Sunday, 6 January 2019

TL:DR: The Genesis Question part thirty-five

Hi, Everybody!

New Year, Same schtick:

28 September 14

Hi Troy & Mia; David & Marie!

Just checked the date of the Day of the Flies -- Father's Day, June 15 -- did so because it repeated itself on Thursday September 15.  Four flies in succession -- no sooner killed one than another presented him or her self in the second floor office where I do all of my office work.  First flies in evidence here SINCE June 15…

(except for microscopic flies which had been arriving at the drawing board at the rate of about one a week.  I should point out that I was taking a shower on September 27 and, looking up, saw a very tiny spider on the back wall just about an arm's length over my head so I reached up -- yes, exactly an arm's and extended fingers' length -- and crushed it.  Then shampooed my hair, closing my eyes.  Opened my eyes and there was an ENORMOUS Daddy Long Legs perched on the shower ceiling.  Knocked that one off with a stick I keep handy for such occasions -- used to be millipedes -- after my shower and then picked it up with a Kleenex)

…so made a note to remark upon that to you.  This was followed by Day of the Flies III, yesterday, when I must have killed (I lost track around 8) more than a dozen of them in the studio.  Two occasions when there were two on the glass front door, the rest of the time singles in succession.  Not obedient of regular fly rules: I open the front door because on a sunny day (which it was) that becomes the brightest spot and Magnetic North for flies.  MOST of these buzzed around pretty much everywhere else besides the front door.  So, Day of the Flies I just about a week before summer and Day of the Flies II just about a week after summer.

Make of that what you will.

Ezekiel 36

Also thou son of man, prophecy unto the mountains of Israel and say Ye mountains of Israel, Hear the word of the YHWH

It's a very potent question/prompt to God since only God and YHWH know that the YHWH IS the mountains of Israel (mountains and the earth generally, so it's a regionally limited prompt/question -- limited to Israel itself -- but it is self-inclusive on the part of the YHWH which is a pretty unique circumstance in Scriptural terms: the YHWH asking for God's judgement UPON the YHWH).  God obliges:

Thus saith the Lord GOD, Because the enemy had said against you, Aha, even the ancient high places are ours in possession

That is, God asserts what I would assume was the YHWH's primary concern: there was no way to lose Jerusalem and Israel without also losing the high places which were dedicated both to the YHWH and Baal (basically two forms of the YHWH, in monotheistic form and in pagan fertility form) and (more problematic for the YHWH, I would guess) the Really Ancient high places which pre-existed even the names of YHWH and Baal. 

Therefore prophecy and say thus saith the Lord GOD, Because for because they have made you desolate and swallowed you up on every side, that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen and ye are taken up in the lips of talkers and an infamy of the people 

Because for because", the original Hebrew, suggests that God is addressing the all-encompassing form of the YHWH's question/prompt. 

Basically, God is saying, "This assertion goes WAY back and covers the Really Ancient high places": that the "residue of the heathen" which still existed at the time that this epoch began with A Dam and Chauah and the Garden of Eden HAVE made the YHWH a possession and (of more actual interest to the YHWH, as presumably only the omniscient God would know) have made the general perception of the YHWH to be that of a failed deity (of which I'm sure there was never a shortage in the region) on the part of "talkers" and a source of "infamy" for those still worshipping the YHWH.

Therefore ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD, thus saith the Lord GOD to the mountains and to the hills, to the rivers and to the valleys, to the desolate wastes and to the cities that are forsaken, which became a prey and derision to the residue of the heathen that round about:

It's an attention-getting way of putting it:  God is including His own context and media -- the rivers which are made up of water, God's medium, and the cities which were founded by Cain, the "God loyalist" (he was obedient in making his sacrifice vegetation, which had the imprimatur of God as man's source of nourishment) -- essentially reinforcing His central point:  here at the apex of the Judaic Revelation, God and YHWH are "in this" together.  And, the even Larger Point, scaling things up from "the mountains of Israel" prompt.  The revelation includes the mountains of Israel but actually refers to the YHWH in the same sense that the revelation includes the rivers but actually refers to God. 

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the heathen, against all Idumea, which have appointed my land into their possession, with the joy of all heart, with despiteful minds to cast it out for a prey. 

It wasn't God, but rather the YHWH that spoke that way at the end of the previous chapter.  But God is intentionally including Himself in what he knows are the central concerns of "the mountains of Israel" -- jealousy, bitterness at the joy the heathen are experiencing and the victory of their "despiteful minds". 

Just so there's no mistake, God again includes Himself metaphorically as "the rivers" in the pronouncement:

Prophecy therefore concerning the land of Israel and say unto the mountains and to the hills, to the rivers and to the valleys, Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold I have spoken in my jealousy and in my fury because ye have borne the shame of the heathen,

As I read it, it's "He and he/she/it" -- God is the rivers, the mountains are he-YHWH, the hills are she-YHWH and the valleys it-YHWH

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, I have lifted up My Hand, Surely the heathen that about you, they shall bear their shame.

That is, God is pledging --  "lifted up My Hand" -- that the "jealousy" and  "bitterness" the YHWH is experiencing are temporary.  Even going so far as to adopt the YHWH's misapprehension regarding trees as YHWH metaphors, when they're actually metaphors of God, an unprecedented instance of unanimity between the Divine and His creation -- God really stretching a point for the YHWH's sake:

But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel, for they are at  hand to come. 

For behold, I for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown.

Again an example of God's omniscience and knowledge of the nature of the YHWH which we only glimpse in Scripture in the YHWH's version of the creation story: "there was not yet a man to till the ground".  For the YHWH, that was -- and is -- one of the few redeeming facets of men:  they tilled the ground, essentially grooming the YHWH.

And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, all of it, and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded.

That is, God isn't abandoning Cain's cities.  The promised restoration includes the cities AND the "wastes".  This serves to incite the YHWH's own qualified concurrence:

And I will multiply upon you man and beast, and they shall increase and bring fruit and I will settle you after your old estates: and will do better unto you, than at your beginnings and ye shall know that I, the YHWH.

To which God amends:

Yea, I will cause men to walk upon you, my people, Israel, and they shall possess thee, and thou shalt be their inheritance, and thou shalt no more henceforth bereave them.

It can be read a couple of different ways:  "I will cause men to walk upon you, my people" with the assertions then addressed to "Israel" OR "I will cause men to walk upon you, my people, Israel".  Which is a good way of putting it, since the YHWH has brought up "beginnings" and the chapter begins with the address/prompt to "the mountains of Israel".  The YHWH is allowed to infer it either way:  where do the mountains of Israel begin, exclusive of men?  How much of Israel is men and how much of Israel is the YHWH?  "And they shall possess thee".  Do the mountains of Israel possess men or do men possess the mountains of Israel?    

Thus saith the Lord GOD, Because they say unto you, Thou devourest up men and hast bereaved thy nations

As I read it, the "you" is quite specifically directed at the YHWH centring on the YHWH's "appearances" concern: how the YHWH is perceived "in the lips of talkers and an infamy of the people".  It's a Reality Check.  God can -- and does -- address "the mountains of Israel" and "the rivers", but there is a Larger Context that the YHWH is fully aware of.  "The mountains of Israel" are a lesser context of the YHWH as is any pagan context which has a fertility god or goddess or earth god or earth goddess.  "THOU devourest up men and hast bereaved THY nations".  

Therefore thou shalt devour men no more, neither [cause to fall/bereave] thy nations any more saith the Lord GOD.

Neither will I cause men to hear in thee the shame of the heathen any more, neither shalt thou bear the reproach of the people any more, neither shalt thou cause the nations to fall any more, saith the Lord GOD.

It's expressed in absolutist terms which I would infer is an exaggeration, but only a marginal one.  What God is addressing is the YHWH's concerns about perception -- what are people GENERALLY saying and going to be saying about the YHWH when the Babylonian Conquest is completely effected and the Jews have been dispersed throughout the goyim? 

At the moment?  Nothing good.

 In the fullness of time? The worship of the heathen that is nearly universal in Ezekiel's time -- a hundred different names for basically the same fertility goddesses and gods spanning the known world -- will become a "rounding error" percentage-wise.  But God doesn't sugar-coat it:  "Neither shalt THOU cause the nations to fall any more".  It's the YHWH who is behind all of the paganism and heathen beliefs, attempting to play both ends against the middle.  It's quickly reaching its "best before" date, historically speaking.

It provokes a defensive response from the YHWH, basically saying that the YHWH didn't do anything.  The house of Israel is to blame for their own bad choices and actions:

Moreover, the word of the YHWH came unto me, saying.

Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way, and by their doings: their way was before me as the uncleanness of a removed woman.

Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols they had polluted it.

And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries: according to their way and according to their doings I judged them.

And when they entered unto the heathen whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These the people of the YHWH, and are gone forth out of his land.

But I had pity for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went.

It's an interesting argument, based in monotheism and free will -- both provinces of God and the worship of God.  The house of Israel was presented,  not only with the choice between God and YHWH but between God and YHWH and a hundred different forms of paganism.  THAT they chose WHAT they chose, bespeaks their own culpability, not the YHWH's (says the YHWH).  And the suggestion of a "HOLY name" is a good one in the midst of a sharply cut forensic argument with God.  The YHWH isn't suggesting having pity for the name of Baal, but only for the HOLY name of the entity in question, the YHWH.

Instead of trying to even more finely split the presented hair, God appears to acquiesce:

Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD, I do not for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for my holy Name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen whither ye went. 

And I will sanctify my Great Name which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them, and the heathen shall know that I the YHWH, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before [their/your]

It, in one sense, just follows the drift of the argument to that point:  the unanimity between God and YHWH at the apex of the Judaic Revelation.  But, in another sense, it's a real jaw-dropper:  God is acknowledging that God IS YHWH?  Well, not really.  What God is actually saying is that the HOLY name and the Great Name have, indeed, taken quite a beating, are taking quite a beating and will take quite a beating.  But God will be sanctified IN the YHWH, ultimately (before both their eyes -- the heathen and Israel -- and your eyes -- the YHWH's).

For I will take you from among the heathen and gather you out of all countries and will bring you into your own land.

"Oh, you WILL, WILL you?" the YHWH must have been thinking.  While also getting the frisson of horror that only comes when God says what He's going to do since God never says He's going to do anything that He doesn't do.  And the idea of God being sanctified IN the YHWH would not be a pleasant one for the YHWH.

It's a ways off in the future.  A good five hundred plus years just before the Babylonian Conquest  and sacking of Jerusalem is about to reiterate itself with the Roman Conquest and sacking of Jerusalem.  Unimaginable in Ezekiel's time and context, but familiar to any reader of the Christian gospels:

Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you.

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stoney heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.

And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my Statutes, and ye shall keep my judgements and do them.

That spreads outwards, but it doesn't happen overnight, either.  It's almost two thousand years, but God doesn't fail His promise to Israel:

And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and ye shall be my people and I will be your God.

I will also save you from all your uncleanness and I will call for the corn and will increase it and lay no famine upon you.

And I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen.

Certainly the history of the state of Israel indicates the fulfillment of that promise -- with some qualification centring on free will.  God acknowledging that the YHWH is exactly right in suggesting that Israel and Israelis made -- and make -- their own choices and suffer the resulting consequences and/or benefits.

Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.

Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord GOD, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.

But that in no way diminishes God's promise:

Thus saith the Lord GOD, In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities, I will also cause to dwell in the cities and the wastes shall be builded.

And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by.

And they shall say, This land that was desolate, is become like the Garden of Eden, and the waste and desolate and ruined cities, fenced, are inhabited.

There really isn't much there with which the YHWH can disagree:

Then the heathen that are left round about you, shall know that I, the YHWH, build the ruined places, plant that that was desolate: I the YHWH have spoken and I will do.

The "heathen" won't really be an issue when God's fulfillment comes to pass.  The adversarial presence "round about you" when Israel is restored will be MOSTLY either other monotheists, Muslims.  If there are any Baal worshippers they amount to a rounding error.  Secularists and atheists.  That's another question.  How many ACTUAL secularists and atheists ARE there -- and will there be -- in the Levant as history continues to unfold?

God -- as I read it -- acknowledges these facts.  It won't be quite as cut and dried as a perfect restoration of absolute monotheism centred on God: 

Thus saith the Lord GOD, I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do for them:

God knows what He's doing and He will fulfill His promise.  But -- particularly in the time of Ezekiel -- that didn't, doesn't and won't mean an end of questions posed to God by men and the YHWH.  Far from it.  However:

I will increase them with men like a flock.

"Be fruitful and multiply".  God's instruction to man and mankind was a simple one from the beginning.  "Be fruitful and multiply" and apart from that do what you think is right and your children will do what they think is right and -- thousands and thousands of generations up ahead -- everything will get figured out and everything will be good and in conformity with God's plan which has been unchanged from the beginning. 

Not having any clear vision of how all this is going to unfold -- God fulfilling Himself IN the YHWH (the Synoptic Jesus) and a universal cleansing (the Johannine Jesus and John's baptism), the YHWH definitely wants to be at the head of that parade as well:

As the flock of holy things, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men, and they shall know I, the YHWH. 

Next week, God willing, on to Chapter 37!



Next Time: Hey, it's 2019, we got Replicants yet? -"Past" Matt


Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

I'm sure we're all grateful that we have Dave to tell us "what god was really saying".

-- Damian

Tony Dunlop said...

Well, he's got pleeeeeeeenty of company - like, every televangelist huckster since Elmer Gantry (OK, he wasn't on TV, but only because he's fictional, and TV hadn't been invented yet).

Eddie said...

I'm pretty sure Dave has said elsewhere that all this is just his opinion and interpretation, and that he's not speaking for God. Although, if any of the Sunday Commentary Haters have a better interpretation of the Scripture passage Dave's commenting on, this would probably be a good place to post it. Who knows, you may provide something of actual value!

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Gosh! I can think of few worse places to post it. Guess we have a disagreement.

-- Damian

Jeff S. said...

Again, because the Sunday Commentary posts seem to engender a lot of ... not so favorable comments, and because I really don't have a dog in this fight, I am waiting until the end to read all of it. Girding my loins, as it were.

I don't think that it's a bad suggestion that y'all do the same. Just one "religious Dave Sim" fan's opinion.

But, I gotta say, $10,000 gets ya a lotta religious Genesis Commentary.

Wow. And, I think, we're not even close to closing in on the end.

That's my "buddy", Dave, who is the only person that I've ever spent time with who is more vociferously vocal and verbal than am I.

Can't wait, Dave, 'til you get to the end and I can start reading. Another new binder volume! Keep up the ... um ... deep(?) ... (good?) ... (intense?)... (?) ..(I dunno; smart?) work.

Good on yer.

Anonymous said...

"Basically, God is saying..."

"the YHWH must have been thinking..."

These Sunday posts are rife with these kinds of phrases. To Dave, there's this "conversation" going on between God and YHWH which only he can see. In reality, this conversation is only going on in Dave's head. That would be fine, but Dave, of course, sees this as the Unified Theory which Einstein spent his intellectual life pursuing when it is, of course, a load of complete and utter nonsense.

Jeff said...

Anon (and as someone else pointed out and I am reiterating, if you're going to criticize someone, anyone, you should have and show the moral rectitude to identify yourself), I'm pretty sure that nearly all Torah/Bible/Koran interpreters use the kind of language that Dave is utilizing here. It's a kind of shorthand; if you say at the beginning of your commentary that this is your opinion, and if you repeat that periodically throughout, then (and, as a former copy editor and proofreader, I can say this) it's okay to use phrases like "What God is saying here is ..."

Criticize, if you must, but, please, not in such a cowardly manner.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Cowardly like ... oh, your country's founding fathers, Jeff? Remind me again who wrote the Federalist Papers?

-- Damian

Deliberately Obtuse Tony said...

Well, of course we now know it was (mostly) John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison - but that wasn't your point, was it?