Friday, June 28, 2013

Hebrew Paper #3

This class has taken on a new relevance with the US Supreme Court's decision to establish another aspect of the ancient Canaanite Religion:  The government of ancient Israel decided that the god's would be pleased if they had more homosexuality, so the government became an active sponsor to it.  (Basically, rain was believed to be caused by the gods getting sexually excited, which would then cause the crops to grow.  The state religion thus encouraged the people to behave in ways that would make the gods get excited.)  In fact, they argued that unless homosexuality was sponsored by the government, the gods would withhold the rains from the land, hence, it was mandatory for the government to promote all kinds of sexual immorality, and especially abortion of infants.  Today, we can see a related argument:  The government must promote sexual immorality and baby abortion, or we will be a tyranny.  If we are a tyranny, then the economy will be stifled and everyone will suffer, therefore, the only conclusion is that the government must take an active role in promoting sexual immorality and infant slaughter.  Some arguments never change.  In ancient Israel, the surrounding places also had plenty of immorality, but Israel, having been the only nation commanded by God not to go wild, instead exceeded all the other nations in its wickedness.

Thus, the Hebrew class has been quite a delightful experience of Back to the Future, or perhaps déjà vu.  Paper #3 of 4 is almost done.  It certainly feels good to be on top of things, whether it is my class work or understanding the general trends in America's great leap forward into "hope and change".

11 comments:

Inklings said...

It's interesting to see how people rationalize to come up with permission to do what they want to do without guilt.

Looney said...

Yes. I am amazed that the same things come up over and over after thousands of years.

Delirious said...

I can't comment on this right now because I'm still in mourning....

Max Coutinho said...

Looney,

You know my position on abortion; but for the sake of a good discussion, bear with me: the Torah (and the Bible in general) do not refer exactly to abortion. It does say "You shall not murder" (לא תרצח) but it does not say that aborting a child equals to murder, inasmuch as it says that when someone injures a pregnant woman and causes her to lose the child, the individual will pay a fine; but if the woman dies then he will be killed: a life for a life, a tooth for a tooth. In Judaism, an unborn baby doesn't seem to be considered a נפש yet because of this passage (exodus 21:22).
What are your thoughts on this?

Cheers

Looney said...

Max,

I would point to Leviticus 18:21: "You shall not give any of your children or offer them to Molech". Of course Molech is just a formal name for king, מלך, which is the name that has been given to this deity that demands human sacrifice. Going through the prophets and histories, we see that sacrificing children was one of the primary sins of the people of Israel.

The common thread between then and now is מלך. This is the fictitious authority that is dreamed up to justify the evil actions that they have set their minds on. We must obey מלך, but מלך is actually us. We then put מלך (i.e. us) on a throne higher than God.

Max Coutinho said...

Looney,

So, you are comparing abortion to human sacrifice to מלך...but since aborting a child lacks the ritualistic component and the intention of human sacrifices (in principle, to appease the gods), should the two of them be compared?

"ומזרעך לא תתן" (You shall not give any of your seed...[Leviticus 18:21]) - by seed, does this passage really refer to "children" or to "sperm"? I ask this because there are witchcraft books/grimoirs describing works where sperm was used to offer to the gods or even passed through fire (which is something that God utterly forbids) - in some cultures, this act of sorcery is still executed.

"This is the fictitious authority that is dreamed up to justify the evil actions that they have set their minds on. We must obey מלך, but מלך is actually us. We then put מלך (i.e. us) on a throne higher than God."

True.

Looney said...

Max,

"So, you are comparing abortion to human sacrifice to מלך...but since aborting a child lacks the ritualistic component and the intention of human sacrifices (in principle, to appease the gods), should the two of them be compared?"

Of course we do have gods here ... such as the Goddess of Liberty. Then there is the clear religious fervor that is behind the abortion movement, which can be seen in typical news articles:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/03/politics/texas-abortion-battle/

The ritual aspect does appear to be a distinction, albeit, I would argue that this more reflects the character of the deity that is being appeased.

As for seed, זרע,my BibleWorks program says that it is used 285 times in the Hebrew Bible over 245 verses. Of these, almost all refer to "descendants", with a few referring to plant seeds and only 6 that refer to sperm. Context is what drives the determination. Genesis 38:9 is a good example, since it has both senses of זרע. The other use is to refer to seeds of plants.

2 Chronicles 33:6 is another good example, since it refers to the practice of child sacrifice - the word being "sons" - and witchcraft.

Max Coutinho said...

Looney,

LOL "goddess of liberty"? That's a good one. Wow, things are really heating up in Texas; however the argument "I'm tired of men trying to tell me what I can and cannot do with my body!" is so 80's, so old...so tiresome. Besides, women are in the anti-abortion mix too...so, I don't understand what females using such argument mean.

Do most of them, in fact, refer to "descendants" or was it agreed that it would be translated into "descendants" (I am only asking because because in the Hebrew Bible, it is translated literally from the word זרע [seed, sperm] and not תולדות [generations, descendants])? I agree with Genesis 38:9 being a good example of both senses of זרע.

"2 Chronicles 33:6 is another good example, since it refers to the practice of child sacrifice - the word being "sons" - and witchcraft."

It is a good example indeed, thanks.

Looney said...

Max,

I probably shouldn't say too much about upset women and whether or not the man is at fault!

A quick check indicates that the word seed, זרע, also shows up in other Semitic languages, such as Akkadian and Aramaic. My professors would want to do a broader search of how the word is used in all these languages! Unfortunately I have only dabbled with Ugaritic, Akkadian and Aramaic, so can't really do this.

For reference, the Greek Septuagint translates זרע as σπέρμα for seed which transliterates as "sperma". Matthew 22:24 uses this in a challenge that the Sadducees give to Jesus. Here it is quite clear that sperma is parallel in meaning to a specific Greek word for child, teknon.

Anyway, we were told to do the word searches to decide things. So I could take a typical verse, like Psalm 22:24 (22:23 in English) and write it with the uncertain Hebrew word in its place:

"You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you זרע of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you זרע of Israel!"

Hebrew poetry also has a lot of parallelism which requires similar vocabulary. Thus, we see a verse like Psalm 22:31 where זרע and generation are treated almost as synonyms:

"זרע shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation"

or Psalm 105:6 -

"זרע of Abraham, his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones.)

This all seems to get a bit awkward unless we use the translation of זרע as descendants or offspring.

Max Coutinho said...

Looney,

"This all seems to get a bit awkward unless we use the translation of זרע as descendants or offspring."

LOL LOL you are right, it does.

Thank you for the lesson: I appreciated it immensely.

Have a Blessed weekend!

Looney said...

Max,

The academic approaches gets much too extreme. The problem with is that it is hard to relax and enjoy the text.

You have a good weekend too.