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The Bible In A Year: Day 141

Readings:
1 Kings 4-5
Song of Solomon 8
Acts 23

1 Kings 4-5

Solomon sets up his kingdom, including all of his royal ministers and all the provisions needed to run a kingdom. There was plentiful food and wine, and the people prospered and were happy. Solomon was so wise that his fame spread far and wide, and he was known to have written thousands of wise proverbs and songs (many of which are included in the Book of Proverbs).

Hiram, king of Tyre, was a good friend of king David and he sends tidings to Solomon upon his coronation and Solomon sends messengers back. They become good friends in time and make treaties with each other. They also strike a deal for wood from Lebanon in exchange for wheat and oil from Israel. So Solomon sends laborers and the work of gathering materials to build the temple begins.

This scene sets the stage for Solomon’s reign and if you only knew this much about Solomon you’d think he reigned for a long time with wisdom and friendship with God always at the forefront of his mind, and that he’d never had a single black mark against him, but you’d be wrong. It’s not evident yet, but there’s trouble brewing for Solomon and his kingdom.

Acts 23

Paul begins to mount his defense by saying that everything he’s done has been in good conscience up until this day. Even his persecution of Christians, which is now the camp he finds himself in, was done because he believed them to be blasphemers. He tells them this to say that it isn’t a small thing that he’s embraced Christianity. He only did so because his conscience, and a blinding light on the road to Damascus, led him to do so.

But what is the counter argument? A punch in the teeth as ordered by the high priest. Paul’s indignation and name and strong objection at such treatment is met with a warning that he cannot speak to the high priest that way. For whatever reason, Paul doesn’t recognize the high priest, but we know him from history as a man so reviled by his own people that they assassinated him when the First Jewish Revolt begins in the late AD60s.

Paul uses this opening to show his respect for the law, something he stands accused of is disregarding the law and teaching others to disregard and revile it too. So he apologizes for speaking to the high priest that way, even unknowingly, and cites a passage from the law in Exodus to show his respect for the office.

Paul then notices there’s a split in the council between Pharisees and Sadducees, and he exploits this division to his advantage. He starts telling about his Pharisee credentials and the declares that the only reason he’s on trial is because he’s been preaching the resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees denied the resurrection and didn’t believe in a few other points that the rest of Judaism held to.

When the Pharisees hear this they jump to his defense and a riot almost breaks out in the council chamber. It gets so raucous that the Roman tribune grabs Paul and takes him back to the barracks. And at the barracks Paul has a vision of Jesus where he’s told that as he witnessed to him I’m Jerusalem he’s going to in Rome. This sets the stage for Paul’s journey to Rome, a place he’s wanted to go for years now, he will eventually make it there and he won’t even have to fundraise for the journey because it will be paid for by the Romans themselves.

Paul’s nephew discovers a plot to murder Paul the next morning on his way back down to the Sanhedrin for another trial. He tells this to Paul, who asks the guard to to take the boy to the commander. Apparently he takes the threat very seriously, and Paul’s citizenship is very important here, because he was charged with protecting a Roman citizen under threat even if they were an accused criminal. Had he been just any other Jew swept up by the Roman soldiers the tribune could’ve cared less if he was ambushed, but as a citizen of the empire there was a different set of rules in play.

He arranged a military escort to take him to the provincial capital by night, and sends a letter with Paul explaining what’s happening. It’s interesting to note that he reframes the whole situation as him rescuing a Roman citizen from a mob of angry Jews, when the truth of the matter is that he didn’t know Paul’s citizenship until he was about to have him unlawfully whipped. This was a class A attempt at bureaucratic self preservation exhibited by this tribune.

Tomorrow’s Readings:
1 Kings 6-8
Ecclesiastes 1
Acts 24

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