Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Garden -- rain o'er me

We just got a nice soaking rain, the first for over a month.
What do you do when it doesn't rain?
If it hasn't rained in 2 weeks and there's no rain in the forecast,
you STOP mowing.
The grass is going dormant.
It won't be growing again until it gets two nice solid rains within a week.
Except the crabgrass and the Bermuda grass.
You have my permission to whack those.
But your bluegrass, your fescue and so on will go dormant.
If you cut, you will remove the only thing preserving the moisture that will keep the  roots alive.
If you have a lawn service which insists that the contract requires them to mow at this point,
They don't know proper lawn care.
Look, if you had a fight with them when you hired them over cutting no shorter than 3 inches,
then you  already knew they didn't  know how to take care of a lawn properly.
If  they tried to convince  you  to seed your lawn before June,
then you already knew  they didn't know how to take care of a lawn properly.
To say nothing of the fight you had to put up to keep them from using chemicals on your  lawn.
It should have been no surprise to you that they wanted to mow dormant grass.
They are about money, not the good of your lawn.
Fire them.
Anyway, we're supposed to get a dump from a hurricane later in the week.
I'll cut grass next week.
For the first time in 2 months.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Sunday, September 27, 2015

DIY -- painting

The HOA told me to do some trim painting on my house.
They created a monster.
I could see that my front porch was starting to look ratty.
So I bought a quart of porch paint, a quart of trim paint, a scraper and a brush.
The trim passed inspection.
The porch looked amazing, like a ginormous carrot cake covered with cream cheese frosting.
They didn't say anything about the porch but they would have if it didn't measure up.
So I just saved myself a bad report in a future year.
There are ratty parts inside.
So I bought a quart of high-gloss and a gallon of semi-gloss.
I worked over the baseboards and a wall that desperately needed help, and the windowsills.
By the time I finished off the gallon, I had spruced up about half of the house.
Next time you're depressed about how your place looks,
Hit the home improvement store for some nice paint, a scraper and a couple of brushes with different widths.
You can use plastic trash bags for drop cloths.
Scrub the surface before you paint.
Do it in bits so you don't have to move all the furniture on the same day.
That way lie bruises and total exhaustion, and on a really bad day you'll break something you treasure, like a vase or an arm.
It will not turn you into Eldon the house painter, unless you entertain grandiose delusions.
(old people's reference, google murphy brown)
Work slowly with some good music on.
Good paint cleans off the brushes with water, and off your skin with a loofa or other exfoliator.
If you have help, pay off in pizza or Chinese food.
You'll be amazed at how good it feels to produce a nice-looking place without it costing an arm or leg, more or less literally.

Just one hint.   Before you move out, repaint in white; whatever color you chose may work with your  stuff but it might scare off buyers.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fact-Checking -- The Goddess on the Throne

Now, about this lady Kug Bau.
She was king in Mesopotamia, she’s in the kings list, and her grandson defeated Eannatum who at one point had control of all Sumero-Akkad.
But her name is not Mesopotamian in origin.  Her name is the Sumerian version of Cubebe, also known as Cybele, the mother goddess of Anatolia.
Why a queen of Mesopotamia would have the name of an Anatolian goddess is a mystery, unless there was heavy Anatolian influence on Sumero-Akkad before her reign, which was in the middle of the 2500s BCE and which the kings list said lasted 100 years.
Remember, cultura non facit saltus.  For Kug Bau to be named after an Anatolian goddess suggests long-term infiltration of Anatolian culture into Mesopotamia, or else a takeover of Mesopotamia by Anatolians before her reign that the archaeological record hasn’t uncovered yet. 
We now know that there was an Anatolian takeover in Mesopotamia.
Sumer spoke Sumerian, a language isolate with no relationship to any language on earth.
By 2500 BCE, there was no Sumer any more; there was Sumero-Akkad.  The Akkadians spoke a Semitic language. 
According to 21st century genetic and linguistic data, the Semitic language arose among people living in eastern Anatolia, south of the Caucasus mountains.  This happened between 5000 and 3500 BCE.
By 2600 BCE Akkadian, the oldest known Semitic language, produced texts that survived until today.  On the principle that cultura non facit saltus, we can say that their language originated centuries before 2600 BCE and so did their adaption to it, of Sumerian cuneiform.
Akkadian names turn up in Mesopotamian finds after the city states arose to ensure irrigation of the fields.
The source of Anatolian influence in Mesopotamia, therefore, came from the Semitic speakers who became the Akkadians.  Kug Bau was their descendant.  And she had the name of their original fertility goddess, not of the Mesopotamian fertility goddess, Ishtar.  Her reign marks the high-water point of Anatolian influence in Mesopotamia.
The Kings List puts Kug Bau on the cusp of an event that affected a huge region including Anatolia.  That’s next week.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 5:1-21

Genesis 5:1-21
Don’t flip out.  If you go slowly through these verses, you will see a) that you have already seen most of the words and b) some of the words repeat.  I’ll give you the vocabulary list next week.
א זֶה סֵפֶר תּוֹלְדֹת אָדָם בְּיוֹם בְּרֹא אֱלֹהִים אָדָם בִּדְמוּת אֱלֹהִים עָשָׂה אֹתוֹ:
ב זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה בְּרָאָם וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתָם וַיִּקְרָא אֶת־שְׁמָם אָדָם בְּיוֹם הִבָּרְאָם:
ג וַיְחִי אָדָם שְׁלֹשִׁים וּמְאַת שָׁנָה וַיּוֹלֶד בִּדְמוּתוֹ כְּצַלְמוֹ וַיִּקְרָא אֶת־שְׁמוֹ שֵׁת:
ד וַיִּהְיוּ יְמֵי־אָדָם אַחֲרֵי הוֹלִידוֹ אֶת־שֵׁת שְׁמֹנֶה מֵאֹת שָׁנָה וַיּוֹלֶד בָּנִים וּבָנוֹת:
ה וַיִּהְיוּ כָּל־יְמֵי אָדָם אֲשֶׁר־חַי תְּשַׁע מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה וּשְׁלֹשִׁים שָׁנָה וַיָּמֹת: 
ו וַיְחִי־שֵׁת חָמֵשׁ שָׁנִים וּמְאַת שָׁנָה וַיּוֹלֶד אֶת־אֱנוֹשׁ:
ז וַיְחִי־שֵׁת אַחֲרֵי הוֹלִידוֹ אֶת־אֱנוֹשׁ שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים וּשְׁמֹנֶה מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה וַיּוֹלֶד בָּנִים וּבָנוֹת:
ח וַיִּהְיוּ כָּל־יְמֵי־שֵׁת שְׁתֵּים עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה וּתְשַׁע מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה וַיָּמֹת: 
ט וַיְחִי אֱנוֹשׁ תִּשְׁעִים שָׁנָה וַיּוֹלֶד אֶת־קֵינָן:
י וַיְחִי אֱנוֹשׁ אַחֲרֵי הוֹלִידוֹ אֶת־קֵינָן חֲמֵשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה וּשְׁמֹנֶה מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה וַיּוֹלֶד בָּנִים וּבָנוֹת:
יא וַיִּהְיוּ כָּל־יְמֵי אֱנוֹשׁ חָמֵשׁ שָׁנִים וּתְשַׁע מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה וַיָּמֹת:
יב וַיְחִי קֵינָן שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וַיּוֹלֶד אֶת־מַהֲלַלְאֵל:
יג וַיְחִי קֵינָן אַחֲרֵי הוֹלִידוֹ אֶת־מַהֲלַלְאֵל אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה וּשְׁמֹנֶה מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה וַיּוֹלֶד בָּנִים וּבָנוֹת:
יד וַיִּהְיוּ כָּל־יְמֵי קֵינָן עֶשֶׂר שָׁנִים וּתְשַׁע מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה וַיָּמֹת:  
טו וַיְחִי מַהֲלַלְאֵל חָמֵשׁ שָׁנִים וְשִׁשִּׁים שָׁנָה וַיּוֹלֶד אֶת־יָרֶד:
טז וַיְחִי מַהֲלַלְאֵל אַחֲרֵי הוֹלִידוֹ אֶת־יֶרֶד שְׁלֹשִׁים שָׁנָה וּשְׁמֹנֶה מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה וַיּוֹלֶד בָּנִים וּבָנוֹת:
יז וַיִּהְיוּ כָּל־יְמֵי מַהֲלַלְאֵל חָמֵשׁ וְתִשְׁעִים שָׁנָה וּשְׁמֹנֶה מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה וַיָּמֹת:
יח וַיְחִי־יֶרֶד שְׁתַּיִם וְשִׁשִּׁים שָׁנָה וּמְאַת שָׁנָה וַיּוֹלֶד אֶת־חֲנוֹךְ:
יט וַיְחִי־יֶרֶד אַחֲרֵי הוֹלִידוֹ אֶת־חֲנוֹךְ שְׁמֹנֶה מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה וַיּוֹלֶד בָּנִים וּבָנוֹת:
כ וַיִּהְיוּ כָּל־יְמֵי־יֶרֶד שְׁתַּיִם וְשִׁשִּׁים שָׁנָה וּתְשַׁע מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה וַיָּמֹת:  
כא וַיְחִי חֲנוֹךְ חָמֵשׁ וְשִׁשִּׁים שָׁנָה וַיּוֹלֶד אֶת־מְתוּשָׁלַח:
This is the book of the generations of Adam on the day that Gd created Adam in the likeness of Gd He made him. 
Male and female He made them and He blessed them and named them Adam on the day of His creation of them.
Adam lived 130 years and sired in his image and named him Shet.
The days of Adam’s life after he sired Shet were 800 years and he sired sons and daughters.
All the days of Adam that he lived were 930 years and he died.
Shet lived 105 years and sired Enosh. 
Shet lived 807 years after he sired Enosh and he sired sons and daughters.
All the days of Shet were 912 years and he died.
Enosh lived 90 years and sired Qeynan.
Enosh lived 815 years after he sired Qeynan and he sired sons and daughters.
All the days of Enosh were 905 years and he died.
Qeynan lived 70 years and sired Mahalalel.
Qeynan lived 840 years after he sired Mahalalel and he sired sons and daughters.
All the days of Qeynan were 910 years and he died.
Mahalalel lived 65 years and sired Yered.
Mahalalel lived 830 years after he sired Yered and he sired sons and daughters.
All the days of Mahalalel were 895 years and he died.
Yered lived 162 years and sired Chanokh.
Yered lived 800 years after he sired Chanokh and he sired sons and daughters.
All the days of Yered were 962 years and he died.
Chanokh lived 65 years and sired Metushelach.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Outdoors -- scraps

Yeah, it's been a while, hasn't it?
Actually, there's good stuff going on.
Saw a couple of hummingbirds or the same one twice.
They like Rose of Sharon and I hope they're liking my morning glories.
Which now are almost done for the season.
Because it's been droughty and now it's going to turn cold at night.
On the positive side, the cool temps let me get out and walk the neighborhood.
Haven't done that in years.
I'm in good enough shape that I haven't felt sore the next day, either.
Started with one block -- our blocks are longer than normal.
Now I've graduated to a mile.
If I'm not sore Tuesday,
I'll add a block the day after Yom Kippur.
At one time I could do 5 miles and then everything went to hell.
But that's my goal -- to walk to the lake, around it, and back.
What's on YOUR bucket list?

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- The Kings List

Your assignment for this week was to read Genesis chapter 5.
The urban legend for this chapter is that it is a version of the Sumerian Kings List.
The provenance of the Sumerian Kings List falls into two parts.
First, there was a kings list collated in the Ur III dynasty about 2000 BCE under Akkadian king Utu-Hengel, who ran the Gutians out of Mesopotamia.  The sources of the original kings list were king lists from the most important cities of Sumero-Akkad: Kish, Ur, and so on.  However, for some reason we don’t know yet, this list ignores the kings of Lagash.  By the way, that cuneiform thing?  Applies here too.
The first modern publication about the kings list dates to 1906 based on cuneiform text found in Nippur, modern Nuffar in Iraq.  Later research at Larsa, modern Tell as-Senkereh, took place in 1933.  A discovery in 1923 possibly at Ur (Heinrich Schleimann method prevailed in this dig, destroying provenance information), called the Weld-Blundell Prism, provided the complete list and revised everybody’s ideas about the kings list. 
The kings list pretended to be a sequential list of all the kings of Mesopotamia.  But in 1923 archaeologists discovered texts referring to a king Mes-anne-pada of Ur, who did not fit into the sequence.  After a lot of work, the archaeologists realized that the original king lists of the various cities sometimes ran concurrently, not consecutively.  The editor who produced the kings list in 2000 BCE manipulated the regnal years to make it look like a consecutive list.
About 1700 BCE, somebody realized that Mesopotamian literature referred to kings who were not in the list.  So they added a prequel.  In the prequel are kings like Zidusura (normally known as Ziusudra) and Gilgamesh.  Their reigns are incredibly long.  This feature contributed to the urban legend that the people referred to in Genesis 5, with their long lives, represented a version of the kings list. 
Now let’s go back and look at the missing city.  Lagash made no contributions to the kings list.  That’s not because it was a negligible population center.  One king of Lagash, Eannatum, conquered all of Mesopotamia at one point and took the title King of Kish which represented his absolute sway in the region. 
We don’t know why he was left out.  What we do know is that he was conquered by the grandson of a woman king, Kug-Bau, whose very name represents a whole different take on Mesopotamia and its culture.  That’s for next week.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 4:25-26

Genesis 4:25-26
כה וַיֵּדַע אָדָם עוֹד אֶת־אִשְׁתּוֹ וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן וַתִּקְרָא אֶת־שְׁמוֹ שֵׁת כִּי שָׁת־לִי אֱלֹהִים זֶרַע אַחֵר תַּחַת הֶבֶל כִּי הֲרָגוֹ קָיִן:
כו וּלְשֵׁת גַּם־הוּא יֻלַּד־בֵּן וַיִּקְרָא אֶת־שְׁמוֹ אֱנוֹשׁ אָז הוּחַל לִקְרֹא בְּשֵׁם יְהוָֹה:
Translation:  Adam again “knew” his wife and she birthed a son and named him Shet “for elohim substituted for me other seed” in place of Hevel for Qain killed him.
To Shet was also born a son and he named him Enosh, at that time it was begun to name ****.
Was begun
There’s no telling what the last verse really means.  Does it mean naming people after ****?  That doesn’t seem right, because in Exodus Gd tells Moshe “by my name **** I didn’t reveal myself to them.”  “Them” means the patriarchs like Avraham.  And Avraham is many generations in the future relative to chapter 4.  So it also doesn’t make sense to say that people began to address Gd by the Tetragrammaton.  So I just gave the meanings of the words, although as before I translated qara b’shem as “to name,” as in “to give a name.”  The same as in verse 25.
Quiz: what binyan is the word “know” and what connotation does it have?
The audio for chapter 4 follows, also a link to the Hebrew text on the same site.
The audio:
The text:
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The World is Coming to a Beginning!

The world begins again tonight.
It's been a good year.
There are over 14,000 real-people pageviews on the blog.
If you're new here, see these pages for the big stuff:

The Mendel Beilis trial transcript English translation -- first ever end-to-end.
Fact-Checking the Torah -- busting those urban legends.
Bit at a time Bible Hebrew -- trying to teach you to bust urban legends for yourself.
DIY -- how to save money by changing your habits, including basic cooking for yourself.

Plus all my garden and outdoors fun.

I began rewriting Narrating the Torah to go with Dr. Cook's dissertation, but at the same time
I began studying Samaritan Pentateuch carefully.
I began learning about terms like internal passive and pausal form.
I began examining trop, the marks that guide chanting  the Torah.
A synergy developed between all these things that has opened my eyes to Torah in a new way.

But everybody says that who studies Torah for itself, to really understand Gd's word.

You can begin that now, when your world comes to a beginning.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, September 11, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- First Principles

Your assignment for this week was to read the Lemekh story, Genesis 4:18-24.
In this lesson I’m going to introduce a great principle of archaeology which the urban legends ignore.
I copied it from paleontology, the sister-science of archaeology. If somebody else already put it in these terms, I haven’t read their work.
Natura non facit saltus.
When paleontologists discover a fossil with certain characteristics, they know that those characteristics weren’t installed in that fossil through genetic manipulation by humans. They were expressed in that fossil due to genes inherited from the ancestors of the life form. The genes were not harmful or the ancestors would have died instead of producing offspring that inherited the genes. They might have been neutral in effect. But every once in a while, environmental conditions let an individual with certain genetic changes survive to produce more generations of offspring with those characteristics, until an entirely new species resulted, which sometimes spawn a genus or even larger life form group, while older life forms died off because they couldn’t cope. Accumulating genetic changes while waiting for the environment to change lasts many times the life of an individual.
The same is true for human technology up until about the mid-1600s CE. Before the development of science, human cultural and technical developments were the product of small changes, possibly accidental, which it took many trials to learn to produce consistently on purpose. New technologies developed over generations and centuries and millennia.
So when the Lemekh story says that his son Tuval Qain worked in iron, that means that iron-working was set into the earliest stages of time by Jewish stories that became scripture.
But, you will say, the Israelites were a Bronze Age culture and didn’t know anything about iron-working. That’s an urban legend that has been busted by the march of archaeology.
Archaeology has turned up iron smelting in Anatolia in the 2500s BCE, a period that will show up in later posts. Carbon steel shows up among the Hittites by 1800 BCE and arrives among the Amorites by 1600 BCE. Meteoric iron usage goes back at least as far as 4000 BCE. Remember that date.
Since cultura non facit saltus, people were messing around with iron one way or another for generations or centuries before they used or produced the items the archaeologists found.  This is the same argument I used to show that people were eating grain for generations, centuries, even millennia before they produced the sickles that date to 18,000 BCE.
If the Ingress to the Holy Land happened when most people think it did, before 1200 BCE, there is no doubt that the Israelites found carbon steel in use, among people who could afford it. As a result, there can be no doubt that smelted iron products were in use in the Holy Land before the Ingress, as early as the 1800s BCE perhaps.
You’ll say, but the Hittites would have used border controls to keep their monopoly on their high-tech weapons. The earliest known attempt at impenetrable borders might be “the Walls of the King” in Egypt in the 2000s BCE. Archaeology shows that these walls periodically collapsed, and that even when they were in repair, non-Egyptians might be allowed in for trade or diplomatic reasons. We have no reason to think the Hittites were any more exclusive. On the contrary, we know that they had a client kingdom of Wilusa west of them in Anatolia, and that they had copies of the Mesopotamian Gilgamesh epic from almost 1500 kilometers away. The first relatively non-porous borders were imposed and maintained by the Assyrians in the 600s BCE, as far as I know, and they lasted less than a century. More on those much later.
So the idea of iron-workers in the early history of the people who became the Jews is not only thinkable, it’s probable, and there’s no reason to insist that Tuval Qain reflects the period of the Hittites. At least not the period that most people think of.
Your assignment for next week is to go back and read Genesis chapter 5.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 4:21-24

Genesis 4:21-24
כא וְשֵׁם אָחִיו יוּבָל הוּא הָיָה אֲבִי כָּל־תֹּפֵשׂ כִּנּוֹר וְעוּגָב:
כב וְצִלָּה גַם־הִוא יָלְדָה אֶת־תּוּבַל קַיִן לֹטֵשׁ כָּל־חֹרֵשׁ נְחשֶׁת וּבַרְזֶל וַאֲחוֹת תּוּבַל־קַיִן נַעֲמָה:
כג וַיֹּאמֶר לֶמֶךְ לְנָשָׁיו עָדָה וְצִלָּה שְׁמַעַן קוֹלִי נְשֵׁי לֶמֶךְ הַאֲזֵנָּה אִמְרָתִי כִּי אִישׁ הָרַגְתִּי לְפִצְעִי וְיֶלֶד לְחַבֻּרָתִי:
כד כִּי שִׁבְעָתַיִם יֻקַּם־קָיִן וְלֶמֶךְ שִׁבְעִים וְשִׁבְעָה:
Translation:  The name of his brothers, Yuval who was the first of all who touch harp and ugav.
Tsilah also gave birth to Tuval Qain sharpener of all tools of bronze and iron and the sister of Tuval Qain was Naamah.
Lemekh said to his wives, “Adah and Tsilah obey me, wives of Lemekh listen to what I say, if I killed a man, for my wounding, or a boy for my injury.
If shivataim were established for Qain, for Lemekh 77.
Bronze, copper
Listen to
My wounding
My injury
Some of you no doubt think that the word “iron” places this part of Genesis in Hittite times.  However, archaeologists have found meteoric iron that they can tell people were using, dating back to about 4000 BCE; smelted iron from the 2500s BCE; and carbon steel among the Hittites of the 1800s BCE.  The urban legend is that Torah is the oral tradition of a Bronze Age people, but now you can see that for that to be true, the ancestors of the Jews would have to have existed before 2500 BCE.  Now read the archaeology posts from the Fact Checking page…..
Notice that Lemekh admits killing somebody using haragti but not ratsachti.  So his story is connected to Qain in two ways, by name and by use of harag.  Three ways if you count the name Tuval Qain.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I'm just saying -- No, that's not it Part II

From somebody I follow on Twitter, there's this link.

The professor blames all his problems on academe.
No, that's not it.
The problem is he woke up from his fantasy and he's blaming others for the fact that the real world doesn't match his fantasy.
In other words, due to his background he's entitled to have everything the way he wants it.
When he arrived at the university they were supposed to immediately recognize his awesomeness and bow down before it.
Instead, they insisted on their own value as human beings.
They didn't like being treated like annoyances and they showed it.
The whole first paragraph or two of this is supposed to impress the reader with how intelligent the writer is.
So how come he wasn't smart enough to know that the best and brightest don't go to school for liberal arts degrees?
They go for science, engineering, math, computers, pre-med, pre-law, nursing, and so on.  This is the same crisis as Oxford and Cambridge went through about 1800, when trade schools and military schools and the University of London bled off all the bright people by offering them a future.
How come a history professor doesn't know  that?
People don't go to university to become historians (or classics scholars).  They know they can't make money that way.   They know they can make their pile in other fields and pick up with the humanities later.  Some of them became famous for it.
What the writer had in class were the people who will be successful in the future, who were punching their tickets as having  a well-rounded education. 
Or he had people for whom he felt contempt because they were majoring in the liberal arts but they weren't as awesome as he is.

Finally, the writer wasn't intelligent enough to realize that where there are people, there are social dynamics.
Social dynamics are at the heart of history.
If the writer was so incompetent at social dynamics as appears from his article, he must have been lousy at history because he probably had absolutely no rock-bottom realistic understanding of why history twists and turns the way it does.
If  he's that bad at social dynamics, what must his home and social life be like?

So before you buy into the fairy tale that intelligence and getting tickets punched entitles you to have things the way you want it, turn around and look at what happened in Virginia within  the last couple of weeks.
A guy who felt entitled to a job in which  he displayed horrible social dynamics reacted as if he had been victimized, and he killed a couple of people.
You're not entitled to anything.
If you don't get what you want you're not a victim.
Wake up from the fairy tale and learn how to cope with real life.

I'm just saying...
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Late-breaking news

I've talked before on this blog about my project, Narrating  the Torah.
At least I think I have.
Anyway, I have to point you to Deuteronomy 15:14.
This verse is about somebody who has just worked off their exclusive services contract.
When the time comes, this verse says to anaq the former contractor.
It uses the same root as Anaqim.
Now, you can see right away that it's impossible to make the former contractor a physical giant.
So it's clear that what you have to do is strengthen him.
Which means that the Anaqim didn't have that name because they were physical giants. 
They had that name because they were so mighty.

The verse in Deuteronomy has an interesting parallel.
I've been crawling all over the net looking for scientific articles on Linear B.
It showed up at digs in Thebes (in Greece), in Pylos, and in a palace in Sparta.
The provenance is from 1350 to 1200 BCE.
So use of Linear B was a long-term thing in a broad area, not a short-term curiosity from just one  place in ancient Greece.
Tablets at Pylos tally the pay of workers and what they produced.
The pay included not only manufactured goods but also raw materials.
Personally, I think this looks as if there was a common custom in ancient times.
A skilled worker might  have several levels of skill.   She might be able to produce for the luxury market.
But the luxury market had few buyers who needed a limited number of things.
While the skilled worker produced them, the buyer provided all her support, which used to be known among the British servant class as "all found."
When she was done, the buyer released her.  Now what does she do for support?
Well, she takes the raw materials the buyer gives her, and she produces knock-offs of the same products for less wealthy buyers.
That keeps her going until she can get another contract from a wealthy customer.
Later on the blog I'll get into a basic concept known to all archaeologists: the things that turn up in ancient writings weren't inventions of the time when the writings were made.
So providing raw materials to an outgoing contractor had a long history prior to 1350 BCE.
We can't tell how long.  Much of what was written in those times has  disappeared.
If anybody out there knows of evidence that the same kind of thing is recorded in Egyptian writings, and what the provenance of those writings is, we have strong evidence of a widespread cultural phenomenon. 
But once hieroglyphics and Linear B disappeared as recording languages, Torah remained as the only evidence of the custom until they were rediscovered and redeciphered.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Friday, September 4, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- They "Might" be Giants

Your assignment for this week was to read Genesis 6:1-8, but I also wanted you to read Numbers 13, especially verses 22 and 33; Deuteronomy 2:11, 20-21; Deuteronomy 3:11, Deuteronomy 9:2, and Deuteronomy 14:33.
First, the N’filim “were in the earth” at the time that the sons of lords were marrying the daughters of men.
Weren’t they the sons of gods?
This is an urban legend that ignores Jewish culture.  Jewish culture only has one Gd.  Everybody else are nobles, lords, masters, etc.  In Exodus 4:16 Gd tells Moshe that Aharon will be his mouth and Moshe will be Aharon’s master.  It uses elohim just like Genesis 6:2 which refers to the sons of masters.  Judaism rejects the idea of “sons of the gods.”
This is how urban legends work!  Yes, exclamation point.  People latch onto an idea that excites them!  And then they spread it.  But the exciting idea isn’t true to its source, and that lack of faithfulness gets exaggerated over time until it’s an absolute falsehood.  Judaism rejects the idea of “sons of the gods.”  Claiming that Genesis means “sons of gods” is one of those “quoting out of cultural context” fallacies I talked about a long time ago.
Second, Numbers 13:33 says that ten of the Israelites in the reconnaissance team claimed they saw the N’filim there and felt like insects compared to them.  Once again, this is people exaggerating.  In the verses immediately before this, the same men were praising the land but now they are making a power play, not a physical size comparison.
Those are the only verses that refer to the N’filim.
Then people compare them to Numbers 13:22 which talks about Sheshai, Talmai, and Achiman, and Deuteronomy 1:28 which says that these three men were “sons of Anaq”, and the rest of the verses in Deuteronomy that call the Anaqim great and mighty, and they assume that “great” means they were giants.  That isn’t true.  It means that the kingdom of the Anaqim was large and that they had the numbers and weapons to defend it, not necessarily that they were bigger than normal humans. 
Then they look at verses in Deuteronomy about great and mighty nations, among whom are the R’faim. 
And finally they look at Deuteronomy 3:11 which talks about Og king of Bashan, “last of the R’faim”, and his 9 cubit (13.5 feet) iron network “bed,” and assume that a big bed means a giant man, and then they reason backwards that all the others were also giants.
The problem is that in old times a mitah, (bed), was often the only place in a house that could be used as a seat. Their houses had a floorspace about as big as one room in your house.  Even those “shipping container” apartments that people live in now are bigger than a house in ancient times. 
So everybody sat on the mitah at dinner time, kind of like how the Greeks and Romans did it.  It had to be 9 feet long to have room for the king’s relatives.  What’s more, when his council met, they sat on the mitah too.  Think of it like your living room couch, not like the bed you sleep in. Then you won’t be so surprised that it was 9 feet long.

I don’t know why Og’s “bed” was made of iron, but that’s for later.  For now, go back to the Lemekh story, Genesis 4:18-24.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 4:17-20

Genesis 4:17-20
יז וַיֵּדַע קַיִן אֶת־אִשְׁתּוֹ וַתַּהַר וַתֵּלֶד אֶת־חֲנוֹךְ וַיְהִי בֹּנֶה עִיר וַיִּקְרָא שֵׁם הָעִיר כְּשֵׁם בְּנוֹ חֲנוֹךְ:
יח וַיִּוָּלֵד לַחֲנוֹךְ אֶת־עִירָד וְעִירָד יָלַד אֶת־מְחוּיָאֵל וּמְחִיָּיאֵל יָלַד אֶת־מְתוּשָׁאֵל וּמְתוּשָׁאֵל יָלַד אֶת־לָמֶךְ:
יט וַיִּקַּח־לוֹ לֶמֶךְ שְׁתֵּי נָשִׁים שֵׁם הָאַחַת עָדָה וְשֵׁם הַשֵּׁנִית צִלָּה:
כ וַתֵּלֶד עָדָה אֶת־יָבָל הוּא הָיָה אֲבִי ישֵׁב אֹהֶל וּמִקְנֶה:
Translation:  Qain knew his wife and she got pregnant and birthed Chanokh and he turned out to build a city and named the city like the name of his son, Chanokh.
Irad was born to Chanokh and Irad sired M’chuyael and M’chiyael sired M’tushael and M’tushael sired Lemekh.
Lemekh took two wives, the name of the one was Adah and the name of the second was Tsilah.
Adah birthed Yaval, he was the first to live in tents and flocks.
Quick quiz: what tense is “knew” in this section.
Notice that the direct object form of Lemekh is Lamekh.  It’s not that common but you probably noticed the change in vowels.
“Was born,” yivaled, is a nifal binyan, the passive of the paal or qal.
Notice that “sired” is not a causative binyan.  It is the masculine singular of the paal or qal.  You can never say that a man gave birth, you have to say “sired.” 
Answer:  The tense of “knew” is aorist.  Remember that when Qain and Hevel were born, Torah used the past which has a pluperfect sense.  Lemekh’s story, as I commented before, takes place in a breathless hurry.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Garden -- September

September is more of the same with a few exceptions.
One is, buy your cornmeal gluten.
Put this down by the middle  of the month.
It will suppress this year's crop of weed seeds.
Be careful where you put it.
If you have clover in your lawn, don't put the cornmeal gluten there.
You want clover.
It puts nitrogen in the soil and that's good for your grass.
For other places, measure the gluten carefully.
In the DC region there are laws limiting the nitrogen homeowners put on their lawns.
Cornmeal gluten is nothing but nitrogen.
The law is aimed at preserving the crabs and oysters in the bay.

Second, Mike McGrath says it's time to plant trees.
Print out the post at this  link.
Follow the instructions if you are planting your own trees.
If you hire somebody to do it, show them the print out.
Tell them if they don't follow these rules, you won't pay them until they fix things to be the way the rules say.
If  they walk, let them.
You spent too much on that tree to let people kill it by not doing what you tell them.

Third, if you are ambitious, you can have fresh vegetables until about Thanksgiving in the DC region.
This probably doesn't apply in the  Baltimore or Frederick (MD) areas.
Put down a fresh two inches of compost.
Plant dark green leafies, cabbage, beets, turnips, parsnips, and some kinds of salad greens.
It's drought time here so water deeply IN THE MORNING (the slugs are out), wait a couple of days, and water again.
You can put straw baskets over late cabbages and they might survive the winter if they're in the sun, but you'll have  to harvest early in the spring because those cabbages will flower as soon as it gets warm.
As soon as greens flower, they become inedibly bitter.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved