Friday, January 29, 2016

Fact-Checking the Torah -- they're all Greeks to me

Now let me go back and clear something up that looks like a puzzle in the archaeology.
The Medinat Habu inscription of Ramses III (1100s BCE, discovered 1859, definitive translation 1906) names the Ekwesh and the Pelishtim and some others as allies in the attack.  People looked at this inscription, saw the names of some of the Sea Peoples, and Libya, and they said, OH, the Ekwesh have to be the Ahiyyawa.
But in the fight with Ramses III, a strange thing happened when his troops were trying to count coup to collect rewards.  They usually cut off the foreskins of those they killed.
They couldn’t count coup on the Ekwesh this way.  The Ekwesh were already circumcised.  So they cut off the corpses’ hands.
Now, as everybody knows, the Achaeans did not practice circumcision.  So there’s something wrong with this identification.
Flip it upside down.  The Achaeans were a proto-Greek component of the Sea Peoples from Crete, and the Cretans were allied for centuries with the Pelishtim, to the point where “Creti and Pleti” was a common phrase for King David’s bodyguard.  The Pelishtim are commonly referred to as “uncircumcised” in the Bible.  At least one archaeologist has no problem with calling the Pelishtim “Greeks.”
In inscriptions put up by the Hittites (before the Sea Peoples steam-rollered them) there was also a list and on it was the name Ahiyyawa – but not Pelishtim.  And, as Singer says, the Hittites used Ahiyyawa for people in the region of Mykenae.
From Mykenae in the 1400s BCE we get Linear B, known to be a script the Pelishtim used, on tablets with words that look suspiciously like Greek.  One of these tablets refers to trader/mercenaries, the Iawones (is it coming together?). 
If these are the Ionians, we know that they lived for a while in a Peloponnesian region called Achaia, some time about the 1100s BCE, about the time the Pelishtim entered the Holy Land in force and founded their seaside Pentapolis; they also left remains at Deir ’Alla in Jordan.
Like the Hittites, the Egyptians didn’t distinguish the two, they called them all Pelishtim.  
I think that Ekwesh refers to Ethiopia, known by that time as Kush, who practiced circumcision.  This goes with Herodotus’ statement that the Ethiopians, like the Egyptians, practiced circumcision.  Now, he’s not reliable, because he says these are the only peoples who do it, except for the people of Kolkhis.  He also thought that the Kolkhians were descended from Egyptians.  In fact, the Tibareni (Tuval) lived in that region.  There’s no independent confirmation of Herodotus’ claims about the Kolkhians. 
Ancient writings have to be taken with large grains of salt when they refer to third parties (or even fourth or fifth) as with Herodotus, who did all his work from his armchair, so to speak.  It takes other data, such as modern studies, to firm up a claim – or disprove it.  I haven’t found anybody else saying that the Ekwesh must be Kush instead of Ahiyyawa, but I think I’m right.

And  next.... The Big One.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- perfect commandments

So Dr. Cook tells us that Biblical Hebrew is an ancient language with the same features as its relatives, Akkadian, Ugaritic, Canaanitic, and so on, some of which are dead languages. Biblical Hebrew has an aspect verb system with perfect and imperfect. Both forms can have a future meaning, but that depends on the syntax and use of vav.
You now know about the narrative past, so you know that the vav at the start of a verse often doesn’t mean “and.” It might signal narrative past, it might signal a relative or coordinate clause.
You also know that an imperfect without vav might have a future meaning.
You know about oblique modality, so you know that vav with a perfect aspect verb is often a subordinate clause when followed by the subject.
Now I’ll give some information about use of perfect and imperfect that has gone under most people’s radar. Dr. Cook referred to one example but what I’m going to say now isn’t in his dissertation.
When you have vav plus perfect aspect verb in the 2nd person singular (or maybe plural), you have a commandment. This happens in the laws of Passover, in the instructions for building the tabernacle, and so on.
Why do some commandments use perfect aspect?
It’s due to that permansive connotation of the perfect aspect, which it shares with other Semitic languages.
Other commandments use imperfect aspect, and there are two classes.
When a verse starts out ki or im, followed by a 2nd person imperfect verb, this should be translated “if X”, where X is the verb for an action that kicks off consequences. It will be followed by the consequences, such as paying a fine. You see this a lot in Exodus 21 and 22.
If there is no ki or im, just a 2nd person imperfect, this is a commandment included in the recitation from of old, BUT the Israelites and Jews never made a Federal case out of investigating it. There are two important examples.
One is the cities of refuge, with verses in both Numbers and Deuteronomy. The peculiar case of the cities of refuge is that three of them were on the east bank of the Jordan. The west-bank tribes only went there once, which is recorded in Joshua 22, to object to the eastern tribes building a copy of the cairn set up on the west bank using stones taken from the bank of the Yarden River. The westerners did not stay long enough to check up on the easterners’ implementation of Jewish law. Without evidence that the three eastern cities of refuge were being used in the manner prescribed by Torah, the westerners could not use perfect aspect in the related verses.
The other is circumcision. The law is in Leviticus and it uses imperfect aspect. To verify that this had been comprehensively implemented would have required physical inspection. There is no law in Torah requiring such an inspection at any point in a man’s life. There is the statement in Joshua 5 that he had to circumcise all of the generation of the Wilderness, who were not subjected to the procedure during the wanderings; there is also the constant description of the Pelishtim (who were actually Greeks, see the Fact-Checking posts on this blog for the last couple of months) as “uncircumcised” as a distinction from Israelites or Judahites. There are rulings in Mishnah about when a circumcision has been validly performed. But not until Shulchan Arukh in the 1500s CE is there a ruling about who is responsible for making sure that a circumcision takes place. It’s the father, if you want to know.
You can catch me out on this if you go back to Exodus 12 and read the Hebrew carefully, taking notes on where these verbs occur, and then research them out into Mishnah, Gemara and, as I said, Shulchan Arukh. I haven’t done all the work yet either. If you’re interested, we can work on it together, and put the results in a new page on the blog.

All right, onward!
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Knitting -- hours and hours

If you're not knitting, maybe it's because you don't know when you'll find the time.

Gloves -- about 12 hours per glove.
Socks -- about 12 hours per sock.
Hat -- 6-8 hours.
Pullover -- the body takes up to  40 hours and then each sleeve takes up to 20 hours.

I told you how many balls of yard it takes for the gloves, socks, and hat.
The body of the pullover takes between 5 and 6 skeins, 50 grams per skein.
Each wrist-length sleeve takes between 2 and 3 skeins.
A 3/4 length sleeve should be 2 skeins.

There are about 110 yards of yarn in a 50 gram ball of WotA worsted.
The sport weight is about 137 yards in 50 grams.

The following are approximate stitch counts for a long-sleeve pullover in WotA sport yarn.
240 stitches around;
90 rounds from hem to underarm;
12 stitches on the holder at the underarm and 5 rounds of decreases;
65 rounds from underarm to shoulder (60 rounds after you stop decreasing);
20 stitches to knit off at the shoulders (which may seem like too few but you're decreasing more at the underarm);
100 rounds in the upper arm of the sleeve with decreases every 3rd round;
35 rounds in the lower arm with decreases every 4th round;
use K2TOG in last round to end up with 60 stitches and then do the cuff as k2/p1 rib.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, January 22, 2016

Fact-Checking the Torah -- who were they?

The next urban legend is that “Hebrew” or ivri, applied to Avraham, is the same word as Hapiru, from Mesopotamian documents.
Supposedly Hapiru is SA-GAZ in Sumerian, but the online Sumerian dictionary defines this as “robber” or “murderer” and relates it to Akkadian shagashu, “murderer,” or habbatu, “plunderer.”
Akkadian chapiru means a vagrant.  Chapiru was also used as a personal name.
The Hapiru are first referenced as rebels from Mari and Nuzu against their conquest by Sargon of Akkad.  His empire fell apart at his death and his son and grandson had to repeat his conquest of Mari and Nuzu.  The Hapiru originally date, therefore, to the 2400s BCE, early enough for the ancestors of the Jews to get to the Holy Land by the time of the destruction of the cities of the plain – but as I pointed out last week, they had to leave Mesopotamia before Sargon began his conquest.
There’s also a problem with numbers.  The enumeration of Terach’s group includes blood and marriage kin.  It would also have included the servants that lived with them, maybe 50 people.  It’s not nearly enough people to seriously threaten Sargon’s reign, it’s not even enough people for an army troop.  Such a small group of commoners doesn’t deserve verbiage in a royal chronicle.  Chapiru must refer to a group well beyond this in size, the vast majority of which did not leave Mesopotamia, even if Terach’s family were part of them.
The Hapiru come up in the time of Akhenaten.  The reference is in his diplomatic and political letters found at Tell el-Amarna – and this is the only occurrence of the Sumerian logogram, everybody else spells it out by syllables.  Tell el-Amarna – Akhetaten – was founded about 1345 BCE and Akhenaten died about 1330 BCE, a 15-year period when these letters were sent or received. 
Some letters refer to Labayu and a coalition of disaffected natives and outsiders in the region of Shkhem, who took Shkhem away from Egyptian control and shared the real estate among them.  Other letters complain about a Hapiru attack on Jerusalem.
This last sentence makes it sound as if the Hapiru might be the Israelites who were entering the Holy Land.  That’s a quote out of historical context.  It would mean the Exodus was prior to Akhenaten’s time, which is not when most people think the Exodus happened.  So to identify these Hapiru with the Israelites means throwing out the traditional date of the Exodus.
It also conflicts with the urban legend that Akhenaten was the source of Jewish monotheism.  If these Hapiru attacked Jerusalem during the reign of Akhenaten, then either they spent much less than 40 years in the Sinai, or they left Egypt before Akhenaten came to the throne, let alone adopted Aten as his tutelary deity.  The Israelites had to learn their monotheism somewhere else, to attack Jerusalem during Akhenaten’s reign and have the reports show up at Akhetaten.
Egypt has a reference to Hapiru from the 1400s BCE, before Akhenaten, and these Hapiru already live in the Holy Land.  They are contrasted with the Retenu (Pelishtim), Hurrians, and Shasu (Bedouins).  If the Israelites are Hapiru, they are not Bedouins and they speak neither the language of the Pelishtim that was recorded in Linear B, nor the ergative isolate Hurrian language, but an early form of Hebrew, a western Semitic language.
An Akkadian inscription at Tell Atshanah (Alalakh), dating to the 1550s BCE, was found about 1939 by Woolley.  It identifies Hapiru as people living in the Holy Land.  They helped Idri-mi reconquer the city of Alalakh which had once belonged to his father. 
None of the references indicate that the Hapiru were an ethnic or religious unity or that they originally came from Mesopotamia.  In the case of the conquest of Shkhem, the Hapiru were multi-ethnic. 
The logical conclusion is that the word Hapiru does not equate to ivri, or Israelite, or any term that exclusively means the ancestors of the Jews prior to the Egyptian Captivity.  It’s a case of how urban legends have linked a word in Hebrew to a word from another language, without taking the cultural and historical context into account.  Sayce did the same thing when he wrote about Shabbat.  I’ll say more about the problems of philology much later.

For now, one more ethnic identification and then I can move on to some timing issues.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- perfect ASPECT

So Dr. Cook tells us that Biblical Hebrew is an ancient language with the same features as its relatives, Akkadian, Ugaritic, Canaanitic, and so on, some of which are dead languages.  Biblical Hebrew has an aspect verb system with perfect and imperfect. 
An imperfect with the vav prefix, in verb-subject order, is the narrative past.  It represents action that is still ongoing and incomplete from the point of view of the characters in the story, but is part of the past of whoever is narrating the story.
If a noun subject splits the vav from the imperfect, and the syntax is subject-verb, and the  meaning clearly points to a past action, the verb belongs to a subordinate relative (“that”) or coordinate (“but”) clause.  The main clause might be in a prior verse.
Other sentences with no vav and an imperfect verb in subject-verb syntax possibly have a future meaning.
Verses starting with adverbials require verb-subject order, regardless of almost any  other grammar in them.

On to the perfect aspect.  Perfect aspect has the person and gender signals after the root letters.  Its normal syntax is subject-verb.  When it’s not, it has special meaning.
Genesis 4:1 is a past tense use of a perfect verb in subject-verb order; you might translate  the  vav as “and” but I wouldn’t because good English grammar argues against starting a sentence with “and.”

וְהָאָדָם יָדַע אֶת־חַוָּה אִשְׁתּוֹ וַתַּהַר וַתֵּלֶד אֶת־קַיִן וַתֹּאמֶר קָנִיתִי אִישׁ אֶת־יְהוָֹה:
The perfect aspect here does something I call opening or closing a story or an episode.  This is the counterpart to using narrative past to indicate that the story or episode is still in progress.  An example of complete closure is the pairing of Genesis 1:1 and 2:3, using bara, “created,” a perfect aspect verb.

IF the syntax is perfect verb-subject AND a vav is prefixed to the verb, it could be a subordinate clause of condition, purpose, result, cause, or effect.  This has a special name: it is called oblique modality.  Genesis 3:18 has an example.

וְקוֹץ וְדַרְדַּר תַּצְמִיחַ לָךְ וְאָכַלְתָּ אֶת־עֵשֶׂב הַשָּׂדֶה:
“… such that you eat wild plants” because what you sowed was choked out by weeds.
That’s not how I originally translated it, but at the time I wasn’t using Dr. Cook’s principles.  

Genesis 13:6 (which you haven’t seen in these lessons) is a better example.

וְלֹא־נָשָׂא אֹתָם הָאָרֶץ לָשֶׁבֶת יַחְדָּו כִּי־הָיָה רְכוּשָׁם רָב וְלֹא יָכְלוּ לָשֶׁבֶת יַחְדָּו:
The subject of the first clause in this verse is ha-arets, the land, and it comes after a perfect verb, nasa, “bear”, and there’s a vav before the lo, “not”.  The translation is  So the earth could not bear them…” because Avraham and Lot had such big herds; this is an oblique modality in a subordinate cause of effect. 

The information about the big herds is in the previous verse, which makes it an excellent example of a general principle in reading Biblical Hebrew.
The verse endings may come where somebody has to draw breath to keep reciting or reading, but that doesn’t mean that the verses exist in a vacuum.  You have to first look at the context of the surrounding verses to detect things like main clauses or contradictions. 
That’s what makes Bible study hard, even when you understand Hebrew well. 

Do you understand the difference between imperfect and perfect at this point? 
1.  They can both express past time, but the imperfect will have a prefix for person and gender and, if it’s the narrative past, there will be a vav before the personal prefix.  The syntax will be verb-subject.  Never translate this vav as “and”.
2.  Often an imperfect with no vav will be future, and the syntax will usually be subject-verb. 
3.  Vav plus noun plus imperfect may be a relative or coordinate clause depending on the context.  The vav should be translated “that” or “but”.
4.  Perfect aspect normally will NOT have a vav and the syntax will be subject-verb.  This has a past meaning.
5.  Perfect WITH a vav will often come in verb-subject order, although sometimes the subject is understood from the previous clause or from the personal ending on the verb.  This is an oblique modality, a subordinate clause of condition, purpose, result, cause or effect.  

Next week I'll go over something even Dr.  Cook didn't realize about perfect aspect.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Garden -- back up

If you normally skip things that don't start with "Garden"
please back up and read yesterday's post.
It's about your timing for pruning.
It could save your life because it suggests pruning before the stinging insects come out.
There was a terrible story recently about a woman who pruned her azaleas at the wrong time.
She got a sting and it was the straw that broke the camel's back.
She went into allergic shock and died.
Allergies are not set in your DNA; you can acquire allergies.
People move into the DC region and suddenly start having plant allergies.
It's just because this region has such fine gardens and parks and arboretums.
Same with stinging insects; you don't know you're developing an allergy.
When you find it out, it's in the worst way.

Avoid the bugs.
Prune before the middle of March.

But not your azaleas; if you prune them now, you'll be pruning off the flower buds.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Outdoors -- two-month warning

The starlings and robins are back.  The starlings showed up yesterday and the robins today.
The males are here to set up their turf claims.
In the next 6 weeks to two months, their wives will come back.
The women will look things over and if they decide a particular male has picked a good spot,
the women will start building nests.
By March, they will be laying eggs.

Prune your privet and euonymus by February 7.
You will wind up with nice-looking hedges.
You won't get stung by bees or wasps.
And the birds will be able to nest and bring up their young in safety.

Do NOT prune azalea.  You'll cut off the flower buds.  The next time you can prune azaleas is in June after they flower.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, January 18, 2016

Garden -- de-icer

How do you clear your walk without killing your plants?
I know that those of you more than 50 miles west or north of DC would have liked to see this sooner but...
Rock salt doesn't work well when it's super cold and will wash into your plantings when it thaws unless you dig a trench to catch it.
You're better off with magnesium chloride or calcium chloride if it's bitter cold.
You have to buy them BEFORE it snows
you have to clear the walk BEFORE you put them down.
they will kill your plants if you put down too much because you don't want to clear the walk.

I'm getting this from my guru, Mike McGrath and here is his write-up.

Sunday we had enough snow to stick for a while and today is very bitter because of the winds -- typical weather for the DC region on Martin Luther King Weekend.  You still have time to get what you need -- including the snow shovel -- if you're in the lowlands.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, January 15, 2016

Fact-Checking the Torah -- when was that?

Now I’m going to sum up another reason why Genesis, up to about chapter 12, is not based on Mesopotamian texts discussed to this point.
The oldest example of Enuma Elish that we have dates to 2200 BCE.  If the ancestors of the Jews were still in Mesopotamia at the time, they would have been exposed to the wars of Sargon and his descendants before they left.  That’s not in Torah, unlike the wine motif from Anatolia of the 4000s BCE.
The original Sumerian kings list dates to 2000 BCE.  If the ancestors of the Jews were still in Mesopotamia at the time, they would have been exposed to the wars of Naram-Sin, the Gutian invasion and the war that ended it.  That’s not in Torah, unlike the 2350 BCE destruction of the cities of the plain.
The twelve-tablet Gilgamesh and the identical flood story in Atra-Hasis, plus the revised Kings List that included Zidusura and Gilgamesh, date to 1700 BCE.  If the ancestors of the Jews were still in Mesopotamia at this time, they could not have experienced the agricultural problems in Egypt at the end of the reign of Amenemhet III in the 1800s BCE.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to bust a number of urban legends which are mutually incompatible chronologically.  Each urban legend has consequences which I will point out.  The logical or scientific reader will then have to decide which legend(s) to throw out.
For this week, it’s going to be very hard for most people to give up the claim that Jewish law is a version of Hammurabi’s law from the 1700s BCE.  That conflicts with the timing of the Egyptian slavery which ended about 1630 BCE, as I will discuss later.  Plus there has to be some chronicle or other written evidence of the destruction of the cities of the plain from which the ancestors of the Jews could get that story, and nobody has seen that yet.
The monument on which Hammurabi’s code was written about 1770 BCE, was found in 1901 and translated by 1903 by C.H.W. Johns.  To that point nobody knew of a regular law code older than the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which only hints at morality or laws by the 42 confessions the soul makes after death.  (We do now, but we’re busting an urban legend.)
The online versions of the translation of Hammurabi’s code reveal one thing: like the first aliyah of Genesis and Noach’s flood, it is over 80% different in verbiage from Jewish law and has significant rules that Jewish law rejects.  The latter include laws regulating female temple servants and priestesses.
People who want to hold onto Hammurabi’s code, therefore, have to reconcile the problem of the 2350 BCE date, 600 years earlier, for the destruction of the cities of the plain, as well as the differences in subjects of laws and effects of the laws.  Then they would have to realize that Hammurabi’s code, like Enuma Elish and Gilgamesh and the Kings list, was written in cuneiform.  Which I already said the Jews couldn’t read because they couldn’t get into cuneiform school. 

Here's hoping you understand that cuneiform texts could only influence people who could read them -- which does not include the Jews or their forebears -- the subject of the next post.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Imperfect ASPECT

So Dr. Cook tells us that Biblical Hebrew is an ancient language with the same features as its relatives, Akkadian, Ugaritic, Canaanitic, and so on, some of which are dead languages.  Biblical Hebrew has been resurrected as Modern Hebrew, but not in the same system.
Modern Hebrew is a tense-system with past, present, and future.
Biblical Hebrew is an aspect system with perfect, imperfect, and progressive.
“Imperfect” means  action that is not complete.  You can identify it because the markers of person and gender come before the  root letters.  The “aorist” and future “tenses” of Biblical Hebrew are identical because they are really imperfect aspect.
Imperfect is often used with a past meaning, but it requires a special prefix and is called the narrative past.   The narrative past has the syntax vav plus imperfect plus subject and so on.  This is Genesis 2:7.
ז וַיִּיצֶר יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָאָדָם עָפָר מִן־הָאֲדָמָה וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים וַיְהִי הָאָדָם לְנֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה:
The first word in this example is a narrative past. This action definitely occurred in the past, but we can’t use a perfect aspect because we are between the start and the end of the story and this situation is not yet over as far as the characters are concerned.  The narrative past is followed  by **** elohim, the grammatical subject.
That vav is an important issue.  It does NOT repeat NOT mean “and”.  It is part of the verb.  It is the indicator of the narrative past.  A verb that looks like an imperfect but doesn’t have vav, might be future, under one condition.
If the syntax is subject + imperfect, that might be a future tense usage.  This is Genesis 49:13.
זְבוּלֻ֕ן לְח֥וֹף יַמִּ֖ים יִשְׁכֹּ֑ן וְהוּא֙ לְח֣וֹף אֳנִיֹּ֔ת וְיַרְכָת֖וֹ עַל־צִידֹֽן:
“Zvulun will live by the sea shore…”
BUT if there is a vav attached to the subject, that’s actually the vav of the narrative past, with a twist.  This structure indicates a subordinate relative or coordinate clause, and the vav must be translated “that” (relative clause) or “but” (coordinate clause).  The imperfect verb must then be translated in the past unless there are clear indications in the context that it has a future meaning.  The following is Genesis 2:5-6.  Verse 5 is the main clause.  Verse 6 with the imperfect is the contradictory subordinate clause.
ה וְכֹ֣ל ׀ שִׂ֣יחַ הַשָּׂדֶ֗ה טֶ֚רֶם יִהְיֶ֣ה בָאָ֔רֶץ וְכָל־עֵ֥שֶׂב הַשָּׂדֶ֖ה טֶ֣רֶם יִצְמָ֑ח כִּי֩ לֹ֨א הִמְטִ֜יר יְהוָֹ֤ה אֱלֹהִים֙ עַל־הָאָ֔רֶץ וְאָדָ֣ם אַ֔יִן לַֽעֲבֹ֖ד אֶת־הָֽאֲדָמָֽה:
ו וְאֵ֖ד יַֽעֲלֶ֣ה מִן־הָאָ֑רֶץ וְהִשְׁקָ֖ה אֶת־כָּל־פְּנֵ֥י הָֽאֲדָמָֽה:
“But all plants….[did not yet] exist…[because **** had not yet caused rain]
“but a mist went up…”
What you have to fix in your mind from this post on is that the vav at the start of a verb does NOT mean “and” in most verses of Torah.  And so a huge number of the verses in all translations of Torah are mistranslated, because they always translate this vav as “and”.  Got it?
Go over all the verses you have of Genesis so far and read them, carefully making sure NOT to think “and” when you see vav+imperfect, and that will help train you out of a historic mistake.  Take the next week to work on this, a few verses a day.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Monday, January 11, 2016

It shows!

My neighbor was polishing his wife's new car -- now that's love for you!  -- and I went out because we have different schedules and hardly ever talk.
Almost the first words out of his mouth were "You've lost weight."
I was stupefied.   "It  shows???"
Well, I had realized it before that but it hadn't occurred to me that other people could tell.
I could tell because my reference jeans, which needed lots of strength to zip 12 months ago, now zip with no trouble.
I can even tuck both a tee shirt and an Oxford button-down shirt into them.
And I can sit in them comfortably.
Was it drugs?
Was it Weight-Watchers?
Was it surgery?

1.  Sleep.  I have been sleeping through the night for at least 6 hours and if I wake, I roll over for another couple.  As a result, my body has been making the appetite suppressing hormone leptin, not the appetite causing hormone ghrelin.  I'm more alert and better able to control how much I eat.

2.  Breakfast.  I eat 3 eggs, or a meat-based stew with vegetables and often beans or lentils.  Then I eat a vegetable lunch.   Then an afternoon snack of nuts or fruit.  Then a bedtime snack of a couple of ounces of cheese on bread.  YMMV if you are dealing with Crohn's, celiac, allergies, lactose intolerance, etc.  Also see below on cravings.

3.  Less alcohol.  One serving right before bed.  Sometimes more on Shabbat.  A little extra in champagne on New Year's Eve.  Alcohol is almost the highest-calorie (per gram) thing you can put in your stomach.  Alcohol also interferes with sleeping properly and with metabolizing food, and it lowers your self-control so you're more likely to pig out.

4.  Exercise.  At almost 60, I'm doing exercises to reverse osteoporosis and alleviate osteoarthritis.  Tai Ji Quan; wall pushups; basic Tae Bo; heavy housework which includes moving my bed for cleaning.  I do all my own yard work with hand tools.  YMMV.  Lots of communities have free or inexpensive exercise classes, or maybe your neighborhood is walkable or you have a mall you can get to on the bus so you can exercise when the weather is bad.  Do a web search on bikes or treadmills that generate power you can feed into your tablet.

5.  Fidget.  It used to be that when I sat down to work on a project, I sat there for hours at a time.  Not any more.  I get up on purpose about once an hour.  Most times I do a little cleaning -- dusting, floors, hand washing hankies or hand-knit clothes or dishes.  My house is cleaner, which is a psychological boost, and my BP is under better control.  Getting up is good for my arthritis, and I burn a few calories.

6.  Cravings.  Learn to deal with them.  I wrote about this before.  Buy your cookies, chips, or candy.  Keep them some place where you can't see them.  Make a bargain with yourself that you can eat them on a specific schedule, such as one cookie in the middle of the afternoon or one candy bar on your favorite day of the weekend.  My bargain was I could buy chips on Federal holidays, not every week.  8 times a year, not 52.  NEVER MISS THE SCHEDULE.  That makes a chore out of your cravings and eventually you'll feel about it just like you do about any other chore. 

If this doesn't work, try a different strategy.  If your cravings return before the scheduled time, try to control them for, say, one hour or day more and then eat only the scheduled amount.  After one month, try going back to the original timetable.  You'll slowly get control of your cravings without giving up what you love best.

7.  DIY.  One recent idea about why we are having obesity problems is, somebody else makes our food.  We eat too much that is pre-packaged.  It burns calories to prepare food -- some foods more than others -- so we lose out on a form of exercise. 

Bread is a perfect DIY: kneading is great upper body exercise; you have to get up off your, uh, chair to punch it down or shape the loaves; then you have to get up again to put it in the oven and take it out.  Pasta, noodles, and soba are also great, especially if you stick with the recommended serving size when you eat them.  Make your cookies from scratch by hand.  Find a basic quick bread recipe and throw in cranberries or raisins, dried blueberries or cherries, chopped up dried apricots or peaches or prunes, diced granny smith apples, and different nuts (assuming you don't bump into an allergy).  Make your pie crust and fillings from scratch by hand, and don't forget to try squash-and-grated-carrot filling as well as pumpkin.

NOTICE that all of these tactics are cheaper than pills, special pre-packaged food, or surgery -- except the money you would spend on the power-generating exercise equipment.  Some DIY solutions are going to save you money compared to how you eat now -- and eventually, that will pay for the power-bike or treadmill.

Along with all the money you save on gimmicks, drugs and other chemicals, and surgery, and all the extra pay you make because you live longer.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, January 8, 2016

Fact-Checking the Torah -- What was that??!!

Avraham was in the Holy Land in time to see the destruction of the cities of the plain.
No literature of the area records this.  Egypt doesn’t report it.  Ebla doesn’t report it.  They don’t even report losing contact with these trading partners – or else the tablets saying so haven’t been identified or translated yet.  It all happens in a vacuum.  Except for Torah.
In the 2300s BCE one language was used all over the trading area that used Ebla as a hub: Akkadian.  There might have been local vernacular dialects.  By 2000 BCE, when Utu-Hengel was putting the Mesopotamian hegemony back together, the western part had developed a dialect that was hard to understand in Mesopotamia.  This was the genesis of the western Semitic languages.  Their descendants were Ugaritic/K’naanitic, and Hebrew.  The only dialect which preserved the story of the destruction of the cities of the plain is the dialect that developed among Avraham’s descendants.
It’s not that other locations didn’t know something had happened.  Ash layers in Syria and offshore of Oman date to about 2350 BCE and have similar composition, but they don’t necessarily represent an event that destroyed the cities of the plain.
They may come from a bolide impact in what is now Iraq, in what were swamps, and after millennia of desiccation now have the name Umm al-Bini.  But there’s no proof that this is a bolide impact.  Satellite images show a round sort of pothole, but it’s too dangerous to go in on the ground to see if there are tektites or other evidence that only a bolide impact could form.  I would love to believe that it was a bolide but I can’t support that from the geological data. 
What we don’t have are tablets from Ebla reporting the Umm al-Bini event, if event it was, not even a note about ash falling in Ebla’s streets.  Or the tablets have not yet been identified or translated.  But that would only happen if Ebla had still existed when Umm al-Bini formed.
And we don’t have tablets in Mesopotamia reporting the event, although they were closest to it.  It’s only 160 kilometers from the lake at Umm al-Bini to Babylon.
If somebody tells you that the Umm al-Bini bolide caused the destruction of the cities of the plain, you are hearing a 21st century urban legend.
Torah as the sole source of a geologic event crops up related to the 1600s BCE and I’ll discuss that in its place.  In addition, I’ll show much  later on this page in the blog why neither story can reliably be called a complete fantasy.

Timing is everything and that leads to the next urban legend.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- Traditions

And now for something most people don’t understand because Biblical Hebrew is such an old language.
In 2014 I read the 2002 doctoral dissertation of John A. Cook, posted at the University of Wisconsin website.  I also bought the draft of his grammar, written with Robert Holmstedt, posted on scribd.  (Dr. Cook now teaches at the Asbury Theological Seminary.)
The first thing that Dr. Cook’s dissertation explains is that Biblical Hebrew is a very old language.
Attempts to describe it using European concepts ran head-on into this fact but nobody thought of it as a thing until the 20th century, after attempts to deal with all the features of Biblical Hebrew failed to fit the usual rules. 
Dr. Cook goes over all the failed attempts, and then tells us something that everybody knew, but that failed to shape linguistic studies: Biblical Hebrew is a surviving relative of the ancient Semitic languages and has similar features, just like the surviving relatives of your grandparents have similar features.
These features explain why the Bible uses what look like future tense in stories that obviously ended long ago.  They also explain why the prophets, who definitely refer to future times, sometimes use what looks like a past tense.  And they explain the truncated versions of those lamed heh verbs, and the ones with the nun sofit on the end which otherwise look like future tense.
The ancient Semitic languages preserved the verb system in proto-Semitic, which also existed in Ugaritic and the Canaanitic of the Tell el-Amarna tablets, in Akkadian and Assyrian cuneiform and in Modern Standard Arabic. 
Biblical Hebrew is not a tense-system like its descendant, Modern Hebrew, or modern European languages.  It is an aspect system.
What’s the difference?  A tense system describes actions relative to some point in time.  Usually there is a past tense, reserved for actions completed when the sentence is written or spoken; a present tense; and a future tense.  Never they shall meet, except that in a story, you do find characters speaking in the future tense because the actions they have in mind haven’t occurred from their point of view.
What’s the difference between that and an aspect system?
An aspect system has three types of verbs.  The perfect is something over and done with from the speaker’s or writer’s point of view.  In some systems it is called permansive because its effects persist, or stative because it emphasizes the state reached as a result of the action, which also leads to calling it resultative.
The imperfect is something that isn’t complete.  That doesn’t mean it’s going on now or will go on in the future; that just means that the speaker or writer feels like they are in the middle of the action – even if they were born after the action occurred.
There is also a progressive aspect which can be translated like the present tense, especially the “is Xing” format.  That makes it basically a gerund, which can be used like a noun, and even an adjective.  And so somebody can talk about a situation that “is/has been/will be Xing”, using the progressive.
Not past-present-future:  imperfect-progressive-perfect.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

Sunday, January 3, 2016

I'm just saying -- New Year's

And once again, we have somebody who could not survive without putting an alarm in his car.  But he was too cheap to have the vendor set it, he said “I can do that myself.” 

Like all the other jerks who have said the same thing every year since car alarms were invented, he set it too sensitive.  So my block was just treated to its yearly car-horn serenade.  Now he’s going to have to turn it off until he figures out he should have set it where the manual told him to set it, or face the wrath of his neighbors tomorrow morning.  Anybody who dies at the hands of his neighbors for this reason shouldn’t even qualify for the Darwin prize, because that requires a unique and inventive cause of death.
A law was passed in this county years ago that if your car is stolen, and the police report shows your keys were in the ignition, you not only get a bump in your car insurance, you also get a fine from the county.   The cops are tired of stolen car reports when actually, the car owner literally gave the car to the thieves.  I heard about such a case on the radio one morning; I went to the store later in the day and some woman parked near me had done the same thing.  I told her about the law and the news story.  Don’t know if she fits the dictionary definition of stupid, haven’t seen her again.
And most times when your car is broken into in this region, you have left technology or other desirable things in the car in full view.  So there are news stories over and over telling you “don’t do that!”  Sigh.
You don’t need a car alarm unless you think it will save you from the consequences of being stupid. Which it doesn't, because most thieves are smart enough cover their faces if the place has surveillance cameras. So that takes us right back to the first thing I said.

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

Garden -- January 2016

Well, not right this minute.
Maybe not even the day you read this post.
But soon.
About the time the male robins come back to start their turf wars, about the middle of the month.
From then until about the middle of February is when you want to prune most shrubs.
Not azalea.  If you didn't prune azalea last June, pruning it now will mean minimal flowers this year.
But privet.  And once the robins have eaten the berries, euonymus.
And so on.
That's when the shrubs are dormant.
So are the insects, especially the stinging kind which are holed up in their nests, the ones who can kill you if you have developed an allergy to their venom.
And the birds haven't started laying eggs yet.
So between 15 January and 30 February is  when you want to prune the short stuff where birds like to put their nests and their eggs and their nestlings, to protect them against predators.
Remember, the people in the countries where migrating birds winter, can only do so much.
If you cut shrubs or trees at the wrong time and chase birds from their nests for spring and summer, you're a danger to the new generation of birds.
Think globally, act locally.

Speaking of acting locally, here's your lawn care program for 2016.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, January 1, 2016

Fact-Checking the Torah -- where are we?

Because I know what you’re saying.  You’re saying that if Kush is Ethiopia, why does it say that Kush sired Nimrod who ruled in Mesopotamia?
There are three words in Torah which have confusing consequences but a common feature.
Kush is used for places both in the north and the south.  Genesis 10 uses it for a place in Mesopotamia, possibly the great city of Kish.  Jeremiah uses it for an Ethiopian, at a time when the Kushi ruled Egypt from their capital at Meroe.
Qadesh is used for places both in the north and the south.  Qadesh in the north, where Syria is now, is where Ramses II (TWO not three) fought a Hittite king to a draw (but claimed a victory).  Qadesh in the south is where Miriam died during the years in the wilderness in Sinai.
Chiti is used for places both in the north and the south.  Kings II says (in English translations) that King Shlomo married Hittite women.  Unfortunately that’s a bit late.  Shlomo’s times come about 200 years after the Sea Peoples destroyed the Hittite empire. 
Genesis refers to the people from whom Avraham bought Makhpelah as b’ney Chet.  The urban legend is that this is the Hittites, and the timing is not impossible, if you agree with me that Avraham lived in the Holy Land before 2200 BCE.  But there’s no sense puzzling your head about why people from an Anatolian empire would be in the south of the Holy Land.  From the other two examples, it’s perfectly obvious that Hebrew might spell things the same that aren’t the same at all.
The urban legend is that Nimrod is Gilgamesh.  The connection is “hunter” which is tsaid in Hebrew.  The urban legend relates this to a Hittite word (written in Akkadian cuneiform) that is read sai’idu.  But that means “roving, restless.”  So the urban legend jumps to Gilgamesh, to whom Enkidu was given as an opponent to control his restless, combative nature, plus the tale of Gilgamesh and Enkidu hunting the demon Huwawu in “the cedar forest” (Lebanon).  And in Akkadian tsayyadu means hunter.
Now, if Kush, who “sired” Nimrod, relates to Kish, we are right back with Lady Kug Bau.  She was from Kish, which was such an important city that Eannatum of Lagash called himself “king of Kish” when he took over all of Mesopotamia. 
But Gilgamesh was not king of Kish.  He was king of Uruk, and fought Aga the king of Kish.  So we’re probably wrong to think that Nimrod is Gilgamesh.
Further, the original five-tablet version of Gilgamesh dates from just after the Gutian defeat by Utu-Hengel.  That’s too late for Nimrod to rule over all of Mesopotamia.  The last king of all Mesopotamia known by the time of Utu-Hengel was either Sargon of Akkad or his predecessor, Eannatum, who was so pointedly left out of the king list.
And finally, of course, Gilgamesh was the standard “Dick and Jane” of the cuneiform schools, so even the five-tablet version was a closed book to the ancestors of the Jews. 
Setting Genesis 10 in the time of Ebla, before its destruction, means that if there really is a king of Mesopotamia whom Nimrod represents, it’s Eannatum.  And that puts us right after Kug Bau.  Which matches the 2350 BCE destruction of the cities of the plain.
But wait, there’s more.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved