THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT
3 March 2013
Moses, the youthful outlaw from Egypt, found shelter and employment at Midian, and married one of the daughters of the mysterious priest of Midian, Jethro. The Midianites worshiped a single, universal God who, I believe, was Yahweh. God’s commissioning of Moses takes place in the area of a Midianite altar. I am among those who hold that Moses learned the worship of Yahweh from Jethro.
Our translation along with many others may not get right the name God announces is his. In the original Hebrew text, it is spelled without vowels, YHWH. No one knows for sure what the missing vowels were. Most translations, supply vowels and render the name as Yahweh, which has the advantage of being pronounceable. But the choice of vowels is guess work; consequently, the meaning of the name, if there was one, remains in doubt. Folk tradition holds that the name means “I am.” But some scholars think it means something like “He causes to be.”
First Corinthians 10:1-13.
Paul is addressing Greeks who have recently been baptized, warning them against self-indulgent sins. He tells them how his own people had survived the exodus from slavery in Egypt, had crossed the deserts, but had sinned among themselves and displeased God. They were struck down, dying before the forty-year journey came to an end. True, Exodus tells us that among those who began the exodus in Egypt only Joshua and Moses were still alive when they reached the Jordon and stood looking at the promised land. Moses was still leading a Jewish population, but these were men and women who had been born along the way. I think it is disingenuous for Paul to say that their parents had been struck down because of their sinfulness. They sinned, all right, building a golden calf to worship at Sinai, but God had forgiven that. The implication in Exodus is that they died of old age and natural causes. Be that as it may, Paul warns his listeners not to fall into self-indulgent behavior that displease God. They will be tested by God, who may send evils and temptations; so watch out!
The tradition that the water-giving rock trekked along after the Israelites on their long journey is not to be found in Scripture. Paul accepts this folk myth and interprets the rock as Christ. Paul was the first Christian theologian. In his theology, Christ existed prior to Jesus’s birth at Bethlehem.