Thursday, June 12, 2008

And the walls came tumblin' down

Today the Office of Readings is the fall of Jericho; a remarkable chronicle of God's victory and, as the second reading shows is, a marvelous prefigurement of the redemption in Jesus Christ.

contined within it is also a little lesson for those who thing the bible to be a simple book to understand:

"Now shout, for the LORD has given you the city and everything in it. It is under the LORD'S ban. Only the harlot Rahab and all who are in the house with her are to be spared, because she hid the messengers we sent. But be careful not to take, in your greed, anything that is under the ban; else you will bring upon the camp of Israel this ban and the misery of it. All silver and gold, and the articles of bronze or iron, are sacred to the LORD. They shall be put in the treasury of the LORD." As the horns blew, the people began to shout. When they heard the signal horn, they raised a tremendous shout. The wall collapsed, and the people stormed the city in a frontal attack and took it. They observed the ban by putting to the sword all living creatures in the city: men and women, young and old, as well as oxen, sheep and asses. Joshua directed the two men who had spied out the land, "Go into the harlot's house and bring out the woman with all her kin, as you swore to her you would do." The spies entered and brought out Rahab, with her father, mother, brothers, and all her kin. Her entire family they led forth and placed them outside the camp of Israel.
Joshua 6:16-23

Did you catch that?
Spare Rahab and her family;
All living creatures put to the sword (and killed);
Rahab and her family are brought out.

Now, the lesson here is that the biblical language does not use the word "All" in the same way we do; to us, "all living creature" would mean "every single living creature." Yet, clearly, if it meant this, then we would have a contradiction beyond solving, because Rahab and her family would be dead. No, rather, the biblical sense of "all" is different than ours; all means not each and every one, but one or more of each and every kind.

Hat tip to St. Augustine.

Sometime I picture God, the primary author of the Holy Scriptures, saying: "I don't get no respect."

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