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To: Salvation
Navarre Bible Commentary

From: Exodus 11:10-12:14

[10] Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh; and the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go out of his land.

The Institution of the Passover


[1] The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, [2] "This month shall be for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. [3] Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month they shall take every man a lamb according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household; [4] and if the household is too small for a lamb, then a man and his neighbor next to his house shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. [5] Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old; you shall take it from the sheep or from the goats; [6] and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs in the evening. [7] Then they shall take some of the blood, and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat them. [8] They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. [9] Do not eat any of it raw or boiled with water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. [10] And you shall let none of it remain until the morning, anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. [11] In this manner you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord's passover. [12] For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all, the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. [13] The blood shall be a sign for you, upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

[14] "This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as an ordinance for ever."

*********************************************************************** Commentary:

12:1-14. This discourse of the Lord contains a number of rules for celebrating the Passover and the events commemorated in it; it is a kind of catechetical-liturgical text which admirably summarizes the profound meaning of that feast.

The Passover probably originated as a shepherds' feast held in springtime, when lambs are born and the migration to summer pastures was beginning; a new-born lamb was sacrificed and its blood used to perform a special rite in petition for the protection and fertility of the flocks. But once this feast became connected with the history of the Exodus it acquired a much deeper meaning, as did the rites attaching to it.

Thus, the "congregation" (v. 3) comprises all the Israelites organized as a religious community to commemorate the most important event in their history, deliverance from bondage.

The victim will be a lamb, without blemish (v. 5) because it is to be offered to God. Smearing the doorposts and lintel with the blood of the victim (vv. 7. 13), an essential part of the rite, signifies protection from dangers. The Passover is essentially sacrificial from the very start.

The meal (v. 11) is also a necessary part, and the manner in which it is held is a very appropriate way of showing the urgency imposed by circumstances: there is no time to season it (v. 9); no other food is eaten with it, except for the bread and desert herbs (a sign of indigence); the dress and posture of those taking part (standing, wearing sandals and holding a staff) show that they are on a journey. In the later liturgical commemoration of the Passover, these things indicate that the Lord is passing among his people.

The rules laid down for the Passover are evocative of very ancient nomadic desert rites, where there was no priest or temple or altar. When the Israelites had settled in Palestine, the Passover continued to be celebrated at home, always retaining the features of a sacrifice, a family meal and, very especially, a memorial of the deliverance the Lord brought about on that night.

Our Lord chose the context of the Passover Supper to institute the Eucharist: "By celebrating the Last Supper with his apostles in the course of the Passover meal, Jesus gave the Jewish Passover its definitive meaning. Jesus' passing over to his Father by his death and Resurrection, the new Passover, is anticipated in the Supper and celebrated in the Eucharist, which fulfills the Jewish Passover and anticipates the final Passover of the Church in the glory of the kingdom" ("Catechism of the Catholic Church", 1340).

12:2. This event is so important that it is going to mark the starting point in the reckoning of time. In the history of Israel there are two types of calendar, both based on the moon--one which begins the year in the autumn, after the feast of Weeks (cf. 23:16; 34:22), and the other beginning it in spring, between March and April. This second calendar probably held sway for quite a long time, for we know that the first month, known as Abib (spring)--cf. 13:4; 23:18; 34:18--was called, in the post-exilic period (from the 6th century BC onwards) by the Babylonian name of Nisan (Neh 2:1; Esther 3:7). Be that as it may, the fact that this month is called the first month is a way of highlighting the importance of the event which is going to be commemorated (the Passover).

12:11. Even now it is difficult to work out the etymology of the word "Passover". In other Semitic languages it means "joy" or "festive joy" or also "ritual and festive leap". In the Bible the same root means "dancing or limping" in an idolatrous rite (cf. 1 Kings 18:21, 26) and "protecting" (cf. Is 31:5), so it could mean "punishment, lash" and also "salvation, protection". In the present text the writer is providing a popular, non-scholarly etymology, and it is taken as meaning that "the Lord passes through", slaying Egyptians and sparing the Israelites.

In the New Testament it will be applied to Christ's passage to the Father by death and resurrection, and the Church's "passage" to the eternal Kingdom: "The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection" ("Catechism of the Catholic Church", 677).

12:14. The formal tone of these words gives an idea of the importance the Passover always had. If the historical books (Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings) hardly mention it, the reason is that they allude only to sacrifices in the temple and the Passover was always celebrated in people's homes. When the temple ceased to be (6th century BC), the feast acquired more prominence, as can be seen from the post-exilic biblical texts (cf Ezra 6:19-22; 2 Chron 30:1-27; 35:1-19) and extrabiblical texts such as the famous "Passover papyrus Elephantine" (Egypt) of the 5th century BC. In Jesus' time a solemn passover sacrifice was celebrated in the temple the Passover meal was held at home.

5 posted on 07/18/2013 10:07:32 PM PDT by fidelis (Zonie and USAF Cold Warrior)
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To: fidelis

Thanks, fidelis.

6 posted on 07/18/2013 10:08:39 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: fidelis
Navarre Bible Commentary

From: Matthew 12:1-8

The Question of the Sabbath


[1] At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck ears of grain and to eat. [2] But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, "Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath." [3] He said to them, "Have you not read what David did, when he was hungry, and those who were with him: [4] how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? [5] Or have you not read in the law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are guiltless? [6] I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. [7] And if you had known what this means, `I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. [8] For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

*********************************************************************** Commentary:

2. "The Sabbath": this was the day the Jews set aside for worshipping God. God Himself, the originator of the Sabbath (Genesis 2:3), ordered the Jewish people to avoid certain kinds of work on this day (Exodus 20:8-11; 21:13; Deuteronomy 5:14) to leave them free to give more time to God. As time went by, the rabbis complicated this divine precept: by Jesus' time they had extended to 39 the list of kinds of forbidden work.

The Pharisees accuse Jesus' disciples of breaking the Sabbath. In the casuistry of the scribes and the Pharisees, plucking ears of corn was the same as harvesting, and crushing them was the same as milling--types of agricultural work forbidden on the Sabbath.

3-8. Jesus rebuts the Pharisees' accusation by four arguments—the example of David, that of the priests, a correct understanding of the mercy of God and Jesus' own authority over the Sabbath.

The first example which was quite familiar to the people, who were used to listening to the Bible being read, comes from 1 Samuel 21:2-7: David, in flight from the jealousy of King Saul, asks the priest of the shrine of Nob for food for his men; the priest gave them the only bread he had, the holy bread of the Presence; this was the twelve loaves which were placed each week on the golden altar of the sanctuary as a perpetual offering from the twelve tribes of Israel (Leviticus 24:5-9). The second example refers to the priestly ministry to perform the liturgy, priests had to do a number of things on the Sabbath but did not thereby break the law of Sabbath rest (cf. Numbers 28:9). On the other two arguments, see the notes on Matthew 9:13 and Mark 2:26-27, 28.

[The notes on Matthew 9:13 states:

13. Here Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6, keeping the hyperbole of the Semitic style. A more faithful translation would be: "I desire mercy MORE THAN sacrifice". It is not that our Lord does not want the sacrifices we offer Him: He is stressing that every sacrifice should come from the heart, for charity should imbue everything a Christian does—especially his worship of God (see 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Matthew 5:23-24).]

[The notes on Mark 2:26-27, 28 states:

26-27. The bread of the Presence consisted of twelve loaves or cakes placed each morning on the table in the sanctuary, as homage to the Lord from the twelve tribes of Israel (cf. Leviticus 24:5-9). The loaves withdrawn to make room for the fresh ones were reserved to the priests. Abiathar's action anticipates what Christ teaches here. Already in the Old Testament God had established a hierarchy in the precepts of the Law so that the lesser ones yielded to the main ones.

This explains why a ceremonial precept (such as the one we are discussing) should yield before a precept of the natural law. Similarly, the commandment to keep the Sabbath does not come before the duty to seek basic subsistence. Vatican II uses this passage of the Gospel to underline the value of the human person over and above economic and social development: "The social order and its development must constantly yield to the good of the person, since the order of things must be subordinate to the order of persons and not the other way around, as the Lord suggested when He said that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. The social order requires constant improvement: it must be founded in truth, built on justice, and enlivened by love" ("Gaudium Et Spes", 26).

Finally in this passage Christ teaches God's purpose in instituting the Sabbath: God established it for man's good, to help him rest and devote himself to Divine worship in joy and peace. The Pharisees, through their interpretation of the Law, had turned this day into a source of anguish and scruple due to all the various prescriptions and prohibitions they introduced.

By proclaiming Himself `Lord of the Sabbath', Jesus affirms His divinity and His universal authority. Because He is Lord he has the power to establish other laws, as Yahweh had in the Old Testament.

28. The Sabbath had been established not only for man's rest but also to give glory to God: that is the correct meaning of the expression "the Sabbath was made for man." Jesus has every right to say He is Lord of the Sabbath, because He is God. Christ restores to the weekly day of rest its full, religious meaning: it is not just a matter of fulfilling a number of legal precepts or of concern for physical well-being: the Sabbath belongs to God; it is one way, suited to human nature, of rendering glory and honor to the Almighty. The Church, from the time of the Apostles onwards, transferred the observance of this precept to the following day, Sunday--the Lord's Day--in celebration of the resurrection of Christ.

"Son of Man": the origin of the messianic meaning of this expression is to be found particularly in the prophecy of Dan 7:13ff, where Daniel, in a prophetic vision, contemplates `one like the Son of Man' coming down on the clouds of Heaven, who even goes right up to God's throne and is given dominion and glory and royal power over all peoples and nations. This expression appears 69 times in the Synoptic Gospels; Jesus prefers it to other ways of describing the Messiah--such as Son of David, Messiah, etc.--thereby avoiding the nationalistic overtones those expressions had in Jewish minds at the time (cf. "Introduction to the Gospel According to St. Mark", p. 62 above.]

7 posted on 07/18/2013 10:11:57 PM PDT by fidelis (Zonie and USAF Cold Warrior)
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