Monday, November 30, 2015

DIY -- hot water urn

Strictly speaking, this is an appliance and not DIY.
Why did I buy it?
On Sabbath I have been keeping a stove burner on with a cookie sheet over it for what's called a blech.
I keep water hot on it for tea on Sabbath.
The burner uses 800 watts of electricity.
The urn keeps the water hotter, has a special mode for Sabbath, and uses less electricity.
It uses 750 watts of electricity.
I ran the numbers before I bought it, as I always do to make sure an appliance will pay for itself.
If it works for one winter and up to December of the next, it has paid for itself.
Most of you don't observe Sabbath like this so it won't work for you like it does for me.
But it's nice to find something that makes my Sabbath more comfortable
and also helps the environment.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- the rest of the story

The second part of Noach’s story discusses an event from about the year 4000 BCE in the Lake Van region.  I told you to remember that date.
Noach “began to be a farmer,” and he planted wine grapes, made wine, and got so drunk he fell asleep.
I already said that wine grapes were domesticated in the Lake Van region about 4000 BCE.
Then something, we don’t know what, happens to him, something his youngest son did.
What the youngest son did is explicit in the Greek wars of the gods.  Kronos is the youngest son of Uranos and Zeus is the youngest son of Kronos, and both of these youngest sons defeat their fathers and become chief gods. 
Cham, the youngest son of Noach, does NOT become the head of the family.  He is made the lowest and the least and his descendants from his son K’naan are supposed to be bondsmen to the descendants of the elder two sons, Yafet and Shem.
The urban legend is that this justifies enslaving Africans but first, we’ve been all through the “bondsman” issue and second, we know that K’naan was not an African nation but a mighty Semitic nation of the Holy Land.  Their language shows up in marginal notes on the Tell el-Amarna tablets created for the diplomatic needs of Pharaoh Akhenaten. 
The wine motif in Atra-Hasis or Gilgamesh is limited to a party when the ark has been completed.  Atra-Hasis mentions the complaint of a goddess that since people have been destroyed, she can’t get beer any more.  In Gilgamesh, there’s a reference to Siduri, the “tavern keeper” or “ale-wife”, depending on whose translation you use.
And now we are right back to Kug Bau, because this is also her title, aside from her Anatolian name.
The cuneiform may literally mean “tavern keeper” or “ale-wife,” but obviously it’s an idiom for royalty or deity.  Not that Kug Bau and Siduri are necessarily the same people, but that they have similar ranks or importance.
Nobody falls asleep in Atra-Hasis.  In Gilgamesh, it’s Gilgamesh who falls asleep, after bragging that he won’t.  Utnapishtim plays a trick on him to prove how long he slept.
“Going Forth” has no sleep motif, just a major party with “drink”.  Supposedly the “storm god” curses the other gods, having already become supreme, but he is never named and is absolutely not Kumarbi.  No actions describe how he became supreme over Kumarbi, who gave birth to him.  But his supremacy is Anatolian in nature, not Mesopotamian where irrigation and not rainfall is the major source of water.
The same issue applies here as to the first aliyah of Torah.  The stories have some similar motifs, but some show up in stories one and two, but not three or four; make up your own table and assign your own designators.  As a result, except for the notable copying between Atra-Hasis and Gilgamesh, the wording of the stories differs for the most part.  Something else is going on here that the urban legend doesn’t cover.  The Jewish story goes back as far as 4000 BCE, but the two Mesopotamian stories existed only in cuneiform as far as we know, and cuneiform developed a millennium later.  I’ll discuss what was going on toward the end of this blog.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- verb root class review

Before I go into the binyanim full blast, here’s a review of the verb root classes from two perspectives.
 
Peh verb classes: alef, nun, yod. Verbs that start with heh, chet, and ayin have similarities to peh alef verbs.
 
Ayin verb classes: vav and yod, alef/heh/chet/ayin.
 
You may have heard of ayin ayin verbs and wondered what difference there was between those and a verb like pal which has an ayin in the middle. The term “ayin ayin“ ought to be replaced with its name in other systems: Gordon called it an L-stem when he described Ugaritic. What it means is that the second and third root letters are identical. Note that this is not NOT the same thing as “gemination” which, in Hebrew, means putting a dagesh in a letter as described in lesson 17.  A geminated verb must have a short vowel before the gemination. An L-stem verb can take a long vowel under the first root letter. The third root letter is the starting point for a new syllable in conjugation and must not be considered the same thing as a gemination.
 
Lamed verb classes: alef/chet/ayin.  The lamed heh verbs are specific to Hebrew and combine two historic root classes, lamed yod and lamed vav. 
 
The second perspective on verb root classes is this: alef, heh, chet, and ayin are “guttural letters” and cannot take dagesh; they require different vowels than the strong letters in similar positions.  Resh also cannot take dagesh but otherwise is normal.
 
Vav and yod are “weak letters”.  The verbs with these letters in the middle are called “hollow verbs” because the middle letter disappears completely in some forms.  Initial yod also disappears for some verbs; I don’t know a rule for this so you have to just memorize them.  Historically there was a peh vav form but by the time of Akkadian, it began to disappear because it was easily confused with the initial “v” sound of the conjunction.  These verbs were absorbed into the peh yod class and sometimes it shows.  Hmmm.
 
Initial nun is a “weak letter.”  In some verbs, it is retained and in others it isn’t.  I don’t  know of a rule for how to distinguish which verbs will drop it and which won’t.  Initial lamed sometimes behaves this way, as in laqach but not lavash. 
 
Flash cards sometimes help people with their verbs.  Each time you come across a verb you  don’t have in your deck, copy it onto a new flash card  with all the vowels.  Sort the cards by root class, and you’ll soon get an idea of their similarities and differences.  I don’t think there’s an Anki deck for this yet;  try creating one and then share it on ankiweb.
 
Now.  I haven’t taken many swipes at Wikipedia on this part of the blog but I will now. The Wikipedia article entitled “Semitic Root” is actually a short discussion of the system of stems or binyanim, which are called “forms” in Arabic. Root classes and stem classes are different things.
 
The triliteral root system relies on the spelling of the root and relates to how to pronounce the verb under conjugation. Once Akkadian adopted cuneiform as its writing system, it standardized which symbols went with which root class – as much as it could, since there are documented indications that some people couldn’t spell even back then. Subsequently every Semitic language used basically the same verb root classes, until we got to Hebrew and the lamed heh verb class.
 
The stem or binyan system applies to verbs regardless of what letters are in the root or what vowels are used with the various indications of person, number or gender. Not all verbs use every stem or binyan, but this situation has no relationship to the verb root class the verb belongs to.   (If you know of a peer-reviewed paper that says otherwise, let me know.)  Also different languages have different sets: there is no nifal in Aramaic or Arabic, and at this point we know of the so-called “internal passives” only in Hebrew.  (There will be some posts on those in a few months.)
 
Verb root classes relate to conjugation. Stem classes or binyanim or forms relate to meaning in many ways. The Wikipedia article on the root confuses these two issues. Ignore it.
 
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Outdoors -- the hawk is on the loose

Well, yeah, the weather front "Hawk" too, as I know from the migraine I had the other week.

But the broad-wing hawk made a pass through our back yards this morning,
and I've seen him sitting high in an oak tree on the other  side of the street.

The Cooper's hawk has also showed up once so far,
as I know from the bird panic that left a patch of bird-dust on my back window
when one of my birds bumped into it.

I believe it's a sure thing that the robin's wife took him south with her.

The mockingbird is still here; I saw him eating pokeberries when I was in the kitchen washing dishes.

Otherwise the weather has been two to four mild days and then a whole day of rain.

The mild days are great for taking a folded up blanket onto the south porch,
with a book and a mug of tea
a piece of cake and my house keys
and making some vitamin D.

The cold and rainy days are great for working on my blog or my books
and listening to the sparrows gossip in the bushes.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- they went that-away and that-away

In Torah, Noach is not a copy of Gilgamesh.  First, there’s the cuneiform thing.  In fact, Gilgamesh was THE basic school text for learning cuneiform, and that’s why it shows up so many places.  They all had cuneiform schools.  And one thing that we have some reason for believing, is that the ancestors of the Jews didn’t go to cuneiform school.
Then, although they both have a flood story, the Gilgamesh version is a version of the one in Atra-Hasis, and our copies of both date at earliest to the 1700s BCE. 
Noach’s flood begins when people behave badly and after a long period (in earthly terms) of trying to think of a solution, Gd decides to wipe out everybody with a flood, except for Noach “who was righteous in his generations.” In the Mesopotamian story, people behave badly – they make too much noise – and the gods try a famine to reduce the noise, but people reproduce fast enough to bring the decibels back up to an uncomfortable level.
Noach builds his ark of a specific kind of wood that we can’t identify any more.  In the Mesopotamian story, wood isn’t just lying around to be used in an ark.  Atra-Hasis and Utnapishtim have to tear down their houses for wood to build the ark.  (Which is pretty strange because in Mesopotamia, houses have always been built of mud brick.)
Noach takes aboard two of every kind of life, a male and a female – except that he takes aboard seven male-female pairs of tahor animals.  We know which animals these are.  Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 tell us which ones they are (or rather are not).  They are suitable for sacrifice, in accordance with the meaning of tahor as suitable for a given purpose, which I discussed in the legal part of this blog.  Atra-Hasis and Utnapishtim take aboard animals but the tameh/tahor distinction is absent, of course.
Noach takes aboard his three sons, their wives, and his own wife.  Atra-Hasis and Utnapishtim take aboard their workers as well as their families.
When the flood waters abate, Noach’s ark lands on Ararat, a version of the name Urartu for a place in the Lake Van region, near where proto-Semitic developed.  Utnapishtim’s ark lands on Omar Gudrun in the Zagros mountains between Ararat and, say, Kish.  We don’t know where Atra-Hasis landed; that fragment is missing.
Noach tests whether the land is ready to occupy by sending out first a crow, and then a dove three times.  Utnapishtim sends out a dove, a sparrow, and then a crow.  This part of Atra-Hasis is missing.
When Noach leaves the ark, he offers a sacrifice, a reach nichoach l’****.  This phrase in the Jewish Bible is always used of sacrifices properly offered to the Jewish Gd.  Now we know why Noach needed seven pairs of tahor animals.  If he only had one, he would have to sacrifice the male, but if the female wasn’t pregnant at the time with a male, then the entire line would be wiped out.  No more sheep or cattle or goats or whatever.  Utnapishtim and Atra-Hasis also offer sacrifices but this survival problem is never discussed.
I’ll discuss the sequel next week.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- the nun that isn't peh nun

Next problem.  Lots of verb forms start with nun.  You’ve seen the peh nun verbs; you’ve also seen that the prefix in future tense, 1st person plural is nun.  Now a new twist.  The qal is the binyan for simple active verbs.  The passive is a separate binyan, called nifal. 
 
If you have a verb starting with nun, and you can’t find it under the letter nun in the dictionary, or any of the others that I already talked about, you might be looking at a nifal.  
 
First clue: all three root letters are there.
 
Second clue:  there’s no vav cholem after the second root letter like a peh nun verb would have. 
 
Present
Singular
Plural
Gender
נִמְשָל
נִמְשָלִים
Masculine
נִמְשֶׁלֶת
נִמְשָלוֹת
Feminine
 
Past
Singular
Plural
Person/gender
נִמְשַלְתִּי
נִמְשַׁלְנוּ
First
נִמְשַלתָּ
נִמְשַׁלְתֶּם
Second/masculine
נִמְשַׁלְתְּ
נִמְשַׁלְתֶּן
Second/feminine
נִמְשַׁל
נִמְשְׁלוּ
Third/masculine
נִמְשְׁלָה
נִמְשְׁלוּ
Third/feminine
 
Future/aorist
Singular
Plural
Person/gender
אֶמָּשֵׁל
נִמָּשֵׁל
First
תִּימָּשֵׁל
תִּימָּשְׁלוּ
Second/masculine
תִּימָּשְׁלִי
תִּימָּשַׁלְנָה
Second/feminine
יִימָּשֵׁל
יִימָּשְלוּ
Third/masculine
תִּימָּשֵל
תִּימָּשַׁלְנָה
Third/feminine
 
 
I don’t know if this verb is ever used in nifal but the meaning would probably be “is controlled.”  That’s how English constructs a passive verb: “is” conjugated plus a past participle. 
 
You won’t find this form, if it exists, in the dictionary under nun, yod, or alef. It will be under mem.
 
We have now transitioned from the triliteral root system to the binyan system.  I’m going to stop here for a review and then some other remarks and then I’ll get into some things so new you might never have heard of them before.
 
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Friday, November 13, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Location, Location, Location

Phew.  In “The Song of Going Forth,” when Kumarbi becomes pregnant with the five gods, he spits out sperm at Mount Kanzura.

One candidate for Mount Kanzura is Tendürek Dagi in Turkey, about 20 miles northeast of Lake Van.  Since this is also where the Tigris river arises, and the Tigris is one of the five births of Kumarbi, it’s a pretty solid association.  The other candidate is about 40 miles west of Lake Van.
You know Lake Van.  It is about 40 miles southwest of the peak widely recognized to be Mount Ararat, where Noach landed. 
You may know something of the history of Ararat, or Urartu, which was conquered by the Assyrians in the 800s BCE.  Its name in Assyrian was Uraltu; its name in Old Babylonian was Urashtu.  (Urartu is an intermediate linguistic development, according to Friedrich Delitzsch.)   But again, that doesn’t define the date of origin of Urartu; in fact it had a Hurrian history and its language was related to Hurrian, and the Hurrians were already living in the region by the 2500s BCE when the ancestors of the Hittites migrated in.  Once again, then, the development of a distinct political or cultural entity in the region goes back probably centuries before the oldest textual reference.
The territory of Urartu included both Mount Ararat and Tendürek Dagi.
What we have here are streams of material all connected to Anatolia: the wars of the gods that play out in Enuma Elish and Greek mythology; the concept of a great flood that plays out in Gilgamesh of the 1700s BCE and also in Greek mythology; and a wine motif connected to a place where migrants from Anatolia lived before filling the Greek isthmus.
What wine motif?  The one in Greek myth attributed to the son of the flood survivor. 
Now let’s go back and look at the Noach stories in light of all this information about Anatolia.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- verbs with middle vav or yod

I said that there were five possibilities for a verb that had an alef first in future tense and seemed to have only two root letters.  I’ve dealt with three of them.  The other two are a specific kind of verb that loses the middle letter at times.  They are ayin yod and ayin vav.  The single most important ayin vav verb is bo, “go, come”.
 
Present
Singular
Plural
Gender
בָּא
בָּאִים
Masculine
בָּאָה
בָּאוֹת
Feminine
 
Past
Singular
Plural
Person/gender
בָּאתִי
בָּאנוּ
First
בָּאתָ
בָּאתֶם
Second/masculine
בָּאתְ
בָּאתֶן
Second/feminine
בָּא
בָּאוּ
Third/masculine
בָּאָה
בָּאוּ
Third/feminine
 
Future/aorist
Singular
Plural
Person/gender
אָבוֹא
נָבוֹא
First
תָּבוֹא
תָּבוֹאוּ
Second/masculine
תָּבוֹאִי
תָּבֹאנָה
Second/feminine
יָבוֹא
יָבוֹאוּ
Third/masculine
תָּבוֹא
תָּבֹאנָה
Third/feminine
 
When you seem to have only two root letters, and you’re sure it’s not one of the other three forms, look in the dictionary under the first root letter, and then go first to vav and then to yod as a middle letter.
 
So: how do you tell “went” from “goes” in third person?  With masculine singular, you can’t tell just from the verb form.  It’s all context.  In the feminine, you can tell if you hear it, because the past tense is stressed on the first syllable and the present tense on the last syllable.  But if you’re only reading, again, it’s context.
 
“Come” uses the vowel o in the future, which you can think of as coming from the infinitive, lavo.  Another frequent ayin vav verb, qum, “get up,” has the infinitive laqum and so, as you might guess, it uses u in the future.  But they both use the patach (“a”) in the present tense and past tense.  And those are the tenses where the vav of the root drops out.
 
Ayin yod verbs function the same way.  The infinitive lasim gives us asim in first person singular future tense, but the present and past tense are sam/samti.
 
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Friday, November 6, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Song of Anatolia

In Anatolia two cultures had an identical text, entitled “The Song of Going Forth.” They were the Hittites of the 1200s BCE, just before the Sea Peoples destroyed their empire, and the Hurrians who lived in the same area before the Hittites moved in, which happened about 2500 BCE.  The Hittites preserved the names of Hurrian gods in the text.  The Hurrian language is classed with that of the kingdom of Urartu, about which I will say more in a week.
Since 1930 CE when “Going Forth” was translated and published, scholars have recognized that it has a similar motif to the war of the gods in Hesiod’s Theogony.  But Hittite is an Indo-Iranian language (using the same word for “night” as Avestan and Sanskrit) and Hurrian is an isolate (except for the related Urartian), while Greek is thoroughly Indo-European (using a word for “night” that has cognates in all European languages).  There was no publishing company translating material from one language to another for the benefit of the reading public at the time.  There’s a good reason for that: there was no reading public at the time.  Texts were produced for the benefit of royalty and clergy and accessed by them and maybe their clients.  They were written in cuneiform.
What’s more, The Song of Going Forth has an affinity to the war on Tiamat in Enuma Elish.  It was part of the cultural phenomenon extending over all of Anatolia, from which these stories were carried into Mesopotamia and the west.
However “Going Forth” is not identical to any of its relatives.  It is the first part of the story of a stone giant who assisted Kumarbi in trying to regain rulership of the gods. 
At the end of “Going Forth,” Kumarbi is pregnant with five gods.   This mirrors Kronos’ situation before Zeus attacks him; he has swallowed all five of his previous children but Rhea has saved and hidden Zeus.  But Zeus is the storm god in Greek mythology, while one of the gods Kumarbi is pregnant with is the storm god.  This is a natural and normal situation for mythology which I will discuss in detail much later on this blog; it does not invalidate “Going Forth” as a record of a story related to Greek mythology.
And now let’s connect up the edges.  In the “song,” Anu is castrated.  Castration was a noted feature of Cybele worship and Cybele was the mother goddess where?  In Anatolia.  What happens to Uranus at the end of the first war of the gods?  He is castrated.
Notice that I’m not saying that “Going Forth” was disseminated among the Greeks.  That cuneiform thing again.  I’m saying the opposite. 
This material was current among the ancestors of the Greeks before they were part of the Sea Peoples.  So was the flood story.  By the time we get to Hesiod and Pindar, the material took a form which might well be accurately represented in Ovid.  But it has to go back long before the Hittites took over Anatolia from the Hurrians, before Anatolians brought the war of the gods and the name of Cybele to Mesopotamia, or Sumero-Akkad would never have been ruled by a lady named Kug Bau.

But it gets better; there's a solid association between the Song (and its descendants) and a specific place.  And that's next week.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved