Sunday, 2 December 2018

TL:DR: The Genesis Question part thirty

Hi, Everybody!


24 August 14

Hi Troy & Mia; David & Marie!

Ezekiel 31:

And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the third, in the first of the month that the word of the YHWH came unto me, saying: Son of man, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, and to his multitude, Whom art thou like in thy greatness?

This is very perplexing.  How is Ezekiel supposed to speak "unto Pharaoh, king of Egypt, AND to his multitude"?  Presumably, the instruction would have been taken literally, coming as it did from someone Ezekiel would have presupposed to be God.

Whether this took place before, after or during the Babylonian Exile -- the dispersion of the Hebrew people among the nations and the captivity in Babylon -- it's hard to imagine any of them being exiled to Egypt which Babylon was also in the process of capturing.  Or -- even if they were and Ezekiel was among their number -- being in any kind of context where one of them could make an appointment to see Pharaoh personally to deliver to him -- AND his multitude -- an edict from the YHWH. 

Metaphorically, it's not difficult to understand, in the YHWH vs. God context: it's basically the YHWH feeling sorry for him/her/its self because of the self-condemnation that has taken place.  The YHWH IS Egypt and IS Pharaoh and IS Pharaoh's multitude in the context of being Not God.  The sense is "how the mighty have fallen" and the YHWH, not unpredictably, drawing an analogy between the mightiest of the mighty and the YHWH.

But, of course, Ezekiel wouldn't have known that nor, I suspect, perceived it that way.  All Ezekiel would have known was the literal instruction to speak unto Pharaoh.  Did he attempt to do so?  Or did he just commit the words to writing and, perhaps, relay them to Pharaoh in the form of a letter?   

Behold the Assyrian a cedar in Lebanon, fair of branches and with a shadowing shroud and of a high stature and his top was among the thick boughs.

This, to me, is the YHWH grasping metaphorically for some invocation of the YHWH's self-perceived greatness which has now been lost.  It partakes of the same internal logic as the Synoptic Jesus' metaphor of the plant that grows from the mustard seed.  Tiny seed that produces a huge plant.  Only in this case, it's the most prized and valuable of tree: the cedar of Lebanon.    

The waters made him great, the deep set him up on high with her rivers running about his plants and sent her conduits unto all the trees of the field.

This, to me, is addressing the concept of water as being God's medium and the YHWH attempting to subvert that perception by a couple of different means:

One, by identifying "the deep" of Genesis 1:2 ("And the earth was without form, and void and darkness upon the face of THE DEEP") with the metaphorically "Great" and "High", the Assyrian, Egypt, Pharaoh, the YHWH.  That is, giving The Deep it's own personality and suggesting that it was an active agent in establishing the "Greatest" and the "Highest":  which to the YHWH, of course, is always the YHWH ("…the deep set him up on high") 

Two (because this caused an internal logic problem for the YHWH: if the Deep was responsible for setting the YHWH "on high", wouldn't that make the Deep -- that is, God -- preeminent over the YHWH?) by inverting the gender of the possessive adjectives:  HER rivers, HER conduits. Which meant the Deep, although an active agent in establishing the YHWH "on high", couldn't be God, Who is masculine.

Therefore his height was exalted above all the trees of the field, and his boughs were multiplied, and his branches became long because of the multitude of waters when he shot forth.  All the fowls of heaven made their nests in his boughs and under his branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their young and under his shadow dwelt all great nations.  Thus was he fair in his greatness, in the length of his branches: for his root was by great waters.

The YHWH is in a ruminative frame of mind at these invocations of the early chapters of the First Book of Moshe.  Which is not unexpected.  So far as the YHWH is concerned, the True Origin of the Earth began with a single unnamed river that divided into four rivers: the first, Pison, the second Gihon, the third Hiddekel (the reference to "the Assyrian" resonates with the description of Hiddekel as "that which goeth toward the East of Assyria") and the fourth, Euphrates (Genesis 2:10-14).  In our own epoch, we're only aware of the fourth river by the cited name.

The YHWH continues his/her/its self-description in attempting to find a comparable metaphorical "greatness" to what the YHWH perceives to be his/her/its own:  

The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his boughs and the chestnut trees were not like his branches: not any tree in the garden of God, was like unto him in his beauty.  I have made him fair by the multitude of his branches: so that all the trees of Eden, that in the garden of God, envied him.

At which point, God Himself interjects and sharply clarifies the metaphor -- we aren't REALLY discussing ONLY the trees, the Garden of God, the Assyrian, Pharaoh or Egypt.  We're REALLY discussing the YHWH and all of those as metaphorical aspects of the YHWH:

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Because thou hast lifted up thyself in height and he hath shot up his top among the thicks boughs and his heart is lifted up in his height;  I have therefore delivered him into the hand of the mighty one of the heathen: in doing he shall do unto him, I have driven him out for his wickedness. 
And strangers, the terrible of the nations have cut him off, and have left him: upon the mountains and in all the valleys his branches are fallen, and his boughs are broken by all the rivers of the land, and all the people of the earth are gone down from his shadow, and have left him. Upon his ruin shall all the fowls of the heaven remain, & all the beasts of the field shall be upon his branches.

Lord GOD -- God -- follows this with a more general and Highly Revelatory observation (couched in the YHWH's own tree metaphor) about the nature of Actual Reality on planet earth: that there is a significant message and a significant end to the many thousands of years of enactment which have concluded with the fall of the Assyrian, of the Egyptian, of Israel AND of the YHWH:

To the end that none of all the trees by the waters exalt themselves for their height, neither shoot up their top among the thick boughs, neither their trees stand up in their height [stand upon themselves for their height], all that drink water: for they are all delivered unto death, to the nether parts of the earth in the midst of the children of men, with them that go down to the pit.

That is, apart from God, there IS NO "greatness" or "mightiness".  The aspiration to attain to God's stature or to supersede God or supplant God is completely illusory.  So the largest lesson learned -- or To Be Learned -- is that self-exaltation ends in complete self-abasement.  The YHWH's self-condemnation.  "They are ALL delivered unto death, to the nether parts of the earth". 

It's worth remembering that, in Ezekiel's time, the "nether parts of the earth" only meant "far underground" or "somewhere far from home".  We had no idea that the earth was sphere, with a molten core, the habitation of the YHWH.

It seems apparent to me that this is God's message to his creations on earth: structurally, you ALL "go down to the pit".  Your spirits are as much susceptible to gravitation as are your physical forms.  You are being drawn DOWN towards the YHWH at death just as you were in life -- only at death the earth is no longer a physical impediment preventing you being drawn "down to the pit". So that is where you end up -- whether you're a metaphorical tree, an Assyrian, Assyria generally, Pharaoh, Egypt, his multitude, an Israeli you end up "delivered unto death, to the nether parts of the earth in the midst of the children of men".

Resurrection FROM the pit is possible, but, as I infer from the Torah, the Gospels and the Koran, that depends on your own choices, decisions and actions WHILE you're alive (or, more accurately, while you're physically incarnated -- you're alive before you're born and after you're dead).

This, I infer, is where you get the "wailing and gnashing of teeth" on the Day of Resurrection.  No one will be able to say that they weren't apprised of the situation.  No matter who you were, you knew what the Bible was, you knew what The Koran was.  You chose not to even read them, let alone attempt to follow them -- or you let others tell you what they said and tell you how to behave without considering that those individuals are, potentially and on the surface, as much Not God as you are. 

You did that -- reinforced that choice/those choices -- minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year, decade by decade, for many, many decades.  You had complete free will to do otherwise. 

So where do you see any kind of injustice in that?  Look over here:  millions of people ascending out of the pit because they made the right choices and did the right things.  They're all pretty ordinary folks.  Not one of them had a single attribute that you didn't have.  They chose to spend their decades of physically incarnated life differently from how you did and that, literally, made them lighter than you, allowed them to ascend permanently where you are descending permanently.

As I read the text, Lord GOD -- God -- then personalizes things for the YHWH.     

Thus saith the Lord GOD, In the day when he went down to the grave, I caused a mourning, I covered the deep for him, and I restrained the floods thereof, and the great waters were stayed: and I caused Lebanon to mourn [to be black] for him, and all the trees of the field fainted for him.

That is, the YHWH's self-condemnation did not go un-noted.  It is not a thing that God has taken for granted or diminished (or diminishes).  It was an act of great significance and import.  It makes possible the next Revelatory phase of life on planet earth and was, consequently, in the context of life on planet earth, of great immensity:

I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the pit: and all the trees of Eden, and the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth.

God sustains the metaphor of the YHWH as a "cedar of Lebanon" and of the "sound of his fall" as an earth-wide experiential phenomenon.  God has to be careful in how He expresses the event and the experience of it.  It was important, but the danger with the YHWH is that "important" is always read as "AS important or MORE important than God". It's nowhere NEAR on that scale.  A careful balance has to be struck between acknowledging the enormity of what the YHWH HAS accomplished while keeping that accomplishment in a non-blasphemous and sensible perspective:

They also went down into hell with him unto them that be slain with the sword and his arm, dwelt under his shadow in the midst of the heathen.

What God is doing is answering the YHWH's rhetorical question posed in Ezekiel 31:2 to Egypt and his multitude ("Whom art thou like in thy greatness?") in a more general way which encompasses the whole spectrum of the YHWH's metaphor: from the trees of Eden to Pharaoh and the Assyrian armies:   

To whom art thou, thus, like in glory & in greatness among the trees of Eden?  Yet shalt thou be brought down with the trees of Eden unto the nether parts of the earth: thou shalt lie in the midst of the uncircumcised, with them that be slain by the sword: This, Pharaoh and all his multitude, saith the Lord GOD.

That is, it's not a completely undifferentiated mass of souls.  Everyone's actions and choices and decisions follow them to the "nether parts of the earth".  But for the time being -- from the time of anyone's death until the Day of the Resurrection -- we, all of us, will "lie in the midst of the uncircumcised". 

Whether we STAY there when we GET there depends on how we chose to live our lives before we GOT there. 

As I read it.



Next Time: I post. About: CEREBUS!


Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Has Dave said that this stuff part of what he feels he'll be remembered for?

-- Damian

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure Dave has, on multiple occasions, said that this is what he'll be remembered for. Laughable, to say the least. At this rate, it's unlikely he'll even be remembered for Cerebus.

Notice the sanctimony oozing out of this post as usual. Dave just LOVES telling people they're going to hell because, basically, they're not doing what Dave is telling them to do. Tell that to roughly a billion Chinese, a billion Indians and a billion Africans who (along with many, many others) have their own belief system that has nothing to do with the Torah, Bible or Koran. Dave's narrow-mindedness is a never-ending source of hilarity.

Tony Dunlop said...

Anon, hasn't been paying that much attention, apparently. Dave's commentaries on things theological/religious have always been liberally sprinkled with "...if I'm right" and "...we won't know if I'm getting it right until Judgement Day." Maybe not this particular post - I still can't bring myself to do more than skim them - but in a lot of them over the years.

whc03grady said...

At some point in one of his epic treatises, "Tangent" maybe, or maybe it was in a reply to a woman's letter in a late late issue of Cerebus, Dave condescendingly made some remark about how polite conversants ("conversants"? That's a word, innit? A participant in a conversation is a conversant? Anyway.) don't outright state things, particularly not potentially controversial things. Instead, they qualify them with phrases like "In my opinion,...", "As I see it,..." and the like.
Really, it's just hedging. Dave is, rightly, a firm believer in objective truth, and it's hard to believe he'd be saying all this stuff if he didn't think it was true. Like, for everyone. "If I'm right" and "We won't know if I'm getting it right until Judgement Day" are just reflexive tics at this point. (Yes, I know these essays are a few years old.)


whc03grady said...

A-HA! Emphasis in the original.

"Since I'm coming to the end of the trail, I'm tempted to indulge in the feminist vice of the self-righteous flat assertion as you have done in your letter. However, in my view, it seems to me to be a centerpiece of any civilized political discourse that one should always preface opinions with appropriate phrases so as to acknowledge that what one is venturing is a personal opinion and that dissenting opinions--arrived at in good conscience--exist. I recognize that feminists haven't yet, as I see it, matured into that conversational habit....I mention it here only because I know that you're a school teacher and I find it alarming that someone who purports to be a teacher of our civilization's youth hasn't acquired this basic accoutrement of what I see as basic conversational courtesy."
--Dave Sim, Cerebus 299, reply to Maria Rocconi-Gavila

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

"Tone policing" is a reliable conservative technique when someone objects to their barbarism. Ironic, since it's usually conservatives who whinge about "political correctness". I suppose it's too big a mental leap for Dave to assume that people who state an opinion are actually stating their own opinion.

-- Damian

Anonymous said...

All Dave's doing is saying, "I think" in various ways. "As I see it," and "what I see" and "in my view" and other similar phrases are just other ways of saying "I think". Well, of course. That's understood. Who ELSE would be thinking this? How does that change the sanctimonious ("making a show of being morally superior to other people") tone of:

"You did that -- reinforced that choice/those choices -- minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year, decade by decade, for many, many decades. You had complete free will to do otherwise.

So where do you see any kind of injustice in that? Look over here: millions of people ascending out of the pit because they made the right choices and did the right things. They're all pretty ordinary folks. Not one of them had a single attribute that you didn't have. They chose to spend their decades of physically incarnated life differently from how you did and that, literally, made them lighter than you, allowed them to ascend permanently where you are descending permanently."

It doesn't change the sanctimonious tone at all. And this is hardly the first time Dave has taken this holier-than-thou attitude. It permeates almost all of his writing and has for a very long time. Being sanctimonious and then, as an afterthought, writing "Of course, I could be wrong." doesn't change the message. He goes on and on and on every Sunday about what he thinks is The Truth and rarely, if ever, does he make his case in the sort of calm, rational, reasoned way most intellectuals think and write: very cautiously making their case, carefully avoiding broad, black-and-white declarative statements and taking opposing viewpoints into consideration. Dave just blathers on as though these statements actually mean anything:

"I think God participated in the Big Bang and I think God created the Big Bang with the willing participation of His adversary (or adversaries) which went off perfectly and without a hitch. A perfect outward expansion of all that existed at and to that point in space and time. It seems to me to have been an instance of God's acquiescence in and to alternative theories of the nature of existence apart from His own (His own, which, of course, aren't theories, but Reality). Undeserved kindness on God's part to allow dissenting creations to prove to themselves that God's Reality is the only Reality through a nearly infinite number of enactments of those creations' dissenting theories.

I think our sun and the Great Impactor Theory of the earth's creation are examples of the intelligences that God created and hurled outward from the Big Bang attempting to duplicate the Big Bang ( a means on the part of God's adversary or adversaries of attempting to prove that one or some of those creations is God or a God equivalent)."

Those are nonsense paragraphs that have no actual meaning in any sense of the word. It's just conjecture, speculation and guesswork. It's cosmogony/cosmology masquerading as actual, careful, considered theological/scientific study. Notice how few references Dave makes to any other thinker? That's rather telling. (Or should I say, "I think that's rather telling." See? It doesn't change the meaning at all.) The idea that this is going to one day be studied as "The Unified Theory which Einstein spent his intellectual life pursuing" is laughably stupid and quite sad.

Tony again said...

Anonymous says: "Those are nonsense paragraphs that have no actual meaning in any sense of the word."

Well, yes; on that we are in full agreement. As I've said many times, this stuff is best read like a Lewis Carroll nonsense poem or story. Except Carroll did it deliberately...

But I still insist that Dave has never said he is confident that *he* is one of "(t)hey (who) chose to spend their decades of physically incarnated life differently from how you did and that, literally, made them lighter than you, allowed them to ascend permanently where you are descending permanently." I'm pretty sure he would consider it the height of hubris to assume that he is.

Anonymous said...

Tony, surely you haven't missed All Those Times that Dave has mentioned that he prays five times a day and gives to charity and reads the Bible and the Koran and that he prays five times a day and dedicates himself to repenting and also that he prays five times a day? No, Dave has not said that he is going to be going to heaven or rewarded for his piety or anything like that, but since 1999 or whenever it was, he has pretty clearly been bragging about his moral superiority.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Dave's been bragging about his moral superiority since at least the early 1990s. That transmogrified into bragging about his spiritual superiority in the late '90s. Even the above-cited "we won't know until judgement day / only god knows" stuff seems like Dave bragging about how humble he is.

Like most believers, he feels that everyone knows he's right and are lying to themselves and others, either out of weakness or perversity, when they disagree. Eg. believers who think atheism means "There is a god, in whom I do not believe," (which example is taken from Dave himself).

-- Damian