Sunday, September 25, 2016

DIY -- care for bleeding wounds

So a couple of weeks ago I wrote about using castile soap on a bleeding injury.
Some of you freaked because I didn't use an anti-bacterial soap.
Then I explained to you that the FDA has banned 19 ingredients in those soaps.
That's because the ingredients don't produce better results than plain soap.
They also are implicated in harm to the human body.

Meanwhile, using castile soap on the injury did not cause pain.
That's important because castile soap is a real lye-containing soap and you would think it would  hurt.

Later in the day when the bleeding had stopped, I applied an aloe-based ointment to it.
I have been using this same mixture of
aloe, lavender essential oil, and olive oil infused with comfrey,
on my skin for over a year now.

The new scrape is clearing up beautifully with the aloe treatment.
I think I might end up with not even a scar.
That's important because I still have 50-year-old scars on my knees from falling off my bike when I was a kid, and surgical scars more than 20 years old.

This is only anecdotal evidence, not a clinical study.
But  aloe has  been known for centuries to be good for skin.
And comfrey is the natural source of the allantoin you find in commercial skin care products.

The difference, however, is the other chemicals in the commercial products.
One is propylene glycol, an ingredient in anti-freeze for your car radiator.
Here is a list of products containing propylene glycol:

Ugh.  I don't use any of these.
The Crest that I use on my teeth is not on this list.
The Ivory soap (bar) that I use is not on this list.
The Aveeno calamine lotion that I have used (no longer, I have other treatments) is not on this list.
Haven't worn makeup in decades.
I use an herbal mix for hair cleaner.
I make my own ranch dressing.

Propylene glycol can make your pets sick.
My niece's dog once had severe -- um -- dirt problems and I suggested he had gotten hold of some cosmetics.  She  agreed.
So I don't see why you would use the pet products in this list.

Just one more step in telling manufacturers that we don't like being guinea pigs
just because their chemists have come up with something new
and they want to profit from the salaries that they paid the chemists.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, September 23, 2016

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Septuagint and Qumran

As you will see if you look at the bibliography, the DJD work was edited by Dr. Emanuel Tov.  He has also published his own studies of the scrolls and I want to call out one of them for a number of reasons.
The first reason is that when I was googling around for material on the Greek fragments found at Qumran – and it took several iterations of different searches – I came across Dr. Tov’s article.  A first reading seemed to show it was more detailed and so I read it carefully.
The article evaluates several Greek fragments from Qumran as “close” to Septuagint.  Both Dr. Tov and scholars to whom he refers were excited to find such material.   The article fails, however, to quantify some important information and that is the second reason.
One piece of information it does quantify is that 7 books of Torah have Greek fragments at Qumran.  It’s not clear whether that is in addition to the 225 scrolls I mentioned last week or among the 225, but it is not a large number.   It suggests that the Qumranists were not interested enough in Greek to collect Greek versions of all the books of the Tannakh.
The fragments are from Jeremiah, Psalms, Numbers, Samuel, Deuteronomy, Exodus and Leviticus.  That doesn’t allow a comprehensive conclusion even for Torah.
Tov reports that these 7 scrolls are not whole but fragmentary.  He does not quantify the amount of fragmentation.  Fragments of Qumran Greek cannot support the categorical urban legend that Qumran proves Septuagint is closer than the Masoretic text, to the Hebrew.   Too much material from Tannakh is  missing.  That’s the third reason this article was important.
Tov admits that in places the Qumran Greek texts disagree with Septuagint.  He doesn’t quantify this either, but it shows that the Septuagint was not the only Greek version around at the time.  It suggests that Septuagint did not eclipse all other Greek works about Jewish scripture from before 100 BCE.
Tov does say that the scholars who have worked on the issue give no objective definition for what they mean by “close” and neither does he say what he means by it.  Without that objective definition, and without quantification, we have no idea how close “close” is to the modern Septuagint, and so there’s no validity to the urban legend that Qumran shows that Septuagint is close to the Masoretic Hebrew we now have.
After I found Dr. Eugene Ulrich’s book on Qumran Hebrew texts online, I emailed him and asked if there was (or was going to be) something similar to his book for the Greek from Qumran.  He basically said that there would be no book, because the fragments of Greek are not large enough or numerous enough to justify an entire book.  Long journal articles, maybe.  People interested in the subject and issues are better off going to the Leon Levy archive website and studying the Greek fragments in the photos there, than waiting for those articles, let alone a book.
Qumran is never going to prove anything about Septuagint as a whole.  It won’t even prove anything about Septuagint in part, because there is too little Greek material and what relates to Jewish scripture does not all come from Septuagint.
But there is one thing you still might think Qumran would settle, since it contains a lot of material in Hebrew.  And that is for next week.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- are we there yet?

When Biblical Hebrew needs an agentless statement, it has several options, but each of them has a specific meaning.  Nifal reports legal decrees.  Qual reports unexpected or counter-intuitive legal situations, and narrative incidents with important consequences.  Hufal is used for legal definitions which imply that a court will rule a certain way or, in narratives, official or customary actions.
There’s one more agentless binyan I haven’t talked about, and I left it for last because it is the least common, and I didn’t get much of a clue to it until I had thoroughly worked over Leviticus.
When Yosef is talking to Paro, he says this:
כִּי־גֻנֹּב גֻּנַּבְתִּי מֵאֶרֶץ הָעִבְרִים וְגַם־פֹּה לֹא־עָשִׂיתִי מְאוּמָה כִּי־שָׂמוּ אֹתִי בַּבּוֹר:
That’s a duplicate unconditional using the pual. Yosef is telling a story. This is a climactic point in the story, but by no means the end; if the kidnapping had been the end of the whole narrative, Yosef would not be talking to Paro’s chief butler in jail now. But there’s more to it in two ways.
One is that the kidnapping is not the central issue of the narrative. It was crucial to the situation, but using the pual says “but wait, there’s more” that is required to get to the real point of the narrative.
Because it is used in a duplicate unconditional, it also cuts off a consequence in Jewish law. Yosef was 17 years old and legally an adult and nobody but him or a Jewish court has a right to take out an exclusive services contract on him. Yosef is saying that  he’s not working in the jail because he was contracted out by a court, which can happen if he committed a theft but couldn’t make restitution. He’s there because somebody else committed a crime – the capital crime of kidnapping for sale – BUT the pual also means he doesn’t have the evidence to convict. And anyway, that’s not what the narrative is about; it’s about saving Egypt from starving.
There’s another example in Genesis that shows what I mean even better.
 וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ וְכָל־צְבָאָם:
You can see that the verb is in imperfect aspect, and in fact it’s the narrative past. The point of it being in pual is that while the material part of creation is finished, one more thing has to happen. What is it? Shabbat. The pual points out that while it feels like we’re finished, and the verb says “they were finished,” nothing is finished until Shabbat exists. (There’s a midrash for that.)
All the same, while the point of the story is establishing Shabbat, that wouldn’t mean much if there was no material creation including people, and so this verse is not a throw-away.
When it comes to laws, pual has a different role. Here’s one example, Leviticus 27:26.
אַךְ־בְּכוֹר אֲשֶׁר יְבֻכַּר לַיהוָֹה בִּבְהֵמָה לֹא־יַקְדִּישׁ אִישׁ אֹתוֹ אִם־שׁוֹר אִם־שֶׂה לַיהוָֹה הוּא:
“BUT a firstborn that y’vukar…” Now, if it’s a firstborn, why would it use pual?
The pual in laws is on the road to being a hufal. There’s a stopping point for a discussion about whether it really is a firstborn that qualifies for the consequences. Mishnah Bekhorot chapter 1 is all about the situations that disqualify it. If it falls into one of those classes, it isn’t treated as a firstborn no matter how much evidence exists that the dam never gave birth before.
And so everything works out. These forms don’t show up where they show up just for variety. They each have a special application. They make us stop and pay attention, in the legal sense all the more so as there are consequences to acting hastily with incomplete facts. Some of the consequences are deadly, as you saw with mot yumat. 
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Outdoors -- newbie

So there's a new kid in town.  The horizontal white thing in the middle of this shot is the sign for the court where my townhouse is.

Zoom in on it if you can, and you'll see my mockingbird sitting on it.  I got like 7 pictures which was surprising.
This is a shy bird and in past years I haven't noticed mockingbirds being shy.
It's also a quiet bird.
Maybe it's a female, or an adolescent who hasn't started vocalizing yet.

It's sitting here  because the tree on the right is a holly and mockingbirds tend to build their turfs around a holly tree.
Also because on the other side of the green fence under the sign, there are two ginormous pokeweed plants.
I've seen this bird getting berries off the pokeweed, and chasing away other birds.

As you can tell, I'm not good with a camera.  I'll try to get better at it.
One thing you won't get a lot of this season, though, is autumn color.
We haven't had a decent rain in 3-4 weeks so this year's color in my town is going to be pretty sad.
I'm not planning a drive out to the  Alleghenies just for shots of autumn leaves, you can find those anywhere online.
But nobody else is posting shots of my birds.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, September 16, 2016

Fact-Checking the Torah -- why are we here?

It’s that “except for Esther” thing.  Reports on the finds at Qumran say that it contains basically the Tannakh, except Esther.  The urban legend that has been repeated to me is that Qumran confirms Septuagint.
Qumran was founded by ultra-conservative Jews.  They documented their reason for establishing themselves at the site.  They gave 20 specific ritual disagreements with mainstream Judaism of the time.  One of them is exactly the Sadducean position cited in Mishnah Yadaim 4:7.
The Tsadokites founded Qumran and then they wrote something called the Temple Scroll.  This scroll organizes Jewish law by subject.  The language in it reflects the time when the Hasmoneans were first consolidating their power, taking on the high priesthood as well as the kingship in the person of Jonathan, brother of Judah Maccabi, about 150 BCE.  The Tsadokites objected because this removed the priesthood from the descendants of Tsadok.  (Tsadok was high priest during King David’s reign and anointed Shlomo as David’s successor.)  The 150 BCE timing agrees with carbon-14 dating performed on material from Qumran and also with analysis of the lettering.
The urban legend is that the Septuagint found at Qumran is close to the Hebrew found at Qumran, closer than the Masoretic text is.
Let’s get some statistics, like I did with the Masoretic annotation.  There are some 981 scrolls known from Qumran.  225 of them are books found in the Tannakh, and there are multiple copies of 13 of the books of the Tannakh, including some of the “minor prophets” like Amos and Hoshea.  So lots of the scrolls at Qumran are not Jewish scripture.
Between 1950 and 1992, a limited number of people had access to the material in the scrolls, either curating the manuscripts or preparing the first publication, Discoveries in the Judean Desert.  It was completed about 2009.  Each volume costs hundreds of dollars, shutting out access for everybody except patrons of libraries with the right funding level.
Up to about 1990, the scholars who published claims about Qumran, based on access to the scrolls, could not be refuted except  by people who had access to the bare data, and that is not how science works.  Science relies on providing access to the data as well as the method.
All this has changed.  The millennium and the Internet provided new ways of dealing with the fragments for the masses to evaluate the scholarly work to that point.  And the evaluation has barely begun as I will discuss next week.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- it's not nifal

So Biblical Hebrew has several ways of forming agentless statements and when it deals  with a legal decree or ruling, it uses nifal.  In Modern Hebrew, nifal is the “passive” of the qal with no such connotation.   Biblical  Hebrew also has what I call qual and which some resources call qal internal passive.  If languages never create or maintain morphology without a reason, what does qual do that nifal can’t?
The qual points to consequences. L’shet yulad a son; the consequence is that human life goes on after the flood, because Noach is descended from Shet. Sarah tuqach to Paro’s house; the consequence is that his house is plagued and Sarah is given back so she can go on and give birth to Yitschaq. L’noami yulad a son; the consequence is the birth of King David.
By the way, I just gave you two of the cases where the logical subject is in a prepositional phrase.  The logical subject is not the agent of the verb.  Shet’s wife is the agent in one case, and Rut – not Naomi – is the agent in the other case.
In legal material, a qual notifies the audience that the law has an unexpected or counterintuitive consequence. To show what I mean, I’ll ring the changes on the agentless binyanim. See Exodus 21:29-31.
כט וְאִם שׁוֹר נַגָּח הוּא מִתְּמֹל שִׁלְשֹׁם וְהוּעַד בִּבְעָלָיו וְלֹא יִשְׁמְרֶנּוּ וְהֵמִית אִישׁ אוֹ אִשָּׁה הַשּׁוֹר יִסָּקֵל וְגַם־בְּעָלָיו יוּמָת:
ל אִם־כֹּפֶר יוּשַׁת עָלָיו וְנָתַן פִּדְיֹן נַפְשׁוֹ כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר־יוּשַׁת עָלָיו:
לא אוֹ־בֵן יִגָּח אוֹ־בַת יִגָּח כַּמִּשְׁפָּט הַזֶּה יֵעָשֶׂה לּוֹ:
In verse 29, a dangerous ox kills somebody; the term huad is a hufal in perfect aspect. It’s a legal definition of the ox’s status as “dangerous” (because it gored two days in a row) and uses the  perfect aspect because the conditions have been completely fulfilled. The owner has been given notice of this status (presumably by an official source authorized to do so).
The owner doesn’t guard it properly, and it kills somebody so the ox is stoned. This is nifal imperfect.   It’s the legal sentence imposed (presumably by an earthly court which is the only possible authority) to prevent the ox from killing again.  This is not a narrative past; it is a future use of the imperfect aspect.
The last word of the verse is yumat, another hufal definition. The owner is “a dead man” according to legal definition BUT this is not a capital crime so there’s no duplicate conditional.  This time the hufal is in the imperfect aspect.  I have a feeling this is there to get the audience’s attention because of its relationship to the death penalty, mot yumat.
In verse 30, we have yushat twice. This is qual and it is the imperfect aspect. Since the owner is now legally defined as a “dead man”, you might think he could be liable to the death penalty. In fact, counterintuitively, he is fined (presumably by an earthly court). The fine isn’t compensation for the death of whatever the ox gored. It’s redemption for the owner.
Verse 31 has the nifal yeaseh. This is another legal ruling. The fine is a dead end. The owner of the ox is not subject to capital punishment. The parents of the dead boy or girl cannot appeal to a court of 23 and get a death penalty, using the grounds that this was not an adult who was responsible for his or her own safety, but a child.
From what I just said, you can better understand the phrase mot yumat, the duplicate conditional. Yumat is a hufal legal definition: somebody is “a dead man”, he ought to die for what he has done. You also know that the aspectless mot functions as a command. You have to use it because in the situations where it applies, you are commanding somebody to look into using the death penalty. Verse 29 is not and never can be a command to investigate whether the death penalty applies.

One more agentless banyan to go.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, September 12, 2016

Garden -- September 2016

I know, I'm late.  I had other fish to fry.

Toward the  bottom of this article  is what you should be doing to your veggies now.

Make sure you have some paper bags and apples.
With  your green tomatoes, make picallily  or fried green tomatoes or chow chow.
When you're tired of those, bag the tomatoes with an apple in each bag.
As the apple wrinkles, the tomatoes will ripen.
Check every few days and take out the ripe ones.

AFAICT you shouldn't be pruning anything  now.
Unless you want to cut off tree branches that got fall webworm.
Like my mulberry.
When I saw the gauze,  I didn't freak.
I did some research on the  Internet.
I found out almost right away that gypsy moth don't like mulberry, so it wasn't that.
Mike McGrath told me gypsy moth spin  gauze in the spring and what I had was fall webworm.
I left it alone, and my blue jay was eying it, probably drooling over the possibility of some nice fat grubs.

We're in a drought and I'm leaving my grass alone.
It's all curled up to retain moisture and I want it to shade its roots so they don't burn.

I'm pulling out Korean dill (or mint, I'm not sure which it is any more) and chicory.
They are spent for the  year.

My morning glories, however, are gorgeous.

And the bees are  now showing  up in the morning before the glories close and gettin' some.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved