The lectionary for this week takes us right up to the edge of two great turning points in the narrative. In Exodus 7-13 in the Old Testament readings, we encounter the 10 plagues, the passover and the Israelite departure from Egypt. We stop just short of the crossing of the Red Sea.
In the journey through the gospel of Matthew, we read of further miracles (12:15-21; 14:13-36; 15:29-39), teaching episodes (e.g. on family, 12:46-50; 13:53-58), the third “sermon” which takes the form of an extended series of parables (13), and the increasing tensions between Jesus and the Pharisees (12:22-42; 15:1-20; 16:1-12). We stop just short of the turning point of Matthew, when Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (16:16).
This week’s notes are limited to just the list of questions, which I hope to return to and address at a later point.
List of Questions
Exodus 7:3, 13, 22, 8:15, 19, 32, 9:12, 34-35, 10:1, 20, 27, 11:10: what does it mean for God to harden Pharaoh’s heart? And what is the relationship of this to Pharaoh hardening his own heart?
Exodus 8:4-5: why is there no initial response this time from Pharaoh?
Exodus 8:18: why can’t the magicians produce gnats?
Exodus 8:22: why now the distinction between Israelites and Egyptians?
Exodus 9:31-32: what’s the purpose of these two verses?
Exodus 12:23: what is the destroyer?
Exodus 12:37: is 600,000 the right translation?
Exodus 12:42: when was this written? There seems to very much be a later present day sense to this account.
Exodus 12:43, 48: so can a foreigner eat Passover?
Exodus 13:6-7: why is this material repeated?
Exodus 13:13: what does it mean to redeem a firstborn donkey with a lamb?
Exodus 13:21-23: why a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire?
Matthew 12:25-27: what is the logic of Jesus’ argument here?
Matthew 12:31-32: what is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?
Matthew 12:36-37: what is the role of speech in the judgment? How does this relate to the verses on speech in Matthew 7:21-23?
Matthew 12:43-45: what is the meaning of these verses?
Matthew 12:46-50: what do these verses say about family?
Matthew 13:10-17: so why does Jesus speak to the people in parables?
Matthew 13:39-40, 49-50: is the role of angels here in judgment consistent with other early Christian and Jewish texts?
Matthew 14:9: why is Herod distressed at having John executed if he wanted him killed (5)?
Matthew 14:28: why would Jesus asking Peter to come out of the boat on to the water convince Peter that it was Jesus?
Matthew 15:1-10: what, in context, is Jesus saying about the traditions of the Pharisees and the elders?
Matthew 15:21-28: is Jesus initially reluctant to heal the Canaanite woman’s daughter and if so why?