Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Away for a few days

We're off to Hornby Island for a few days - and busy afterwords with lots of stuff around Easter - so no posts for a while...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Job 6:22-end

For did I say bring to me
or from your strength reward me?
or you help me escape from the hand of trouble
or from the hand of the ruthless you ransom me?

Instruct me and I will be silent(1)
and where I have strayed, make me understand
how grievous are words of uprightness
so what does your reproof prove?

And to reprove speeches - do you count
as wind the words of one who is desperate?
Yea - the orphan you fall on
and you dig for your friend

so humor me and be present to me
for it is in your presence if I lie
Turn - pray - let it not be injustice
turn - my justice is in it
is there on my tongue injustice?
Can my taste not understand calamity?

(1) חרש be silent, hold your tongue, hold your peace, and 'plow' (Job 1:14, 4:8) - same word in Hebrew - not possible to find a connection in English - but the game is afoot with this thread in any case. 'Understand' is also a thread that begins here, 'stray' a frame with a crosspiece in chapter 19.

There are not only threads and larger frames, there are smaller frames as well. I think chapter 6 must be strung together to see them. 'Calamity' and 'words' are the poetic frame in this chapter. Compare 6:1-11 here. I am going to work up a pattern-matcher - duly.

Friday, March 27, 2009

On knowledge

John Hobbins is going whole hog on politics these days. Here is a link to his latest instruction - the Hedgehog and the Fox

The serious view of James Crossley of Early Christian History is under review and some attack. These are bookmarks for me to follow up some day. Or refer to when the conversations get out of hand and I want to see what people are talking about...

Quote of the day

We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.
(Nin, 1969) HT Here

Job 6:11-21 take 2

What is my strength that I should wait?
What is my terminus that I should prolong my life?
Is the strength of stones my strength?
Is my flesh of bronze?(1)

What if my help is without help in me(2)
and success is banished from me(3)
to one in despair from his friend there should be loving-kindness
and the fear of the Sufficient when he is abandoned(4)

my brothers are treacherous like a torrent
as a stream of torrents they pass on
depressed by ice keeping secret their snow(5)
in time they thaw and vanish
in heat they are extinguished in their place

the paths of their way are twisted
they offer formlessness and perish(6)
the paths of Tema attended
the goings of Sheba expected them

they were ashamed for he trusted(7)
they came there and were confounded
for now you are with him(8)
you see brokenness and you are afraid

(1) bronze - the bronze here is misspelled - נחוש. In chapter 40 as in other uses in the Bible it is spelled נחושה - why would this be?
(2) I could not take this sentence as a question. So I ignored the initial ה in the first word and phrased it as a 'what if'. The word הַאִם made no sense to me. TS says that this word is not a word and that the ה should be attached to the previous verse to fix the spelling of bronze. Does that ever make sense! The what if is not required and the condition can simply be phrased as if..., then his friends should show him mercy.
(3) TS has counsel for success
תושיה - I kept success to agree with the same word in chapter 5 which will recur 4 more times in subsequent chapters - if this is a thread, we must find it somehow. If it is not, then we can obscure it later.
(4) I have read many interpretations of Shaddai, usually translated the Almighty. I like the sense of self-sufficiency. There was discussion of this last year among bloggers - perhaps in our psalm 68 marathon in 2007 but I can't find the reference. (Suzanne on a blog that she is no longer posting to?) Also in this stich TS changes the qal to niphal - a much better parallel requiring no adjustment to letters, but just to vowels.
(5) TS considers ice
קרח a misreading of Syriac קרחא for storm or tempest - perhaps when we get to chapter 37, I will be able to comment more on this suggestion. Habel (below) keeps ice.
(6) I read this as a continuation of the metaphor of the streams. TS reads paths as caravans. This word is another possible thread - not sure what to do with it yet.
(7) Still work to do on the apparent singular-plural issue - does the singular refer back to the one who is forsaken but who still expresses trust per the story?
(8) There is an alternate reading here - I am thinking that the translation of the text without the alternative could make better sense. The two nothing's in the KJV in these verses are not verbally related at all.

Habel's commentary is online. The legal metaphor on page 54 shows a possible structure and gives a role to Elihu. Why then did the NT writers not use this book? I think there must be some serious problems in applying the text.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Job 6:11-21

Update: what follows is my attempt - I will revise it in a later post with some of Tur Sinai's corrections - I see he wrestled with exactly the same issues that I did in this short passage.

What is my strength that I should hope?
What is my terminus that I should prolong my life?
Is the strength of stones my strength?
Is my flesh of bronze?

What if my help is without help in me?
and success is banished from me?
to one in despair from his friend there should be loving-kindness
and the fear of the Sufficient he is abandoned

my brothers are treacherous like a torrent
as a channel of torrents they pass on
darkened by ice
keeping secret their snow
in time they thaw and vanish
in heat they are extinguished in their place

the paths of their way are twisted
they become formless and perish
the paths of Tema looked
the goings of Sheba waited for them

they were ashamed for he trusted
they came there and were confounded

for now you are being with him
you see brokenness and you are afraid

A brief analysis: 1. a set of questions that undermine the assumptions of the friends, 2. an extended metaphor on reliability countering the lion metaphor of Eliphaz, 3. applying the metaphor to the friends.

Again I note two patterns: some words occur twice exactly e.g. ashamed (but not confounded which is a hapax in Job), bronze (here and in Job 40:18). Some are quite frequent (more than 8 occurrences). I wonder if we will find that the paired words provide a frame and that frequently recurring words like strength, נפש (life, soul, being, self, etc), flesh, place, etc are threads to be followed. I will try and imagine a way of portraying these later in the process.

I have just seen a performance of Medea by Euripides. It makes an interesting contrast to Job. Misery can be self-inflicted. Job is innocent in that his misery is not seen as arising from his pique over being betrayed or a desire for vengeance.


We are back at Parashat Va-yikra - Is Leviticus the best place to begin a child's instruction in Torah? As noted here it is traditional. (And he gives a cogent reason with which many Christians might agree.) It is not where I am beginning a child's instruction in Hebrew - but rather with the acrostic psalms.

Is there progress in the ancient texts? Is the Psalter a subsequent Torah and are later works interacting with and reinterpreting older works to take from them different lessons than might have at first been seen?

I note that most Synagogue goers know their Torah much better than their Psalms and Prophets. So it is that most Church-goers know their New Testament much better than the Old. In fact they are, many of them, inadvertent Marcionites who would as well throw out the Old Testament as read it. Many of them know their Pauline formulae much better than Matthew - but I question if they can know Paul without knowing his Bible in his terms.

Where would you start your teaching? Ruth? Ecclesiastes? Leviticus? Ephesians? Psalms? Song of Songs? Romans? Matthew?

I think I can only say what was good for me. Perhaps a better question is - now that you know..., where would you start your learning?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Job 6:1-10

It is polite for Job to respond but I do not expect an immediate reaction to the words of Eliphaz for surely we have not yet heard a full victim impact statement.

And Job answered and said
if only my grief were weighed and measured
and my calamity in the balance lifted up as one(1)
for then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea
therefore my words are a gasp
for the arrows of the Sufficient are against me
where their poison drinks my spirit
the terrors of God have disordered me(2)

Does it bray - a wild ass with tender herbs
or does an ox low over its corn?
Can it be eaten - the insipid without salt
or is there taste in the spittle of dreams?(3)
what my being refused to touch
these are my illness
my bread

if it be given - my request that comes
if what I hope for - God will give(4)
and God would be humored to crush me
that he would let go his hand and finish me(5)
then still is my consolation and I leap for joy
agony let him merciless(6)
for I did not hide the promises of holiness(7)

(1) Tur Sinai considers that יָחַד, together, in this sentence is out of place. He puts it with the next item with which the grief is to be compared in weight. Maybe - but for me, reading the sequence of the words, it is then necessary to postpone the thought of togetherness for several seconds and assign it to the sands of the seas together. I have left it where it is. The sand of the sea does not need the together. The stich is a parallel and there is one calamity / grief / anger that is lifted up. It is our calamity. We know such calamity even if it is because of one story like this in which our humanity and our arguments are placed 'together'.

(2) literally ordered but intending disorder - the pair of words related to terror and order recur frequently (> 7 times each) in the dialogue to come. It may turn out to be of no structural interest but along with that thread, I have noticed a number of words in these early chapters that occur only twice the second time being in chapters 28-31. It could be that some such frames are accidental or too dim to be perceived.

(3) the brilliant and memorable white of an egg is an apt metaphor - but not exactly a translation.

(4) a verse with second and penultimate word יִתֵּן - from to give

(5) a verse of two cola with rhyming verb forms hiphil - noun - piel; hiphil - noun - piel.

(6) I have changed mercy to loving kindness that I might preserve spare for another word and make this word merciless in the negative sense of showing no quarter. All this is for a first step to sound - not to do with 'absolute' meanings (for there are none) - but more feel than sense.

(7) better perhaps the words of the Holy One - but this is the only such phrase in Job

O my heart - this is difficult stuff - Tur Sinai has pages of explanation on spittle and poison which I must yet read - a fate almost worse than Job's.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Job 5:12-27

from verse 8, God ...

Note that Tur Sinai does not think that Eliphaz means God by אל verse 8a or אלהים verse 8b. True enough, אלהים is rare in Job which uses the singular אלוה more often than the other two. Why does Eliphaz who uses אלוה in both chapter 4 and 5 not use it for these verses where he seems to be describing what God does by any name?

who does great things and there is no finding out
his wonders without number
giving rain on the face of the earth
sending waters on the face of the streets
to set up the low on high
and the crushed to exalt to safety

TS is splitting hairs by not considering these variations as invoking the same mystery. Or perhaps he is cutting the hair because there is a difference but it is not explained by depriving the verbs of verses 10 to 16 of a suitable subject.

who frustrates the machinations of the subtle(5)
and their hands will not make for success
he captures the wise in their own subtlety
and the counsel of the tortuous is precipitated

by day they meet darkness
and as at night they grope at noon
but he saves from the sword
from their mouth
and from the hand of the powerful
the poor
so there is for the deprived hope
and evil shuts its mouth

Behold happy is the mortal whom God reproves
the mentoring of the Sufficient do not refuse(6)
for this one mars and he binds
he wounds and his hands make whole(7)

From six afflictions he will deliver you
and in seven no evil will touch you
from famine he will ransom you
and in war from the hand of the sword

from the scourge of a tongue you will be secreted
and you will not be afraid of ruin when it comes(8)
at ruin and penury you will laugh(9)

and from the living of the earth you will not be afraid
for with the stones of the field is your covenant
and the living of the field are at peace with you(10)

and you will know for the peace in your tent
and you will visit your home and not sin(11)
and you will know that plentiful is your seed
and your offspring as the grass of the earth
and you will come in full to your tomb
as a rich heap is offered in its time

Lo this we have found
so hear and you will know it for yourself
(5) before this verse ערום subtle is used in Scripture in Genesis 3:1 and 1 Samuel 23:22 (and see psalm 54 for its comment on 1 Samuel). How will God in this story carry out the frustration of the subtle one? Not from the rehearsal of the obvious that follows.
(6) this word מאס which I have rendered refuse will become a thread in the conversation.
(7) see psalms 18, 68, 110 - whether Eliphaz sees this deeply or is just mouthing common expressions - true or not, I cannot tell. A true word sincerely but inaptly spoken creates a lie.
(8) Psalm 91 and a number of other psalms seem to have allusions here, but the context is odd. In the Psalter, the placement of a truth seems to me to avoid platitude. Psalm 91 is a response to the prayer of Moses in Psalm 90 and part of the expression of hope following the great lament of Psalm 89. Here, Eliphaz seems to use words both right and true of hope but in a place where they become accusation rather than strength.
(9) TS suggests reading the letters as Aramaic לשדי לכפן at shooting and stones you will laugh in place of לְשֹׁד וּלְכָפָן at ruin and penury.
(10) These are odd phrasings - what is a covenant with the stones? TS leaves question marks even in his translation but does attempt to identify the 6 and the 7 afflictions as enumerated in these verses: famine and war, the evil tongue, destruction by God or a malevolent spirit, stones and wild beast, parental and conjugal bereavement. I think the seventh must be personal affliction - skin for skin. I am not sure then that I want to introduce the Aramaic stones.
(11) TS renders this as 'nothing is missing when you inspect your pasture'.

Enough for the moment - Eliphaz does not score high for me on sensitivity.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Job 5:1-11

Call then
is there anyone to answer you?
and to which among the holy ones will you look?
for grief slays the obstinate
and envy kills the enticed
I myself have seen the obstinate angry
and he blasphemed his home suddenly(1)

his children are far from safety
and they are crushed in the gate
and there is no one to rescue
whose harvest famine eats
and their strength dearth takes(2)
and thirst longs for their wealth

for iniquity doesn't come from dust
nor from the ground does misery sprout
when a human is born to misery
the children of fire carry it high(3)

Nevertheless for me, I would seek to the One
and to God I would set up my case
who does great things and there is no finding out
his wonders without number
giving rain on the face of the earth
sending waters on the face of the streets
to set up the low on high
and the depressed to exalt to safety(4)

Notes: (1) he blasphemed יקוב correcting I blasphemed אקוב. (It makes more sense but it is equally negative if Eliphaz intends to identify Job with this folly.)
(2) I am more and more intrigued with Tur Sinai's verbal reconstructions - here is a particular example. The MT is וְאֶל־מִצִּנִּים but he moves the mem to read ואלם צנים and identifies the ואלם with strength (compare psalm 88:5).
(3) no sparks flying upward but I am sure my reading needs further attenuation. Children is a reasonable recurrence in the speech but who knows what it means. Tur Sinai has a rendition that reminds us of Harpies. (compare psalm 78:48)
when a man-child is born to (the sowers of) injustice
the Resheph birds carry it high up
(4) reading daleth for resh קדד for קדר (per TS) though it is no better sound-like fit with his usage of דכא it does appeal to me on first thought as a conceptual rhyme.

It is very difficult to read Eliphaz positively - with or without reconstruction of the text. The word linkages between his speech and Job's do not substantiate for me that Eliphaz might be quoting some piece of Job's first speech that was deleted by the redactors as redundant and repetitious (as TS maintains). Rather the shared words are simply picking up the keywords of one conversation and answering, or turning them to his own opinion.

I did a little study - not with my ear as I should nor with a database - for I have not loaded Job into a database at this time. I really should. But the words used in Eliphaz's speech in chapters 4 and 5 reflect no fewer than thirty of the words that Job used in chapter 3. At a rough cut, that's 20% of Job's words that are reflected in the response. Is that indicative that Eliphaz is listening? It may be that he knows also how to turn the screw with the recurrence of his own crushing words as he reflects on Job as naive.

But it is difficult for me to point these out since the colour coding would have to be absolute and would appear between posts, so for the moment, I will just try and be verbally consistent. In all this I search for frame and thread much as a reader of an email conversation might in order to observe whether the protagonists are speaking to or past each other. And in this case, in order to see if there is a word for us in our day. (I admit to having my doubts that I can articulate it - but that is my task.)

Twelve verses are enough for now. Questions occur to me this morning. What is the character of the protagonists - one at a time? This includes what the protagonists say of God. And ultimately what is written of God's character. What hangs together here? I cannot look for a consistent character - for no character has such a boring attribute. But can we look for a real character? (You can see I am inconsistent about consistency.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Job 4:12 the vision in the night

And into me a word stole
and my ear took fright from it
in the tempest of thought from night visions
when a trance falls on mortals
dread met me and trembling
and my many bones were in dread
and a wind passed before me
storm shivered my flesh
it stood and I recognized no sight
or likeness before my eyes
there was calm and I heard a voice

a mortal than God more just?
even than his maker a warrior more pure?
why! he puts no faith in his servants
and with his messengers he notes folly
as for those that dwell in clay houses
with dust for foundation
who are crushed in the face of their maker
from morning to evening they are hammered
without note in perpetuity they perish
is it not pulled out? their very own uniqueness
they die - and without wisdom

Note: uniqueness - I am fishing for a word. Is this the 'theological' remnant (discussed by TS p 88)? Does that word itself suggest the continuity that a human projects on his biologically based 'hope' or reality?

How does one judge the experience of another? And to whom should we attribute this experience in this case? Is Eliphaz citing his own dream, or is he quoting (as TS suggests) what Job has told him - but which we have not seen in Job's response? If Eliphaz is quoting Job's unstated vision to refute it, he can be read with some sarcasm. That puts him immediately out of character with respect to the 7 days silence. Reading the vision alone reminds me of Psalms 14 and 53 - that God is of no account. Who cares that so many die without wisdom? This interpretation would make the vision a condemnation of the dreamer. It is hardly comforting. I have to say that it does not appeal to me to see this as a quotation of Job's unstated speech.

There are words here that are unique and it is therefore hard to confirm what they mean by their usage in other contexts. שמץ 'took fright' occurs twice in the Bible in Job 4:12 and Job 26:14 where tradition has 'little'. TS considers it is from a word meaning fear. The next problem is the word בִּשְׂעִפִּים considered an alternative spelling of סעפה but in any case rare. The similarity to סער (tempest) makes a translation related to storm attractive because it forms speculatively an envelope with chapter 38, the speech of God from out of the 'whirlwind' סער in contrast to that word here which comes surreptitiously in the visions of the night.

I have some problems with concordant translations of recurring words - I feel that the recurrence of פחד may support the view (of TS) that this is a restating of a vision that Job had spoken of, but it does not translate well to repeat 'fear'. And רוח which I have just rendered as snort (that has to be a unique gloss for it) recurs here as wind. Wind and שער as storm (not hair) is consistent with the fearfulness of the vision. (But not all visions are fearful, I hasten to add. Here is where our discernment is required and difficult to state.)

For other Job related posts, click here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Mitya has been through the preliminary hearings and incarcerated for his father's murder, and now I read the conversation in Book 10 of Dostoyevsky's Brothers Karamazov between Kolya the almost 14 year old and Alyosha, Mitya's younger brother. I think it is meant as comic relief but in the midst of tragedy. I hope so for I laughed all the way through. What a stretch of our imaginations our author does!

Job 4:1-11

And Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said

To prevent a word to you(1)
you will do nothing
and to withhold speeches
who has power to do it?

Behold you have mentored many(2)
and weak hands you have made to prevail
one who is falling your speeches have upheld
and bowed knees you have straightened

for now it comes to you
and you will do nothing
it reaches you
and you are dismayed
Is it not your fear that is your confidence
your hope and the completeness of your ways?

Remember then if anyone innocent perished
or where the upright are cut down
for as I have seen
who plow iniquity and sow misery reap it
by the breath of God they perish
and by the snort of his nose they are consumed

The lion's cry and the aged beast's voice
and the teeth of the whelps that roam
the codger cat perishes for lack of prey
as the cubs are dispersed...

Is Eliphaz maintaining a sympathetic manner or is he accusing Job of failing to respect his own fear? The story may seem disconnected as TS maintains and based on his analysis, there do seem to be a lot of different and to me oddball things about the language in the dialogue so far, but the story is not totally separate. The completeness and the upright motifs hearken back to chapters 1 and 2 by using exactly the same words in this first response. Such key words are part of the frame of the puzzle.

On lions see also here. There are in this verse five different words for lion.

For the moment, I am going to give Eliphaz the benefit of the doubt. I do not think he is tearing into Job like a beast of prey - at least not yet. I am also giving TS the benefit of the doubt and will use him as if I had an Aramaic dictionary - though after a few chapters, I am going to seek out another commentary just to see if anyone else likes his work. Maybe there is an Aramaic dictionary at the university ...

(1) Eliphaz - how will we hear you? Are you really God's fine gold, or are you dispensing something else? (to prevent per Tur Sinai)

(2) It is a polite beginning after 7 days of silence and following the opening lament. (Note: taught the powerless, an Aramaism per TS. "taught many" also reads well - and there is power emphasized in the prior verse so I avoid the sound here. I changed it to mentor since I have reserved teaching to other words - see between chapters 32 and 33 later - several posts on the thread of instruction.)

For other Job related posts, click here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Job 3 Interpreted

Well, that is an extreme title - I am not sure I can interpret anything yet.

What is Job's opening salvo about? How rough can we be in our interaction with God and not be impolite to the point of no return? Is God's commendation of Job (Job 42:7) ultimately supportable?

I divided the prior post into 8 sections. I noticed that several words recur in later passages and I wondered if they are structurally significant. I noted this with the reference to Leviathan. Also potentially implicated in the structure is the word סכך that may be a euphemism for defecating. I originally had God dumping on Job but there is no way I could use this gloss in Job 38:8 or Job 40:2. So it cannot stand in Job 3. Besides, it is impolite and therefore distracting.

The 8 sections:

  1. introduction: day and night,
  2. day: the wish that his birthday had not been,
  3. night: the wish that the night of his conception had not been included in the calendar. This section invokes Leviathan. Also this section contains two instance of 'come' a bracket closed in section 8. (This is an argument for reordering the lines.)
  4. belly: neither night nor day closed his belly - i.e the home that nurtured him before birth
  5. rest: the rest of death that includes kings, counselors, rich
  6. abortion: there is a missing thought, if day and night had to see me, why wasn't it short - then there are additional examples of rest including the wicked, the weary, the prisoner, small and great, servant free from his lords
  7. question: why give light to the miserable?
  8. admission: the reality of threat - here TS and the Aramaic interpretation of the word traditionally translated as 'bread' makes good sense. Here too Job shows his Achilles' heel. He worshiped in the days of his wholeness out of fear. We close the opening section with a threefold repetition of 'come' and a recurrence of quiet and rest. Life just is not quiet and rest, even for the upright.
Is this all true? Or is this all rhetoric of a sort? What do you think?

For other Job related posts, click here.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Job 3

Recap - sticking with the order of the received text.

After this opened Job his mouth and slandered his day
And Job answered and said
Perish! day in which I was born
and the night that said a warrior-child is conceived

That day - let it be darkness
let God not seek for it from above
nor let a sunbeam on it shine
let darkness and obscurity redeem it
let a cloud dwell on it
let blackness of day terrify it

That night - let gloom take it
let it not rejoice the days of the year
into the number of months let it not come
behold that night - let it be barren
let no joyful cry come into it
let them blaspheme it that curse the day
those ready to rouse Leviathan
let the stars of its twilight be dark
let it expect light but have none
neither let it see the eyelids of dawn

because it did not shut the doors of my belly
or conceal misery from my eyes
Why did I not from the womb die
from the belly exit and expire?
For what purpose did knees receive me
and breasts for me to suckle?

For now I would be lying down and quiet
I would be asleep
then it would be rest for me
with kings and counselors of earth
who built desolations for themselves
or with chiefs with their gold
their houses filled with silver

I find myself wondering if the poet was consciously mimicking the psalms - in this case, psalms 3, 4, and 49. The writer and the speaker are refusing to see anything but the miserable moment - understandably!

or as an abortion hidden I had not been
as infants who did not see light
there wicked ones leave off trouble
and there rest those who are weary of strength
together prisoners are at ease
they do not hear the voice of the oppressor
small and great there he is
servant free from his lords

Why give to the miserable light
and sustenance to the bitter being
those tarrying for death and it is not
who dig for it as treasure
who rejoice toward a tomb
glad when they find a grave
to a warrior whose way is concealed
and from whom God has screened himself

for in the face of my bread, my sighing comes
and poured out like waters are my cries
for the dread I dreaded has arrived
and what I was afraid of is come to me
I have no ease nor am I quiet
nor am I at rest and trouble has come

Note re bread: TS has 'before the threat' citing Aramaic origin of the word that in Hebrew sounds/looks like bread.

I have coloured those words that seem to act as sound envelopes. TS postulates that some of chapter 4 is Eliphaz quoting parts of what Job said but that is not written in this first speech. I have my doubts but let's see what comes.

For other Job related posts, click here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Always have a reason for the hope that is in you

Some day I might figure out my doctrine of Scripture. Can one be saved without a doctrine of Scripture? I am not sure I am interested in this problem focused here by Mike Heiser. But it is a curiosity. John Hobbins has been helping. He focuses several additional issues: textual criticism, the outer limits of the canon, and how we are to derive ethics from scriptural foundations. If I felt the need to write about the writing of Scripture, I would want to distinguish the God who uses these words from the words on the page that I might like to take control of.

I am, in the Scripture, in a very large space, a 1000 year span of early literate effort. It is large to me, but small in comparison with the 1000s of other scrolls that were also produced. I am filled with things I must do in my current life. I do not really have time to do an exhaustive study of ancient times. I am not in control of any of these words nor of the myriad of other books that I read. What then do I need?

In a word, I need 'contact'. Face to face, voice to voice, whether in the body or out of it I do not know. Or if I think I know, I dare not say, for fear of being misunderstood.

Let's take Jonah and the gourd. Jonah had pity on the gourd which rose in a day and faded in a day - because he found it good for shade. But Jonah had no pity on his enemies at Nineveh. I need this story - because I can easily be piqued when my convenience is disturbed. I don't know of other books that tell me such stories. But there are canonical stories in other traditions that I also possibly could apply in a similar fashion. Is the Bible better? Is this Jesus only here? (I think those who say there is no salvation for others should think twice about that statement.)

So the Bible is good to me because through it I have found my face to face and voice to voice. But these words are not the face or the voice exclusively. They are sufficient and they are mine - appropriated by me, but there are truths outside of them that also are God's truths. They are necessary for me and I am, through them, his who bought me, but other ways may bind others for whom these words were not available. And these words may bind some in ways that are not salvific! But the one who allows them to be so bound will also untie them and bind them to himself - by the same word of promise.

In other words - a doctrine of Scripture may turn out to have been unnecessary or only marginally helpful.

Job 3:1-9

Are day and night mixed up in these first 9 verses?

TS suggests ordering the verses as follows: 4a, 5b, 4bc, 6bc, 8 for the day, then 6a, 9a, 9bc, 7 for the night - his suggested original order (p 69 summary) is obviously missing parts of verse 5.

Here is the original order

And Job answered and said
Perish! day in which I was born
and the night that said a child is conceived

4a The day - that one - let it be darkness
b let God not ask for it from above
c nor let a sunbeam on it shine
5a let darkness and obscurity redeem it
b let a cloud dwell on it
c let blackness of day terrify it

6a The night - that one - let gloom take it
b let it not rejoice the days of the year
c into the number of months let it not come
7a behold the night - that one - let it be barren
b let no joyful cry come into it
8a let them blaspheme it that curse the day
b those ready to rouse Leviathan
9a Let the stars of its twilight be dark
b let it wait for light but have none
c neither let it see the eyelids of the day

I think besides his better grasp of language possibilities, his complaint about the poem is that the number of phrases devoted to night does not balance those devoted to the day. And here is his order - but once we get started on this, why not write a completely new poem? (But his order has some cohesive merit.)

And Job answered and said
Perish! day in which I was born
and the night that said a child is conceived

4a The day - that one - let it be darkness
5b let a cloud dwell on it
c nor let a sunbeam on it shine
4b let God not ask for it from above
c let blackness of day terrify it
6b let it not rejoice the days of the year
c into the number of months let it not come
8a let them blaspheme it that curse the day
b those ready to rouse Leviathan

6a The night - that one - let gloom take it
5a let darkness and obscurity redeem it
9a Let the stars of its twilight be dark
b let it wait for light but have none
c neither let it see the eyelids of the day
7a behold the night - that one - let it be barren
b let no joyful cry come into it

In 4b he suggests 'God above' as a name for God, rather than 'from above'
In 8b perhaps I should read with him
those heroes that Leviathan awoke
or those ready for Leviathan to rouse
I have a hard time hearing a verb's subject sometimes.

For other Job related posts, click here.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What am I up to

Reading Rabbi Wolf again. I always enjoy his commentary. And I just watched Rick Steve's Iran.

I hope it gets a good airing in the West. We sure need to have a more positive attitude than we have allowed to exist in ourselves about enemies or about those we think are in error. Don't you think so?

I am wrestling still with Job 3:1-10. I think I will rewrite the first section in the differing order that TS suggests - and see how each order reads. (I don't think the reordering of the verses is required for there to be sense - and maybe I will discover some more structural clues that support what we have.)

I am intrigued with what John is doing with Habakkuk h ere, h ere and h ere. Lots of connections with Job as there are in the psalms.

And I had a thought on inerrancy (my spell checker doesn't like this word either) but I didn't write it down - something to the effect that I don't put my trust in words on the page but in the one who had them put there for me to ponder. I don't treat other collections of books like I do the canon - but that's only for convenience. (And BTW I don't 'believe' everything I read th ere!) I could treat other books that way - good poetry - Herbert, Donne, or music - especially Bach. But I don't have enough time for this particular bound bit of history, myth, and tradition let alone all the other works we might like to canonize in bits and pieces.

Anyway - it's as I noted some time ago - the Spirit goes where he pleases - that is what errant is - so inerrant can't be the right word. It seems such a red h-erring.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Job 3:1-8

After this opened Job his mouth and slandered וַיְקַלֵּל his day

Note: (per TS) 'his day' is not the day of his birth, but the day of his current situation. We come into the middle of a conversation. Job is replying to his day.

And Job answered and said
Perish! day in which I was born
and the night that said a child is conceived

TS thinks Jeremiah does a better curse of his birthday (Jeremiah 20:14-18). I think Job does a good job as well. Is he failing in his righteousness by cursing his day? TS also has emended the text to make the night refuse אימרו for אמר the conception. He is well reasoned and plausible, but I am not in the reconstruction business yet. At the moment I take the text as we have it. Day is without the article, night with. Yes I am that rigid when I read. I want to hear the angles. One curious angle is the odd designation for God in this book. The usual Elohim occurs rarely (only once in chapter 20, then once in the wisdom poem in chapter 28, and in Elihu's speeches and once in God's speeches). Instead everywhere else (41 times) we have the singular Eloah. 80% of the 50 or so occurrences in the Bible are in Job. Like Elohim, it is not a personal name, but a class name.

The day - that one - let it be darkness
let God not ask for it from above
nor let a sunbeam on it shine
let darkness and obscurity redeem it
let a cloud dwell on it
let blackness of day terrify it

The night - that one - let gloom take it
let it not rejoice the days of the year
into the number of months let it not come
behold the night - that one - let it be barren
let no joyful cry come into it
let them blaspheme it that curse the day
those ready to rouse Leviathan

There is no scribal euphemism for curse here as there was in the story in the earlier chapters. There are three different words in this short section for curse, slander, and blaspheme - KJV has curse for them all.

TS has 'let it not be added to the days of the year' rhyming (conceptually) with 'count' rather than 'joy' in the later verse. Whichever you prefer, note the typical verb/noun phrase followed by noun phrase/verb in the parallel. Where English permits, I will always try to keep these small enclosures. They are the thought parcels of the poetry.

The mention of leviathan is completely obscured in the traditional translation. It does form an inclusion with Job 41:1. Surely this is less than an accident. It should encourage us to see the monsters of the Bible as reflecting our own psychology as Richard Beck has been exploring. TS interprets the verbs as 'the heroes that Leviathan awoke.' This will likely make more sense later when we discover the other allusions in the poem to the primeval battle of Leviathan against God. There are many today who would incite us to consider the aspects of chaos rather than good in creation. So I don't need to force a primeval myth on this poem - without also making it present to us. It matters little whether the inciters are incited by Leviathan or vice versa. (Update: I have altered incite to rouse for the sake of the irony of the insipid Bildad in chapter 8).

I am going to keep these posts shorter. Whole chapters are too much for one meal.

(For other Job related posts, click here.)

My insufficiency

What is this first sentence of the letter to the Hebrews? How would I translate it? Is there only one 'right' translation? (No) Life and language are never so clear cut. But there are stronger and weaker translations, colorful and bland translations, obtuse and transparent translations in many ways and in many parts.

The obtuse is the parable, the saying that they will not hear so they might turn and be healed. Transparency by itself requires elaboration: what can you see from this translation: transparency of thought, transparency of structure, transparency of 'meaning'? Meaning itself is dangerous stuff. It makes us think we are in charge if we think we 'understand' something. And if anything is true, it is that God is in charge - and us if at all, only through the median of the consecration of our lives in Christ. Such is the way we become 'kings and priests'. When you are on the median, you can go both forwards and backwards.

I have a simple rule with respect to translating. If the source language plays games, then the target language must imitate or note the game. Hebrews 1:1-4 is one sentence. It begins, as everyone knows, with alliteration, a packet of p's. And it is an enormous rhetorical game of theological praise. What is this anarthrous son? Maybe we should pay attention - precisely because we do not understand.

In-many-portions and in-many-fashions, of old
God having spoken to our ancestors by the prophets,
in these last days speaks to us by a son,
whom he appoints heir of all things,
through whom he also makes all times and seasons,
who, being the effulgence of glory
and the exact imprint of his very being,
bearing all things by the declaration of his power,
when he had made purification for sins,
he sat down at the right of the majesty on high,
having become as much superior to angels
as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

(By the way I don't do Greek - I can barely read it.) Am I allowed to see this as a theological statement? I have no choice. It most obviously is a theological statement. I.e. whatever I do with this translation, I am on grounds that make statements about the nature of and character of God and the word that is a son that is glory's effulgence and his very being's exact imprint and who bears all things by his power's declaration and his declaration's power.

(I can already see that 'his' is ambiguous as to its antecedent. In a translation, I would rather not resolve ambiguity. I think that is between the reader and the read. Are we for instance already in the presence of the oracle of the Lord in Psalm 110 and the declaration in Psalm 2?)

In English I have wrestled with data design and naming for 40 years. What are potential independent entities in the sentence? An independent entity has its own identifier and has attributes. So it has a unique name by which we can point and say: this one and not some other and it has attributes that characterise it. A dependent entity has attributes but must take its identity from the owning independent entity. Dependent entities can become independent if we give them independent identifiers. In a given sentence, every noun needs to be examined to test if it is independent or dependent. This analysis must carry us out of the sentence to see how the nouns are used in other places.

What we have in Hebrews 1:1 is a theological statement relating a large number of nouns, every one of which could be seen as independent or dependent. Here are the nouns: time, ancestors, prophets, days, son, (us), heir, ages or worlds, reflection, glory, imprint, being, things, word, power, purification, sins, hand, majesty, angels, name.

Which of these have independent identity? We can identify nouns related to time, eons past, ancestors, last days, we can count or name days, as in the opening of Ruth 1:1. We can identify nouns related to person, we can name the person, us, ancestors, prophets, God (except in this case we have no identity yet for 'a son'). We can point to the nouns related to things, worlds, sins, things, purification, majesty, name.

Which nouns are dependent on another nouns for identity? I.e. which are without identity except as they relate to other nouns, maybe reflection, glory, imprint, being, word, power? Of these few possibly dependent entities, are they independent of each other?

Take glory for example. It has no pronoun in this sermon. The heavens declare the glory of God without voice, and their sound is gone into all the world. We can point heavenward. If I identify God's glory, have I necessarily also identified God's glorious word? Now take power. If I identify the power of a son, have I necessarily identified the power of the word? or the word of the power? Are these emanations of the son as the word of God to us independent of each other, or do they simply modify each other - as in a 'powerful word' ?

Maybe we don't know the answer. The power and the glory seem to me both to be potentially at least independent aspects of God and also of the word of God, in this case described as 'a son'. Having made that decision, I cannot demote power to the role of an adjective simply attributing a property value to the word.

Forgive me please for my rudeness.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Job 2

For chapter 1 and other Job related posts, click here.

Job did not ascribe arbitrariness - or foolishness - or (TS has) reproach - to God. TS notes that the word may be related to spittle. Job did not spit on God. I suggested that the first question from this book follows from Genesis 1:4 - is God good? The light that is good is in Christ - and is carried to us through the Jewish tradition. It has 'good' written all over it. (TS even points out Isaiah 50:6 as related - bravo! This links Job to Christ as the servant of God more solidly than I had imagined. For whatever we think of the God who wounds and who heals, who kills and who makes alive, we have in the servant songs the strongest pointer that Christians should not make light of that tradition.)

But what has happened to God between chapter 1 and 2 of Job? God no longer questions the Satan, the accuser, exactly the same way. The words are not the same when God asks a second time - Where are you coming from? The words of gathering are not the same either. TS considers the repetition for the accuser of 'to present himself before the Lord' as a scribal error. Why? Why not a story-teller's way of saying that something has changed in both the accuser and in the perception of the character of God. And of course - something has changed in the listeners. We have been set up to hear what will happen.

How will we get this subtle difference into English? The KJV has noted the difference - bravo again. (But I do not give them credit when they fail to preserve structural recurrence and instead use a creative synonym without a cause.)

I have never 'understood' the dialogues in Job - so I am going to push myself to get the second chapter done so I can get on with the more difficult bits. Then I will return to the story to see if agreement with TS is possible - he thinks the story (chapters 1 and 2 and 42) was constructed after the dialogues were translated into Hebrew from Aramaic because the original story frame had been lost in the return from exile. (Mitchell - whose little book with his own translation I cannot find but used to own - was also very troubled with the story. Jung's Answer is perhaps another book I will reread to see what I can make of it after I finish.)

(Mind you - I don't really expect to 'understand' anything in the sense of taking power over it - but I am willing to stand under it and hope that it does not fall upon me and crush me.)

And there was the day when the children of God בְּנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים
came and presented themselves before יְהוָה
and among them the accuser also came
to present himself before יְהוָה
And יְהוָה said to the accuser
Now where are you coming from?
And the accuser answered יְהוָה saying
roving on the earth and walking about it
and יְהוָה said to the accuser
have you set out in your heart concerning my servant Job?
For there is none like him in the earth
a man complete and upright
fearing God and turning away from evil
and still for him he prevails in his completeness
though you incited me against him to swallow him for nothing
And the accuser answered יְהוָה saying
Skin for skin
for all there is to a man he will give for his life

TS has several pages explaining how skin for skin cannot be right. But prepositions are subtle, the most subtle of all the forms of language which יְהוָה God allowed to the children of dust. It is not a matter of exchange - but of protection. In other words, the brilliantly concise phrase which the KJV translators coined is quite apt. I think TS and I agree - but skin after skin or skin before skin will not cut it, because 'for' has a richer ambiguity than 'before' and 'after'. Still if before and after could be time related rather than space related, the image would apply - at least for the accuser with whom I expect we children can identify - no? Do we not accuse one another?

And you ask - do you want ambiguity in translation? Not necessarily, but I don't want a false clarity either - the reader has work to do in the Spirit.

Nevertheless stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh
will he not in your face bless you?(1)
and יְהוָה said to the accuser
behold him in your hand
But his life you preserve

So the accuser came forth from the presence of יְהוָה
and struck Job with evil inflammations
from the sole of his foot to the top of his head
and he took for himself a potsherd to scrape himself
and himself sat among the ashes

Then his wife said to him
Do you still prevail in your completeness?
bless God and die
But he said to her
You speak as one of the foolish women might speak
Indeed, even the good shall we take from God and not take the evil
In all this Job did not sin with his lips

When Job's three friends heard of all the evil
all that had come upon him
they came, each from his own place
Eliphaz the Temanite
and Bildad the Shuhite
and Zophar the Naamathite
for they had gathered together to come to lament with him and to comfort him
and when they lifted up their eyes from afar
and did not recognize him
they lifted up their voice and wept
and they tore each one his robe
and they threw dust on their heads towards the heavens
and they sat with him on the earth seven days and seven nights
and none spoke a word to him
for they saw that it was very great pain

At this point in the story, the friends have identified with Job in silence and action. I think it is their best moment. But I need to do a lot more work before coming to this conclusion. We don't hear from the accuser again.

Note: TS has 'dumbfounded' for 'towards the heavens', and suggests 'shake their heads with him' for' lament' - all with good reason.

Further note: there may be some traction in the exploration of jealousy among the בְּנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים the 'sons' of God, an enigmatic phrase reminding us of Genesis 6:2.

(1) Update - Edwin Good, In Turns of Tempest, A Reading of Job, leaves the statement here and its equivalent in chapter 1 as "If he does not bless you to you face ..." an incomplete sentence - a curse formula without a result clause.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Job 1

We might as well start at the beginning. I will have four sources for the moment: Jerusalem Bible, Biblia Hebraica Leningradensia, my online cheat sheets, and Tur Sinai's (TS) commentary. At some point I will seek out some other comments. I do not share TS opinions on some aspects of the argument. But in language and culture, I will have to defer to him unless I find good reason.

A man there was in the land of Uz
Job his name
and he was, the man, this very one,
complete and upright
and he fears God and turns away from evil

And there were born to him seven sons and three daughters
and these were his acquisitions
seven thousand sheep and three thousand camels
and five hundred pair of oxen
and five hundred she-donkeys
and servants - a very great service
and so it was the man, this very one
who was great among all the children of antiquity

I want you to note the story line. Every English translation I have smooths it out. There is surely a deliberate repetition of 'haish hahu'. Perhaps we would render it 'this very man' - but repeating whatever exact phrase we used to set the scene. If I never find any more repetition in Job, then I will take this back. This is a setup for a tale of extraordinary trouble. The question is: is God good? The children of antiquity (or of the East) enjoyed this kind of problem - just as we do today.

And his sons used to give house parties
each man on his day
and they sent and called for their three sisters
to eat and drink with them
And after the striking off of party days,(1)
Job would send and sanctify them
rising early in the morning to offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all(2)
for Job said
Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursblessed God in their hearts(3)
Thus did Job all his days

(1)Party. The children were rich. Party seems to have a usage that might slip into disregard for the poor. There is some repetition here in the use of days at the beginning and end of this short story section. (If you are not laughing by the end of this chapter, there is something wrong with your ear.)
(2) per the requirements for sacrifices per child and on the final day of the feast (TS p 7-8)
(3)Cursed is ברך literally blessed - [perhaps] a scribal substitution - this is repeated for every instance of 'cursed' in the opening story. [I think I prefer not substituting in the translation. It raises too many good questions.]

And there was the day when the children of God (4) בְּנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים
came and presented themselves before יְהוָה
and among them the accuser also came
And יְהוָה said to the accuser
Where are you coming from?
And the accuser answered יְהוָה saying
roving on the earth and walking about it
and יְהוָה said to the accuser
have you set out in your heart concerning my servant Job?
For there is none like him in the earth
complete and upright
fearing God and turning away from evil
And the accuser answered יְהוָה saying
Is it for nothing that Job fears God?
Have you not put a hedge about him and about his house
and about all that he has on every side?
For all the work of his hands you have blessed
and his acquisitions are bursting out in the earth
Nevertheless stretch out your hand and touch all that he has
will he not in your face cursebless you?

Be prepared for the touch of God's hand in this book and that the accuser carries that touch. Surely this is both playful and deadly serious theology. So our Insurance companies - even if they deserve it themselves, can speak - even write in policy - concerning such 'acts of God' with Biblical warrant.

and יְהוָה said to the accuser
behold, all that he has is in your hand
But on himself do not stretch out your hand
So the accuser came forth from the presence of יְהוָה

Do I have to continue? Isn't it obvious what is about to happen? I would write it in Hebrew and even if you didn't speak a word of it you could figure it out. (I am not sure why the definite article with 'day' is missed in other translations.) The structural recurrence clues are really obvious - a story teller is at work. Note too how the words of destruction are echoed by Job in act and word.

וַיְהִי הַיֹּום וּבָנָיו וּבְנֹתָיו
אֹֽכְלִים וְשֹׁתִים יַיִן
בְּבֵית אֲחִיהֶם הַבְּכֹֽור

And it happened the day
his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine
in the house of their firstborn brother
and a messenger came to Job saying
The oxen were plowing and the asses grazing at their hand
and the Sabeans fell on them and took them away
and they struck the lads with the edge of the sword
and there escaped but I
only I to tell you

While this one was yet speaking
this other one came to him saying
The fire of God fell from heaven
and burned up the sheep and the lads and consumed them
and there escaped but I
only I to tell you

While this one was yet speaking
this other one came to him saying
The Chaldeans set out three bands
and stripped the camels and took them away
and they struck the lads with the edge of the sword
and there escaped but I
only I to tell you

even as this one was yet speaking
this other one came to him saying
your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine
in the house of their firstborn brother
and behold
a great wind came from the region of the wilderness
and touched the four corners of the house
and it fell on the lads and killed them
and there escaped but I
only I to tell you

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head
and fell to earth and prostrated himself and said
Naked I came forth from the belly of my mother
and naked I will return there
יְהוָה gave and יְהוָה has taken away
let the name of יְהוָה be blessed
In all this
Job did not sin nor give fickleness to God
Now I think it is time for a glass of wine.
(4) - the beni ha-elohim perhaps should be the children or sons of the mighty or of the gods
it differs from the phrase in chapter 38 where the children of elohim without the definite article sing for joy at creation
(For other Job related posts, click here.)


I am in a slow learning period. I am reading in snatches and random intervals the commentary on Job by Tur Sinai. The work is fascinating but difficult. Here is a snippet:

... in the story Job retains his belief in God's justice in spite of his sufferings and his wife's remarks; in the debate he rebels, voicing criticism and bitter doubt.

The Problem of the Portion
The Elihu portion is an addition to the book... God, when revealing himself at the end of the poem pays no attention to this additional speaker... What is the purpose of God's speech if Job has already been given an answer which he is unable to refute? ... if this were intended as a speech to Job, Job would have to reply to it... The book, or most of it, has been reshaped in the course of translation from an Aramaic original; the order of its portions has been changed; certain parts have been omitted; and lastly the old poem has been provided with a new narrative frame. ... what version of the debate was before the author of the Elihu portion? ... Is he the translator?...
(extracted from pages 454-455)

I am not sure I could handle Job. When I first read it decades ago - I don't want to count them - I thought I could 'understand'. Such is the foolishness of youth. Now I fear entering an engagement with this work. I cannot possibly know enough to research it. But we all encounter this story in some fashion. And can one not respond to the text as we have it even if some of the speeches are dislocated?

TS maintains throughout the commentary that the dream sequences are from a part of Job's speech that was deleted, and then quoted by his friends in various ways. Even though I have been piece-reading every 50 pages or so, sometimes pausing for Hebrew practice and sometimes scanning his comments, I have repeatedly come across this thesis of the dislocation of the dream sequence which he attributes to Job but which is in the first speech of Eliphaz (Job 4:12-21). That alone is a curious thing! In a book this big, I would not expect to see a thesis repeated about several differing texts and that just by chance I would land on those texts as I selectively read.

He seems 'reliable' and 'knowledgeable' - of course his tradition is not mine - but that is all for good. And I already substantially disagree with many in my own tradition anyway. But what am I looking for? Another fearful encounter such as I experienced when I began translating the Psalms - floods when I translated floods, wrath when I translated wrath, fear when I translated fear. But love also... why do I complain? I do not know what I seek. It is too personal to speak of. Perhaps like David, I look for the dialogue in covenant with the Lord. This I have found in his words and also in the NT and in my tradition - though I know there are few who celebrate such experience. This too is very difficult. Our words of confession are insignificant and - what shall I say? - perhaps arrogant. Who will listen to such words?

Perhaps that is why Job must be faced - not for the terror of his experience, but for its strangeness and regardless of the need to reconstruct the poem. If something is dislocated, perhaps it should be translated in place with a differing format to set it off from the dialogue. But the words - reconstructed from Aramaic or the Masoretic punctuation? I have no idea without trying. Another curious thing is that in contrast to the psalms, Job does not seem to play much of a part in the mind of the NT writers. Why is this, I wonder? Is that too another reason to work through the poem? (There are not many allusions in the NT in the Song or Ecclesiastes either.)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Snow in March!!!

Victoria is not supposed to get snow in March. (Click on the image to see the wind.) The gardens are full of snowdrops - but that's as far as it is supposed to go (except for blossom snow in April). Our transplanted roses are flourishing I am glad to say - they represent the remains of hardy bushes that have likely grown on this property for 60 years. We put in a new fence last year and then transplanted the roots - one of which was the size of a small soccer ball!

I was out trimming the forsythia today and hoping the sun could overcome the zero degree temperature. Our daffodils and tulips are showing 5 inches of green.

If you are bored be sure to read my latest posts on psalms, lions, and Sunday school.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My quote of the week

From this week's commentary from JTS

The book of Exodus, then, is the story of a transcendent God who deeply yearns to become immanent. Hashem is a being whose very essence goes beyond the world and is completely different from what is in the world, but Hashem nevertheless wants to be near the creatures Hashem created. The liberation from Egypt, then, was part of a much larger plan. It was the key to allowing God to come into the world and to dwell among humanity.
We were freed so that we could make God present in the world by building the Tent of Meeting. This is the story that the book of Exodus wants to tell: not just of liberation, but of liberation that makes God's presence possible.
God wanted human beings to bring God into the world.
So what is different from what Christ Jesus accomplished? Well, this tabernacle is an image of that very body, as is the temple and as are the feasts which Jesus replaces completely with himself. Here Benjamin D. Sommer and I must disagree - much as I enjoy his writing today - when he concludes
The Tabernacle was long ago replaced by the Temple, and the Temple by the synagogue. The task, however, remains unchanged...
What is the task - and how can it be accomplished? It is that the anointed is called out of Egypt not in narrow sectarianism, not by Israel alone, but by all, Jew and Gentile alike working together without a priori privilege or status in order that something more than power be known as right.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Dreaming in Hebrew

Here's a post about how we must stand before God. Yes indeed we must and we do but it is not to say 'ולומר עשיתי כל מה שאני יכול' I have done all that I can.

There is much more that is done in me for me. As I noted there "To be called to faith is to wrestle - even if it is on behalf of others who are different. To stand before God with a clean heart is to stand cleansed not by one's own doing."

I dreamed these words in English and Hebrew - struggling in my sleep to translate. It is a very hard exercise and it woke me up at 4:30 am - and I have not done this before.

Not that I did all that I can

בַל־אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתִי יָכֹלְתִּי לַעֲשֹׂות
but that under your rebuke or under your mercy
in covenant with you I was known
וּבְחַסְדְּךָ וּבְחַסְדְּךָ בִּבְרִיתֶךָ אִוָּדַע
Wherever I go, East or West, North or South, heaven or hell
let it be that I find you there
בְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר־הִתְהַלַּכְתִּי יָמָּה וָקֵדְמָה וְצָפֹנָה וָנֶגְבָּה וּשָׁמַיִם וּשְּׁאֹול
וְהָיָה אִם־
אִמְצְאךָ שָׁם
and he will answer
I made you for myself
I will go with you and will not leave you
וְאָמַר עָשִׂיתִי אֹתָם לִי וְהָלַכְתִּי אִתְּךְ וְלֹא אֶעֶזְבֶךָּ
It is not morality but mercy, the learning of faith
It is not a rule of words but endurance, the learning of hope
It is not sentiment but will, the learning of love
לֹא בְצִדְקָ כִּי אִם־בְּחֶסֶד סֵפֶר הָאֵמֻן
לֹא אִמְרֵי־יֹשֶׁר בְ כִּי אִם־בְּעֳמָד סֵפֶר הָתִקְוָה
לֹא בְמַשְׂכִּיֹּות כִּי אִם־בְּרְצֹונֹ סֵפֶר
So was I made for this my friend Ha-Shem?
I was made for him and desire is for me
הָעֻשֵּׂיתִי לזֶה רֵעִי יְהוָה
עֻשֵּׂיתִי לְנֶגְדֹּֽו וְעָלַי תְּשׁוּקָתֹֽו