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Exodus 18-19 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 18

Meeting with Jethro. Now Moses’ father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for his people Israel: how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. So his father-in-law Jethro took along Zipporah, Moses’ wife—now this was after Moses had sent her back—[a] and her two sons. One of these was named Gershom; for he said, “I am a resident alien in a foreign land.” The other was named Eliezer; for he said, “The God of my father is my help; he has rescued me from Pharaoh’s sword.” Together with Moses’ wife and sons, then, his father-in-law Jethro came to him in the wilderness where he was encamped at the mountain of God,[b] and he sent word to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you, along with your wife and her two sons.”

Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, bowed down, and then kissed him. Having greeted each other, they went into the tent. Moses then told his father-in-law of all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for the sake of Israel, and of all the hardships that had beset them on their journey, and how the Lord had rescued them. Jethro rejoiced over all the goodness that the Lord had shown Israel in rescuing them from the power of the Egyptians. 10 “Blessed be the Lord,” he said, “who has rescued you from the power of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh. 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods; for he rescued the people from the power of the Egyptians when they treated them arrogantly.” 12 Then Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, brought a burnt offering[c] and sacrifices for God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to share with Moses’ father-in-law in the meal before God.

Appointment of Minor Judges. 13 The next day Moses sat in judgment for the people, while they stood around him from morning until evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he asked, “What is this business that you are conducting for the people? Why do you sit alone while all the people have to stand about you from morning till evening?” 15 Moses answered his father-in-law, “The people come to me to consult God. 16 Whenever they have a disagreement, they come to me to have me settle the matter between them and make known to them God’s statutes and instructions.”

17 “What you are doing is not wise,” Moses’ father-in-law replied. 18 “You will surely wear yourself out, both you and these people with you. The task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. 19 [d]Now, listen to me, and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. Act as the people’s representative before God, and bring their disputes to God. 20 Enlighten them in regard to the statutes and instructions, showing them how they are to conduct themselves and what they are to do. 21 But you should also look among all the people for able and God-fearing men, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain, and set them over the people as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 22 Let these render decisions for the people in all routine cases. Every important case they should refer to you, but every lesser case they can settle themselves. Lighten your burden by letting them bear it with you! 23 If you do this, and God so commands you,[e] you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people, too, will go home content.”

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did all that he had said. 25 He picked out able men from all Israel and put them in charge of the people as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 26 They rendered decisions for the people in all routine cases. The more difficult cases they referred to Moses, but all the lesser cases they settled themselves. 27 Then Moses said farewell to his father-in-law, who went off to his own country.

VI. Covenant and Legislation at Mount Sinai

Chapter 19

Arrival at Sinai. In the third month after the Israelites’ departure from the land of Egypt, on the first day, they came to the wilderness of Sinai. After they made the journey from Rephidim and entered the wilderness of Sinai, they then pitched camp in the wilderness.[f]

While Israel was encamped there in front of the mountain, Moses went up to the mountain of God. Then the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying: This is what you will say to the house of Jacob; tell the Israelites: You have seen how I treated the Egyptians and how I bore you up on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now, if you obey me completely and keep my covenant,[g] you will be my treasured possession among all peoples, though all the earth is mine. You will be to me a kingdom of priests,[h] a holy nation. That is what you must tell the Israelites. So Moses went and summoned the elders of the people. When he set before them all that the Lord had ordered him to tell them, all the people answered together, “Everything the Lord has said, we will do.” Then Moses brought back to the Lord the response of the people.

The Lord said to Moses: I am coming to you now in a dense cloud, so that when the people hear me speaking with you, they will also remain faithful to you.

When Moses, then, had reported the response of the people to the Lord, 10 the Lord said to Moses: Go to the people and have them sanctify themselves today and tomorrow. Have them wash their garments 11 and be ready for the third day; for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 Set limits for the people all around, saying: Take care not to go up the mountain, or even to touch its edge. All who touch the mountain must be put to death. 13 No hand shall touch them, but they must be stoned to death or killed with arrows. Whether human being or beast, they must not be allowed to live. Only when the ram’s horn sounds may they go up on the mountain.[i] 14 Then Moses came down from the mountain to the people and had them sanctify themselves, and they washed their garments. 15 He said to the people, “Be ready for the third day. Do not approach a woman.”

The Great Theophany. 16 On the morning of the third day there were peals of thunder and lightning, and a heavy cloud over the mountain, and a very loud blast of the shofar,[j] so that all the people in the camp trembled. 17 But Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stationed themselves at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was completely enveloped in smoke, because the Lord had come down upon it in fire. The smoke rose from it as though from a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled violently. 19 The blast of the shofar grew louder and louder, while Moses was speaking and God was answering him with thunder.

20 [k]When the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. 21 Then the Lord told Moses: Go down and warn the people not to break through to the Lord in order to see him; otherwise many of them will be struck down. 22 For their part, the priests, who approach the Lord must sanctify themselves; else the Lord will break out in anger against them. 23 But Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot go up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying: Set limits around the mountain to make it sacred.” 24 So the Lord said to him: Go down and come up along with Aaron. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the Lord; else he will break out against them.” 25 So Moses went down to the people and spoke to them.

Footnotes:

  1. 18:2 Moses had sent her back: a later gloss which attempts to harmonize Zipporah’s presence with Jethro here in this story and the account of Moses’ return to Egypt with Zipporah in 4:20.
  2. 18:5 The allusion to meeting Moses encamped at the mountain of God, prior to the arrival of the Israelites at Sinai in chap. 19, might well suggest a different narrative context for this story from an earlier stage of the biblical tradition’s development. It is noteworthy that immediately after the Sinai pericope (Ex 19:1–Nm 10:28), recounting the theophany at Sinai and the giving of the law, the narrative of Israel’s march through the wilderness resumes with an apparent doublet of the visit by Moses’ father-in-law (Nm 10:29–32).
  3. 18:12 That a non-Israelite, such as Jethro, should bless Israel’s God by way of acknowledging what God had done for Israel (v. 10) is not entirely surprising; but the Midianite priest’s sacrifice to the God of Israel, including his presiding over a sacrificial meal with Aaron and the elders of Israel, is unusual, suggesting that he was himself already a worshiper of Yhwh, Israel’s God. Note further in this connection the role Jethro takes in the following narrative (vv. 13–27) in instituting a permanent judiciary for the Israelites. Burnt offering: a sacrifice wholly burnt up as an offering to God.
  4. 18:19–20 By emphasizing Moses’ mediatorial role for the people before God in regard to God’s statutes and instructions, this story about the institution of Israel’s judiciary prepares for Moses’ role in the upcoming revelation of the law at Sinai.
  5. 18:23 And God so commands you: i.e., and God approves.
  6. 19:2 Apparently from a different source (P) than v. 1, which notes the date, v. 2 from the J source includes a second notice of the arrival in the wilderness of Sinai. The Israelites now will be camped at Sinai from this point on all the way to Nm 10:10. This is a striking indication of the centrality and importance of the Sinai narrative in the overall composition of the Pentateuch.
  7. 19:5 Covenant: while covenants between individuals and between nations are ubiquitous in the ancient Near East, the adaptation of this concept to express the relationship that will henceforth characterize God’s relationship to Israel represents an important innovation of biblical faith. Other gods might “choose” nations to fulfill a special destiny or role in the world; but only Israel’s God is bound to a people by covenant. Thereby Israel’s identity as a people is put upon a foundation that does not depend upon the vicissitudes of Israelite statehood or the normal trappings of national existence. Israel will be a covenant people.
  8. 19:6 Kingdom of priests: inasmuch as this phrase is parallel to “holy nation,” it most likely means that the whole Israelite nation is set apart from other nations and so consecrated to God, or holy, in the way priests are among the people (cf. Is 61:6; 1 Pt 2:5, 9).
  9. 19:13 May they go up on the mountain: in vv. 12–13a, a later Priestly reshaping of an earlier version of the instructions governing how the people are to prepare for the encounter with God (vv. 10–11, 13b), the people are to be restrained from ascending the mountain, which is suffused with the holiness of God and too dangerous for their approach. In the earlier version, as v. 13b suggests, the sanctified people must come near, in order to hear God speaking with Moses (v. 9) and in this way receive confirmation of his special relationship with God.
  10. 19:16 Shofar: a ram’s horn used like a trumpet for signaling both for liturgical and military purposes.
  11. 19:20–25 At this point the Priestly additions of vv. 12–13a are elaborated with further Priestly instructions, which include the priests’ sanctifying themselves apart from the people (v. 22) and Aaron accompanying Moses to the top of the mountain (v. 24).
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.

Psalm 42-43 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Second Book—Psalms 42–72

Psalm 42[a]

Longing for God’s Presence in the Temple

For the leader. A maskil of the Korahites.[b]

I

As the deer longs for streams of water,
    so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, the living God.
    When can I enter and see the face of God?[c]
My tears have been my bread day and night,
    as they ask me every day, “Where is your God?”
Those times I recall
    as I pour out my soul,
When I would cross over to the shrine of the Mighty One,[d]
    to the house of God,
Amid loud cries of thanksgiving,
    with the multitude keeping festival.
Why are you downcast, my soul;
    why do you groan within me?
Wait for God, for I shall again praise him,
    my savior and my God.

II

My soul is downcast within me;
    therefore I remember you
From the land of the Jordan[e] and Hermon,
    from Mount Mizar,
[f]Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your torrents,
    and all your waves and breakers
    sweep over me.
By day may the Lord send his mercy,
    and by night may his righteousness be with me!
    I will pray[g] to the God of my life,
10 I will say to God, my rock:
    “Why do you forget me?
Why must I go about mourning
    with the enemy oppressing me?”
11 It shatters my bones, when my adversaries reproach me,
    when they say to me every day: “Where is your God?”
12 Why are you downcast, my soul,
    why do you groan within me?
Wait for God, for I shall again praise him,
    my savior and my God.

Psalm 43

Grant me justice, O God;
    defend me from a faithless people;
    from the deceitful and unjust rescue me.
You, O God, are my strength.
    Why then do you spurn me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    with the enemy oppressing me?
Send your light and your fidelity,[h]
    that they may be my guide;
Let them bring me to your holy mountain,
    to the place of your dwelling,
That I may come to the altar of God,
    to God, my joy, my delight.
Then I will praise you with the harp,
    O God, my God.
Why are you downcast, my soul?
    Why do you groan within me?
Wait for God, for I shall again praise him,
    my savior and my God.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalms 42–43 Ps 42–43 form a single lament of three sections, each section ending in an identical refrain (Ps 42:6, 12; 43:5). The psalmist is far from Jerusalem, and longs for the divine presence that Israel experienced in the Temple liturgy. Despite sadness, the psalmist hopes once again to join the worshiping crowds.
  2. 42:1 The Korahites: a major guild of Temple singers (2 Chr 20:19) whose name appears in the superscriptions of Ps 42; 44–49; 84–85; 87–88.
  3. 42:3 See the face of God: “face” designates a personal presence (Gn 33:10; Ex 10:28–29; 2 Sm 17:11). The expressions “see God/God’s face” occur elsewhere (Ps 11:7; 17:15; cf. Ex 24:10; 33:7–11; Jb 33:26) for the presence of God in the Temple.
  4. 42:5 The shrine of the Mighty One: this reading follows the tradition of the Septuagint and the Vulgate.
  5. 42:7 From the land of the Jordan: the sources of the Jordan are in the foothills of Mount Hermon in present-day southern Lebanon. Mount Mizar is presumed to be a mountain in the same range.
  6. 42:8 Deep calls to deep: to the psalmist, the waters arising in the north are overwhelming and far from God’s presence, like the waters of chaos (Ps 18:5; 69:2–3, 15; Jon 2:3–6).
  7. 42:9–10 I will pray…I will say: in the midst of his depression the psalmist turns to prayer. Despite his situation he trusts the Lord to deliver him from his sorrow so that he may enter the Temple precincts and praise him once again (Ps 43:3–4, 5b).
  8. 43:3 Your light and your fidelity: a pair of divine attributes personified as guides for the pilgrimage. As in Ps 42:9 the psalmist prays that these divine attributes lead him back to Jerusalem and ultimately to God’s presence in the Temple.
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.

Matthew 23:23-39 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes[a] of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. [But] these you should have done, without neglecting the others. 24 [b]Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!

25 [c]“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.

27 [d]“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. 28 Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.

29 [e]“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees,[f] you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, 30 and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’ 31 Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; 32 now fill up what your ancestors measured out! 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how can you flee from the judgment of Gehenna? 34 [g]Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, 35 so that there may come upon you all the righteous blood shed upon earth, from the righteous blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Amen, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

The Lament over Jerusalem.[h] 37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you were unwilling! 38 Behold, your house will be abandoned, desolate. 39 I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Footnotes:

  1. 23:23 The Mosaic law ordered tithing of the produce of the land (Lv 27:30; Dt 14:22–23), and the scribal tradition is said here to have extended this law to even the smallest herbs. The practice is criticized not in itself but because it shows the Pharisees’ preoccupation with matters of less importance while they neglect the weightier things of the law.
  2. 23:24 Cf. Lv 11:41–45 that forbids the eating of any “swarming creature.” The Pharisees’ scrupulosity about minor matters and neglect of greater ones (Mt 23:23) is further brought out by this contrast between straining liquids that might contain a tiny “swarming creature” and yet swallowing the camel. The latter was one of the unclean animals forbidden by the law (Lv 11:4), but it is hardly possible that the scribes and Pharisees are being denounced as guilty of so gross a violation of the food laws. To swallow the camel is only a hyperbolic way of speaking of their neglect of what is important.
  3. 23:25–26 The ritual washing of utensils for dining (cf. Mk 7:4) is turned into a metaphor illustrating a concern for appearances while inner purity is ignored. The scribes and Pharisees are compared to cups carefully washed on the outside but filthy within. Self-indulgence: the Greek word here translated means lack of self-control, whether in drinking or in sexual conduct.
  4. 23:27–28 The sixth woe, like the preceding one, deals with concern for externals and neglect of what is inside. Since contact with dead bodies, even when one was unaware of it, caused ritual impurity (Nm 19:11–22), tombs were whitewashed so that no one would contract such impurity inadvertently.
  5. 23:29–36 The final woe is the most serious indictment of all. It portrays the scribes and Pharisees as standing in the same line as their ancestors who murdered the prophets and the righteous.
  6. 23:29–32 In spite of honoring the slain dead by building their tombs and adorning their memorials, and claiming that they would not have joined in their ancestors’ crimes if they had lived in their days, the scribes and Pharisees are true children of their ancestors and are defiantly ordered by Jesus to fill up what those ancestors measured out. This order reflects the Jewish notion that there was an allotted measure of suffering that had to be completed before God’s final judgment would take place.
  7. 23:34–36 There are important differences between the Matthean and the Lucan form of this Q material; cf. Lk 11:49–51. In Luke the one who sends the emissaries is the “wisdom of God.” If, as many scholars think, that is the original wording of Q, Matthew, by making Jesus the sender, has presented him as the personified divine wisdom. In Luke, wisdom’s emissaries are the Old Testament “prophets” and the Christian “apostles.” Matthew’s prophets and wise men and scribes are probably Christian disciples alone; cf. Mt 10:41 and see note on Mt 13:52. You will kill: see Mt 24:9. Scourge in your synagogues…town to town: see Mt 10:17, 23 and the note on Mt 10:17. All the righteous blood shed upon the earth: the slaying of the disciples is in continuity with all the shedding of righteous blood beginning with that of Abel. The persecution of Jesus’ disciples by this generation involves the persecutors in the guilt of their murderous ancestors. The blood of Zechariah: see note on Lk 11:51. By identifying him as the son of Barachiah Matthew understands him to be Zechariah the Old Testament minor prophet; see Zec 1:1.
  8. 23:37–39 Cf. Lk 13:34–35. The denunciation of Pharisaic Judaism ends with this lament over Jerusalem, which has repeatedly rejected and murdered those whom God has sent to her. How many times: this may refer to various visits of Jesus to the city, an aspect of his ministry found in John but otherwise not in the synoptics. As a hen…under her wings: for imagery similar to this, see Ps 17:8; 91:4. Your house…desolate: probably an allusion to the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70. You will not see me…in the name of the Lord: Israel will not see Jesus again until he comes in glory for the final judgment. The acclamation has been interpreted in contrasting ways, as an indication that Israel will at last accept Jesus at that time, and as its troubled recognition of him as its dreaded judge who will pronounce its condemnation; in support of the latter view see Mt 24:30.
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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