Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - Jdg 20:10
"We'll take ten men out of every hundred from all the tribes
of Israel, and a hundred from a thousand, and a thousand from ten thousand, to
get provisions for the army. Then, when the army arrives at Gibeah in Benjamin,
it can give them what they deserve for all this vileness done in Israel" (Jdg
"It was anticipated that one tenth of the nation would suffice
to bring home to the men of Benjamin, and Gibeah especially, the seriousness of
their crime. This is the proper meaning of v 10 which should probably read: 'And
we will take ten men of an hundred... for the pursuit on behalf of the people,
they may do, when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, according to all the folly
that they have wrought in Israel.'
"It is worthwhile, here, to observe the close connection
between this narrative in Jdg 20 and Deu 13, the chapter which sets out the
stringent measures to be taken against any Israelitish city encouraging
idolatry. It is true that idolatry was not Gibeah's sin, but the difference in
degree from such apostasy was negligible, for the Gibeathite practices were
closely akin to Amorite religious customs (Deu 23:17,18). There can be little
doubt that the leaders of Israel were consciously following the very policy
prescribed in these words of Moses: 'If thou shalt hear say in one of thy
cities, which the Lord thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying, Certain
men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the
inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have
not known; then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and,
behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought
among you; thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of
the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle
thereof, with the edge of the sword. And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it
into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all
the spoil thereof every whit, for the Lord thy God: and it shall be an heap for
ever; it shall not be built again' (Deu 13:12-16).
"It is therefore hardly wise to make sweeping denunciations of
the men of Israel here in what was, after all, a sincere attempt to apply the
difficult and unpalatable (v 23) requirements of their divine law" (Harry
Whittaker, "Judges and Ruth").
Reading 2 - Isa 42:3
"A smoldering wick he will not snuff out" (Isa
Middle Easterners used a simple oil lamp to light their homes.
It was a small clay vessel with the front end pinched together to form an
opening. A piece of flax, serving as the wick, was inserted through the small
hole until part of it was submerged in the oil. When the flax was saturated, it
could be lighted. It would then burn with a soft, warm glow. But when the oil in
the lamp was consumed, the flax would dry out. If it was ignited again, it would
give off an acrid, dirty smoke, making the vessel offensive and useless. Now,
one might think that the only thing to do would be to crush and discard the
wick. But that would be too drastic, and it would accomplish nothing. If one
simply refilled the lamp, the wick could burn brightly again.
Occasionally God's people temporarily "run out of oil". They
become like the smoking flax -- they are ill-tempered and offensive, and of no
particular use to anyone. But fellow believers should not abandon them or become
angry and impatient with them. Rather, they should seek to restore them by being
merciful and understanding. By supporting them with prayer and expressions of
concern and practical help and support, they can help them to be filled again
with the oil of God's spirit, His word of hope, and to burn once more with the
soft, warm glow of Christian love.
Reading 3 - 1Jo 5:7
"For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father,
the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one" (1Jo 5:7).
The passage is absent from the manuscripts of all ancient
versions (Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Arabic, Slavonic) except the
Latin; and it is not found in the Old Latin in its early form (Tertullian
Cyprian Augustine), or in the Vulgate as issued by Jerome and revised by Alcuin.
The first reliable Latin text to contain it was written in AD 550. In the
revised Greek text underlying the modern versions, 1Jo 5:7 (the Johannine
"comma") and all reference to a trinity is obliterated.
The Greek NT (as compiled by modern scholars from the extant
mss) omits 1Jo 5:7,8. Literal translation: "Then three [there are] which
witness, the spirit and the water and the blood, and these three are the of
one.") This verse is now universally recognized as being a later "insertion" of
the Church and all recent versions of the Bible, such as the RSV, the NRSV, the
NASB, the NEB, the JBP, etc have all unceremoniously expunged this verse from
their pages. Why is this? Benjamin Wilson gives the following explanation for
this action in his Emphatic Diaglott:
"This text concerning the heavenly witness is not contained in
any Greek manuscript which was written earlier than the fifteenth century. It is
not cited by any of the ecclesiastical writers; not by any of early Latin
fathers even when the subjects upon which they treated would naturally have lead
them to appeal to its authority. It is therefore evidently spurious.
"Edward Gibbon explained the reason for the removal of this
verse from the pages of the Bible with the following words: 'Of all the
manuscripts now extant, above fourscore in number, some of which are more than
1200 years old, the orthodox copies of the Vatican, of the Complutensian
editors, of Robert Stephens are becoming invisible; and the two manuscripts of
Dublin and Berlin are unworthy to form an exception... The three witnesses have
been established in our Greek Testaments by the prudence of Erasmus; the honest
bigotry of the Complutensian editors; the typographical fraud, or error, of
Robert Stephens in the placing of a crotchet and the deliberate falsehood, or
strange misapprehension, of Theodore Beza.'
Gibbon was defended in his findings by his contemporary, the
brilliant British scholar Richard Porson who also proceeded to publish
conclusive proof that the verse of 1Jo 5:7 was only first inserted by the Church
into the Bible in the year AD 400. Regarding Porson's powerful evidence, Gibbon
later said: "His structures are founded in argument, enriched with learning, and
enlivened with wit, and his adversary neither deserves nor finds any quarter at
his hands. The evidence of the three heavenly witnesses would now be rejected in
any court of justice; but prejudice is blind, authority is deaf, and our vulgar
Bibles will ever be polluted by this spurious text."
In fact, they are not. No modern Bible now contains the
interpolation. However, just as Gibbon had predicted, the simple fact that the
most learned scholars of Christianity now unanimously recognize this verse to be
a later interpolation of the Church has not prevented the preservation of this
fabricated text in our modern Bibles. To this day, the Bible in the hands of the
majority of Christians -- the KJV -- still unhesitantly includes this verse as
the "inspired" word of God without so much as a footnote to inform the reader
that all scholars of Christianity of note unanimously recognize it as a later
Peake's Commentary on the Bible says: "The famous
interpolation after 'three witnesses' is not printed even in the RSV, and
rightly... No respectable Greek ms contains it. Appearing first in a late
4th-century Latin text, it entered the Vulgate and finally the NT of
Consider what one of the world's leading authorities on the
transmission of the NT text (and a staunch Trinitarian!) has to say regarding
these verses. After quoting the reading of the KJV in 1Jo 5:7,8, Bruce Metzger,
in his Textual Commentary on the New Testament, pages 715-717, says:
"That these words are spurious and have no right to stand in
the NT is certain..."