Saturday, November 28, 2009

First Sunday of Advent: a Star out of Jacob

The first Sunday of Advent:

"The words of him who hears the
words of God
and knows the knowledge of the Most High.
Who sees the vision of the
falling down, yet having his eyes uncovered.
I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near
A star shall come forth from Jacob,
A scepter shall rise from Israel ... (Numbers 24: 16-17a)"

From the Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries:

"That Balaam evidently senses a gap between his vision and its fulfillment is suggested by verse 17: I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh. Thus, though these predictions were fulfilled for the first time, partially at any rate, some three hundred years after Balaam in the reign of David, traditional Jewish and Christian interpreters have seen another fuller realization of these prophecies in the Messiah. And this is the characteristic of many messianic passages in the Old Testament. On one level they are but expressions of hope for a good and righteous king. but on another plane, they must be looking for something more, for no real king ever came up to the ideals expressed (e.g. Ps. 72:; Is. 11, etc.). In interpreting these last words of Balaam both perspectives must be respected. Primarily they refer to royal triumphs in the period of the early monarchy, but these victories prefigure the greater conquests of Christ at his first and second advents."

"There shall a Star from Jacob come" Felix Mendelssohn

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