Friday, May 6, 2016

Numbers 9:15-23

This is a remarkable repetitive passage. When there is so much repetition, what is in the centre?

The cloud was continually on the dwelling - remember how it was constructed 'early' (narrative time) in the journey (Exodus 25). Note there is no 'by day' in verse 16. The cloud is there day and night - continually. Even in the most difficult of times. Keep watch (שׁמרו את משׁמרת) you can see that keep and watch are the same root: shin-mem-resh. That's why I did not use 'keep' for the verb related to Passover. Passover is a 'do' thing. But watching, a 'keep on' thing, and then moving at the right time, whenever, is also critical.

My use of mandate is odd. I need a word that suggests mouth but isn't. I don't think it is a homonym but a real variation in thought among the early Hebrews that פה has many uses, mouth, edge (of a sword), collar (of clothing), and mandate, a word from the mouth, and some more too. I even used pucker for the 'P' for an acrostic (Psalm 10). These two letters peh-heh also have a homonym that is a particle, for which the usual gloss is here.

Perhaps it is of this passage (Yahweh's 'memory' - narrative memory) that the prophet speaks when he says:
I remember you, the loving-kindness of your youth, the love of your consummations,
when you went after me in the wilderness in an uncultivated land. (Jeremiah 2:2).

Numbers 9
וּבְיוֹם֙ הָקִ֣ים אֶת־הַמִּשְׁכָּ֔ן כִּסָּ֤ה הֶֽעָנָן֙ אֶת־הַמִּשְׁכָּ֔ן לְאֹ֖הֶל הָעֵדֻ֑ת
וּבָעֶ֜רֶב יִהְיֶ֧ה עַֽל־הַמִּשְׁכָּ֛ן כְּמַרְאֵה־אֵ֖שׁ עַד־בֹּֽקֶר
15 And on the day of the raising of the dwelling the cloud covered the dwelling (of the tent of the testimony).
And in the evening there was on the dwelling as the appearance of fire until morning.
23
17
כֵּ֚ן יִהְיֶ֣ה תָמִ֔יד הֶעָנָ֖ן יְכַסֶּ֑נּוּ
וּמַרְאֵה־אֵ֖שׁ לָֽיְלָה
16 So it was continually the cloud covered it
and the appearance of fire at night.
12
6
וּלְפִ֞י הֵעָלֹ֤ת הֶֽעָנָן֙ מֵעַ֣ל הָאֹ֔הֶל וְאַ֣חֲרֵי־כֵ֔ן יִסְע֖וּ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל
וּבִמְק֗וֹם אֲשֶׁ֤ר יִשְׁכָּן־שָׁם֙ הֶֽעָנָ֔ן שָׁ֥ם יַחֲנ֖וּ בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל
17 And as the ascent of the cloud on the tent was mandated, then after such the children of Israel pulled out,
and in the place where the cloud would dwell, there the children of Israel encamped.
25
20
עַל־פִּ֣י יְהוָ֗ה יִסְעוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְעַל־פִּ֥י יְהוָ֖ה יַחֲנ֑וּ
כָּל־יְמֵ֗י אֲשֶׁ֨ר יִשְׁכֹּ֧ן הֶעָנָ֛ן עַל־הַמִּשְׁכָּ֖ן יַחֲנֽוּ
18 At the mandate of Yahweh the children of Israel pulled out and at the mandate of Yahweh they encamped.
All the days that the cloud dwelt on the dwelling, they encamped.
19
17
וּבְהַאֲרִ֧יךְ הֶֽעָנָ֛ן עַל־הַמִּשְׁכָּ֖ן יָמִ֣ים רַבִּ֑ים
וְשָׁמְר֧וּ בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל אֶת־מִשְׁמֶ֥רֶת יְהוָ֖ה וְלֹ֥א יִסָּֽעוּ
19 And when the cloud was prolonged on the dwelling many days,
the children of Israel kept the watch of Yahweh and did not pull out.
15
19
וְיֵ֞שׁ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יִהְיֶ֧ה הֶֽעָנָ֛ן יָמִ֥ים מִסְפָּ֖ר עַל־הַמִּשְׁכָּ֑ן
עַל־פִּ֤י יְהוָה֙ יַחֲנ֔וּ וְעַל־פִּ֥י יְהוָ֖ה יִסָּֽעוּ
20 So there is what it was: the cloud, days to count, on the dwelling.
At the mandate of Yahweh they encamped and at the mandate of Yahweh pulled out.
17
15
וְיֵ֞שׁ אֲשֶׁר־יִהְיֶ֤ה הֶֽעָנָן֙ מֵעֶ֣רֶב עַד־בֹּ֔קֶר וְנַעֲלָ֧ה הֶֽעָנָ֛ן בַּבֹּ֖קֶר וְנָסָ֑עוּ
א֚וֹ יוֹמָ֣ם וָלַ֔יְלָה וְנַעֲלָ֥ה הֶעָנָ֖ן וְנָסָֽעוּ
21 So there is what it was: the cloud from evening until morning, if the cloud ascended in the morning, then they pulled out.
Whether day or night, if the cloud ascended, then they pulled out.
29
17
אֽוֹ־יֹמַ֜יִם אוֹ־חֹ֣דֶשׁ אוֹ־יָמִ֗ים בְּהַאֲרִ֨יךְ הֶעָנָ֤ן עַל־הַמִּשְׁכָּן֙ לִשְׁכֹּ֣ן עָלָ֔יו יַחֲנ֥וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל וְלֹ֣א יִסָּ֑עוּ
וּבְהֵעָלֹת֖וֹ יִסָּֽעוּ
22 Or two days or a month or days prolonged of the cloud on the dwelling to dwell on it, the children of Israel encamped and did not pull out.
And when it ascended they pulled out.
34
8
עַל־פִּ֤י יְהוָה֙ יַחֲנ֔וּ וְעַל־פִּ֥י יְהוָ֖ה יִסָּ֑עוּ
אֶת־מִשְׁמֶ֤רֶת יְהוָה֙ שָׁמָ֔רוּ עַל־פִּ֥י יְהוָ֖ה בְּיַד־מֹשֶֽׁה
23 At the mandate of Yahweh they encamped and at the mandate of Yahweh pulled out.
The watch of Yahweh they kept at the mandate of Yahweh by the hand of Moses.
15
17


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