Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Psalm 90 and the surgical strike on this new year's day

John Hobbins writes on Facebook
Often - not always - our military intervention, or the mere threat of it (and you can't have a credible threat without a proven willingness to use one's capabilities), has saved lives and secured peace sooner rather than later.
On this I must insist that there has to be a different way to save lives and secure peace. While I agree with him that
a more pertinent criticism might be that we stabilized monsters like Saddam Hussein and the Assads for far too long.
We not only stabilized them, we set them up 100 years ago.

But to return to Syria in the last 8 years, what if there had been an earlier intervention say in 2006 when the famine began.  (See Polk here)
Syria has been convulsed by civil war since climate change came to Syria with a vengeance. Drought devastated the country from 2006 to 2011.  Rainfall in most of the country fell below eight inches (20 cm) a year, the absolute minimum needed to sustain un-irrigated farming. Desperate for water, farmers began to tap aquifers with tens of thousands of new well.  But, as they did, the water table quickly dropped to a level below which their pumps could lift it..... 
the Syrian government made the situation much worse by its next action. Lured by the high price of wheat on the world market, it sold its reserves. In 2006, according to the US Department of Agriculture, it sold 1,500,000 metric tons or twice as much as in the previous year.  
What if the international community had prevented Syria from selling their food surplus? Would this not have led to saving lives and also have been an affront to the market forces that led Syria to such unwise action? Where was Joseph when we needed him?  If you are going to have a Pharaoh - and they are a-plenty in the Middle East, then you need a Joseph - not a bigger Pharaoh.

As I was pondering these things I was reading Psalm 90 on this New Year - שנה טובה to my friends in the Hebrew world. So given that time is a theme in Psalm 90, I wondered how God might establish the deeds of our hands verse 17.  Read this with me and think about how we might avoid the failure of Monarchy (Psalm 89) and move to a sustainable action that contributes to an economy that supports people rather than killing them. I have bolded the verses that jumped out at me.

90 - of transient change

תְּפִלָּה לְמֹשֶׁה אִישׁ הָאֱלֹהִים
אֲדֹנָי מָעוֹן אַתָּה הָיִיתָ לָּנוּ
בְּדֹר וָדֹר
1A prayer of Moses the man of God
My Lord, a habitation you yourself have become for us
from generation to generation
בְּטֶרֶם הָרִים יֻלָּדוּ
וַתְּחוֹלֵל אֶרֶץ וְתֵבֵל
וּמֵעוֹלָם עַד עוֹלָם אַתָּה אֵל
2from ere mountains were born
or you birthed earth and world
and even from everlasting to everlasting you are God
תָּשֵׁב אֱנוֹשׁ עַד דַּכָּא
וַתֹּאמֶר שׁוּבוּ בְנֵי אָדָם
3you turn a mortal to contrition
and you say Turn children of humanity
כִּי אֶלֶף שָׁנִים בְּעֵינֶיךָ
כְּיוֹם אֶתְמוֹל כִּי יַעֲבֹר
וְאַשְׁמוּרָה בַלָּיְלָה
4for a thousand years in your eyes
are like a recent day that is over
and a watch in the night
זְרַמְתָּם
שֵׁנָה יִהְיוּ
בַּבֹּקֶר כֶּחָצִיר יַחֲלֹף
5you inundate them
sleep they become
in the morning as grass renews
בַּבֹּקֶר יָצִיץ וְחָלָף
לָעֶרֶב יְמוֹלֵל וְיָבֵשׁ
6in the morning it blossoms and renews
of the evening it is cut down and dries up

כִּי כָלִינוּ בְאַפֶּךָ
וּבַחֲמָתְךָ נִבְהָלְנוּ
7for we are consumed in your anger
and in your heat we are vexed
שַׁתָּה עֲו‍ֹנֹתֵינוּ לְנֶגְדֶּךָ
עֲלֻמֵנוּ לִמְאוֹר פָּנֶיךָ
8you put our iniquities before you
our dissembling in the light of your face

כִּי כָל יָמֵינוּ פָּנוּ בְעֶבְרָתֶךָ
כִּלִּינוּ שָׁנֵינוּ כְמוֹ הֶגֶה
9for all our days face away from your fury
we consume our years as a mutter
יְמֵי שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ
בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה
וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת
שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה
וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן
כִּי גָז חִישׁ
וַנָּעֻפָה
10the days of our years
in them a seventy year span
and if valiant
an eighty year span
but their boldness is toil and mischief
for they scurry past
and we fly away
מִי יוֹדֵעַ עֹז אַפֶּךָ
וּכְיִרְאָתְךָ עֶבְרָתֶךָ
11Who knows the strength of your anger
and according to your fear your fury?
לִמְנוֹת יָמֵינוּ כֵּן הוֹדַע
וְנָבִא לְבַב חָכְמָה
12To apportion our days so make us know
that we may come to the heart of wisdom
שׁוּבָה יְהוָה עַד מָתָי
וְהִנָּחֵם עַל עֲבָדֶיךָ
13Turn יְהוָה, how long?
And be comforted over your servants

שַׂבְּעֵנוּ בַבֹּקֶר חַסְדֶּךָ
וּנְרַנְּנָה וְנִשְׂמְחָה בְּכָל יָמֵינוּ
14satisfy us in the morning of your kindness
and we will shout for joy and be glad in all our days
שַׂמְּחֵנוּ כִּימוֹת עִנִּיתָנוּ
שְׁנוֹת רָאִינוּ רָעָה
15Make us glad for days you afflicted us
years we have seen evil

יֵרָאֶה אֶל עֲבָדֶיךָ פָעֳלֶךָ
וַהֲדָרְךָ עַל בְּנֵיהֶם
16Let your work appear to your servants
and your honour upon their children
וִיהִי נֹעַם אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ עָלֵינוּ
וּמַעֲשֵׂה יָדֵינוּ כּוֹנְנָה עָלֵינוּ
וּמַעֲשֵׂה יָדֵינוּ כּוֹנְנֵהוּ
17And let the pleasure of the Lord our God be upon us
and the deeds of our hands establish upon us
and the deeds of our hands establish
Hebrew words: 140. Percentage of Hebrew words that recur in this psalm: 54%. Average keywords per verse: 4.4.
Selected recurring words
Note the pair of long circular structures in this poem. These begin at verse 11 and 12 and can be traced through the diagonal lines that use several words in reverse sequence. Note also the focus of the poem on knowing, seeing/appearing, and finally the works of our hands establishing

Word and gloss * first usage123456789101234567892012345678VsRoot
האלהים God
1אלוה
אדני My Lord
1אדון
אתה yourself
1אתה
היית you have become
1היה
בדר from generation
1דור
ודר to generation
1דור
ומעולם and even from everlasting
2עלם
עד to
2עד
עולם everlasting
2עלם
אתה you are
2אתה
אל God
2אל
תשׁב you turn
3שׁוב
עד to
3עד
שׁובו turn
3שׁוב
בני children of
3בן
כי for
4כי
שׁנים years
4שׁנה
כיום are like a day
4יום
כי that
4כי
יעבר is over
4עבר
יהיו they become
5היה
בבקר in the morning
5בקר
* יחלף renews
5חלף
בבקר in the morning
6בקר
* וחלף and renews
6חלף
כי for
7כי
כלינו we are consumed
7כלה
באפך in your anger
7אף
עלמנו our dissembling
8עלם
פניך your face
8פנה
כי for
9כי
כל all
9כל
ימינו our days
9יום
פנו face away
9פנה
בעברתך from your fury
9עבר
כלינו we consume
9כלה
שׁנינו our years
9שׁנה
ימי the days of
10יום
שׁנותינו our years
10שׁנה
שׁנה a year span
10שׁנה
שׁנה a year span
10שׁנה
כי for
10כי
יודע knows
11ידע
אפך your anger
11אף
עברתך your fury
11עבר
ימינו our days
12יום
הודע make us know
12ידע
שׁובה turn
13שׁוב
עד long
13עד
על over
13על
עבדיך your servants
13עבד
בבקר in the morning of
14בקר
ונשׂמחה and be glad
14שׂמח
בכל in all
14כל
ימינו our days
14יום
שׂמחנו make us glad
15שׂמח
כימות for days
15יום
שׁנות years
15שׁנה
ראינו we have seen
15ראה
יראה let appear
16ראה
אל to
16אל
עבדיך your servants
16עבד
על upon
16על
בניהם their children
16בן
ויהי and let be
17היה
אדני the Lord
17אדון
אלהינו our God
17אלוה
עלינו upon us
17על
ומעשׂה and the deeds of
17עשׂה
ידינו our hands
17יד
כוננה establish
17כון
עלינו upon us
17על
ומעשׂה and the deeds of
17עשׂה
ידינו our hands
17יד
כוננהו establish
17כון
PSALMS 90
Last printed on 2013.09.04-12:36