Re Daily Office Readings 4/14/2020

The Readings: Exodus 12:28-39; 1 Corinthians 15:12-28; Mark 16:9-20

Some time ago we read:

And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders that I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD: Israel is my firstborn son. I said to you, “Let my son go that he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; now I will kill your firstborn son.'” (Exod. 4:21-23)

And in today’s reading it all plays out. There’s a sort of brutal symmetry to it all. Pharaoh had commanded that all newborn males be thrown into the Nile (1:22); G-d or “the destroyer” (12:23) kills the firstborn, and the Egyptian army will soon perish in another body of water. Pharaoh sins; all the people suffer. Sarna: “The Torah recognizes societal responsibility; thus, the entire Egyptian people is subject to judgment for having tolerated the inflexibly perverse will of the pharaoh” (JPS Torah Commentary). Perhaps, but just what “the entire Egyptian people” were in a position to do is an open question, as it is in many other times and places.

Mercifully, all this is not the last word re Egypt. From Isaiah: “On that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my heritage’” (19:24-25).

“…how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead?” What’s at stake? Hays’ argument merits reflection: “The resurrection of the dead is necessary in order to hold creation and redemption together [italics his]. If there is no resurrection of the dead, God has capriciously abandoned the bodies he has given us. The promise of resurrection of the body, however, makes Christian hope concrete and confirms God’s love for the created order. God, the creator of the world, has not abandoned the creation. Furthermore, this teaching is consistent with what we have come to understand about the psychosomatic unity of the human person. Contrary to the ideas that held sway in much of Hellenistic antiquity, we are not ethereal souls imprisoned in bodies. Rather, our identity is bound up inextricably with our bodily existence. If we are to be saved, we must be saved as embodied persons, whatever that may mean” (Interpretation commentary).

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