Friday, May 29, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- The Digs

Now we turn to archaeology.  No doubt you have heard that archaeology either confirms the Bible or contradicts it.
That’s an urban legend.  Like most of the urban legends you already saw me bust, it’s based on quoting out of context.
The most important context with archaeology is something called provenance. Where was it found; what’s the date of the layer; how do we know?
The rest of the urban legends you know about archaeology can be solved by three more questions:  when was it discovered; when was it understood; who did the work?
Your favorite source for archaeology might be an author who wrote before the archaeologists made the discoveries that refute her.  The archaeologist has probably moved on, knowing that something new is always being discovered.  You believe the urban legend because you’re stuck with the old information.
Your favorite source might have used preliminary results that have been discredited through use of new tools.  This will come up more than once on this page.
Or, your favorite source might be mass media, which suffers from what I call Heinrich Schleimann-Indiana Jones syndrome.  Finds get popularized in the media, which has a terrible track record when it comes to understanding sciences like archaeology and religious texts like the Bible (what the media mostly knows is quotes out of context and urban legends).  The profit motive also plays a huge role.  With costs rising and revenues shrinking, media has to make spectacular claims to grab attention.  Next time you hear about some archaeological find that says something about the Bible, use your search engine to find the original report by the archaeologist.  You’ll find 99% of the time or more that what the report says isn’t what the media said. 
It’s also true that what we know about the Greeks nowadays gives an entirely different perspective on Troy than Schleimann’s claims.  That’s the march of information thing I talked about a little earlier.
So here’s how the archaeology postings will go.  I’ll discuss the find involved in the urban legend and give its provenance as far as I can find out what it is.  That includes not only the time period and political area that the find belongs to, but also when the archaeologists found it and when it was translated, if it was a text.  Most importantly, I will point out the finds that were reinterpreted after the urban legend got started.  Because archaeology, like other sciences, never stands still, and later finds can contradict earlier claims or at best force re-evaluation of them.
The people who preserve and pass along the urban legends either don’t understand the archaeology, or don’t follow up to see if the find has been re-evaluated.
And I will begin at the beginning, for which read Genesis 1-2:3.  IN the beginning….
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 3:13-14

Genesis 3:13-14
 
יג וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהִים לָאִשָּׁה מַה־זֹּאת עָשִׂית וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה הַנָּחָשׁ הִשִּׁיאַנִי וָאֹכֵל:
יד וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶל־הַנָּחָשׁ כִּי עָשִׂיתָ זֹּאת אָרוּר אַתָּה מִכָּל־הַבְּהֵמָה וּמִכֹּל חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה עַל־גְּחֹנְךָ תֵלֵךְ וְעָפָר תֹּאכַל כָּל־יְמֵי חַיֶּיךָ:
 
Translation:    **** Gd said to the woman what is this you have done and the woman said The serpent led me astray and I ate.  **** Gd said to the serpent Because you have done this you are cursed beyond all the domestic animals and beyond all the wild animals, you shall go on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life.
 
Vocabulary in this lesson:
הִשִּׁיאַנִי
                                                                                  Led me astray
אָרוּר
cursed
מִכָּל
Beyond every
גְּחֹנְךָ
Your belly
עָפָר
dust
 
“Led me astray” has the root nun shin alef making it one of those n-verbs that loses the nun in some forms.  In fact this is the hifil which, you remember from lesson 76 on Genesis 3:7-8, is what binyan?
 
I was going to give you ’khl before but better now than never. 
 
Present
Singular
Plural
Gender
אוֹכֵל
אוֹכְלִים
Masculine
אוֹכֶלֶת
אוֹכְלוֹת
Feminine
 
Past
Singular
Plural
Person/gender
אָכַלְתִּי
אָכַלְנוּ
First
אָכַלְתָּ
אֲכַלְתֶּם
Second/masculine
אָכַלְתְּ
אֲכַלְתֶּן
Second/feminine
אָכַל
אָכְלוּ
Third/masculine
אָכְלָה
אָכְלוּ
Third/feminine
 
Future/aorist
Singular
Plural
Person/gender
אוֹכַל
נוֹכַל
First
תֹּאכַל
תֹּאכְלוּ
Second/masculine
תֹּאכְלִי
תֹּאכַלְנָה
Second/feminine
יֹאכַל
יֹאכְלוּ
Third/masculine
תֹּאכְלִי
תֹּאכַלְנָה
Third/feminine
 
Answer to quiz: hifil is causative.  It’s one of those causatives that isn’t automatically a form of the meaning of the paal, because the paal means “reject.”  Psychologically, somebody who is led astray is led into doing wrong, so you could say that Chavvah is afraid that now Gd will reject her.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- not over yet

Because I named the last episode "epilogue" you might think it was THE last episode.

It's not. 

The archaeology stuff starts this week.

What I have been doing this week is linking the old articles together.

I was doing that at first and stopped. 

So you have a couple of choices.

You can to go the Fact-Checking link and read article #1, then go through the rest of them, bookmarking when your eyes fill up and start spilling over, so you can pick up where you left off.

With 77 posts, that could take a while.  You would have the time on vacation but you will have better things to do then.  Not to mention "honeydew" lists to work through.

If you give up on it by July, you can watch for a new page on the blog which, if I get there, I plan to call Deep Digging Books.  I'll post the projected catalog if it comes off.  It will include a single PDF combining the legal posts that I finished putting up last week.

You've been warned!

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Friday, May 22, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- epilogue

Come on, I know you’re dying to say it.
“But quoting out of context means taking only part of the words and you did that all the time while you supposedly were busting urban legends that quoted out of context.”
Two things.
Two millennia ago, the top rabbis of their generation looked back and saw that Jewish legal decisions had been reached by various methods, all of which depended on not just the wording of Torah, but also the sequence of verses and a number of other features.  They codified these 13 methods and gave Rabbi Ishmael the credit for them.  I discussed some of them under the names of gezerah shavah or qal va-chomer.
These principles do not require that all the verses used be end-to-end in the text.
I was telling you the conclusions drawn by the expert rabbis based on these principles, and what verses the principles are based on.  I was not making decisions for myself – and I told you when I was speculating and didn’t have a backup in Jewish law.
The people who create urban legends will tell you that the rabbis throw quotes into their discussions all the time and so “why shouldn’t I?”
The rabbis were not giving the quotes as deciding factors.  The rabbis were orienting their comrades to a section of Torah as the basis for a suggestion to be discussed and either accepted or rejected.  Sometimes it didn’t work and no decision was reached by the time the Talmud was written down.  Then you have to turn to Mishneh Torah, Shulchan Arukh, and later codes of Jewish law, to see if a decision ever came down.
Second thing.
I never used verbage taken out of context to mean the exact opposite of what it meant while in context.  Or pretended that it had a verb when it didn’t. 
When somebody quotes out of context, challenge them for book, chapter and verse.  If they can’t tell you where they got the quote, they are creating (or transmitting) an urban legend.  Reject it.  That will take care of about 80% of the people who throw quotes at you.
If they give you a citation, check it.  Check the whole paragraph.  Check the whole chapter.  Mostly, like Samuel Levine, you will find that they didn’t quote correctly, or that the context contradicts what they claimed.  Reject it.  That will take care of another 16 of 100 people who throw quotes at you.
If you have been studying Hebrew for this last 19 months, read the material in Hebrew.  You will likely find that they relied on a translation, and a bad one at that.  Reject it.  That will take care of about 3 more of 100 people who throw quotes at you.
The other person – will probably check out as right.  But you will only know that because you’ve done your homework.  And then you will BE that person.

Now let's dig into another Biblical  topic -- the archaeological digs.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 3:11-12

Genesis 3:11-12
 
יא וַיֹּאמֶר מִי הִגִּיד לְךָ כִּי עֵירֹם אָתָּה הֲמִן־הָעֵץ אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִיךָ לְבִלְתִּי אֲכָל־מִמֶּנּוּ אָכָלְתָּ:
יב וַיֹּאמֶר הָאָדָם הָאִשָּׁה אֲשֶׁר נָתַתָּה עִמָּדִי הִוא נָתְנָה־לִּי מִן־הָעֵץ וָאֹכֵל:
 
Translation:    He said who told you that you are naked, did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?  The man said, the woman that you gave with me, she gave me from the tree and I ate.
 
Vocabulary in this lesson:
מִי
                                                                                                               Who?
הִגִּיד
told
הֲ
Question marker prefix
כִּי
That, if, when, because
לְבִלְתִּי
Not to [do something]
עִמָּדִי
With me
 
Notice that “did you” is ha-min.  The ha is a prefix that says a question follows.  Learn it, you’ll see it again.
 
“With me,” ‘imadi, means “accompanied by me”, NOT “by means of me” which is in an earlier lesson.  But notice that it is a special form.  The normal forms for “with, accompanied by” are based on the fact that et, the direct object particle, is also the preposition “with.” 
 
Singular
Plural
Person/gender
אִתִּי
אִתָּנוּ
First
אִתְּךָ
אִתְּכֶם
Second/masculine
אִתָּךְ
אִתְּכֶן
Second/feminine
אִתֹּו
אִתּהֶם
Third/masculine
אִתָּה
אִתּהֶן
Third/feminine
 
Now go back and compare the forms above with lesson 28, on Genesis 1:17.  There’s only a vowel change between them.  Again, if there were no vowels, you would know which one was meant because “accompanying somebody” here is going to be used in completely different circumstances from when you see somebody, touch somebody, etc., that is, the accusative case.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- the Worldview

Quoting out of context usually applies to using part of the words to mean something when what was said actually means something else.  Context also involves the history of the culture, such that urban legends sometimes require the culture to know more than possible when making its laws.  This is the sort of context which shows that tumah cannot equate to hygiene.
There’s also a context of worldview.  I discussed earlier that American and British law have a number of general principles in common, and American law is built on the same basis of common law as modern British law.  But they don’t handle all situations alike, and I discussed this in the context of when it is legal for police to run somebody over to the station.
The same thing is true for Jewish law.  I already discussed how the populace or their representatives don’t get to change Torah or which parts of Torah shall be observed, nor can a majority of non-Orthodox Jews affect Orthodox practice.
Some of you who know something of Jewish history may object.  For example, Torah clearly envisions the possibility of a man having more than one wife, but in medieval times Jewish courts ruled to prohibit that.  It goes deeper.  Leviticus clearly envisions people eating certain insects, but the subject doesn’t come up in Deuteronomy and Mishnah prohibits all insects because we’re not sure which ones known today fit under the four specific names in Leviticus.
The difference is, that these are permissions, not requirements or prohibitions.  Nothing in Torah says a man has to marry more than one wife to make sure of progeny, at least, not at the same time.  They can be serial wives. 
The Jewish worldview is summed up pretty well in Deuteronomy 7:6-7 and 30:11-14 which rejects principles used in a number of cultures.
  • Miracles.  For millennia after Torah was written down, cultures still governed themselves by miracles or those near relatives, omens or political astrology.  Johannes Kepler was a government astrologer and he lived to 1630 CE.  In Deuteronomy 30:12 Moshe rejected miracles, which are inherently unfair because they can result in different judgments for two cases with the same facts.
  • Heroic deeds.  In Deuteronomy 30:13, Moshe says “nobody has to cross the seas to bring Torah back to you.”  It would be unfair to hold courts hostage to dangerous enterprises.  This is rather similar to the medieval trial by ordeal; everybody knows that Guinevere and Lancelot had an affair, but Lancelot was such a mighty warrior that nobody could prevail against him, and so while other unfaithful wives like Iseult died, Guinevere lived and reigned.
  • Might makes right, and its modern counterpart majority rule.  I sometimes tell people who think Judaism should change, “Judaism is not a popularity contest.”  The Chosen People concept in Deuteronomy 7:6-7 explicitly says the “choosing” did not depend on number or military power.  Majority rule only applies in a courtroom, and then only among the judges, who would not be judging the case except that they are experts.  Other examples of the minority holding fast to Judaism include Gideon using only 300 men against the Midianites, and the small number of people allied to the Hasmoneans who defeated the Syrians.
Historically, cultures that used these principles have risen and fallen while the Jews looked on and saw that nothing had changed in human nature; people kept running after the famous and the popular and then being disillusioned when the fame or the popularity ended.
So when popular culture wonders why Judaism remains so “backward,” that comes from  people who confuse their modern worldview with the only worldview that works.  It’s a short-sighted, historically uneducated point of view.  It shows neither wisdom nor expertise.  It’s not worth getting agitated about.  When parlamentarianism and popular-suffrage democracy have survived 35 centuries, then there will be something to consider.  And if Judaism has also survived, then it will have 70 centuries of experience under its belt.  And so on.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Genesis 3:9-10

Genesis 3:9-10
 
ט וַיִּקְרָא יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהִים אֶל־הָאָדָם וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ אַיֶּכָּה:
י וַיֹּאמֶר אֶת־קֹלְךָ שָׁמַעְתִּי בַּגָּן וָאִירָא כִּי־עֵירֹם אָנֹכִי וָאֵחָבֵא:
 
Translation:    **** Gd called to the man and said to him, where are you?
He said I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I am naked and I hid.
 
Vocabulary in this lesson:
אַיֶּכָּה
                                                                                                      Where are
שָׁמַעְתִּי
I heard
אִירָא
I was afraid
אָנֹכִי
I
 
Anokhi is a separate word for “I” besides ani. 
 
“To hear,” shm‘ is an extremely important and also fairly high-frequency word in Hebrew so here’s the conjugation.  The last letter, ayin, is one of those weak ones.
 
Present
Singular
Plural
Gender
שׁוֹמֵאַ
שׁוֹמְעִים
Masculine
שׁוֹמַעַת
שׁוֹמְעוֹת
Feminine
 
Past
Singular
Plural
Person/gender
שָׁמַעְתִּי
שָׁמַעְנוּ
First
שָׁמַעְתָּ
שְׁמַעְתֶּם
Second/masculine
שָׁמַעְתְּ
שְׁמַעְתֶּן
Second/feminine
שָׁמַע
שָׁמְעוּ
Third/masculine
שָׁמְעָה
שָׁמְעוּ
Third/feminine
 
Future/aorist
Singular
Plural
Person/gender
אֶשְׁמַע
נִשְׁמַע
First
תִּשְׁמַע
תִּשְׁמְעוּ
Second/masculine
תִּשְׁמְעִי
תִּשְׁמַעְנָה
Second/feminine
יִשְׁמַע
יִשְׁמְעוּ
Third/masculine
תְּשְׁמַע
תִּשְׁמַעְנָה
Third/feminine
 
Go back to lesson 61 on Genesis 2:15 and compare shmr with shm‘ for a real lesson on what it means when a verb has a weak letter at the end, as opposed to other locations. 
 © Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved