Saturday, February 23, 2013

Silver and Gold

1 Maccabees 1:24-28, NRSV.
23. He took the silver and the gold, and the costly vessels; he took also the hidden treasures that he found.

24. Taking them all, he went into his own land. He shed much blood, and spoke with great arrogance. 

25. Israel mourned deeply in every community,

26. Rulers and elders groaned, young women and young men became faint, the beauty of the woman faded.

27. Every bridegroom took up the lament; she who sat in the bridal chamber was mourning.

28. Even the land trembled for its inhabitants, and all the house of Jacob was clothed in shame.
What I found interesting about this was a footnote in the NRSV (edited by Bruce Metzger). This footnote was on pg188, regarding this entire quoted section. It reads, "fragment of a contemporary poem." In this we find multiple key words that are found throughout the OT.

'Shame' fits in with Daniel 12:2 and is seen as a national tragedy, not an eschatological one. Thus, in this one instance, it would strike me as odd to argue that 'shame' is synonymous with final punishment (and many traditionalists are apt to do) when a nationalistic shame is far more tangible within context. The Jews didn't seem obsessed with the afterlife for a few reasons. One, this life was seen as intrinsically valuable. Note how many years one is said to have, and how this is considered a "full life." Two, generations are used to symbolize lineage and honor, and one who brings shame is considered obviously shameful not to themselves but to the community. This ties into the corporate whole that Israel viewed itself.

Even in this tragedy, we see the longing of Israel and the pain brought upon her head.


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