Alter and a tour of a sea bed

Dette er en fortsættelse af tråden And so we begin Alter.

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Alter and a tour of a sea bed

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jan 28, 2012, 11:18pm

Thanks to LT’s thread continuation, the Genesis thread you should bring you here, the thread on Exodus. I’ve put together an optimistic three-week schedule.

Weeks Sections
Jan 30-Feb5 Ex 1-4, 5-15
Feb 6-12 Ex 16-20 (1st Ten Commandments), 21-23
Feb 13-19 Ex 24-34 (2nd Ten Commandments), 35-40

jan 29, 2012, 12:27am

Here we are about the enter the first laws, and I coincidentally came across this, from Scribal Culture.

Scribes in fact played a crucial role in the emergence of the biblical canon. Around 450 B.C.E. Ezra the scribe took the first step towards its creation. Mandated by the Persian authorities to provide the province of Judah with a national constitution, Ezra promulgated the Torah of Moses as the law of the land.

and several pages later

In Jewish historiography, Ezra is a symbol of the Jewish restoration in the Persian era; in the history of religions, Ezra counts as the found father of Judaism: what some see as a restoration is for others the beginning of something distinctly new. Ezra was indeed an innovator in the sense that he fused separate and at times conflicting legal and narrative traditions—the various strands of the Pentateuch—into one literary work and defined it as the Law of Moses...Ezra's work has been characterized as a compromise. It is indeed artificial and replete with redundancy, but it stands a symbol of Jewish identity. That identity, embodied in the Law, was a scribal creation.

So, the Pentateuch, or Torah, or the Five Books of Moses exist because 1. The Persian Empire demanded a law and empowered Ezra, 2. Ezra then took what was there, the largely literary religious texts, and called them "law" and 3. The Persians accepted it and enforced it as law. How curious? How interesting that this Persian empire is responsible for the written foundation of monotheist religions? And what did Ezra start with? What kind of assortment of collections did he take from? What did he (or his group) author themselves? Fascinating stuff.

Redigeret: jan 29, 2012, 1:31am

Exodus 1 – 4:17

Opens with a short begats
The new Pharaoh wants Hebrew male babies dead, too many Hebrews.
1st plan ruined by Shiphrah and Puah, the midwives
Plan 2, toss the male babies into the Nile

Moses is born, tossed, found, kills, leaves and marries the Midian Zipporah, daughter of Reuel.
- Note his mini-Noah’s arc
- This is not recommended for your children. It’s generally considered a very low probability type of upward social mobility.
- Moses - “for from the water I drew him out”…except it’s actually Egyptian for “the one who is born”

Burning Bush on the mountain of God, Horeb (or Sinai).
- God does a lot of talking
- God names himself “I-Will-Be-Who-I-Will Be”, but this is usually translated as “I am who I am” – the form that influenced the ancient interpreters.
- note, author E begins using YHWH here for the first time.
- Reuel is now Jethro

Moses tries to back out of God’s commands.
- note Mose’s "heavy tongue"
- “Please, my LORD, send, pray, by the hand of him You would send” (and the implied, anyone but me) does not make God happy
- Moses gives in and starts his work in 4:18.

Themes to think about

1. There is a drastic change in style from Gen to Exodus. I'm personally having trouble with change (as is Martin, mentioned in the last thread). What bothers me is that there seemed to be some kind of honesty in Genesis, some effort to stay true to a history. Yet, I don't sense any of that here. This feels very contrived. Also, this is no longer something I’m interested in rereading. I could re-read most of Genesis over and over again and continue to enjoy it and gain something (at least in my current mindset). I have no interest in spending time and effort on these early Exodus chapters.

2. What is real?

2A From Kugel, the archeology offers no support, and, in places, clearly contradicts this story.

2B But, Kugel argues there are clear Egyptian elements –

2B i - the names Moses, Aaron, Mariam and others are Egyptian

2B ii - The ‘Apiru offer a curious idea. 'Apiru is a widespread term used around the ancient Middle East for slave labor at the right time period. It also sounds a lot like "Hebrew". The word “Hebrew” is actually rare in the bible, but common in the Exodus story (from Kugel). Kugel ponders whether the Hebrews were once actually an ‘Apiru group and the Exodus is glorification of a not very glorifying story.

This I like as it would explain the contrived sense I get from this story. Keep in mind that all the Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph stuff is written later to explain the author's present. So, forget all that for a moment. This small group of ‘Apirus stumbled out of Egypt, mixed with Midians and took their God (from Sinai) and became Hebrews. Later they mixed into a population that developed into various tribes scattered throughout Canaan ( don’t buy the map, the Israelites were a small group, even in Canaan, except for that one Davidic Kingdom). At some point there is a fusing of gods. Finally, a king (David?) associates himself with one of these groups, and history is rewritten. (This is my creative extrapolation from Kugel, not Kugel's theory)

3. The burning bush. Kugel quotes Josephus (Roman times) as seeing the bush as representing the Hebrews and the burning as representing the hardships they had to endure. (note, even during Josephus's time interpreters are defensive about the Exodus story. Even then the story was apparently seen as suspect.)

4. Kugel finished his chapter with a theory that Horeb/Sinai represents a new God for the Hebrews. Part of his point is that the Hebrew God should be in Canaan, not Midian. For what it's worth, note that documentarian thesis author J always uses YHWH, but author E only begins using YHWH here, on Mount Sinai with the burning bush.

Redigeret: jan 29, 2012, 7:32am

All this agrees with Freud, Moses and Monotheism; Assmann, Moses the Egyptian; and Ahmed Osman, Moses and Akhenaten.

Redigeret: jan 30, 2012, 3:51am

2> How fascinating. Maybe I should get this book Scribal Culture.

And I'm running behind again, I've been reading more and more of Infinite Jest lately...

jan 30, 2012, 8:23am

qs - Assmann? Never heard of Ahmed Osman, but wikipedia doesn't seem to think he should be taken seriously. What's your take?

FlA - tough to mix Infinite Jest with anything of any depth. Enjoy.

jan 30, 2012, 8:25am

Roll call, who else is still around?

jan 30, 2012, 9:27am

Still here dan - still on last bit of Genesis, but happy with the pace, and trying to keep up with your postings.

jan 30, 2012, 2:22pm

Here! Just swamped. Many thoughts about Exodus. Soon to be shared! Thanks for the hard work, Dan.

jan 30, 2012, 3:14pm

I am here

Redigeret: jan 30, 2012, 4:21pm

>6 dchaikin:
qs - Assmann? Never heard of Ahmed Osman, but wikipedia doesn't seem to think he should be taken seriously. What's your take?


Remember, that Freud started this trend of thought in Moses and Monotheism.

Jan Assmann is Professor of Egyptology at the University of Heidelberg, and is world-renowned as a specialist on Egyptian texts, beliefs, and rituals.

Ahmed Osman is not a professional, but he has applied recent archeological discoveries and historical documents and claims Akhennaten and Moses were the same man.

His ideas certainly push the envelope. He tries to show that even the Ten Commandments reveal the direct influence of Spell 125 in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. This idea has been advanced by different writers ever since hieroglyphics were decoded.

jan 30, 2012, 6:03pm

I'm with you to the end, Dan. I'm not reading or rereading the rest of the books in the Pentateuch, but I'm paying attention to what folks are saying about them.

In Exodus I liked the magic with the staffs. God could do stage tricks.


jan 30, 2012, 11:18pm

8-10 & 12 - good to know. We now have seven, very biblical.

quicksiva - interesting, but I can't help thinking that Assmann is a very unfortunate name.

jan 31, 2012, 12:52pm

Some assorted thoughts on the first books of Exodus, scrawled on the back cover of my edition, which I now see is separating from the rest of the book already--suck it, the publishing industry!:

-Moses is "a Levite"--this makes him the first central figure whose exact derivation back to Adam is not clear, right? Instead of a born patriarch, a "nemo," a new beginning suitable for a new book, found in reeds, whose brilliant career develops as a result of his talents--or God's will as always, of course, but he seems chosen as a vehicle as a result of his exceptional character rather than his ancestry--and a dose of happenstance, Horatio Alger style. Which means that the portents and plagues indicate a singular figure, halfway between patriarch and prophet, instead of a herdsman-princeling whose stories are about tricking Laban or whatever. And with the attention to character, and the newly "massaged" or composed character of the narrative (see below), and his sense of social justice--to stretch a point, perhaps--he seems a lot more like Jesus than like Abraham, not to mention like, hell, David Copperfield, or Ferris Bueller. A born protagonist, I guess I mean.

And this is getting ahead a bit, maybe, but he inspires in a new way too, right? There's all the wrangling of the grumbly Israelites, and sitting as a judge, etc., but I'm thinking more of Joshua and the Amalekites, and Alter's note about how before God did the fighting for them but now they are actively seizing their destiny. If there's a single protagonist in Genesis, it's God, and the revolving door of patriarchs are mostly concerned with reacting to his whims and protecting their wealth and their issue; here, he is stepping back, letting Moses come into his own, and watching Moses inspire the development of his people in their turn. There's a good book of management theory in here.

-much more literary, compositional; signs and wonders, metaphors to be interpreted (is this what kids do in Sunday School? I hope so). The patriarchs (does this include Adam, Noah, etc., or does it begin with Abraham? If the latter, how do we call the former?) were episodic; Joseph was the story of a career, albeit one with development of mythic themes over several chapters; but this is a full-on creation myth--the foundation of a people is clearly here, not with the eponymous Jacob, or Abraham, or--it is to laugh!--Eber-from-who-they-are-called-the-Hebrews) and at the same time a novel.

-the rebirth of Osiris is associated with the season cycles, right, and the flooding of the Nile? Didn't he roll stately down the river in a coffin on a boat? Egypt–Moses–Jesus again? Deep mysteries.

-thanks to Homer Simpson, the Jebusites will always make me laugh.

-"'Ehyeh-'Asher-'Ehyeh, I-Will-Be-Who-I-Will-Be." Is "I AM THAT I AM" the KJV? It always gives me shivers. The immediate (reverse) echo here for me is Iago: "I am not what I am." Is that what being God is? Omnipotence = omnieleutherience (or something) = freedom from original sin (which twists, turns you away from yourself, hence Iago as the symbol of Man) = freedom, in a way that trivializes God perhaps but also seems quite beautiful to me, to "be yourself"? That was the way my high school translated its motto, Esse quam videri, also the motto of my grandfather's snooty English family, although for them it was "To be rather than to seem to be," which now places God as the source of transcendent signification, doesn't it? Nothing arbitrary, nothing meaningless, everything either crooked or straight? It makes me think of Kabbalah, and anyway it's a lot more majestic than God the rageaholic, He-Who-Smites.

jan 31, 2012, 4:18pm

I was taught in my Biblical Hebrew class in college that Biblical Hebrew has no tenses, only complete and incomplete action. With only the bare verb form, in that case, past, present, and future cannot be distinguished. If I remember correctly, Martin, you're a linguist; do you have other information?


jan 31, 2012, 9:41pm

Martin - I'm reading your post and letting it simmer for a bit.

Some responses

- I see some clear Christ elements in Moses, well, it's more correct to say Moses elements in Christ. The are both heroes of some who bring freedom from something, no? (my knowledge of Christianity it very weak...)

- The low-born hero is a bible thing....see, especially, King David's origins. On the other hand, the Levites probably saw Moses as having the right parents.

- I don't see Exodus as more literary so much as I see as more made up from scratch. With the Patriarchs, there is a need to explain how things are today (in Davidic times and later). With Moses - you just need Egypt and Sinai, the rest is open to the authors imagination. It's no longer etiological in the details.

- Patriarchs start with Abraham. Adam, Noah, Cain & Abel etc. are part of the creation story. So they lead to all humanity (well, not Abel), while Abraham leads specifically to the Israelites.

- The rest needs more thought...Can you tell us something about the rebirth of Osiris? Or point us somewhere?

jan 31, 2012, 9:52pm

About "The Incident at the Inn": Exodus 4:24-26

After God commissions Moses as His emissary to lead His people into freedom, He tells him that all who tried to kill him are dead. He almost immediately then tries to kill him, Himself. The attack is bizarre and seemingly inexplicable. Who does Zipporah think she is talking to?

Does this material belong here, or is it some sort of error?

jan 31, 2012, 10:00pm

I've been thinking about this one too. It's not an error. There is a theme of mandatory circumcision, and this god is quick to anger. So, what do we expect when this god finds out his/her chosen one, Moses, didn't circumcise his own child? Also, the blood stops god, which related to the blood on the door during the original passover.

It is a bit mysterious. Imagine if that was a real god, we'd live is constant, freakin' out fear of doing the wrong thing.

jan 31, 2012, 10:39pm

>16 dchaikin:
On Osiris,
The Egyptian Book of the Dead holds Osiris to be the great god of the dead.
….it was Osiris, the god-man himself, who had risen from the dead and was living in a body perfect in all its members, who was the cause of the resurrection. Osiris could give life after death because he had attained to it, and he could give eternal life to the souls of men in their transformed bodies because he had made himself incorruptible and immortal. Moreover, he was himself “Eternity and Everlastingness,” and it was he who made men and women to be born again,…., the new birth was into the new life of the world which is beyond the grave and is everlasting.”
Budge,The Gods of the Egyptians v.2,p.141

Redigeret: feb 1, 2012, 4:21am

>15 Mr.Durick: well, kind of a half-assed linguist:) I really thought Alter discussed this in his introduction, but I can't find the place now, so I'll have a go. When and how a verb happens is a really vexed area of language, and one in which often, crosslinguistically, several valences or parameters collide, including but possibly not (I'm not sure) limited to:

tense--generally, when something happens; tenses most often present include past, present, and less often, future

and three facets ("aspects" is the word I would use in normal speech, if I weren't about to use it in a jargon sense below) of how things happen:

voice--describes the relation between the verb and its predicates; can be active or passive
mood--signals an position taken by the speaker toward what they are saying; e.g., conditional, imperative, indicative, subjunctive
aspect--describes the "completeness" of an action (complete = perfect; incomplete = imperfect, as well as e.g. ongoing (progressive) or prospective).

In all of these there are many other examples in different languages (Finnish has a telic aspect, which expresses whether the goal of the action has been achieved; Mongolian has a reciprocal voice, where two actors are doing something to each other and the verb is therefore both active and passive; etc., etc.)

The thing is that these realms can shift from language to language, so different languages resort to different strategies to convey different meanings. English, for instance, merges aspect with tense: it uses tense forms plus auxiliary verbs to convey these meanings (which can be seen in the fact that "I have gone," "I am going," "I have been going" are all in the present tense but do not take different morphological forms for aspect). High German does not have the progressive aspect at all--they get by with "I eat"--but my mother's dialect has a form for "I am eating."

The thing is that these are all grammatical rather than semantic categories, and just as the present tense can express the semantic future (I leave tomorrow) and the passive voice can express the semantic past (dishes are done), concepts like "perfect" and "imperfect" are pretty slippery and can be applied to a lot of things. In French, for instance, the imparfait is a past tense. In Greek, I understand it indicates that something was/is/will be tried but not necessarily achieved. Biblical Hebrew seems to have a tense-aspect-mood system in which may of the functions usually associated with each of these are expressed in the same way. There seems to be controversy about whether there is tense or not, and whether "aspect" is the best way to describe what Hebrew is doing or not (it's kind of beyond me, I'm not super swift on grammar), but what we can say is that certain functions including not only completeness but also pastness and according to this article, staticness, are expressed with something that we have agreed to call "perfective" and that is not fundamentally about "when" but about "how" something happens--and the imperfect is thus incomplete, present and future, dynamic, etc. It's pretty easy and tempting to make speculative castles in the sky about a Hebrew worldview that focuses on the unfolding of God's plan, the attaining of a process its full ripeness, etc., but I don't think any of that is actually supportable.

I guess then the short answer is that there are no tenses, but it's still clear when things happen, just like in English it's clear that when we say "I have eaten" we don't mean "and I am still eating, even though "have" is in the present tense. What the poetics of it might be I wouldn't venture to say.

Obviously I only have a limited understanding in this area, but I hope that helps?

feb 1, 2012, 4:24am

>16 dchaikin: good points--but surely there's an etiology to Exodus too? It's got the ten freakin' commandments. It's a social compact, a foundation story. "This is why we do things like this." Unless I'm misunderstanding you?

I'll do some digging on Osiris tomorrow; I think I ate up my internet time on aspect.

feb 1, 2012, 4:27am

There's some interesting stuff on Biblical aspect here:

although a little hard going; the section I was looking at starts on page 10 but gets interesting around p. 12.

feb 1, 2012, 6:56am

#21 - i Haven't gotten to the commandments yet...

feb 1, 2012, 8:43am

Of course God waits until they're in the middle of the desert before he reveals his brand-new rules to the Israelites. No turning back from there.

feb 1, 2012, 11:57am

feb 1, 2012, 12:07pm

Of course God waits until they're in the middle of the desert before he reveals his brand-new rules to the Israelites. No turning back from there.....
.....Especially since Aaron had just talked the mixed multitude into giving him all of that gold stolen from the Egyptians. At the end of the story, there is still a lot of gold dust somewere, maybe hidden in the Ark.

Egyptologists have long known that the story of the golden calf is just a lot of Apis bull anyway.

feb 1, 2012, 2:32pm

Thank you, Martin. I hope to get to the texts you've linked soon. My professor was a Hebraicist, not a linguist, and he never called incomplete action imperfect or complete action perfect. Somewhere in the mess here is a book on aspect which I never read and which may be old now; I suppose I should be curious enough to want to read it.


feb 1, 2012, 5:21pm

One should never feel guilty for not being curious about grammar.

feb 5, 2012, 7:06am

Oh god, how to build a tabernacle. It's like living death.

feb 5, 2012, 8:17am

Wondering how that will go for me. I was hoping it would have some kind of rhythm where I would mindlessly drift through it.

Redigeret: feb 5, 2012, 8:59am

Exodus 4:18 - 15:21
Plagues, across the sea and The Song of the Sea

Chapter summaries

Ex 4:18-31
Moses gets Jethro's permission to return to Egypt
Episode where God almost kills Moses. He is saved when Zipporah's circumcises their first son and places the bloody piece on Moses toe.
Enter Aaron

Ex 5
Moses begins asking Pharaoh to allow all Hebrews to leave to worship their God
Pharaoh punishes by making the Hebrews work harder. Specifically, he stops supplying straw for the brick-making.

Ex 6
Doubts. God pushes Moses to keep trying
Begats – but only for Reuben, Simeon and Levi. Moses is a Levite. Note Phineas, he'll cause modern readers some problems later.
-"and you shall know I am the LORD your God" - when God says something like this, it makes me think of Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction. (found here, skip ahead to 7 minutes: Even though he says he is quoting Ezekiel, the quote is made up.)
- Moses twice says "I am uncircumcised of lips" - very strange phrasing.

Ex 7
Plagues - the show begins

The LORD begins to explain that he's actually in control of the Pharaoh. He will harden his heart and whatnot and knows the outcome. This gives the whole episode the feel of a show, at least to me. (I actually picture it as a puppet show, with the LORD pulling the strings.) God is directing. Moses, Aaron and the Pharaohs are just acting under his instructions.

Staffs turn into snakes - soothsayers make wimpier serpents
Plague 1 : Aaron turns Nile water to blood (plague 1) - Cinematic potential here
warning about frogs
-"See, I have set you as a god to Pharaoh" - bring the Pharaoh down to size..

Ex 8
Plague 2 - frogs
Plague 3 - lice
Plague 4 - the horde (insects of some kind? wild animals? crazy savages?)

Ex 9
Plague 5 - Pestilence
Plague 6 - dust causes rashes - even the soothsayers are struck down
Plague 7 - heavy hale (“with fire flashing in the midst”) (Plague 7)
- this one comes with a warning. Egyptians have the option of preparing.
- Also, this comes with an explanation “so as to show you My power, and so that My name will be told through all the earth”

Ex 10
The opening here is where I first fully got the whole sense of the show (a puppet show to me, with God pulling all the strings):

”Come into Pharaoh, for I Myself have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, so that I may set these signs of Mine in his midst, and so that you may tell in the hearing of your son and your son’s son how I toyed with Egypt, and My signs that I set upon them, and you shall know that I am the LORD”

At the threat of locusts, the Pharaoh’s servants complain – and the Pharaoh tries to bargain. Moses doesn’t bargain, and the Pharaoh flips
Plague 8 - locusts - Pharaoh pleads for an end
Plague 9 - darkness - Moses tells Pharaoh “I will not see your face again”
- note: Locusts come from the East, an error. In Israel they would come from the east, in Egypt they would come from the south.

Ex 11
Moses announces death of first born to the Pharaoh (who he promised never to see again ??)
- The LORD advices on looting.

Ex 12
Opens with The LORD explaining Passover rituals (before the actual pass over)
Plague 10 - First born struck down. Text gives a sense that the something has changed. Hebrew leave immediately (the end of 430 years in Egypt)

Ex 13
More passover laws
"And it shall be a sign for you on your hand and a remembrance between your eyes” – this is the source of the phylacteries, or tefillin
The Exodus detours south through the wilderness
The LORD leads: “a pillar of cloud to lead them on the way and by night a pillar of fire, to give them light to go by day and by night”
-note, at this point the story feels more etiological to me.

Ex 14
Splitting of the Red Sea
Egyptians pursue and are drowned

Ex 15:1-21
Song of the Sea

feb 5, 2012, 9:01am

Tefillin :

feb 5, 2012, 3:32pm

There was this comic-book series I read when I was a kid where a villain called the Sphinx went back in time and made sure that the pharaoh's vizier's snake was strong enough to beat Moses's, and the end result was that there was no Western civilization and Egypt ruled the world forever, under the vizier, who used something called the Ka Stone to keep himself alive and turned out to be the Sphinx, of course.

feb 6, 2012, 12:58pm

The Isrealites did the same thing, only they were limited to the technology they had. Instead of re-working history, they simply re-wrote it.

feb 6, 2012, 1:38pm

Themes to think about

Focusing on the story:

1. Are we expected to believe any of this stuff?

2. What do we make of this god?

2A. Is this the same god from Genesis?

2B. Did the Israel love and respect their god, or are they just petrified of pissing him/her off?

3. What is with all the showmanship and magic tricks?

4. If God simplye did all this to make a point, to give the Israelites a story and evidence of his strength, do we respect this? Isn't this condemnable? There is a huge metaphysical divide between us and them. It seems like the ancients wanted (1) a super tough and powerful good & (2) to keep all their subject inline, through fear. Do you agree?

5. Collective punishment yet again.

6. The most curious part of this for me is where God begins to come after Moses to kill him, and is turned aside by the blood of circumcision - see quicksilva's comment in post #17 (and mine in #18). What do you make of this?

Beyond just the story:

7. What is the real history here? Kugel compares it to the American founding fathers. Few Americans can trace their heritage back to the colonies, much less as to supporters of the American Revolution and the US constitution. Yet, American still regard this as the era of our founding fathers. Kugel sees, as a possibility, the same thing with the Israelites - this story only pertains to a small part of the Israelite nation(s), but, all came to identify with it.

8. What is etiological? My sense from the text is that the Egypt part of this is completely made up, but not the Exodus path with lists actually locations.

9.* Is the main point of this story simply to explain The Song of the Sea? My thought is that Jacob & Josephs stories are there to explain the more ancient poem of Jacobs blessings (and curses). You can make the same argument here. Experts argue the The Song of the Sea is one of the oldest biblical texts, based on language, and hence predates the story of the plagues. Kugel implies this (but I can't recall how explicit he is.) Perhaps the entire Bible is like this - here's a curious fragment, let's write a story around it.

10. The song and the story don't match. Kugel points out that song has no reference to a parting, instead it seems to be about an armed force lost at sea. So, he ponders the idea that the ancient writers misinterpreted (or reinterpreted) a song of a washed out army into one of dividing the red sea.

11. I get the same sense of honesty from The Song of the Sea as I got from Jacob's blessings/curses. The song comes from a forgotten context and has been placed here in a completely different context. So the song is our window in the older darkness...

12. Kugel mentions the numerous "natural" explanations of the story where the author is trying emphasize the truth in the Bible. Then Kugel complains about the pointlessness of this. If you can explain it naturally, then it's not a miracle.

13. But, I did like this (from the "anti-miracle camp"): 1. There is algal bloom on the Nile (red algea - hence blood and everything dying) 2.) As a consequence, the frogs abandon the water and head out on land 3 & 4.) The dead frogs brought the bugs (the lice and horde)...which kills the cattle and causes rashes ...which doesn't explain the hale at all. Anyway, Kugel doesn't buy it, but I like it - you see a sequence of events and then you incorporate that into the details of your for me.

14. Kugel points out that the plagues are mentioned again, in Psalms 78 & 105, but neither is consistent with these ten plagues. He doesn't give much of an explanation, except to cite other authors as pointing out this looks like inconsistent preservation of the stories.

*My favorite point of thought here.

feb 6, 2012, 3:05pm

The foreskin episode is very intriguing. It feels like it came out of another tradition than the rest of the story.

And i am still here, at least intermittently.

feb 7, 2012, 5:55am

I'm trying to catch up. Finally finished Genesis and read the introduction and first chapter to Exodus. I need to speed up, maybe I should put aside Infinite Jest for a while. Or maybe I'll just keep reading the thread and follow a few days behind the caravan.

feb 7, 2012, 9:58am

Hi Solla, nice to know your here. It does feel like there was more around that story at some point. Perhaps Ezra chopped it up and added it in...

FlorenceArt - No need to follow my pace. The comments are here and you can comment back on them at any time.

Redigeret: feb 7, 2012, 4:43pm

In Ancient Egypt the Light of the World the 19th century Afrocentric Egyptologist Gerald Massey wrote:

“The passage of the Red Sea and the destruction of those who follow the fugitives are also found in a Hottentot fable. Heitsi-Eibib was once travelling with a great number of his people, when they were pursued by the enemy. On arriving at the water which had to be crossed as the only way of escape, the leader said, " My grandfather's father! open thyself that I may pass through, and close thyself afterwards." So it took place as he had said, and they crossed the water safely. Then the pursuing enemy tried to pass through the opening likewise, but when they were in the midst of the divided water it closed upon them and they perished. W. H. I. Bleek, Reynard the Fox in South Africa; or, Hottentot Fables and Tales, p. 75.)”

In Hottentot Fables (1864), Bleek had written in the best Eurocentric fashion:

"You are aware that the existence of Fables among the Hottentots was already known to us through Sir James Alexander's " Expedition of Discovery into the Interior of Africa (8vo., two vols., London, 1838), and that some interesting specimens of their literature had been given by him in that work ; but that Fables form so extensive a mass of traditionary Native literature amongst the Namaqua, has first been brought to light by Mr. Kronlein's communications. The fact of such a literary capacity existing among a nation whose mental qualifications it has been usual to estimate at the lowest standard, is of the greatest importance ; and that their literary activity (in contradistinction to the general character of Native literature among Negro nations) has been employed almost in the same direction as that which had been taken by our own earliest literature, is in itself of great significance.

Some questions of no trifling importance and interest are raised by the appearance of such an unlooked-for mine of literary lore, particularly as to the originality of these Fables. Whether they are indeed the real offspring of the desert, and can be considered as truly indigenous Native literature, or whether they have been either purloined from the superior white race, or at least brought into existence by the stimulus which contact with the latter gave to the Native mind (like that resulting in the invention of the Tshiroki and Vei alphabets) may be matters of dispute for some time to come, and it may require as much research as was expended upon the solving of the riddle of the originality of the Ossianic poems.

But whatever may be the ultimate result of such inquiries, whether it will confirm our idea of the originality and antiquity of the main portion of these Hottentot Fables, and consequently stamp them with the character of the oldest and most primitive literary remains of the old mother tongue of the Sexdenoting nations, or whether they have only sprung up recently among the Hottentots from foreign seed and in either case the disposition of the Hottentots to the enjoyment of such Fables, and their easy growth on this arid soil, be it their native or adopted one it shows a much greater congeniality between the Hottentot and European mind than we find between the latter and any of the black races of Africa.

This similarity in the disposition of nations can in itself indeed hardly be considered as a valid proof of common ancestry ; but if there be other grounds to make us believe that the nations in question, or at least their languages, are of common origin, it may render us more inclined to assume that such a similarity in their literary taste is derived also from the same source.

The great ethnological difference between the Hottentots and the black nations of South Africa has been a marked fact from almost the earliest acquaintance of Europeans with these parts, and occasional stray guesses (for example, in R. Moffat's " Missionary Labours and Scenes in Southern Africa," 1842, p. 6), have already for some time pointed to a North African origin for the Hottentots.”

During a tour of the United States, Thomas Jefferson’s friend C, F. Volney was accused of Hottentotism, an inference that he ignorantly worshipped Black people. His masterful response to this attack by pro-slavery forces is included in Ruins of Empires. Throughout, de Volney remained committed to the view that civilizations rise and fall and their permanence is not determined by race.

Could the Hottentots be the Lost Tribe?

feb 7, 2012, 5:36pm

I am hopelessly behind, in that I haven't started yet. It's possible that I'll be able to start this weekend and, if I don't, this may be a lost cause for me, but I'm following this discussion with fascination and plan to use as a resource when I finally start reading even though I may never catch up enough to comment.

Redigeret: feb 7, 2012, 9:11pm

quicksiva - interesting.

My first thought is: Why in the world would we expect a link between the Khoikhoi and an 8th century BCE mystery in Israel? But keep my bias in mind. As I see it, the tribes were wiped out. Lots died, many assimilated into Assyria, and enough moved to Judah to leave their mark on our book. So, in my view, I have no idea what one means when they say they are searching for the modern descendants of the lost tribes. What are they looking for?

My second thought is to wonder why the Khoikhoi and the bible have the same story.

My third thought is to refuse to admit any potential contradiction in those first two thoughts.

feb 7, 2012, 9:11pm

Rebecca - There's still a chance! I'm hoping you do join us. No rush to catch up (but starting helps. : ) )

feb 7, 2012, 11:18pm

I'm not sure about the North African origin (any DNA evidence on that?), but the Khoikhoi are only one of a group of peoples speaking Khoisan languages, and there has been much intercourse between them and people speaking Bantu languages, many of whom had centuries of extensive contact with the Middle East, and if we're talking on a timeframe appropriate to the migration of peoples, is it possible that the story, if perhaps not the tribe, could have spread that far?

feb 7, 2012, 11:21pm

either way, or both ways from a separate source...

feb 8, 2012, 1:27pm

Anyone remember Velikovsky? Ages in Chaos? Interplanetary incidents boost the departure of the Israelites by causing plagues, the red sea incident, manna...

feb 8, 2012, 2:27pm

That sent me on a trip to wikipedia. All I can say is, weird.

Redigeret: feb 9, 2012, 3:42am

Denne meddelelse er blevet slettet af dens forfatter.

feb 9, 2012, 10:09am

>45 PimPhilipse::Gosh going back quite a bit. Remember them well from teenage years - they were very popular books.

feb 9, 2012, 11:37am

I thought he was science fiction, you know, like Ron Hubbard.

feb 9, 2012, 1:47pm

looking to the next section...

Redigeret: feb 11, 2012, 10:29pm

ah, America - skip to ~5:00 for the ten commandments reference...

feb 10, 2012, 3:32am

Slowly catching up. I must say I am much more taken by this part than by the Joseph story, which never really grabbed me, which is why I took so long to complete it. Exodus starts in style. Mysterious orphan raised by a king's daughter, special effects, theatrical confrontations, suspense... well OK not much suspense, but I can definitely see why Hollywood loved Moses so much.

feb 12, 2012, 12:03am

Exodus 15:22 - 20
wanderings and the "Ten Commandments"...variation one.

Chapter summaries

Ex 15:22-27
Moving on
- Wilderness of Shur - no water
- Marah - a "flung" tree makes the water sweet. God says - if you heed the voice of the LORD, I won't make you sick ("for I am the LORD your healer")
- Elim - twelve springs & 70 date palms

Ex 16
God provides the starving Israelites with daily quail and manna in "Wilderness of Sin"
- note, there is a lot here in the storyline : the peoples doubts, God's words hint of warnings, the people don't listen about the manna and they are greedy. God finally asks, "How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and my teachings?"
- "And the Israelites ate manna forty years"

Ex 17
Massah & Mariba - Testing and Dispute
- here Moses strikes the rock for water. This story happens again (Num 20). This time Moses is praised. In the second (or preserved alternate) he is criticized
the first battle: against the Amalek
- Christians see predecessors or foreshadowings of Christ here.
- Moses raises his arms (with Aaron and Hur's help), like a crucifixion
- Joshua leads the fight. In Greek the names Joshua and Jesus are the same word.

Ex 18
Jethro's friendly meeting with Moses (peace with the Midians)
Mose's children are there
- Eliezer - My God is aid
- Gershom - "ger" is sojourner, "gersh" is to banish
Some interesting details in Jethro's meeting - such as his advice and his sacrifice to God
The story is out of sequence - takes place at Sinai, but the Israelites haven't gotten there yet

Ex 19
Wilderness of Sinai
Moses talks to God on Mt. Sinai - a pivotal moment in the story.
- "And now, if you will truly heed My voice and keep My covenant, you will become for Me a treasure among all peoples, for Mine is all the earth. And as for you, you will become for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation"
- a marked change from standard middle eastern religions - a whole society is holy, not just the priests.
The show is still on
- God shows self as a cloud on Mt. Sinai, but no one is allowed to approach, on the penalty of death, except Moses and Aaron... What were they doing up there?

Ex 20
The Ten Commandments
- This is only the first go. There is a second set in Deuteronomy 5.
Can't list them. Judaism, Catholicism and Protestant-isms have different lists:
- Note: In the first two God is speaking (using "I" and "me"). Then the text begins to use "your LORD"
- note: Thou shall not murder, instead of "kill". Alter argues that the word is clearly "murder". Kugel says the Hebrew word is between the two meanings, but closer to "murder"
With all the crazy effects (thunder, lightning etc.), the people are freaking out and ask that God no longer speak to them, but only to Moses.

feb 12, 2012, 3:03pm

Stuff to think about - Ex 16-20

1. An imperfect people. No matter how clear God is and how tangible the evidence and the threats and blessing are, the people still doubt and violate the rules both directly and in spirit.

2. side note about the water from the rock - Ancient interpreters felt the Israelites carried a water-giving rock from Mariba to the place in Num 20.

3. What is the significance of the covenant. Is the covenant claim that all are priests changing anything or just good PR?

On the Ten Commandments

4. Why these ten? (what about the golden rule?)

5. The way they were given - with the smoke and thunder and with the restrictions that prevented anyone else from coming near - why does this feel like a another magic trick by Moses?

6. Kugel argues "have no other Gods before (or besides} Me" indicates something other than monotheism. The book acknowledges other gods, but demands that they are not to be heeded. (the word is monolarity)

7. Kugel discusses how the wording of the commandments is similar to Hittite (Turkey) treaties between the Hittite emperor and his vassals, where the emperor demands exclusive loyalty from them. Kugel doesn't argue that there is a direct link, but does argue that the wording is a if God were a king or an emperor and is offering his followers a treaty.

7B What would God present himself in this form?

8. The Ten Commandments is generally, but not universally, considered an ancient part of the text.

8B. This fits my theme in post 35, point 9. That the surrounding text is mainly here to explain the older fragments...

9. re - no carved likeness: Kugel discuses arguments that this line (Ex 20:3-4, "You shall make you no carved likeness...") is inserted into the older text. And, actually, if you take it out, the text does flow better. Kugels point is that this insert filled a need.

9B "Archeologist have turned up a profusion of figurines in Judah that apparently represent the goddess Asherah and other deities and date to the eighth and seventh centuries; these include hundreds of statues that were discovered in the very shadow of the Jerusalem temple" - from Kugel

Redigeret: feb 12, 2012, 3:41pm

9. re - no carved likeness: Kugel discuses arguments that this line (Ex 20:3-4, "You shall make you no carved likeness...") is inserted into the older text. And, actually, if you take it out, the text does flow better. Kugels point is that this insert filled a need.

9B "Archeologist have turned up a profusion of figurines in Judah that apparently represent the goddess Asherah and other deities and date to the eighth and seventh centuries; these include hundreds of statues that were discovered in the very shadow of the Jerusalem temple" - from Kugel

"For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim." (Hosea 3:5)

Archaeologists have found literally hundreds of teraphim, artfully fashioned out of rare ivory or humble clay, depicting naked women,some touching their breasts or genitals. Until recently, such artifacts could be dismissed as pagan relics that had nothing to do with the monotheism of ancient Israel--but new archaeological discoveries , fully as startling as the ones at Tell el-Amarna, suggest that they were used by worshippers of the God of Israel.

The Teraphim of Abram's father Terah, the "maker of images," and the Kirbiri Gods are directly connected with ancient Sabean worship or Astrolatry. Kiyum or the God Kivan, worshipped by the Jews in the wilderness, is Saturn and Shiva later on called Jehovah.
A Hebrew inscription on a broken storage jar, found in Kuntillet 'Ajrud in north-eastern Sinai and dated from the beginning of the eighth century BCE has three primitive figures: a standing male figure in the foreground; a female figure just behind him; and a seated musician in the background. The Hebrew inscription above the drawing reads: 'I bless you by Yhwh of Samaria and his Asherah' (Dever, 1984; King, 1989). Furthermore, a tomb inscription from el-Qom in Judea, dated to the eighth century BCE too, concludes with the words: 'to Yhwh and his Asherah' (Margalit, 1989, 1990 and further references there).

Asherah is a "pagan" goddess whose very mention enraged the Bibical editors. She is the Shekinah, consort and beloved of Yahweh. "God-the-Mother," she is "the Queen of Heaven." She is symbolized in pagan ritual by a living tree or a carved wooden pole set upright in the ground, and these so-called asherim were found in "uncanny places" all over the land of Isreal---"upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every leafy tree." (Kirsch, Her sacred pillars or poles once stood right beside Yahweh's altar, embracing it.Her priestesses & priests were known by the headbands they wore. Asherah was also widely known in the Middle Eastern ancient world as a Goddess of Healing. Then She was removed forcibly from the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures around 400 or 500 B.C.

Early provisional migrations of the Hindu god Brahma (A-braham) and the goddess Saraswati (Sarah / A-sherah) had also long been established via trade routes to the east of Mesopotamia adjacent to the Tigris-Euphrates which spread to the Nile. Some of the most oldest specimens of archaic writing (3300 BC) in fact emerged from Uruk and the Temple of the goddess Inanna (Babylonian Ishtar, Phoenician Asherah) the Queen of Heaven, of which was one of the most oldest cities in southern Mesopotamia, where Abraham (1900 BC) was later born.

In Acts:19, the silversmiths of Athens (?)riot when they blame Christians for the decline of their once profitable shrine building occupation.
"But also that the temple of the great goddess Diana (Inanna) should be hated, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth." Acts 19:27

Asherah, the Shekinah, consort and beloved of Yahweh. God-the-Mother. Her sacred pillars or poles once stood right beside Yahweh's altar, embracing it. Moses and Aaron both carried one of these Asherah "poles" as a sacred staff of power. The Children of Israel were once dramatically healed simply by gazing at the staff with serpents suspended from it. This symbol, the snakes and the staff, has become the modern universal symbol for doctors and healers.* Asherah was also widely known in the Middle Eastern ancient world as a Goddess of Healing. Then She was removed forcibly from the Old Testament Hebrew Scriptures around 400 or 500 B.C. Her priestesses & priests, known by the headbands they wore, worshiped on hill-tops, such as Zion, Mount of Olives, Har Megiddo and countless others. Daughter of Zion, a term found numerous times in the Old Testament, was perhaps a term for a priestess of Asherah. It later came to mean the "City of God," or Jerusalem herself. As the "official" state worship became increasingly male oriented, and the establishment became hostile toward all forms of Asherah worship, a time of conflict and bloodshed lasting over a hundred years began. Those that still clung to Her worship paid the price with their lives at the hands of King Josiah and other rabid Yahwists. (Story in the 2nd Kings ). But She could not be torn from the hearts and souls of Her people. She was the wife of El in Ugaritic mythology, and is the goddess who is also called Athirau-Yammi: "She Who Walks on (or in) the Sea." She was the chief goddess of Tyre in the 15th century BC, and bore the appellation qudshu, "holiness."

In the OT Asherah appears as a goddess by the side of Baal, whose consort she evidently became, at least among the Canaanites of the south. However, most biblical references to the name point obviously to some cult object of wood, which might be cut down and burned, possibly the goddesses' image (1 Kings 15:13, 2 King 21:7). Her prophets are mentioned (1 Kings 18:19), and the vessels used in her service referred to (2 Kings 23:4). The existence of numerous symbols, in each of which the goddess was believed to be immanent, led to the creation of numerous forms of her person, which were described as Asherim. The cult object itself, whatever it was, was utterly detestible to faithful worshippers of Yahweh (1 Kings 15:13), and was set up on the high places beside the "altars of incense" (hammanim) and the "stone pillars" (masseboth). The translation of asherah by "grove" in some translations follows a singular tradition preserved in the LXX and the Vulgate which apparently connects the goddess' image with the usual place of its adoration.

Asherah, like Anat, is a well-documented goddess of the northwest Semitic pantheon. We remember that, according to the Bible itself, in the ninth century BCE Asherah was officially worshipped in Israel; her cult was matronized by Jezebel who, supposedly, imported it from her native Phoenician homeland. Other traces in the Bible either angrily acknowledge her worship as goddess (2 Kings 14.13, for instance, where another royal lady is involved), or else demote her from goddess to a sacred tree or pole set up near an altar (2 Kings 13.6, 17.16; Deuteronomy 16.21 and more). The apparent need for the hostile and widely distributed polemics against her worship constitutes evidence for its continued popularity. Linguistically, Margalit claims (1989), 'Asherah' signifies '(she) who walks behind', displaying a prototypic if divine attitude that befits a wife (and is reflected in the Kuntillet Ajrud drawing). Thus both the partially suppressed and distorted biblical evidence and the archaeological evidence combine to suggest one conclusion. The cult of a goddess, considered the spouse of Yhwh, was celebrated throughout the First Temple era in the land, and beyond this period at the Jewish settlement in Elephantine (in Egypt).

Above two paragraphs are an excerpt from longer Article by a Hebrew professor. NOTE: "She who walks behind" is not considered the usual way to translate Asherah. Encyclopedia Mythica's Asherah entry states: Etymology: She who walks in the Sea.

The Bible gives the impression that all ancient Jews shared a common belief system ... with only an occasional group straying from the fold. But the evidence paints a different picture. As Dr. Patai states, "... it would be strange if the Hebrew-Jewish religion, which flourished for centuries in a region of intensive goddess cults, had remained immune to them." Archaeologists have uncovered Hebrew settlements where the goddesses Asherah and Astarte-Anath were routinely worshipped. And in fact, we find that for about 3,000 years, the Hebrews worshipped female deities which were later eradicated only by extreme pressure of the male-dominated priesthood.

And then there's the matter of the Cherubim that sat atop the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. Fashioned by Phoenician craftsmen for Solomon and Ahab, an ivory tablet shows two winged females facing each other. And one tablet shows male and female members of the Cherubim embracing in an explicitly sexual position that embarrassed later Jewish historians ... and even the pagans were shocked when they saw it for the first time. The Star of David, two triangles "embracing" became the coded symbol for God & Goddess locked in a "creating" posture....!

This cult of the feminine goddess, though often repressed, remained a part of the faith of the Jewish people. Goddesses answered the need for mother, lover, queen, intercessor ... and even today, lingers cryptically in the traditional Hebrew Sabbath invocation.

feb 13, 2012, 9:58am

#55 - fascinating stuff. Where did you find all this?

feb 13, 2012, 10:13am
- discusses the scholarship controversies, biblical references and has this
In a BBC documentary, Francesca Stavrakopoulou countered that view: "The majority of biblical scholars throughout the world now accept it as compelling evidence that God once had a consort."26 Asked in the same documentary if the Jews were monotheistic with a religion distinct from the Canaanite religion, Herbert Niehr from the University of Tübingen answered: "Between the 10th century and the beginning of their exile in 586 there was polytheism as normal religion all throughout Israel; only afterwards things begin to change and very slowly they begin to change. I would say it is only correct for the last centuries, maybe only from the period of the Maccabees, that means the second century BC, so in the time of Jesus of Nazareth it is true, but for the time before it, it is not true."27

Also: ==> for a sense of how Asherah may relate to other middle eastern goddesses.

feb 14, 2012, 11:28pm

Thought Asherah might get some discussion...well, anyway, here is the next section:

Exodus 21 - 23
The Book of the Covenant

Chapter summaries

Ex 21
"And these are the laws that you shall set before them." - Miscellanous laws about slavery, various kinds of violence and accidental injury...torts.

many curiosities
- "And he who did not plot it but God made it befall him, I shall set apart for you a place to which he may flee. And should a man scheme against his fellow man to kill him by cunning, from My altar you shall take him to die" -- references Some kind of alter you can go to and be free of arm, but with exceptions
- "life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, a burn for a burn, a wound fora wound, a bruise for a buise" - Context is violence leeding to an accidently collision with a pregnant woman resutling in a miscarriage - very obscure.

Ex 22
more miscellaneous stuff: thieves, beast and virgins (these two are linked!), witches, beastility, polytheism, sojourners, widows, orphans, money lending, cloaks, 1st crop yeilds, 1st born...

Ex 23
more laws
three festivals
- Festival of Flatbread - Passover
- Festival of the Harvest - Shavuoth
- Festival of Ingathering - Succoth
"You shall not boil a kid in its mother milk" - no cheese burgers for the Kosher
Prophicies of conqueroring Canaan
- "My terror shall I send before you"
- "I shall not drive them out before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beasts of the field multiply against yo. Little by little shall I drive them out."

feb 15, 2012, 1:04pm

Thoughts on The Book of the Covenant

1. Is there anything "literary" about this?

The nature of the laws

2. The name "The Book of the Covenant" seems to imply more than is really there. These are mostly very obscure situations. Where are basic laws useful for everyday affairs?

2. There is a Split between Judaism and Christianity about the laws

2A. For Jews, the torah laws are the guide for life. Follow the laws you you are serving god, you yourself become holy.

2B. Christianity doesn't follow these laws. Paul condemns them in the NT. The OT becomes something very different for Christians
- It is the source of NT ideas
- It legitimizes (legitimized) the NT
- Christianity puts value on the stories as examples and divine teachings

3. The nature of the laws obscurities forced some elaborate interpretation. As a result the laws actually provide great freedom in application. Interpret as you like.

Where did this come from?

4. These chapters are generally considered very old and to have been inserted into the text between Ex 20 & 24 from a separate source.

4A. There are Mesopotamian predecessors that are much much older, such as the laws of Hammurabi (18th or 19th century BCE). Kugel points out clear links where these laws use the wording and the same obscure situations as the Mesopotamian laws, even if the actual sense of the laws may be different. Mesopotamian law was hierarchic, these are egalitarian (for non-enslaved males)

5. Note that the ten commandments are mostly apodictic (something that is apparently not typical anywhere in the Middle East at that time or before). The book of the covenant is mostly casuistic.
- Casuistic Law :
- Apodictic Law :

feb 15, 2012, 1:45pm

"You shall not boil a kid in its mother milk" Ex 23

In Genesis we read:
18:7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.
18:8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

Yet it is well known that one of the oldest prohibitions in the entire Bible is the injunction against boiling a kid in the milk of its mother. It is repeated three times in identical words: "You shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk."

From these words, the rabbis extrapolated a complex set of dietary laws, which to this day prohibit observant Jews from mixing foods containing milk or milk by-products with foods containing meat. The prohibition against mixing milk and meat is an essential element of the dietary laws of kashrut it is a significant part of what it means to "keep kosher."

How do modern Believers explain God’s acceptance of Abraham’s non- Kosher picnic?

feb 15, 2012, 1:58pm

My first thought is that Abraham is pre-Book of the Covenant, so if he broke this law, well it didn't exist yet.

But, we know that this book is a collection of writings that were not consistent, and that is most reasonable explanation (for a non-believer).

Oddly - as Christianity doesn't follow these laws and the vast majority of Jews don't tend to view the bible as actually provided directly by God - the believers for whom this question is applicable must be quite a small group.

feb 15, 2012, 4:38pm

Well, my totally off the top of my head explanation is that before the rabbis extrapolated the rule of not mixing dairy and meat in the same meal from the prohibition to not boil a kid in its mother's milk, that prohibition was meant literally. The rabbis hadn't gotten their hands on the text at the time it was written, and at the time Abraham had his meal (and furthermore the milk and cream could have come from an animal other than the mother). I think someone once explained it to me as an act of kindness, that it would be cruel to the mother animal to use her milk to make her baby tasty. But this could be a very late 20th century explanation.

feb 15, 2012, 4:57pm

>57 dchaikin: that's actually fascinating--I think the layperson (me) thinks of the Jews as being basically monotheistic from the Ten Commandments onward, per the story. This means that whatever historical analogues any of these stories have, they took place in a context where most of the people were impatiently looking to Yahweh to keep food on the table with the implicit threat that they would run off to Baal or whoever, right? Given how Yahweh gets when he's in his rages, the abusive-relationship analogy is tasteless but there.

>62 rebeccanyc: that's always how I understood it--kind of as consideration offered in exchange for the animal's life?

feb 15, 2012, 9:57pm

#63 - Karel van der Toorn would praise the scribes for their successful re-writing of history.

#62 - I always saw Kosher laws as a form of separation. If you can't eat what gentiles eat, then you're forced to eat with your own kind; but that may also be a 20th-century explanation.

feb 16, 2012, 3:30am

The Kosher laws, as I understand it, were one of the main issues when Christianity appeared and began to attract Gentiles, because if you have a community and there are Jews and Gentiles in it how can they eat together? It sort of forced the issue of whether Christianity was a Jewish sect or a new religion.

feb 16, 2012, 9:46am

#65 - I'm not familiar with that. Certainly at one point early Christians are Jewish, believing in a Messiah type figure (or Christ in Greek) and at some later point Christians clearly differentiated from anything Jewish and do not follow Jewish laws. But, no clue what happened in the interim.

feb 16, 2012, 9:58am

Practically all my knowledge in this area comes from a wonderful TV series called Corpus Christi and its follow-on series The Origin of Christianity and The Apocalypse. Very highly recommended.

feb 16, 2012, 3:37pm

A recent minister at my church told us that the Canaanites ate kid boiled in its mother's milk, and the prohibition was to distinguish the Jews from the Canaanites.

I believe Acts from the New Testament at least outlines the abandonment of most of the Law by foreign Christians. It is believable. Paul, the apostle to the gentiles, found reluctance among the gentiles to mutilate their genitals. He went back to Jerusalem and talked with the powers there who held to the law; they agreed that gentiles were not so strictly bound, but insisted on the maintenance of a few of the Laws. The story may have been modified to favor Paul -- that is he may have established the new rules of compliance pretty much on his own. Or Acts may have been written by gentiles who wanted to justify having retained their foreskins.

The Jerusalem community may have retained the Law, and that community may have survived as the Ebionites.


feb 17, 2012, 2:04am

See also Paul's letter to the Galatians, 2:11-14:

11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

feb 17, 2012, 7:22am

69: Tom Wright comments at some length on these verses in his book Justification . Cephas is of course Peter.

Redigeret: feb 19, 2012, 10:59pm

#67-70 - any comments on these two books:

- Rise of Christianity by W. H. C. Frend (1986 ?)
- The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal, Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries by Rodney Stark (1997 ?)

feb 19, 2012, 10:53pm

Exodus 24-34
tabernacles, gory sacrifices, a golden calf and afterward

Chapter Summaries

Ex 24
What an interesting chapter with a covenant sealed with flung sacrificial blood, and two sightings of the anthropomorphic god. If I follow the sequence correctly - Moses writes down everything ("all the LORD's words and all the laws"), then there's a sacrificial event where "Mose took the blood and threw it upon the people". Then Moses and the elders see God ("and beneath His feet was like a fashioning of sapphire pavement and like the very heavens for pureness" - a double simile of his feet!). Then Moses goes up the mountain on his own, joined part of the way by Joshua, and ominously leaves Aaron & Hur in charge. He sees God again and, I think, so do the other Israelites ("And the sight of the LORD's glory was like a consuming fire at the mountaintop before the eyes of the Israelites" - another simile). And then Moses disappears in a cloud for 40 days.

Ex 25 - 31 are all related to the tabernacle

Ex 25 - the Ark of the Covenant, a description of a seven stemmed menorah and other stuff.

Ex 26 - The tabernacle structure
- the Ark of the Covenant is set in the "Holy of Holies"

Ex 27 - The altar with horns
- "kindle a lamp perpetually" leads to the Jewish eternal light which is never supposed to go out. But, Alter points out, the biblical light was only kept lit at night

Ex 28 - Priestly clothing with "ephod" and the stones with 12 gems and the bells ("so that its sound be heard when he comes into the sanctum before the LORD and when he goes out, that he shall not die.")
- the Tent of Meeting
- Note : When the priestly writers wrote about Aaron and his sons, the were actually writing about themselves and their duties (and justifying their position).

Ex 29 - on the sacrificial ceremony to consecrating the priests.
- suddenly we have a whole lot of gore.
- "the priesthood shall be for them a perpetual state" - the priests are asserting their own position through Biblical authority
- after all this gory pagan-ish stuff, God affirms his own presence and glory ("I am the LORD their God")

Ex 30 - "an appendix of miscellaneous items to the tabernacle setting" - Alter's description
- on the incense alter, taking the census, a laver and stand for washing and making incense

Ex 31 - more miscellany
- Bezalel & Ohaliab - the head craftmen for making all this stuff (Bezalel is the grandson of Hur...Kugel notes that this is the last we hear of Hur)
- Those who profane the Sabbath are "doomed to die"
- Moses has his two stones and is ready to come down from the mountain

Ex 32 - The golden calf
Wake up!
1. Aaron makes a golden calf for God's throne and starts up an orgy.
2. God blows a sprocket and starts making plans to go nuclear, but Moses talks him out of it by pointing out that it would kind of ruin his glory if he took the Israelites out of Egypt just to wipe them out in the desert.
3. then Moses bargains (hey, you made a deal with all those promises)
4. Then, God relents
5. Instead Moses comes down and blows a sprocket
a. he smashes the tablets, burns the golden calf,
b. Aaron tries to worm his way out of blame (Hur is not mentioned)
c. Moses gathers his Levite supporters and sends them out to massacre 3000 Israelites...(echoes of Levi himself in Dinah's story)
6. God pledges to end his own messenger to "go before you" (i.e. not himself, but also you don't need golden calf)
7. God ominously pledges a day of reckoning
8. And then he scourges


this Levite massacre is just sick on so many levels...


feb 19, 2012, 10:57pm

Ex 33 - an adjustment of the God-Israelite relationship
- God states he will no longer dwell in the midst of the Isrealites, "lest I put an end to you on the way"
- Moses has a new Tent of Meeting. No elaborate tabernacle, and it's far from the camps which are now impure. Here, from some perspective, Moses appears to speak to God face-to-face
- There a very confusing discussion with God. Alter tells us Moses is asking both for the nature of God's guidance, and God's intrinsic nature
- then Moses has for God to come back. "Show me, pray, your glory"
- God makes a point that he sets rules
--- No glory, but only "I shall make my goodness pass before you"
--- "I shall grant grace to whom I grant grace and have compassion for whom I have compassion"
--- "My face will not be seen" -- which Alter tells us means that God's intrinsic nature is inaccessible to us. Only his attributes can be glimpsed - his palms, back, goodness,

Ex 34 - restating laws with important updates - The Second Book of the Covenant
Moses returns up the mountain to make new tablets.
One of two things happen
option 1. my view, and I think, Altar's view
---- Moses carefully and nervously bargains to get the Israelites back onto God's good side
---- he blesses God for kindness that we simply haven't seen. Then he "hastened to prostrate himself" and begs forgiveness
option 2. Kugel's view, with his own quite different translation
---- God is speaking and proclaims his own kindness. His kindness makes Moses drop and bow.
- Moses gets The Second Book of the Covenant
--- lots restated, but there is a new emphasis on staying true to god and not straying or "whoring" with other religions
- Then another 40 days for Moses
- who returns with a glowing face (or is it a disfigured face - is he sunburned? ) - this is the source of Moses's horns found in some translations and strange but existent perceptions of Jews.

feb 20, 2012, 6:29am

71> Judging from Amazon reviews, the first one looks like a very thorough and serious reference book. Not too sure about the second one though. I like to go directly to the lowest ratings on Amazon, in this case there are a few one-star reviews, and what I see there doesn't make me want to buy it.

feb 20, 2012, 6:35am

I bought Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years several months ago, it's buried somewhere on my e-reader but I still haven't opened it...

Redigeret: feb 20, 2012, 7:37am

On one level, the story seems to remind me of the violent struggle between Moses and the Mixed multitude who were first conned out of their gold by Aaron and then murdered by their leaders. The Egyptians among Moses' followers still remembered the Apis Bull.

This thing about burning up all that gold still reminds me of the story about the heat that vaporized several billion dollars of gold during 9-11. What does gold turn into when you burn it? Cornflakes?

feb 20, 2012, 1:27pm

quicksiva - I think Alter mentions a golden calf in Jewish Palestine as well - as a throne of God, or something like that. As of the reverse alchemy - gold doesn't burn. First it melts and then it becomes gold vapor.

FlorenceArt - I'm curious about Diarmaid MacCulloch's book, but my main interest of the moment—or future moment when I finish the OT—is in the early years. Frend's book was recommended to me by a good source (LT user Poquette), but with the warning that it's dry, detailed and long.

Redigeret: feb 20, 2012, 1:53pm

Some stuff to think about for for Ex 25-34

Not much from Kugel and my thoughts are suspect here, but some things to think about.


1. Kugel points out that the tabernacle was not a place of worship, like today's churches, synagogues and mosques. It was a place for God to reside. He points out that this has a long history in the region, although usually with idols inside the tabernacle personifying the god. These Israelites apparently had an Arc with a holy contract inside...

2. What do you make of the Golden Calf? Was this bad? If so, was it _all_ bad, or just a little bad? And, why?

3. What do we make of Aaron? Why is he still alive.

3A. And what happened to Hur? His grandson comes back in chapter 35 in a good light, so his family certainly wasn't punished to the fourth generation.

My suspect thoughts

In the midst of a long over-detailed bit on the tabernacle we suddenly have the golden calf thing. Is there an intentional literary component to this?

I actually found the tabernacle parts quite interesting, although certainly not riveting. But still I was thinking about them, all the different pieces and what they looked like, how big they were, where all these materials and outfits came from, why they would make these elaborate things and then pour blood all over them. I was trying to recreate this in my mind; it was a lazy empirical state of mind. So, it was in a pretty relaxed state I read about Gods anger (yada yada yada, there he goes again) and then Moses's effort to calm him down (such a good guy, that Moses)...and then Moses gets angry and leads a massacre...albeit 3000 is small in a crowd of 603 some-odd thousand heretics.

The point is that the monotony of the tabernacle descriptions heighten the shock. I'll remember this. And, when we got to chapter 33, I'm emotionally involved in the ruin and recovery inside the story.

The tabernacle parts served a practical purpose to some, but to most readers they are both a break (like the begats earlier on) and a emotional set-up. If your reading this in a religious state, you're mind might start to wander away from the text, thinking about whatever. Your emotions are softening... and stumbling into a literary ambush.

feb 20, 2012, 3:33pm

Aaron. I'm not sure I trust him. From one perspective he's been Moses's instrument all along, in the same way that Moses is god's; from another, he's benefited, become magnificent among the people, and all on Moses's and God's dime, starting with the rods into snakes. And then Joshua goes up the mountain and Aaron stays behind and presides over the calf episode. From a sympathetic 21st-century perspective, he's a populist, giving the people what they want, while the theocrat, Moses, comes down and presides over a massacre (in this sense again Joshua's Moses's heir in terms of the violence he perpetuates); on the other hand, it's easy too to see Moses as righteous and Aaron as a bread-and-circuses proto-demagogue. It's really a church vs. state dichotomy that emerges, and it's interesting in that sense that it's the heirs of Aaron, the priests, writing this stuff, justifying their privilege, which is secular but rooted in the religious.

feb 20, 2012, 5:12pm

79> That's strange... In French, populist is an insult. It means a political party or candidate flattering the basest instinct of the mob to get to power. French politics are very elitist, I guess that's one big difference with the U.S. Which hasn't much to do with our subject, sorry, carry on...

feb 20, 2012, 5:37pm

>80 FlorenceArt: populist certainly isn't an unalloyed positive, but I think it's ambivalent at worst by us--maybe I'm wrong? I certainly don't mean that Aaron's a villain, but there does seem something unscrupulous about him ....

feb 20, 2012, 6:49pm

Am I the only one having trouble keeping images of Edward G. Robinson out of my hermeneutic circle?

feb 20, 2012, 7:44pm

>82 quicksiva: I am choosing to embrace them:)

feb 21, 2012, 1:30pm

Exodus 35-40

Chapter Summaries

Ex 35
Abbreviated restating of laws followed by a demand for donations - something still found today in all religions.

Ex 36-39 - Isrealites follow through on tabernacle instructions mostly to the word (chapters 25-31)

Ex 36 - Mostly this repeats chapter 26 on the building of the Tabernacle
Note, donations turned down (!) - a miracle?

Ex 37 - mostly repeats from chapters 25 (the Ark) and 30 (the alter for incense)

Ex 38 - mostly repeats from 27 (the alter, with horns)
Includes a "reckonings" or inventory of the tabernacle stuff

Ex 39 - mostly repeats from 28 (priests outfits)
- "And all the work...was completed" - echoes completion of creation
- ends with a quick catalogue of tabernacle stuff.

Ex 40
- Moses sets up the tabernacle two weeks short of 1 year after leaving Egypt
- Then "the glory of the LORD" filled the tabernacle
- cloud/fire = day/night - J. P. Fokkelman says this shows God brings light into darkness and darkness into light. I think that sound cool, but I have no idea what it means.
- point is everyone has recovered from the mad calf disease, and God has come to reside with his chosen wanderers and to lead the way. (But, J. P. Fokkelman tells me no one goes anywhere until Numbers 10)

Redigeret: feb 21, 2012, 1:33pm

Redigeret: feb 21, 2012, 1:35pm

Exodus 40:37

feb 21, 2012, 1:39pm

Damn DC, are you the guy who send that lego puppet into outer space ?

feb 21, 2012, 1:48pm

Exodus – some overview thoughts from Literary Guide to the Bible, another chapter is again by J. P. Fokkelman

I didn't think Fokkelman offered all the much insight to this chapter. He focuses mainly on the overall structure, which, once you have read, is largely self-evident. But, still a nice review:

Chapters 1 - 15 - Liberation
Chapters 16 - 40 - Covenant

Chapters 1-6 Preparation
Phase 1 is chapter 2 - on Moses before the burning bush
Phase II is chapters 3 & 4 - God revelation to Moses
Phase III is chapter 5 - Moses addressed the Pharaoh, who responds by increasing the oppression
Chapter 6 is closes this with Levite begats

Chapters 15-18 - Crises
- water, then food, then water again, then Amalekites, then Jethro...
- there is a mixture of "narrative" and "normative" (i.e. laws) text

Chapter 19 through Numbers is at Mt. Sinai
19 - theophany - i.e. the Israelites see God
20 - ten commandments
20-23 - The Book of the Covenant
24 - conclusion of the covenant
25-31 - Tabernacle instructions (normative text)
32-34 - Golden calf, Moses's mediation, renewed revelation and covenant
35-39 - Moses follows tabernacle instructions (normative text)
40 - Moses obeys, God comes to the tabernacle

feb 21, 2012, 1:49pm

#87 ??

Redigeret: feb 21, 2012, 2:08pm

Fokkelman then:

1. Points out numerous connections to Genesis, starting with Jacobs death in chapter 1, which closes the Genesis story. I won't rehash all that, as for the most part this was self-evident

2. Points out what is new in Exodus

A. Normative text is now embedded in the narrative- the laws are a new introduction

B. God gives his name in Ex 3:15. Fokkelman interprets the text as "I am that I am" and interprets YHWH as "He lets be". I won't go into his conclusions, you can make your own. But there is an interesting parallel in "I am that I am" and "I shall grant grace to whom I grant grace and have compassion for whom I have compassion" Also, in Hebrew, Exodus is called "The Book of the Name"

C. "And i will take you to me for a people, and i will be to you a God" - this will repeat through the OT

feb 21, 2012, 2:36pm

#90 - oh man, Martin, my son is going to love that!

Redigeret: feb 21, 2012, 2:58pm

>92 dchaikin: ha, you thought it was me because Canadians love Canadian flags. Mac is the genius responsible for that video.

Well, for posting it. Some greater genius is responsible for creating it, I assume.

feb 21, 2012, 6:09pm

>90 Macumbeira:
Great video.

feb 21, 2012, 7:38pm

oops...yes Mac not Martin. misread the username. Apologies.

Redigeret: feb 21, 2012, 8:51pm

I'm reading Daniel C. Matt's The Essential Kabbalah: the Heart of Jewish Mysticism. Matt's ideas will inform Bible studies for centuries to come, so they are well worth knowing. This is a great modern introduction to a major if unacknowledged ingredient in the Western world view. Feminists (pro and con) should find it very useful. It looks like the Great Mother is back.

feb 22, 2012, 12:53am

Mama !

feb 22, 2012, 1:26pm

#96 - I'm not ready to go there...but very curious on your take.

Redigeret: feb 27, 2012, 2:04pm

I'm still trying to figure out my own response to Exodus overall. After a few days away from it, I'm not feeling very fond of it in any way, but I'm not sure why I feel that way. Certainly the Golden Calf should spark some kind of interesting thoughts, and I see ten commandment references all over the place in RL...but they just make me depressed. Anyway, this thread still lives. Any concluding thoughts?

And I've started the next thread here:

feb 27, 2012, 2:05pm

I just change the link above...somehow I posted into a different group the first time. Strange.

feb 27, 2012, 3:18pm

The first half was amazing. Moses action hero. The second half, sorry, thumbs down for the most part.

mar 1, 2012, 5:55pm

MM - still thinking about my reaction here. I didn't like the first part...maybe that's my problem with it. I'm comparing to Genesis, which I did like.

mar 2, 2012, 3:25am

I liked the first part well enough, but the instructions for building the tabernacle are rather underwhelming. I hope they don't last too long... Alter's notes continue to be the best part of the read.

Redigeret: mar 2, 2012, 6:51am

>103 FlorenceArt:: Underwhelming or downright boring. Agree entirely with last sentence and in some places interpreted Alter's excellent notes as permission to skip rapidly through the actual Bible text. Perhaps I shouldn't admit that.

mar 2, 2012, 2:59pm

104> well, to be perfectly honest, I'm thinking about doing just this...

mar 2, 2012, 3:37pm

#104/105 - But chapter 29 is worth a look just to see what they do with all that blood.

I'm twirling the idea about in my head that the initial Exodus from Egypt (before and NOT including the Song of the Sea...or is it Miriam's Song) is somehow a simpler text than Genesis, lacking some kind of complexity. Can't put my finger on it exactly.

mar 8, 2012, 12:10pm

Still reading this part, I'm after the tabernacle, and not as bored as I feared I would be, mostly thanks to Alter's comments.

One thing annoys me a little, in my e-version at some point the footnotes have become footenote. Is that also the case in the paper version?

The golden calf episode and especially the ensuing massacre were rather disturbing, especially taking into account that the massacre is done by the future priestly tribe. I am feeling increasingly glad that I don't believe in this LORD guy. He is a scary one.

Also the instruction about not boiling a kid in its mother's milk is weird, why is that one repeated so often? It seems a bit out of place.

mar 8, 2012, 1:48pm

A scary god indeed. In my of atheistic existence I always thought the idea of a god was a nice idea. But this is not the kind of god I would want...we would all be living in fear of it.

mar 9, 2012, 12:38am


Also the instruction about not boiling a kid in its mother's milk is weird, why is that one repeated so often? It seems a bit out of place.

Millions today still take care not to do that !

mar 9, 2012, 6:21am

109> Well, that is another weird thing, isn't it? If all those complex rules stem from this single sentence, it does seem a bit exaggerated to me. I can see extending the taboo to cooking meat with milk or diary products, to be on the extremely safe side, but what about using different dishes? How can you deduct that from the injunction not to boil a kid in it's mother's milk? This sounds, to me, a bit like the middle Ages' interpretation of the original sin as sex, although it's not as bad, because at least it's not in blatant contradiction to the text. But it's still an example of starting with one simple sentence and arriving at a wildly far-fetched conclusion. Or isn't it?

I thought I was near the end when the instructions for building the tabernacle were finished, but then they had to build the parts, then they had to put it together, and now we're moving on to the sacerdotal clothes. When will this finish? Yawn...

One last random thought, I was intrigued by the references to the role of women in all this. It would seem to have a correspondence to the current situation in the Catholic church, where they are excluded from sacerdotal function but play a vital role in keeping the faith alive. I thought that was interesting.

mar 9, 2012, 9:22am

"Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk." It is one line, but it gets repeated three times (Exodus 23:19, Exodus 34:26 & Deuteronomy 14:21 )

No sure who Keith Hunt is, or if we can trust his article, but this seems interesting.

More comfortable with this source, but it's not as well thought out as the Keith Hunt one.

And there is this:

Redigeret: mar 9, 2012, 9:23am


mar 9, 2012, 11:19am

Even worse if you make it a bacon cheeseburger!

mar 9, 2012, 11:52am


mar 9, 2012, 12:31pm

Bacon cheeseburger, mmmm... sinful!

111: thank you, I read most of the first link and it seems rather convincing. To me, the idea of separating life and death would even explain how the injunction was later, and still is, interpreted and expanded.

And I am now through with Exodus, phew!!! Might take a short break before moving on to Leviticus.

mar 9, 2012, 2:12pm

#115 Congrats...

What I liked about Hunt's argument was the approach. Typical answers look for moral or practical explanations. More convincing answers look to historical records, but that seems to be lacking here. Hunt looks at the philosophy of the writers. Their primary concerns weren't health, and their morality was different then ours, they weren't ancient activists fighting against cruelty to animals. They were obsessed with divisions, especially the purity/impurity or holy/unholy divisions, which are really emphasized in Leviticus. So, his answer holds some weight for me in that regard.

Redigeret: mar 9, 2012, 2:14pm

#113 - 115 just for you.

mar 10, 2012, 12:43am

"And to the herd Abraham ran and fetched a tender and goodly calf and gave it to the lad, who hurried to prepare it. And he fetched curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared and he set these before them, he standing over them under the tree, and they ate." Genesis 18

Alter, Robert (2008-10-17). The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary (Kindle Locations 2368-2370). Norton. Kindle Edition.

Redigeret: mar 11, 2012, 5:37am

118: ah yes, but that was Abraham, and before Moses had that talk with the LORD. Who, although eternal, is by no means unchanging, and even subject to mood swings at times.

By the way, does the Kindle version also have footenote?

Redigeret: apr 1, 2012, 10:14pm

I took a break from these threads, and, in the meantime, posted a variation of a review on my personal thread. If you're interested, see message #120 here:

Redigeret: apr 1, 2012, 11:28pm

A few quick comments to add here:

First - there is a story in I Kings, chapter 12 of Jeroboam, a king of the northern Kingdom of Israel shortly after secession of the Kingdom of Judah. He is recorded to have created two golden calves and asked his subjects to worship there instead of at Solomon's temple. This is the source of the Golden Calf, here pinned on Aaron. Further this Jeroboam had two sons named...Nadab and Abijah. In Leviticus 10, their story becomes the source of Nadab and Abihu, Aaron's sons, and the strange fire.

Second - if you're interested - during a Passover seder, the youngest child is supposed to ask four questions. Most of that comes from here: Exodus 12:27, 12:33-34, 13:8 & 13:14. Deuteronomy 6:20-21 is also used - the question the wise son asks. (The simple son is Ex 13:14. The wicked son and the one who doesn't know how to ask get some mixture of 12:27, 12:33-34 & 13:8)

apr 17, 2012, 9:56pm

By the way, does the Kindle version also have footenote?

It depends on what you mean. I copy and paste, and the citation is automatic. But it is incomplete, and Kindle specific. i.e. locations instead of pages

apr 18, 2012, 1:49pm

122> No, I meant are the footnotes also called footenote in the Kindle version? And in the paper version? It really annoys me, and it's repeated in each chapter. And the notes for the first chapter of Leviticus were actually for a completely different chapter, from Exodus I think.

apr 19, 2012, 7:41am

123> I think clearly calling these sections "footnote-s" is more useful than the graphic used in my hard-bound copy. What would you use?

apr 19, 2012, 7:46am

I would use footnotes, not footnote or footenote (the spelling depends on the chapter). You'd think they could have taken the time to check the spelling of a word that is repeated in every chapter.

apr 19, 2012, 8:00am

Kindle should be made aware of the error in their Leviticus so they can correct it. Thanks for pointing it out.

apr 20, 2012, 12:31pm

So I'm dropping my niece off at daycare, and she sees Alter in my bag and she's like "Uncle Maaaaaartiiiin, can you read to me from your story?" (We get as far as Genesis 2; she likes the part about day dividing from night, and also about how the fruits of all the trees except one will be yours to eat.) And we're at the end of the chapter:

Me: "And the two of them were naked, the human and his woman, and they were not ashamed."


Luisa: "And they all lived happily ever after."

apr 20, 2012, 12:50pm

lol, Martin. My daughter (7) has taken my lego bible up to her room, but she hasn't talked about it, except to say that she thinks it funny.

apr 20, 2012, 8:54pm

Lego has great power for good or evil!

Redigeret: mar 10, 2013, 11:03am

Last night I watched lecture 8 in the Yale course, which was fascinating as usual. In the lecture the professor made references to two authors.

The first one is Michael Coogan, who I take to be the same Michael Coogan who edited the Oxford History of the Biblical world. From what I understood, he noticed that around the same time (middle of the second millennium), a change occurred in the pantheons of the Mediterranean and Asiatic worlds. The god of thunder, following his victory over an aquatic god/entity, took over power. Professor Hayes cited Indian mythology, Greece (Zeus taking the place of Chronos), Mesopotamia (Marduk), and Canaan (Baal taking over from El). According to Coogan, there are traces of this shift of power in the Bible. The patriarchs worshipped El, but at some point he was replaced by Yahweh, who has a lot in common with Baal.

I find this story fascinating and I'll try to find out more about it.

Most of the lecture centers on he work of Jon Levenson, who pointed out the similarities of the covenant between God and Israel and suzerainty contracts. Also very interesting.

mar 10, 2013, 9:00am

130# FlorenceArt: I've also been following this programme although I've so only done the first 4 and about to start on 5. Find her content and delivery very good and would wholeheartedly recommend to others. And it's nice that although each lecture is a continuous whole the information at the side shows some natural breaks into smaller chunks make it easy to watch smaller chunks if so wished. By the way in her first lecture she more or less insisted that the students all buy a copy of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) in translation so I got hold of a copy from Amazon and its very worthwhile. Excellent notes as well as introductory essays and end lots of extra material at the back.

mar 10, 2013, 11:01am

I've been debating myself whether to get this Jewish Study Bible, but so far I have resisted the urge. I have the HarperCollins notes which are very good, and probably would say in many instances the same thing as the JPS notes. Plus I still haven't finished the Oxford History of the Biblical World (I stopped reading when I got to the chapter on the return from exile, since I hadn't arrived at that point in the Bible yet), and I just bought the Oxford Companion to the Bible. That's probably quite enough reading for now.