God Beyond All Relationships and Agendas: Exodus 24:12-18

By Walter BrueggemannExodus 19-24 enacts an agreement of mutual fidelity between YHWH and Israel. That covenant consists in two major parts: YHWH’s commands set the requirement of covenant in the form of the Ten Commandments (20:1-17), and Israel pledges allegiance to the covenant through obedience to YHWH’s commandments (24:3, 7). This enactment creates a relationship in which the defining dynamic is one of “command-obey,” with the understanding that Israel’s obedience will result in abundan … [Read more...]

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24 – Failed Kings and the Good Shepherd

By Walter BrueggemannIn Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24, Ezekiel ponders a) how his society has come to the disaster of destruction and deportation and, b) how to move forward beyond the disaster. He reflects on the kings in Jerusalem, past and future, and he does so under the metaphor of “shepherd.” The image of “shepherd” is much used in the biblical world for “king,” an image that permits great elasticity in his interpretive commentary. … [Read more...]

Zephaniah 1:7, 12-18: The Great Day of the Lord Is Near

By Walter BrueggemannThis poem features extravagant language about a coming time of loss, disaster, distress, and suffering. It is commonly dated to the time before Jerusalem was destroyed by the invading Babylonian empire. While the daring poets whom we call “prophets” could discern the coming danger to the city, most of their contemporaries, ensconced in ideologies of self-regard, did not notice the danger. They simply assumed that as God’s chosen people, all would be well. That situation s … [Read more...]

Joshua 24: 1-3a, 14-25

By Walter BrueggemannThis week’s text, Joshua 24: 1-3a, 14-25, features a great dramatic meeting as the culmination of arriving in the land of promise. The Bible thus far has traced the journey of Israel from slavery in Egypt through the wilderness (via Sinai) to the land of promise. The Book of Joshua, in violent detail, has chronicled the way in which the land given by God has been taken by Israel. And now there are decisions to be made of life-or-death proportion concerning life in the n … [Read more...]

Jeremiah 31:31-34: The Oracle of Newness

By Walter BrueggemannLike other prophets before him, Jeremiah has spent ample shrill time and energy on the claim that Israel has systematically and long-term violated the covenant agreement of Mt. Sinai. They have violated the Ten Commandments of Sinai by economic policies that abused the poor, by foreign policy that depended on arms, by theological practice that offended God, and by illusions of privilege before God. Such violation brings with it, so say these poets, severe sanctions, … [Read more...]