Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Posting again

I will be away for the next 10 days playing yuppie in Alaska. My namesake Bob is posting again - he can't follow his own instructions!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Almost a new school year

Last year I began a first full year of teaching 5 minutes a week of Hebrew at Sunday School. You would have to ask the students how successful it was but if you look at page 26 (here) of my 'new book' אָלֶף-בֵּית עִבְרִי‎ on the alef-bet you will find 34 questions and I know there is one 11-year-old student who can answer most of them and many others who would have no trouble with some of them. That's not a bad result for an experimental class. Links to the rest of the book in pieces can be found on the St Barnabas Sunday School blog here. I will resume weekly posting sometime around mid-September.

Friday, August 21, 2009

On Adoption

I did say that this blog is 'a personal take'. Sometimes it seems more tech than personal.

At Café Apocalypsis I have had a personal interaction with one of the authors there. The comments show that hope can be difficult to hear and difficult to accept even for those who are supposed not to be without hope.

This morning also I walked through some code with one of my staff - and it encouraged me that humans almost always get binary decisions backwards on first cut. I do myself. Then after the careful reconstruction of the requirement in precise language, removing the unnecessary complexities, we are only subject to the errors of accident and the incompleteness we find ourselves in even in the era of computer software.

Theologians and those who have confessional stances are like the careful programmer but with the additional disadvantage that they deal in imprecise language where what is not said or cannot be said is much more important than what can be said or written. And like programmers, their first inference may be backwards. We can get the message wrong. That's why a good move by God announced as good news can end up sounding like bad news.

We are given books like Job in order that a false understanding of a good covenant may be dissolved. And we are given books like the Psalms and the Song so that a false understanding of the flesh can be dissolved. Then perhaps our corrected inferences will be subject only to accident and incompleteness.

Personally, I am concerned about the intellectualization of the Gospel. Our hope is not in the intellectual - nor is it our intellectual grasp of hope that is our hope. The hope expressed in the New Testament is in the Anointed Jesus who gave his life for the life of the world and who is raised from the dead for our justification. In or out, our hope is not in what we do but in what has been done for us and will be done in us. Such hope is not even in what is done for us as individuals as if we lived or died to ourselves.

Evangelicals have faith - let them have it to themselves before God. I cannot define hope - so I have run a string of negatives above to avoid a false encapsulation. What is measured and seen in the world is a better way - acts arising out of love. This is a righteousness that exceeds.

Does this necessarily incomplete statement condemn me? Am I then not in the Salvation that is in Christ Jesus? I phrase this not because I belittle Jesus - God forbid that my imprecise words should be so received, for they were not sent that way. It is Christ, Jesus because as the Father is greater than the Son so also the Christ is greater than our perception of it in the Chosen - not that our perception could not improve but that it is by its nature incomplete. The greatness of his servanthood in love to both the circumcised and the uncircumcised is more than our doctrine can hold if we hold such doctrine exclusively. And it is more than inclusiveness can hold also.

If those who are wrong are lost, then there is no Gospel.

I am told that salvation is by grace through faith - and I would add, in hope. Grace is like the loving-kindness of the Hebrew covenant. Faith is the same reliability of God that is clear in the election of Israel. And hope is the recognition that we are not complete in ourselves or in our own understanding - no matter how 'rightly taught' (orthodox) we are.

The obedience of faith is seen in acts of love - then others too will have hope. To take one envelope of Romans, 'the obedience of faith' and ignore the inner envelope, 'not judging to condemnation those who differ from you', is to fail to open the letter. But equally - to agree to disagree is to leave open the possibility that we may ourselves change.

Today Rachel posted on the place. As always her post is worthwhile and other comments touch on this same distinction of intellectual appreciation and the requirement of righteous (loving) action. A second post of hers today raises for me the question why we do not have equally creative Gentile writers who can find meaning in our texts in similar ways. I myself have barely touched the surface of the old and new texts. Here are some additional comments exploring a similar question - They came to my attention just as I was writing this post. The Scripture - old and new - should teach us to live and care for each other rather than to defend our own intellectual positions or imply that others are outside the mercy. It occurs to me that we are likely much better at motherhood - real nurturing and caring, than we are at logic or inference.

I was researching the use of נשא with its many differing objects in the Psalms and I realize that I know nothing that should be inferred from such a common word with so many differing uses - some ordinary, some sacrificial, some sarcastic. Let the image stand as the envelope of this post - a lifting up of my complaint. Next time I translate the Psalms, I think I will use creative language everywhere and scuttle structure and concordance. Perhaps this time I will ask - what does it all mean? (The last unreadable object is blessing.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A repeat graph

Just because the color scheme is so cool - or so hot!

Bravo to the folks at Component Arts who have done this excellent .net2 charting component that our diagrams are integrated with.

Numbering things

I like the order of numbering as can be seen from some of my thoughts on 2, 3 and 7 in earlier posts. Here are a couple of random enumerations or subdivisions that I have come across recently.

Today in yesterday's post on Barth:

three ways in which nonbeing threatens us: ontic (the anxiety of fate and death), spiritual (the anxiety of emptiness and meaninglessness), and moral (the anxiety of guilty and condemnation).
That puts the spiritual in its place, doesn't it.

And the five fold association of parts of the Writings with Festivals: from Bruggemann's Solomon, a fine introduction to the last century of scholarship on the Old Testament.
  1. The Song of Songs (Hebrew: Shir ha-Shirim; שיר השירים) for Passover.
  2. Book of Ruth (רות) Shavuot.
  3. Book of Lamentations (Hebrew: Eikhah or Kinnot; איכה) on the Ninth of Av.
  4. Ecclesiastes (Hebrew: Kohelet; קהלת) Sukkot.
  5. Book of Esther (Hebrew אסתר) Purim.
I borrowed and reduced this definition from Wikipedia. For me this poses questions about framing the feasts (an alternate framing is in the gospel of John) . Are The Song and Passover for love? Ruth and Pentecost for the Spirit? And how will I consider those feasts that my tradition does not remember? Lamentations for roots, Ecclesiastes for patience, and Esther for the secret?

The whole as symbolized by these parts seems incomplete - but I liked the association for its ordering of the world.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Freud vs James

Richard Beck has finished his online book - comparing Freud's reductionism to James' varieties.

The whole series is a good read - Here is the summary.

Barth conversations online

There is a new discussion of Barth - that annual festival. Here is a lovely quote for the exegetes

Whoever does not continually ‘read in’ because he participates in the subject matter cannot ‘read out’ either
I would add - If you are not read, you cannot read. (Read the first read red.)

I am astonished at how impreceise I still am after more than 40 years in the precise languages of programming. It is easy to lose faith in oneself. In an imprecise language like English (or Hebrew) is it impossible to be precise. Is God able to be known in one who is imprecise?

Clips of Selwyn Choir online

Here you will find clips from my daughter's work at Selwyn. Just another proud Dad post.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Paul's Cantus Firmus

This post is another exercise in Romans

One might put it under the rubric: For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.

Our primary texts are the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. Concentrating on the New Testament alone misses the point just as concentrating on critical commentaries or even the history of reception can miss engagement with the primary text. E.g. see this post this morning.

David Ker has suggested here that the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings are peripheral to Paul. In what follows, I have listed the words of Scripture that Paul uses in this one letter. Reading them in sequence with no connecting thought reveals the cantus firmus of his mind.

You may find my translations a bit odd - they are from years ago. The links will do a Google search. How many can you identify without looking them up?

descended from David
One who through faith is righteous shall live.
exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal humans and birds and animals and reptiles
exchanged the truth about God
The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you
None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands, no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside, together they have gone wrong;
no one does good, not even one.
Their throat is an open grave,
they use their tongues to deceive.
The venom of asps is under their lips.
Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.
Their feet are swift to shed blood,
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they do not know.
There is no fear of God before their eyes.
For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law
Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.
Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the one against whom the Lord will not reckon sin
circumcision as a sign
I have made you the father of many nations
So shall your descendants be.
put to death for our trespasses
You shall not covet
cut off
Through Isaac shall your descendants be named
I will return and Sarah shall have a son
The elder will serve the younger. Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.
I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.
I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.
Will what is molded say to its molder, Why have you made me thus?
Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'my beloved.'
And in the very place where it was said to them,
'You are not my people,' they will be called 'children of the living God.'
And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:
Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea,
only a remnant of them will be saved;
for the Lord will execute his sentence upon the earth with rigor and dispatch.
And as Isaiah predicted,
If the Lord of hosts had not left us children, we would have fared like Sodom and been made like Gomorrah.
They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written,
Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble,
a rock that will make them fall;
and anyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.
who practices the righteousness which is based on the law shall live by it.
But the righteousness based on faith says, Do not say in your heart,
Who will ascend into heaven?
Who will descend into the abyss?
The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart
No one who believes in him will be put to shame
every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved
The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart
How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!
Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?
Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.
I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry
I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.
All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.
has God rejected his people?
Lord, they have killed thy prophets, they have demolished thy altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life
I have kept for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Ba'al
God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that should not see and ears that should not hear, down to this very day.
And David says,
Let their table become a snare and a trap, a pitfall and a retribution for them let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs for ever.
The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob
and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.
For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?
Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?
Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.
But, if your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if your enemy is thirsty, give him drink;
for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.
You shall not commit adultery,
You shall not kill,
You shall not steal,
You shall not covet, and any other commandment,
are summed up in this sentence,
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.
The reproaches of those who reproached thee fell on me.
Therefore I will praise thee among the Gentiles, and sing to thy name
and again it is said, Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people
and again, Praise the Lord, all Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him
and further Isaiah says, The root of Jesse shall come,
he who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles hope.
They shall see who have never been told of him, and they shall understand who have never heard of him.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Worship the God you know

Rachel's repost from three years ago here touches the question that has been circling my head for a few weeks - God asks: what will you say about me? what can you say about me?

What indeed can we be sure of in the mass of subjective experience we have that counts as our 'knowledge'? And what is that knowledge? Some set of postulates? Some experience? Some inner thoughts and arguments? Must I reflect on such and report? And what if my report does not agree with my tradition? or of what others say of my tradition?

Why indeed would I look for words to express what I know?

A close and well-educated friend asked me the meaning of good in the opening chapter of Genesis. I did not agree with his initially stated assessment from a dictionary. Whatever the 'good' is that is attributed to creation, I deem it the same good that is attributed in Psalm 34 - taste and see that the Lord is 'good'.

Have I any knowledge that would lead me to live this good? God forbid that I should lack it. What use is life to me if this good is not known and how shall I come to know it if I do not?

I learned my dialogue with God somewhat like the jagged graph in that post from yesterday. Perhaps the graph will peter out to zero - or with a change in form will find itself filling more and more with a knowledge that is good.

Here is a bit from Job 10 that combines the extremes.

In your knowledge I am not wicked
but there is not from your hand a rescue
your hands shaped me and made me
together on every side yet you swallow me
Remember please that as clay you made me
and to the dust you will bring me

Have you not as milk poured me out
and as cheese curdled me
skin and flesh - you clothed me
and with bones and sinews you hedged me
life and loving-kindness- you made for me
and your visit - you watch my spirit
and these things you treasured in your heart
I know this is with you

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Elisha again

John Hobbins has been true to his fierce knowledge - but I am going to suggest that the power to kill as he rants about here and here and in many stories in the Bible is a power to kill 'by the sword of the word', that is for us who believe, by the death of Jesus - a death that results in healing.

This is a note that I will need to come back to. No killing of real people in the flesh by the political violence that is perpetrated by human governments or the vigilante subjectivism that could emerge from the thicket can be justified in human terms. Whose Spirit do we have?

On the bear front following the curing of the waters, Elisha needs a reading in this Spirit - if it is to be something other than a nasty story. I am not ready to defend this position. I have had to use the violent protection of the state personally - and I, like all hobbits, am protected by a greater human violence that plays itself out on distant shores, though it can affect lives not far from me.

The strange aspects of alternative verse numbering

Well folks, this is a curious result for the alternative sort for the silly graph that I did a few days ago. When I sort by the English verse and group by the Hebrew Verse, of course I get a difference - because the Hebrew versification is different from the English versification! Above is the Hebrew count of verse by verse sorted by the English verse number. And below the verses counted and sorted by English verse number with the expected descending values from 42 verse 1's to 1 verse 41.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Elisha and the two bears

Tagged by Lingamish on the bad boys and the bears. No one beats James McGrath on this one.

I remember being scared of bears when I was a boy. And I may well be again if I meet one in the wild. Though a few years ago we snapped lovely pictures of a family of albino black bears on a trip near Prince Rupert. Those are the spirit bears of the North West here in BC.

David asks -

  • You’ve been asked to teach or preach on this passage.
  • What would you say?
Well - first I have to read it. That may take a while. Along with Bruggemann, Ker is throwing Kings at me saying - why are you so sluggish!

Here he is - coming from Jericho ...
וַיַּעַל מִשָּׁם בֵּית־אֵל
וְהוּא עֹלֶה בַדֶּרֶךְ
וּנְעָרִים קְטַנִּים יָצְאוּ מִן־הָעִיר
וַיִּתְקַלְּסוּ־בֹו וַיֹּאמְרוּ לֹו
עֲלֵה קֵרֵחַ
עֲלֵה קֵרֵחַ

And he ascended from there to Beth-el
and here he was ascending along the way
and young lads emerge from the city
and mock him and say to him
ascend baldy
ascend baldy

It begins with a word which in the hiphil is used of offering. So it is part of the overall envelope of Job (1:5, 42:8). It is a common verb - used 23 times in the psalms encompassing God's ascension, and the question - who shall ascend to the hill of the Lord. But used four times in this verse together with a rare verb meaning, I suppose, mock. And who are these street kids? Are they wishing him a blessing? Bottoms up, as it were.

It is a very odd story. Next verse
וַיִּפֶן אַֽחֲרָיו וַיִּרְאֵם
וַיְקַלְלֵם בְּשֵׁם יְהוָה
וַתֵּצֶאנָה שְׁתַּיִם דֻּבִּים מִן־הַיַּעַר
וַתְּבַקַּעְנָה מֵהֶם אַרְבָּעִים וּשְׁנֵי יְלָדִים
So he turned back and glared at them
and cursed them in the name of יְהוָה
and two bears emerged from the thicket
and rent 42 of the lads among them

And then off he went to Carmel and Samaria - and no one sued him for abuse of privilege. It is difficult to take this as a nice story.

Going along a little further with this morphological search engine, I find two more places in TNK where ascend and baldy עלה and קרח are used together (try it - it's a challenge): Numbers 16:27, Maybe the kids were accusing him or being like Korah? And Isaiah 15:2 - yes there is baldness there and a going up also.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

This is not easy folks

but it will improve my reading and searching. I remember how difficult I found it just to begin searching in English - how much there is to learn about inclusive and exclusive or and the role of and. Well - here is a children's site for searching Hebrew and it includes a morphological search. Thanks to the contact at Mechon-Mamre for this learning opportunity.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

N$) in Job

Lift up, exalt, etc in Job - what are the other words that N$) is used with? In Job the most frequent is 'face'. Eventually I will graph this - I am collecting data as an exercise.

יב וַיִּשְׂאוּ אֶת עֵינֵיהֶם מֵרָחוֹק
וְלֹא הִכִּירֻהוּ
וַיִּשְׂאוּ קוֹלָם וַיִּבְכּוּ
וַיִּקְרְעוּ אִישׁ מְעִלוֹ
וַיִּזְרְקוּ עָפָר עַל רָאשֵׁיהֶם הַשָּׁמָיְמָה
2.12 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
יא לָשׂוּם שְׁפָלִים לְמָרוֹם
וְקֹדְרִים שָׂגְבוּ יֶשַׁע
5.11 to set up the low on high
and the depressed to exalt to safety
ב לוּ שָׁקוֹל יִשָּׁקֵל כַּעְשִׂי
והיתי (וְהַוָּתִי) בְּמֹאזְנַיִם יִשְׂאוּ-יָחַד
6.02 if only my grief were weighed and measured
and my calamity in the balance lifted up as one
יג כִּי-אָמַרְתִּי תְּנַחֲמֵנִי עַרְשִׂי
יִשָּׂא בְשִׂיחִי מִשְׁכָּבִי
7.13 When I say my bed will comfort me
and my couch will lift my complaint
כא וּמֶה לֹא-תִשָּׂא פִשְׁעִי
וְתַעֲבִיר אֶת-עֲו‍ֹנִי
כִּי-עַתָּה לֶעָפָר אֶשְׁכָּב
וְשִׁחַרְתַּנִי וְאֵינֶנִּי
7.21 And why not lift up my transgression
and pass over my iniquity?
for now in the dust I will lie down
and early you will seek me and there is no me
טו אִם רָשַׁעְתִּי אַלְלַי לִי
וְצָדַקְתִּי לֹא-אֶשָּׂא רֹאשִׁי
שְׂבַע קָלוֹן וּרְאֵה עָנְיִי
10.15 If I am wicked - woe to me
and just - I will not lift up my head
sated of confusion so you see my affliction
טו כִּי-אָז תִּשָּׂא פָנֶיךָ מִמּוּם
וְהָיִיתָ מֻצָק וְלֹא תִירָא
11.15 for then you will lift up your face without blemish
and you will be poured firm and will not fear
ח הֲפָנָיו תִּשָּׂאוּן
אִם-לָאֵל תְּרִיבוּן
13.08 Are you his faces lifting up
or for the One contending?
י הוֹכֵחַ יוֹכִיחַ אֶתְכֶם
אִם-בַּסֵּתֶר פָּנִים תִּשָּׂאוּן
13.10 Reason? he will reason reproof with you
if you concealed lift up faces
יד עַל-מָה
אֶשָּׂא בְשָׂרִי בְשִׁנָּי
וְנַפְשִׁי אָשִׂים בְּכַפִּי
13.14 on whatever
I will lift up my flesh by my teeth
and my being place in my open palm
ד כִּי-לִבָּם צָפַנְתָּ מִּשָּׂכֶל
עַל-כֵּן לֹא תְרֹמֵם
17.04 (for their heart you have treasured from intelligence
therefore you will not lift them up)
ג שָׂאוּנִי וְאָנֹכִי אֲדַבֵּר
וְאַחַר דַּבְּרִי תַלְעִיג
21.03 Lift me up that I myself may speak
and after I speak, continue your derision
יב יִשְׂאוּ כְּתֹף וְכִנּוֹר
וְיִשְׂמְחוּ לְקוֹל עוּגָב
21.12 they lift up tambourine and harp
and rejoice at the voice of the pipes
כב הַלְאֵל יְלַמֶּד-דָּעַת
וְהוּא רָמִים יִשְׁפּוֹט
21.22 who will impart knowledge to the One
when he the exalted judges?
ח וְאִישׁ זְרוֹעַ לוֹ הָאָרֶץ
וּנְשׂוּא פָנִים יֵשֶׁב בָּהּ
22.08 but a man of arms to him is the earth
and one whose face is lifted up sits there
יב הֲלֹא-אֱלוֹהַּ גֹּבַהּ שָׁמָיִם
וּרְאֵה רֹאשׁ כּוֹכָבִים כִּי-רָמּוּ
22.12 Is not God high in heaven
and see the head of the stars so exalted
כו כִּי-אָז עַל-שַׁדַּי תִּתְעַנָּג
וְתִשָּׂא אֶל-אֱלוֹהַּ פָּנֶיךָ
22.26 for then in the Sufficient is your delight
and and you will lift up your face to God
י עָרוֹם הִלְּכוּ בְּלִי לְבוּשׁ
וּרְעֵבִים נָשְׂאוּ עֹמֶר
24.10 the naked are made to go about without clothing
and from the famished they lift the sheaf
א וַיֹּסֶף אִיּוֹב שְׂאֵת מְשָׁלוֹ וַיֹּאמַר 27.01 and Job continued to lift up his parable and he said
כא יִשָּׂאֵהוּ קָדִים וְיֵלַךְ
וִישָׂעֲרֵהוּ מִמְּקֹמוֹ
27.21 "the east wind lifts him up and he goes
and he is whirled from his place
א וַיֹּסֶף אִיּוֹב שְׂאֵת מְשָׁלוֹ וַיֹּאמַר 29.01 and Job continued to lift up his parable and he said
כב תִּשָּׂאֵנִי אֶל-רוּחַ
וּתְמֹגְגֵנִי תֻּשִׁיָּה
30.22 you lift me up by a wind
you make me ride
you dissolve my success
לו אִם-לֹא עַל-שִׁכְמִי
אֶשָּׂאֶנּוּ אֶעֶנְדֶנּוּ עֲטָרוֹת לִי
31.36 if not on my shoulder
I would lift it up tied on as my halo
כא אַל-נָא אֶשָּׂא פְנֵי-אִישׁ
וְאֶל-אָדָם לֹא אֲכַנֶּה
32.21 let me not lift up the face of a man
or to a human let me not entitle
כב כִּי לֹא יָדַעְתִּי אֲכַנֶּה
כִּמְעַט יִשָּׂאֵנִי עֹשֵׂנִי
32.22 for I do not know how to entitle
for soon my maker will lift me up
יט אֲשֶׁר לֹא-נָשָׂא פְּנֵי שָׂרִים
וְלֹא נִכַּר-שׁוֹעַ לִפְנֵי-דָל
כִּי-מַעֲשֵׂה יָדָיו כֻּלָּם
34.19 who does not lift up the faces of chiefs
nor recognize the saved over the faces of the deprived
for the works of his hands are all of them
לא כִּי-אֶל-אֵל הֶאָמַר
לֹא אֶחְבֹּל
34.31 for to the One be it said
I have lifted up
I will not bind
ג אֶשָּׂא דֵעִי לְמֵרָחוֹק
וּלְפֹעֲלִי אֶתֵּן-צֶדֶק
36.03 I will lift up my knowledge from afar
and to the one whose work I am I will give justice
כב הֶן-אֵל יַשְׂגִּיב בְּכֹחוֹ
מִי כָמֹהוּ מוֹרֶה
36.22 lo the One exalts in his strength
who teaches like him?
טו וְיִמָּנַע מֵרְשָׁעִים אוֹרָם
וּזְרוֹעַ רָמָה תִּשָּׁבֵר
38.15 and their light from the wicked is withheld
and the exalted arm is broken
יח כָּעֵת בַּמָּרוֹם תַּמְרִיא [hapax]
תִּשְׂחַק לַסּוּס וּלְרֹכְבוֹ
39.18 as when she lifts herself on high
she laughs at horse and rider
י עֲדֵה נָא גָאוֹן וָגֹבַהּ
וְהוֹד וְהָדָר תִּלְבָּשׁ
40.10 adorn yourself please pride and exaltation
and splendor and honor - let yourself be clothed
כ כִּי-בוּל הָרִים יִשְׂאוּ-לוֹ
וְכָל-חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה יְשַׂחֲקוּ-שָׁם
40.20 for produce the mountains lift up for him
and all the beasts of the field play there
כו אֵת-כָּל-גָּבֹהַּ יִרְאֶה
הוּא מֶלֶךְ עַל-כָּל-בְּנֵי-שָׁחַץ
41.34 all the exalted he sees
he is king over all the children of pride
ח וְעַתָּה קְחוּ לָכֶם שִׁבְעָה פָרִים וְשִׁבְעָה אֵילִים
וּלְכוּ אֶל עַבְדִּי אִיּוֹב וְהַעֲלִיתֶם עוֹלָה בַּעַדְכֶם
וְאִיּוֹב עַבְדִּי יִתְפַּלֵּל עֲלֵיכֶם
כִּי אִם פָּנָיו אֶשָּׂא לְבִלְתִּי עֲשׂוֹת עִמָּכֶם נְבָלָה
כִּי לֹא דִבַּרְתֶּם אֵלַי נְכוֹנָה, כְּעַבְדִּי אִיּוֹב
42.08 And now take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams
and go to my servant Job and offer an offering for yourselves
and Job my servant will mediate for you
for if I lift up his face I will not do with you foolishness -
for you have not spoken of me what is prepared as has my servant Job.
ט וַיֵּלְכוּ אֱלִיפַז הַתֵּימָנִי וּבִלְדַּד הַשּׁוּחִי צֹפַר הַנַּעֲמָתִי
וַיַּעֲשׂוּ כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר אֲלֵיהֶם יְהוָה וַיִּשָּׂא יְהוָה אֶת פְּנֵי אִיּוֹב
42.09 and they went, Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite
and they did as the word of יְהוָה to them and יְהוָה lifted up the face of Job.

נשא and some of its objects

To the left are of the more common objects of נשא in this preliminary graph.

Here you can see that נשא (lift up, bear, carry, forgive) is used with ראש (head), with פנים (face or faces), with פשע and חטאת and עון (transgression and sin and iniquity) - עין (eye) especially in the plural and קול (voice).

There are several less common objects: e.g. various kinds of load - from spices to bodies, or lift up with hand meaning a promise, or bearing a name, taking a census, - in fact, bearing just about anything. I think the Psalms may provide a microcosm of the combinations. Let's see...

The nice thing about testing

is that you verify your data - I was perplexed that the high point on this image was only 8. Then I looked at my data and the redundant verse was missing for all chapters greater than 8. So I rewrote the query and bingo! More data - still not 100% comprehensible though.

There's a point at which there is a little dip - and for verses numbered over 42 chapters there will be an equal count until one of the chapters is shorter and then there will be a dip that will not rise again! I see the problem though - it has to do with the odd nature of the Hebrew verse sequence - and the fact that I cannot yet sort the x axis series data by a different field. It must be sorted by the Latin verse field, not the Hebrew one. Another feature will soon be in this product.

Verse count by character and chapter in Job

This is pretty silly - but here is the concentric structure of Job (of course it is concentric, it is a doughnut!)

The red shows the Narrator to whom I have also attributed chapter 28. The blue is Elihu, the purple יְהוָה and the alternating green and yellow the comforters dialogue with Job (green). The scribbles are unreadable verse counts. On this diagram I would prefer to suppress them, but that property will come later. Here is another view - hard to tell who's who here.

If I choose bars you might be able to get the circles.

And here's one just for laughs - I am not sure if it is anything but pastel.
It is the count of each verse number expressed as a percentage.

And the last one maybe is the count of H1N1 inoculations you can get from Job.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Searching in Hebrew

Now here's some fun - I complained to Mechon-mamre that they had no search pages for the English reader for Hebrew - I got this response:

Simply NOT TRUE! We have search pages in Hebrew for Hebrew, such as


Now I have to read these in Modern Hebrew and see if one of them is a root-based search.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Searching for the Idiom

Our ignorance of idiom in the absence of native speakers of Biblical Hebrew is exposed in several posts on translations today - old ones from Henry, and new ones from Duane and Martin on heart felt issues. I will plough on regardless - love constrains me.

נשא in the OT

A beginning of analysis - this graph shows by book the occurrences of נשא in the Old Testament.

Ezekiel likes the word - Kings and Chronicles less so. Only two books do not use it at all - Obadiah and Zephaniah.

But this rich word that means so many things - all somewhat related - how is it used? That will take a better search than I currently have - I am asking around for multi word searches - fine if you have the text in a database, but I have only some parts of it such.

What do you use for searching?

Job as 2nd C BCE anti-messianic text

This review suggests a reason why Job has little mention in the NT. Though that conclusion does not seem to be addressed in the review.

Lifted up

It occurs to me that the whole of sin may be considered contained in one action in history. On the lips of Jesus in the Gospel of John is this statement about being lifted up - the word lift-up is a theme in the Gospel of John. See for example John 12:32. And I when[if] I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all [the people] to me.

Paul takes this act to an ultimate theological statement in 2 Corinthians 5:21 - For he made him who knew no sin to be sin over [for] us that we may become the righteousness of God in him.

According to the Gospel then, there is one act in history that enables a turnaround for all the people whether us or them.

This invites an exploration of a few words: lift up, draw, become - but in view of the year long study that Phil is doing on Psalm 24, I think I will look at the word 'lift up' in the Psalms, Job and in the New Testament. It will be instructive to observe the Greek/Hebrew Divide - who uses which word to translate the six uses of 'lift up/take away' in the Psalm and what words are connected to John's usage of 'lift up' in the Greek.

I always remember being surprised at 'lift up' in John (based on John 3 and Moses lifting up the serpent) when I first realized it did not mean 'exalt' in the traditional sense of honour but 'get crucified' in the literal historical sense - i.e. be lifted up on a tree - in other words - a sense of shame.

The subject verbs are ὑψόω (hypsoo) and נשא (nasa) in the Hebrew. The Hebrew word is common and appears to have more than one idiomatic usage - to encourage - lift up the face, or the opposite - such as in the phrase 'he will bear his iniquity'. Some raw material here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sets of three - the whole of sin

There are two kinds of people in the world, those who divide everything into two kinds of things and those who don't. (1)
What I have noticed in the Bible is that there is a threefold division to sum up sin, that general condition of the human that results in a me-first mentality. The first time we find it is in Genesis 3:6 when our humanity records the inner precondition to self-serving action.

וַתֵּרֶא הָאִשָּׁה כִּי טֹוב הָעֵץ לְמַאֲכָל וְכִי תַאֲוָה־הוּא לָעֵינַיִם וְנֶחְמָד הָעֵץ לְהַשְׂכִּיל
and she saw - the woman saw, that is, that good was the tree - the tree was good (not just so so but good - like the light of the first day - like the Lord in Psalm 34) - God saw that good - we are to see that the Lord is good - and the woman in this case saw that the tree was good - for food and that this same tree was delightful to the eyes and the tree to be desired for prosperity - (that sort of wisdom).

The above is an extended translation - notice the three fold structure - it will occur 3 more times in this note. Is the woman in trouble already? And is the story-teller revealing the whole by a recitation of these three parts?

Jumping ahead - the same pattern occurs in Deuteronomy 17:16-17
רַק לֹא־יַרְבֶּה־לֹּו סוּסִים וְלֹֽא־יָשִׁיב אֶת־הָעָם מִצְרַיְמָה לְמַעַן הַרְבֹּות סוּס וַֽיהוָה אָמַר לָכֶם לֹא תֹסִפוּן לָשׁוּב בַּדֶּרֶךְ הַזֶּה עֹֽוד

But he is not to increase for himself horses nor cause the people to return to Egypt in order to increase horses. And יהוָה said to you - you will not again return this way any more.

וְלֹא יַרְבֶּה־לֹּו נָשִׁים וְלֹא יָסוּר לְבָבֹו וְכֶסֶף וְזָהָב לֹא יַרְבֶּה־לֹּו מְאד

And he is not to increase for himself women that he not distract his heart, and silver and gold he is not to increase for himself to excess.

Here the instruction is to the king - not to amass horses - symbolic or the equivalent of a return to Egypt, nor to get for himself many wives - like Solomon, nor to go for excessive riches. Do these have their parallel to the first temptation? Horses for power, women for alliance and desire, and riches for pride? Perhaps not exactly - but by the time we look at the temptation of Jesus and the summary of 1 John, we will see that a threefold division may summarize the whole in each case.

Next to the temptation of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels, in detail only in Matthew and Luke - here as I annotated some years ago. According to Matthew and Luke in slightly different sequence: bread, pinnacle of the temple, kingdom, and bread, kingdom, pinnacle. The variation in sequence shows that the mapping may be made freely within these sets of three. Here we have the needs of the body, the spectacular proof for the eyes of all, and the pride of power. So even ordinary desire must not get in the way of worship - for this God if worshiped knows all our needs and can deal with them without fan fare. (Two words accidentally typed and left as is deliberately.)

So finally, the verse from 1 John 2:16
כִּי כָּל אֲשֶׁר בָּעוֹלָם - תַּאֲוַת בְּשָׂרִים תַּאֲוַת הָעֵינַיִם וְגַאֲוַת הַנְּכָסִים

all that is of the age, fleshly needs, eyes' desire, and property's pride.

I don't think much of that translation - I like the preposition 'of' but it was a try. And the suggestion of the swelling mass of property is a lesson to us as well as Solomon and other kings.

Note how compact it is - only 6 words - I know - I didn't do it Greek - see here for the stimulus for this post.

Are there other threefold parallels in the tradition?

(1) Stephen Wineberg - Introduction to General Systems Thinking.

Do characters have a preference for the Names of God?

Here's the experimental graph - I hope I got the counts right this time.

So Elihu uses El over Eloah or Shaddai, Eliphaz uses them equally, יְהוָה uses El, Eloah, and Elohim, Job prefers Eloah but uses El and Shaddai also and יְהוָה once, and the Narrator is quite distinguished from the other characters.

This count could change if some of the verses are quotations from other speakers.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


The opening of Matthew is patterned - and the patterns are pointed out, even though in our usual printing we miss them or in our first reading we are bored by them.

The Old Testament are letters of black fire - and the spaces between them are white fire. The New Testament 'official manuscripts' are in Greek. Many versions of the Hebrew (or English) differ from others. Right away I found one with vavs and one without in this first chapter, or there are English translations with 'begats' (KJV) and without (REB) . There is no manuscript evidence for either because they are translations. These are not letters of fire so I thought it might be fun to read the Hebrew - hah hah. Seeing as how I think there is a change in the works in that first century, I am free to translate or read non-literally. What will become of such an exercise! (Besides having to translate the Hebrew without my usual helps.)

In this chapter - do we know if we are writing 'Scripture'? Did anyone ever know such a thing at the time of writing or redaction? Is such a concept - of conscious autograph - a red herring? (Or an orange one, or green one or purple one.) Or is it the role of a referee - a team devoted to binding arbitration in the dispute between God and the Human? Do note the chiasm in these first verses - and the writer playing with numbers and recalling history.

זֶה סֵפֶר תּוֹלְדֹת הַמָּשִׁיחַ יֵשׁוּעַ בֶּן־דָּוִד בֶּן־אַבְרָהָם
1 אַבְרָהָם הוֹלִיד אֶת־יִצְחָק
2 יִצְחָק הוֹלִיד אֶת־יַעֲקֹב
3 יַעֲקֹב הוֹלִיד אֶת־יְהוּדָה וְאֶת־אֶחָיו
4 יהוּדָה הוֹלִיד אֶת־פֶּרֶץ וְאֶת־זֶרַח מִתָּמָר
5 פֶרֶץ הוֹלִיד אֶת־חֶצְרוֹן
6 חֶצְרוֹן הוֹלִיד אֶת־רָם
7 רָם הוֹלִיד אֶת־עַמִּינָדָב
8 עַמִּינָדָב הוֹלִיד אֶת־נַחְשׁוֹן
9 נַחְשׁוֹן הוֹלִיד אֶת־שַׂלְמוֹן
10 שַׂלְמוֹן הוֹלִיד אֶת־בֹּעַז מֶרָחָב
11 בֹעַז הוֹלִיד אֶת־עוֹבֵד מֵרוּת
12 עוֹבֵד הוֹלִיד אֶת־יִשָׁי
13 יִשַׁי הוֹלִיד אֶת דָּוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ
14-1 דָּוִד הוֹלִיד אֶת שְׁלֹמֹה מִזּוֹ שֶׁהָיְתָה אֵשֶׁת אוּרִיָּה
2 שְׁלֹמֹה הוֹלִיד אֶת רְחַבְעָם
3 רְחַבְעָם הוֹלִיד אֶת אֲבִיָּה
4 וַאֲבִיָּה הוֹלִיד אֶת אָסָא
5 אָסָא הוֹלִיד אֶת יְהוֹשָׁפָט
6 יְהוֹשָׁפָט הוֹלִיד אֶת יוֹרָם
7 וְיוֹרָם הוֹלִיד אֶת עֻזִּיָּהוּ
8 עֻזִּיָּהוּ הוֹלִיד אֶת יוֹתָם
9 יוֹתָם הוֹלִיד אֶת אָחָז
10 וְאָחָז הוֹלִיד אֶת חִזְקִיָּהוּ
11 חִזְקִיָּהוּ הוֹלִיד אֶת מְנַשֶּׁה
12 מְנַשֶּׁה הוֹלִיד אֶת אָמוֹן
13 וְאָמוֹן הוֹלִיד אֶת יֹאשִׁיָּהוּ
14-1 יֹאשִׁיָּהוּ הוֹלִיד אֶת יְכָנְיָהוּ וְאֶת אֶחָיו בִּימֵי גָּלוּת בָּבֶל
2 לְאַחַר שֶׁהֻגְלוּ בָּבֶלָה הוֹלִיד יְכָנְיָהוּ אֶת שְׁאַלְתִּיאֵל
3 וּשְׁאַלְתִּיאֵל הוֹלִיד אֶת זְרֻבָּבֶל
4 זְרֻבָּבֶל הוֹלִיד אֶת אֲבִיהוּד
5 אֲבִיהוּד הוֹלִיד אֶת אֶלְיָקִים
6 וְאֶלְיָקִים הוֹלִיד אֶת עַזּוּר
7 עַזּוּרהוֹלִיד אֶת צָדוֹק
8 צָדוֹק הוֹלִיד אֶת יָכִין
9 וְיָכִין הוֹלִיד אֶת אֱלִיהוּד
10 אֱלִיהוּד הוֹלִיד אֶת אֶלְעָזָר
11 אֶלְעָזָר הוֹלִיד אֶת מַתָּן
12 וּמַתָּן הוֹלִיד אֶת יַעֲקֹב
13 יַעֲקֹב הוֹלִיד אֶת יוֹסֵף בַּעַל מִרְיָם
14 אֲשֶׁר מִמֶּנָּה נוֹלַד יֵשׁוּעַ הַנִּקְרָא מָשִׁיחַ
וּבְכֵן כָּל הַדּוֹרוֹת מֵאַבְרָהָם עַד דָּוִד אַרְבָּעָה־עָשָׂר דּוֹרוֹת
וּמִדָּוִד עַד גָּלוּת בָּבֶל אַרְבָּעָה־עָשָׂר דּוֹרוֹת
וּמִגָּלוּת בָּבֶל עַד הַמָּשִׁיחַ אַרְבָּעָה־עָשָׂר דּוֹרוֹת
כָּךְ הָיְתָה הֻלֶּדֶת יֵשׁוּעַ הַמָּשִׁיחַ

I now better check the Greek to see if the play on generation is there in the first verse. (It is not repeated at the beginning and the end in Hebrew but is effectively in English!) That word is also unique in the Greek of Matthew γένεσις (genesis!)and occurs only in James thereafter.


The Greek for דּוֹרוֹת is γενεαὶ - closer to γεννάω of the prior verses than דּוֹרוֹת is to הוֹלִיד.


This is a learning blog. If I write what I learn, I learn it better.

Today Matthew 1:1 - sepher toledot yeshua hamashiach ben-david, ben-avraham

I didn't know that second word - the generations. I haven't read any place in the poetry I have translated that used this word - from yeled - ילד - to bear, bring forth, etc.

Here it is in Genesis 2:4 אֵלֶּה תֹולְדֹות הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ בְּהִבָּרְאָם
These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

So Matthew - right off the bat - raises the generational language of Genesis to the forefront. 'The generations' is used 13 times in Genesis - and you can see that the phrase has no usage in the Psalms or Job or the Song or any other place where I have dipped my foot into the water.

Gen(13) Exd(3) Num(13) Rth(1) 1Ch(9)
Genesis 5:1 is even closer to Matthew 1:1 - comparing Jesus with Adam סֵפֶר תֹּולְדֹת אָדָם
in the day when God created Adam - בְּיֹום בְּרֹא אֱלֹהִים אָדָם

Adam is the collective humanity so Genesis adds the statement about image in this verse. Even without the article, I would be tempted to render this, in the day when God created the human or humanity, but perhaps it reminds us with more ambiguity of the singular anarthrous adam in Genesis 1.26 - let us create a human in our image. Then - the creation is not complete until the one spoken of in Matthew arrives in the fullness of time.

Generations could be rendered birthings - for so they go on as is easily seen in the Hebrew New Testament (see next post for the full pattern).
אַבְרָהָם הוֹלִיד אֶת־יִצְחָק
וְיִצְחָק הוֹלִיד אֶת־יַעֲקֹב
וְיַעֲקֹב הוֹלִיד אֶת־יְהוּדָה וְאֶת־אֶחָיו

The word for generation in the psalms is dor - used 37 times - e.g. Psalm 24:6 - where one could imagine the interpretation that Jesus, the righteous one, having received the blessing (verse 5) causes the generation following him (us) to seek to find the face of Jacob.

זֶה דֹּור דרשֶׂו מְבַקְשֵׁי פָנֶיךָ יַעֲקֹב
This is the generation seeking him, desiring your face, Jacob.

There's much more to come on Matthew - I am going to post on one blog only from now on. (I still hope to continue with Ruth - we will of course come to her in Matthew - when the Moabite is included in Israel.) Mark Goodacre has a good intro to the genealogy here.