Hebrew

Word Woche 9.25.14

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Continuing on the tradition until October, here’s a little more Amos 5 for some fun 😀

Amos 5:13-15
13) Therefore the one acting prudently in time  will keep silent because it is an evil time.
14) Seek good and not evil in order that you may live and may the LORD God of Hosts be with you as you have said.
15) Hate evil and Love good! Establish justice in the gate! Perhaps the LORD God of Hosts will show favor to the remanent of Joseph.

Second Call to Reconciliation (v13-15)
The second reconciliation section begins with a verse that appears very out of context.  It begins by ending the previous second of accusations (v11-12) but unlike verses 14 & 15 that contain imperatives and 2nd person plural verbs, its main verb is in a participial form.  It also changes from plural to singular subjects-possibly directing the cursing towards a singular person or to the idea that the nation of Israel as one unit is committing these sins. In verse 14 דרש “seek” is used when seeking out objects such as justice, implying in Amos’ prophetic message seeking for others’ well-being but at the same time possibly holding the other meaning “to seek” in reference to seeking God. “Seeking is a privilege and responsibility of belonging to the covenant community.” (1)  Finally, verses 14 & 15 encourage again the same as verse 4 & 6 – Seek God so that you may live.

A new addition to this section is the change of using YHWH or LORD God to Yahweh, God of Hosts.  Not only does it reflect God’s coming judgment upon Israel but it also has a military context in connection with verse 3.  “In texts where God calls judgement upon Israel, often through the use of foreign armies, they remain God’s hosts in the service of a divine objective.” (2)  The focuses is shifting to the unavoidable death of Israel through God’s might armies. (3)

NOTES
1. Willem A. Van Gemeren, gen ed., The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, vol.1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1997) 994-995
2. Willem A. Van Gemeren, gen ed., The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, vol.4 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1997) 1297
3. This is why the New Living Translation of the Bible refers to “God’s Mighty Armies” when translating from YHWH, God of Hosts.

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Word of the Week 9.18

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So back when i upgraded this blog, I started a little language section called “Word Woche” or “Word of the Week” My goal was to look at interesting words in other languages and provide some definition. Only problem: not everyone knows every language 🙂
(wait, I know that)

So as a result, I decided to change my thoughts on Word Woche. Instead of being translations of words, I am going to set this up as a mini-translation of Bible verses with some minor thoughts by yours truly. Now–this also goes along with my new mantra about translating the Bible and healthy living for next year. It gives me a place to dump my thoughts in the hopes it motivate someone.


 

So…. until the week of October 1st, here is a little teaser from one of my papers from the class on Amos 5:8-10. The following is my own personal translation (paper completed 6/2014)

8 He who made Pleiades and Orion — he who changed deep darkness to morning and darkened day to night. The one who called to the waters of the sea and poured them onto the face of the earth–YHWH is His Name! 9It is he who flashes devastation upon the strong so that violence comes upon the fortress. 10They hate him who judges fairly and they abhor he who speaks blamelessly.

… and commentary:
Yahweh’s Power and Authority (8-10)
Verses 8-10 present the description of Yahweh almost in contrast to the previous verses about Israel’s failed worship. Unlike Israel-who will die based on their idol worship, Yahweh is presented as the Almighty Creator and sustainer Power of Life. The imagery focuses on creation images, walking through day and night, stars (Orion and Pleiades), through the creation of land and water and eventually destructions over those who are not just and fair (a reference back to v7). It is very consistent with hymn language and the structure leading up to “YHWH is His Name! is at the center of the descriptions.(1) There is also a dispute over whether verse 9 was even originally part of the oracle as most of the references to God are in a cosmic sense, not in a violent, destructive nature.(2) Despite this fact, many of the translations have this verse and it appears to reinforce ideas already found present in Amos’ message.
The references to the “fortress” and the “gate” are to the economic and judicial structure of the town. Both of these fixtures were the location of the town meetings and politics. So to present hating justice and righteous in the place of where justice and righteousness are administered is a drastic contrast to the purpose the gate and fortress served in the community. “Therefore to hate the advocate of right and abhor those who speak ‘the whole truth’ is tantamount to personal opposition to the essence of the system.”(3) Again, Israel is being accused of practices religious traditions in opposition to God’s law and covenant.

NOTES
1. Andersen & Freedman, Amos: A new translation and introduction with commentary, 486-7

2. Ibid., 241

3. Mays, Amos: A Commentary, 93

Bibliography
Andersen, Francis I. & Freedman, David N. Amos: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. (Anchor Bible 24A, New York: Doubleday, 1989)

Mays, James L. Amos: A Commentary (Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 1969)

Word of the Week – Aug. 25th

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Every once and a while, I come across a word in the Bible (in Hebrew) that really touches me.  I almost think “dang, if we even came CLOSE to matching this word I would use it….” but many times English just does not. One of these words is “ruach” or “breathe, spirit.”

This word is the same word used in Genesis 1:2 to describe the spirit of God hovering over the blocky-chaotic water.  And yet, its the same word to describe the Holy Spirit of God. God’s spirit is like a breathe of fresh air, a wind.  Its unseen, a felt concept, and yet when it reacts with other things, both good and destruction can come from it.  The word just screams uniqueness.  Not only is it used in a very specific context in the Bible, but the underscore-looking item under the final letter chet actually is not common place in Hebrew.  Typically most Hebrew words are balanced between consonants & vowels. Rarely do you see two vowels next to each other.

As for the theological implications–the words relates to the breathe of life.  The Holy Spirit is meant to be God’s source in all life.  This is the word that describes God “breathing into ” humanity the breathe of life.  The imagery is just astounding.  And from my class w/ Dr. Tremper Longman last year, this image of God breathing is contrary to other Ancient Near Eastern stories, where gods live in the world, fighting, and create humans out of spite so they do not have to do anything. It’s an interesting perspective when you think of all the similarities from early creation stories to the Biblical story.

So next time you come across the term “Holy Spirit”, your meaning of God’ presence will grow deeper instead of thinking of white-sheeted floating people muddling “BOOOOoooo” in your face