Sunday, 10 May 2015

Deuteronomy 28:46-57 - bear with it

You sure have to search for the tenderness in some passages. Here as in Lamentations and a couple of other places in the prophets that I haven't got to yet, it is promised that the consequence to the people of failing in this treaty with their God will be for them to be reduced to eating their own offspring and more. (You'll have to read the text to find out why I said more - O the euphemistic KJV).

This is a treaty. A treaty is between two warring parties. In this case it is them and God. God is the adversary, and God, in this case, is agreeing to a holy relationship with the people, but there are teeth in the consequential clauses of this treaty.

Just how low can we go without the presence of God? (Well, my Love, Let's just go a little farther and see.) Just how severe is the illness of sin compared to our desire for good governance, the easy life, and all human tenderness, and even the good of self-protection? (Me, ill? Surely not.) But at whose cost and why do we protect ourselves in business and national interests? (Hm, perhaps there is some tension.) By all means let such be engines for creativity and good governance, but how will we define the good apart from recognizing the real Enemy? (Hey, isn't that a bit of a show-stopper?)

But put it another way: Just how low can the Enemy go? At times this reads like a video game, a comic book, or a horror story. Is that the reality of the Enemy or of us?

Put it yet another way, if we worship fear, or the economy, or our own possessions, and deny the mystery by whatever name we assign It, do we not shirk our own responsibility also? Especially for the poor among us who are made poor by our success. It's a jump from theology to politics, isn't it. Some may think I encourage 'the welfare state' as if I would be pleased with incorporated irresponsibility. Far from it. Don't we remember Khrushchev (I think it was him - but maybe Gorbachev) who marveled at how rich Canada was in spite of its sparse population. Our riches, as in all places, are in the people. If we impoverish ourselves through special interests, crony capitalism (the equivalent of which is found in every nation in every time under different names), then we cannot buy the products of our invention and the whole body suffers.

Are we richer then than now? (O my Love, the young won't know and the old won't remember.) My mother was concerned with the old men in the park, but I doubt they were too troublesome, for I walked to school at age 6 and 7 without supervision, up the hill, past the swans, along the path, through the playground and into the school (1/2 km maybe).

I won't attempt policy based answers, because prescriptive law and policy are likely, like any closed system, inadequate to the task. What would be adequate? Perhaps something as simple as seeing our negative tendencies and their power over us and then asking for help - in the depths of our hearts - now. And on this issue we might well be mute. Or as simple as giving secret thanks for our blessings.

I also see suspicion of the religious impulse - you remember Solomon's dictum in Ecclesiastes 4:17 about the religious:
Keep your footing as you are walking to the house of God, and more ready to hear than to give an offering among the dullards,
for they haven't a clue that what they do is evil.
Religion like any other human institution can be engaged with the spirit of self-preservation also. Power is unavoidably there everywhere in our faces. We must have a treaty. Then perhaps a multiplicity of unity will be achieved and God will be One and His Name One in all the earth.

Enough - here is the section - 12 hard working verses - i.e. hard work to get through, of Deuteronomy 28. Oh will this exercise help me with Job - I really wonder... Perhaps though it has something to do with the way we mismanage logic.

וְהָי֣וּ בְךָ֔ לְא֖וֹת וּלְמוֹפֵ֑ת
וּֽבְזַרְעֲךָ֖ עַד־עוֹלָֽם
46And they will be in you for a sign and for a miracle
and in your seed for evermore.
תַּ֗חַת אֲשֶׁ֤ר לֹא־עָבַ֙דְתָּ֙ אֶת־יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ בְּשִׂמְחָ֖ה וּבְט֣וּב לֵבָ֑ב
מֵרֹ֖ב כֹּֽל
47In that you did not serve Yahweh your God with gladness and with a good heart,
out of all the abundance.
וְעָבַדְתָּ֣ אֶת־אֹיְבֶ֗יךָ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יְשַׁלְּחֶ֤נּוּ יְהוָה֙ בָּ֔ךְ בְּרָעָ֧ב וּבְצָמָ֛א וּבְעֵירֹ֖ם וּבְחֹ֣סֶר כֹּ֑ל
וְנָתַ֞ן עֹ֤ל בַּרְזֶל֙ עַל־צַוָּארֶ֔ךָ עַ֥ד הִשְׁמִיד֖וֹ אֹתָֽךְ
48And you will serve your enemies that Yahweh will send against you in scarcity and in thirst and in blindness and in lack of everything.
And he will give you a shackle of iron on your neck until it exterminates you.
יִשָּׂ֣א יְהוָה֩ עָלֶ֨יךָ גּ֤וֹי מֵרָחוֹק֙ מִקְצֵ֣ה הָאָ֔רֶץ כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר יִדְאֶ֖ה הַנָּ֑שֶׁר
גּ֕וֹי אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹא־תִשְׁמַ֖ע לְשֹׁנֽוֹ
49Yahweh will lift up a nation against you from afar, from the extremity of the earth
and he darts like the eagle, a nation whose tongue you will not hear.
גּ֖וֹי עַ֣ז פָּנִ֑ים
אֲשֶׁ֨ר לֹא־יִשָּׂ֤א פָנִים֙ לְזָקֵ֔ן וְנַ֖עַר לֹ֥א יָחֹֽן
50It is a nation of strength of presence
that will not bear the presence of the aged and will not be gracious to youth.
וְ֠אָכַל פְּרִ֨י בְהֶמְתְּךָ֥ וּפְרִֽי־אַדְמָתְךָ֮ עַ֣ד הִשָּֽׁמְדָךְ֒ אֲשֶׁ֨ר לֹֽא־יַשְׁאִ֜יר לְךָ֗ דָּגָן֙ תִּיר֣וֹשׁ וְיִצְהָ֔ר שְׁגַ֥ר אֲלָפֶ֖יךָ וְעַשְׁתְּרֹ֣ת צֹאנֶ֑ךָ
עַ֥ד הַאֲבִיד֖וֹ אֹתָֽךְ
51It will eat the fruit of your cattle and the fruit of your ground until you are exterminated. It will not warehouse grain for you, or new wine or clarified oil or the issue of your drove or the breeding of your flock
until it makes you perish.
וְהֵצַ֨ר לְךָ֜ בְּכָל־שְׁעָרֶ֗יךָ עַ֣ד רֶ֤דֶת חֹמֹתֶ֙יךָ֙ הַגְּבֹה֣וֹת וְהַבְּצֻר֔וֹת אֲשֶׁ֥ר אַתָּ֛ה בֹּטֵ֥חַ בָּהֵ֖ן בְּכָל־אַרְצֶ֑ךָ
וְהֵצַ֤ר לְךָ֙ בְּכָל־שְׁעָרֶ֔יךָ בְּכָ֨ל־אַרְצְךָ֔ אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָתַ֛ן יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ לָֽךְ
52And it will be your adversary in all your gates until your haughty walls come down and the enclosures, the ones that you trust in through all your land.
And it will be your adversary in all your gates through all your land which Yahweh your God gave to you.
וְאָכַלְתָּ֣ פְרִֽי־בִטְנְךָ֗ בְּשַׂ֤ר בָּנֶ֙יךָ֙ וּבְנֹתֶ֔יךָ אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָֽתַן־לְךָ֖ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ
בְּמָצוֹר֙ וּבְמָצ֔וֹק אֲשֶׁר־יָצִ֥יק לְךָ֖ אֹיְבֶֽךָ
53And you will eat the fruit of your belly, the flesh of your sons and your daughters that Yahweh your God gave to you,
in the siege and in the agony that your enemy will make you agonize.
הָאִישׁ֙ הָרַ֣ךְ בְּךָ֔ וְהֶעָנֹ֖ג מְאֹ֑ד
תֵּרַ֨ע עֵינ֤וֹ בְאָחִיו֙ וּבְאֵ֣שֶׁת חֵיק֔וֹ וּבְיֶ֥תֶר בָּנָ֖יו אֲשֶׁ֥ר יוֹתִֽיר
54The tender man among you and very delicate,
his eye will bring evil against his brother and against the wife of his embrace and against the surplus of his children that he has left over.
מִתֵּ֣ת ׀ לְאַחַ֣ד מֵהֶ֗ם מִבְּשַׂ֤ר בָּנָיו֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יֹאכֵ֔ל מִבְּלִ֥י הִשְׁאִֽיר־ל֖וֹ כֹּ֑ל
בְּמָצוֹר֙ וּבְמָצ֔וֹק אֲשֶׁ֨ר יָצִ֥יק לְךָ֛ אֹיִבְךָ֖ בְּכָל־שְׁעָרֶֽיךָ
55He will refrain from giving to one of them from the flesh of his children that he eats in that there is no meat for him,
in the siege and in the agony that your enemy will make you agonize in all your gates.
הָרַכָּ֨ה בְךָ֜ וְהָעֲנֻגָּ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר לֹא־נִסְּתָ֤ה כַף־רַגְלָהּ֙ הַצֵּ֣ג עַל־הָאָ֔רֶץ מֵהִתְעַנֵּ֖ג וּמֵרֹ֑ךְ
תֵּרַ֤ע עֵינָהּ֙ בְּאִ֣ישׁ חֵיקָ֔הּ וּבִבְנָ֖הּ וּבְבִתָּֽהּ
56The tender and delicate woman among you that will not tempt to exhibit the sole of her foot on the earth out of delicacy and out of tenderness,
her eye will bring evil against the man of her embrace and against her son and against her daughter.
וּֽבְשִׁלְיָתָ֞הּ הַיּוֹצֵ֣ת ׀ מִבֵּ֣ין רַגְלֶ֗יהָ וּבְבָנֶ֙יהָ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר תֵּלֵ֔ד כִּֽי־תֹאכְלֵ֥ם בְּחֹֽסֶר־כֹּ֖ל בַּסָּ֑תֶר
בְּמָצוֹר֙ וּבְמָצ֔וֹק אֲשֶׁ֨ר יָצִ֥יק לְךָ֛ אֹיִבְךָ֖ בִּשְׁעָרֶֽיךָ
57And of the afterbirth that comes out from between her feet and toward her children that she has given birth to, for she will eat them when lacking everything, in secret,
in the siege and in the agony that your enemy will make you agonize in your gates.

No comments:

Post a Comment