Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Bible Study (cont.)
Pastor Peters remarks on the image of Jerusalem coming so close on the heels of Jesus' lament last Sunday, and I agree. The texts seem to be lingering there.
Here is my synopsis of the intro to Isaiah 55:1-9 from the Jewish Study Bible, with a little of Mags thrown in for good measure:
They call our passage (actually, all the way to verse 13) "An invitation to redemption." This passage differs from other deutero-Isaiah stuff that precedes it because it is moving away from language specifically about the return from exile, and towards broader terms that are less anchored in the specific historical situation. This tendency increases the further one reads in Isaiah. Also they note the appeal for repentance, which is less common in early deutero-Isaiah and more common as the book goes on.
1-5 God's invitation. Unclear as to whether this is directed specifically towards Judeans, or towards anyone who wants to recognize the one God.
OK, drum roll please, and I quote: Water, understood by rabbinic commentators as a metaphor for Torah.
Um, how did I get to be as old as I am and not know that?
"The enduring loyalty promised to David" (or, "my steadfast, sure love for David"-- NRSV) is extended to the whole Judean nation. All the people will have royal status.
6-7 A call to repentance. (This is Mags, not JPS: this section is recommended as a morning canticle during Lent in the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship. FWIW.)
8-11 The trustworthiness of God's words. Unfortunately our lectionary cuts this section off at the knees before another beautiful water metaphor returns. Here are the last two verses of our passage plus the two missing ones that complete the thought:
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Here is where, IMO, the idea of Torah as water comes full circle: as the rain and snow come to earth and bring forth life, so shall God's words... they will make all sorts of things grow.
I think I'll be reading through verse 11.
Photo courtesy of Cayusa and Flickr.