First of all, congrats to my Catholic relatives for your new pope. May he be better than your last one, who most of us Protestants didn’t like much at all.
As for thoughts on this chapter, I really hope that God is hiring these two in a supervisory capacity. That’s a lot of work to do for just two men; the list of what they need to prepare goes on for 4 and a half verses. If God wants this done quickly, then they’ll need some delegation.
My inner Mohist doesn’t like the idea of this much wealth spent on ritual, but then again, this isn’t made from the product of Israelite labor, but rather from the spoils they got from the Egyptians. In a way, it’s a better thing to have them turn over that wealth rather than profit from the misery of others. Also, what are they going to spend it on the middle of the desert? Are they really going to carry that much gold (19.3 grams per cubic centimeter, or about 10 ounces per cubit inch) all the way?
The last bit of regulation God gives is handing down the death penalty for breaking the sabbath. Wow. Seriously, “whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall be put to death.” (v 15) I knew the Hebrew Bible was serious about this, but I didn’t know it actually advocated execution for working on the Sabbath.
One thing I’ve been noticing thus far is that the only time the early chapters of Genesis are ever mentioned, it’s in relation to the Sabbath. For all that Christians have placed so much emphasis on the Creation story, the Fall, the Flood, none of that seems to really matter much in the Pentateuch.
And speaking of the Sabbath, here’s how it’s described in verse 17: “in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” Again, it’s the idea of God getting tired out by the process of creation. It’s a welcome contrast to the constantly-omnipotent deity of the Exodus.
The Japanese: kougei “industrial arts,” chie “wisdom, sense, intelligence, prajna,” eichi “intelligence, intellect” chishiki “intelligence, knowledge, know-how” (v 3), saiku “work, craftsmanship” (v 4), hamekomu “to inlay,” choukoku “carving, sculpture” (v 5), koubashii “sweet, fragrant, aromatic” (v 11), ogosoka na “austere, majestic, dignified, solemn” (v 15), ikou “to rest, to relax” (v 17).
A note on verse 3. The NRSV translates these terms as “ability, intelligence, and knowledge.” The NCT gives three words that can all be translated as “intelligence,” but have slightly different connotations. The chi in all of them is the character for “to know.” Chie is used to translate the Buddhist idea of prajna, which is wisdom, discernment, and insight. Eichi refers to intellectual ability. Chishiki is knowledge in the sense of knowing how to do something. So a translation into English from the NCT would be “insight, intelligence, and know-how.”
Back to narrative for a little while tomorrow, as we deal with the Golden Calf.