Frans Francken II (1581-1642): The Israelites Crossing the River Jordan
"Teacher," "Rabbi" and the Like
We Presbyterians now name
Our ministers for tasks reclaimed:
We're "teaching elders," for our role
That all may learn, in mind and soul,
God's grace. And Catholics still refer
To priests as "Father," which confers
A status that implies their love
To those below from God above.
Thus, Jesus' words now give me pause
In hope that he laid down no laws
Prohibiting what we are called!
But rather, pray he's still appalled
By any flouting ordination
As meaning character inflation.
Scott L. Barton
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
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(I took this picture of the painting shown first, above, when I saw it three years ago at the Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell. I wonder why Francken painted the water on the left of the people as they crossed, since presumably the story has them crossing from east to west, which would put the Dead Sea to the south - and thus, "the heap" on their right. Anybody know?)
A Nation Where All Are Saved
The text progresses, as it must;
not Moses, out alone, or just
this Joshua, either, at this river,
this new, dividing sea the Giver
parts; but now, instead of one,
it looks like twelve ensure undone
the chaos that would interfere
with what the LORD would engineer.
They venture out into the deep,
which is no more, but just a heap
on their right hand, while on their left,
no waters stand; and they are blessed
to be a nation now, where all are saved -
Let us, just like those Jordan priests, behave.
Scott L. Barton
The Lord said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so that they may know that I will be with you as I was with Moses. You are the one who shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” Joshua then said to the Israelites, “Draw near and hear the words of the Lord your God.” Joshua said, “By this you shall know that among you is the living God who without fail will drive out from before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites: the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is going to pass before you into the Jordan. So now select twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. When the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan flowing from above shall be cut off; they shall stand in a single heap.”
When the people set out from their tents to cross over the Jordan, the priests bearing the ark of the covenant were in front of the people. Now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest. So when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the edge of the water, the waters flowing from above stood still, rising up in a single heap far off at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, while those flowing toward the sea of the Arabah, the Dead Sea, were wholly cut off. Then the people crossed over opposite Jericho. While all Israel were crossing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan.