Thursday, December 24, 2015

About Idols and 2nd Commandment

Let’s talk about the idol issue and my outlook on  Ex 23:13.

For example, the name of this web site should not be pronounced.
I think Ex 23:13 should be applied as the commandment about "carvings". This is why I do not say the name of the Christian god. 

Also, I was thinking how to properly translate "thzkiru". As "remember" or "mention" because it greatly affects the meaning of the commandment.

Regarding saying the name of a Christian god, this illustrates another part of the verse that will need to be elucidated, which is how "shem" (name) is defined.  For example, the words "god", "el", "elohim", etc have been applied to other deities.  My interpretation previously has been that appellatives/titles are not names.  However, that's a relevant question to the issue at hand. We could talk about what defines "another elohim" (as in, how much can a person believe wrongly about YHWH and still technically not be worshiping "another elohim"?).  Like with the Christian god, it's the transliteration of the name of a man, and that transliteration is used for other men with the same Hebrew name.  Messianics call him a different name which is the same as a figure in the Torah [son of Nun].  Are these words inherently forbidden, even if one was referencing the historic man?  The earlier manuscripts of the NT itself does not support a man-deity, but some people have chosen to believe in a man as a deity.   

In regard to "thzkiru", I had previously interpreted it more as "mention".  However, a concern I had was what exactly qualified as mentioning.  For example, it is obvious that one is already disallowed from letting them be heard on their lips, but what about spelling it out on their lips, or saying a changed or "censored" version of its name, or writing it, or even showing someone something where another person says or writes it?  

Also, another issue on "mentioning" is: what about words that refer to other things, or that contain part of the name of a deity, or that even are the name of a deity?  Like with certain words that are the same as a deity name, but they are etymologically unrelated?  There is an example of this that occurs in the Torah, actually, where an English translation of a word used in the Torah is separately a name of a deity which is used in the Torah (the wilderness name, which in English means "wrongdoing").  That brings up another issue, since there are deity names that are actually written in the Torah, and the Torah was commanded by Moses to be read every seven years (unless we get into defining what the "torah" is, technically, which is yet another issue).  Also, God Himself would have been saying deity names IF they were indeed in the original text (Ex 34:2 for example), but there is definitely a question as to how these words were translated from their source language, especially since the name in common use for it could have changed as well, so that makes things more interesting.  Now, much of the time, if I remember right, the references are to places in the Torah, such as a place that either is a deity name or contains a deity name, but we cannot with certainty derive anything from the examples we have due to the increased possibility of transmission error.  So that brings up the other issue, which is what about words that contain a part of a deity name, like certain days of the week (3 days have a full deity name in the word, 2 have part of a deity name)?  What about people who have names that are deity names?  It might be argued that the most obvious practical practice would be the likely option, but it ultimately is going to hinge upon what exactly "thzkiru" means.  I certainly do not think it just means "do not invoke".

In my opinion, Ex 23:13 should be interpreted similar to Deut 7:25-26. Basically we have a main clause - "thou shall have no other gods before Me"(Ex 20:3). And just like Deut 7:25 we have additional laws - Ex. 23:13. 

Exodus 20:3, in my opinion, should be interpreted as a general statement and the next verses (Ex. 20:4-5) is an explanation. So in my opinion the expression "other gods" refers to "carvings" and "castings". There are verses that mentions that explicitly - Deut 8:19 and Deut 11:16. 

First of all, I do not think that the word "name"/"shem" has anything to do with the commandment. Well, technically it does, but I think the key issue here is intent. So for example, the word "God", even though Christian god is called "God" too, is not a name of a deity. But the name of this website, even with "ok" prefix is indeed the name of other god. At the same time, I think its ok to call John Connor - JC. However, saying the same two letters to in any way imply Christian god is a name of a deity.

In other words, I think that the names that were NOT names of deities to begin with can't be considered the names of "other gods". However, the names that were the names of deities, will always be considered as such. But intent is the key here.

The name Joshua (ieusho) is not the name of a deity, even if Messianics use it as such, because it is mentioned in the Torah and because it was not initially a deity.

RE: thzkiru - I think this word is very important here. First of all, I think it would be better to translate it as "you shall remember" because if we would translate it traditionally as "you shall mention" it would be redundant to the next statement "not it shall be heard". At least that's how I see it. 

Secondly and therefore, it means that any form of "mentioning" is prohibited, which includes censored/acronym version of the name, written name, or, like you said, even pointing out to the name where it is written or heard. And again, this is why i think "remember" is the proper translation here because it is stricter. In other words, not only you should not say the name, you should go even as far as completely forgetting it. Out of sight out of mind so to speak :)

Torah is being read every 7 years. I think this is indeed a partial clue as to what is allowed and what is not. So, i guess, whatever is written in the Torah can never be considered a name of a deity unless there is a direct intent to make it into such. But i think it mostly applies to translations and not the original Hebrew text, its words and pronunciation. 

So, in case of the days of the week there are two options (at least for me) - to say it in different language :P or to use Torah names. For example, 1st day is Yom Echad (Gen 1:5), although in Israeli Hebrew it's Yom Rishon (which is BS in my opinion as there are perfectly good Torah names so why invent something new).

In case of people I think it's just as strict. So I would avoid being friends with someone with, say, Christian god's name. After all, why would I want to deal with someone who does not know Torah and wants to bear name of a deity? After all, there is a name change option.... so as you can see it is very possible to avoid all of these hypothetical situations. And even if you have to deal with that person, you can always call him - sir. Or by his last name or whatever…

In looking at Exodus 23:13, we will focus on the second part of the verse, reading “...and name of elohim, other ones, you shall not cause to mention. It shall not be heard on your mouth.”

It is clear that we are not to say name (shem) of other elohim, in the sense that “it shall not be heard on your mouth” (lo yishame' 'al phiyak). This would reasonably seem to include words that contain names of deities as well (such as certain convention day/month names). However, the connotations of “mention” are less clear.

When looking at the verb translated as “mention” or “remember” (thazkiyru), we can notice certain patterns in its appearances. While there certainly is an implication of simply “remembering” in regard to the use of zakar, notice that it is not a passive recognition or memory of something, but instead it is a mindful attention to something which results in an action (i.e., a memory that implies some sort of causation). Here is the typical verb form:

Ex 2:24, 6:5 - Elohim remembers (yizkor / ezkor) His covenant, which resulted in the actions of the preparation for the exodus.
Ex 13:3 - The people are told to remember (zakor) the day of their departure, and the remembrance is then stated, the Feast of Unleavened.
Ex 20:8 (Masoretic) - The Sabbath is to be remembered (zakor) to be made holy (qad'sh).
Ex 32:13 - Moses asks that the Abrahamic covenant be remembered (z'kor) so that Israel will not be destroyed.
Lev 26:42,45 - Repentance results in remembering (ezkor) the covenant such that the curses are turned back and the promise and blessings will return.
Num 10:9 – In war, the blowing of the trumpets is to cause you to be remembered (nizkarthem) and then you shall be saved.
Num 11:4-5 – The “gathering” within Israel yearned their yearning, and they said they remembered (zakarnu) the food from Mitsraim. Perhaps there is somewhat of a causation connection there also.
Num 15:39-40 – When seeing the commanded tassels you shall remember (zkarthem) and do the commandments.
Dt 5:15 – Do the Sabbath because of the remembering (zakarath) of servitude in Mitsraim.
Dt 7:16-18 – You shall destroy the Canaanites, but if you question in your heart, then you shall remember the destruction of Mitsraim.
Dt 8:1-3,6 – You shall remember (zakarath) the wilderness journey, with the lesson being that man shall live by what goes from mouth of YHWH, and you shall guard the commands, etc.
Dt 8:17-19 – You shall remember (zakarath) that YHWH gives you the power to do army/wealth, and you shall not think that you did it yourself or that another elohim did it (not clear causation necessarily).
Dt 9:7 – No immediate causation indicated. Remember (z'kor), do not forget that you caused angering. Perhaps in greater context of obeying generally.
Dt 9:27 – Remember (z'kor) the covenant to not destroy Israel.
Dt 15:15 – Remember (zakarath) your time in servitude in regard to doing the Hebrew servant laws.
Dt 16:3 – Remember (thizkor) the departure all of days of your lives. Not obvious causation, but perhaps in obedience context.
Dt 16:12,24:18,24:22 – Remember (zakarath) your servitude and you shall guard and do the laws.
Dt 24:9 – Obey the levitical laws on leprosy, and remember (zakor) Miriam's leprosy (presumably).
Dt 25:17-19 – You shall remember (zakor) what Amalek did, and you shall erase his remembrance (zeker)
Dt 32:7 – Remember (z'kor) days of forever, perhaps to turn back disobedience.

Zakar also appears in reference to males of humans and animals. See Ex 12:5,48, 34:19 (thizakar), Lev 1:3,10, 3:1,6, 4:23, 6:18,29, 7:6, 12:2,7, 15:33, 18:22, 20:13, 22:19, 27:7, Num 1:2,20,22, 3:15,22,28,34,39,40,43, 18:10, 26:62, 31:7,17,18,35, Dt 4:16. It might be arguable that the males are the ones that are “mentioned” or otherwise “remembered” in their family line.

Used as a name in Num 13:4.

Zeker appears in reference to the remembrance of Amalek. See Ex 17:14, Dt 25:19. What does the remembrance of Amalek entail? Perhaps a study of emcheh / thimcheh would be relevant for assessing that. Similar forms appear in reference to the name YHWH being His remembrance (Ex 3:15) and the removal of Israel's remembrance in punishment (Dt 32:26). Interestingly, much of Israel's remembrance is gone, even among Israel, and all that effectively remains are the Jews (Judah), and most are not really aware that the other tribes exist at all.

The derivative zikaron is used for “memorial” in regard to:
Ex 12:14,13:9 – The Passover/Unleavened.
Ex 17:14 – The promise of erasing Amalek's remembrance (zeker).
Ex 28:12, 39:7 – The stones with the names of Israel's children on Aaron's shoulders before YHWH.
Ex 28:29 – The stones with the names of Israel's children on Aaron's breastplate before YHWH.
Ex 30:16 – The money for the Tabernacle service is to be memorial (zikaron) before YHWH to make covering.
Lev 23:24 – Memorial (zikron) of Blast (thru'ah), i.e., day of trumpets.
Num 5:15,18 – The jealousy offering.
Num 10:10 – Blowing of trumpets shall be for memorial (zikaron) before YHWH.
Num 16:40 – Memorial (zikaron) for Israel regarding Korah and not offering unless a son of Aaron.
Num 31:54 – The making covering through the offering of the loot.

The causative form of the verb zakar appears in three Torah verses, including the one in question:
Ex 20:24 – Building an altar of earth at every of the rising which He shall cause to remember (azkiyr) His name. In my opinion the implications are not clear regarding this verse.
Num 5:15 – The present of memorial (zikaron), one causing remembrance (mazkereth) of iniquity. The offering results in revelation regarding the woman's fidelity.

Similar forms also appear elsewhere in the TNK (causative):
Gen 40:14 – Joseph asks to remember (zkarthaniy) him and cause to remember him (hizkarthaniy) to Pharaoh, and Joseph shall be brought from prison.
Gen 41:9 – The chief of the cupbearers told Pharaoh that the chief was caused to remember (mazkiyr) his wrongs, and then spoke of Joseph.

As stated, the causative form of thazkiyru appears in Ex 23:13. One shall not “cause to remember” names of other elohim.

At this point I'm not 100% sure what I think. In some passages, “remembering” the name of YHWH seems to have almost an implication of invocation, but on the other hand, some uses have the implication of mindfulness or causing one to be mindful in a way that causes another action (i.e., remembering something then acting upon it). 

In some instances of "zakar" above imply a mindful attention to something which results in an action. However, in most instances English word "remember" fits well with the verses. In verse in question, it also fits well (in fact - better) than "mention" because like I pointed out it removes textual redundancy. In my opinion I do not think it is possible to translate this word properly to English just like many other Hebrew words. This is why it is being translated differently in different places in the text. But even in the case of our verse in question we can still translate it as "remember" because it is stricter in meaning that "mention", yet at the same time it will not make a big difference in interpretation and understanding of the commandment. 

Exodus 20:24 is indeed a questionable verse. 

As far as I understand it, and based on Genesis use of this word (Gen 1:27), it has something to do with Zakar referring to a penis (as opposed to nekevah, which means a hole/perforation - aka vagina). So it can be translated as a mark or remembrance (like tassels)...

I am inclined to translate this word as "remember" and ascribe a more stricter meaning to it.

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