Friday, 21 May 2021

The birth and formation of a people

The following article plays on the words נשא and נסע in the formation of Israel as a people in the book of Numbers.

It has struck me that the purpose of the Bible is the formation and birth of a people who are what I termed 'under the mercy' of God. This is one of my glosses for חסידים, ksidim, a word (incidentally with a synonym signifying the stork) derived from חסד, a word perhaps best illustrated with the story of Ruth the Moabite.

חסיד is most often used in David's Torah, the 5 fold Psalter, called תהילים, thilim, or praises, where I began my studies 15 years ago. The Psalms are definitely a book that is designed to form community, to build a people who are merciful, compassionate, and reflecting this character of God. The key verse for the character of i-h-v-h, God is Exodus 34:6. Allusions to this verse are found in many verses of the Psalms.

Pentecost has been called the birth of the church. Rather than looking on this event as a discontinuity in the story of God, we can see its patterns already in the First Testament. Two patterns in the formation of a people, first in Numbers and also reflecting the mercy and compassion of the God who formed them. (The bold indicates that the verse is from an acrostic. The letter is forced on the translator.)

thlim ch Psalms 25 Fn Min Max Syll
v zcor-rkmiç ihvh vksdiç
ci myolm hmh
6 ז Zealous be in your compassions, Yahweh and your kindness,
for they are from everlasting.
3e 4B 13
thlim na Psalms 51 Fn Min Max Syll
g konni alohim cksdç
crob rkmiç mkh pwyii
3 Be gracious to me, O God according to your kindness.
In the multitude of your compassions, wipe out my transgression.
3e 4B 10
thlim pv Psalms 86 Fn Min Max Syll
'tv vath adonii al-rkum vknun
arç apiim vrb-ksd vamt
15 But you, O Lord God, are compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger and abundant in kindness and truth.
3e 4B 12
thlim qb Psalms 102 Fn Min Max Syll
id ath tqum trkm xion
ci-yt lknnh ci-ba moyd
14 You yourself will arise. You will have compassion on Zion,
for the time to be gracious to her, for the appointed time has come.
3e 4B 9
thlim qg Psalms 103 Fn Min Max Syll
d hgoal mwkt kiici
hmy'trci ksd vrkmim
4 the redeeming of your life from destruction,
crowning you with kindness and compassions,
3e 4B 9
k rkum vknun ihvh
arç apiim vrb-ksd
8 Compassionate and gracious is Yahweh,
slow to anger, and abundant in kindness.
3e 4B 7
thlim qia Psalms 111 Fn Min Max Syll
d zcr ywh lnplaotiv
knun vrkum ihvh
4 Zoomed in to memory makes he his wonderful works,
How gracious and compassionate is Yahweh.
B 3e 4B 9
thlim qib Psalms 112 Fn Min Max Syll
d zrk bkowç aor liwrim
knun vrkum vxdiq
4 Zenith-bearing in the darkness there is light to the upright.
He is gracious and compassionate and righteous.
~ 3e 4C 9
thlim q'tz Psalms 116 Fn Min Max Syll
h knun ihvh vxdiq
valohinu mrkm
5 Gracious is Yahweh and righteous,
and our God is compassionate.
3e 4B 8
thlim qmh Psalms 145 Fn Min Max Syll
k knun vrkum ihvh
arç apiim ugdol-ksd
8 How gracious and compassionate is Yahweh,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
3e 4B 7

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