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General My Research on the Bible and Biblical Hebrew

How to Build a GAG (Roof) in Two Steps

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”.

Categories
Podcasts (audio)

“Shamayim” — The Most Counter-intuitive Yet Scientifically Accurate Word in Biblical Hebrew (Podcast)

The deeper meaning and implications of the biblical Hebrew Shamayim (Sky; A post of same title may be found here ):

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My Research on the Bible and Biblical Hebrew Podcasts (audio)

What Do We Know of God? (Podcast-audio)

The detailed answer, based on the Jewish Hebrew Bible (Torah, the prophets), on in-dept analysis of biblical Hebrew words and traditional Jewish interpreters — may surprise you:

 

Categories
Podcasts (audio)

Biblical Divine Modes of Communication (Podcast-audio)

Talk of Avinoam Ben-Mordechai with Haim Shore (originally published, July 4, 2020; Produced by Avinoam Ben-Mordechai; Episode 1 of 2)
Categories
Podcasts (audio)

Biblical Concepts in Light of Modern Science (Podcast-audio)

Talk of Avinoam Ben-Mordechai with Haim Shore (originally published, August 6, 2020; Produced by Avinoam Ben-Mordechai; Episode 2 of 2)
Categories
Historical Coincidences My Research on the Bible and Biblical Hebrew

Kavod — The Most Peculiar Word in Biblical Hebrew

Link to podcast-audio:

“Kavod – the most peculiar word in biblical Hebrew” (Podcast-audio)

Kavod in modern Hebrew means honor, respect or glory. A person may show Kavod to his fellow human being, and a military medal of honor, bestowed unto a military service person, is a medal of Kavod (Ot Kavod).

The word appears in the Jewish Bible no less than 199 times. Numerous times it appears therein in the same sense as in modern spoken Hebrew. Examples:

  • “Akhan, My son, give, I pray thee, respect to Jehovah, God of Israel..” (Joshua 7:19);
  • “And on that day it shall come to pass that the glory of Jacob shall fade..” (Isaiah 17:4);
  • “The Heavens declare the glory of God..” (Psalms 19:2).

Yet, this is only one sense with which Kavod appears in the Bible and it is not the most frequent one. A more frequent usage does not relate at all to the created giving glory to the Creator. Rather, it relates to Kavod as intrinsically linked to the Divine. And here we encounter the impossible combination of words:

Jehovah’s Kavod.

What does that mean?

Jewish bible interpreters have attempted, throughout the ages, to impart plausible meaning to this bizarre idiom; however, they have always relied on the traditional sense of “honor” or “respect” or “glory”. In most Bible translations (from biblical Hebrew), “Jehovah’s Kavod” translates into “Jehovah’s glory”.

As we shall soon realize, all those interpretations fall short of satisfactorily explaining most usages of this combination of words in the Jewish Hebrew Bible.

Thus, we are left helpless figuring out and imparting any sensible meaning to this bizarre expression; That is, until we scrutinize instances where it appears, and try to integrate these with scientific knowledge we currently possess about the universe. Once we do that, stunning amazement and deep appreciation for Jehovah’s Kavod follows.

Let us start with a few examples:

  • When Moses expresses desire to learn of Jehovah’s ways in leading His world, he asks: “Please show me Kevodcha” (“Your Kavod”). The Divine response: “..I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and show mercy on whom I will show mercy. And He said, thou cannot see my face for no man shall see me and live” (Exodus 33:18-20);
  • Prophet Isaiah explains why the world exists (seemingly the only time the Bible relates so explicitly to this question): “All that can be named, by My Name and for my Kavod I have created it, I have formed it, I have even made it” (Isaiah 43:7);
  • Prophet Isaiah delivers an account of his vision, hearing the Seraphim crying to each other, saying: “…Holy , Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his Kavod” (Isaiah 6:3).

How can we settle the first example with the last, while they seem so much at odds and unrelated to one another?

In the first example, Moses obviously requests to learn how the Divine is leading His world. While the response Moses gets is unsatisfactory (“I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious”), the Divine response affirms that what Moses really desired in his request (“Show me your Kavod”) is to learn the ways by which God is leading His world. No reference whatsoever to God’s glory, as the latter is seemingly implied by the last example!!

Jewish tradition makes a reasonable distinction between two types of Divine leadership of the universe: By Law-of-Nature and by Divine Intervention (often explicitly expressed on a personal level as Divine Providence, or Hashgachah Pratit).

The former, Law-of-Nature, relates to the Ten Divine “sayings” of Genesis Creation narrative (Genesis 1). Later, after Noah’s flood, God re-assures humankind that Law-of-Nature exists and that it is ever-lasting: “While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night would not cease” (Genesis 8:22).

The latter, Divine Intervention, relates to divine intervention in the world to exercise a system of justice: “..Would not the Judge of all the earth do Justice?” (Gen. 18:25). However, this Divine intervention is mitigated by Divine graciousness and mercy, as the former quote of God’s response to Moses has shown. Furthermore, leadership by Divine intervention is not restricted to the confines of Law-of-Nature; Occasionally, it operates contrary to Law-of-Nature, as the Ten plagues of Egypt (Exodus 7:20-12:30) testify.

Let us assume that indeed Jehovah’s Kavod is an overall term for the two basic Divine leaderships of the universe: By Law-of-Nature and by Divine intervention.

Is there indication for Law-of-Nature in Jehovah’s Kavod?

Is there indication for Divine intervention (or Divine moral code) in Jehovah’s Kavod?

Expressed differently: Can one find evidence, within the term itself, that Jehovah’s Kavod indeed represents the double-faceted Divine leadership of the world?

Surprisingly, the answer is a resounding YES.

Let us address the former first. As quoted earlier, prophet Isaiah describes his vision of Seraphim crying to each other, saying: “the whole Eretz is full of his Kavod.” (Isaiah 6:3). However, as addressed in my book (Section 14.1, p. 201), Eretz (earth in biblical Hebrew) implies either “world” or “Earth”. Given current scientific knowledge, we may therefore re-translate Isaiah thus: “..Holy , Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole universe is permeated with his Kavod.” (Isaiah 6:3).

Is there any hint in Jehovah’s Kavod for Law-of-Nature, something that, by modern science, permeates the whole universe?

We can think of one answer only:

The gravitation force!! (in modern spoken Hebrew, force of Kevidah).

By Einstein’s general theory of relativity, the gravitation field, generated by any celestial mass (like galaxies and stars), determines the most fundamental properties of the four-dimensional space-time, as we experience it in daily life and as we observe throughout the universe via astronomy, aided by scientific theory (Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, with succeeding derivatives up to the present Super-string theory). There is indeed nothing else that we can state permeates the whole universe.

And how do we, mere Earth-bound mortals, experience gravitation force?

By feeling that every physical object, large and small, is heavy, carries weight. We nowadays are aware that this sensation of physical articles being heavy is due to gravitation force. That is how we experience it in our every-day life. Additionally, by modern science, we have learned that the gravitation force (indeed gravitational field) determines the fundamental properties of the four-dimensional space-time continuum, in which we live, and the gravitational field indeed permeates the whole universe.

So:

  • If Jehovah’s Kavod expresses modes of Divine leadership of the universe (as Moses used the term in his request to God, “Show me thy Kavod”);
  • And if one of the two modes of leadership, by Jewish tradition, is Law-of-Nature;
  • And if per modern science, the most central and fundamental force-of-nature to determine the basic properties of the space-time continuum, permeating the whole universe, is the gravitation force;

Given all that, does Jehovah’s Kavod in any way points to the gravitational force???

Amazingly, Biblical Hebrew makes the impossible and implausible link between two utterly non-related concepts: Jehovah’s presence in the world via Law-of-Nature, and the most basic force of the universe, the most influential on observed Law-of-Nature, only known by modern science— the gravitation force.

Heavy, in biblical Hebrew, is Kaved (same root as Kavod, implausible as this may sound). Examples (altogether 41 instances of Kaved in the Bible imply heavy):

“Behold, tomorrow about this time I will rain heavy hail, the like of which has not been in Egypt since its foundation until now” (Exodus 9:18,24);

“And now my father had burdened you with a heavy yoke and I will add to your yoke..” (1 Kings 12:11).

We finally address the second question, put forward earlier:

Is Jehovah’s Kavod also indicative of Jehovah’s leadership via Divine intervention, imposing the set of moral Divine commandments via a system of justice operating within the confines of free-will?

The answer is similar to that for the previous question: As Jehovah’s Kavod indicates a major Law-of-Nature (Gravitation Law), so it hints at a major Divine commandment, the fifth commandment, which starts with Kabed (meaning honor):

Kabed thy father and thy mother” (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16).

We summarize:

  • Jehovah’s Kavod, mostly wrongly interpreted to-date as Jehovah’s glory, has been shown in this post to really mean, consistent with Jewish tradition, Jehovah’s double-faceted leadership of the universe;
  • It is completely incomprehensible why biblical Hebrew should link “glory” with… ”heavy” (as both derive from same linguistic root);
  • Aided by modern science, and pursuing the new interpretation of Jehovah’s Kavod, an incredible link has been established between Kavod and Kaved (both emanating from same biblical Hebrew root);
  • Consistent with the new interpretation, Jehovah’s Kavod is appropriately indicative of both force of gravity (leadership by Law-of-Nature) and of the Ten Commandments (leadership by Divine intervention).

Personal confession: Mind boggling…


Comments:

Comment [1]  (added April 28, 2019): The three-letter Hebrew root of Kavod (and related words) is “כ.ב.ד” (K.B.D). The gematria value of this root is the same as Jehovah (26). This is perhaps further evidence that Kavod in biblical Hebrew is indeed a general term for all modes by which the Divine manifests its presence in the world.

Comment [2] (added June, 17, 2020): The Coronavirus pandemic, denoted by WHO (World Health Organiztion) — COVID-19 (COronaVIrus Disease-2019), is indicative of, sounds like — Kavod (a stunning insight by Avinoam Ben-Mordechai); Read a separate post about the pandemic here.

Comment [3] (added June, 19, 2020): In the most prominent biblical demonstration of Divine intervention in the affairs of humankind (Divine leadership, Kavod), the Ten Plagues of Egypt, the word Kavod, with variations, appears Ten Times (within only three chapters!). Five times the word describes, as adjective, four of the plagues (“natural” disasters), stating that they were “heavy”; the other five times, Kavod describes Pharaoh’s “heavy” heart, refusing “Let My People Go”. Here is the list in Exodus (Chapter: Verse):

{ (8:11), (8:20), (8:28), (9:3), (9:7), (9:18), (9:24), (9:34), (10:1), (10:14) }.

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General

Free Will— The Act of Separating and Choosing

The essence of being human is exercising free will. This is the act by which we continuously create ourselves and form our personality and character.

The Divine has created mankind (“So God created mankind in his own image…”, Genesis 1:27); but He has also formed it (“And the Lord God formed mankind of the dust of the ground…”, Genesis 2:7). We, human beings, whether we wish it or not, are doomed throughout our lives to repeat, via exercising free will, the two acts of creating (establishing a solid link between soul and body, while we grow) and forming.

What is the needed environment for human beings to be able to exercise their free-will?

There are two conditions (necessary and sufficient):

[1] Existence of “Good” and “Bad” mixed together (as in “The Tree of Knowledge, good and bad”, Genesis 2:9);

[2] Hidden-ness of God and the concealment of God’s hidden-ness.

Prophet Isaiah delivers succinct and stunning expression to the existence of the first condition:

“That men may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides me— I am Jehovah and there is no one else; Forming light and creating darkness, making peace and creating the bad, I Jehovah am doing all these” (Isaiah 45:6-7).

Note that creating (“something from nothing”) precedes forming ((“imprinting form on the created”), just as forming precedes making. Yet prophet Isaiah sets absence of light (darkness) and the bad (the harmful, the evil) at a level higher than that of light— the former were created, the latter was “just” formed.

Existence of the second condition, a daily human experience revealed in countless debates on whether God exists, is evidenced both by biblical Hebrew and by the Bible. In biblical Hebrew, “World” (Olam) derives from same root as all Hebrew words pointing to concealment. Examples: Ta’aluma (Mystery); He’almut (disappearance); Ne’elam (unknown (noun), as in an algebraic equation); Alum (secret, adj.). In other words, the whole world is testimony to the hidden-ness of God. Prophet Isaiah repeats same motive:

“Indeed, thou are a God who hides thyself, O God of Israel, savior” (Isaiah 45:15).

Concealment of God, however, is itself concealed (“Does God exist?”):

“And I will surely hide my face on that day…” (Haster Astir; Deuteronomy 31:18).

The repeat of same root twice (in two consecutive words) is traditionally interpreted by Jewish scholars as implying concealment of the concealment, an integrated fact of life that we all have probably experienced at one time or another throughout our lives (“Does God exist?”).

Having studied the two conditions for the existence of free-will, the next question to ask is:

What are the limitations to exercising free-will and what does the latter entail?

We continuously live in two worlds, intermingled and most often inseparable and indistinguishable from one another: “World of Law-of-Nature” and “World of Randomness”. We can exercise free-will only in an environment that allows choice, namely, in the “World of Randomness”. Unlike in the “World of Law-of-Nature”, where external constraints force us to behave in certain ways (and not others, namely, no free choice is available), in the “World of Randomness”, where randomness prevails, we are free to exercise whatever our heart desires. It is only then, in the “World of randomness”, that we become an agent of our own free will.

What exercising free-will is comprised of? It comprises two actions:

Separating;

Choosing.

We need to separate “Good” from “Bad”, before choosing. Most often in our daily lives, the good and the bad are intermingled to a degree that the two can rarely be told apart; Therefore, we need to separate before choosing. God created darkness (per prophet Isaiah), thereby allowing the good and the bad in our world to co-exist, mixed. Consider the biblical Hebrew word for “evening” (as in “…and there was evening and there was morning…”; Genesis 1:5, for example). The Hebrew word derives from same Hebrew root used for mixing (as in “mixture”). The “Tree of Knowledge good and bad” also implies mixed together. In biblical terms, one may allegorically assert that we all have eaten of “The Tree of Knowledge, good and bad”, where “Good” and “Bad” are mixed together in the same fruit. And since then, “Good” and “Bad” have become intermingled in our body and soul, delivering us our mission in life to grow and mature and create ourselves and form our personality and character, all via the process of separating (“Good” from “Bad”) and then choosing.

The act of separating (good from bad) is two-folded and it is expressed differently in the two worlds we inhabit:

  • In the “World of Law-of-Nature”, we need to separate “good” from “bad” because absent this separation we may choose the “bad”, thereby harming our well-being and possibly even endangering our life. Thus, buying fruit in the supermarket, we are careful to separate good apples from the bad ones (rotten apples) so that we can then make the correct choice of purchasing good apples only, benefiting our health and well-being. Separation is also inherent to many of our bodily processes (like in the kidney);
  • In the “World of Randomness”, the act of separating good from bad (or “good” from “evil”, as commonly used in biblical parlance) is a much harder task. Unlike in the “World of Law-of-Nature”, where science assists us in forming clear distinction and separation between the good and the bad, we do not easily, clearly and immediately differentiate between the two in the “World of Randomness”. Let us demonstrate with a simple example. I am selling a used car, aware that the car carries a certain defect. I can inform the buyer about it or I can inform her not. In the latter case, the thinking goes like this: “I have allowed the buyer to inspect and check the car thoroughly, have I not? However, the defect was not exposed. It is the buyer’s responsibility to identify the defect, not mine, is it not?”. Such thinking testifies to the daily blurring, in the “World of Randomness”, of “good” and “bad” (or “good” and “evil”, in biblical terms). Therefore, Jewish Torah explicitly instructs: “Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor GIVE a stumbling block to the blind…” (Leviticus 19:14). In other words, one cannot hide behind an argument like the one just articulated. It is the seller’s responsibility to turn the blind into non-blind by alerting the buyer to the car’s defect.

Once we understand the act of separation in the two worlds, and grasp the role of science in assisting us separating in the “World of Law-of-Nature”, how do we separate and choose right in the “World of Randomness”?

Moses, speaking to the Children of Israel on behalf of the Divine, set to them clear separation and clear choice:

* Separation: “Behold, I have given thee this day life and the good, and death and the bad” (Deuteronomy 30:15);

* Choosing: “I call upon heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before thee life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

Is free-will an endowment of the human species, granted to it for eternity?

Not according to Scripture. The free-will act bestowed on humankind, that of separating and choosing, has a limited life-span. It is not eternal. Time will come when God will reveal Himself and then free-will, by definition, will be no more:

“For then I will convert the peoples to a non-confounded language that they all call upon the name of Jehovah to serve him shoulder to shoulder” (Zephaniah 3:9);

“And Jehovah will be king over all the earth; on that day Jehovah will be one and his name One” (Zechariah 14:7).

Furthermore, not only the task of separating and choosing no longer be in the hands of mankind; At End-Times, the Divine will conduct a process of separation of His own; However, the separation process will not be between “Good” and “Evil” (as the latter exists in the “World of Randomness”), but rather between the righteous and the evil (who exist amidst humankind):

“I will also turn my hand against thee, and will purge away your dross as with lye and remove all thy alloy” (Isaiah 1:25);

“Therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Behold, I will smelt them and try them…” (Jeremiah 9:6);

“As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall you be melted in the midst of it…” (Ezekiel 22:22);

“I will bring the third part through the fire, and refine them as one refines silver and test them as one tests gold…” (Zechariah 13:9);

“But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like the washers’ soap; and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver…” (Malachi 3:2);

“Many will be purged, and purified and refined…” (Daniel 12:10).

 

 

 

 

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My Research on the Bible and Biblical Hebrew Videos

Biblical Hebrew Linkage to Physical Reality (Video; Hebrew, English captions)

A possible linkage between biblical Hebrew and physical reality is discussed in this new video, based on lecture delivered by Professor Haim Shore at Bar-Ilan University,  November 2015, now with English captions:

Biblical Hebrew Linkage to Physical Reality -Prof. Haim Shore (Hebrew with English captions)

 

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My Research on the Bible and Biblical Hebrew Videos

One-on-One with Avi Ben Mordechai and Haim Shore (Three half-hour episodes)

Below are links to three videos, produced by Avi Ben-Mordechai, following our three-hour talk during the meeting that took place at the office of the university:

Episode 1: https://youtu.be/BnNpyurCTq4

Episode 2: https://youtu.be/25-qKaLqLzk

Episode 3: https://youtu.be/GprBVEYNEsw

Episode 1 maintains a certain line-of-thought conveyed to the viewer from beginning to end. The other two comprise short excerpts from our talk about various subjects that came up during the conversation.

No pre-publication review of the produced videos had been done on my part.

I am indebted to Avi Ben-Mordechai for kindly allowing me to post these videos in public on my YouTube personal channel.

 

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Shorties

Shorty*: The Human Desire to be like God

At the core of all human endeavors is the burning desire to be like God. The desire is already expressed in the third chapter of Genesis:  “For God knows that on the day you eat of it” (of the Fruit of Knowledge) “then your eyes shall be opened and you shall be as God..” (Genesis 3:5).

But what does it mean to be like God?

The serpent expresses it explicitly: “You shall be like Elohim, knowing good and bad” (Genesis 3:5)  (Elohim is Hebrew for God as the creator).

Jewish prophets have incessantly preached differently:

“I am Jehovah speaking righteousness, I declare things that are right” (Isaiah 45:19) (Jehovah is Hebrew for God as source of morality and virtues).

Human history is the tale of nations and individuals seeking to be as powerful as Elohim via dominating resources (whether of knowledge, of humans beings (erroneously perceived as resource) or of physical properties).

Human history is also a tale of nations and individuals ignoring the message of the Jewish prophets that to be like God also means to be like Jehovah

(all the while concurrently harming the carriers of this inconvenient message).

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* A “Shorty” is a newly invented word for a new idea or thought, expressed as shortly as possible..