Sunday, July 3, 2016

Deuteronomy 32 learning the right lesson

How is it possible to learn the right lesson from history? Or from canonical examples? Or from our traditions? Or from our immediate privilege? I'm all right Jack, or I'm a miserable sinner? Can one safely begin a sentence or initiate an action with the first person? Are there sufficient pronouns in any language to form a suitable lesson plan?

Where did the idea in verse 8 come from and just what is the idea?  That the number of nations is fixed. I doubt it has anything to do with count. I suspect a relation to story. For you, the creator, to tell a story, to select a nation to demonstrate your love, you need to chose some borders and some enemies. But note you are not doing this just for your special choice - even though your choice is absolutely special. You are doing it for the sake of the whole creation for which you ache with longing.

Where is the apple of his eye used? Apple and eye are used together in the traditional translation in five places, all of which are slightly different in the Hebrew. Of course it's got nothing to do with apples.

Deuteronomy 32:10 כְּאִישׁ֥וֹן עֵינֽוֹ image
Psalm 17:8 כְּאִישׁ֣וֹן בַּת־עָ֑יִן imaged daughter
Proverbs 7:2 כְּאִישׁ֥וֹן עֵינֶֽיךָ image
Lamentations 2:18 בַּת־עֵינֵֽךְ daughter
Zechariah 2:8 בְּבָבַ֥ת עֵינֽוֹ 'Apple'! (a hapax, i.e. one usage only of this stem בבה)

Deuteronomy is intensely jealous. The 'apple' is not going to be thrown away by the Most High.

Verse 17, Did the ancestors fear something or was it 'meat' to them, serious reward? Do we always know better than our ancestors? Or our teachers? Well, it depends on whether you or I had good teaching or not. What a conundrum. I think I can now tell the difference? I wondered in the days of my ignorance whether my intuited and inarticulate rebellion was well or poorly founded. Am I now not ignorant? What are my distinctions within me that let me say no to this and yes to that? Anyway I refused to allow שׂער (barley, hair, sweep, perhaps storm, סער) to take a gloss related to the domain of fear. In the context it might mean fear, but it doesn't say fear, either positive or negative. I leave that bump in the puzzle to the reader, so you won't say, O there's that fear of God again. I know what that means.

Here's my first cut at verse 17 - who knows if it will last to the end of the chapter, let alone to the end of the project?

They offered to demons, not God, gods they did not know,
new coming from within, not the sweep of your ancestors.

You might note that Paul alludes to this in Romans. All Paul's reasoning and knowledge of the character of God comes from his knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures. Nothing theoretical about it at all.