Categories
My Research on the Bible and Biblical Hebrew Shorties

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

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

The word Shamayim in Hebrew simply means Sky (Rakia in biblical Hebrew; Genesis 1:8):

“And God called the Rakia Shamayim, and there was evening and there was morning second day”.

Rakia in biblical Hebrew, like in modern Hebrew, simply means sky.

So why, in the first chapter of Genesis, is the sky Divinely called Shamayim?

And why, according to the rules of biblical Hebrew, is it fundamentally counter-intuitive, yet, so scientifically accurate?

The word Shamayim comprises two syllables. The first is Sham, which simply means there, namely, that which is inaccessible from here. The second syllable, ayim, is a suffix, namely, an affix added to the end of the stem of the word. Such suffix in added, in Hebrew, to words that represent a symmetric pair of objects, or, more generally, to words that represent objects that appear in symmetry. Thus, all visible organs in the human body that appear in pairs have same suffix, like legs (raglayim), hands (yadayim), eyes (einayim) and ears (oznayim). However, teeth, arranged in symmetry in the human mouth, though not in pairs, also have same suffix. Teeth in Hebrew is shinayim. Other examples may be read in my book at Chapter 5.

Let us address the two claims in the title:

  • Why Shamayim is counter-intuitive?
  • Why is Shamayim so scientifically accurate?

The answer to the first claim is nearly self-evident. When one observes the sky, at dark hours, the observed is far from symmetric. So much so that the twelve Zodiacal constellations had to be invented, in ancient times, to deliver some sense to the different non-symmetric configurations of stars that to this day can be observed by the naked eye in the sky.

Yet, despite the apparent non-symmetry observed in the sky, the Divine chose to grant the sky a word indicative of the most fundamental property of the sky, as we have scientifically learned it to be in recent times, namely, its symmetry (as observed from Plant Earth), or its uniformity (as preached by modern cosmology).

To learn how fundamentally uniform (or symmetric) the universe is, the reader is referred to Chapters 5 and 7 of my book, and references therein. Another good source to learn about the uniformity of the universe, as observed via telescopes and as articulated by modern science, is the excellent presentation by Don Lincoln at Wondrium channel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRQvp3XPH_s

Note the term Desert, addressed in the lecture. The term is used, in modern cosmology, to denote the uniformity of the universe at the Big Bang (“In the beginning”).

Surprisingly, the words, Tohu Va-Vohu, describing the universe “in the beginning” (Genesis 1:2), are also associated with desert, as they are employed elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible.

Consider, for example Jeremiah (4:23, 26):

“I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was Tohu Va-Vohu…I beheld and, lo, the fruitful land has become the desert…”.

Refer also to Isaiah (34:11).

So:

  • Shamayim is counter-intuitive and at odds with the picture, revealed in ancient times to the naive observer, our pre-science ancestors;
  • Shamayim yet accurately describes current scientific picture of the universe, as formed in the last hundred years or so, based on cumulative empirical data (gathered via telescopes), and based on modern theories of the evolution and structure of the universe.

Articulated more simply:

Whatever direction in the sky you point to, Shamayim states that it is all the same, contrary to what the naked eyes are telling us, in conformance with what modern science is telling.

Personal confession, mind boggling…

Categories
General My Research on the Bible and Biblical Hebrew

“And There was Evening and There was Morning” (Gen. 1) — A Different Interpretation

(Related podcast: “And There was Evening and There was Morning” (Genesis 1) — A Different Interpretation (Podcast) .)

The known verse from the first chapter of Genesis appears therein, not surprisingly, six times.

The two central words of the verse, which confer on it its meaning, are Boker (morning in biblical Hebrew) and Erev (evening). However, their order of appearance in the verse is bizarre:

“…and there was evening and there was morning one day” (Genesis 1:5).

This is logically flawed (and same applies to all other five variations of the verse). The correct articulation should be:

“…and there was morning and there was evening one day”.

Perhaps the verse is misconstrued by us? Is there an alternative interpretation that may remove the logical flaw, inherent to current interpretation?

In this post (and the allied podcast), we offer a new interpretation. The latter integrates well with the creation narrative, as unfolding in Genesis 1, and, astoundingly, it also comports well with current scientific knowledge of the Big-Bang and its aftermath.

Ultimately, the new interpretation also explains why the same two words, Erev and Boker, stand for “evening” and “morning”, respectively, in traditional interpretations of the verse.

We base the new interpretation on a basic root analysis of the two words, and support it by numerous other verses in the Jewish Bible, where same roots appear in a context utterly divorced from the traditional meaning as “evening” and “morning”; yet, in context that is consistent with the new interpretation.

Therefore, both Erev and Boker, and their respective roots, are hence forth discussed with no relationship whatsoever to their acceptable meanings as evening and morning, respectively.

We start with Erev.

This word, and other words of same root, appear over 150 times in the Bible. The Hebrew root of Erev corresponds to E.R.B, in English. Most times, the root is associated with “evening”, but not uniquely so. Another common usage relates to mixing, or mixture. Thus, Erev-Rav (literally, “much mixture”) stands for a mixture of tribes, Arov stands for a mixture of animals (one of the Ten Plights of Egypt), and Le-itarev means to mix together.

In other words, Erev, in biblical Hebrew, simply means mixture.

Not surprisingly, the time of day when darkness starts crawling over earth, is also called Erev in Hebrew.

Let us next consider Boker.

Traditionally, the word means morning. We might be astonished to learn that its root is tightly linked to Erev, when the latter is interpreted as mixture. Furthermore, as we shall soon realize, the root of Boker diametrically represents the opposite of Erev, when the latter is interpreted as mixture.

Let us analyze usage of the root of Boker (B.K.R) in various biblical Hebrew words.

The grammatical structure of Boker is the same as Chodesh (month, in Hebrew). The verb associated with Chodesh is Le-Chadesh, meaning to renew. One may understand why month in Hebrew implies renewal, since the Hebrew calendar is based on the lunar (moon-based) month, with some periodical adjustments to keep it in tune with the solar calendar (sun-based calendar).

Similarly, the respective verb, associated with Boker, is Le-Vaker. Among other related meanings, Le-Vaker in biblical Hebrew means to seek out, namely, to make something that is mixed distinct and separate. For example (from Collins Concise Dictionary): “She sought out her friend from among the crowd”.

A typical example for the use of Le-Vaker, sharing same root with Boker, is found in Leviticus. The verse describes donation of an animal to be sacrificed to Jehovah. The verse addresses the donor and relates to his animal donation (Leviticus 27:33):

“He must not seek out (Lo Ye-Vaker) the good from the bad or make any substitution. If he does make a substitution, both the animal and its substitute become holy and cannot be redeemed.”

In other words, if the donated animal is defective, impaired in some way, the donor must not distinguish the good from the bad, or make substitution, so that the sacrifice includes only good parts of the animal. The latter must be sacrificed in its totality.  

Similarly, refer to Leviticus 13:36, or Ezekiel 34:11-12.

We realize that, according to the new interpretation based on root analysis, Erev and Boker are inherently connected, diametrically representing two opposite states. Erev describes a state of mixture; Boker describes a state that is the outcome of sorting out the mixture into its individual constituents, rendering them distinct, “separate from the crowd” (the mixture). In short, Boker describes a new state, where constituents of the mixture stand each on its own, materializing to full fruition as a result of the act of bakarah (seeking out the ingredients of the mixture).

With this new insight, based on root analysis of the two words Erev and Boker, the well-known verse, “and there was evening and there was morning”, acquires a completely new meaning. It may more precisely be re-articulated as follows:

”There was mixture (Erev), and then there was non-mixture (Boker)”, a new state where the mixture is dissolved, sorted out into its individual constituents.

We again note that the traditional interpretation, “And there was evening and there was morning one day” (and other versions of same verse) are logically flawed. The morning appears before the evening (to define a day), not the other way around. With the new interpretation, this logical flaw disappears since time is appropriately preserved.

Is the new interpretation consistent with the general description of creation, as unfolding in Genesis creation narrative?

Indeed, very much so.

In Genesis creation narrative, as unfolding in the first chapter of Genesis, the word “create” (Bara), appears not six times, as might be expected, but only twice. It first appears in Genesis 1:1 as an overall statement of all that have been created:

“In the beginning Elohim created the Heavens and the Earth” (Genesis 1:1).

The second time creation is mentioned in Genesis creation narrative relates to the human species (Genesis 1:27):

“So Elohim created Mankind, in His own image, in the image of Elohim created He him, male and female He created them”.

One may wonder:

If creation had happened “In the Beginning” (Genesis 1:1), and then on the sixth day (Genesis 1:27), what has the Divine being engaged in the rest of the six days, where creation is not at all mentioned?

The surprising answer is embedded in the two words, Erev and Boker, based on their new interpretation, based on their root analysis.

In the other days, when no creation is specified, Genesis creation narrative describes, individually for each day, how Elohim, by Divine utterance, has turned Erev (a state of mixture) into Boker (a state of non-mixture, individual parts sorted out from the mixture).

In other words, in most of the creation narrative of Genesis 1, the Divine separates the mixture, created “in the beginning”, into its distinct individual elements, materializing them from the uniform mixture, into which they were initially embedded.

How does this interpretation comport with modern science?

Indeed, surprisingly well.

The two words, Erev and Boker, as newly interpreted, are extremely consistent with how the Big-Bang and its aftermath, in the first few seconds of existence, are currently described by science.

A central element in this description is the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR). This radiation is a relic of the Big-Bang and its immediate aftermath. The uniformity of the radiation across the universe testifies that in the “Beginning” the universe was extremely uniform.

This uniformity is echoed in the Bible, describing the just created physical world (“The Earth”; Genesis 1:2):

“And The Earth was without form and void (Tohu Va-Vohu)..”.

Using root analysis of the two Hebrew words, Tohu and Vohu, let us make sense of this verse and find out what it really conveys.

Science describes the first few seconds after the Big-Bang as extremely uniform. Nothing is yet distinct, there is no information to observe. This scientific description is reflected in Tohu and Bohu. The Bible describes the just created world as being in a state that whatever an observer at the time would observe, he or she will be bewildered (Li-Tehot, to wonder; Hebrew verb linked to Tohu). Also, the imaginary observer would look around purposelessly (Li-vehot; Hebrew verb linked to Bohu). Both descriptions allude to an observer, bewildered and looking around purposelessly. Why? because there is no information, nothing to observe that might help making sense of the observed (just as in a desert).

We have come to the end of our exploration journey regarding creation of The Earth, as alluded to in Genesis 1. We realized that in most days of creation, the Divine sorted out, by uttering a Divine command, that which was created “In the beginning”.

We address the second creation, that of humankind (on the sixth day of creation; Genesis 1:27).

Humankind was not created when God created “The Heavens and the Earth” (Genesis 1:1), or the word “created” would not be repeated describing creation of Mankind (Genesis 1:27).

Since creation first alludes to “The Heavens and the Earth”, and only later to Humankind, we, human beings, are doomed to repeat, in our own life, the same process, as described regarding The Earth in the first five days of Genesis creation (and some also on the sixth day) .

According to the creation narrative, the physical world (The Earth) has moved, from one day to the next, from a vague mixture (Erev, Tohu Va-Vohu) into its visible distinct constituents (Boker), turning the potential into observable reality.

We, human beings, who were separately created, are doomed to repeat the same process as The Earth.

Exercising free will, we are doomed to sort out the hidden faceless mixture, residing within us from infancy, into observable, distinct and separate personality and character.

Once we do that, transforming the potential, lurking within us in a mixture form, into the “I”, or “Me”, which we have grown up to become;

Once we do that, then, and only then, may we offer our own creation, our own non-mixed unique self, to the world, to be of benefit to the rest of humanity, and to all other creatures living on the surface of Planet Earth.

Categories
Podcasts (audio)

“Becoming Holy” — The Bible Prescription (Podcast)

This post considers various paths to Holiness, suggested in the past, and contrast them with the biblical way.

Categories
Podcasts (audio)

The Three Pillars of Truth (Lessons from the Hebrew Alphabet; Podcast-audio)

What does “Truth” stand on? How do we tell truth from falsehood?

The Hebrew Alphabet conveys to us the essential ingredients of truth.

We denote these:

The Three Pillars of Truth.

What are they?

Categories
Podcasts (audio)

Free Will — The Act of Separating and Choosing (Podcast-audio)

Why is there free-will?

What are the necessary and sufficient requirements for free-will to be exercised?

How do we make decisions within the two worlds, comprising our lives, the “World of Law-of-Nature” and the “World of Randomness”?

These questions and others are addressed, supported by excerpts from the Bible.

 

Categories
Podcasts (audio)

“Thou shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk” (Exod. 23:19). Why? (Podcast-audio)

Jewish Kosher laws, seemingly arbitrary and devoid of any possible rational justification, in fact are based on a very deep principle of how we should conduct our lives to maintain health, spiritually and physically.

What is this principle?

 

Categories
General My Research on the Bible and Biblical Hebrew

“Words of Wisdom and Experience” (now in paperback)

From the Preface to the book:

“This compendium of essays is divided into three parts:

  • Part I: On God, Bible and biblical Hebrew
  • Part II: Personal Lessons on Life;
  • Part III: Personal Lessons on Statistics.

I hope that reading the book the reader may benefit from these words of wisdom and experience, wisdom of mainstream Bible scholars, past and present, and my own cumulative life experience.”

Amazon link to the book (soft-cover) :

Haim Shore_Words of Wisdom and Experience_Paperback Sep 2019

Categories
My Research on the Bible and Biblical Hebrew Shorties

Shorty*: What Ultimately Comforted Job?

Job feels he is righteous and has done no harm. Why bad things happen to good people?? What ultimately gives Job comfort?

The first of the Ten Commandments reads:

I am Jehovah, your Elohim, who have brought thee out of the Land of Egypt, of the house of slaves” (Exodus 20:2).

This commandment looks more like a declaration:

  • There is God;
  • There is Divine Providence (Hashgacha Pratit: “For His eyes are upon the ways of man, and He sees all his goings”, Job 33:21).

What then transforms this “declaration of facts”, “description of reality”, into a commandment?

“Why bad things happen to good people” is an ancient quandary that has occupied the minds of thinking people for millennia. We have likewise addressed this issue in this post. As related therein, perhaps the ultimate source to address this issue is the biblical book of Job, not coincidentally attributed to Moses. The story of Job is well known:

In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). Furthermore, he had a family and much property so that “…this man was the greatest of all the men of the East” (Job 1:3).

Alas, one day the angels came before Jehovah, among them Satan, and the latter challenged the Divine that Job is “blameless and upright and fears God and shuns evil” (as described by God; Job 1:8) only because Job was protected and blessed by God (Job 1:9-10). God then delivers Satan the permission to harm Job any way he wished (“all that he has is in thy power”) except for taking Job’s soul (Job 1:12). Thus, Satan was allowed by God to test Job so that all may realize whether Job, despite all “bad things” that had befallen him, remained faithful to his former self.

Following description of the “bad things”, three of Job’s friends come to visit him “to mourn with him and to comfort him” (Job 2:11). The multi-sided dialogue that then develops, between Job and his friends, is in essence a debate on whether “Bad things happen to good people”. Job holds on to his basic conviction that he is “blameless and upright and fears God and shuns evil” and therefore he is helpless to explain all the harm that has befallen him. The friends defy this claim and elaborate on why it is illogical and impossible to assume that the perfect God would allow this to happen, therefore concluding that Job probably is not “blameless”, as he pretends to be.

Job remains unconvinced and therefore also uncomforted.

What then ultimately comforted Job?

Throughout Scripture, a single theme keeps resurfacing: “The ways by which Jehovah leads his world are unknown to us and therefore humanly unexplainable”.

Examples:

  • I will be Whoever I will be” (Exodus 3:14)
  • I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy” (Exodus 33:19)
  • And Moses said to Jehovah…show me thy way that I may know thee” (Exodus 33:12-13), and Jehovah said “you cannot see my face for no man shall see me and live...” (Exodus 33:20); Therefore, “thou shall see my back and my face shall not be seen” (Exodus 33:23). Re-phrased: One may witness the results of Divine leadership and intervention in the world; these, however, cannot be explained (predicted) in advance, neither can they be explained post-factum. These results remain only to be witnessed!

The debate between Job and his friends comes to an abrupt conclusion when Jehovah intervenes in the debate. The essence of God’s explanation for “Why bad things happen to good people” is a genuine mystery:

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (Job 38:4)

Obviously, this does not constitute a satisfactory answer to the basic question. Surprisingly, Job is now comforted and he expresses this explicitly:

I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now that my eye has seen you I abhor myself and am comforted for the dust and ashes” (Job 42:5).

(Note that “dust and ashes” are signs of mourning, as mentioned early on in Job 2:12.)

Job had not received an answer to the basic question “Why bad things happen to good people”. Yet, once God has spoken to him, Job is comforted. He understands that there is Divine Providence and there is no more room for the basic question— silence is the right response (“..and Aharon kept his silence”, Leviticus 10:3).

We, mere mortals, are not privileged as was Job. We are “doomed” to exist in a universe of free will, and the latter cannot co-exist with the certainty that God exists and that there is Divine Providence. Either we have free will or we know for certain that God exists. Both, by definition, cannot co-exist. Job, once being exposed to God speaking to him, is no more a man of free will. We are.

The first of the Ten Commandments, outwardly looking like a mere declaration of facts, is in fact a commandment that demands of us the ultimate expression of free-will:

“Out of free will I accept as faithful description of reality existence of Elohim-Jehovah; Out of free will I accept as faithful description of reality existence of Divine Providence (Hashgacha Pratit)”.

*********************

*Shorty is a short post

Categories
My Research on the Bible and Biblical Hebrew Videos

Prof. Shore’s Bible Findings – Simplified (New Short Videos, English/Spanish)

Two new video clips (Hebrew/English), each about ten minutes long, have recently been produced by Mr. Oren Evron. In these I explain, in plain language, the basic principles underlying my research on the Jewish Hebrew Bible and on biblical Hebrew.

The English version focus on the biblical Hebrew research and the Hebrew version on the Bible research (specifically, Genesis creation narrative):

English (with Spanish subtitles):

Professor Shore’s Bible Findings – Simplified (English/Spanish)

Hebrew (focusing on Genesis Creation Narrative; An English version is accessible via another post on this blog):

“הבריאה לפי בראשית ולפי המדע – תואמים?? – ממצאים חדשים מדהימים!”: 

Genesis Creation Narrative and Modern Cosmology-Are They Compatible? Amazing New Findings (Hebrew)

 

Categories
General

Antisemitism and “Killing the Messenger”

How is “Killing the Messenger” associated with antisemitism?

On October 1892, Asher Tzvi Ginzberg (1856-1927), also known by his pseudonym Achad-Haam, published an article in the Hebrew periodical Hamelitz. The title of the article was: “Half a Comfort” (Chatzi Nechamah). The article was published half a century after the Damascus blood libel, and in it Achad Haam tries to extract a useful lesson from the anti-Semitic blood libel (if one can be extracted at all). He denotes this lesson: Chatzi Nechamah. Achad Haam hoped that his Chatzi Nechamah would help Jews worldwide  to cope with the devastating psychological effects of constant vilification of the Jews as part of the acceptable Anti-Semitic  “General Agreement” (in his words; today’s “General Consensus”).

In the article, linked below, I offer an additional “Half  a Comfort”, to complement that of Achad Haam:

http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/anti-semitism-and-killing-the-messenger/

This article may also be downloaded as a PDF file:

Haim Shore_Antisemitism and Killing the Messenger_Oct 2014