Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Yad Vashem - unexpected knowledge of its provenance

I had been wondering for 4 years where the name Yad Vashem had come from. I did not know that this phrase was in the Bible (and though I was wondering, I obviously didn't work at it). The use of Yad (hand) in this context combined with Shem (name - the va is a connector) occurs at least twice according to his pointer, 2 Samuel 18:18 and Isaiah 56:5.

In the King James Version, in both passages, the idiom for Yad is rendered as a place and in Isaiah, Shem is a name. It is easy to see though how memory and reputation is contained in these English glosses. In the Jerusalem Bible 1962, 2 Samuel is rendered Absalom's pillar (Yad!), implying that pillar is repeated 3 times in the verse (though the Hebrew for pillar only appears twice). Nonetheless, the concept of memorial is contained in such an image.

(There are a few other verses where Yad is rendered as place in the KJV:  Numbers 2:17, Deuteronomy 2:37, 23:12,  1 Samuel 15:12,  Jeremiah 6:3,  Ezekiel 21:19. This list is courtesy of the Blue Letter Bible which I have discovered allows search in multiple languages but only for verses so it gets some false positives. Still this is a fine feature, in spite of the sometimes limiting nature of the Strong's identifier. I don't know anywhere else that you could search simultaneously in both the host and the guest languages like this. My links to the Common Jewish Bible are from the Biblegateway - #bgbg2. You can compare other translations there - but note that place does not appear in their glosses for any of these verses.)

Verses out of context, whether literally or freely translated, do not carry their full weight, but the weight of this concept of remembering is carried by the name of the Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem, a place which Diana and I visited in 2010.

Of course memory and knowledge of memory is central to the Bible's message and through the process of sacrament, memory is central also to Jewish and Christian worship. Memory is an explicit component of the Name of God YHWH as we saw in yesterday's post. Remembering is also a theme in the Psalms, particularly Psalms 6, 38, 70, and 137. It is there in the feast of Passover and the making present of the past that is in that tradition. And it is clear in the Eucharist, making present the death of Jesus.

Remembering is more than an idle thought.

My stimulus for this post is here from Jim Davila.  And here is the music for the two passages - hah!