March 25, 2015

“A lost opportunity is the greatest of losses,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy in her Sentinel article “Now and Then.” (My. 18) Does that summarize Reuben, the eldest son of Jacob and heir-apparent, who was distracted by infidelity and untruthfulness?
You will notice that we are reading about Reuben’s role in Joseph’s Egyptian experience, and next week we will pick up with his brother Judah. The brothers we have been reading about (Issachar, Levi, and the first definition of Benjamin) expressed qualities from which we should fast in our consciousness, but Judah has aspirational qualities. The Messiah was prophesied to come from the tribe of Judah, so it will be interesting to think about Judah in relation to the Easter story.  I am letting you know ahead of time because I want you to stay involved in this progressive Bible story!


March 18, 2015

Mary Baker Eddy defined fasting as “refraining from admitting the claims of the senses.” (My. 222) During our Wednesday services, we have been addressing claims that we can refrain, or fast, from admitting into our own consciousness. This Wednesday, we are addressing the awful claims of anger, cruelty, hypocrisy, and revenge, as displayed by Levi, one of Jacob’s sons.

In doing these readings, I was touched that Shechem was chosen as a Levitical city of refuge when the Israelites returned from Egypt, and that Joseph’s bones were brought there to be buried. Was that salt in the wound due to the atrocities that occurred there — that made the name of Jacob “to stink among the inhabitants of the land’?  What a healing balm it was for Jesus to choose that same spot when speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well — teaching us that worship is only in spirit and truth.


March 11, 2015

     Have you ever wondered about the definitions of Jacob’s sons in the “Glossary” of Science and Health? There are 12 sons of Jacob, and 9 of them have definitions in the Glossary — 4 of the sons have definitions that we should aspire to (or pray for), and 4 of them have definitions from which we should refrain (or fast). Benjamin has one definition of each, perhaps because his mother and father each gave him a different name when he was born. Rachel named him Ben-oni (son of my sorrow), while Jacob called him Benjamin (son of the right hand). Last week, the subject was on self-will, self-justification, and self-love, so I included Mrs. Eddy’s first (and undesirable) definition of Benjamin with the readings on King Saul from the tribe of Benjamin.
     Issachar was more difficult to track because there are few Bible references about him other than  the story about his birth due to Rachel trading with Leah for her mandrakes.  According to the notes in The New Oxford Annotated Bible, mandrakes were “roots of a potato-like plant thought to have aphrodisiac properties.”
     One of the few jsh-online references to Issachar (other than in a list of tribes) was in article by Bible scholar Thomas Leishman who referenced “The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs” completed in the 2nd century. The Testament of Issachar does include more details about the mandrake story (calling them “sweet-smelling apples”) with its conclusion foretelling Joseph. “Because of the mandrakes, therefore the Lord hearkened to Rachel. For though she desired them, she ate them not, but offered them in the house of the Lord, presenting them to the priest of the Most High who was at that time.” (Issachar, II v. 4-5) I love that detail about Rachel offering her desires in prayer — much like Hannah, the Shunammite woman, Elizabeth, and many others in the Bible.
     So, in the Desk Announcement, I mentioned that these readings were about fasting from an impure sense of love — for our families and for our careers. Do you think that summarizes this obscure Issachar?

Dissolving self-will, self-justification, self-love (Benjamin – 1st definition)

March 4, 2015

I’ve included a link to a poem about being a windowpane, the opposite of the opacity of self-love.
You may also want to look at a chart with the tribes of Israel. Mrs. Eddy defined nine of these tribes in the glossary to Science and Health. We will be reading some of their Bible stories during our Wednesday nights before Easter.