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Bible 2016: 1 August Daily Bible Reading

Context and Comment:

Asherah, in Semitic mythology, is a mother goddess who appears in a number of ancient sources. She appears in Akkadian writings by the name of Ashratum/Ashratu, and in Hittite as Asherdu(s) or Ashertu(s) or Aserdu(s) or Asertu(s). Asherah is generally considered identical with the Ugaritic goddess ʼAṯirat.

Asherah is identified as the consort of the Sumerian god Anu and Ugaritic El, the oldest deities of their respective pantheons. This role gave her a similarly high rank in the Ugaritic pantheon. The name Dione, which like ‘Elat means “Goddess”, is clearly associated with Asherah in the Phoenician History of Sanchuniathon, because the same common epithet (‘Elat) of “the Goddess par excellence” was used to describe her at Ugarit. The Book of Jeremiah, written circa 628 b.C., refers to Asherah when it uses the title “Queen of Heaven”, stating: “pray thou not for this people…the children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the Queen of Heaven, and to pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.

Between the 10th century BC and the beginning of their exile in 586 BC, idolatry was common in Israel; after the exile that worship of Yahweh alone became established. Josiah cut down the statues of Asherah in the temple Solomon built for Yahweh. Josiah’s grandfather, Manasseh, had erected this statue.

In today’s passage in Romans, Psalm 69:9; 2 Samuel 22:50; Psalm 18:49; Deuteronomy 32:43; Psalm 117:1; Isaiah 11:10; and Isaiah 52:15 are referenced.

2 Chronicles 30-31:21
30 Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to Yahweh’s house at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover to Yahweh, the God of Israel. 2 For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the assembly in Jerusalem, to keep the Passover in the second month. 3 For they could not keep it at that time, because the priests had not sanctified themselves in sufficient number, neither had the people gathered themselves together to Jerusalem. 4 The thing was right in the eyes of the king and of all the assembly. 5 So they established a decree to make proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba even to Dan, that they should come to keep the Passover to Yahweh, the God of Israel, at Jerusalem: for they had not kept it in great numbers in such sort as it is written. 6 So the couriers went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, “You children of Israel, turn again to Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, that he may return to the remnant that have escaped of you out of the hand of the kings of Assyria. 7 Don’t be like your fathers, and like your brothers, who trespassed against Yahweh, the God of their fathers, so that he gave them up to desolation, as you see. 8 Now don’t be stiff-necked, as your fathers were; but yield yourselves to Yahweh, and enter into his sanctuary, which he has sanctified forever, and serve Yahweh your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you. 9 For if you turn again to Yahweh, your brothers and your children shall find compassion before those who led them captive, and shall come again into this land: for Yahweh your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.”
10 So the couriers passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, even to Zebulun: but they ridiculed them, and mocked them. 11 Nevertheless certain men of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem. 12 Also on Judah came the hand of God to give them one heart, to do the commandment of the king and of the princes by Yahweh’s word. 13 Many people assembled at Jerusalem to keep the feast of unleavened bread in the second month, a very great assembly. 14 They arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for incense took they away, and cast them into the brook Kidron. 15 Then they killed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the second month: and the priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought burnt offerings into Yahweh’s house. 16 They stood in their place after their order, according to the law of Moses the man of God: the priests sprinkled the blood which they received of the hand of the Levites. 17 For there were many in the assembly who had not sanctified themselves: therefore the Levites were in charge of killing the Passovers for everyone who was not clean, to sanctify them to Yahweh. 18 For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim and Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than it is written. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, “May the good Yahweh pardon everyone 19 who sets his heart to seek God, Yahweh, the God of his fathers, even if they aren’t clean according to the purification of the sanctuary.”
20 Yahweh listened to Hezekiah, and healed the people. 21 The children of Israel who were present at Jerusalem kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with great gladness; and the Levites and the priests praised Yahweh day by day, singing with loud instruments to Yahweh. 22 Hezekiah spoke comfortably to all the Levites who had good understanding in the service of Yahweh. So they ate throughout the feast for the seven days, offering sacrifices of peace offerings, and making confession to Yahweh, the God of their fathers. 23 The whole assembly took counsel to keep other seven days; and they kept another seven days with gladness. 24 For Hezekiah king of Judah gave to the assembly for offerings one thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep; and the princes gave to the assembly a thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep: and a great number of priests sanctified themselves. 25 All the assembly of Judah, with the priests and the Levites, and all the assembly who came out of Israel, and the foreigners who came out of the land of Israel, and who lived in Judah, rejoiced. 26 So there was great joy in Jerusalem; for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem. 27 Then the priests the Levites arose and blessed the people: and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to his holy habitation, even to heaven.
31 Now when all this was finished, all Israel who were present went out to the cities of Judah, and broke in pieces the pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles, and broke down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned, every man to his possession, into their own cities. 2 Hezekiah appointed the divisions of the priests and the Levites after their divisions, every man according to his service, both the priests and the Levites, for burnt offerings and for peace offerings, to minister, and to give thanks, and to praise in the gates of the camp of Yahweh. 3 He appointed also the king’s portion of his substance for the burnt offerings, for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths, and for the new moons, and for the set feasts, as it is written in Yahweh’s law. 4 Moreover he commanded the people who lived in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might give themselves to Yahweh’s law. 5 As soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel gave in abundance the first fruits of grain, new wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly. 6 The children of Israel and Judah, who lived in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of cattle and sheep, and the tithe of dedicated things which were consecrated to Yahweh their God, and laid them by heaps. 7 In the third month they began to lay the foundation of the heaps, and finished them in the seventh month. 8 When Hezekiah and the princes came and saw the heaps, they blessed Yahweh, and his people Israel. 9 Then Hezekiah questioned the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps. 10 Azariah the chief priest, of the house of Zadok, answered him and said, “Since people began to bring the offerings into Yahweh’s house, we have eaten and had enough, and have left plenty: for Yahweh has blessed his people; and that which is left is this great store.” 11 Then Hezekiah commanded them to prepare rooms in Yahweh’s house; and they prepared them. 12 They brought in the offerings and the tithes and the dedicated things faithfully: and over them Conaniah the Levite was ruler, and Shimei his brother was second. 13 Jehiel, and Azaziah, and Nahath, and Asahel, and Jerimoth, and Jozabad, and Eliel, and Ismachiah, and Mahath, and Benaiah, were overseers under the hand of Conaniah and Shimei his brother, by the appointment of Hezekiah the king, and Azariah the ruler of God’s house. 14 Kore the son of Imnah the Levite, the porter at the east gate, was over the freewill offerings of God, to distribute the offerings of Yahweh, and the most holy things. 15 Under him were Eden, and Miniamin, and Jeshua, and Shemaiah, Amariah, and Shecaniah, in the cities of the priests, in their office of trust, to give to their brothers by divisions, as well to the great as to the small: 16 besides those who were listed by genealogy of males, from three years old and upward, even everyone who entered into Yahweh’s house, as the duty of every day required, for their service in their offices according to their divisions; 17 and those who were listed by genealogy of the priests by their fathers’ houses, and the Levites from twenty years old and upward, in their offices by their divisions; 18 and those who were listed by genealogy of all their little ones, their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, through all the congregation: for in their office of trust they sanctified themselves in holiness. 19 Also for the sons of Aaron the priests, who were in the fields of the suburbs of their cities, in every city, there were men who were mentioned by name, to give portions to all the males among the priests, and to all who were listed by genealogy among the Levites. 20 Hezekiah did so throughout all Judah; and he worked that which was good and right and faithful before Yahweh his God. 21 In every work that he began in the service of God’s house, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.

Romans 15:1-22
15 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each one of us please his neighbor for that which is good, to be building him up. 3 For even Christ didn’t please himself. But, as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that through patience and through encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 Now the God of patience and of encouragement grant you to be of the same mind one with another according to Christ Jesus, 6 that with one accord you may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Therefore accept one another, even as Christ also accepted you, to the glory of God. 8 Now I say that Christ has been made a servant of the circumcision for the truth of God, that he might confirm the promises given to the fathers, 9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
“Therefore will I give praise to you among the Gentiles,
and sing to your name.”
10 Again he says,
“Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”
11 Again,
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles!
Let all the peoples praise him.”
12 Again, Isaiah says,
“There will be the root of Jesse,
he who arises to rule over the Gentiles;
in him the Gentiles will hope.”
13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit. 14 I myself am also persuaded about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish others. 15 But I write the more boldly to you in part, as reminding you, because of the grace that was given to me by God, 16 that I should be a servant of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, serving as a priest of the Good News of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be made acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 17 I have therefore my boasting in Christ Jesus in things pertaining to God. 18 For I will not dare to speak of any things except those which Christ worked through me, for the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed, 19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of God’s Spirit; so that from Jerusalem, and around as far as to Illyricum, I have fully preached the Good News of Christ; 20 yes, making it my aim to preach the Good News, not where Christ was already named, that I might not build on another’s foundation. 21 But, as it is written,
“They will see, to whom no news of him came.
They who haven’t heard will understand.”22 Therefore also I was hindered these many times from coming to you,

Psalm 25:1-15
By David.
25 To you, Yahweh, do I lift up my soul.
2 My God, I have trusted in you.
Don’t let me be shamed.
Don’t let my enemies triumph over me.
3 Yes, no one who waits for you shall be shamed.
They shall be shamed who deal treacherously without cause.
4 Show me your ways, Yahweh.
Teach me your paths.
5 Guide me in your truth, and teach me,
For you are the God of my salvation,
I wait for you all day long.
6 Yahweh, remember your tender mercies and your loving kindness,
for they are from old times.
7 Don’t remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions.
Remember me according to your loving kindness,
for your goodness’ sake, Yahweh.
8 Good and upright is Yahweh,
therefore he will instruct sinners in the way.
9 He will guide the humble in justice.
He will teach the humble his way.
10 All the paths of Yahweh are loving kindness and truth
to such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.
11 For your name’s sake, Yahweh,
pardon my iniquity, for it is great.
12 What man is he who fears Yahweh?
He shall instruct him in the way that he shall choose.
13 His soul shall dwell at ease.
His offspring shall inherit the land.
14 The friendship of Yahweh is with those who fear him.
He will show them his covenant.
15 My eyes are ever on Yahweh,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

Proverbs 20:13-15
13 Don’t love sleep, lest you come to poverty.
Open your eyes, and you shall be satisfied with bread.
14 “It’s no good, it’s no good,” says the buyer;
but when he is gone his way, then he boasts.
15 There is gold and abundance of rubies;
but the lips of knowledge are a rare jewel.

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