Happy Magic Bread Day! This is the chapter with the manna, and so many things about it seem foreign to me in so many different ways. I have no clue what it’s like to travel in the desert or to travel long distances on foot. I don’t know a whole lot about what’s normal for storing food without refrigeration or sealed packaging. And I don’t know that I’ve ever heard it said that someone “grumbled against” someone else outside of the Bible. But there’s one thing here that I’ve got half a clue on, and that’s people being people.
In junior high, when one of my friends encountered the name “Abimelech,” he adopted a silly deep voice with a quasi-Middle-Eastern accent and pronounced it “a-BIM-lick.” I started drawing a series of comics titled “The Bimlik,” in which a handful of shyguys, at least one of whom had just had or was about to have or was in the process of having face surgery, had inane conversations before encountering a nebulously-drawn monster called the Bimlik, with violent results. Apart from illustrating how strange ancient Semitic names can sound to contemporary American ears, this story has nothing to do with today’s chapter, but a personal anecdote can make for an effective introduction.
One thing I appreciate about the Bible is that it’s not afraid to show its protagonists in an unflattering light. It’s open about the shortcomings and issues of its central characters. Just yesterday, we got a clear look at Abraham’s less noble side, as he caves to fear and instructs his wife to join him in a lie in order to protect his own skin. It didn’t shy away from introducing complications with even God’s behavior, as he afflicted Pharaoh’s household with seemingly-undeserved plagues. In today’s chapter, though, Abraham gives his nephew Lot first pick of the land near Bethel, so we are unfortunately without any seamy stories of patriarchal depravity at present, stuck instead with Good Guy Abraham.
Welcome back to another installment of Totally Hip Gratitude, the series on thankfulness whose name the more I think about it seems increasingly stupid. I don’t think it lands that it’s a play on the 90s’ obsession with edginess and attitude, juxtaposing it with the humility of sincere appreciation. But there’s no going back now! And in today’s post, we’re going to look at a passage that the NASB labels a song of thanksgiving, even though it doesn’t use the word “thank.”
Welcome back to our study on thankfulness, “Totally Hip Gratitude.” Get it? It’s a play on attitude? Like cool–you know, forget it. Before returning to the minor prophets, we’re going to look at thankfulness in the Torah, like we intended to in the first installment of this series before we got distracted by portions of the Torah where any mention of thankfulness is conspicuously absent. And this time around? There’s gonna be more of my other favorite food, Biblical Hebrew, so crack open your Strong’s Concordance and let’s get to word-studyin’.
Well, this is embarrassing. In today’s chapter, Paul continues to talk about charity and financial support for the poor within the church, and on my first pass through the text, I didn’t even notice him quoting from the old testament. It’s in a different type setting and everything, Jackson! Come on! And on my second pass, I noticed it and wondered, “Where is that from? Maybe Isaiah?” Then I looked it up, and it’s from Psalm 112. I read Psalm 112 exactly three months and two days ago. And while I might not be expected to know which psalm Paul was quoting, I should at least have recognized it as a psalm. Truly, I am like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror, for once I have looked at myself and gone away, I have immediately forgotten what kind of person I was.
My preferred Bible translation is the NASB, but I have to admit it’s not without its drawbacks. It presents a more literal translation wherever possible and reflects the original languages more closely than the NIV. But as a result, I find some passages to be not immediately accessible, and it takes some time and effort just to figure out what’s going on. Like, oh say, this chapter.