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2 Kings 18-19 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

XI. The End of Judah[a]

Chapter 18

Reign of Hezekiah. In the third year of Hoshea, son of Elah, king of Israel, Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, king of Judah, became king. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi, daughter of Zechariah.

He did what was right in the Lord’s sight, just as David his father had done. It was he who removed the high places, shattered the pillars, cut down the asherah,[b] and smashed the bronze serpent Moses had made, because up to that time the Israelites were burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.) He put his trust in the Lord, the God of Israel; and neither before nor after him was there anyone like him among all the kings of Judah. Hezekiah held fast to the Lord and never turned away from following him, but observed the commandments the Lord had given Moses. The Lord was with him, and he succeeded in all he set out to do. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. It was he who struck the Philistines as far as Gaza, and all its territory from guard post to garrisoned town.

[c]In the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea, son of Elah, king of Israel, Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, attacked Samaria and laid siege to it, 10 and after three years they captured it. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, the ninth year of Hoshea, king of Israel, Samaria was taken. 11 The king of Assyria then deported the Israelites to Assyria and led them off to Halah, and the Habor, a river of Gozan, and the cities of the Medes. 12 This happened because they did not obey the Lord, their God, but violated his covenant; they did not obey nor do all that Moses, the servant of the Lord, commanded.

Sennacherib and Hezekiah. 13 [d]In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib, king of Assyria,[e] attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. 14 Hezekiah, king of Judah, sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong. Leave me, and whatever you impose on me I will bear.” The king of Assyria exacted three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold from Hezekiah, king of Judah. 15 Hezekiah gave him all the funds there were in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king’s house. 16 At the same time, Hezekiah removed the nave doors and the uprights of the house of the Lord, which the king of Judah had ordered to be overlaid with gold, and gave them to the king of Assyria.

17 The king of Assyria sent the general, the lord chamberlain, and the commander[f] from Lachish with a great army to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. They went up and came to Jerusalem, to the conduit of the upper pool on the highway of the fuller’s field, where they took their stand. 18 They called for the king, but Eliakim, son of Hilkiah, the master of the palace, came out, along with Shebnah the scribe and the chancellor Joah, son of Asaph.

19 The commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you base this trust of yours? 20 Do you think mere words substitute for strategy and might in war? In whom, then, do you place your trust, that you rebel against me? 21 Do you trust in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which pierces the hand of anyone who leans on it? That is what Pharaoh, king of Egypt, is to all who trust in him. 22 Or do you people say to me, “It is in the Lord our God we trust!”? Is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, commanding Judah and Jerusalem, “Worship before this altar in Jerusalem”?’

23 “Now, make a wager with my lord, the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses if you are able to put riders on them. 24 How then can you turn back even a captain, one of the least servants of my lord, trusting, as you do, in Egypt for chariots and horses? 25 Did I come up to destroy this place without the Lord? The Lord himself said to me: Go up and destroy that land!”

26 Then Eliakim, son of Hilkiah, and Shebnah and Joah said to the commander: “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic; we understand it. Do not speak to us in the language of Judah within earshot of the people who are on the wall.” 27 But the commander replied: “Was it to your lord and to you that my lord sent me to speak these words? Was it not rather to those sitting on the wall, who, with you, will have to eat their own excrement and drink their urine?”[g]

28 Then the commander stepped forward and cried out in a loud voice in the language of Judah, “Listen to the words of the great king, the king of Assyria. 29 Thus says the king: Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he cannot rescue you from my hand. 30 And do not let Hezekiah induce you to trust in the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord will surely rescue us, and this city will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.’ 31 Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria: Make peace with me, and surrender to me! Eat, each of you, from your vine, each from your own fig tree. Drink water, each from your own well, 32 until I arrive and take you to a land like your own, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of rich olives and honey. Live, and do not die! And do not listen to Hezekiah when he would incite you by saying, ‘The Lord will rescue us.’ 33 Has any of the gods of the nations ever rescued his land from the power of the king of Assyria? 34 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Did they indeed rescue Samaria from my power?[h] 35 Which of the gods for all these lands ever rescued his land from my power? Will the Lord then rescue Jerusalem from my power?” 36 But the people remained silent and did not answer at all, for the king’s command was, “Do not answer him.”

37 Then the master of the palace, Eliakim, son of Hilkiah, Shebnah the scribe, and the chancellor Joah, son of Asaph, came to Hezekiah with their garments torn, and reported to him the words of the commander.

Chapter 19

Hezekiah and Isaiah. When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his garments, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. He sent Eliakim, the master of the palace, Shebnah the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to tell the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, “Thus says Hezekiah:

A day of distress and rebuke,
    a day of disgrace is this day!
Children are due to come forth,
    but the strength to give birth is lacking.[i]

Perhaps the Lord, your God, will hear all the words of the commander, whom his lord, the king of Assyria, sent to taunt the living God, and will rebuke him for the words which the Lord, your God, has heard. So lift up a prayer for the remnant that is here.” When the servants of King Hezekiah had come to Isaiah, he said to them, “Tell this to your lord: Thus says the Lord: Do not be frightened by the words you have heard, by which the deputies of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. I am putting in him such a spirit that when he hears a report he will return to his land. I will make him fall by the sword in his land.”

When the commander, on his return, heard that the king of Assyria had withdrawn from Lachish, he found him besieging Libnah.

Sennacherib, Hezekiah, and Isaiah. The king of Assyria heard a report: “Tirhakah, king of Ethiopia, has come out to fight against you.” Again he sent messengers to Hezekiah to say: 10 “Thus shall you say to Hezekiah, king of Judah: Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by saying, ‘Jerusalem will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.’ 11 You, certainly, have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands: they put them under the ban! And are you to be rescued? 12 Did the gods of the nations whom my fathers destroyed deliver them—Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, or the Edenites in Telassar? 13 Where are the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, or the kings of the cities Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah?”

14 Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; then he went up to the house of the Lord, and spreading it out before the Lord, 15 Hezekiah prayed in the Lord’s presence: “Lord, God of Israel, enthroned on the cherubim! You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. It is you who made the heavens and the earth. 16 Incline your ear, Lord, and listen! Open your eyes, Lord, and see! Hear the words Sennacherib has sent to taunt the living God. 17 Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands. 18 They gave their gods to the fire—they were not gods at all, but the work of human hands—wood and stone, they destroyed them. 19 Therefore, Lord, our God, save us from this man’s power, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.”

20 Then Isaiah, son of Amoz, sent this message to Hezekiah: “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you have prayed concerning Sennacherib, king of Assyria: I have listened! 21 [j]This is the word the Lord has spoken concerning him:

She despises you, laughs you to scorn,
    the virgin daughter Zion!
Behind you she wags her head,
    daughter Jerusalem.
22 Whom have you insulted and blasphemed,
    at whom have you raised your voice
And lifted up your eyes on high?
    At the Holy One of Israel!
23 Through the mouths of your messengers
    you insulted the Lord when you said,
‘With my many chariots I went up
    to the tops of the peaks,
    to the recesses of Lebanon,
To cut down its lofty cedars,
    its choice cypresses;
I reached to the farthest shelter,
    the forest ranges.
24 I myself dug wells
    and drank foreign waters,
Drying up all the rivers of Egypt
    beneath the soles of my feet.’

25 “Have you not heard?
    A long time ago I prepared it,
    from days of old I planned it.
Now I have brought it about:
You are here to reduce
    fortified cities to heaps of ruins,
26 Their people powerless,
    dismayed and distraught.
They are plants of the field,
    green growth,
    thatch on the rooftops,
Grain scorched by the east wind.
27 I know when you stand or sit,
    when you come or go
    and how you rage against me.
28 Because you rage against me,
    and your smugness has reached my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose
    and my bit in your mouth,
And make you leave by the way you came.

29 “This shall be a sign for you:
This year you shall eat the aftergrowth,
    next year, what grows of itself;
But in the third year, sow and reap,
    plant vineyards and eat their fruit!
30 The remaining survivors of the house of Judah
    shall again strike root below
    and bear fruit above.
31 For out of Jerusalem shall come a remnant,
    and from Mount Zion, survivors.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this.

32 “Therefore, thus says the Lord about the king:

He shall not come as far as this city,
    nor shoot there an arrow,
    nor confront it with a shield,
Nor cast up a siege-work against it.
33 By the way he came he shall leave,
    never coming as far as this city,
    oracle of the Lord.
34 I will shield and save this city
    for my own sake and the sake of David my servant.”

35 That night the angel of the Lord went forth and struck down one hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. Early the next morning, there they were, dead, all those corpses! 36 So Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, broke camp, departed, returned home, and stayed in Nineveh.

37 When he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword and fled into the land of Ararat. His son Esarhaddon reigned in his place.

Footnotes:

  1. 18:1–25:30 The Books of Kings end, as they began, with the people of the Lord in a single kingdom, Judah, centered on the capital, Jerusalem, and the Solomonic Temple. The reigns of two reformer kings, both praised, are recounted at length: Hezekiah (chaps. 18–20) and Josiah (22:1–23:30). Each is followed by shorter accounts of two kings who are condemned: Manasseh and Amon (chap. 21) and Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim (23:31–24:7). The book ends with the last days of Judah under Jehoiachin and Zedekiah and the beginning of the Babylonian exile.
  2. 18:4 Asherah: see note on Ex 34:13. Nehushtan: the name nehushtan contains several wordplays in Hebrew. It recalls the word “serpent” (nahash), the word “bronze” (nehoshet), and the word “to read omens” (nihesh). The sentence is also unclear about who named the bronze serpent “Nehushtan”—whether Moses when he made it, or the people when they venerated it, or Hezekiah when he destroyed it.
  3. 18:9 The correlations between the reigns of Hezekiah and Hoshea in vv. 9–10 conflict with other biblical data and with the date for the fall of Samaria, 722/721 B.C. (see note on 16:1–20). Since Sennacherib’s invasion in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah (v. 13) took place in 701, Hezekiah cannot have been on the throne twenty years earlier. Various solutions have been proposed: scribal errors in writing the numbers; a Hezekian co-regency with his father Ahaz beginning in 729; etc. None of the solutions has won a consensus among historians.
  4. 18:13–20:19 This material is found also in Is 36–39, with one long addition (Is 38:9–20) and only a few other changes.
  5. 18:13 Sennacherib succeeded Sargon II as king of Assyria. His Judean campaign was waged in 701 B.C. See notes on 16:1–20 and 18:9.
  6. 18:17 General, the lord chamberlain…commander: the text lists three major functionaries by their Assyrian titles, of which only the first, more nearly “lord lieutenant,” is military in origin; the commander was technically the king’s chief butler.
  7. 18:27 Excrement…urine: the reference is to the famine that results from a prolonged siege (compare 6:24–25; Dt 28:53–57). For public reading, ancient tradition (e.g., the Qere reading of the Masoretic text) softened the terms to “eat their own waste and drink their own bodies’ water.”
  8. 18:34 Did they indeed…power?: some time after the fall of Samaria in 722/721 B.C., Hamath, Arpad, and other small states in the region formed an anti-Assyrian coalition. If the coalition had succeeded, it could have broken Assyrian control over the whole region, including Samaria, and allowed the kingdom of Israel to free itself. When Assyria crushed the coalition, it also crushed Israel’s hopes for liberation.
  9. 19:3 See note on Is 37:3.
  10. 19:21–31 Verses 21–28 are addressed to Sennacherib, vv. 29–31 to Judah.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Proverbs 9 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 9

The Two Women Invite Passersby to Their Banquets[a]

Woman Wisdom Issues Her Invitation

Wisdom has built her house,[b]
    she has set up her seven columns;
She has prepared her meat, mixed her wine,
    yes, she has spread her table.
She has sent out her maidservants; she calls[c]
    from the heights out over the city:
“Let whoever is naive turn in here;
    to any who lack sense I say,
Come, eat of my food,
    and drink of the wine I have mixed!
Forsake foolishness that you may live;[d]
    advance in the way of understanding.”

Miscellaneous Aphorisms

Whoever corrects the arrogant earns insults;
    and whoever reproves the wicked incurs opprobrium.
Do not reprove the arrogant, lest they hate you;
    reprove the wise, and they will love you.
Instruct the wise, and they become still wiser;
    teach the just, and they advance in learning.
10 The beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord,
    and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For by me your days will be multiplied
    and the years of your life increased.
12 If you are wise, wisdom is to your advantage;
    if you are arrogant, you alone shall bear it.

Woman Folly Issues Her Invitation

13 [e]Woman Folly is raucous,
    utterly foolish; she knows nothing.
14 She sits at the door of her house
    upon a seat on the city heights,
15 Calling to passersby
    as they go on their way straight ahead:
16 “Let those who are naive turn in here,
    to those who lack sense I say,
17 Stolen water is sweet,
    and bread taken secretly is pleasing!”[f]
18 Little do they know that the shades are there,
    that her guests are in the depths of Sheol![g]

Footnotes:

  1. 9:1–6, 13–18

    Wisdom and folly are represented as women, each inviting people to her banquet. Wisdom’s banquet symbolizes joy and closeness to God. Unstable and senseless Folly furnishes stolen bread and water of deceit and vice that bring death to her guests. The opposition between wisdom and folly was stated at the beginning of chaps. 1–9 (folly in 1:8–19 and wisdom in 1:20–33) and is maintained throughout, down to this last chapter.

    In comparable literature, gods might celebrate their sovereign by building a palace and inviting the other gods to come to a banquet and celebrate with them. Presumably, Woman Wisdom is celebrating her grandeur (just described in chap. 8); her grand house is a symbol of her status as the Lord’s friend. In order to enter the sacred building and take part in the banquet (“eat of my food”), guests must leave aside their old ways (“forsake foolishness”).

    Verses 7–12 are unrelated to the two invitations to the banquet. They appear to be based on chap. 1, especially on 1:1–7, 22. The Greek version has added a number of verses after v. 12 and v. 18. In the confusion, 9:11 seems to have been displaced from its original position after 9:6. It has been restored to its original place in the text.

  2. 9:1

    House: house has a symbolic meaning. Woman Wisdom encourages marital fidelity (2:16–19; 5; 6:20–35; 7), which builds up a household (cf. chap. 5). Some scholars propose that an actual seven-pillared house is referred to, but so far none have been unearthed by archaeologists. Seven may simply connote completeness—a great house.

    Some scholars see a connection between the woman’s house here and the woman’s house in the final poem (31:10–31). In chap. 9, she invites the young man to enter her house and feast, i.e., to marry her. Chapter 31 shows what happens to the man who marries her; he has a house and enjoys “life” understood as consisting of a suitable wife, children, wealth, and honor.

  3. 9:3 She calls: i.e., invites; this is done indirectly through her maidservants, but the text could also mean that Wisdom herself publicly proclaims her invitation.
  4. 9:6 That you may live: life in Proverbs is this-worldly, consisting in fearing God or doing one’s duty toward God, enjoying health and long life, possessing wealth, good reputation, and a family. Such a life cannot be attained without God’s help. Hence Wisdom speaks not of life simply but of life with her; the guest is to live in Wisdom’s house.
  5. 9:13–18 Woman Folly is the mirror image of Woman Wisdom. Both make identical invitations but only one of the offers is trustworthy. Their hearers must discern which is the true offer. She is depicted with traits of the adulterous woman in 2:16–19; chap. 5; 6:20–35; chap. 7. Woman Folly is restless (cf. 7:11), her path leads to the underworld (2:18; 5:5; 7:27), and she is ignorant (5:6). In this final scene, she appears in single combat with her great nemesis, Woman Wisdom. Though the invitations of the two women appear at first hearing to be the same, they differ profoundly. Wisdom demands that her guests reject their ignorance, whereas Woman Folly trades on their ignorance.
  6. 9:17 “Stolen water” seems to refer to adultery, for “water” in 5:15–17 refers to the wife’s sexuality; “stolen” refers to stealing the sexuality belonging to another’s household. “Secret” evokes the furtive meeting of the wife and the youth in chap. 7.
  7. 9:18 The banquet chamber of Folly is a tomb from which no one who enters it is released; cf. 7:27. Shades: the Rephaim, the inhabitants of the underworld.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

2 Corinthians 3 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 3

[a]Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You are our letter,[b] written on our hearts, known and read by all, [c]shown to be a letter of Christ administered by us, written not in ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets that are hearts of flesh.

[d]Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that of ourselves we are qualified to take credit for anything as coming from us; rather, our qualification comes from God, who has indeed qualified us as ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life.[e]

Contrast with the Old Covenant. [f]Now if the ministry of death,[g] carved in letters on stone, was so glorious that the Israelites could not look intently at the face of Moses because of its glory that was going to fade, how much more[h] will the ministry of the Spirit be glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation was glorious, the ministry of righteousness will abound much more in glory. 10 Indeed, what was endowed with glory has come to have no glory in this respect because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was going to fade was glorious, how much more will what endures be glorious.

12 Therefore, since we have such hope,[i] we act very boldly 13 and not like Moses,[j] who put a veil over his face so that the Israelites could not look intently at the cessation of what was fading. 14 Rather, their thoughts were rendered dull, for to this present day[k] the same veil remains unlifted when they read the old covenant, because through Christ it is taken away. 15 To this day, in fact, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts, 16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit,[l] and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 [m]All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Footnotes:

  1. 3:1 Paul seems to allude to certain preachers who pride themselves on their written credentials. Presumably they reproach him for not possessing similar credentials and compel him to spell out his own qualifications (2 Cor 4:2; 5:12; 6:4). The Corinthians themselves should have performed this function for Paul (2 Cor 5:12; cf. 2 Cor 12:11). Since he is forced to find something that can recommend him, he points to them: their very existence constitutes his letter of recommendation (2 Cor 3:1–2). Others who engage in self-commendation will also be mentioned in 2 Cor 10:12–18.
  2. 3:2–3 Mention of “letters of recommendation” generates a series of metaphors in which Paul plays on the word “letter”: (1) the community is Paul’s letter of recommendation (2 Cor 3:2a); (2) they are a letter engraved on his affections for all to see and read (2 Cor 3:2b); (3) they are a letter from Christ that Paul merely delivers (2 Cor 3:3a); (4) they are a letter written by the Spirit on the tablets of human hearts (2 Cor 3:3b). One image dissolves into another.
  3. 3:3 This verse contrasts Paul’s letter with those written…in ink (like the credentials of other preachers) and those written…on tablets of stone (like the law of Moses). These contrasts suggest that the other preachers may have claimed special relationship with Moses. If they were Judaizers zealous for the Mosaic law, that would explain the detailed contrast between the old and the new covenants (2 Cor 3:6; 4:7–6:10). If they were charismatics who claimed Moses as their model, that would explain the extended treatment of Moses himself and his glory (2 Cor 3:7–4:6). Hearts of flesh: cf. Ezekiel’s contrast between the heart of flesh that the Spirit gives and the heart of stone that it replaces (Ez 36:26); the context is covenant renewal and purification that makes observance of the law possible.
  4. 3:4–6 These verses resume 2 Cor 2:1–3:3. Paul’s confidence (2 Cor 3:4) is grounded in his sense of God-given mission (2 Cor 2:17), the specifics of which are described in 2 Cor 3:1–3. 2 Cor 3:5–6 return to the question of his qualifications (2 Cor 2:16), attributing them entirely to God. 2 Cor 3:6 further spells out the situation described in 2 Cor 3:3b and “names” it: Paul is living within a new covenant, characterized by the Spirit, which gives life. The usage of a new covenant is derived from Jer 31:31–33 a passage that also speaks of writing on the heart; cf. 2 Cor 3:2.
  5. 3:6 This verse serves as a topic sentence for 2 Cor 3:7–6:10. For the contrast between letter and spirit, cf. Rom 2:29; 7:5–6.
  6. 3:7–4:6 Paul now develops the contrast enunciated in 2 Cor 3:6b in terms of the relative glory of the two covenants, insisting on the greater glory of the new. His polemic seems directed against individuals who appeal to the glorious Moses and fail to perceive any comparable glory either in Paul’s life as an apostle or in the gospel he preaches. He asserts in response that Christians have a glory of their own that far surpasses that of Moses.
  7. 3:7 The ministry of death: from his very first words, Paul describes the Mosaic covenant and ministry from the viewpoint of their limitations. They lead to death rather than life (2 Cor 3:6–7; cf. 2 Cor 4:7–5:10), to condemnation rather than reconciliation (2 Cor 3:9; cf. 2 Cor 5:11–6:10). Was so glorious: the basic text to which Paul alludes is Ex 34:29–35 to which his opponents have undoubtedly laid claim. Going to fade: Paul concedes the glory of Moses’ covenant and ministry, but grants them only temporary significance.
  8. 3:8–11 How much more: the argument “from the less to the greater” is repeated three times (2 Cor 3:8, 9, 11). 2 Cor 3:10 expresses another point of view: the difference in glory is so great that only the new covenant and ministry can properly be called “glorious” at all.
  9. 3:12 Such hope: the glory is not yet an object of experience, but that does not lessen Paul’s confidence. Boldly: the term parrēsia expresses outspoken declaration of Christian conviction (cf. 2 Cor 4:1–2). Paul has nothing to hide and no reason for timidity.
  10. 3:13–14a Not like Moses: in Exodus Moses veiled his face to protect the Israelites from God’s reflected glory. Without impugning Moses’ sincerity, Paul attributes another effect to the veil. Since it lies between God’s glory and the Israelites, it explains how they could fail to notice the glory disappearing. Their thoughts were rendered dull: the problem lay with their understanding. This will be expressed in 2 Cor 3:14b–16 by a shift in the place of the veil: it is no longer over Moses’ face but over their perception.
  11. 3:14b–16 The parallelism in these verses makes it necessary to interpret corresponding parts in relation to one another. To this present day: this signals the shift of Paul’s attention to his contemporaries; his argument is typological, as in 1 Cor 10. The Israelites of Moses’ time typify the Jews of Paul’s time, and perhaps also Christians of Jewish origin or mentality who may not recognize the temporary character of Moses’ glory. When they read the old covenant: the lasting dullness prevents proper appraisal of Moses’ person and covenant. When his writings are read in the synagogue, a veil still impedes their understanding. Through Christ: i.e., in the new covenant. Whenever a person turns to the Lord: Moses in Exodus appeared before God without the veil and gazed on his face unprotected. Paul applies that passage to converts to Christianity: when they turn to the Lord fully and authentically, the impediment to their understanding is removed.
  12. 3:17 The Lord is the Spirit: the “Lord” to whom the Christian turns (2 Cor 3:16) is the Spirit of whom Paul has been speaking, the life-giving Spirit of the living God (2 Cor 3:6, 8), the inaugurator of the new covenant and ministry, who is also the Spirit of Christ. The Spirit of the Lord: the Lord here is the living God (2 Cor 3:3), but there may also be an allusion to Christ as Lord (2 Cor 3:14, 16). Freedom: i.e., from the ministry of death (2 Cor 3:7) and the covenant that condemned (2 Cor 3:9).
  13. 3:18 Another application of the veil image. All of us…with unveiled face: Christians (Israelites from whom the veil has been removed) are like Moses, standing in God’s presence, beholding and reflecting his glory. Gazing: the verb may also be translated “contemplating as in a mirror”; 2 Cor 4:6 would suggest that the mirror is Christ himself. Are being transformed: elsewhere Paul speaks of transformation, conformity to Jesus, God’s image, as a reality of the end time, and even 2 Cor 3:12 speaks of the glory as an object of hope. But the life-giving Spirit, the distinctive gift of the new covenant, is already present in the community (cf. 2 Cor 1:22, the “first installment”), and the process of transformation has already begun. Into the same image: into the image of God, which is Christ (2 Cor 4:4).
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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