Wednesday, December 30, 2015

6th Commandment / Words of violence in the Torah

Let’s look at passages on violence:

Ex 21:12, Lev 24:17, 24:21- man causing to smite human vitality shall be caused to die

Ex 21:13, Num 35:11 - man who didn't intend to kill shall flee to city of asylum

Ex 21:15 - one causing to smite parents shall be caused to die

Ex 22:2 - if thief is caused to be smitten to death in breaking-in at night, no bloods to him (presumably no responsibility for his death)

Ex 21:18-19 - man causing to smite man but does not deliver lethal blow shall compensate the victim for his injury

Ex 21:20-21 - man causing to smite servant with stick shall be at fault if the blow is immediately lethal, but not if death comes later

Ex 21:26-27 - man causing to smite eye or tooth shall set the servant free 

Num 25:14 - Phineas caused to smite the Midianitess and the Israelite man

Num 25:17 - cause to smite the Midianites

Num 35:30 - all one causing to smite vitality/soul shall be murdered on mouth of two or three witnesses

One pattern I noticed was the phrase "cause to smite (yakeh) vitality/soul (nephesh)".  This seems to mean to kill in its most basic sense, at least.  Smiting or "causing to smite" by itself doesn't always seem to mean lethal blows.  For example, Balaam smote his donkey repeatedly (Num 22:28, etc), and many of the passages specify smiting vitality or smiting resulting in death (though not all, such as the parents one).

Separately, there's the issue of "murder" (Ex 20:13 - you shall not murder, or "lo tirtsach"), and we also have the avenger of blood "shall murder the murderer, is-no blood to him" (Num 35:27).  

Also, there's the passage that's been cited a few times recently (Ex 32:26-27) regarding the Levites killing their brothers and fellows.

So, what I've been wondering about is how to reconcile or otherwise think about these passages that at face value might be taken to be contradictory.  Are there implicit and explicit exceptions to these rules regarding not murdering or not smiting vitality?  For example, there is probably no debate that the Amalekites and Canaanites are to be completely destroyed (i.e., killed) by Israel, and it would seem to be indicated that warfare is allowed (especially in Deuteronomy which even says that voluntary war is permitted), although we are clearly told that we are not to murder in general and not to cause to smite vitality of human.  What is the distinction between these things?  Are these foreign peoples simply not "human"?  I doubt that because we also have examples of it being acceptable or commanded to kill Israelite apostates, for example (not just in court judgment either, see Phineas and also the gold calf).  Is warfare different somehow than just causing to smite someone in general, and if so, what would even define warfare?  I question that because Phineas clearly took it upon himself to enact violence against the Midianite woman and the man involved with her; it wasn't until afterward that the people were told to go to war with them (I use the Phineas example because it is clearly indicated by God in the passage that it was a righteous thing that he did).  Was "cause to smite the Midianites" not intended to be the causing to smite human soul/vitality?  I doubt that as well (Num 31:7 - they killed every male, and 31:15 Moses was upset that they left the women alive).

Finally, what I wonder about in a practical sense are the boundaries of self-defense.  It is explicitly clear that if someone breaks into a person's home at night that the person can smite the intruder with impunity.  However, what about in other situations?  

Smiting someone in general, except for parents, would seem to be acceptable so long as it is not to death, but in a self-defense situation where one is actually facing someone who very much intends to kill, it would likely be very impractical to try to simply incapacitate the person (even the use of fists, etc, can result in death).  Would this fall under the city of refuge type judgment?  I would doubt it because Phineas obviously wasn't expected to do that (and he obviously intended to kill), and also we would have to get into debating over what the meaning of "he willed not"/”hunted not” to kill implies.
I would like to find an actual textual justification rather than purely logical.  

My first guess would be that this is an issue of translation. Word "smite" may not mean in Hebrew the same thing it means in English. 

For example, in Russian we do not have the word "murder". Only "kill". So when I was translating the 10 commandments, i had to specify that it is only "killing with evil intent" that is prohibited. All other forms of killing are allowed. Even accidental murder is not considered killing under some circumstances (think asylum cities)...

The word "smite" (nawkaw) seem to have a general meaning of violence as it is associated with all three cases - striking, killing and murder so I think it needs to be interpreted as such. I do not think it would be possible to reconcile the meanings of the passages in English. Like I said above, I think it's a translation issue and in Hebrew all passages make sense.

One specific passage that I can recommend is Exodus 2:11-14. This passage can be interpreted both ways so it makes me wonder if Moses was a murderer? I do not think so because when I read "smite" in this passage I see it as Moses just incapacitating the Mitzri without actually killing him. This makes him an accidental murderer so he has to flee to Midian. I do not think that God would allow a murderer to lead His people, right?

As far as self-defense/intruders, Torah seem to be perfectly clear that you can kill them if they are threatening your life. Yes, there are not too many explicit passages about this but I think any normal person would understand it without any explanation from the text.

For example, my understanding Exodus 22:1-4 is that only a thief is exempt from being killed if the sun was upon him. Torah speaks specifically of a thief. If it is an armed robber then you can kill him at any time on your property (day or night). The issue seem to be of intent and tools with which a perpetrator is armed with.

And as far a warfare goes, Torah does not seem to imply aggression as we were to be priests to the nations, not their conquers. So warfare is allowed only against specifically mentioned nations (i.e Amalek, Cannanites) and for self-defense reasons imho.

Once again, I always check 10 commandments and see what they say. In this case, evil intent is what seem to be the difference between these words and passages.

Sometimes you have to be fluent in the language in order to understand the nuances of particular words and their meaning. Like I said, perhaps in Hebrew this word has slightly different meaning from "smite" so all passages make sense. Like difference between killing and murder in English.

See, say, Deut 19:19, 19:21. Intent is the key. So to me it's clear that if someone wants to murder me (or I have a Torah reason to believe so) I can defend myself with equal violence... Not everything is said explicitly in the Torah so you have to use logic to figure it out. Just because there are no textual passages does not mean it is not right thing to do. It is similar to the mushrooms issue as Torah does not say anything either way about it...

One other thought I had is that the reason it says "murder murderer" in Numbers 35:27 and 35:30 is because of "an eye for an eye" concept defined in Exodus 21:22-25 and Leviticus 24:19-20. Similarly in these verses Torah wants to say "murder for murder" as redeemer of blood is allowed to murder the murderer without a due process and in hate.

So perhaps the 6th commandment(not you shall murder) should be translated as "not you shall murder unlawfully" or "not you shall murder at will". This way it would say in Numb 35:27 "and murders at will redeemer of the blood the murderer at will". However, the seeming contradiction remains. 

My thoughts about homosexuality

Let's talk about sexual perversion/7th commandment, more specifically about homosexuality. It is Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13.

Homosexual behavior is a conscientious CHOICE by those who engage in it. Please note that homosexual orientation is not a matter of choice (although no one knows yet), only the homosexual behavior. So it is the behavior that is the problem - not sexual orientation. I do not see a problem with engaging in homosexual fantasies. Torah is only against homosexuals who go from fantasy to reality and start to engage in such behavior.


For example, I can't find myself a wife. I am straight. It is in my nature. I want to be with a woman. REALLY! But I do not go out and rape anyone or pay for sex, I patiently wait until God would send me someone. I suffer much in the process. Yet for some reason we allow homosexuals to engage in homosexual behavior which is wrong and criminal. Why am I supposed to suffer and they can get away with a crime?

There is a tiny percentage of "natural-born" (those who have gene defect) homosexuals, but even they are perfectly capable of controlling their urges and resisting the need to engage in homosexual behavior. So I do not understand how some people justify their evil and criminal choice?

When I was little, I used to sleep in one bed with my male cousin sometimes, even hug him. It does not mean there was any homosexual subtext to this. Torah is pretty clear that it is only against "lying with a man as with a woman" for sexual purposes. Torah is not against things like children of the same sex may do when they are little.

Women have anuses too, you know. Do you know how many masculine lonely women there are? I am not talking about tomboys. I am talking about women who feel like men. They would make any gay guy happy, as he would them. Unfortunately, in the US we seem to encourage gays to engage in perverted sexual acts that never truly make them happy and just lie to them about how they are merely "born that way." This is just horrible IMHO.

Each commandment in the Written Torah is eternal and never will change. This is one of the most fundamental principles described in the Torah many times over. A homosexual act is indeed an abomination, a word reserved explicitly for sexual crimes and idolatry (these 2 of 10 commandments are related for a reason). We are made in the image of God(Gen 1:26-27), we are the chosen people of God (Deut 7:6) and we are promised to become priests onto the nations (Ex 19:5-6), so we must set an example and lead most moral lifestyle possible even if other people may find it too conservative. Our God is the Creator of the universe, and we must obey His will which is outlined for us in the Written Torah.

God did say that it is not good for a human to be alone (Gen 2:18), but He indeed meant a heterosexual relationship, otherwise, he would've created a boyfriend for Adam as well. Science is also unequivocal that homosexuality has tremendous adverse social and economic impact. I am yet to see a concise and unbiased study that proves that homosexuality is harmless. All I see is propaganda that any reasonably educated person should reject. Also, I do not see where in the Written Torah it says anything about sex? It says "lie", which may include other acts besides intercourse that is done for sexual pleasure. They are also explicitly forbidden by the Torah.

There is absolutely NO WAY to interpret the Written Torah any other way than how we know it. There is nothing in the Torah to support homosexual behavior. On the contrary, the text is super clear on this. So this is the main argument, I guess, against it.

Other arguments against homosexuality are children. Homosexuals do not produce children, which is the most precious commodity that we have. Why would one want to support and encourage dysfunction? Who is going to support homosexuals when they are old? My kids?

Please note that when 2 homosexual men engage in homosexual behavior, 4 (FOUR) children are not being born! When heterosexuals do not produce children, we only losing 2 children.

And I do not think adoption can fix this problem because I do not think that the fact that we have orphans for them is healthy. I think dysfunctional families are just as bad as homosexual behavior and must be dealt with differently. What is being done is just child abuse. You do not want to know what it feels like not to have a mom or a dad. It is very confusing. You do not have anyone to learn from. Where will adopted children of homosexuals learn how to be heterosexuals? Should they learn it on the streets? From dumb friends at school? Where? Or perhaps, they should be homosexuals too?

Another argument is why only homosexual behavior? Why not legalize pedophilia, zoophilia, necrophilia e.t.c... There is absolutely no difference between them. Its all forms of sexual dysfunction and choice (in most cases) so why not be tolerant of it as well? Where do we draw the line? And please spare me BS about consent, because rape or children, animals and corpses (is this one even possible?) is an infrequent occurrence. In most cases, there is some form of mutual consent.

One may try to use the argument that Written Torah is outdated, but then our claim for Canaan and the chosen people claim is also obsolete. One can't pick and choose! Not to mention that Written Torah is absolute logical truth and can't be really argued against by rational people. Written Torah is also eternal and never changing, so there is just no way to justify sexual perversion by the text.

However, gay people should know that they were made in the image of God, so by engaging in homosexual behavior, they are offending His holy image. They are basically saying that creator of the universe likes to take it up the hoo-hoo once in a while ;) Normal rational people understand that this is wrong without all these explanations.

There are countless more reasons why homosexual behavior is wrong, and no legitimate arguments for it. So it is very strange to me that many people are having difficulty accepting these passages in the Written Torah.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Leviticus 18 - Nakedness of one's children

Why exposing nakedness of your sons and daughters is not mentioned?
I was thinking that Lev 18:6 accounts for that but it does not seem to be the case.

What about Lev 18:17, Lev 18:7, Lev 18:22?

I guess one can use Lev 18:22 as a prohibition of exposing nakedness of your son. But what about a daughter? Lev 18:17 speaks about taking both a woman and her daughter so I do not think it is related to exposing nakedness of your daughter. I am not trying to say that it is allowed of'course, but I was thinking about it and there are two things to consider. First, parents would see the nakedness of their children anyway when they young. And also it seems that God allowed that to create Moabites and Ammonites. Also, Adam and Eve most likely had to procreate through some form of incest...

If one was to have sex with a woman and then she had a daughter (i.e., the man's daughter), then he couldn't have sex with the daughter.  The distinction is different regarding the taking of a woman and her daughter/granddaughter when compared with the woman and her sister, because the woman and her sister specifies that it is an issue of both of them being alive, whereas the other does not.  Yes, it would apply for one marrying a woman who already had a daughter by someone else, but there's no reason it wouldn't apply if that daughter was one's own.

I did some checking and I think a proper explanation is as follows: Lev 18:6 says that one should not open nakedness of one's kin (shehayr). If you cross-reference it with Lev 18:12,13; Lev 20:19 and Lev 21:2 you will see that this word is defined as your children as well (you son or your daughter). This, I think, would be proper explanation. I am not sure why I was wondering about it before...

I do not think that "opening nakedness" is euphemistic. What about Noah? The best I can agree upon is that it means intentional "opening of nakedness". If it is unintentional or pure (i.e father looking at his infant daughter when handling her) then it is acceptable.

Ammon and Moab were prohibited from joining the assembly on the basis of their egoism (not greeting Hebrews with bread when they left egypt). Not because they practiced incest.

Also I do wonder about Exodus 6:20. It seems to contradict Lev 18:14 and Lev 20:20. Moses and Aaron came out of this relationship.
Same question I have about Abraham and Sarah. They were kin. 

Perhaps this happened before the Torah was given.  The commands had not been delivered through Moses at that time (Num 15:23), so it is likely not even relevant.  There are other things the patriarchs did that would not have been allowed later as well. However, I do believe that Torah is Eternal Law so it is applicable at all times regardless of its knowledge.

Translating the Name of God

Here is what I think about word "God" and how to translate the word "elohim". It was brought to my attention that the word "God" maybe a name of a deity. Here is a quote from email that I've got:

“The original scriptures does not use the Pagan word of "God".  This was something initiated by the Jesuits.  The translation is wonderful except for... the use of the word "God".”

I considered such possibility however English language does not have a good clean synonym for the word "elohim". If I would translate it as a "creator" or "supreme/divine being" it is not going to be understood by modern reader and in the context of 10 commandments.

As far as I know, there is no evidence to suggest that the word "god" in English is the same as the Semitic word in question which means "divider".  Even so, as far as I am aware, the Semitic word which sounds similar is also a title that was used for many gods just as "god" or "elohim".  

There are lots of claims out there of words being deity names and words that are supposedly derived from deity names when the evidence is simply not there.  I don't know what it is about this issue, but for whatever reason people like to complain about using all these different words while they themselves use them.  In my opinion this poor scholarship leads many to reinterpret Ex 23:13 because they simply believe it is not possible to observe it as it is written.  This is frustrating to me, especially whenever I cite a legitimately confirmed problematic word and it is dismissed along with all of these poorly researched memes.

Obviously I do not consider the word "god" an issue.

I am thinking to translate "Yahweh Elohim" as either "Existing God" or "Yahweh God". In my idiomatic translation I used Yahweh. I also now tend to lean toward transliterating "Yahweh" instead of translating it as it is the name. 

One way to translate "elohim" is "judges" or "powers". This is somewhat reasonable but I think it gets tricky considering the plurality of it.

I am personally in favor of transliterating the Name rather than translating it.  I think the translation is effectively given in Ex 3:14-15.  However, transliterating it isn't going to really work so well considering the vowel pointing is not original and has otherwise been intended to be obscured by the Jews in history, it seems.

In my idiomatic translation I translated "elohim" as "forces". I did consider "powers" but it did not fit well in some places. It is plural and it seems to be an indication of "a power" or "a force".

I do not think one should care about pronunciation of the name because it is my understanding of Exodus 3:14 that He will be known as He will be known, meaning that as long as you referring to One True God of the Torah it would be acceptable to pronounce His name in any way. Some people know Him as Yahweh, some a Yahuah e.t.c.

One translation says "I shall become who I am becoming", so obviously Yahweh talks about His name and obviously the implication is that of irrelevance of the name just for the sake of it. This is how I see it. Ex 3:15 simply gives the whole title, Yahweh, God of your fathers..." etc.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Leviticus 15

Let’s look at Lev 15 in regard to that which is sat upon.  It says repeatedly that in the case of a person with a discharge or a woman on her period that the bed or seat shall defile.  However, at what point does it no longer defile?  I might guess that it would be washed, but there is nothing that actually says that.  Only wooden articles are explicitly stated as needing to be washed (aside from the clothes of the people becoming defiled).  

At one point I thought it meant the seat/bed defiled while the person was on it, but I don't think that's the only case, because it refers to someone bearing that which was sat upon becoming unclean as well.  

I misread a verse and thought that it would continue to defile so long as the person is still defiled, but I don't think that's necessarily textual either.  Would it just become clean at evening with no interference?  Surely it's not unclean forever.

I think that articles or bed remain unclean until it is either washed or purified. I think purification(i.e Numbers 19:14) perhaps is most logical step, although it is not explicitly stated in the Torah.

But I do not think that unclean bedding/articles become clean by themselves. This would not make sense.

I do think that washing the seats/beds in water (like the articles of wood described rather than in terms of purification of the dead) is the next logical step, but it's not explicitly said.
Here is the discussion with Karaites about Lev 15. I asked the question about articles that are unclean. 

“given the source of the issue, there is a difference between objects that are touched and objects sat upon in lev. 15. the objects touched are only unclean if the person didn't wash their hands (וְיָדָיו לֹא-שָׁטַף בַּמָּיִם, v. 11), and the objects sat upon are made unclean just by sitting on them (v. 4). uncleanness is transmitted (by touching), whereas holiness is not - haggai makes this point rhetorically with the priests (hag. 2:10-14). 
my answer to your question is found in v. 12. so, you wash yourself and your clothes if you're unclean, but the objects that are touched are to be broken if they're permeable (i.e., earthen), and washed with water if they're not (i.e., wooden). from the uncleanness of death, we can see the requirement to clean an entire space, as everything in the space in which a person dies becomes unclean, and purified with water and fire (num. 19:18, 31:23). 
when sitting in the chair of a niddah: if you draped a cloth over the chair, then you'd remove and wash the cloth; if not, then you'd wash down the chair.”

One thing in particular I have been thinking is that the permeability distinction is both non-textual and invalid.  While I might understand how someone could come to that conclusion when looking at how metal vs pottery is treated in Lev 11, for example, it simply isn't valid to say that wood and fabric are impermeable.  That is obviously incorrect.  Certain kinds of wood can be less permeable than others, but they certainly are permeable, and fabric is most certainly permeable.  So, for that person to make these distinctions as such and speak as if this is a reality and a fact of what the text says would be incorrect in both senses.

Also, I'm skeptical regarding this "draping a cloth on the chair" thing.  For example, if a woman sits on a chair while she has clothes on, she has a cloth barrier between her and the chair, but I do not think that means that she is not sitting on it.  However, a person's clothes are a person's clothes, and those are treated as a distinct set of entities in the text, so it is certainly arguable.  I would just be hesitant.  

Also, I do not think the hand-washing matter extends beyond its context.

However, my understanding is that earthen object (i.e ceramic plates or cups) can't be cleansed due to the way liquid permeates it, as opposed to wood and fabric. But both wood and fabric does not permeates "bad" enough so as not to be able to be cleansed in water.

Also, I wanted to note that even though beginning of Lev 15 talks about a man and not a woman it still talks about "discharge" (zobe) be that semen or menstruation or something more serious. It is all called "discharge". So it seems that what is written in the beginning of the chapter applies in all circumstances of "discharge".

See Lev 15:23. It seems that it talks about "it" (discharge) (if "its" on bed or article) so I think the point is the discharge itself. In case of the draped chair, it would only work if her discharge did not get through the draped cloth. If it did the chair would obviously be unclean. At the same time if a woman is wearing clothes and uses proper hygiene and if she sits on a draped chair (meaning that her discharge did not get on the drape) I think such workaround is acceptable. 

Concerning permeability, it is very easy to demonstrate in a physical sense that these claims of permeability are invalid.  It is true that earthen objects are permeable, but basically anything can be considered permeable for that matter.  

Stoneware, ceramic, and fired clay are actually considered "impermeable" materials.

You mentioned ceramic:  take a ceramic cup and fill it with water and leave it that way for many days and there will be no apparent absorption into the object.  Dump it out and wipe it off and it will practically be the same as it was before.  However, take a cloth and try to fill it with water, and the water will soak through, saturate it, then drip out almost immediately.  Can a fired earthen object really be said to be more permeable than that cloth?  The cloth becomes soaked!  Wood is a slightly different issue because there is variance depending upon the type of wood and how resinous it is, etc, but if you had a wooden cup and left it soaking in water for a time, it would likely absorb some of the water and possibly deform slightly.  All of these objects are permeable, and of the three mentioned, ceramic is the least.  

However, the issue here is of objects becoming unclean, not about permeability. Apparently Torah claims that earthen vessels (this includes ceramics regardless that it has been through fire) become unclean once touched by unclean things and should be destroyed. I do believe in what Torah says because I do not have a good scientific explanation for it because my knowledge in these areas is limited. However, it does not mean there is not one. Torah talks about pretty advanced things that our society have not discovered yet so I just choose to accept it as truth at this moment.

In case of "zoob"(discharge) the rules seem to be the same concerning the objects. There are different rules when it comes to exposure to such discharge. This seems to be the difference.

Lev 15:23 clearly talks about discharge. The issue is not touching the actual blood (it is mentioned as well btw - Lev 15:24) but touching something that blood came in the contact with. Directly or indirectly - that's debatable. I.e a chair on which a menstruating woman sat…

My personal inclination is to err on the side of caution, especially since it doesn't say that "nidathah" is on the chair/bed/etc. Also, it would seem that "nidathah" is distinct from general discharge, although some of the rules are similar.

Problems with Deuteronomy

Something that has been concerning me recently is what I perceive to be differences from Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers vs Deuteronomy.  Mostly this is regarding the Levites and the tithe.  

Something I've noticed before: In the rebellion of Korah, Moses seems to make it clear that the Levites are not actually the priests (Num 16:9-10), yet in Dt 17:9, 17:18, 18:1, 24:8, etc it could be interpreted as referring to them as such.  Of course, Aaron is a Levite, but the distinction is made quite clear between his family and the tribe at large in the preceding three books.  

More obviously an issue (in my opinion) is the issue of the tithes and the Levites.  Num 18:21 says all of the tithe is for the Levites and that they may eat it anywhere (Num 18:31).  However, Dt 12:17-18 and 14:23 refers to eating the tithe and simply sharing some with the Levite in your gates, not giving it all to the Levites.

Same thing is said regarding firstborn and firstfruits in Dt 12 and 14, yet Dt 18 only refers to firstfruits being the levitical portion.

When Torah says "priests the Levites" it simply emphasizes that only the Priests can eat it. This is because every priest is a Levite but not every Levite is a priest (similar to - every Jew is Hebrew but not every Hebrew is a Jew). The phrase seem to be distinct to Deuteronomy.

I found Deut 12:26-27. Deuteronomy is questionable to me. I do not know how to equalize it with the rest of the Torah. Another thing I noticed that in Deut 12 and 14 it speaks to all congregation - not just the Levites, so maybe that is the case. But it does seem to explicitly contradict itself. 

Regarding the firstborn/tithe/etc, we can compare it to the passover issue.  I'm not sure what I think of the situation and don't reasonably know of a way to reconcile the Levitical portion contradiction.  I do not think it is reasonable to assert that simply because it was shared with the Levites that this would fulfill what was required in Numbers, because they are supposed to be receiving it in full to be eaten where they wish.  I haven't thought of any explanation that can actually resolve this.

Now, I did notice in Dt 18:4 that the firstfruits are said to belong to Levi, which was implied in Dt 12:16-17 as being eaten by the people in general.  Not sure what to think of that exactly.  I’ve checked the SP in a few places and noticed no significant variation.  I checked the Septuagint, and it has a slightly varied wording but the issue is not changed.  It says to "bring" the tithe, etc, to the place, which is absent from the Hebrew, and I initially thought maybe the rest would say differently and maybe say that "it will be eaten" (i.e., Levites shall eat it), but it still read similarly to the Hebrew otherwise (you shall eat).  So no real answer there I guess.

Deuteronomy is indeed problematic. There are other issues as well if I remember correctly. For example, Deuteronomy provides different account of journeying of the Hebrews in the desert. And other minor things.

The journey description near the beginning of Deuteronomy seemed odd.  I did compare it and thought it was arguable that it was able to be reconciled, but it was definitely odd how things were explained.  For example, how it describes the Levites being separated seemed inconsistent with the timing and reason given in the preceding books.  Same for the death of Aaron to some extent in that it seemed to be conveying that he died much earlier (if I remember correctly).

Unfortunately, all primary sources seem to match so there is no obvious way to reconcile it.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

More about Sukkot

Check out the differences between Lev 23:40 and Neh 8:15 and their surrounding verses.  

Obviously Nehemiah is from the NK but it's a curious matter.  The lists are not the same ("fruit" being used in Lev, for example), and also the Nehemiah one says that they are to make the sukkot from the branches whereas Leviticus lacks that statement.

What does it mean to "sit in sukkot" (Lev 23:42)?  I would imagine it is likely figurative at least in part (as it usually is), but that is a very broad scope of possible meanings.

What is a sukkah?  One thing that stands out to me is Lev 23:43 saying that He caused Israel to dwell in them "in My causing them to go forth".  The other example in the Torah of that wording is Ex 16:32, and presumably around that time they were living in tents (Ex 16:16).  What is the distinction being made?  Are they practically speaking the same as each other (sukka vs tent) or is there a non-overlapping definition?  Did Israel very initially live in huts as they escaped Pharaoh and did they only acquire tents later?  Is there any connection between the sukkot themselves and the list of branches and fruit, etc?

NK can't be trusted so I do not care for it and I would advise everyone to concentrate on the Torah only. 

Lev 23:40 uses several terms that IMHO means branches of those trees mentioned. So I think it is basically a matter of figuring out what these words mean.

To dwell in sukkot means to live in it as you would in a tent. I.e sleeping, eating and being present there during the day as you would in your house. This is my current assessment of the verse. 

Basically, from my understanding, sukkah is a shelter of branches and leaves. When I was little, I used to make those in the woods all the time. The difference between Tent and sukkah is in the materials IMHO. Tent uses fabric (i.e goat's hair), while sukkah uses leaves. I do not think Hebrews lived in sukkas when they left Egypt, however it is a possibility. I am not sure about that.

I found one verse where the word seem to mean "shelter" or "covering" - its Ex 40:3.

Trout and Mushrooms (Kosher or not?)

Trout most definitely does have scales.  It is kosher. With Trout, I think the problem is the species. As far as I can tell some of them have scales and some of them don't.

There is no prohibition on mushrooms.  I know that "seed bearing" plant is referenced in Genesis and this is the argument I've seen used regarding mushrooms being not ok, but I think that is invalid.  If we go by that as our basis for what is acceptable, then exclusively seed bearing plants and clean animals would be allowed.  Dirt, salt, and yeast, for example, would be prohibited by that understanding.  However, the law itself makes it clear that dirt and salt and yeast are allowed because they are commanded in certain cases.  There is no indication that fungi are disallowed or unclean or anything. 

Can the word "herbage" (osheb) mean mushrooms as well? The problem is, some mushrooms are poisonous, whereas "herbage" by traditional definition is not.

"osheb" does not have a clear definition I don't think (based upon available resources).  It is generally used as vegetation of some sort for food for man and beast, but I don't know that it has that exclusive meaning.  I don't know that it couldn't include something poisonous (as what is poisonous to man or animal can vary, some foods for one are poisons to another).  Does the word include fungi?  I don't know.  I don't perceive it as relevant either way.

In Gen 1:11 "herbage" is what God made to sprout, so I am assuming that mushrooms (fungi) were included. At the same time, in other places it says "herbage of the field" in which case this would exclude mushrooms as they do not usually grow in the field. 

I know this is not an argument, but lately I was hesitant to eat mushrooms because they tasted funny to me. Particularly marinaded mushrooms. I noticed that marinaded mushrooms produce slime which is not a good sign in my opinion. I've noticed that everything that has slimy, mushy, fatty taste is usually not kosher. 
Some mushrooms are poisonous so this also a bad sign. Just because something is not commanded in the Torah does not necessarily makes it clean.

Another example would be pork. Pork is prohibited yet it is not poisonous really. By this logic, just because a mushroom is not poisonous does not mean it is ok to eat. Non-poisonous mushrooms can be just as bad as pork in the long run.

Another thing I know is that fungi (not mushrooms - mold) is considered bad. See Lev 14:33-37

Yeast is a good example. But I think it does not matter because it is explicitly mentioned in the Torah in different capacities so I think yeast can be classified as an explicit exemption.

Concerning mushrooms, I believe they are allowed and there is no command prohibiting them. I think the answer to this question is in the Torah somewhere. Just need to find it as usual. Any thoughts would be appreciated. 

Regarding mushrooms, some are poisonous.  This is indeed the case.  However, there are many fruits and plants that are poisonous as well, sometimes even making people deathly ill, and those are indeed seed-bearing.  Now, if one has awareness, they are theoretically easier to differentiate than fungi are, but it is the case regardless. Also, fungi is naturally present in dirt even if it does not immediately form a fruiting body, and dirt is consumed in the jealousy ritual. But do not think that dirt is ok because it is mentioned in the jealousy ritual. I think it is rather an exception. I do not think that Torah implies that dirt is clean and ok to eat. That would not make sense.

I still hold that the actual commandments (Lev 11) have no prohibition on such things, including fungi.  The only basis for something that's not an animal becoming unclean involves the presence of a dead unclean animal.  Even then, there is no general prohibition on eating something unclean.  The general prohibitions are regarding not eating from specific animals that are unclean and not becoming defiled by them.

I still think that dirt is rather an exception. I also checked Numbers 5:17 and it says that it's not just any dirt but the dirt from "the floor of the Tabernacle", meaning this is a "holy dirt" if you will. 

There is no indication that something to be eaten in general purpose (i.e., I'm not referring to the tabernacle rituals, etc) can be unclean and therefore should not be eaten aside from the presence of a dead unclean animal.  Apart from ritual, there's no indication that anything like certain plants or fungi or minerals or anything of that sort are inherently unclean and prohibited from being eaten.

Salt is another example.  Salt is commanded to be used in offerings. 

Salt is considered an essential commodity and food related product (not in the text but by society).  

Generally it is completely inorganic and unrelated to animals or seed bearing plants.  It is either mined or evaporated, yet we eat it.  

Same way with baking soda, etc, but that's not commanded to be used.

Where does Genesis allow for minerals to be eaten?

Torah says that we are capable of differentiating between good and evil so I am assuming this applies to things that I have discussed (mushrooms, baking soda, e.t.c) meaning that it's up to us to determine if these things are good or bad. That would be the most logical explanation. But at the same time it would be nice to find something explicit in the Torah to support this.


Friday, December 25, 2015

More about birds

The actual word "bird" is "sefor" (Deut 14:11). Another word that is being used is "ofe" "flyer" (Deut 14:19). See also Gen 7:14 where most of these are used together.

So I was thinking that the clue is somewhere here. Something to do with wings/feathers. 

I.e. perhaps those birds that can't fly are considered clean? (Deut 14:11)

One may interpret that birds which cannot fly are inherently unclean.  They would likely be considered movers (sherets), such as Lev 11:29, since they are not actually flyers (owph).

At the same time, Levt 11:29 talks primarily about locusts and such. It seems that insects are called flyers, while the birds are called "birds". I was more referring to the birds like chicken who can't really fly. The long distances that is...
But now when I am thinking about it, what about doves? Ducks? Its all so unclear :(

Both birds and insects are called flyers.  11:13 "from the flyer...the eagle...etc" , 11:21 "from every of mover of the flyer...the locust..."

Regarding doves, I don't know.

Regarding ducks, I'd think it's pretty likely they'd be unclean, considering there is a list of aquatic birds prohibited that we can translate from the LXX (11:18), if it's accurate anyway (I might translate it as flamingo, pelican, swans).

Personally I do not think that turkeys are "suspicious" so much, it is just that we do not have the awareness of the entirety of the translations for the birds in Hebrew.  Therefore, turkeys and chickens I would say that I don't know if they are clean or not.  If I was just to guess, I would guess clean, but that is knowing that I cannot make a truly legitimate guess without having further evidence from the language (maybe one of these prohibited and untranslated ones is a chicken or something, who knows).  However, in regard to duck, I think duck is very likely unclean with the awareness that seems to be present (if swans are prohibited, there's not really much significant difference other than ducks being cuter, in my opinion).

Regarding the LXX, I might add that the meanings of the Greek words are not clear in many cases as well.

Turkeys look more like geese, although they can't swim. So perhaps this is why they are clean. Also, i think if chicken is clean, turkey also should be clean. I am not sure.

Ducks appear to me unclean as they are water birds, just like a swan. At the same time, ducks are not scavengers like seagulls. So maybe ducks are clean after all? Ducks have different beaks than swans.

I checked the LXX and I could not find any connection among the names mentioned there. 

All scavengers are unclean.
I believe that I have a lack of knowledge to interpret in properly. All I know that there has to be some kind of connection, at least for "clean birds". In other words I am looking for a clue similar to a hoof split with cattle. Anyone?

Neither Leviticus or Deuteronomy seem to give such a generalization for birds, unlike all other types of animals (cloven hooves + rumination, fins + scales, legs hinged above for leaping).  Birds treated uniquely in that respect in the Torah, and while it is possible that a generalization would exist, in all likelihood that generalization is simply going to be "Not [this type], not [this type], and not [this type]".  

From my experience, when I do not understand Torah or think that "there is not enough information", it is usually me who is having a problem. So even though, at this time, there are no apparent clues, I most certainly believe that they are there and it is just a matter of time when someone will figure it out.

About Sukkot

Concerning Lev 23:40,Nehemiah 8:15 asserts that the taking is in order "to make booths", but that's not actually said in the Torah even though Nehemiah implies that it is (furthermore, the listing of what is to be "taken" does not coincide with the list in Neh 8:15, such as in Lev the first one is "fruit of tree of honor", not just branches or foliage).  So basically, the Torah says on the first day we are to "take", and then "rejoice" for seven days.  The commands regarding living in sukkot are separated from this verse so inferring some presumed connection would require potentially overlooking that.

I am not sure what "sukkot" are. There is a clue in Exodus 40:3 but I am not sure how to translate it. Therefore I stick with the traditional opinion that these plants were taken in order to make booths (or huts) and that they were not a separate commandment from living in booths.

The best English translation would be "shelter of branches". In Russian language there is a single word equivalent to the Hebrew word ("шалаш").

Thursday, December 24, 2015

About Condoms

For example - Lev 15:24 or Lev 12:4

Does this mean that I can have sex in a condom during these forbidden times? I do not think so...

Regarding 15:24, no, because one would still be lying with the woman and it's very likely to be "on him" regardless of condom presence.

Regarding 12:4, or rather, 12:2-5, I would think that the male child period of separation would be "seven days, as days of isolation of her languishing" and female would be "[two] weeks as her isolation".  Those time periods would be treated similarly to the menstrual period otherwise.  I think the time of the "bloods of cleansing" is a different issue.

There is also Lev 15:18, Lev 18:20, Lev 19:20

It seems to me that by using a condom a woman can avoid being unclean which nullifies the commandments in these verses.

At the same time, "lying seed" or "lying to seed" is what is said, nothing about needing to shoot the seed directly into her and not a condom.  No commandment is seem to be nullified either way. 

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.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Differences between Samaritan Pentateuch manuscripts

Here are my thoughts in regard to my preference between different available SP manuscripts/editions, and my thoughts about notable differences between them.

I use Kennicott edition as it seems to be the most objective one. Plus it has tons of variant readings for both MT and SP which is very useful.

von Gall SP can be used too but I didn't like it due to the font that was used in the book. Hard to read.

Generally, I consider manuscripts that were written/published before Zionism and creation of the State of Israel as the most authentic ones. 

There is an elusive Abisha scroll that claims to be the oldest and the most authoritative one, but it's not available so I would not know...

From what I can tell SP was never standardized as MT so all SP manuscripts will be different and therefore there is no really any specific versions that can be considered superior.

There are mostly orthographic differences between the SP manuscripts. I do remember small differences in wording, but I could not find it to give an example and as I recall they were minor (it would not really change the meaning of the text, kinda like qetiv/kere differences in MT).

About a NY State quarter (2nd Commandment / Idols)

When I am in doubt I always turn to the Decalogue.

In this case I rely on Exodus 20:4-5...

So lets say I have one of those questionable coins..

1) Did I make it for myself? No
2) Do I bow to and serve this idol? No
Conclusion - Its not the idol. 

At the same time, there is Deuteronomy 7:25-26.  These verses do not require one to make it for themselves or to serve it.  It refers to desiring the silver or gold, presumably implying one is not to even make any use of it whatsoever.

It says in the beginning of the chapter (Deut 7:1-5) that you would do it when you conquer enemy territory. Also, in Deut 7:25 it says "take for you"... so again... Do I desire gold and silver it is made from? No. Do I take it for myself? No. Yes, I do bring it into my house, but its not for a purpose of worship, neither these coins are the spoils of war. Plus I am in exile and I am a stranger in the land and its not my (and Torah/God's) land.

Deuteronomy 7 indeed refers to Canaan, but would one argue that an image from Canaan is an abomination but an image from somewhere else is not?  V. 25-26 says these are abominations to YHWH, and not to bring such an abomination into the house.  One is desiring the value that a coin has (similar to "delighting in the gold and silver") and keeping it/using it for that value.  I would say this is prohibited by that passage, and that the passage is speaking further than just in regard to worship.

I think the problem lies in the definition of the "graven" and "molten" images. I use the 10 commandments as a reference point because they were written in stone and (as I understand it) is a bare minimum required for observance. Verses of Deuteronomy simply expand on the idea. However, everywhere I looked it appeared that "an image/representation" is only considered an abomination when it's being bowed down to and served to. I do not think Torah implies that all works of art (particularly stone sculptures and molten sculptures) are in any way an abomination. 

If we would have a Christian god on the coin, then it would be clear without any reservations. However, since we are talking about some obscure Roman deity that no one really worship (or bows down to) here in US, I do not think these Torah verses can be applied here. Just because of a few neo-pagan wackos that happen to worship it (which I doubt), does not mean that it is a deity.

To be honest I see this problem as a gray area. I am not sure if I am correct.

There are  Numb 21:8-9 and 2 Kings 18:4? 

Carvings/castings of forms in general are not what are prohibited.  The example of the serpent is a good demonstration.  The issue is whether it is deemed "elohim".  The serpent was not initially that, but it soon was treated as a deity, and so it was seemingly rightfully destroyed according to 2 Kings.

It seems that a being (specifically an image of that being) that was once worshiped can achieve a point in time where it is no longer considered a deity, assuming the worship of it is no longer popular.  This is incorrect perspective for a number of reasons.  For one thing, if something was created as an image of a deity, it would inherently be a "carving" or "casting", from my understanding.  If the people become apathetic and no longer worship it, I see no precedent for it to no longer be treated as such.  By its very definition it was an image of an elohim, whether the people believe in it or not (that god isn't real regardless). 

The most obvious idol cast into American coinage would seem to be a very real object of worship, even if people do not "know" that it is a Roman god or "worship" it in the sense of burning incense/etc.  If I recall correctly, its name is printed on every coin minted in the US and it has multiple images that are cast into coins which are not circulated (such as precious metals).  In CA, it may not be treated this way as much, but I remember people holding that image to be very important especially back around 9/11.

Ultimately, from my understanding, these images were originally created to be images of elohim, therefore they would be idols, even if people decide to not worship them and just treat them as "symbolic" images (which ultimately would connect with an elohim idea anyway). 

So destroy/dispose of the New York quarters.  I also strongly question the Pennsylvania and New Mexico quarters...Pennsylvania has a woman statue on it that seems deity-like in its description, so I strongly question it, and NM has a religious sun symbol but I couldn't find much information on whether it was actually worshiped.  So I'd destroy/dispose of them.  

Then what I do to keep from getting more is to ask for dimes back instead of quarters at the store.  "Could you give me dimes back?" I check my quarters if I get change back at a store with them and then just leave/exchange them if they're one of the problem ones. You can also use debit/credit cards so you do not have to handle questionable objects.

Concerning presidents, etc, I wouldn't think they would be elohim in that sense.  I wouldn't think actual paper bills would be any issue since they're not carvings/castings.

There is also Connecticut quarter with a tree on it (Charter Oak), that can be considered a carving of "asherim" (Deut 7:5). But I don't think this one would be a problem, since I didn't see any indications of worshiping it or treating it as any sort of being (let alone supernatural) and it would not seem to be a carving either.  

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Conjoined twins problem

Kind of a weird theoretical situation: how does Torah handle situations with conjoined twins?  For example, what about marrying conjoined twins?  In my opinion it would depend on what exactly was going on and how they were conjoined, such as situations where there is only one set of sexual organs.  I would think a man could marry a conjoined set of twins in the case he was only having sex with one of them.  

Conjoined twins situation is unlikely in a perfect Torah world because it would be considered an "Egyptian malady" (Deut. 28:59-61). 

Also, there are medical options. At least today.

I guess if I would go completely hypothetical, I think in case of 1 set of organs you can marry them as a normal (one) person. But if there is two sets of organs then the usual laws about marrying siblings apply. 

Ex 15:26 is another relevant passage.

I had watched some documentary about a set of twins that they didn't think they could surgically separate, or something like that.  Anyway, it's a very rare situation, and I guess the answer would be that one would have to distinguish as to which one he married and which one he did not. 

Another odd situation I read about was with a woman whose reproductive system had different DNA than the rest of her body.  This was discovered due to a genetic test on her children concluding that she wasn't the mother.  A partially absorbed twin I guess.  In that situation, I think practically speaking it would still be "her", as it is theoretically her body, though it is an even more unusual situation I think.

Anyway, these are just extreme situations, though probably not as extreme as some of the rabbinic theoretical situations in the Talmud, like when women give birth to animals and stuff like that…

I think Torah identifies problems by external factors (i.e. Deut 23:1). I do not think DNA matters here. If you have a penis you are a male or if you have a vagina you are a female.
So in case of conjoined twins, you have to distinguish which one you marry but it is only in the case of separate sexual organs. 

The 5th Commandment

Here is my opinion regarding Lev 19:3 regarding fearing parents.  

Check out my ten commandments page. It shows the hierarchy of the commandments as I understand it.

So basically, your should fear/honor your parents ONLY if they follow Torah and worship One True God. If they dont, then you are free from the command.

Check out Deut 33:9 - the explicit answer is right there.

At the same time, I'm hesitant to make any claims regarding command priority, especially when dealing with things which would be deemed implicit commands (i.e., saving life).  Also I do not think that parents' non-observance entails not honoring them.  Honoring them would not necessarily require one to follow their way of life or obey them.  I'm just unsure about what "fearing" would entail.

Dt 33:9 is interesting in this context, though I would hesitate to enforce that as a permission to not obey certain commands.

I do understand the concept of there being a priority of God before parents, so it would make sense that their lack of that priority would cause some potential interference whenever trying to honor or fear.  I'm not sure how one is to "fear" one's parents when one might not respect the paradigm of parents (e.g., in the case of observance and non-observance).

I think there still is applicability to those two commands even in the case of them being non-observant.  I'm just not sure how, especially in regard to "fear".

There is explicit reference (although parents are not explicitly mentioned) in Deut 13:6-11 as well.

Monday, December 21, 2015

About Manna and Value of an Omer

Here is a little bit about Manna, Omer and Shew-bread, all of which are related and important because they define units of measure.

Let's take a look at Manna first. Its Exodus 16.
YLT Ex 16:14 and the lying of the dew goeth up, and lo, on the face of the wilderness a thin, bare thing, thin as hoar-frost on the earth. 
YLT Ex 16:15 And the sons of Israel see, and say one unto another,  'What is it?'  for they have not known what it is; and Moses saith unto them,  'It is the bread which Jehovah hath given to you for food. 
YLT Ex 16:16  'This is the thing which Jehovah hath commanded: Gather of it each according to his eating, an omer for a poll; and the number of your persons, take ye each for those in his tent.'
I could not White Coriander(Ex 16:31) at my local store, but I found brown. Its the same size and everything but a different color.

Torah says to gather an Omer of Manna per person. What is the Omer? It is very simple...

1 Omer = 1 Handfuls

Here is the picture. This is a handfuls or 1 Omer of Coriander. 

As you can see from pictures below, 1 Handfuls or 1 Omer of an average male adult is about 1 US Cup or 236g or 8oz assuming 1:1 Manna grain to flour ratio. This is about how much Manna was kept in the Holy of Holies (Ark Room) of the Tabernacle as Exodus 16:33 states. This was Aaron's Manna Omer - an omer of Priestly Moshiach(anointed one).

My 1 Omer = 236g. Yours will be different. Omer is a variable value but Aaron's value was taken as standard. This value is lost to us because the jar of manna that was in the Tabernacle has not survived.

1 Omer = 8oz
1 Omer = 1 US Cup

Handfuls of barley is the same:

As you can see from pictures above, this was the daily allowance of bread (Manna) of Hebrews during the desert wanderings.

The next two verses are very important. Let's take a look:
YLT Ex 16:17 And the sons of Israel do so, and they gather, he who is gathering much, and he who is gathering little; 
YLT Ex 16:18 and they measure with an omer, and he who is gathering much hath nothing over, and he who is gathering little hath no lack, each according to his eating they have gathered.
This basically is the proof of the fact that 1 Omer = 1 Handfuls. As far as I understand this passage, it means that children and women would gather less Manna because their hands and thus handfuls are smaller. This is why "he who is gathering much hath nothing over, and he who is gathering little hath no lack"

Now, let's see how much actual bread could be made out of 1 Omer of Manna.

According to this and this web sites average Bread to Flour ratio is 176%. Assuming consistency of Manna = Wheat, and simple Bread Recipie (Wheat Floor, Water, Yeast, Salt) we would get 176% of 236g = ~ 415g or ~15oz of Baked Bread. This is about 1100 calories (according to USDA), while according to this web site, the recommended daily bread intake is 250g. 

This means that Manna was at least 50% of daily diet of Hebrews in the desert and it was more than sufficient. 

This is of'course is based on the assumption that Hebrews ate other things as well. They definitely had flocks and money to trade since different produce was required for Tabernacle offerings, so they must have eaten something else besides Manna. Perhaps little vegetables and little meat. 

However, according to this web site, a minimum number of calories that is required not to starve is 1200, so as you can see, even if Hebrews ate only Manna, daily allowance of 1 Omer was sufficient to survive.

Just like Cubit, Omer is also based on dimensions of human body parts. Cubit is defined by forearm, Omer is defined by handfuls.

Leviticus 21:12

Let’s take a look at Lev 21:12.  

I could not find exact verse because I forgot, but perhaps Lev 16:4?

As far as I understand as long as a priest is dressed in a Priestly Garments, he can't go beyond Tabernacle courtyard. I think this is it. 

During the transportation of the Tabernacle a priest would be dressed in his own, normal garments.

I was thinking of that as a possibility (remove garments to leave the court) but I have not found adequate textual support yet.

There is Lev 6:11, referring to going outside the camp.

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