Rejoice, Daughter of Zion, the Lord is in Your Midst

. . . Gabriel’s greeting to Mary takes up and brings into the present the prophecy of Zeph 3:14-17: “Rejoice, daughter of Zion; shout, Israel… the King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst.”

There is no need here to enter into a detailed textual comparison between the angel’s greeting to Mary and Zephaniah’s prophecy. The essential reason for the daughter of Zion to rejoice is stated in the text itself: “The Lord is in your midst” (Zeph 3:15, 17). Literally it says: “he is in your womb.” Here Zephaniah is alluding to the passage in the Book of Exodus which speaks of God’s dwelling in the ark of the Covenant as dwelling “in Israel’s womb” . . . This same word reappears in Gabriel’s message to Mary: “you will conceive in your womb” (Lk 1:31).

Whatever view is taken regarding the details of these parallels, there is clearly an inner resemblance between the two messages. Mary appears as the daughter of Zion in person. The Zion prophecies are fulfilled in her in an unexpected way. Mary becomes the Ark of the Covenant, the place where the Lord truly dwells.

“Rejoice, full of grace!” One further aspect of the greeting chaire is worthy of note: the connection between joy and grace. In Greek, the two words, joy and grace (chara and charis) are derived from the same root. Joy and grace belong together.

from Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives by Pope Benedict XVI

The idea of Mary as the Ark of the new Covenant is not new to me. What I found absolutely delightful was how with Mary God makes literal what already existed as a figure of speech: God dwelling within Israel’s womb. I just love how the Bible is a great poem written not merely in words on paper but in the very fabric of history itself. I think it was Seamus Heaney who wrote something about hope and history rhyming. Oh yes. And I think this moment when Gabriel announces the coming of God to Israel is the pinnacle of that: the moment where most definitively hope rhymes with history.

3 Responses to Rejoice, Daughter of Zion, the Lord is in Your Midst

  1. Manny May 31, 2013 at 9:01 am #

    “She stopped for death” – Hahaha, that is very witty.  I enjoyed reading this.  I have Collin’s Sailing Alone Around The Room collection somewhere.  His work has never blown me away but perhaps after reading this a re-look might be warranted.  The story about the paradelle was incredibly funny.  I kind of disagree with both of you on the Kubla Khan.  I think Coleridge did dream it, but like most dreams it was sketchy and he filled it in.  Thanks for sharing.

    What ever happened to going through The Wasteland line by line?  I keep waiting for you to get back to that.

  2. Melanie Bettinelli May 31, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    I’m not sure I’d say Collins blows me away, but I find him a charming dinner companion and a nice way to while away an afternoon. He makes me laugh and is just fun.

    I shared a bunch of these on Facebook but when I got to the paradelle story, I knew it had to become a blog entry. That was just too funny.

    Maybe it was a dream, maybe it wasn’t, but I’ve always found the whole story including the bit about interruption by the person of business rather too pat. It feels manufactured—not in a bad way, but as part of a frame narrative that creates a certain mood. I’ve always felt that the preface is in fact a part of the poem and not an addendum.

    I waiting for myself to get back to the Wasteland series too. I think it was derailed by combination of pregnancy, baby, and then this Creed series, which somehow seems to take up the mental space I’d allotted to the Waste Land series. That and I got to that sticky bit with the tarot cards and can’t quite figure out how to say what I want to say about it. But I will get back to it one of these days. It’s only a temporary derailment. I have not abandoned the project. Thanks for the nudge, though. Maybe I will go look at that post again.

  3. Enbrethiliel June 1, 2013 at 6:16 am #

    +JMJ+

    These are great excerpts! Collins’s love for words and for the craft of writing comes through brilliantly. I also love the imagery of a reader as a traveling companion, although it reminds me that I haven’t been anyone’s favourite writer/blogger in a while (assuming I ever really was) and that, more often than not, the journeys I can enjoy for their own sake are also lonely.

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