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Class #3 (20 Jan 82) and #4 (20 Jan 83) on the Book of Exodus.


#item-set-178; #monastic-class-series


We've come to the end of our Christmas vacation and starting a new year, a new semester, but always continuing with the book of Exodus and with this story. Remember that expression that, I quote it and I don't remember who used the expression of Exodus as the gospel of the Old Testament, and this is quite an apt comparison, the gospel of the Old Testament. The book of Exodus is the good news before the good news, before the best news, the final news, a story of salvation, a story of liberation, a story of redemption. But also a story of the people, of their struggles, of their sin, a story of Moses, especially a story of persons, and persons who freely respond to God's plan.


How does God work in history? The book of Exodus is one of the great accounts, the great stories that tell us how God establishes a history of salvation and makes history into salvation for human persons. The great history of salvation is the history of the human conscience, this interior free response to God's initiative, this acceptance of responsibility, that responsibility comes from the response and therefore it is our ability to respond, to answer, to become aware of the other person questioning us, God questions us and these human persons throughout history. So we find Pharaoh, and we find Moses, and we find the wife of Moses, and the brother


of Moses, and his sister, and all sorts of people, midwives, and just a lot of persons who hear the word of God, who hear this divine questioning, this divine interrogation, this divine summons and they respond to it. The vocation of Moses which we have been meditating on for two or three meetings before Christmas is the model for prophetic vocations for all kinds of vocations in the Bible, including the vocation of the Mother of God. The Annunciation follows the same pattern of prophetic vocation which is here with Moses and Isaiah and Jeremiah and others in different ways. Now just remember where we were.


We were with Moses and we were with him at the burning bush and then the summons and this dialogue, the reluctance of Moses to accept his vocation, the difficulty, the objection that Moses offers. This is something we find every time there is a vocation, there is always this dialogue which emphasizes the freedom of the one called, the freedom even to say, I am not able to accept this, I cannot possibly do this, I am too weak, I am too young, I don't know how to speak, all sorts of objections, including the Blessed Virgin Mary, how can this be since I know not man? And God answers and gives a promise, very often gives a sign, and ultimately affirms


great words of comfort, behold I am with you, behold I will be with you, I will put the words on your lips, God says to Jeremiah, for the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. The Lord is with you, the Annunciation of Mary starts with you, but it is the ultimate assurance given to the one called, behold I will be with you. The revelation of the name, all the different meanings it might have, he who is, he who will be what he will be, he who is with, I will be with you. So now, Moses is coming back from the encounter, he meets, he is going through the


desert, he goes, starts to go back to Egypt to gather the people there, to bring this message from God to them. There's a little interesting story at the end of chapter 4, very mysterious, comes from long oral transmission and represents a kind of semi-magical world view which is very mysterious to us and very difficult to interpret, there's really no great need to interpret it, simply to recognize its presence here in the book of Exodus as we have it. Moses falls ill and on a certain lodging place on the way, here in the desert, and it's as if, you know, one of the demons of the desert comes to attack Moses, Moses becomes ill and it says, the Lord met him and sought to kill him.


So we're dealing here with a very, very mysterious incident and then Zipporah, his wife, Zipporah means ladybird, remember, took a plant and cut off her son's foreskin and touched Moses' feet with it and so forth, circumcision. What this has to do with the story we do not know, but it's not very much part of the great themes of the story, but it simply reminds us of the whole human environment of the Word of God, the humanity of the Word of God. This strange story, which seems to represent a very primitive concept of religion, or it may be a very high concept of religion, it doesn't really matter, it's something that perhaps we do not entirely understand. I read a few comments on this and they usually say, well, there's not a great deal you can


understand about this, it's simply a story and it's very mysterious, and what it means, well, it might mean a lot of things, but what it ultimately means is that God really, somehow, has established a pattern, whether in the actual events or in the oral transmission of them, the telling of the stories and the writing of the books, He's established a pattern which is verified also in the incarnation of the sun-god. This pattern of union and distinction, of non-separation and non-confusion, the human and the divine linked together in a very mysterious way, in an inseparable way, and yet the human remains human, very much human, and the divine remains divine. God has not become less than He is, but assumes what we are in order to redeem it.


And so the same, what is called in Greek, ekonomia, the same economy or divine plan is fulfilled here as it is all throughout Scripture. Just remember this always, that Scripture is a kind of an incarnation, and we have to learn to read Scripture the way we, the Church teaches us to understand the mystery of the incarnation of the son of God. You might have heard the names of some of the big heresies, like Nestorianism, which tended to diminish the union of the divine and the human, and make the human almost autonomous and just kind of connect them loosely, Nestorianism, and then Monophysitism, which tended to make them simply one thing and to swallow up the human and the divine. So our reading of Scripture should be such that our understanding of it is Chalcedonian,


that is, in the line of the mystery of the incarnation, the divine and the human united without confusion, remaining distinct without division. It's always a great paradox. So going on with this story, we can take a few verses here and there that kind of summarize the first meeting of Moses and Aaron with Pharaoh. Moses has come from his experience of God, he has come from his vocation, the encounter with God on the mountain, he has heard the divine name, he has received a mission. And since he objected, I cannot speak, God gave him a sign, gave him his brother Aaron, who would speak for him, Aaron the priest, Aaron the mediator.


So the Lord said to Aaron, this is at the end of chapter four, go into the wilderness to meet Moses. So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him, and Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord with which he had sent him and all the signs which he had charged him to do. Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the people of Israel, and Aaron spoke all the words which the Lord had spoken to Moses and did the signs in the sight of the people, and the people believed. And when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshipped. Remember the expression, the Lord visits his people, the Lord sees their affliction. Elsewhere we found this series of verbs whereby God's involvement with the people's situation, with their slavery and suffering and oppression, is affirmed with great emphasis.


God truly comes down, not only sees from a distance, but hears and feels and knows. When the Bible says God knows the affliction of his people, it means that he himself somehow enters into that affliction. The divine plan which we know in Christ is already foreshadowed in this. He who bore our afflictions, he who bore our wounds, thereby healed them. So God became involved with the situation of his people. And then beginning chapter 5, let's take a few verses here and there. Afterwards Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness. That's the first verse of chapter 5, where one knows a spiritual that paraphrases this.


Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt land, tell old Pharaoh to let my people go. It would be helpful to kind of pay attention to how these spirituals re-evoke and give great importance to the exodus theme, the exodus event. It is really very important, really central, for those who approach the Bible with great simplicity and great attention to what is profound, what is essential, recognize immediately that here is the great story. Another one is the three young men in the furnace. And our more sophisticated Christianities tend to forget this, but you go into the catacombs in Rome and all over you see these three young men in the furnace, very important. And then there is the spiritual about Shadrach, Eshach, and Abednego in the furnace, the


three children singing and praising God and leaping and dancing in the flames. And going on with chapter 5 here, But Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, who is Yahweh, that I should heed his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover I will not let Israel go. Who was Pharaoh? What was he for himself and what was he for the Egyptian people? He was a kind for God. All absolute rulers in the ancient world were seen as divine, that was the way their absolute power and kingship and authority was justified. They were sons of the gods. They had divine connections. Of course, both philosophy and scripture see authority in a very general way, as coming


from God in a very general way. But there are ways of authority which are contrary to God. And here is one example. He did not know Yahweh, which simply means in the context that this was a new religion to him, that he wasn't one of the gods on the list, the official list in their temples, and he had never heard about this form of worship, and why should he allow this to take place in his kingdom? There are lots of other gods, why don't you go and worship one of them, one of the official gods? Why do you need something different, something special? That's what it might have been to him. But what it is ultimately is the unwillingness to recognize God as indeed something that


some reality, as a reality, as a being, as a person, but as a reality above all which is not, cannot be put on a list, cannot easily be named. The great contrast here between the knowledge that Moses had received and the knowledge that Pharaoh talks about here is very, very clear. Moses knew the name of the Lord, but this name is mysterious. His knowing is an unknowing, as Gregory Nyssa would say. Whereas here, Pharaoh is very sure about what he knows and what he doesn't know. His unknowing is simply an unrecognition, because the only kind of god that he knows is a god that can be, whose name can be put on a list and whose image can be set up in a temple. And so he will not let Israel go, but there's also political reasons. But the king of Egypt said to them, Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away


from their work? Get to your burdens. And Pharaoh said, behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest from their burdens. The same day, Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, you shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks as heretofore. Let them go and gather straw for themselves, but the number of bricks which they made heretofore you shall lay upon them, you shall by no means lessen it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, let us go and offer sacrifice to our God. Let heavier work be laid upon the men, that they may labor at it and pay no regard to the lying burdens. And so that's what they did. And the taskmasters were urgent, saying, take your work, your daily task, as when there was straw. And the foremen of the people of Israel whom Pharaoh's taskmasters had set over them were beaten and were asked, why have you not done all your task of making bricks today as hitherto?


Then the foremen of the people of Israel came and cried to Pharaoh, why do you deal thus with your servants? No straw is given to your servants, yet they say to us, make bricks, and behold your servants are beaten and the fault is on your own people. And he said, you are idle, you are idle, therefore you say, let us go and sacrifice to the Lord. Go now and work. And so they came forth from Pharaoh, the foremen of the people, the Israelites who had to spur on their own fellow Israelites to do more work, and they said to Moses and Aaron, the Lord look upon you and judge, because you have made us offensive in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants and have put a sword in their hand to kill us. Then Moses turned again to the Lord and said, O Lord, why hast thou done evil to this people? Why didst thou ever send me? The prophets lament. Jeremiah was very cognizant of the dilemma of being a prophet, and so you find these


wonderful passages called the Confessions of Jeremiah, where he bewails the day that he consented to be a bearer of God's message, and he even accuses God of not being fair to him and not letting him, leaving him his freedom. Lord, you have seduced me, and I have let myself be seduced. So why didst thou ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he has done evil to this people, and thou hast not delivered thy people at all. So Moses looks for results, and he's impatient. But then, beginning of chapter 6, the Lord said to Moses, Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh, for with a strong hand he will send them out, yea, with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land. The strong hand, of course, is that of God and the Lord, and under this strength he also will send them out, not only letting them go, but driving them out. And God said to Moses, I am the Lord, I appear to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God


Almighty, hell shall die, and so forth. And here, this chapter 6, we already referred to it in talking about the principal account, the oldest account, of the revelation of God to Moses. This is another parallel tradition which in the text of the book of Exodus, as we have it, has become a renewal of God's promises, a renewal of the covenant. Not only does God speak once for all to Moses, he comes back and speaks to him again and again and renews his promises. But let's stay with Pharaoh for a moment. Notice the tactic here, notice this kind of behavior. Not only is he oppressive, but in order to enhance his power of oppressing, he oppresses


all the more. Notice that we have to kind of forget for a moment our own concepts of democracy and in general of justice. This is of course totally unjust, but I'm sure Machiavelli was aware of this in his advice to the prince, the ways of securing power. One of the ways can be to make that power not less oppressive but more oppressive. Make oneself, the king, the prince should make himself feared more in order to have more dominion over his subjects. There's an interesting parallel to this in the history of Israel itself. Very interesting chapter, very interesting, where God's judgment is revealed.


Some of these historical books, the judgment of God, the ultimate judgment, is not always, in fact, often is not rendered explicit. There's not a lot of moralizing in certain parts of the historical books of the Bible. There is a real wisdom in this. You can say, in the moral of the story is such and so. And everyone agrees, well, that's right, and we all recognize the rightness of that. But somehow there's a greater power in simply telling the story of the evil done, the sin of the injustice, and then showing as history moves on how the fruits of that evil, of that sin, of that injustice somehow appear inevitably on the tree of time as it were.


You don't always have to say, this is an evil act and therefore God's judgment is against it and therefore all of this will be punished or the wrongs will be righted, but simply show it as it happens and then what comes to pass. Especially in the books of Kings, Samuel and Kings, there's a sense of realism and the moral sense of these events is apparent in their total context and simply the telling of them truthfully with all attention to the passion involved in the evil done and the fruits that result therefrom. So here is, in the first book of Kings, chapter 12, we have the succession after King Solomon. King Solomon, the great splendid reign of the son of David, the moment when the surrounding


nations' powers, usually more numerous and more powerful and greater territory than that of Israel, but by coincidence or plan, divine providence of course, all of these nations were very weak and so Israel stood out and was able to develop into a great nation and to have considerable influence, at least for this one period of its existence. But then as the story goes on, it simply says that Solomon loved many foreign women and this started to break things down. The Lord was angry with Solomon and then what happens, his sons, and they try to decide who is going to be his successor and it is to be Rehoboam. This is in 1 Kings, chapter 12.


So Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. And when Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, heard of it, for he was still in Egypt, whither he had fled from King Solomon, then Jeroboam returned from Egypt and they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehoboam, your father, Solomon, made our yoke heavy. Israel knew how to exercise power. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke upon us and we will serve you. In other words, lighten these oppressive, authoritarian structures of Israel. Structures in order that the unity of the kingdom may be maintained, in order that the people may more willingly remain united. The unity of Israel was always a problem because of their nomadic background and their tribal


history, their kind of independent tribal history. And so he said to them, Rehoboam said to them, depart for three days, then come back to me. So the people went away. I want to think about this, he says. Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men who had stood before Solomon, his father, while he was yet alive, saying, how do you advise me to answer this people? And they said to him, if you will be a servant to this people today and serve them. That's the reversal of values here. The people are not to be servants of the king. The king is to be a servant of the people. If you will be a servant to this people and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever. You will be able to ensure the continuance of Solomon's reign and of his dominion over all Israel if you simply assume an attitude of service in your exercise of authority.


Then they will respond, then they will obey. But he forsook the counsel, Rehoboam, forsook the counsel which the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him. And he said to them, what do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, lighten the yoke that your father put upon us? And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, thus shall you speak to this people who said to you, your father made our yoke heavy, but do you lighten it for us? Thus shall you say to them, my little finger is thicker than my father's loins. And now, whereas my father laid upon you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father chastised you with whips and I will chastise you with scorpions. And so he says this to them. So the king did not hearken to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about


by the Lord that he might fulfill his word which the Lord spoke to Hygia, the Shilonite, to Jeroboam, the son of Neba, and so forth. And when all Israel saw that the king did not hearken to them, the people answered the king, what portion have we in David, that is in the Davidic monarch? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel, but now to your own house, David. So Israel departed to their tents and the kingdom broke up. Notice the similarity here, the hardness of Rehoboam's heart, the hardness of Pharaoh's heart. And of course all of this is part of his plan. Moses was impatient, you know, it says you've done nothing at all. He has done evil to this people and thou hast not delivered thy people at all.


Here I went to him and I told him and I asked him and he said no and not only did he say no but he increased our burdens and Moses blames God. Then God says no, you will see, you will see. And God's time, God's way of acting is always mysterious. What did he do? He let Pharaoh do this to them, not because he wanted this done to them, not because he wanted this, but he let Pharaoh do this that he might show his love for his people. And then there's this renewal of the promise. God always comes back and renews his promises, renews his covenant. Even when it seems that there is no hope, that all things seem to be ending, that there is no, not going to be any result of this. God says, you have not delivered your people at all, then he comes back and says, I am.


And as I have done, so shall I do. God reveals himself as one who has already acted in history and he makes himself known in terms of what has been accomplished by his power, by his mercy in history. I am Yahweh, I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name, the Lord, Yahweh, I did not make myself known to them. Notice the difference here between this account which is in the priestly tradition and the other which is in the Yahweh's. Why is it the Yahweh's tradition? Because the name Yahweh is on the lips, placed on the lips of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Two different expressions, two different understandings, both of them quite important of this moment


of history which is the exodus and the encounter of Moses with God. The Yahwist, you might say, emphasizes the continuity, the same one, the same Yahweh, the same Lord who was called upon by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who was with him, who led them on their journeys, is that same one who comes and speaks to Moses and then who delivers Israel and brings them into the land of his promise. The priestly tradition emphasizes the other side, the newness of this. You can apply the same thing just to the relation between the Old and the New Testament. The book of Hebrews that we are reading emphasizes the newness of this. The Old Covenant could not save us, could not purify consciences. The ritual action of repeated sacrifices was not sufficient to purify the consciences of


those who worshiped God, even though these ritual actions were the will of God. But now we have a greater covenant, now we have a New Covenant, now we have a greater High Priest. The emphasis there is very, very strongly on the newness that Jesus brings, the newness of the New Covenant, the newness of his sacrifice. And yet it is the same Lord, the same plan, the same divine action in history. You can see the Incarnation working, you know, this economy, this economia of the Incarnation in the whole history of salvation. Then you can see it as a total new beginning in Christ, new heavens and a new earth. Both are true. These two affirmations, the continuity to the divine plan and the newness in Jesus Christ are both essential affirmations to the understanding of Scripture, the understanding of the Gospel.


This is not simply something of interest only to theologians or rather vain quibbling about minor matters. A very important thing, the Fathers of the Church were very, very concerned about this dynamic, this relationship between the Old and the New Testaments. It was very important for them because of the kind of errors that arose in the very early centuries of Christianity to emphasize the continuity, the unity of the Testaments, the unity of the Old and the New. Saint Irenaeus, a big point of this, the unity of the Old and the New. But all of the Fathers, indeed, because there was this false Gnosticism that was going about, which, when it was dealing with Christian symbols or Judeo-Christian symbols, the Judeo-Christian Gnosis, the Jewish Gnosis and the Judeo-Christian Gnosis, mixing, of course, Biblical symbols


with other quite non-Biblical material and even contrary to the meaning of Scripture, very often associated creation and everything that comes up to Jesus with a totally different economia, a totally different plan, a totally different process and often a totally different God, the Creator of the material universe, the God of the Old Testament is not the God, the Father Jesus Christ. Marcion, the one heresiarch who stands out for his denial of the continuity of the divine plan, the denial of the unity of the Testaments. The Old Testament must be rejected by the Christian, not even all of the New Testament is acceptable, according to Marcion. So he makes his choice of Luke and certain passages from St. Paul, certain letters of St. Paul and that's it.


He limits even the canon of the New Testament. How do you account for that? The God of the Old Testament? An evil God, an opponent to the Father Jesus Christ. In other words, everything that happened up to then was under this dominion of law and authority and the threat of punishment and fear and then all of a sudden, you know, you have this new economia, this new plan, a new dispensation, which is so totally new that it proceeds from another origin, another source. Always remember, you know, when you think about the heresies, their power lies in the truth that they also contain. Not entirely error, but there is a newness involved here. It is very new. There is a new creation. It is a new economy. The emphasis in the letter to the Hebrews is entirely justified.


But then the Fathers, the supplemental Roman, St. Irenaeus, were also entirely justified in view of the opponents they had to deal with in the early centuries of the Church, were entirely justified in emphasizing the unity of the canon of the Testaments. I think maybe today we need this emphasis. I think we do. It seems to be important. There seems to be an awareness of the need to profess once again our faith in the creation. God, the creator of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and all that is unseen, the goodness of this creation. Ultimately, a lot of things that happen, you know, which are so disconcerting in our modern world, are ultimately a denial of the value of creation, the value of life.


The abuse of the environment, material objects, isn't that kind of a heresy of denying that this is, comes from God's hands, it belongs to Him, the divine origin and property, you might say, of the cosmos, of the universe, the material things. The earth is the Lord's in fullness thereof. The world and all that it contains. So you have in the book of Exodus, in the text, the canonical text that we have today, you have both emphases and they're just woven in together. You can discern the different strands, but it is their unity which is also of crucial importance. The Yahweh takes one view, the priestly tradition takes another view, they are not contradictory, they are complementary, they are both essential. The newness of the revelation to Moses or the continuity of this revelation with the


fathers. But even in the priestly account here, we've already touched on this, but I just want to underline that, even in the priestly account, chapter 6 of Exodus, the continuity of the divine plan is clearly affirmed in terms of covenant and also in this first person singular address. Even though I was not known to them as Yahweh, it was I who did this. It was I who was with them. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El Shaddai, which is simply one of the Canaanite titles of the divine, you know, in current use, even outside of the people of Israel, which means that historically, of course, the people of Israel adopted these names as part of the language. El is just a rather generic name for God, but it's also a specific name of the head of the Canaanite pantheon, and Israel simply understood it as one other name that they


could give to the God of Abraham, the one God whom they worshipped. But by my name, Yahweh, I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they dwelt as sojourners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians held in bondage, and I have remembered my covenant. And so, say to the people, I will bring you out, I will deliver you, I will redeem you, and I will take you from my people, and I will be your God. And you shall know that I am Yahweh your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. Here we have, in three verses, we have a whole theology. Now, all the terms in, why is this called the Priestly Codex? Why is it called the Priestly Codex? Well, because of its composition and transmission among the priestly fountains at the end of


the period of the first temple, Solomon's temple, before leading up into the Babylonian exile, and especially during the exile, the gathering of the various accounts of the history of the people and their unification into the Pentateuch as we know it. But not only because of its origin, because of its outlook also, because of the way it organizes divine information, you might say. So, very often there is a great attention to vocabulary, there is a great attention to numbers, a lot of these genealogies and number passages in the Bible, historical books of the Bible, just simply go back to the priestly tradition, and they have this interest in numbers and in order of names and so forth and so on. Then, in the use of terms, precise terminology, significant terminology, we are often condensing


an account, retelling a story in a bare skeleton format with significant words as keys to the theological meaning of the events. So, we will go into some of these terms, some of these expressions, as we go on reading this book of Exodus. But, first of all, the first term here of importance, of theological importance, in this passage, which is not, of course, the first time that we've come across it, is the term covenant. And, I think we can spend some time talking about this concept of covenant and try to grasp the variety of meanings that underlie it, the different kinds of covenants that


are spoken of in the Bible. It's interesting that our English language does have this very special biblical vocabulary thanks to the so-called Authorized Version, the King James Version of the Bible. Covenant always has this religious overtones to it because it is a word that was chosen perhaps also semi-archaic at the beginning of the 17th century when they were making this translation for the use of the Church of England. And, so we have a very precise term. The term covenant represents the Hebrew barit, and the Greek diatheke, or diatheke, if you want to use Erasmus' pronunciation, diatheke. The term, the Greek term, how else is it translated?


You have palia diatheke and penia diatheke. You have two of them. What do you have two of? You have an Old Testament and a New Testament for the term diatheke. In Greek, it means testament. The term Old Testament and New Testament is then, in effect, the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Books of the Old Covenant that transmit this story and this message, this news, good news, of the Old Covenant and then the New Testament, which is the New Covenant in Jesus Christ, in the blood of Christ. Barit diatheke. First of all, it's a term which applies to human relationships on all different levels, especially on a, what we would call, political level. Relations between alliances.


We use the term alliance, or pact, today. In the Romance languages, the term, they have no special term for covenants. It's simply alliance. Alliance, in Greek, in French, in Italian, and so forth. Alliance. And that is, of course, an important type of covenant. It is one model of covenant. But it is not the only model. What is behind the concept of covenant in the Bible? What is a covenant, first of all? A covenant is an agreement between two parties based on the spoken word. It's very important. A covenant in the biblical world is not primarily a written document, even though there is sometimes a document which is penned or carved into stone.


But this often comes later and is just simply one gesture which reinforces what is the essential contract or promise for obligating relationship, which is the spoken word. All of us, even people today, have a great regard for the value of the spoken word, the value of keeping your word, being true to your word, not breaking your promises. And yet, we don't have this intense feeling for the spoken affirmation, which all ancient peoples do. This is because, to a certain degree, because not many were able to write. Some great cultures, great nations, simply did not have any writing at all, and did not particularly notice the lack of writing.


Some great ancient cultures did not know how to write. They didn't have any writing. But they would have very, very important, strong world traditions. One example, of course, is the Aryan culture of India. This is in the priestly retelling of the revelation of God to Moses, which, in the Book of Exodus, as we have it, figures as a renewal of the promise, renewal of this contract, which had been established already on the mount of God. It's mentioned in the Encyclopedia in the bishop of the burning bush.


And God said to Moses, I am the Lord, and Yahweh. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Almighty, El Shaddai. Shaddai can be translated as Almighty, or some other term, which is not of great importance. This is an ancient name for God. But by my name, Yahweh, I did not make myself known to them, that is, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they dwelt as soldiers. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel with the Egyptians, whom the Egyptians hold in bondage, and I have remembered my covenant. In verse 4 he says, I established my covenant with them, with the patriarchs, and then I


remembered my covenant. I think I also once said before that the verb remember is not to be understood exclusively in a mental sense. In other words, the text is not describing God as somewhat absent-minded. This is not what is being said here. To remember has, you might say, almost liturgical overtones. It means to celebrate the memorial also. In other words, when we remember, when we remember. That's why I don't particularly care for the translation used in our Eucharistic prayers, the official translation, calling to mine the death of your son, endure it for our redemption, and so forth. I rather think this waters it down a bit. Of course, we do that.


We do call to mine. There is this mental operation, of course, because that's our nature, but we do more than that, and that's important to keep in mind. Of course, I'm not saying that the expression calling to mine the death and so forth is heretical. Certainly not, because it's clear from the whole rest of the Eucharistic prayer that this calling to mine does not in any way limit or does not define, the expression calling to mine does not define the way Christ is present in the Eucharist or in the liturgical celebration. It's very clear, it's explicit, and it's also implicit in the whole celebration as such. So we shouldn't get hung up on a phrase, but I do think that something, another expression perhaps, they ever come, take to mind or call to mind the translation or revision of the


translation of these Eucharistic prayers, maybe they might consider something a little bit more concrete, and perhaps it might suggest the biblical resonance of the term remember. So God establishes his covenant with the patriarchs to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they dwelled as soldiers. This, to give them, the covenant was a gift already, it was the gift of the land, but in a promise. It was also necessary that the covenant, that is the relationship, be established with the patriarchs in order that they might be accessible to God's gift of the land. So the covenant is a promise of a gift to be given, but also in itself a gift in which the land is entailed, a gift in which a relationship is established whereby the receivers, that


is the patriarchs and then those who were in their loins, to use the biblical expression of those in the loins of Abraham, to render them capable of receiving the land and all that the land comes to mean in the fuller significance of Holy Scripture, the eternal life, the risen life of Jesus Christ. So, when God established his covenant with the patriarchs, when he remembers his covenant, it means that he renews his covenant. The covenant was not forgotten or was not abandoned on the part of God. There is in the Bible a whole, almost ad nauseum, the repetition of the references to the infidelity of the people that they forgot the Lord who saved them and they abandoned the covenant


and they went playing the harlot with the divinities of Canaan and so on. So the people do forget and they forget because they do not even call to mind, much less celebrate, much less live, this covenant relationship. But God remembers insofar as he renews his covenant, he makes it effective and he makes a new step in the relationship. The initiative which he took with regard to the patriarchs, he now takes with regard to the people in their bondage of Egypt. And so it says later on in a few verses on down in this chapter 6, Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses because of their broken spirit and their cruel bondage. You notice here it says they did not listen, whereas in the other account it says,


and the people believed and when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshipped. This is the last verse of chapter 4. Of course, this is speaking of now two moments, it's speaking of two different views of the event and it is important that we have and we are aware that there were different traditions interwoven here. We always need to be reminded of that because that is the way God has spoken to his people. But they did believe and then they also did not believe because of their broken spirit and cruel bondage. The writer here, the priestly writer, has the most generous and the most kind judgment of their unwillingness to give themselves totally to trust and belief in the Lord. Not because they were so wicked, although perhaps they were in some ways,


but because their spirit was broken, their bondage had crushed them. Therefore, they were almost no longer capable of trusting anyone, even if this came with a promise of freedom, of liberation from their bondage. But then the story goes on and it continues. And here we have a nice genealogy, we're in the priestly codex, we're in their theology and their way of reading history. Their love for lists of names and so-and-so married so-and-so and begot so-and-so. There's a real theology here. Genealogies are not too, I mean, we don't listen to them too willingly and we don't connect with them. They don't really excite us, you might say.


Not that they should, but anyway, they don't immediately speak to our heart or speak to our sense of... Whereas the meaning here is that the history of salvation, the history of God's work in humanity is handed down also through the simple generation of families. That God has made his presence felt even in the simple process of handing on human existence, handing on life, God is present there too. It is significant in God's plan that the families of Rudim, the sons of Simeon are Jemuel, Jamin, Obhad, Jachin, Zohar and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman. And these are the families of Simeon. And here are the sons of Levi and so forth and so on.


The sons of Levi and who begot who? The sons of Levi begot Kohath, and then Kohath begat Amram and Izhar and Hebron and Uzziel and so forth and so on. And then Amram took to wife Jochebed, his father's sister, and she bore him Aaron and Moses, the years of the life of Amram being 137 years and so forth and so on. And these are the Aaron and Moses to whom the Lord said. Well, obviously, if so-and-so had not begotten so-and-so by so-and-so and so on and so on and so on, there would not have been Moses and Aaron. And there had to be a Moses in there so that God could speak to them, so that God could say to them, bring out the people of Israel from the land of Egypt by their hosts. You could almost say that the theology here is implying that if Moses and Aaron had not been there, if something had gone wrong along the line of generation to generation,


God would have been stumped for a while. Not really. I mean, I'm not saying that God is not totally free. He is totally free. But this is a way of saying that God takes human, the human collaboration seriously. Go ahead. Thank you. Probably genealogy has helped me out a little bit. Sometimes it can give me a sense of continuity or permanence. You've got the stories going here, the stories later on. And if you want some more, there will be a little genealogy intermingled a bit and it will somehow have some kind of connection. It will somehow connect a whole scene for me. It will keep me together. It's a sense of continuity and permanence that the plan is being carried out. It's all connected. Very good. And that is one of the very important meanings that these priestly genealogies have and why they're included. Continuity. Continuity which is not only the continuity of a God who is one,


and that is of course the continuity. There is one God who made heavens and earth and then spoke to Noah and then spoke to Abraham and then to Jacob and then on down. But also that this humanity is one. And then you can enjoy them maybe more. I mean, you're always enjoying them more. I am. Because remembering as I reread the scriptures, I come to remember the names better. We all do. Yes. And this is... Oh, I know who that is. There's the pleasure of recognition of these names. Not that all of the names are terribly important. Not that all of those names are terribly good or that they have collaborated with God's plan of salvation. How was Solomon born?


No. It's a story. It's kind of a nasty story. Murder, adultery, and so forth. And yet it all came out well. And that is theology. That is a theology of salvation, a theology of presence in the Bible which is exceedingly important. The sin is reproved and then the repentance of David so quick and so utterly simple, I have sinned against the Lord. You are that man. I have sinned against the Lord, and so on. No need to do anything more with it. And then he sings the Miserere, which is really an expression of penitence, but the second half of it is very much an expression


of new life, beautiful hymn of thanksgiving. But anyway, these are the Aaron and the Moses to whom the Lord said, Bring out the people of Israel from the land of Egypt by their hosts. Here again, the people of Israel by their hosts. A while back, we were looking at the phrase the Lord of hosts, Yahweh, Sabaoth, Sabaoth. And there are many, not many, there are a few different ways of interpreting this. Some adamantly insist on translating Lord of armies. I'm not terribly fond of that, aside from pacifistical inclinations, but I can put those in parentheses and not impose them on my Bible reading.


The different suggestions that seem to connect better tend to identify the hosts with the assembly of the people, the people gathered together. Also with the heavenly powers, the stars and the sun and moon, they're all invited to praise the Lord. Psalm 148, which we sang this morning. Those are the hosts, the young and the old, the young man, the maiden, and so forth. The old man gathered with the children to praise the name of the Lord. All of those who praise the Lord, the hosts, the assemblies. Yahweh of hosts is then the Yahweh of the assembly. The Yahweh, the Lord of the liturgy, if you want to call it that. I mean, if you want to push it even a little bit farther in that direction, I don't think you're going very wrong.


But here is the use of... Yes, but that, of course, is using later language for the Bible. Mystical body is actually quite late in reference to the church. By the way, this is in parentheses. This has all been studied very much. The term mystical body was first used to the Eucharist because St. Paul speaks of the body, Christ, period, not mystical or anything like that. Mystical, of course, from the Greek mysterion, which became the technical term for the sacraments. Therefore, the sacramental body is mystical. Mystical in the sense of being... But the community is body also, I would imagine. Yes, the community is body. That's it, the church, the community is body. The use of the term... The metaphor body is common


even in the pagan literature. But in Paul, of course, we have a... He takes it in a very, very concrete way. We can take that in a very concrete way. It's a real relationship, which is something that has no other point of comparison than the unity of the human person, the unity of the physical body that each one of us has. And supposing that we are in touch with our bodies, which are healthy, we should be able to understand that this is what he's talking about. The mystery of salvation is this. And this is the union that he's talking about. And it is certainly no less than the union of my toes with my eyes. It is no less than that. And it's, of course, more than that because it is a divine union. It is something that is operated by God


and done by God. So that is a quite... Just remembering, of course, the language is different, but that is a quite appropriate connection to make because there is a real continuity between what Paul says about the body of Christ and what is in the Old Testament and about the assembly of Israel, the sense of corporative personality, which is another thing. There is a book... The author's name. It was written many, many years ago. Franzel, something like that. Anyway, you can look it up. The Adam and the Family of Man is the name of the book. And it goes through this theme, you know, the corporative personality. In the Bible, you know, it's Adam representing all of humanity and Abraham. And then you have this phrase in the letter of the Hebrews, because Levi was in the loins and Aaron was in the loins of Abraham


when he offered the sacrifice to Melchizedek. Therefore, Melchizedek is higher than Aaron and the Levitical priesthood and so forth and so on. It's a rather strange argument we don't quite connect with unless we go back and dig a little bit. But the assumption there is the reality, the concreteness of everyone in the people of Abraham being in his loins, being part of his body, as it were. If you want to be biological about it, you could say, yes, of course, genetic code. But Abraham is the father not only of those who are physically his descendants, but of those who believe as he does. And this is not only an affirmation of the New Testament, but also in the Old, the descendant of a person can be not only someone


bearing genetic inheritance from him, but also the adopted. In a certain sense, all children were adopted. In the practice of Israel, I don't know how far back this goes, but it may go very, very far back, that the paternity of any child had to be verified, especially when there was polygamy. The father had to recognize that child even when there was no doubt whatsoever that he was the father of that child in the fullest physical sense. He took that child upon his knees, and this was an act of adoption. As if the child had come forth from some kind of metaphorical womb of his father, of his father's loins, and the child on his knees in his lap. Well, in fact, as if it could be interpreted as a recognition by God of one of these children. Of course it is. Of course it is. I mean, adopted children is not some kind of second-class status.


It is real children, in a subtle way. Really belonging to the one who adopts. Really belonging to the father. So anyway, even in these genealogies... We're more adopted by our natural parents than we are by God. Excuse me? Our natural parents are probably more our adopted parents than God. God is probably our true father more so than our natural parents. If you want to talk about adopted parents, I think it would be more true to say that our adopted parents are our natural parents than to say that they're God. Yeah. That's fine, because naturally our status as children of the Heavenly Father is a bond of unity which is greater than that of flesh and blood. Who are my brothers? Who are my sisters? Who is my mother? Those who do the will of my father.


In fact, doing the will is not something extrinsic. It is being children of my father, as Jesus says. But don't think that this is to minimize also the physical generation. It's important. And God has channeled his salvation even through that. Not even through that. Jesus was the physical son of Mary. He was very much the inheritor of her genetic code. Nothing was limited in that transmission of life. Truly. And without the one, the other has no meaning for us. A divine generation, that's fine. It can be a myth. But the word is flesh. We know the Son of God as having come in our flesh, really having inherited through Mary the common genetic heritage of humanity.


But simply being really a child of humanity, a son of Adam and Eve, as we are. So, anyway, these are the Aaron and Moses, to whom the Lord said, Bring out the people of Israel from the land of Egypt by their hosts. God, Yahweh, depended on that. That does create a little problem in our understanding of the freedom of God. And that problem is never going to go away. It's going to be there as an antinomy, as a mystery. We have to say that God was free. He could have... Well, he was free in creating the universe. He could have done without creation. And still be totally God, and still be totally good, and still even in the theology of the Eastern Church, of Saint Gregory of Palamas, the theology of divine energies.


One thing that sometimes is not always noticed, that in that theology, the divine energies are there from eternity. Therefore, they would be there even if there had been no creation to overflow into. The Eastern tradition arrives at this as one way of understanding or explaining how God can overflow into his creatures, how he can be truly in his creatures while not yet communicating his essence, which is impossible to do. But even if they were not there, the receptacle is not necessary for this overflow. Because the overflow is into the infinite, and God is in the infinite. So he didn't need to create, and he didn't need to redeem, and he didn't need Moses there. We have to say that. But he did need them in another sense. And how these two senses go together, we do not know, but God does depend on the secondary causes, as we say, in using kind of a scholastic expression.


Now, Jesus communicated his divine essence to Jesus, though. No, that's not an essential union. That's a hypostatic union. That's a different kind of union. Because you can have the essential communication, Jesus, I say Jesus as the Incarnate Word, of course, the Son, the Logos, is the communication of the essence of the Father by generation. But this is within God. It's not an overflow of the divinity, unless you can say it's an overflow in a certain sense. But it is an eternal reality, an eternal communication, which is the essence of God is the substance, the nature, the essence of God is the procession of the persons. In other words, there is no essence antecedent to the procession of the persons. Yes, he is God by essence. He is God by nature. They eternally originate from the Father. But Jesus is also God by the hypostatic union.


In other words, the Divine Word, the person of the Word, the person of the Son is God by essence. But Jesus as God and man is a hypostatic union of human nature with the Divine nature without division and without confusion. True man and true God. True man and true God. The definition of Chalcedon. Chalcedon. Which is the watershed of Christian theology. You can understand everything that took place in theology since 451 A.D., 451, the Council of Chalcedon take all of this as a footnote to Chalcedon. Either by way of rebelling against Chalcedon or by way of reinforcing the meaning and deepening the understanding and experience, experiential understanding, of what was stated in a way


that can never be done away with. One must always, yes, except we must go beyond Chalcedon. Now, the fathers of the church said this. We must go beyond it in that our faith does not stop at the words. It stops at the reality. I mean, it doesn't stop. It goes to, it's a continual movement towards the reality. It goes through the words. But the words are not the terminus ad quem. They're not the point of arrival. They're not a point of stasis. Don't stop. Don't stop. We must go beyond. But we must also go through it. So the Chalcedon says it is union without confusion. Two natures remain two natures and the human nature is truly human including the human will, including the human energies. St. Maximus the Confessor fought against these


kind of, you know, we're always trying to shave off a little bit from the human nature of Christ. The intention may have been in many, many cases, especially in the whole Alexandrian tradition, the emphasis on Christ our God. Christ, one being of the Father. Christ our God. Perfectly right, just, true emphasis, but as long as it remains an emphasis and does not involve, diminishing in any way, is human nature. Human nature was not confused with the divine, did not lose anything. Did not lose anything. Anything. Sin is not something you can lose. Sin is a loss. Sin is a lack already in itself. You could say it lacks a lack, it lacks a loss. It lost a loss, or something like that. You know, funny. To be serious about it, it is an affirmation which,


well, which is a mystery, a paradox, an antinomy. Antinomy. Anti, which means against, and nomos means law. You know, it is something that seems to go against the grain of anything that is purely human or purely natural, purely logical, purely anything limited. But as a technical term, it means that here you have this line, this, you might say, anchor chain, and you must hold on to both ends of it, but the middle of it plunges deep into the ocean. You don't know how deep it goes, but you must hold on to both ends of it. And how they connect, they connect in the middle, but how they do, we do not know.


So the same thing here. An instance, perhaps, of the dynamic of the Incarnation as a continual, ongoing activity, you might say, of God in the history of salvation. The history of salvation could also be called the history of Incarnation, God becoming incarnate. And therefore you can apply the beautiful balance and yet impossible paradox of Chalcedon to this particular point, if you wish. God needed Aaron and Moses and yet did not need them. But he wanted them, I guess. He wanted them, and he freely created a kind of paradoxical necessity for himself. A paradoxical necessity? No, of course not.


But of course we do not see, if we knew everything the way God knows it, we wouldn't be us, we would be God, because essence and knowing are one in him. But anyway. So this should just simply be a continual source of delight and wonder and awe and so forth. So these are the Aaron and Moses. It was they who spoke to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, about bringing out the people of Israel from Egypt. This Moses and this Aaron. These concrete sinners. On the day when the Lord spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, the Lord said to Moses, I am the Lord. Tell Pharaoh, king of Egypt, all that I say to you. But Moses said to the Lord, Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips. How then shall Pharaoh listen to thee? And then, continuing in chapter 7, without interruption, the same dialogue. And the Lord said to Moses, See, I make you as God to Pharaoh. And Aaron, your brother,


shall be your prophet. He shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron, your brother, shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. But I will harden Pharaoh's heart in truth. And though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand upon Egypt and bring forth my hosts, my people, the children of Israel, the sons of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. So forth and so on. Let's stop here a moment. We do need to say a few things about the concept of covenant. God established a covenant with his people. The basis of covenant is the power of the spoken word. I think I concluded last time we started on that


and then the tape ran out. But let me just repeat this. Even when they eventually learned to read and to write, when they had the possibility of writing down, making written documents, the written document was always regarded as something weaker in a certain way than the spoken word, especially when the spoken word was solemnized by a kind of a sacred action. But the word itself has a kind of a sacred quality to it for ancient peoples. Not only we have lost it with our lack of a sacramental worldview to permit me to use that expression and hammer it into the ground or whatever you want to say. In other words, a lack of a sense of signs or symbolism or whatnot or too mechanical and mechanistic view of reality or whatever you want to say. But not only we,


but this was already in ancient Roman times. The expression Verba vola descripta manet Words, spoken words, fly away. Gone on the breeze. Whereas written scripta manet, the written word abide. But a Hebrew in many, many ancient societies would say the opposite. The written word can decay because there is not the living person behind that word. In that instant. But the spoken word abides. Because the person abides. The person who said it and the person who heard it and the persons who hear it. And this would include also the divinities and nature and so forth. The words seem to never cease echoing through all of this. Yes? I was trying to think about this comment a little bit. I'm trying to figure out something like the fact that all my life I'm trying to get some kind of conception


of what these people were engaged in. Maybe something like the covenant these people had with God was either something similar to marriage or something similar to religious vows. OK. Let's just say for now marriage. That's the bottom line. Because I think that the religious well, religious vow in the Bible is a promise to promise to give. Then we have our vows in religious life in Catholicism, in church. These can be taken as particular promises. But the common you might say the fundamental metaphor of the covenant in the Bible is that of the marriage. Although there is also the covenant of friendship to friends. David and Jonathan is a great example of biblical history. The covenant of a suzerain and a vassal.


The big king and the little king. The covenant of simply the harmony of relationships that are established in a clan, a tribe which can involve subsequent generations. Like the relationship between Abraham and Lot. Uncle Abraham and nephew Lot. You find that expression somewhere in Genesis where they say but we are brothers. They're uncle and nephew but they're brothers. And the term brother then being used as covenant sharers. As two who are in subsequent generations but then united by the covenant. But the marriage comparison to marriage or marriage is the dominant metaphor


in the Bible for covenant. But let's just stay with that before we get into that which is really the summit of it and then overflows into a real mystical conception of covenant already in the Old Testament and not to speak of the whole history of Christian spirituality. There are many... Anyway, the spoken word was regarded as binding. It could not be unuttered. It could not be annulled. It could not... I mean one can burn a document. There's this thing about the written texts of Jeremiah's prophecy of doom. You have to look that up in the book of Jeremiah the story where Baruch brings the... his secretary brings the book to the prince and the prince or the priest or whoever and then takes it to the king


and the king reads it and takes out his penknife and strips off a piece of it and throws it in the fire and he reads some more and throws it in the fire. It burns. But Jeremiah, of course, uttered these from the heart and therefore he knew them by heart and therefore they abide in spite of the document being burned. The document may burn, may decay, but the word abides because the person abides, the person behind the word. And when the speaker is God, of course, the word is eternal. But we say this because we have from the heritage of the Hebrew people as of other ancient peoples we have this concept of the word as abiding. Doesn't this already kind of start reminding us of certain theological realities? The Son of God is the word


eternally begotten before all creation. How can we use the metaphor? How can we use the expression word, logos, of a divine person the generator, the seeding father. How can we use that expression, logos? Because logos was really understood in this way by the biblical writer. We use the expression. So John, the authors, the community of John, authored the prologue to the gospel, the fourth gospel. There was also a kind of almost magical understanding. You see here, religion, what is pure religion, or what is magic, I'd say, religion contaminated with magic or superstition. We shouldn't be too judgmental. There's no real rigid boundary.


And God has dealt with all sorts of the human archetypes of religion. They seem to be a reality. You find scientists who have invested nothing in the Bible or any particular religion who come to recognize these religious symbols as something inherent in our human nature, which means common to every single human being on the face of the earth and from time immemorial. And then these, whatever you want to call them, symbols, primordial symbols or archetypes, it doesn't matter. You're not having to, you don't have to subscribe to Carl Jung or Sayyid Ali Adi or any of these who have developed their thought in this area. But the fact is, I think, real and has probably been sufficiently demonstrated,


I think, to be affirmed without fair contradiction. But God does use this. He deals with this. He uses this. He accepts it. Even when, you know, when it's not pure. But what is pure anyway? What is pure religion? I remember these, some of these people that you were saying that they may, they may not have investment in violence, they may not have cognizant investment in God, but God still has some sort of investment in them. Yeah, yeah. Of course, I was speaking of the scientists, I mean, like people like Carl Jung. Of course, he probably, at least at the end of his life, was a believer in his own way, in kind of an agnosticism of kind of a self-made religion or something like that. You know, his father was a Protestant pastor and part of his growth, even as a person, involved rebelling somewhat against the rigid kind of reformed religion that Christianity, which was that of his father


and his family and his village, but in Switzerland. But, yeah, of course, I mean, he did have this personal relationship which God alone knew. But, aside from that, I mean, in his work as a scientist, he felt that even as a scientist, rescinding whether he believed or not or whether anyone should or not believe that religion was significant for human health and mental health, the one thing that he referred, that most people, most neurotic people in the second halves of their lives are neurotic because they have some religious problem and they have to resolve that problem in a religious way. Not that every neurosis is necessarily connected with one's religious situation or values, but he observed this just in a clinical sense. But I don't want to get into that because that's all, that would be a fascinating line of study in itself. But getting back to this, you can have, you see, this concept


of the importance of the spoken word also involved, you know, in its extreme, the concept of the magical formulae or the inevitable results of a blessing or a curse. You know, remember Isaac and Jacob and Esau and Jacob puts on the goat skins and his father is blind and his mother would trick him and so forth and he gets the blessing. The blessing is a thing almost. He gets it. He puts it on. And poor Esau comes along and says, Father, don't you have anything left for me? Don't you have any more blessings left? And all he gives him is the fragrance of the earth or something like the thorns and thistles or the, I don't know what he gave him. But anyway, he gave him, yeah, the leftovers. That's all very magical and superstitious and so forth. That's fine. That was part of the story. Yes, but it was a lie.


I mean, after all, we don't have to worry about, you know, because we don't have to justify it. We don't have to justify it. We have to recognize it. We have to feel a sense of awe, fear and trembling, how evenness is worked into God's love. He lets it be there because he lets the people be there, the persons be there in their freedom and even in their hardness of heart, even in their abuse of the gift of freedom. This continual risk of God. So you have also, at the extreme limit of the concept of the spoken word as abiding, as an abiding reality, you have this kind of materialization of a blessing or curse, something, and so it's a curse. It sticks to him. You can rub and you can scrub and wash seven times


in the river, far from it, and never get the curse. Some people have that idea. Why? Because it does, I think, respond to something that is underneath our very rational minds. Sometimes you need very little to trigger the primitive that is in us. Why do you find, for instance, in our modern technology, technologized society, so much devotion to astrology, for instance? I don't think astrology is entirely to be discarded. It's usually, a lot of it, most of it perhaps, is foolishness, but maybe there's something there that is worth looking at. I mean, Jung had some interesting things to say about astrology. Look at it as psychology, psychological symbolism, and maybe you can see something of value in it. But just taking it as, you know, it's kind of superstitious, business, and all of the magic, and all of the Ouija boards,


and all of the seances, and that sort of thing. It's so common. People just lap it up, you know, and then they get up on Monday morning, and they go to their jobs as computer programmers. So we have to, we're always dealing with that. But anyway, the blessing, the curse is inevitable. The covenant as such, you might say, is a particular instance of the power of the Word. It establishes an abiding relationship. And it is also, it is solemnized in a ritual way, you know. There is a ceremony involved. It is not a contract in the sense of a business contract in a modern sense. It is always ritual,


but it also has social and even political overtones. The covenant of unequal parties involved was necessary, considered necessary in order to place limits on the authority of the stronger of the two, so that the stronger of the two would not crush the lesser. You know, the vanquished king requested a covenant, or perhaps in his magnanimous generosity, the conquering king would say, I offer you a covenant, or I establish a covenant. Because, you know, this thing can't go on forever. The war cannot go on forever. After all, I have won, what more do I want? All right, then your daughters will be my slaves, will be my perfumers, and my dancing girls. But then I will place limits on my power, and you can cultivate your vineyards, provided you give me 20%


or whatever. So, covenant was established also for very real, concrete, and powerful people.