Sunday, March 22, 2015

God's affairs

Bob your glosses are weird. Undoubtedly. Perhaps they will grow in creative weirdness as I continue learning. I am continually struck by words that I have seen many times yet they are invisible and inaudible to me. It's a long journey, and when I return to where I started perhaps I will then know the place for the first time. (Someone famous, T.S. Eliot, already said as much somewhere).

It might be something as simple as wall - and I, Flute, shall play 'wall'. No, it's not a Twitter chink, but when is a wall protective and when is it a barrier. Wall as שׁורה, from שׁור, meaning dubious, i e. no one knows, and both are seldom used, is distinct from wall, חומה, frequently used as um, well, wall. Ordinary plain old generic wall. Should I make sure they don't overlap - of course. God forbid I should remove the dubious from an ancient text.

Or it might be the word work, referring to God's resting from his work on the seventh day. But, surprise, (I had not read this bit of the Bible before) (In Hebrew at least), this work is not the same as God's other regular work, פעל, many times in the psalms. In Genesis is it the word, מאלכה, derived from the word for messenger or angel. There are several words traditionally translated work in the Hebrew Bible and not all of them are equal, just as work, toil, drudgery, affairs, business, doings, and so on are not all equal in English. Toil, אמל, is a favorite for Qohelet. עשה, make, do, construct (my thought) is commonly translated as work also. So my readings attempt to fan out words from Hebrew to English but never confuse two Hebrew words to reduce them to the same English word. So - what sort of 'business affairs' does God have in his Genesis construction process? It is used several times in Genesis 2:1-3 and only once in the Psalms (73, last verse).

But I myself approach God - to me, good
I have set my Lord Yahweh as my refuge
so I will be able to recount all your affairs.

As is typical, the Psalmist switches person in the middle of a sentence. Just take it in stride.

Here's the seventh day section
וַיְכֻלּ֛וּ הַשָּׁמַ֥יִם וְהָאָ֖רֶץ וְכָל־צְבָאָֽם
1
And the heavens and the earth were finished and all their hosts.
15
22
וַיְכַ֤ל אֱלֹהִים֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י מְלַאכְתּ֖וֹ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֑ה
וַיִּשְׁבֹּת֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י מִכָּל־מְלַאכְתּ֖וֹ אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשָֽׂה
2
And God finished on the seventh day his affairs that he constructed.
And he ceased on the seventh day from all his affairs that he constructed.
18
18
31
30
וַיְבָ֤רֶךְ אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶת־י֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י וַיְקַדֵּ֖שׁ אֹת֑וֹ
כִּ֣י ב֤וֹ שָׁבַת֙ מִכָּל־מְלַאכְתּ֔וֹ אֲשֶׁר־בָּרָ֥א אֱלֹהִ֖ים לַעֲשֽׂוֹת פ
3
And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.
For on it he ceased from all his affairs that God created for construction. P
16
21
29
33

The repetition is really obvious - how could I have a translation that fails to distinguish differing types of work when the original tongue is careful to distinguish them? Or may be it wasn't and I am just over-fastidious in my travail.

Note too, finished, completed, ceased, rest, desist, are all separate words in my world, not to be confused or reduced to the same grunt in English. But at the same time, make, do, construct, are different in English but I use them for the same Hebrew word where I think a little shock is required to get me out of the rut of familiarity. Also of course, make, and even do are also English helping verbs and get used when there is no Hebrew equivalent except in the 'conjugation' of the verb. There is a little bit of tension applying my rules - that's why I am using computer programs to help me along.

Selected Recurring Words (1 to 3)
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
ויכלו and were finished
1
כלה
וכל and all
1
כל
ויכל and finished
2
כלה
ביום on day
2
יום
השׁביעי the seventh
2
שׁבע
מלאכתו his affairs
2
מלאך
אשׁר that
2
אשׁר
עשׂה he constructed
2
עשׂה
וישׁבת and he ceased
2
שׁבת
ביום on day
2
יום
השׁביעי the seventh
2
שׁבע
מכל from all
2
כל
מלאכתו his affairs
2
מלאך
אשׁר that
2
אשׁר
עשׂה he constructed
2
עשׂה
יום day
3
יום
השׁביעי the seventh
3
שׁבע
שׁבת he ceased
3
שׁבת
מכל from all
3
כל
מלאכתו his affairs
3
מלאך
אשׁר that
3
אשׁר
לעשׂות for construction
3
עשׂה


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