Friday, January 31, 2014

Bit at a time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 1:6

I apologize, I should have posted this yesterday but I didn't want to leave you hanging as far as how to prep for emergencies when you drive.

Genesis 1:6
ו וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי רָקִיעַ בְּתוֹךְ הַמָּיִם וִיהִי מַבְדִּיל בֵּין מַיִם לָמָיִם:
Transliteration: Va-yomer elohim y’hi raqia b’tokh ha-maim v’yhi mavdil ben maim la-maim.
Translation:    Gd said Let there be a raqia in the midst of the water and let it divide water from water.
Letters in this lesson:
Vocabulary in this lesson:
in the midst of, among
You should recognize the roots of the last word in the vocabulary; you’ve seen it before.  This is the present tense of the verb you saw as yavdel before, which was the aorist.  This is the hifil form and is causative. 
Notice that I didn’t translate raqia.  The usual translation is “firmament” which is wrong.  Raqia has the root resh qof ayin and the same root is in Exodus 39:3 which describes hammering pure gold very thin and then cutting thin strips from it, which are woven with colored thread to make the efod.  It is also in Numbers 17:4; Elazar hammers flat the copper censers that were not consumed with their owners, and uses it as a covering for the ark.
“Firmament” comes from the Septuagint which uses the Greek stereoma for raqia.  Stereoma means a hard body.  It suits the Aristotelian concept that above earth is a tightly fitted hollow ball which is the sphere of the moon, the sphere of the sun being outside of that, and then five more spheres for the ancient visible planets.
The raqia is not a hollow sphere.  It is discussed in Babylonian Talmud, Passover 94a, as being 1000 parasangs thick (1277 kilometers), and below that Passover 94b says earth is 182,500 parasangs or 233 thousand kilometers below it.  What’s more, Chagigah 13a (also in Babylonian Talmud) says that there are seven raqias, all the same thickness (1000 parasangs) and there is a distance of 1000 parasangs between each raqia.  The raqia is a relatively thin covering over whatever is beneath it.What is in that 1000 parasangs of distance between each raqia, nobody discusses. 
That is probably due to Mishnah Chagigah 2:1 (Babylonian Talmud Chagigah 11b) which says “There are four things that if a man thinks about them, it would be better if he had never been born: what is above; what is below; what is before; and what is after.”  Look: Judaism has 613 commandments.  It’s hard to obey them all.  If you haven’t done that, it doesn’t matter what you think about esoteric things like the seven heavens, or what holds the world up (pre-Newton), how the universe began (pre-Einstein), or how it will end. 
And if you do spend time on those things, you always get to a point where you run out of answers.  Then you either stop talking, or you start making things up.  You’re not Gd.  Only Gd knows the truth about those things.  People will either ignore you because they know you don’t know, or they’ll believe you.  At that point you become  “somebody putting a stumbling block before the blind” because you have them believing you know what you’re talking about when you don’t.  And that right there violates one of the 613 commandments.
That’s not anti-science.  Science admits it doesn’t know everything.  That’s why scientists still have work to do.  Judaism is not anti-science.  It says that to be a Jew you have to fulfill the 613 commandments.  You can do that and still be a scientist.  But if you’re not a scientist and you don’t study science so that you know where science ends and the unknown begins, you should be going and fulfilling commandments.
Why didn’t Septuagint use a better word?  I don’t know.  I’m working on a verse by verse comparison of  Septuagint with the Hebrew and I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that Septuagint is the work of a bunch of careless idiots, one step above those monkeys that accidentally reproduced Shakespeare in the joke.  There probably isn’t a Greek word with all the connotations of raqia.  That’s common to all languages; no two languages have words for all the same concepts, and you have to approximate or use multiple words to explain what you mean.
That’s why it’s a good thing you’re learning Hebrew.  I get a chance to tell you about the connections and connotations of Torah with other Jewish classics so you can see what it really means.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

No comments:

Post a Comment