Friday, February 26, 2016

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Exodus 1:11, 12:37

You were supposed to look at Exodus 1:11 because it mentions Ramses and Pi-Tum as treasure cities of the Pharaoh of the oppression.
But I just said that the place known to the 26th dynasty as Pi-Tum had no conclusive residential remains in the 19th dynasty of Ramses II.  Think about it.  If you’re going to keep treasure somewhere, you don’t just need big buildings.  You need guards barracks.  You need a warehouse for rations and weapons.  You need carters to bring in the rations and weapons.  You need somewhere for the carters to stay overnight after a trip of up to 55 kilometers from Avaris on an oxcart that travels about 5 kph.  You need homes for the inn-keepers (although they probably live in their own inns).  You need a market where they can buy things to feed their families and the carters and buy new housewares.  You need somewhere for the caravans to stay after bringing in the things the innkeepers buy.  The soldiers guarding the gatehouses might have families but they might also only use prostitutes; those women need somewhere to live and supplies to live on. 
That’s not what archaeologists found at the 19th dynasty level at Pi-Tum. 
The modern name for the site of Pi-Tum is Tell el-Maskhuta.
Sound familiar?  It should. 
Exodus 12:37 names the jumping off point, on the trip from Ramses/Avaris into the Sinai Peninsula, as Sukkot.
We don’t know why the modern name of the location resembles Sukkot.  It’s a sound that would have to survive 36 centuries, despite the fact that it was occupied first by the Greek conquerors of Egypt, then by the Roman conquerors, and then by Persians, prior to the Muslim conquest.
Tell el-Maskhuta lies on a line directly from Avaris to Mt. Sinai.  Following that line takes the traveler across the northern end of the Bitter Lakes.  Twenty-five centuries ago this area was much moister than it is now; paleontologists have also found remains of crocodiles and hippopotami around the Bitter Lakes area.  Crocs and hippos are both fresh-water animals, although the nearest relatives of hippos, whales and porpoises, are sea-going.  There is now a thin canal of water between the upper and lower lakes, but it would have been larger and deeper 25 centuries ago.
A trip  to the southeast  makes perfect sense for the Israelites.  If they had gone south, they would have wound up in the middle of Ahmose’s  attacking forces.  If they had gone west, they would have crossed the Nile delta and wound up in Libya (which of course was not the desert it is now).  If they had gone northeast, the Hyksos would have overtaken them while fleeing Ahmose’s troops, and then the troops themselves would have caught up to them and they would have “seen war”.  And that is the meaning of Exodus 13:17.
For next week read Exodus 7:14 through 9:35.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- just do it!

So we have the aspects of verbs straight, and we know they apply to Biblical Hebrew. It does not use a tense system, even though modern Hebrew does. Now we’ll talk modality, which wouldn’t mean anything to you if you didn’t understand the aspect verb system.
Modality is related to what most languages call “mood” but they’re not identical, particularly not in Biblical Hebrew as you will see.
The class of modality you know best is deontic. This has to do with the way the speaker wishes the world was but isn’t.
The reason you are so familiar with the deontic is that it includes all the imperatives, the jussive and the hortative or cohortative.  In most languages, this is called imperative mood.  This is different from a commandment which as you now know may be in perfect or imperfect aspect.
An imperative is used to cause something to happen soon but it has one peculiar characteristic. Watch for the imperatives that don’t work out. One example is Genesis 14:21.
וַיֹּאמֶר מֶלֶךְ־סְדֹם אֶל־אַבְרָם תֶּן־לִי הַנֶּפֶשׁ וְהָרְכֻשׁ קַח־לָךְ:
The king wanted to bribe Avraham or make him a co-conspirator; Avraham refused to take so much as a sandal-tie.
In Torah, some people have a right to issue imperatives and some don’t. Gd does, of course. But He only uses imperatives when he’s talking to a person who will be responsible for personally carrying out the action, and who can be relied on to do it. This includes Noach and Avraham. In other situations, he uses the 2nd person perfect or imperfect.
Avraham uses imperative when talking to others, and his imperatives always take effect. Read the story of obtaining Makhpelah for burials, in Genesis 18. Notice that the imperatives used by the council of the Bney Chet and by Efron never go into effect but those of Avraham do. They haven’t the right to issue imperatives; they do not have as high a status as Avraham.
In an aspect verb system, you have to use an imperfect as the basis for an imperative because the world isn’t yet the way you want it. That’s why imperatives in Biblical Hebrew look like the imperfect aspect forms of verbs. This form has been inherited by Modern Hebrew although it has a tense verb system.
It’s also true that because imperatives don’t take effect unless the speaker has a right to issue imperatives, the uncertainty persists until you get to the verse(s) saying that the action did or did not take effect.
So in Torah there will always be a two-step process with imperatives: the speaker issues it, and a following verse shows whether it was carried out. By this you will know the Biblical attitude toward whoever issues the imperative.  This is quite different from the 2nd person commandments; the verb aspect relates to evidence of its being carried out.
There’s another deontic and while  you have probably used it, you don’t know what it looks like in Biblical Hebrew.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 22, 2016

DIY -- castile soap

No, I haven't started making my own lye soap.
I just want to give the advantages of castile soap more air time.
First, there's no sodium, boron, or phosphates in it.
That's good for the health of our soil and water.
Second, you can't accidentally make hydrochloric acid with it, but you can use it with thyme tea as a disinfectant.
Third, you can clean your bathroom with it, mixing in baking soda when you need to scrub
BUT if you accidentally touch your clothes, it won't leave bleach spots.
That's one of my favorites among all the advantages.

Fourth, it gets out cooking oil better than normal detergents.
I've been  using it to wash dishes for a year now and one of the biggest problems has always been those yellow spots from cooking oil infused with turmeric.
Don't have that problem with castile soap.  It cuts the grease better and that means the turmeric yellow goes away.
Same thing happens with clothing.  When I splash the infused oil  on them, if I scrub them with a little castile soap, the spots go away.
I've tried using oxy-bleach for that; it doesn't make them go away, it turns them a nice bright purple.
Interesting bit of chemistry that must be.

I'm using castile soap for hand-wash and it doesn't bleach my hand made knits.
It's fine on cotton blends.
It's fine on wool.
It's fine on linen.
And that's all I care about, since I stopped using rayon because I was tired of it not washing well.
And I don't wear much lycra or spandex.
If you could see me you would understand that I'm doing everybody a  benefit by not wearing those.

And in a pinch, I use it for shampoo instead of my normal yucca-plus herbal blend.

If I catch all the water I use castile soap in, I can put it on my garden with no qualms.
You can't say that for detergents; the sodium or boron in them is bad for the soil.

Think about  it.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 19, 2016

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Treasure Cities!

In fact lots of people would say that the Israelites never left Egypt because they never were in Egypt.
Where archaeologists have been looking, they haven’t found signs of Israelites.
What they have looked for is signs of the treasure cities.  When they went to layers at Pi-Tum deeper than the 26th dynasty, they got to layers coordinating with Ramses II’s 19th dynasty.  They didn’t find remains of a treasure city.  No heavy walls.  Not even settled residences.  Just small bits that might show somebody lived there temporarily.
In the 1990s they looked lower still, and there they found definite traces of residential areas.  These remains date to the 15th through 17th dynasties, after the chaotic interregnum from which the Hyksos emerged as rulers of the Delta while “native” Egyptians ruled south of Memphis.
We have no records specifically from Hyksos rule in the Delta that I can find on the Internet.  We know that their capital was Avaris, a city later taken over by and renamed for Ramses II.  The later name continued down through the ages.  We know that Avaris was on the northwest border of the nome of Goshen.
And we know that the Hyksos were K’naani.  Their sites have K’naani pottery in them, and during the 17th dynasty artisans in the Delta created pottery of local materials but in styles that imitated ware from K’naan.  Some classically K’naani burials include a donkey sacrifice. 
We don’t know what the Hyksos called themselves but we do know that remains similar those of the Hyksos in the Delta occur around Shkhem in the Holy Land, where the Hivim lived.  And we know that when the 18th dynasty expelled the Hyksos, some of them fled to the Holy Land, were besieged and defeated at Sharuhen, a city later forming part of Shimon’s portion.
The ruins of Avaris top off with a layer of pumice.  Radiometric dating shows that this pumice was deposited about 1630 BCE.
That coincides with the explosion of Thera, now known as Santorini, which destroyed the Mykenaean town of Akrotiri and left trees in Ireland with almost no ring growth.  The dust from Thera suppressed sunlight so much that trees some 4,000 kilometers away barely grew at all.
Avaris is about 800 kilometers from Thera.  The “native” Egyptians had their capital at Waset (Thebes), 760 kilometers further south, where there are no reports of pumice. 
So now that we know where Ramses was, what about Pi-Tum?  See Exodus 1:11 and 12:37.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- aspect review

I’ve covered a lot of complicated material so let me review it.
1.         Imperfect aspect has personal  and gender prefixes and is used as follows.
            a.         vav plus imperfect in VS order for narrative past.
            b.         vav plus subject plus imperfect for a relative or coordinate clause.
            c.         without vav in SV order for possibly a true future tense usage.
d.         vav plus imperfect in the 2nd singular or plural in commands accepted to be part of Jewish law, but for which there is no visible evidence of practice.
e.         part of a parallel structure in poetry and prophecy following a perfect verb as a parallel.
f.          Preceded by ki or im is the “if” clause introducing a law.
2.         Perfect aspect has personal and gender suffixes and is used as follows.
a.         Normally in SV order, as a past tense.  Bounds the start and end of narratives, and used for the pluperfect.
b.         vav plus perfect in VS order when the subject is expressed is an oblique modality, a subordinate clause of condition, cause, effect, purpose or result.   The main clause states something familiar; the oblique modality is a possible future event which the listener is supposed to believe will happen because of the main clause.
c.         vav plus perfect in the 2nd singular or plural in commands with a permansive effect on Jewish culture.
d.         part of a parallel structure, the following part of which is in imperfect, in poetry and prophecy.
e.         In a separate clause and following a ki/im plus imperfect clause, something that has to go to completion before the law applies.  This is a possible future event which is known to sometimes follow from the main clause.
3.         Progressive aspect has the following uses.
a.         present tense.
b.         action in progress.
c.         descriptive.
d.         immediate future, “about to X”.
e.         immediate past “has [just] X’d”.
f.          habitual.
g.         the sense in which an imperfect tense is used, that is, an action that was ongoing when something else happened.
h.         locative situations.
j.          X is “still” happening.
Next week I’ll get into the heart of Dr. Cook’s paper and you’ll see some real magic.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Garden -- about yesterday

If you skipped yesterday's post, please go back and read it, then come back here.
You still have time to plan to stop breeding Japanese beetles on your lawn.
First, check out the mower you use now.
Will it let you set the blade at 3 inches?
If not, you need a new mower.
You might not be able to find a gas or electric mower that will do this.
The concept behind gas and electric mowers depends on you not knowing that you are breeding Japanese beetles when you set your blade too low.
You might have to buy a push mower.
You're saying "but that takes too much energy!"
Not when you set your blade at 3 inches.
You will only be cutting grass blades, which are relatively soft.
When you set the blade lower, you are cutting the stems, which are tougher.
When you had a gas or electric mower, you didn't care because you didn't feel it -- except for how often you had to re-sharpen the blade.

Come to your senses.
Stop breeding Japanese beetles and providing food to starlings.
Get a  mower  that lets you set the blade at 3 inches.
If you have a lawn service, insist that they use your mower or set their blades higher.
If they won't, fire them.
They're hurting your grass and also your roses and other flowers, by breeding Japanese beetles.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 15, 2016

Outdoors -- starlings II

I don't like starlings.  They're noisy.
They're worse than squirrels at stealing bird food because they come in flocks instead of pairs.
There are only two good things about starlings.
They eat bugs.
And they can diagnose that you're mowing your lawn too short.
If you get a lot of starlings on your lawn in summer, you know that you mow your grass too short.
The starlings are there to eat Japanese beetle grubs.
There wouldn't be Japanese beetle grubs in your lawn if you weren't mowing your grass too short.
Japanese beetle mothers love short grass because it lets them lay eggs on the ground.
It also lets the sun keep the ground so warm that the eggs will hatch.
If the grass is 3 inches long, no eggs can reach the ground and it's not warm enough to hatch them.
Don't mow your grass shorter than 3 inches.
Then you won't have Japanese beetle grubs in your lawn.
And you won't have flocks of starlings coming to eat them.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 12, 2016

Fact-Checking the Torah -- what did he know and...

I’ll start by looking harder at Merneptah’s stele.          
The first thing to know is that the word “Israel” on the stele has a determinant for a people, not an individual.  Egyptian was a little bit like Chinese in having specific signs which showed how to consider a particular word. (So did Akkadian, matter of fact.)  You have to use zhang when counting sheets of paper or tickets in Chinese, because they are thin flat things, usually longer in one dimension than in another. 
Egyptian had a specific hieroglyphic showing that “Israel” was an ethnic group.  So we’re not talking about the head of a family or a small group of slaves.
The next thing to know about Merneptah’s stele is that it was put up to commemorate an expedition to the Holy Land.  Merneptah ruled in a time of comparative desiccation.  Egypt was desperate for food.  The Holy Land had grain and other foodstuffs, and Merneptah sent an army there to get some.  (Which combats the idea of the Holy Land as hot sandy scrub desert at that time.)
The second thing to notice is that the stele lists Israel and K’naan in parallel.  The K’naani had been known to the Egyptians for centuries.  The Tell-el-Amarna tablets (written in what else – cuneiform) from Akhenaten’s time had notations on them in K’naani.  In the centuries from 2350 BCE when the power vacuum west of Mesopotamia developed and deepened, and the 1340s BCE when Akhetaten was Egypt’s capital, the people in the Holy Land started developing languages other than Akkadian.  One was K’naani and another was Hebrew; Ugaritic and Eblaitic may be independent languages or variants of K’naani.  The K’naani adapted cuneiform to their language and notes in it show up in Egypt, in letters and other documents.
Those letters do not list Israel as a people of the Holy Land.  They discuss the Hapiru who, you now know, were not the Hebrews; they discuss other residents of the Holy Land who were not Hapiru.  In the centuries after Akhenaten, the Egyptians found out who the Israelites were, and realized that they existed in similar numbers and holding a similar extent of territory compared to the better-known K’naani, in the same region as the K’naani.
If this was not general knowledge in Egypt by Merneptah’s times, then he had to find it out at the time of the event that the stele commemorated.  In other words, while stealing grain, the Egyptian troops conducted an ethnographic survey.  “We’re taking this for Egypt.  By the way, what do you call yourselves?  Israel?  Fine, we’ll put that down.  Come to Egypt later and we’ll show you the stele we’re going to put up naming you.”
So the positive evidence of the stele suggests that Israel did exist as an ethnic group, and a sizeable one, holding plenty of territory in the Holy Land, in Merneptah’s time.  What it doesn’t show is when Israel first appeared in the Holy Land or when they left Egypt.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- how do you know?

So we have imperfect and perfect aspects of verbs straight, and we know something about the progressive aspect.  Now I want to say more about what I brought up at the end of the last lesson, which is that without vowels some words look alike.
The most extreme case is probably dover/diber/davar /davar.  They are, in order, progressive aspect of the qal binyan, perfect aspect of the piel binyan, a noun, and perfect aspect of qal.
How do you tell them apart? 
You’ve already seen the discussion on how to tell progressive from perfect aspect, even if you don’t have the vowels.  But there is a way to tell perfect and progressive apart that is much more subtle, and only applies to prophecy and poetry.  When you have a verse containing prophetic or poetic material, it often falls into two phrases which reinforce the image that puts the message across.  It’s somewhat like Anglo-Saxon poetry which uses this format with kennings, different phrases for the same thing, but it’s something like 2000 years older.
The single best example is probably Genesis 49:9.  The end of the verse is
רָבַץ כְּאַרְיֵה וּכְלָבִיא מִי יְקִימֶנּוּ:
“He lay down like a lion, like a lioness who will make him rise up.”
If there were no vowels, I would still say that the word before “lion” is ravats, not rovets.  There are none of the indicators for progressive aspect I talked about before.  There are also other examples of this format with perfect aspect in the first phrase and imperfect aspect in the second phrase.  This is a structure that will never have a progressive verb.
Notice that this last example doesn’t rely on just the wording in the verse.  It relies on the fact that the entire context of Tannakh, not just Torah, has examples of this structure.  So context isn’t just the words, it’s the meaning or usage of the entire passage, and the examples may lie  outside Torah.
Let me connect that last statement with something you often find on websites and in publisher’s descriptions.  “Literal translation”.  Anybody who thinks you can go word by word in a work, and translate each one to a different language, and come up with something that makes sense, doesn’t know anything about good translation.  So if you are asked to cough up money and the attraction is a “literal translation”, don’t be fooled.  Keep your money in your pocket.  If you really want to know what that book says, learn the language for yourself.  It may take years, and you might have to read lots of other literature in the same language to get really good.  Don’t let that discourage you.  Just because it takes time and effort doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.
I’ll do a review next week and then we’ll move on.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 8, 2016

DIY -- perked coffee

Manage your expectations.  Yep, perked coffee is great...
The good things: no filters.  I'm a tea purist and I know I can taste the paper in tea bags so 99% of the time I use leaf tea.  Same with coffee filters.  So much for drip makers.
Also no plastic to go in the land fill.  So much for K-cups.
Goes anywhere.  If you buy the right stove-top percolater, you can take it camping or use it on your hibachi if your electricity is out.
Tastes really great.  Most coffee I put sugar and milk into, especially the milk to cut the acid.  I bought some "house blend" coffee at a website where I've been buying my mother gourmet drip-grind coffee for years, and it was so smooth that a spoonful of brown sugar with no milk was almost overkill as far as dressing it up.  I'm trying classic 8 O'clock and Chock Full of Nuts next.

It took me about a week to work out the settings and timing and get some coffee to actually perk.
First, put 1 cup COLD water in the pot and 1 TBSP ground coffee in the basket, then put the basket lid on.
That's for 1 person.
You need the basket lid for two reasons: it keeps the ground coffee from splashing into the pot, and in my percolator it supports the top where the glass knob is.
Close the pot. 
Set it on a cold burner and turn the burner on to just below the middle of the dial.
On my electric stove, that was setting 3 of 7.
When you hear the percolator rattle, the water is boiling.  Notice that you can't have your earbuds in or be in the shower and still catch it before it overcooks.
You should be able to see the water (and a few grounds) hit the glass knob of the pot.  That's the "perk" part.
After 15 minutes, pour a test splash into the cup. 
If it's clear, keep perking another 15 minutes at least.
On my electric stove I find that some of the water will go out the spout, so when I get a clear test splash, I prime the pot by running some more cold water into the spout.  If you have a gas stove, this may never happen to you.

If all else fails you can boil water separately and pour it over the coffee but that's not the point of having a percolator.

Put your coffee grounds in your compost heap and mark that spot to save that stuff for your acid loving plants.  I'm going to put mine on the hydrangea that was next to my porch when I moved in 25 years ago.

There are bigger issues: can you be a locovore and drink coffee?  Only if you live where avocados can grow.  In California they are growing coffee bushes in some avocado orchards. 
Yerba mate can grow where temps normally stay above 25 all year round.
You CAN be a locovore and drink real tea if you live in growing zone 7b (like the DC area) or south of that.  A farm in North Carolina grows tea and sells seedlings of different varieties of Camellia sinensis, the true tea bush.
One, called Sochi, is a Russian variety.  It is frost-hardy but you have to be able to shade it for at least half the day in winter, to reproduce the solar conditions in Russia in winter.  Check out Camellia Forest Nursery, including the blog that shows how to process the leaves into drinkable tea.

And again, that's only if you can't live without your caffeine.  You can grow herbal teas in your yard almost anywhere, including chamomile and medicinals such as horehound or feverfew.

Growing tea or giving up caffeine, are both less expensive than continuing to support a coffee habit because they require less energy to produce and move.
Think globally, act locally.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 5, 2016

Fact-Checking the Torah -- provenance of the Exodus

And now probably the biggest urban legend of them all.  When did the Exodus happen?

I know that some people want to say “Did the Exodus happen?” but I think it’s better to answer that later because the answer involves fallacies.
For right now, let’s look at the basis of the urban legend.
About 1896 archaeologists discovered a stele at Waset, “City of the Scepter”, known to Greeks as Thebes, east across the Nile from Karnak.  It is near Medinet Habu, Valley of the Kings, and Luxor.  The stele was dated to 1207 BCE in the reign of Merneptah.  When it was found, people read hieroglyphics fairly well, and it leapt out at them that the stele referred to Israel.
Forty years before that was right about in the middle of the long reign – not just the life but the reign – of Merneptah’s father, Ramses II.  I guess that people put this together with a supposed power vacuum in the Holy Land that resulted from a battle to a draw between Ramses II and the Hittites, and said that the Israelites would have left Egypt in Ramses II’s reign and consolidated their position in the Holy Land during the period of the power vacuum.
But archaeological research in the region of Moav in layers associated with this date for the Exodus didn’t turn up any remains that would coordinate with the seeming high level of culture that would throw up a king like Balaq who could send emissaries to a far place for a prophet.  Decades later, I have trouble finding Moabite studies that don’t concentrate on the 800s BCE; if the work has been done, I guess the reports are not online.
There was another problem due to the minimal remains at Pi-Tum in the layers for the 1200s BCE.  Pi-Tum was a city of the 26th dynasty, the time of the Babylonian captivity; the idea occurred that the Exodus was made up at that time.
Arguments then began that Merneptah’s stele referred to an individual who had been conquered and “his seed exterminated,” so that whoever turned out to be the ancestors of the Jews, it would not be the Israel named on the stele.
Also Ramses left no records about disturbances of nature or large-scale emigrations, not that we’ve found to date.  The most that could be shown by later archaeology, was that a 19th dynasty military officer stopped at a place called Tjeku and asked the locals if they knew where some runaway slaves had gone.  So supposedly the Exodus of 600,000 military-age men, besides women and children, was whittled down to a few runaway slaves who might have been killed off, but certainly never “covered the face of the earth” in a way that would frighten a Moabite king – who in any case didn’t exist at the time of Ramses.
That was the state of our knowledge up to about 1950 and archaeology, as usual, has marched on.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bit at a Time Bible Hebrew -- progressive ASPECT

Now that you understand imperfect and perfect, I’m ready to talk about progressive aspect.
You are used to thinking of the progressive aspect as present tense.  But here’s a past usage which illustrates that it means an action in progress, Genesis 1:2.
וְהָאָרֶץ הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ וְחשֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵי תְהוֹם וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים מְרַחֶפֶת עַל־פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם:
This means that the action was repeated continuously within the narrative.  After the narrative ends, we no longer worry about it.  Could still be happening!
Progressive aspect also has a descriptive flavor, which you saw in Genesis 2:10.
וְנָהָר יֹצֵא מֵעֵדֶן לְהַשְׁקוֹת אֶת־הַגָּן וּמִשָּׁם יִפָּרֵד וְהָיָה לְאַרְבָּעָה רָאשִׁים:
Progressive aspect verbs often show up with expressions of location, as with tachat ha-ets in Genesis 18:8. 
 וַיִּקַּח חֶמְאָה וְחָלָב וּבֶן־הַבָּקָר אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה וַיִּתֵּן לִפְנֵיהֶם וְהוּא עֹמֵד עֲלֵיהֶם תַּחַת הָעֵץ וַיֹּאכֵלוּ:
Progessive aspect commonly goes with form of od, “still,” as in Genesis 29:9.
עוֹדֶנּוּ מְדַבֵּר עִמָּם וְרָחֵל בָּאָה עִם־הַצֹּאן אֲשֶׁר לְאָבִיהָ כִּי רֹעָה הִוא:
Progressive can have an immediately future meaning, as in Genesis 41:9.
וַיְדַבֵּר שַׂר הַמַּשְׁקִים אֶת־פַּרְעֹה לֵאמֹר אֶת־חֲטָאַי אֲנִי מַזְכִּיר הַיּוֹם:
You should probably translate the butler’s statement as “I am about to recall…” You could also, given the context, translate it as  “I have just now recalled…” which is another flavor of the  progressive. 
A better example of the immediate past is probably Numbers 14:3:
וְלָמָה יְהֹוָה מֵבִיא אֹתָנוּ אֶל־הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת לִנְפֹּל בַּחֶרֶב נָשֵׁינוּ וְטַפֵּנוּ יִהְיוּ לָבַז הֲלוֹא טוֹב לָנוּ שׁוּב מִצְרָיְמָה:
“Why has **** brought…”
Progressive has a habitual sense.  This goes with the yotse of the river above and also with Exodus 7:15.
לֵךְ אֶל־פַּרְעֹה בַּבֹּקֶר הִנֵּה יֹצֵא הַמַּיְמָה וְנִצַּבְתָּ לִקְרָאתוֹ עַל־שְׂפַת הַיְאֹר וְהַמַּטֶּה אֲשֶׁר־נֶהְפַּךְ לְנָחָשׁ תִּקַּח בְּיָדֶךָ:
Midrash Rabbah Shemot 9:8 suggests that Pharaoh’s going out to the Nile was a habit; he pretended that he was a god and didn’t have normal human functions, so he went out to the river to hide the call of nature from his servants. 
Perhaps a better example is Exodus 13:15-16.
וַיְהִי כִּי־הִקְשָׁה פַרְעֹה לְשַׁלְּחֵנוּ וַיַּהֲרֹג יְהוָֹה כָּל־בְּכוֹר בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִבְּכֹר אָדָם וְעַד־בְּכוֹר בְּהֵמָה עַל־כֵּן אֲנִי זֹבֵחַ לַיהֹוָה כָּל־פֶּטֶר רֶחֶם הַזְּכָרִים וְכָל־בְּכוֹר בָּנַי אֶפְדֶּה:
The habit is zoveach, “I [habitually] sacrifice…” 
Finally, progressive aspect is sometimes used the way tense-verb systems use an imperfect tense.  One example is Exodus 2:11.
וַיְהִי בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם וַיִּגְדַּל מֹשֶׁה וַיֵּצֵא אֶל־אֶחָיו וַיַּרְא בְּסִבְלֹתָם וַיַּרְא אִישׁ מִצְרִי מַכֶּה אִישׁ־עִבְרִי מֵאֶחָיו:
Moshe’s seeing the Egyptian is the action that interrupts the Egyptian’s beating that he was giving the Hebrew.
Now.  There’s a syntax issue you have to understand.  The normal syntax for perfect and progressive aspects is SVO.  The masculine singular of the progressive can look just like the masculine 3rd singular of the perfect aspect.  How do you know which one you have, if you don’t have vowels to guide you?
This isn’t just an idle question.  There are people, some of them scholars with good reputations, who think that the Torah without vowels, as it appears in the Torah scroll for reading in synagogue, is a free-association test.  From the above, you can see this isn’t true.  If it looks like a perfect aspect verb, but it appears in one of the situations above, look again.  It might be progressive aspect.
This is another example of how nothing means anything without context.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 1, 2016

Garden -- February 2016

Another thing not to prune now: Hydrangeas.
Read Mike McGrath's recent article:

I followed McGrath's advice after the terrible snows early in 2014.
I had no flowers that summer.
In 2015, I had some of the most beautiful flowers in 25 years, because I hadn't pruned off the old wood.

People spend too much money on their landscaping because they don't know enough about their plants.
Some of that money goes for poisons that get rid of the bees and butterflies we need to pollinate our food, and that our pets and kids pick up and get sick from.
Other money goes to people who work for us and don't know what they're doing. 
We only hire them because we don't know what they're doing either.
Go to Mike's archives on the YBYG site and study up so you can save money, do less work, and still have a great landscape, while saving the environment.
Think globally, act locally.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved