of Israel’s ancient traditions, the kind of critique that Jesus was to continue some centuries later.

Biblical Studies

The gifts of sun and moon, of ancient mountains and eternal hills

I pray that his land is blessed by God:
with heaven’s gifts from above,
with the deep waters stretching out underneath;
with the gifts produced by the sun,
with the gifts generated by the moon;
with the best fruit from ancient mountains,
with the gifts of eternal hills;
with the gifts of the earth and all that fills it …

Deuteronomy 33:13-16 (Common English Bible)

This, it seems to me, is the way to see our world. If we saw it like that, perhaps we would stop exploiting it in such a mindless way. We are dependent upon these gifts, but they are gifts and need to be treated as such.