Sunday, 21 October 2018

TL:DR: The Genesis Question part twenty-four

Hi, Everybody!

Even though it's drawn by Gerhard, this is the FIRST actual Aardvark in Cerebus the Aardvark

9 Ramadan 1235 AH

Hi Troy and Mia, David and Marie:

Ezekiel 21

As I read it, verses 1 to 5 are the YHWH -- I don't really picture God as having a sword, metaphorical or otherwise.

verses 6-7, as I read it, is God sighing in resignation:  "Here we go." 

verses 8-12, as I read it, is the YHWH.  Verse 10, it seems to me, is an early incarnation of the idea of God having a son, which seems to me strategic on the part of the YHWH who sees God as being the YHWH's son so that -- even if the inverse is true: the YHWH is God's son -- the YHWH has an unassailable high rank. 

It condemneth the rod of my son, every tree.


It is the rod of my son, it despitheth every tree.

I suspect the KJV translators are trying to force a meaning here -- believing as they do that God and YHWH are the same being.  As is usually the case, the supplementary marginal translations seem to me to follow an actual narrative -- the original Hebrew -- whereas I can't really understand what the KJV text, a lot of times, is even trying to say. 

Verse 13, KJV:  Because is is a trial and what if [interpolated: the sword] condemn even the rod?  It shall be no [interpolated: more] saith the Lord GOD. 

Verse 13 marginal translation:  When the trial hath been, what then? Shall they not also belong to the despising rod?

This, to me, is God calling into question the YHWH's overall purpose.  Yes, you can demand that there be a "despising rod", a glittering sword of vengeance, that's where this is going. This is the reason God is sighing.  But after the sword has taken its vengeance, what is the net effect?  The Hebrew people -- the slain and the survivors -- still belong to God and the YHWH.  They are both God's Chosen People and the YHWH's Chosen People. 

With resignation, God instructs Ezekiel:

Thou, therefore, son of man, prophecy and smite hand to hand and let the sword be doubled the third time, the sword of the slain, it the sword of the great men that are slain which entereth into their privy chambers. I have set the point of the sword against all their gates that heart may faint and their ruins be multiplied.  Ah, it is made bright, it is sharpened for the slaughter.  Go thee one way or other, either on the right hand set thyself or on the left, whithersoever thy face is set.

That is, all of the victims aren't equal in merit in the eyes of God.  When you set about to commit indiscriminate slaughter -- which the YHWH purposes to do -- you are going to kill great men as well as not-so-great men.  You can kill them secretly and in secret places but it still constitutes injustice.  So they will have their own sword, ultimately, and the YHWH will have to deal with that when the time comes.  But, for the moment, left or right, let the slaughter begin.

(this anticipates the sword with which Peter cuts off the ear of one of the arresting authorities in the Garden of Gethsemane both in the Synoptic and Johannine Jesus accounts: the sword of the great men, coming back the other way)

The YHWH responds to this, getting a clear mental picture of what it is in which indiscriminate slaughter -- cutting both ways -- is apt to result:

I will also smite my hands together and I will cause my fury to rest: I the YHWH have said.

It's a nice intention but -- as George says to Martha in WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? "You can't quit just when you get enough blood in your mouth".  The point where the YHWH will "cause my fury to rest" will prove to be too late and a bridge too far.  It's not that controllable when set in motion.

The YHWH tries shaping the narrative by addressing Ezekiel and suggesting that the "cutting both ways" can be accounted for by directing it against Rabbath of the Ammonites AND Judah in Jerusalem:

Also, thou son of man, appoint thee two ways, that the sword of the king of Babylon may come: both twain shall come forth out of one land: and choose thou a place, choose it at the head of the way to the city.  Appoint a way, that the sword may come to Rabbath of the Ammonites, and to Judah in Jerusalem the defenced. 

The YHWHistic rationalization being:

For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way [significantly, the original Hebrew has it as "the mother of the way"] at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he made his arrows bright, he consulted with seraphim [images] he looked in the liver [searching for auguries in the liver of a slaughtered animal] .  At his right hand was the divination for Jerusalem to appoint captains, to open the mouth in the slaughter, to lift up the voice with shouting, to appoint against the gates, to cast a mount, to build a fort.

And it shall be unto them as a false divination in their sight  [to them that have sworn oaths/for the oaths made unto them]: but he will call to remembrance the iniquity that they may be taken.

That is, trying to get "the point of the sword against all their gates" cited by God to point against the Ammonites as pagans and Judah as failed monotheists and to pronounce this at "the mother of the way" where the king of Babylon had used divination against Judah.  Basically to get the sword away from the YHWH's gate.

Nice try, says God:

Therefore, thus saith the Lord GOD, because you have made your iniquity to be remembered, in that your transgressions are discovered, so that in all your doings your sins do appear:  because that ye are come to remembrance, ye shall be taken with the hand.

That is, YOU are the motivating force behind the king of Babylon AND behind everything that is Not God and anti-God, YHWH.  Addressing the king of Judah and the YHWH simultaneously -- the two ways that the sword will cut:

And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity an end, thus saith the Lord GOD, Remove the diadem and take off the crown: this not the same:

It's translated as "when iniquity shall have an end", but I think that misses the point of what God is saying.  This is all the YHWH's construct.  God has commented from time to time, but everything is the result of what the YHWH has chosen and instructed:  iniquity is fast becoming -- and will become -- an end in itself.  That's the inevitable end point of the YHWH's "teachings".

And reminding the YHWH of the YHWH's own rendered judgement upon him/her/its self:

exalt him that is low and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is and I will give it him.

The original Hebrew has it as:  "Perverted, perverted, perverted will I make it" which the KJV translators clearly had a problem facing head-on.  Would God really pervert something?  In the context of the dialogue, it makes sense:  God's ultimate purpose is to allow the YHWH to fully develop the YHWH's own construct.  He has been doing so for about 3,500 years in our current epoch to this point.  It is, however, coming to an end by the time of Ezekiel.  When all is iniquity, all that is left as an option is to pervert, pervert, pervert iniquity -- or overturn, overturn, overturn -- until everything that has been turned upside down by the YHWH has been turned right-side up by God. 

And thou, son of man, prophecy and say, thus sayeth the Lord GOD concerning the Ammonites and concerning their reproach:  Even say thou, the sword, the sword is drawn, for the slaughter it is furbished, to consume because of the glittering: whilst they see vanity unto thee, whilst they divine a lie unto thee, to bring thee upon the necks of them that are slain, of the wicked whose day is come, when their iniquity an end. 

That is, the judgement of the YHWH is left to stand and will come upon the Ammonites, but Ezekiel (as I read it) is actually addressing the sword here.  Which is interesting, because the YHWH thinks of it as the YHWH's sword.  What God seems to be saying is, No, the sword is an entity unto itself which recognizes vanity and recognizes a lie.  It WILL kill indiscriminately as it has been instructed to do but it won't just be upon the necks of the slain -- the great and the not-great -- but also on the necks "of the wicked whose days is come, when their iniquity, an end."  (Basically, "I'm looking at YOU, YHWH").

Which, I suspect, the YHWH recognizes and then rejoins:

Shall I cause it to return into his sheath?  I will judge thee in the place where thou wast created, in the land of thy nativity. 

Basically attempting to assert the YHWH's self-perceived stature as the creator of God -- or, at least, the creator of Israel and Judah or, at least, the creator of Ezekiel:

And I will pour out my indignation upon thee, I will blow against thee in the fire of my wrath, and deliver thee into the hand of [KJV: brutish; Hebrew: burning] men skillful to destroy.  Thou shalt be for fuel to the fire: thy blood shall be in the midst of the land, thou shalt be no remembered: for I, the YHWH, have spoken.

Chapter 22

I read Chapter 22 as basically a continuation of the discussion to that point which illustrates that God and YHWH both agree that the end point has been reached and that iniquity has become an end in itself.  The YHWH opens with:

Now, thou son of man, wilt thou [KJV: judge/ Hebrew: plead for -- I think the Hebrew would be the more accurate, invoking the pleading of Abraham with the YHWH over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Are you going to plead with me for Jerusalem as Abraham did for Sodom?]  wilt thou judge the city of bloods? 

That is, which are you going to do?  Plead for Jerusalem or judge Jerusalem?

Yea, thou shalt [KJV: show her/ Hebrew: make her know] all her abominations. 

God, as I read it, then interjects with a strong subtext which is directed against Jerusalem but also directed, personally, against the YHWH:

Then say thou, thus sayeth the Lord GOD: the city sheddeth blood in the midst of it, that her time may come, and maketh idols against herself to defile herself. Thou art become guilty in thy blood that thou has shed and hast defiled thyself in thine idols, which thou hast made, and thou hast caused thy days to draw near and art come even unto thy years: therefore have I made thee a reproach unto the heathen and a mocking to all countries.  Those that be near and those that be far from thee, shall mock thee, Polluted of Name and Much in Vexation.

(The KJV has this as "which art infamous and much vexed".  I don't think that really conveys what God is communicating to the YHWH here: the YHWH has permanently polluted his/her/its own name -- it is considered a reproach by heathens and a name to be mocked in all countries -- which has, naturally, made the YHWH "much in vexation":  the YHWH keeps trying to figure out how to turn all this around and re-achieve the YHWH's preeminence.  No, there are things that -- once broken -- stay broken.]

Behold the princes of Israel, every one were in thee to their arm to shed blood.

This becomes the recurring indictment of the YHWH, personally, centring on the term "in thee":  this all happened INSIDE the YHWH's context:

In thee, have they set light by father and mother; in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger; in thee have they vexed the fatherless and the widow.

The YHWH attempts an unattributed evasion, an attempt to overturn the overturning:  It's God's fault and Israel's fault because:

Thou hast despised my holy things & hast profaned my sabbaths.

But God is relentless in his judgement:

In thee are men of slanders to shed blood; and in thee they eat upon the mountains; in the midst of thee they commit lewdness.  In thee have they discovered their father's nakedness; in thee have they humbled her that was set apart for pollution.  And one hath committed abomination with his neighbour's wife and another hath lewdly defiled his daughter-in-law, and another in thee hath humbled his sister, his father's daughter.  In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood:  thou hast taken usury and increase and thou has greedily gained of thy neighbours by extortion and has hast forgotten me, saith the Lord GOD.

The YHWH, again, attempts to invert the judgement.  Instead of Judah being indicted for what Judah has done IN YHWH and the YHWH being indicted personally by God, YHWH indicts Judah and God for what Judah has done IN God:

Behold therefore, I have smitten my hand at thy dishonest gain which thou hast made, and at thy blood which hath been in the midst of thee.  Can thy heart endure, can thy hands be strong [this appears to me to be a reference to God's reference in  21:24 that the YHWH will be "taken with the hand")  in the days that I shall deal with thee?  I, the YHWH have spoken and will do.  And I will scatter thee among the heathen and disperse thee in the countries and will consume thy filthiness out of thee.  And thou shalt take thine inheritance in thy self in sight of the heathen and thou shalt know that I, the YHWH. 

The YHWH isn't quite finished, however:

And the word of the YHWH came unto me, saying, Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross: all they brass and tin and iron and lead in the midst of the furnace: they are the drosses of silver. 

Its a species of self-awareness:  the YHWH is basically indicting his/her/its self, so God prompts the YHWH with an uncompleted thought:

Therefore, thus saith the Lord GOD, Because ye are all become dross, behold therefore I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem...

The YHWH picks up on it right away.  The translators had a little trouble with this.  The Hebrew they have as "according to the gathering" with "according" interpolated.  The KJV has it "as they gather" with "as" interpolated, missing, it seems to me, the point that God is prompting the YHWH and the YHWH is just continuing the thought (at, as it turns out, considerable length):

…to the gathering of silver, and brass and iron and lead and tin into the midst of the furnace to blow the fire upon it, to melt, so will I gather in mine anger and in my fury and I will leave and melt you.  Yea, I will gather you and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof.  And ye shall know that I the YHWH have poured out my fury upon you.  And the word of the YHWH came unto me, saying, Son of man, say unto her, Thou art the land that is not cleansed, nor rained upon in the day of indignation.  A conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof like a roaring lion, ravening the prey: they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof.  Her priests have offered violence to my law and have profaned my holy things:  they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they showed between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my Sabbaths and I am profaned among them.  Her princes in the midst thereof like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain.  And her prophets have daubed them with untempered, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord GOD, when the YHWH hath not spoken. 

(An artful little attempted nuance there:  If the Lord GOD is being quoted, naturally "the YHWH hath not spoken".)

The people of the land have used oppression and exercised robbery and have vexed the poor and needy: yea they have oppressed the stranger without right.  And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them, I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath.

And, as I read it, at that point, God "bookends" the YHWH's extended monologue, returning to His own observation that began with "Because ye are all become dross, behold therefore, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem…" and which now concludes:
…their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD.

Chapter 23

In my own reading of Chapter 23, the YHWH is finding self-accusation inescapable.  The Hebrew people, Judah, Israel and Jerusalem are all dross.  And if they're all dross, that means the YHWH is dross.  So, interestingly, the YHWH circles all the way back to the subject of whoredom.  In one sense it seems to be an attempted evasion -- like dragging the Ammonites into the judgment upon Judah -- but in a deeper sense it is, as the Koran puts it, "the self-accusing soul" of YHWH acknowledging he/she/its "she" aspect in verses 1 to 17.  It gets particularly interesting when the YHWH asserts, in verse 17

And the children of Babel came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom, and she was polluted with them and her mind was [the Hebrew offers "tossed" or "disjointed"; the KJV offers "alienated"] from them.

Emphasizing (to me, anyway) that this is a YHWHistic enactment, in verse 18, the YHWH adds

So she discovered her whoredoms, and discovered her nakedness; then my mind was alienated from her, like as my mind was alienated from her sister

And as (I would suggest) the YHWH's mind was now "tossed"/"disjointed"/"alienated" in response to what Lord GOD had said in the previous chapter: the inescapable insight that ALL of this was now dross -- including the YHWH -- and that what the YHWH was experiencing was being "recompensed" by God upon his/her/its own head.  That is, the YHWH is enunciating the history of Aholah (Samaria) and Aholibah (Jerusalem) as an analogous experience.  There comes a breaking point…but the plain fact of the matter...the YHWH adds almost wonderingly:

Yet she multiplied her whoredoms, in calling to remembrance the days of her youth wherein she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt. 

I say "wonderingly" because there's obviously a distinction between "playing the harlot"…ACTING like a whore…and "multiplying whoredoms"…BEING a whore many times over.  And just to emphasize the "dross" part (i.e. that this wasn't a matter of untoward curiosity that, once satisfied, could be and was repented of and that the mental alienation the YHWH experienced was persistent)

For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh the flesh of asses and whose issue the issue of horses.

The KJV translators have trouble facing this head-on as well and interpolate into the text "whose flesh IS AS the flesh of asses, and whose issue IS LIKE the issue of horses".  But, no, it's worse than that, that's the point of the confession, the point of the extent of the "alienation" and "disjointed" and "tossed" mental response the YHWH experienced.  The women of Samaria and Jerusalem -- the "their" possessive used in the verse -- recognized that their whoredom with Egyptians and with the Babylonians, the children of Babel, was like having sex with beasts of burden.  And. They. Kept. Doing. It. 

The balance of the chapter, to me, is the YHWH pronouncing judgement on his/her/its self in recognition and self-acknowledgement of all this, with Lord GOD interjecting in verses 22, 28, 32, 35, 46 and 49.  Interjecting in the same way that He did previously: prompting the YHWH by making an introductory assertion that the YHWH then finishes.  The YHWH's self-indictment and penalties are pretty gruesome stuff.  All God says, sequentially, is

22. Therefore, O Aholibah, thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold I will raise up thy lovers against thee, from whom thy mind is alienated and I will bring them against thee on every side

28. For thus saith the Lord GOD, I will deliver thee into the hand whom thou hatest; into the hand from whom thy mind is alienated

[the KJV interpolates "into the hand OF THEM whom thou hatest; into the hand OF THEM from whom thy mind is alienated") but, as I've said before, God is often represented as a hand in the actual God narratives so I think the interpolations are inaccurate.  I think what He's saying here is "the problem isn't that you are alienated/tossed/disjointed in your mind from the Babylonians or the Egyptians or your whorish incarnations. The problem is that you are alienated from Me, that you hate Me and you hate the Hand of God]

32.  For thus saith the Lord GOD, Thou shalt drink of thy sisters' cup deep and large: thou shalt be laughed to scorn and had in derision. It containeth much.

[34. is attributed to Lord GOD:  "Thou shalt even drink it and suck it out and thou shalt break the shards thereof and pluck off thine own breasts: for I have spoken, saith the Lord GOD" but I think this is really an extreme enactment of the YHWH's unacknowledged female aspects(s) who have, in a way, risen up in self-accusation in this chapter.  The "issue of horses" is a pretty extreme remembrance of their whoredom experience.  Drinking from a cup "deep and large" containing the "issue of horses", I suspect, pushed them -- the female aspects and the YHWH -- over the edge not only into promised self-mutilation but also into blasphemously attributing that punishment to Lord GOD.  Which God, as I read it, then immediately corrects:)

35. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, because thou hast forgotten Me and cast Me behind thy back, therefore bear thou also thy lewdness and thy whoredoms.

That is, if you want to smash the cup and use the shards to cut off your own breasts, that's up to you.  All God is saying is that you have to bear the consequences of your own lewdness and your own whoredoms.

(it's worth noting I think that the Whore of Babylon in John's Revelations is also depicting as having a "cup of her fornications".  It's an enduring concept as a means of punishing whoredom, I think)

46.  For thus saith the Lord GOD I will bring up a company upon them and will give them for a removing and spoil.

49.  And they shall recompense your lewdness upon you and ye shall bear the sins of your idols and ye shall know that I, the Lord GOD

All of the unattributed verses -- and verse 34 -- I would chalk up to YHWHistic histrionics. 

Again:  enough with the YHWH and Aholah and Aholibah, here in the sacred month.  I feel as if I need to take a long, hot shower. And read aloud from the Koran.


Next Time: Maybe Kevin starts up "Reading Cerebus" again?


Anonymous said...

Yet another meaningless word salad which only serves to further demonstrate Dave's ongoing mental deterioration, while he no doubt believes that it, in fact, proves his intellectual and moral superiority.

Fully committed as he is to the "YHWH is not God" theory, now all he can do is go on at interminable length about this supposed conversation between YHWH and God, which is, of course, just Dave talking to himself.

This would be bad enough, but to then suggest that this is somehow "The Unified Theory which Einstein spent his intellectual life pursuing." AND that the only reason the world is not recognizing this as "The Unified Theory which Einstein spent his intellectual life pursuing." is because he is not a feminist only bolsters the claim that Dave is losing his marbles if he has not lost them already.

If any other supposedly serious artist were to make the same claims as Dave, they would be equally ridiculed and laughed out of polite society. This belongs on the same shelf as The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick: a curious oddity, the remnants of a once-brilliant creative mind that turned inward and began devouring itself.

I say this with no malice. It is truly sad.

Tony Dunlop said...

I thank thee, O Matt, that thou hast provided me with yon weekly reminders that I have solemnly vowed to NEVER read the combined Issue 289-290 of Cerebus again, so long as breath remaineth in me.

whc03grady said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
whc03grady said...

"It's translated as "when iniquity shall have an end", but I think that misses the point of what God is saying."
"The KJV translators have trouble facing this head-on as well...."
"The translators had a little trouble with this."

How would someone not fluent in the relevant languages be able to tell if or how Biblical translators had trouble?


Jeff said...

Well, Grady, I haven't read these posts for weeks, now (saving up, as I am, for one massive, day-long read), but I think, in answer to your either snarky or sincere question: Isn't it possible that Dave could have read and been informed by those translators (say, in the introduction) that they had admitted that there were instances in which they struggled with getting the translation just right?

You know, like *most* of us, even if we're just reading the English language KJV version?

whc03grady said...

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought Dave said at one point that he doesn't ready anything about scripture (or that he had early on, maybe even before his conversion, but stopped). Again, correct me if I'm wrong, but I'd think that'd include translators' commentaries, in an introduction or elsewhere.

(And thanks for reminding us, again, for some reason, that you're putting off reading these until you can read them all at once in a day-long masochistic frenzy. I would caution against consuming that much salad in such a short timespan though.)