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Home » Daily Readings

Israel at Sichem

Submitted by on Friday, 14 August 2009No Comment

Joshuasonofnun

NAB HomepageToday’s Readings

Overview

Joshua 24 can be divided as follows

1. The assembly at Sichem

 
2-13 Recitation of Saving Events

2-4 From Abraham to Jacob in Egypt
5-7b From Moses and Aaron to the destruction of the Pharaoh in the Red Sea
7c-8 Conquest of the Amorites
9-10 Balaam Blesses Israel
11-13 Conquest of Canaan

14-24 Profession of Loyalty (A three-part challenge and response)

 
25-26 Formalization of the Covenant

 
27 The Stone as Witness

 
28 Dismissal (Conclusion)

 
29-33 Conclusion of the Book of Joshua

29-30 Death and Burial of Joshua
31 Israel during the time of Joshua and the elders
32 Joseph’s bones laid to rest
33 Eleazar buried

The liturgical text covers the first thirteen verses, beginning with the assembly at Sichem and the recital of saving events that introduce the challenge-response profession of loyalty in vv. 14-241.

Sichem.   Sichem (or “Shechem”) is an important place in the history of Israel. It was the city of refuge in Ephraim, later on becoming the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel before it was replaced by Tirzah and later on by Samaria.

The city was already famous in literature outside the Old Testament. It is referred to as Shachmu in the Amarna Letters (1350 BC) and also mentioned in an Egyptian stelle associated to the time of Senusret III (1880-1840 BC) as a Canaanite settlement.

Sichem is first mentioned in Genesis 12:6-7 as the place where God confirms to Abraham the promise made to him in Harran: the land of Canaan given to his seed. In response, Abraham built an altar there to the Lord. Sichem stood between Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim, the mountains of curses and blessings. After the Exile, Sichem becomes the holy city of the Samaritans, with Mt. Gerizim their holy mountain.

Recitation of Saving Events.   The recitation of saving events begins with a reference to Genesis 12, the call of Abraham, until the time the Israelites descended into Egypt and lived there under the patronage of Joseph. This is followed by a reference to what Moses and Aaron did in leading out the Israelites out of Egypt and through the Red Sea where Pharaoh’s army met its destruction (Exodus 1-15). Third, the victory over the Amorites was mentioned (Numbers 21:21-35). The fourth is a reference to Balak’s intention of having Israel cursed through Balaam. Instead of curses, however, Balaam blessed Israel (Numbers 23:1-24:25). Lastly the conquest of Canaan is mentioned, the fulfillment of what the Lord has promised them. Israel has begun to enjoy the fruits of a land on which they did not work (cf. Deuteronomy 6:10-13).

The Responsorial Psalm.   The day’s responsorial psalm is taken from Psalm 136 with the refrain: “His mercy endures forever.” The psalm is also a recitation of saving events, and all these is attributed to the mercy of the Lord. The word for “mercy” here is also translatable as “love”. The proper response to the love of God is a gratitude that is expressed not only in the act of worship but also in a life that is faithful to the covenant with God.

Genesis 12:6-7
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6Abram passed through the country into the place of Sichem, as far as the noble vale: now the Chanaanite was at that time in the land.
7And the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him: To thy seed will I give this land. And he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
Numbers 21:21-35
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21And Israel sent messengers to Sehon king of the Amorrhites, saying:
22I beseech thee that I may have leave to pass through thy land: we will not go aside into the fields or the vineyards, we will not drink waters of the wells, we will go the king's highway, till we be past thy borders.
23And he would not grant that Israel should pass by his borders: but rather gathering an army, went forth to meet them in the desert, and came to Jasa, and fought against them.
24And he was slain by them with the edge of the sword, and they possessed his land from the Arnon unto the Jeboc, and to the confines of the children of Ammon: for the borders of the Ammonites, were kept with a strong garrison.
25So Israel took all his cities, and dwelt in the cities of the Amorrhite, to wit, in Hesebon, and in the villages thereof.
26Hesebon was the city of Sehon the king of the Amorrhites, who fought against the king of Moab: and took all the land, that had been of his dominions, as far as the Arnon.
27Therefore it is said in the proverb: Come into Hesebon, let the city of Sehon be built and set up:
28A fire is gone out of Hesebon, a flame from the city of Sehon, and hath consumed Ar of the Moabites, and the inhabitants of the high places of the Arnon.
29Woe to thee Moab: thou art undone, O people of Chamos. He hath given his sons to flight, and his daughters into captivity to Sehon the king of the Amorrhites.
30Their yoke is perished from Hesebon unto Dibon, they came weary to Nophe, and unto Medaba.
31So Israel dwelt in the land of the Amorrhite.
32And Moses sent some to take a view of Jazer: and they took the villages of it, and conquered the inhabitants.
33And they turned themselves, and went up by the way of Basan, and Og the king of Basan came against them with all his people, to fight in Edrai.
34And the Lord said to Moses: Fear him not, for I have delivered him and all his people, and his country into thy hand: and thou shalt do to him as thou didst to Sehon the king of the Amorrhites, the inhabitant of Hesebon.
35So they slew him also with his sons, and all his people, not letting any one escape, and they possessed his land.
Numbers 23:1-24
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1And Balaam said to Balac: Build me here seven altars, and prepare as many calves, and the same number of rams.
2And when he had done according to the word of Balaam, they laid together a calf and a ram upon every altar.
3And Balaam said to Balac: Stand a while by thy burnt offering, until I go, to see if perhaps the Lord will meet me, and whatsoever he shall command, I will speak to thee.
4And when he was gone with speed, God met him. And Balaam speaking to him, said: I have erected seven altars, and have laid on everyone a calf and a ram.
5And the Lord put the word in his mouth, and said: Return to Balac, and thus shalt thou speak.
6Returning he found Balac standing by his burnt offering, with all the princes of the Moabites:
7And taking up his parable, he said: Balac king of the Moabites hath brought me from Aram, from the mountains of the east: Come, said he, and curse Jacob: make haste and detest Israel.
8How shall I curse him, whom God hath not cursed? By what means should I detest him, whom the Lord detesteth not?
9I shall see him from the tops of the rocks, and shall consider him from the hills. This people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.
10Who can count the dust of Jacob, and know the number of the stock of Israel? Let my soul die the death of the just, and my last end be like to them.
11And Balac said to Balaam: What is this that thou dost? I sent for thee to curse my enemies: and thou contrariwise blessest them.
12He answered him: Call I speak any thing else but what the Lord commandeth?
13Balac therefore said: Come with me to another place from whence thou mayest see part of Israel, and canst not see them all: curse them from thence.
14And when he had brought him to a high place, upon the top of mount Phasga, Balaam built seven altars, and laying on every one a calf and a ram,
15He said to Balac: Stand here by thy burnt offering while I go to meet him.
16And when the Lord had met him, and had put the word in his mouth, he said: Return to Balac, and thus shalt thou say to him.
17Returning he found him standing by his burnt sacrifice, and the princes of the Moabites with him. And Balac said to him: What hath the Lord spoken?
18But he taking up his parable, said: Stand, O Balac, and give ear: hear, thou son of Sephor:
19God is not a man, that he should lie, nor as the son of man, that he should be changed. Hath he said then, and will he not do? hath he spoken, and will he not fulfill?
20I was brought to bless, the blessing I am not able to hinder.
21There is no idol in Jacob, neither is there an image god to be seen in Israel. The Lord his God is with him, and the sound of the victory of the king in him.
22God hath brought him out of Egypt, whose strength is like to the rhinoceros.
23There is no soothsaying in Jacob, nor divination in Israel. In their times it shall be told to Jacob and to Israel what God hath wrought.
24Behold the people shall rise up as a lioness, and shall lift itself up as a lion: it shall not lie down till it devour the prey, and drink the blood of the slain.
Deuteronomy 6:10-13
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10And when the Lord thy God shall have brought thee into the land, for which he swore to thy fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: and shall have given thee great and goodly cities, which thou didst not build,
11Houses full of riches, which thou didst not set up, cisterns which thou didst not dig, vineyards and oliveyards, which thou didst not plant,
12And thou shalt have eaten and be full:
13Take heed diligently lest thou forget the Lord, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and shalt serve him only, and thou shalt swear by his name.

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  1. read on Saturday of the 19th Week. However this year, August 15 falls on Saturday and so this part of the Book of Joshua will not be read []

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