May 18, 2016

Have you been blessed studying the Bible stories and glossary definitions of Jacob’s sons? Last week while I was out-of-town, I witnessed the role of the redeeming Judah in my own family of boys and the “corporeal material belief progressing and disappearing” (SH 589), like the tares and the wheat. Next week we are wrapping up with Joseph whose appearance of tares in his life all became wheat, but this week we are learning more about Benjamin, Joseph’s brother with the same mother Rachel.

The glossary definition of Benjamin has two parts, and we previously studied the first part of the definition with Bible readings on the worldly King Saul who was from the tribe of Benjamin. (The topic was “Dissolving self-will, self-justification, and self-love” which you can find using the search bar.) In the Bible, Jacob’s youngest son is also given two defining names: “Ben-oni,” son of my sorrow, given by his mother as she passed on in childbirth; and “Benjamin,” son of my right hand or son of the south, which was the name given by his father.

Today’s readings focus on the second paragraph of the glossary definition and on a New Testament Saul who became known as Paul, and who also came from the tribe of Benjamin.  According to The New Oxford Annotated Bible, “Saul was his Jewish name, used up until Acts 13:9 to stress his origin; Paul was his Roman name, the one he was generally known by, and used from now on in Acts as missionary activity aims at both Jews and Gentiles” (p. 1943).

Mrs. Eddy defines Benjamin in part as “a gleam of the infinite idea of the infinite Principle; a spiritual type; that which comforts, consoles, and supports” (SH 582).  Have you ever thought of Rachel’s sons, who were Jacob’s two youngest children, as providing a spiritual glimpse of the Comforter?  And have you ever thought of the Apostle Paul’s demonstration of the universal Comforter through his missionary work in “comforting, consoling, and supporting” the early churches?

We usually read Paul’s conversion story as a third-person narrative in Acts 9, but in Acts 22, while on the steps of the Jerusalem Temple, Paul presents this same story as his own defense before an angry Jewish mob and mighty Roman soldiers. After presenting his case, there is a conversation between Paul and the chief captain about Paul’s Roman citizenship, and the chief captain says, “With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born” (Acts 22:28).  Previously, I had read that verse as only a discussion about the privileges of citizenship that you either earn or inherit, but this time, I read it as Paul’s statement of grace that we are all truly free born — born free of sin and disease.