Living in the period of the Geo-Centric worldview, a Jewish Rabbi wondered (claimed) that it is the sun that should be named Eretz (Hebrew for Earth). With the later science-based shift towards the Helio-Centric worldview (Sun is “still”, Earth is “running” around it), biblical Hebrew once again proved to describe accurately physical reality:
Category: My Research on the Bible and Biblical Hebrew
My Research on the Bible and on Biblical Hebrew
(Related podcast: Why a Jewish Rabbi wondered that Sun in Hebrew not named Eretz? (Podcast) ).
Comment: This post is based on an excerpt from my book “Coincidences in the Bible and in Biblical Hebrew” (Shore, 2012, 2nd Ed.), Section 8.1.
As reported in Jewish written sources, the name Earth in biblical Hebrew was the subject of much debate and puzzlement over the ages.
The source for these was the fact that the name for Earth in biblical Hebrew resembles the word for… “run”— namely, “move fast” (Earth in Hebrew Eretz; run is ratz).
A Geo-centric world view, according to which all heavenly bodies are rotating around Earth, was dominant for over 1500 years, until the late 16th century and onward, when it was replaced by the Helio-centric model of modern science (Wikipedia, Geocentric Model).
Living in the geocentric world view, Jewish scholars over the ages were puzzled about this resemblance of Eretz and Ratz (same philological root). They explained that this similarity is most probably due to the “fact” that the moon and the sun and all stars are “running” around the earth.
Rabbi Don Yitzchak Abarbanel (1437– 1508), a well-known commentator of the Bible, did not accept this interpretation. In his commentary to Genesis, he explained that “since the earth is a still center, it would have been appropriate that the wheel [meaning sun] should be called Eretz, and not the still center around which it revolves.”
Obviously, living prior to the historic shift towards the heliocentric worldview, Jewish sages have tried to fit their interpretations to the scientific knowledge of the time. Abrabanel rejected their explanations, based on pure logic.
The Jewish rabbi was obviously unaware that not many years later, Copernicus (1473–1543), in his book published not long prior to Copernicus death, would start the heliocentric revolution.
This resolved the quandary, raised by the Jewish rabbi, about a single biblical Hebrew word, Eretz, which to this day is used in Hebrew and in other languages (Earth),
describing accurately what planet Earth is actually doing, namely,
“running” around the sun.
The Ten Commandments, in their original biblical Hebrew, are — The Ten Devarim, or Ten Dibrot (the singular of which is Diber); The Holy of Holies, where the tablets with the Ten Commandments were held in the Jewish temple, is — Dvir; A plague is — Dever.
All these share a common root in biblical Hebrew — D.B.R (ד.ב.ר).
What does this root mean?
“They have made Me jealous with Lo-El (literally, “No-God“),
provoked Me to anger with their vanities (Havalim, literally, “Nonsense“);
And I will move them to jealousy with Lo-Am (literally, “Non-people“),
with Goy-Naval (literally, “vile-nation“) will I provoke them to anger”.
Earlier Climate Change:
“In the sixth hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth for forty days and forty nights” (Genesis 7:11-12).
What Caused It:
“Now, the earth was corrupted in front of God, and the earth was filled with Chamas” (plunder, extortion). “And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupted because all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth” (Genesis 6:11-12).
In an earlier post, we have addressed the significance of GAG (roof in biblical Hebrew). The word comprises two appearances of the second most rare letter in the Hebrew alphabet, the third letter, Gimmel (corresponding to the letter g in English).
In an added comment, I have observed that the two major sins of the Israelites, on their way to the Promised Land, are denoted, in Hebrew, the Sin of The Egel (Sin of the Golden Calf), and the Sin of The Meraglim (Sin of the Spies). For both sins, the Hebrew names include Gimmel as their middle letter. Combined, the two sins form a particular version of Gag, the Israelite Gag.
As the Bible tells us, both sins were responded by extreme Divine wrath.
Reacting to the sin of the Egel, God said to Moses:
“Now, therefore, let me alone, that my wrath may burn against them and that I may consume them; and I will make of thee a great nation” (Exodus 32:10).
Reacting to the sin of the Meraglim, God said to Moses:
“..How long will this people provoke me and how long will they not believe in me for all the signs which I have performed amongst them? I will smite them with the pestilence (Dever), and disinherit them, and will make of thee a great nation and mightier than them” (Numbers 14:11-12).
Moses prayed to God, and his prayer mitigated the severity of the intended Divine punishment.
According to Jewish tradition, as reflected in Talmud and affiliated interpretations, the Jewish people, for generations to come, had to pay dearly for these two sins. For example, the sin of the Meraglim occurred, according to Jewish tradition, on the ninth of the Hebrew month of Av. This date is known in Jewish tradition (and possibly also historically) to be also the date when the First Temple and The Second Temple of Jerusalem were destroyed. Other catastrophes that befell the Jewish people throughout history (like the expulsion from Spain, 1492) had also taken place on that date.
Reading these two episodes in the Bible, the Egel episode and the Meraglim episode, one cannot escape the conclusion that with these two sins, combined, the Israelites have created their own particular form of Roof (Gag), namely, a disconnect between The Heaven and The Earth.
Unlike the Gag of Agag, king of Amalek, Hamman the Agagite, Gog and Magog, a Gag formed with an explicit intention to disconnect The Heaven and The Earth (Genesis 1:1; refer to the earlier linked post), the Israelites formed a particular version of Gag, one that is not deliberately pre-planned, one that is not intentional.
What can we learn from this particular form of Gag? Can we construct a similar Gag?
The two sins teach us a powerful lesson of how to construct own personal Gag. We detail herewith a two-step procedure to achieve this goal.
Step 1: Repeat The First Sin (of the Egel): “Dancing around a Golden Calf”.
Explanation: Build your whole life around a materialistic objective, like gold (money), fame, territory and other similar materialistic assets.
Step 2: Repeat The Second Sin (of the Meraglim): “Slander and refusal to go to the Promised Land” (for whatever excuses).
Explanation: The latter involves two elements:
- The spies spoke ill of the Promised Land. The Israelites spoke ill of God (Deuteronomy 1:27). Therefore, Prescription A:
“Speak ill of all, all the time” (whether people, Promised Land, God or otherwise);
- The Israelites refused to “go up” to the Promised Land, giving excuses (Deuteronomy 1:26-27). Therefore, Prescription B:
“Refrain from any attempt to gain blessing awaiting you; Generate your own personal justification to stay passive, idle, to stay lazy” (Example: “…in Jehovah’s hatred of us He had brought us forth out of the land of Egypt..”, Deuteronomy 1:27).
Articulated more succinctly, Step 2 to owning a Gag involves rejecting any possible blessing by avoiding necessary work to be done (”And Elohim blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He ceased from all his work which Elohim had created to be done”; Genesis 2:3).
We have outlined in this post a two-step prescription to becoming happy by pursuing the two sins of the Israelites, on their way to the Promised Land. The Israelites constructed their own version of Gag, namely, disconnecting the physical dimension of life, The Earth, from the spiritual dimension, The Heaven. As related in the Bible, over and over again, constructing the Gag is guarantee to stop “pouring down” of blessing.
If, to the contrary, the idea of building a personal Gag does not seem that appealing, we may wish to re-consider how Eretz Israel is described in the Bible, which also becomes a faithful description, so we believe, of the most basic human condition on Planet Earth (Deuteronomy 11:11):
“And the land, into which you go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys; By the rain of the heaven will you drink water”.
A Divine Commandment is always fulfilled, to the letter.
“And Elohim said: “Let there be light”, and there was light” (Genesis 1:3).
If that is so.
If divine command, by definition, is always fulfilled:
- How is it that the same has not materialized with regard to another set of Divine Commandments, the Ten Commandments?
- How come that since its inception at Mount Sinai, about three thousand and three hundred years ago, we are witnessing violating of the Ten Commandments by the human species throughout history, abundantly, continuously, right, left and center?
And more generally:
How do the Ten Commandments comport with free-will, endowed by The Creator onto humankind, the created?
Free-will is emphasized in the Bible, again and again:
- “See, I set before you today life, and that which is good; and death, and that which is bad” (Deuteronomy 30:15);
- “I call Heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; Therefore, choose life that both you and your seed may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Hebrew prophets, likewise, do not cease to insist (emphasized mine):
- “He has told thee, O man, what is good and what does Jehovah requires of you, but to do justice and love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
If emphasis on free-will is so prevalent throughout the Bible, and given the wide-spread ignoring of the Ten Commandments, throughout history, how should we account for this seeming inconsistency in the Bible?
The answer to this intriguing question is simple and straightforward:
In its original biblical Hebrew, the Bible does not have a concept of “Ten Commandments”.
Instead, biblical Hebrew for the Ten Commandments is “Devarim”.
The root of this word, in its verbal form, means to speak. “Devarim”, literally, implies divine utterances.
A thorough discussion of this concept, with biblical quotes, is delivered in:
“Diber” or “Dever” – Two Modes of Divine Dialogue with Humankind in a World of Free-Will .
* Shorty is a short post
On the general concept of “Roof” in the Hebrew Bible, and what does it really signify:
Agag, Haman the Agagite, Gog, Magog, Gag — What binds them all together? (Podcast) ).
Gag in Hebrew is roof.
“I lie awake; I have become like a bird on the roof (Gag)” (Psalm 102:8; 102:7, in some English translations).
Agag was king of Amalek. The latter, throughout the Bible, serves as epitome for the disconnect between the Heaven and the Earth (Genesis 1:1). Therefore, the Israelites are explicitly commanded, in no ambiguous terms:
“Remember what Amalek had done to you on the way, when you came out of Egypt…you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under the sky; thou shall not forget” (Deuteronomy 25:17,19).
The Bible tells us about king Saul, and what he did to Agag, king of Amalek:
“He took Agag king of Amalek alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the sword” (1 Samuel 15:8).
Haman, a central figure in the Book of Esther, was the first historic figure to conceive and then attempt to implement a “Final Solution” on the Jewish people (during the reign of the Persian Empire, as expounded in detail in the Book of Esther). Haman was a descendent of Agag, namely, of Amalek seed:
“Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite, which he devised against the Jews” (Esther 8:3).
Gog and Magog are well-known names, central to Ezekiel’s prophecy of End-Time final war:
“Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him” (Ezekiel 38:2).
What binds together all these names?
Answer: The double appearance of a single letter of the Hebrew Alphabet, the third letter, Gimel (corresponding to the English g).
In Biblical Hebrew, as well as in modern Hebrew, a double appearance of Gimel forms the Hebrew word Gag (written with two Gimels, גג). This combination has a single meaning — “Roof”.
The roof is that part of a house, which protects its residents from harm that may befall them from the sky.
In biblical terms, the roof attains a much wider meaning, indeed a gigantic symbolic significance:
As a roof of a house disconnects earth from sky, the biblical “Roof” symbolizes disconnect between “The Heaven” and “The Earth”, as these are alluded to in the first verse of Genesis:
“In the beginning Elohim created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
The most concrete biblical allusion to this interpretation is given by the command, given to the Israelites, to build booths (Sukot) during the Feast of Tabernacles:
“You shall dwell in booths for seven days; All native-born Israelites are to live in booths so that your descendants will know that I made the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 23:42).
There is no solid protective roof for the booths, where the Feast of Tabernacles is celebrated. Traditionally, the roof must be made from natural elements that have grown from the ground. Most people use either palm fronds or bamboo with wooden beams as support. The roof also must be thick enough to provide significant shade, but thin enough to let the stars shine through.
Why does the Sukkah not have a solid roof? What does this signify?
The answer is simple: Lack of solid roof signifies complete faith in Divine Providence, in Divine protection against harm that may befall us. Conversely, relying on the symbolic “physical roof” as protection, perhaps sole protection, signifies a deep faith that “The Earth” (Genesis 1:1) is all that there is. There is no heaven. There is no God.
The roof of a house generates a disconnect from the sky. Symbolically, sitting in the booth during the Feast of Tabernacles, while removing the roof, signifies faith in Divine protection that would protect against any harm (from the sky or otherwise). And more generally, complete faith in the connection between “the heaven” and “the earth”.
Amalek embodies the opposite: There is no heaven, no system of Divine justice, no God. There is only “the earth” (the observable physical reality, ruled by law of nature). Everything else, which looks random, is indeed random. There is no Divine Providence.
Agag, Haman the Agagite, Gog, Magog — they all represent the Amalekite philosophy of life: “No God, no heaven, all is coincidental”. The biblical concept of “Roof” symbolizes exclusive reliance on our own ability (and capability) to understand nature, rule nature, and construct the needed “Roof” that would protect us.
“Roof”, consistently throughout the Bible, is an integral part of names of historic figures, past (Agag) or future (Gog), and of names of lands (like the mysterious Magog), which represent a philosophy diagonally opposite to that of the Bible, a philosophy central to current Western Civilization (see here) — the Amalekite philosophy of life.
Surprisingly and unexpectedly, all these names include the Hebrew “Gag” (Roof).
And how will the future Gog and Magog war end?
Quote from prophet Zechariah:
“And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations, which have come against Jerusalem, shall go up, every single year, to bow before the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles” (Zechariah 14:16).
Personal confession: Amazing!!
The Israelites, on their way to the promised land, committed two major sins, both being testimony to lack of faith in Divine protection:
- The sin of the Golden Calf (in Hebrew, sin of the Egel);
- The sin of the spies (sin of the Meraglim).
Both sins are considered, in Jewish tradition, to have fateful consequences to Jewish history.
The first sin caused Moses to smash the first tablets with the Ten Commandments. This required of Moses going up Mount Sinai to receive the tablets the second time.
The second sin occurred, in Jewish tradition, on the ninth of the month of Av. In Jewish tradition, this was the date when the two temples in Jerusalem had been destroyed. Other catastrophes in Jewish history are also known to occur on that same date.
Surprisingly, Hebrew names of both sins have, as their middle letter, the second most rare letter in biblical Hebrew, the letter Gimel.
With these two sins, combined, the Israelites, on their way to the promised land, formed their own particular version of GAG (“Roof”).
Three research efforts that have found shared patterns between scientific models of physical reality, the Hebrew Bible and biblical Hebrew.
How are these associated with the critical question of whether Torah is divinely inspired?
YouTube addresses of all three videos are given below (on haimshore.blog):
Fibonacci Numbers in Biblical Hebrew
Physical Properties in Biblical Hebrew Words