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Archive for February, 2021

Rahab, the harlot & Faith!

One of my abiding doubts which could never be clarified from those sermons i had heard from pulpits was: Why do the preachers always harp on her harlotry when talking about Rahab’s faith and why did God rehabilitate her and include her in the Hall of Faith mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11:31?

The niggling underlying doubt was, Did Rahab repose her Faith in God or did she obtain a favour from Joshua as a reward for having hidden and saved the lives of the two spies from Israel? If it was a contractual obligation on the part of Joshua to honour the assurances of the spies, where is the question of Faith?

This question was neither answered nor touched upon, probably the Preachers had to deal with the moral issue involved in dealing with a person whose references in the whole Bible is invariably juxtaposed with her profession of harlotry. Notwithstanding such a judgemental reiterative reminder, at least the preachers should have gone beyond the ‘moral fibre’ of Rahab.

In fact, in one of the sermons i had listened to, the Preacher had mentioned that Rahab was the mother of Boaz, which i not only found amusing but was seen by me as an attempt to hallow the profane, by downplaying the references to the profession of Rahab. In an attempt to debunk that hypotheses i had written a blog many years back, which had gained a lot of traction in Google searches and till date receives a first page listing!:

Many a time have i read the verses relating to Rahab, but the verse which escaped my sincere application of mind was the following verse:

Joshua 2:9

And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.

கர்த்தர் உங்களுக்கு தேசத்தை ஒப்புக்கொடுத்தாரென்றும், உங்களைப்பற்றி எங்களுக்குத் திகில் பிடித்திருக்கிறதென்றும், உங்களைக்குறித்து தேசத்துக் குடிகள் எல்லாரும் சோர்ந்துபோனார்களென்றும் அறிவேன்.

These were the words of Rahab, even before the priests had touched the ‘verge of Jordan’ or even before Joshua had met with the Captain of the Host of the Lord outside the plains of Jericho. Rahab had heard stories of what the children of Israel had done to the Amorite Kings and King Og.

These stories had inspired fear in the minds of the people of Jericho and Rahab predicts something which was to happen, she was not merely taking an assurance from those Israeli spies; Rahab was sure that the Israelites would take over Jericho and that the King of Jericho would be defeated, much before all these events were even to become a probability! At that moment, Rahab DOES NOT give any of the credit to the commanders or the leaders of the army but draws an inference from the preceding improbable events of the parting of the Red Sea thus:

10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.

11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.

12 Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token:

It is easy to be distracted by the constantly harped profession of Rahab, and miss this most important point.

These events, which were highly improbable and nigh impossible (possible only by hindsight – because it is written that it had happened) led Rahab to a conclusion: THAT IT CANNOT BE HUMAN EFFORT OR CHANCE. Even if the Red Sea had parted by chance because of certain types of tides and winds, how could such events like defeating the Amorite kings, favouring the Israelites happen consistently again and again?

It is that FAITH in the God of Israel which she believed in, which gets exalted in the Epistle to Hebrews. The fact that she sought temporal benefits of relief to her family, is not the basis of the text in the Hebrews, but her faith in the God of Israel which is the basis of the reference.

It is that FAITH which exalted Rahab to the Hall of Faith, enshrined in the Epistle.


Thistle and Cedar

The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife: and there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trode down the thistle.

This is the reply by the grandson of Jehu, Joash, King of Israel, to the King of Judah Amaziah, when Amaziah, puffed up with his recent victory over the Children of Seir, sent a message to the King of Israel Joash to fight him.

The irony is that Amaziah, had not long ago paid mercenaries from Israel 100 talents of silver to engage their services in a battle Amaziah proposed to engage. However, heeding to a prophecy, discharged those mercenaries, probably irking them by recovering a part of the silver agreed to be paid as wages. This is not stated in II Chronicles 25 so explicitly, yet the behaviour of the discharged mercenaries by attacking certain cities of Judah after their discharge leads one to a conclusion that they were nursing a grouse.

Whatever be the reasons thereof, one thing was clear that those discharged 100,000 men from Israel (Ephraim, being the most dominant tribe), had access routes and intimate knowledge of Judah along with the capabilities and vulnerabilities of Judah. Despite these inherent vulnerabilities, Amaziah wanted to engage with Joash, in a battle!

Aid of history is a must to understand the pedigree of both these kings.

Joash’s grandfather was Jehu, who according to a prophecy was assured by God that up to his fourth generation they would be kings of Israel! Not a mean promise – though i have my doubts as to whether these were pre-facto prophecies or written after history had run its course! In any case, Joash had had peace in Israel, whereas Amaziah’s father was another person named Joash, who though from the royal lineage had escaped from Athaliah by the skin of his teeth to become the King of Judah, at the age of seven, all because of the wisdom, strength and grace of God obtained by the Priest Jehoiada.

Weighing these two kings, it is not difficult to see that Joash, the King of Israel had a better pedigree and better resources at his command than the King of Judah, Amaziah.

But Amaziah had won a battle with the Edomites and having expended his and his people’s bloodthirstiness on around 10,000 Edomites by killing them from a hilltop, this Amaziah was emboldened to provoke the King of Israel into a war, little realising that resources accumulated in one generation by an upstart, who made it more by the goodness of the Priest Jehoiada, would be no match to the resources gathered and accumulated by three generations of Kings!

It is in this context that Joash compares himself to a Cedar – a wood that has dimensional stability. After installing the doorposts and lintels if the wood were to bend, such a wood would have a negative structural impact on the house, but with Cedar the moisture, heat and other elements have marginal impact. I presume, that Joash aptly referred to himself as Cedar and to Amaziah as thistle. Thistle is an unintended outgrowth of vegetation. It is by chance and not by design that thistles grow – and Amaziah is rightly metaphorically told that he was a product of chance with no inherent merit!

The Bible contains passages which are like the words of Joash: fitly spoken like apples of gold in pictures of silver

The sickle & the seed bag!

He entered the field with a sickle;

And i with my seed bag.

The fields were boundless

He put his sickle to the harvest

And i to the ploughed fields.

Both rested our nights

In the languorous comfort of our homes.

I met him with his sickle

And me with my seed bag.

I sow and he reaps.

Neither the sheaves he reaps are his,

Nor the seeds i sow are mine!

The owner of the fields

Had assigned our tasks.

I may go with empty hands

At eventide;

And he with sheaves on his shoulders.

Neither the seeds that i brought

At Dawn were mine,

Not the sheaves at the even

Were his!

But i complain that he steals my Labour,

And he thinks he’s smart!

Each to his Labour

And plods his way back home!

The indelible ledger

Is reconciled and wages meted

In Full, if not here,

Then there.

There’s another who invests

And contracts the Labour

Of the innovator.

Innovation is the investor’s,

The credit for innovation

Is the innovator’s.

The investor obtained patent

And monetised,

The innovator improved his CV.

Investor assumes it balanced,

But the indelible Ledger,

Maintained by the Divine,

Has its own algorithm.

It’s reconciled in Full,

If not here, then there!

The priest who preaches brimstone,

Gets his tithes.

The payer has diluted his guilt,

The preacher is busy

Making legal heirs to the

Undistributed tithes.

The Preacher calls it a blessing,

The payers, feel relieved.

Yet the accounts are not closed,

In the indelible ledger.

It is reconciled in Full

If not here, then there!

Is there a ‘there’, at all?

Asks the rationalist.

The seen is what there is!

Nothing more, he asserts.

Fool, there’s more to the seen

Than what’s been seen!

The indelible Ledger

Opens to reveal the

Self blinding reason!

The ledger says:

“It’s not there, but here”.

When the There becomes the Here,

To be ready

Is all that God leads us to.

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