Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Session #5: "Like a Bridegroom Coming Out of His Chamber"

"And he is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoicing to run his course." Psalm 19.5

A Huppah (wedding canopy)
The attendants of the bridegroom would stand guard over them. Kings would have three erected for their wedding. Apparently, the first couple enjoyed ten, according to an ancient Rabbinic tradition. God Himself and the angels were the attendants on that occasion.

What does this have to do with John's prologue? That my friends, begins in an interesting fact, at the (second) giving of the ten commandments, when God restored the tablets, in an interesting way: by pointing to His Lovingkindness. The commandments are restored with words of Lovingkindness. Let's go to that passage:

Exodus 34: 4 And he hewed two tablets of stone like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand two tablets of stone. 5 And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed: 'The LORD, the LORD, God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in Lovingkindness and Truth; 7 keeping Lovingkindness unto the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and unto the fourth generation.'

Now, my friends, let us enter into a Rabbinic excursus:

Two tablets, what two tablets? "Like unto the first (Ibid)." What was written on these tablets? “What was written on the first (Ibid).” With ten sayings the Holy One, blessed be He, restored them:

On the One:

1) The LORD (I am the LORD thy God)
2) The LORD (Only I--no other gods)
3) God (nor shall you swear by My name—see, even I show deference to My name)
4) Merciful and Gracious (the Shabbat was given to you)
5) Long-suffering (as your father and your mother)

On the Other (that you be in solidarity with your neighbor, who is made in My image):

6) Abundant in Lovingkindness and Truth (Don’t murder—for thy neighbor is like thyself)
7) Keeping mercy unto the generations (Therefore don’t mess up a generation through adultery)
8) Forgiving iniquity (stealing)
9) …transgression (bearing false witness)
10) …and sin (covetousness).

Two tablets, what two tablets? The one with the words “(I am) the LORD (thy) God, etc” (the Torah), and the one with the words “Lovingkindness and Truth” written therein, as it is written:

Proverbs 7:2 Keep my commandments and live, and my Torah as the apple of thine eye 3 Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the tablet of thy heart


Proverbs 3:3 Let not Lovingkindness and Truth forsake thee; Bind them about thy neck, write them upon the tablet of thy heart

When does one observe Lovingkindness truthfully? When one shows kindness to a bridegroom, as the Holy One blessed be He bestowed upon Isaac. [Gen. 24--Gen 24:27 is the first appearance in the Bible of the words “Lovingkindness and Truth” together. Read Pirke de Eliezer, Ch. 16 “The Service of Lovingkindness”, describing the service of Lovingkindness to bridegrooms. Note how the rabbis read between the lines to ingeniously “unpack” all the often subtle and hidden ways God shows this the service of Lovingkindess to Isaac. God does not like to advertise His good deeds—a token of “Lovingkindness in Truth”, chesed b’emes—so the Rabbis have to do a brain number just to spot them.]

When else does one observe Lovingkindness truthfully? When one shows kindness to the deceased and their mourners, as the men of Jabesh-Gilead bestowed upon Saul. [1 Sam 31:12-13; see 2 Sam 2:6 where David blesses these men with the words “Lovingkindness and Truth” another rare appearance of these words together. Read Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer, Ch. 17 “Loving Service to Mourners”. Note how important the Rabbis make Saul’s burial out to be.]

Note John 2, how the first “sign” shows Jesus bestowing Lovingkindness to a bridegroom, and John 11, how the last “sign” follows the scene of Him mourning in solidarity with the mourners…Accidental? Well, when the gospel opens up with a theophany that describes the Word as the very “fullness of Lovingkindness and Truth” (John 1.14), what do you think?


postmodernegro said...


sorry I missed you guys. i just go back into town on wednesday around 2:00 a long day at work on Thursday left me very drained. sounds like i missed a great conversation. i'll see you at church today.



postmodernegro said...

sorry...i meant to say 2:00 am.

Eric Orozco said...

No worries Anthony, it was good to see you at church. There is a reading from Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer...I'll email it to you. (Anybody else wants it, btw, email me.)