Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Isaiah 5:1-7

This passage is found in the Revised Common Lectionary, Year C (Most recently August 2016).
 This passage is found in the Narrative Lectionary for Christ the King Sunday, Year 2 (Most recently Nov 22, 2015).

Summary:  This is an action packed passage.  Lots of connections to the rest of Bible, allusions to a wedding, word play and rotten food.  I think the image of the vineyard is really worth taping into.  What kind of work is involved in growing grapes.  What can go wrong?  Our hope is finally to be connected to a stronger vine, who is Christ our vine and our King!

Key words/concepts:
Romantic connotations:  
ידיד (yadeed, meaning "beloved", vs 5:1)  I was recently at a Jewish and Christian wedding in which this phrase was used by the betrothed to refer to one another.  While I do not know what Jewish weddings looked like 2750 years ago, this is clearly an intimate word.

שיר (shur, meaning "song", vs 5:1) Interestingly, this word begins "Song of Songs."...which quickly discusses life in a vineyard.  I do not mean to put in too heavy of "love" overtones here, but it is clear that singing a song to a beloved is an intimate, if not downright romantic, thing to do.

כרם   (karem, meaning "vineyard", vs 5:1)  Huge word in the Bible.  In the book of Isaiah:

Isaiah 27         The whole redemption of Israel is in the metaphor of a new vineyard
Isaiah 65:21    The actual redemption of Israel includes new vineyards
The Psalmist also describes God's work in Israel in terms of a vine:
You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land.
The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches (80:8-10)

The New Testament also picks up on the Vineyard.
First, Mark 12/Matthew 21 clearly reference in Isaiah 5 parable.
Second, Matthew 20/ Luke 20 contain another another parable dealing with vineyards; see also Luke 13
Third, Jesus describes himself as the vine (John 15)

Trivia:  Noah planted vineyard in Genesis 9:20

באשים (beusheem, meaning "wild grapes" really "stinky"!, 5:2,4)  This word here means bad grapes, but really means stinky, both literal but also moral.  As the TWOT writes,
"Thus this word either describes objects that have a foul odor, bad relationships between people creating abhorrence, and the general principle that evil deeds are so rotten that they have a bad smell in God's nostrils."
That is what happens when we go astray:  stink.

משיר ושית (meaning "thorns and briars", 5:6) A note on the Hebrew here:  thorns and briers is, I would argue, an example of using two words to paint one picture:  a mess of unhealthy vegetation.  This phrase would be lost on me, but I recall, with great joy, singing the third verse of Joy to the World: Nor thorns infest the ground.  If you are looking for a nice to way to segue from this passage into Advent and Jesus, there you go.

The point is that vineyards can be fertile or not...bear good fruit...or thorns.

Play on words
In verse 7 there are some plays on words
Justice (משפח) vs bloodshed (משפט)

Righteousness (צעקה) vs crying out (צדקה
This is not sermon stuff, but a reminder of the poetry of the prophets.

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