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Archive for December, 2013


 OXYGEN Volume 09

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Here’s a brief outline of this chiasmus:

*  The Lord is praised (blessed)

**  God’s lovingkindness is forever

A  House

B  Filled

C  Cloud

D  Priests could not stand to minister

C’  Cloud

B’  Filled

A’  House

**’  God’s dwelling place is forever

*’  The people are blessed

I like the vividness of this passage.  There’s pageantry and drama.  The arrival of the ark of the covenant.  Instruments, Singing:  People.  A cloud filling the Temple.  The passage builds to the A B C D C’ B’ A’ chiasmus and the overwhelming presence of the Lord.  …  Nice.

I like the way God’s presence is presented in the center.  It’s physical and experiential.  The priests become weak in the presence of God.  Their bodies waver, their knees give way, and they find themselves unable to stand before their Holy God.  …  It’s a nice, short one-line picture.  An intriquing center.

In some ways it’s nice to consider the chiasmus from the inside out.  At the center we have God’s presence, surrounded by the clouds that have filled the space; surrounded by the house.  Then you bring in the idea that this is an everlasting thing.  God’s love is forever.  The situation is forever.  Then finally, you surround the episode with praise for God and with a blessing for the people.  In a center-out read, it all flows from the center’s ‘presence of God’.

This story reminds me a bit of the Christmas story.  Both are about God drawing near to man.  Immanuel:  ‘God with us’.  Perhaps it can be thought of as an Old Testament ‘Christmas story’?  A foretaste of things to come?  An indication of God’s ultimate desire:  to draw near and be present.

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7  Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the house, to the holy of holies, under the wings of the cherubim.  8  For the cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim made a covering over the ark and its poles.  9  And the poles were so long that the ends of the poles of the ark could be seen in front of the inner sanctuary, but they could not be seen outside; and they are there to this day.  10  There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets which Moses put there at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the sons of Israel, when they came out of Egypt. 

*   11  And when the priests came forth from the holy place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without regard to divisions),  12  and all the Levitical    a    singers, Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and their sons and kinsmen, clothed in fine linen, with    b    a    cymbals, harps, and lyres, standing east of the altar, and with them one hundred and twenty priests blowing    b    trumpets  13  in unison  /  when    b’    the trumpeters and    a’    the singers were to make themselves heard with one voice to praise and to glorify the LORD,  /  and when    a    they lifted up their voice    b    accompanied by    b’    trumpets    a’    and cymbals and instruments of music, and when they praised the LORD saying,

**   “He indeed is good for His lovingkindness is everlasting  [Hebrew: olam]  ,”

A    a    then the house,

B    b    was filled

C    b’   with a cloud –    a’    the house of God,

D    14  so that the priests could not stand to minister

C’   because of the cloud,

B’   filled – with the glory of the Lord,

A’   the house of God.

**’   6:1  Then Solomon said, “The LORD has said that He would dwell in the thick cloud.  2  “I have built Thee a lofty house, And a place for Thy dwelling forever  [Hebrew: olam]  .” 

*’   3  Then the king faced about and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel was standing.

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This post looks briefly at the tendency of both Homer  (author of the Illiad and Odyssey) and Mark (the Gospel of Mark) to answer questions – or comments – chiastically …

First, Homer, from here (note the nice clear matches 🙂 ):

… both Illiad and Odyssey contain a series of questions which is answered in exactly reversed order: Antinous’ three questions to Noemon (Od. 4.642-56); Hecabe’s several questions to Hector (Il. 6. 254-85); and, in the most elaborate example of this device, Odysseus’ seven questions to his mother Anticleia in Hades (Od. 11. 170-203). Here is an example quoted in diagrammatic form from Steve Reece:

Od. 11. 170-203:

A.  What killed you?  (171)

B.  A long sickness?  (172)

C.  Or Artemis with her arrows?  (172-73)

D.  How is my father?  (174)

E.  How is my son?  (174)

F.  Are my possessions safe?  (175-76)

G.  Has my wife been faithful?  (177-79)

G’.  Your wife has been faithful.  (181-83)

F’.  Your possessions are safe.  (184)

E’.  Your son is thriving.  (184-87)

D’.  Your father is alive but in poor condition.  (187-96)

C’.  Artemis did not kill me with her arrows.  (198-99)

B’.  Nor did a sickness kill me.  (200-201)

A’.  But my longing for you killed me.  (202-3)

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Mark also liked to answer questions or comments chiastically.  Following are two examples:

Mark 3:22-30:

A    22  And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,”

B    and “He casts out the demons  /  by the ruler of the demons.”

B’   23  And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, “How can Satan  /  cast out  /  Satan?  24  “And if a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  25  “And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.  26  “And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished!  27  “But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house. 

A’   28  “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter;  29  but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”  —  30  because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”

And, Mark 13:1-37:

1  And as He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples said^ to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”
2  And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another which will not be torn down.”
3  And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately,

A    4  “Tell us, when will these things be,

B    and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”

B’   [Me:  a list of signs:]    5  And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.  6  “Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many.  7  “And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end.  8  “For nation will arise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.  9  “But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them.  10  “And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.  11  “And when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.  12  “And brother will deliver brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.  13  “And you will be hated by all on account of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.  14  “But when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.  15  “And let him who is on the housetop not go down, or enter in, to get anything out of his house;  16  and let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak.  17  “But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days!  18  “But pray that it may not happen in the winter.  19  “For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created, until now, and never shall.  20  “And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect whom He chose, He shortened the days.  21  “And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him;  22  for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order, if possible, to lead the elect astray.  23  “But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.  /// 24  “But in those days, after that tribulation, THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT,  25  AND THE STARS WILL BE FALLING from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken.  26  “And then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory.  27  “And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth, to the farthest end of heaven.

A’   [Me:  The ‘when question’ is answered:]   28  “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near.  29  “Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door.  30  “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.  31  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.  32  “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.  33  “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time is.  34  “It is like a man, away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert.  35  “Therefore, be on the alert– for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, at cockcrowing, or in the morning  —  36  lest he come suddenly and find you asleep.  37  “And what I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!'”

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I thought it a bit interesting. 

In our modern western culture, we have a tendency to answer questions in the order they’re asked.

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If you’re interested, Mark 3:22-30 (the first Markan example above) is part of a larger chiasmus containing a number of smaller chiasmi:

 https://biblicalchiasmus.wordpress.com/2010/06/05/mark-320-35/

Mark 13:5-23 (part of the second Markan example above) is also a chiasmus:

 https://biblicalchiasmus.wordpress.com/2010/05/30/mark-134-23-the-little-apocalypse/

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 worship .

This chiasmus comes from two sources.

The first source is here – on p. 243.  And here’s the writer’s brief description of the book of Amos, followed by his outline of the chiasmus:

Amos opens with eight judgment speeches to the seven nations surrounding Israel before announcing punishment for Israel in the eighth (Amos 1-2).  Immediately following is a “hear this word” speech with three parts.  Part 1 (3:1-5) explores punishment as an obligation of God’s covenant with Israel.  Part 2 (4:1-17) reminds Israel that they ignored the LORD’S past warnings.  Part 3 (5:1-17) takes up their death.  The third part opens (5:1-3) and closes (5:16-17) with a funeral lament.  Sandwiched in between is a description of the behavior that leads to death and that which leads to life, distinctions between what Israel does and what God is capable of doing (5:4-15).  There is a symmetrical structure to this section:

First Lamentation (vv. 1-3)

First Admonition (vv. 4-6)

First Accusation (v. 7)

Hymn (v. 8a)

The LORD is His Name

Hymn (v. 9)

Second Accusation (vv. 10-13)

Second Admonition (vv. 14-15)

Second Lamentation (vv. 16-17)

The second source for this chiasmus can be found here

The first source for this chiasmus presents the chiasmus in 9 parts, while the second source presents the chiasmus in 7 parts.  In presenting the chiasmus below, I’ve used the 9-part chiasmus of the first source, while borrowing the 7 descriptors, or titles, of the second source.  ( … I’m trying to take the best of both ‘worlds’ 🙂 .)

Here’s my description of the various matches in the chiasmus:

A and A’ refer to potential judgment on the house of Israel.  Funeral language is used: dirge, wailing, mourning. 

B and B’ call for repentance.  The key phrases in these sections use the word “seek”:  B:  “Seek Me and live”; “Seek the LORD that you may live”; B’:  “Seek good and not evil that you may live”.  … There’s an opportunity here to avoid judgment.

C and C’ offer the reasons for God’s judgment.  C gives a general description, while C’ fills in the details. 

D and D’ present God, the judge, in terms of ‘overwhelming’ power.  God is the one who controls all of nature.  D refers to the two constellations, the ongoing cycle of night and day, and the destructive force of the seas, while D’ refers to storms – specifically, highlighting lightning.  In this context, both the surging seas and the flashing lightning illustrate judgment and destruction.

E centers on the LORD God himself – which is fitting.

Once again, a choice is required.  Staying the course leads to judgment.  Seeking God allows for salvation. 

A warning delivered.  Humility required.  Action required.

(A nice chiasmus – imo.)

I would also like to point out that there are a number of smaller chiasmi within this larger chiasmus.  This time around, I’ve decided to display the smaller chiasmi on there own, following the larger chiasmi.  I think, in some ways, it makes for a clearer overall presentation of the varied chiasmi.  Some brief comments will be attached to the smaller chiasmi. 

But first, the larger chiasmus:

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A    Description of certain judgment:    1 Hear this word which I take up for you as a dirge, O house of Israel.  2  She has fallen, she will not rise again– The virgin Israel. She lies neglected on her land; There is none to raise her up.  3  For thus says the Lord GOD, “The city which goes forth a thousand strong Will have a hundred left, And the one which goes forth a hundred strong will have ten left to the house of Israel.”

B    Call for individual repentance:    4 For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel, “Seek Me that you may live.  5  “But do not resort to Bethel, and do not come to Gilgal, nor cross over to Beersheba; for Gilgal will certainly go into captivity, and Bethel will come to trouble.  6  “Seek the LORD that you may live, Lest He break forth like a fire, O house of Joseph, And it consume with none to quench it for Bethel,

C    Accusation of legal injustice [Me: general description]:    7 For those who turn justice into wormwood And cast righteousness down to the earth.”

D   Portrayal of a sovereign God (D, E, D’):    8 He who made the Pleiades and Orion And changes deep darkness into morning, Who also darkens day into night, Who calls for the waters of the sea And pours them out on the surface of the earth,

   The LORD is His name. 

D’   9  It is He who flashes forth with destruction upon the strong, So that destruction comes upon the fortress.

C’   Accusation of legal injustice [Me: detailed description]:   

10 They hate him who reproves in the gate, And they abhor him who speaks with integrity.  11  Therefore, because you impose heavy rent on the poor And exact a tribute of grain from them, though you have built houses of well-hewn stone, Yet you will not live in them; You have planted pleasant vineyards, yet you will not drink their wine12  For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great, You who distress the righteous and accept bribes, And turn aside the poor in the gate.  13  Therefore, at such a time the prudent person keeps silent, for it is an evil time.

B’   Call for individual repentance:    14 Seek good and not evil, that you may live; And thus may the LORD God of hosts be with you, Just as you have said!  15  Hate evil, love good, And establish justice in the gate! Perhaps the LORD God of hosts May be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

A’   Description of certain judgment:   

16 Therefore, thus says the LORD God of hosts, the Lord, “There is wailing in all the plazas, And in all the streets they say, ‘Alas! Alas!’  They also call the farmer to mourning, and professional mourners to lamentation.  17  “And in all the vineyards there is wailing, because I shall pass through the midst of you,”says the LORD.

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And now, here are 6 smaller chiasmi that can be found within the larger chiasmus: 

From section B:    

a    “Seek Me that you may live.   

b    5  “But do not resort to Bethel,   

c    And do not come to Gilgal,   

d    Nor cross over to Beersheba;   

c’   For Gilgal will certainly go into captivity,   

b’   And Bethel will come to trouble.   

a’   6  “Seek the LORD that you may live

Comment:  There’s a contrast here between the outside (a/a’) and the inside (b/c/d/c’/b’) of this chiasmus. Do you trust the LORD, or the cities? 

From section D:  

a    8  … And changes deep darkness

b    into morning,

b’   Who also darkens day

a’   into night …

Section C’:

a    10 They hate him who reproves in the gate,

b    And they abhor him who speaks with integrity

c    11  Therefore, because you impose heavy rent on the poor and exact a tribute of grain from them,

d    i   though you have built houses of well-hewn stone,    ii   Yet you will not live in them;

d’   i’  You have planted pleasant vineyards,   ii’   yet you will not drink their wine

c’   12  For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great,

b’   You who distress the righteous and accept bribes,

a’   And turn aside the poor in the gate

13  Therefore, at such a time the prudent person keeps silent, for it is an evil time.

Comment:  I like the parallelism in the center.  Because of their transgressions, the oppressors will not be able to enjoy their stone houses and pleasant vineyards.  Punishment is incurred.

From section B’:

a    14 Seek good

b    and not evil  … …

b’   … …  15  Hate evil,

a’   love good

Comment:  This is a nice example of a ‘delayed’ chiasmus.  There’s actually some words between b and b’, which I’ve left out here.

Section A’:  

a    16 Therefore, thus the LORD God of hosts, the Lord,

b    says

c    There is wailing   [Me: Hebrew: mispedin all the plazas, and in all the streets they say, ‘Alas! Alas!’

d    They also call the farmer  /  to mourning   [Me: Hebrew: ebel],

d’   and professional mourners  /  to lamentation   [Me: Hebrew: nehi]. 

c’   17  “And in all the vineyards there is wailing   [Me: Hebrew: misped]    because I shall pass through the midst of you,” 

b’   says

a’   the LORD.

Comment:  The distinction between c/c’ and d/d’ is location (c = plazas and streets / c’ = vineyards) versus people (d = farmers / d’ = professional mourners).    c/c, d/d’ is also a nice example of how an author can choose between matching words directly (c/c’ = Hebrew:  ‘misped’) or indirectly, (using synonyms; d/d’ = Hebrew:  ‘ebel’ / ‘nehi’).  The use of synonym sometimes offers variety to a text, spicing it up.  (I love cinnamon.  It’s a nice spice.  …  Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

From section A’:

a    16 …  “There is wailing   

b    in all the plazas,   

b’   And in all the streets   

a’   they say, ‘Alas! Alas!’

Comment:  The wailing in a is given voice in  a’: ‘Alas! Alas!’.

Overall, I think there’s some very nice chiastic work done here by the author.  Seven chiasmi in all!!!  (In some ways it reminds me of the numerous chiasmi found in Mark 3:20-35.)  Nice!

The main message in the overall chiasmus is “Seek God, that you may live.”  It’s matching section adds, “Seek good and not evil, that you may live”.

Repentance and change of course is required.

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