Friday: Preparation for the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This week's blog post is here.

Complementary Hebrew Scripture from the Torah: Deuteronomy 1:1-18

These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan—in the wilderness, on the plain opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Di-zahab. (By the way of Mount Seir it takes eleven days to reach Kadesh-barnea from Horeb.) In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the Israelites just as the Lord had commanded him to speak to them. This was after he had defeated King Sihon of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, and King Og of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth and in Edrei. Beyond the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses undertook to expound this law as follows:

The Lord our God spoke to us at Horeb, saying, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Resume your journey, and go into the hill country of the Amorites as well as into the neighboring regions—the Arabah, the hill country, the Shephelah, the Negeb, and the seacoast—the land of the Canaanites and the Lebanon, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates. See, I have set the land before you; go in and take possession of the land that I swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their descendants after them.”

At that time I said to you, “I am unable by myself to bear you. The Lord your God has multiplied you, so that today you are as numerous as the stars of heaven. May the Lord, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times more and bless you, as he has promised you! But how can I bear the heavy burden of your disputes all by myself? Choose for each of your tribes individuals who are wise, discerning, and reputable to be your leaders.” You answered me, “The plan you have proposed is a good one.” So I took the leaders of your tribes, wise and reputable individuals, and installed them as leaders over you, commanders of thousands, commanders of hundreds, commanders of fifties, commanders of tens, and officials, throughout your tribes. I charged your judges at that time: “Give the members of your community a fair hearing, and judge rightly between one person and another, whether citizen or resident alien. You must not be partial in judging: hear out the small and the great alike; you shall not be intimidated by anyone, for the judgment is God's. Any case that is too hard for you, bring to me, and I will hear it.” So I charged you at that time with all the things that you should do.¹

¹The idea of appointing officers over the people is attributed to Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, in Exodus 18: 13-27, which we read yesterday.

Semi-continuous Hebrew Scripture from the Writings: Esther 2:1-23

After these things, when the anger of King Ahasuerus had abated, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her. Then the king's servants who attended him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king. And let the king appoint commissioners in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in the citadel of Susa under custody of Hegai, the king's eunuch, who is in charge of the women; let their cosmetic treatments be given them. And let the girl who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This pleased the king, and he did so.

Now there was a Jew in the citadel of Susa whose name was Mordecai son of Jair son of Shimei son of Kish, a Benjaminite. Kish had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with King Jeconiah of Judah, whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had carried away. Mordecai had brought up Hadassah, that is Esther, his cousin, for she had neither father nor mother; the girl was fair and beautiful, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai adopted her as his own daughter. So when the king's order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in the citadel of Susa in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. The girl pleased him and won his favor, and he quickly provided her with her cosmetic treatments and her portion of food, and with seven chosen maids from the king's palace, and advanced her and her maids to the best place in the harem. Esther did not reveal her people or kindred, for Mordecai had charged her not to tell. Every day Mordecai would walk around in front of the court of the harem, to learn how Esther was and how she fared.

The turn came for each girl to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their cosmetic treatment, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with perfumes and cosmetics for women. When the girl went in to the king she was given whatever she asked for to take with her from the harem to the king's palace. In the evening she went in; then in the morning she came back to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king's eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines; she did not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name. When the turn came for Esther daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had adopted her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king's eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was admired by all who saw her. When Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus in his royal palace in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, the king loved Esther more than all the other women; of all the virgins she won his favor and devotion, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. Then the king gave a great banquet to all his officials and ministers—“Esther’s banquet.” He also granted a holiday to the provinces, and gave gifts with royal liberality.

When the virgins were being gathered together, Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate. Now Esther had not revealed her kindred or her people, as Mordecai had charged her; for Esther obeyed Mordecai just as when she was brought up by him. In those days, while Mordecai was sitting at the king's gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king's eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Ahasuerus. But the matter came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai. When the affair was investigated and found to be so, both the men were hanged on the gallows. It was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.

Complementary Psalm 19:7-14

The law of the Lord is perfect,
 reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
 making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
 rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
 enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is pure,
 enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true
 and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
 even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
 and drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover by them is your servant warned;
 in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can detect their errors?
 Clear me from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from the insolent;
 do not let them have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
 and innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you,
 O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Semi-continuous Psalm 124

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side
 —let Israel now say—
if it had not been the Lord who was on our side,
 when our enemies attacked us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive,
 when their anger was kindled against us;
then the flood would have swept us away,
 the torrent would have gone over us;
then over us would have gone
 the raging waters.

Blessed be the Lord,
 who has not given us as prey to their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
 from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
 and we have escaped.

Our help is in the name of the Lord,
 who made heaven and earth

New Testament Lesson: Acts 12:20-25

Herod Agrippa

Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they came to him in a body; and after winning over Blastus, the king's chamberlain, they asked for a reconciliation, because their country depended on the king's country for food. On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat on the platform, and delivered a public address to them. The people kept shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a mortal!” And immediately, because he had not given the glory to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.

But the word of God continued to advance and gain adherents. Then after completing their mission Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem and brought with them John, whose other name was Mark.

Year B Ordinary 26 Friday

Selections from Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 1995 by the Consultation on Common Texts.

Unless otherwise indicated, Bible text is from The New Revised Standard Version, (NRSV) copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All right reserved.

Image credit: Herod Agrippa downloaded via slideshare.net.

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