Fear – Deuteronomy, Part 11

I’ve been considering yehôvâh’s fearful pronouncement: I punish (pâqad, פקד) the sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons for the sin of the fathers who reject me[1]  The third of the three times forms of pâqad were translated punish or punishment in the NET prior to Deuteronomy 5:9 was Leviticus 18:25, and I have brought the punishment (pâqad, ואפקד).  I want to consider it in context.  A table follows with the English translations of Leviticus 18:24-30 from the Hebrew in the NET and Tanakh, and from the Greek Septuagint in the NETS.

Leviticus 18:24-30 (NET) Leviticus 18:24-30 (Tanakh)

Leviticus 18:24-30 (NETS)

Do not defile (ṭâmêʼ, תטמאו) yourselves with any of these things, for the nations which I am about to drive out before you have been defiled (ṭâmêʼ, נטמאו) with all these things. Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things; for in all these the nations are defiled, which I cast out from before you. Do not defile (μιαίνεσθε, a form of μιαίνω) yourselves in any of these ways.  For by all these things the nations I am sending out before your face were defiled (ἐμιάνθησαν, another form of μιαίνω).
Therefore the land has become unclean (ṭâmêʼ, ותטמא) and I have brought the punishment for its iniquity upon it, so that the land has vomited out its inhabitants. And the land was defiled, therefore I did visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land vomited out her inhabitants. And the land became defiled (ἐμιάνθη, another form of μιαίνω), and I repaid their evil because of it, and the land was angry with its inhabitants.
You yourselves must obey my statutes (chûqqâh, חקתי) and my regulations and must not do any of these abominations, both the native citizen and the resident foreigner in your midst, Ye therefore shall keep My statutes and Mine ordinances, and shall not do any of these abominations (tôʽêbah, התועבת); neither the home-born, nor the stranger that sojourneth among you– And you shall keep all my precepts (νόμιμά, a form of νόμιμος[2]) and all my ordinances and not commit any of all these abominations (βδελυγμάτων, a form of βδέλυγμα), the inhabitant and the guest among you who has come
for the people who were in the land before you have done all these abominations, and the land has become unclean (ṭâmêʼ, ותטמא). for all these abominations (tôʽêbah, התועבת) have the men of the land done, that were before you, and the land is defiled– (for the men of the land, who were before you, committed all of these abominations [βδελύγματα, another form of βδέλυγμα], and the land became defiled);
So do not make the land vomit you out because you defile (ṭâmêʼ, בטמאכם) it just as it has vomited out the nations that were before you. that the land vomit not you out also, when ye defile it, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. Otherwise the land will become angry with you when you defile (μιαίνειν, another form of μιαίνω) it, as it became angry with the nations that were before you.
For if anyone does any of these abominations, the persons who do them will be cut off from the midst of their people. For whosoever shall do any of these abominations (tôʽêbah, התועבות), even the souls that do them shall be cut off from among their people. For anyone who commits any of all these abominations (βδελυγμάτων, a form of βδέλυγμα)—the souls that do so shall be exterminated from their people.
You must obey my charge to not practice any of the abominable statutes (chûqqâh, מחקות) that have been done before you, so that you do not defile (ṭâmêʼ, תטמאו) yourselves by them.  I am the Lord your God. Therefore shall ye keep My charge, that ye do not any of these abominable (tôʽêbah, התועבת) customs, which were done before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am HaShem your G-d. And keep my ordinances: not to commit any of all these abominable (ἐβδελυγμένων, a form of βδελύσσω) precepts (νομίμων, another form of νόμιμος) that were done before you, and you shall not be defiled (μιανθήσεσθε, another form of μιαίνω) by them, for I am the Lord your God.

Abominations (tôʽêbah, התועבת; Septuagint: βδελυγμάτων, a form of βδέλυγμα) clearly refers to all acts described in verses 6-22.  Bestiality in verse 23 may be distinguished from abominations as perversion (tebel, תבל; Septuagint:μυσερὸν, a form of μυσερός[3]) or perversion may be a special class of abominations.  But quoting Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination (tôʽêbah)[4] out of context doesn’t make male-on-male homosexual acts a peculiar class of abomination.  It is not more abominable than adultery (verse 20) for instance, or approaching a woman in her menstrual impurity to have sexual intercourse with her[5] for that matter.  And these abominations (with the possible exception of bestiality) were legal/religious statutes in Egypt and Canaan at the time of the Exodus (Leviticus 18:1-5 NET):

The Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) spoke to Moses:  “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘I am the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) your God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהיכם)!  You must not do as they do in the land of Egypt where you have been living, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan into which I am about to bring you; you must not walk in their statutes (chûqqâh, ובחקתיהם).  You must observe my regulations and you must be sure to walk in my statutes (chûqqâh, חקתי).  I am the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) your God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהיכם).  So you must keep my statutes (chûqqâh, חקתי) and my regulations; anyone who does so will live by keeping them.  I am the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).’”

The NET translators tended to translate two Hebrew words—gâlâh (לגלות; uncover) and ʽervâh (ערוה; nakedness)—with the words to have sexual intercourse.  I’ll quote the Tanakh instead for two reasons: 1) My hard core of materialism sweetened with Jesus jelly is all too willing to hear that only sexual intercourse, specifically vaginal penetration with and only with a penis resulting in orgasm, is sin; and, 2) I don’t want to miss yehôvâh’s disruption of nude pagan worship within families, what contemporary witches call skycladFamilies, law and religion are the primary conduits of visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons whether I consider that visiting punishment are the means of transmitting iniquity to others.

The statutes yehôvâh called my statutes to countermand the legal/religious statutes of the Egyptians[6] and Canaanites follow (Leviticus 18:6-19 Tanakh):

None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness.  I am HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה).  The nakedness of thy father,[7] and the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.  The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness.  The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or the daughter of thy mother, whether born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.  The nakedness of thy son’s daughter, or of thy daughter’s daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover; for theirs is thine own nakedness.  The nakedness of thy father’s wife’s daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.  Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father’s sister: she is thy father’s near kinswoman.  Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother’s sister; for she is thy mother’s near kinswoman.  Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy fathers brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt.  Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter-in-law: she is thy son’s wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.  Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness.  Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter; thou shalt not take her son’s daughter, or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness: they are near kinswomen; it is lewdness.  And thou shalt not take a woman to her sister, to be a rival to her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her lifetime.  And thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is impure by her uncleanness.

Practicing these would make it extremely difficult for a family to engage in pagan worship.  It would greatly inhibit the family patriarch from seducing the younger women of his family or asserting his “sacred” rights over them.  I won’t deny that it could also inhibit the transmission of recessive traits to offspring.  But that seems almost incidental when the Hebrew is translated literally.

Other statutes of Egypt and Canaan were countermanded as well (Leviticus 18:20-23 Tanakh):

And thou shalt not lie carnally[8] with thy neighbour’s wife, to defile thyself with her.  And thou shalt not give any of thy seed to set them apart to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy G-d: I am HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה).  Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination.  And thou shalt not lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith; neither shall any woman stand before a beast, to lie down thereto; it is perversion.

Adultery and male homosexual acts were not prohibited as uncover nakedness but with the words nâthan (תתן; give) shekôbeth (שכבתך; copulation) in verse 20 and shâkab (תשכב; lie) and mishkâb (משכבי; bed) in verse 22.

All of these abominations defile those who commit them.  But since the land was also defiled, it is perhaps fair to ask if these statutes offer knowledge of sin for the land of Canaan only.  Consider the origin of the Samaritans (2 Kings 17:24-28 NET):

The king of Assyria brought foreigners from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim and settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the Israelites.  They took possession of Samaria and lived in its cities.  When they first moved in, they did not worship the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).  So the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) sent lions among them and the lions were killing them.  The king of Assyria was told, “The nations whom you deported and settled in the cities of Samaria do not know the requirements of the God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהי) of the land, so he has sent lions among them.  They are killing the people because they do not know the requirements of the God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהי) of the land.”  So the king of Assyria ordered, “Take back one of the priests whom you deported from there.  He must settle there and teach them the requirements of the God (ʼĕlôhı̂ym, אלהי) of the land.”  So one of the priests whom they had deported from Samaria went back and settled in Bethel.  He taught them how to worship the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה).

The king of Assyria and his pagan servant considered yehôvâh a local Canaanite god.  It comes down to one’s faithThat is why I told you that you will die in your sins, Jesus said, for unless you believe that I (ἐγώ) AM (εἰμι), you’ll die in your sins.[9]  I chose the ISV translation because it is the most accurate here in stating that John claimed that Jesus claimed to be the I AM (Exodus 3:14, 15) who spoke to Moses.  Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD (yehôvâh, יהוה), and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.  I, even I, am the LORD (yehôvâh, יהוה); and beside me there is no saviour.[10]  I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.[11]

Do not defile yourselves with any of these things, He said, for the nations which I am about to drive out before you have been defiled with all these things.  Therefore the land (ʼerets, הארץ) has become unclean and I have brought the punishment (pâqad, ואפקד) for its iniquity upon it (Tanakh: I did visit the iniquity thereof upon it), so that the land (ʼerets, הארץ) has vomited out its inhabitants.[12]

The land has vomited out its inhabitants is an amazing word picture of the flood: all the fountains of the great deep burst open and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.[13]  But this was not the flood.  No more than forty years earlier the promised land was a land (ʼerets, ארץ) flowing with milk and honey.[14]  When Israel’s spies came to the valley of Eshcol, they cut down from there a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a staff between two men[15]  Was the knowledge that the land has vomited out its inhabitants something only yehôvâh could perceive since He promised, I will never again curse the ground (ʼădâmâh, האדמה) because of humankind?[16]  Or was it prophetic of the war of extermination Israel was about to unleash in Canaan?

And surely your blood of your lives will I require, yehôvâh said after the flood, at the hand of every beast will I require it; and at the hand of man, even at the hand of every man’s brother, will I require the life of man.  Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of G-d made He man.[17]  Then He promised (Genesis 9:9-11 Tanakh):

‘As for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you, and with your seed after you;  and with every living creature that is with you, the fowl, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that go out of the ark, even every beast of the earth.  And I will establish My covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of the flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.’

In this sense then Israel’s army became a limited cleansing flood, as opposed to the flood yehôvâh promised not to unleash again to destroy the earth.  Now if someone deprived me and my family of life and claimed all that I owned for himself and his act was righteous, then I was clearly punished for a serious offense.  This is the way the translators of the Septuagint understood the verse: “And the land became defiled, and I repaid their evil because of it…”  Notice below that yehôvâh repaid the Canaanites’ for defiling the land in the NETS translation of the Septuagint rather than punishing the land for its iniquity in the NET translation of the Hebrew.

Leviticus 18:25 (NET) Leviticus 18:25 (Tanakh) Leviticus 18:25 (NETS)
Therefore the land has become unclean and I have brought the punishment for its iniquity upon it, so that the land has vomited out its inhabitants. And the land was defiled, therefore I did visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land vomited out her inhabitants. And the land became defiled, and I repaid (ἀνταπέδωκα, a form of ἀνταποδίδωμι) their evil because of it, and the land was angry with its inhabitants.

The translators of the Septuagint have tipped their hand here, translating pâqad (ואפקד) ἀνταπέδωκα (a form of ἀνταποδίδωμι).  To them visiting the iniquity was how yehôvâh repaid sin: Vengeance is Mine, and recompense (shillêm, ושלם; Septuagint: ἀνταποδώσω, another form of ἀνταποδίδωμι), against the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that are to come upon them shall make haste.[18]  Here shillêm (ושלם, requital) was translated ἀνταποδώσω (another form of ἀνταποδίδωμ).  Is corruption His?  No; His children’s is the blemish; a generation crooked and perverse.  Do ye thus requite (gâmal, תגמלו; Septuagint: ἀνταποδίδοτε, another form of ἀνταποδίδωμι) HaShem (yehôvâh, ליהוה), O foolish people and unwise?[19]

Here even gâmal (תגמלו) was translated ἀνταποδίδοτε (another form of ἀνταποδίδωμι).  When Isaac grew and was weaned (gâmal, ויגמל) Abraham prepared a great feast[20]  The staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted, and brought forth buds, and produced blossoms, and yielded (gâmal, ויגמל) almonds![21]  I can’t say it was wrong to translate gâmal with a form of ἀνταποδίδωμι: After their father’s death Joseph’s brothers feared, What if Joseph bears a grudge and wants to repay (shûb, וישב; Septuagint: requite [ἀνταποδῷ, another form of ἀνταποδίδωμι] us a requittal [ἀνταπόδομα] Genesis 50:15 NETS) us in full for all the harm we did (gâmal, גמלנו) to him?[22]  But it does reveal a particular fixation since the word signifies a ripening of fruit, whether good fruit or bad fruit. (Here, by the way, gâmal was translated ἐνεδειξάμεθα [a form of ἐνδεικνύω;[23] NETS: show] in the Septuagint.)

If I consider who translated the Septuagint their fixation on retribution makes a lot of sense (Deuteronomy 31:24-29 Tanakh):

And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, that bore the ark of the covenant of HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה), saying: ‘Take this book of the law, and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה) your G-d, that it may be there for a witness against thee.  For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck; behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה); and how much more after my death?  Assemble unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to witness against them.  For I know that after my death ye will in any wise deal corruptly, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the end of days; because ye will do that which is evil in the sight of HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה), to provoke Him through the work of your hands.’

How could they help but perceive their world in terms of retribution (Deuteronomy 32:19-27 Tanakh)?

And HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה) saw, and spurned, because of the provoking of His sons and His daughters.  And He said: ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be; for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faithfulness.  They have roused Me to jealousy with a no-god; they have provoked Me with their vanities; and I will rouse them to jealousy with a no-people; I will provoke them with a vile nation.  For a fire is kindled in My nostril, and burneth unto the depths of the nether-world, and devoureth the earth with her produce, and setteth ablaze the foundations of the mountains.  I will heap evils upon them; I will spend Mine arrows upon them; The wasting of hunger, and the devouring of the fiery bolt, and bitter destruction; and the teeth of beasts will I send upon them, with the venom of crawling things of the dust.  Without shall the sword bereave, and in the chambers terror; slaying both young man and virgin, the suckling with the man of gray hairs.  I thought I would make an end of them, I would make their memory cease from among men; Were it not that I dreaded the enemy’s provocation, lest their adversaries should misdeem, lest they should say: Our hand is exalted, and not HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה) hath wrought all this.’

As I began this study I noticed that the rabbis who translated the Septuagint had translated pâqad (פקד) ἀποδιδοὺς (a form of ἀποδίδωμι) but I really didn’t know what to make of it: Thou shalt not bow down unto them, nor serve them; for I HaShem (yehôvâh, יהוה) thy G-d am a jealous G-d, visiting the iniquity (pâqad, פקד; Septuagint: ἀποδιδοὺς, a form of ἀποδίδωμι) of the fathers upon the children, and upon the third and upon the fourth generation of them that hate Me[24]  I was questioning, but still more or less persuaded, that visiting the iniquity was how God repaid sin.  Only through this study itself did I begin to wonder if visiting the iniquity, through family (Mark 3:20, 21), through law, through religion, was how God has consigned all people to disobedience.[25]

If I consider who I am, my developing fixation makes quite a lot of sense, too.  I am the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous[26]  I am one of the no-people of a vile nation.  I am one of the Gentiles who has received salvation by Israel’s transgression, one of the Gentiles Paul addressed in his letter to believers in Rome (Romans 11:22-36 NET):

Notice therefore the kindness and harshness of God – harshness toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.  And even they – if they do not continue in their unbelief – will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.  For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree?

For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

“The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob.  And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”

In regard to the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but in regard to election they are dearly loved for the sake of the fathers.  For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.  Just as you were formerly disobedient (ἠπειθήσατε, a form of ἀπειθέω) to God, but have now received mercy due to their disobedience (ἀπειθείᾳ), so they too have now been disobedient (ἠπείθησαν, another form of ἀπειθέω) in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy.  For God has consigned all people to disobedience (ἀπείθειαν, a form of ἀπείθεια) so that he may show mercy to them all.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and how fathomless his ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?  Or who has first given to God, that God needs to repay (ἀνταποδοθήσεται, another form of ἀνταποδίδωμι) him?

For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be glory forever!  Amen.

 

Coda: I attended a pagan feast Christmas evening.  I didn’t know it was a pagan feast until it was over.  It was an ecumenical pagan feast: I was asked to pray before the meal.  Interestingly, I didn’t eat, not because I had some scruple about eating a pagan feast but because I wasn’t hungry.  Caring for my mother has me eating way too much way too often.  My intent was to arrive before Grandmother, Mother and Daughter dispersed so I could visit with them all together.  I arrived earlier than anticipated.

I realized it was a pagan feast when Mother began to outline their preparations for Imbolc.  (I had to look it up, too.)  The women plan to write on paper scrolls what each is grateful for day by day, attach the scrolls to a stick or branch and burn the stick or branch with the scrolls on Imbolc (February 1).  As religious works go, it’s not too bad.

The next morning I delivered coffee and cigarettes to Mother.  She was too depressed to venture out into the cold.  Her lover had left her a few days before.  “I’m just so fucking sad all the time,” she said.  I remembered how the Holy Spirit bolstered me when my wife divorced me, and was reminded of Paul’s letter to struggling believers in Galatia (Galatians 3:2b-5):

Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard?  Are you so foolish?  Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort?  Have you suffered so many things for nothing? – if indeed it was for nothing.  Does God then give you the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law or by your believing what you heard?

Of course, Paul meant the law God spoke at Sinai.  But clearly pagan ritual in obedience to pagan law (or creative imagination) was no better at filling Mother with Jesus’ love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.[27]

Two days later Mother asked me to pray for her job interview.  I don’t know whether she also sought Brigid’s aid (though I haven’t met any pagans who believe the gods are real, merely imaginary personifications of nature or ideas).  I left it to God’s discretion when my mother and I prayed.  Mother’s interview went well, and I’m happy that I’m not visiting her in rehab this year.

Back to To Make Holy, Part 4

[1] Deuteronomy 5:9b (NET)

[2] http://www.greekdoc.com/lexicon/no.html#nomimos

[3] http://www.greekdoc.com/lexicon/mu.html#museros

[4] תועבה, Leviticus 18:22 (Tanakh)

[5] Leviticus 18:19 (NET)

[6] http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/people/couples.htm

[7] This seems to have been established as a tradition by Noah’s time (Genesis 9:20-23).

[8] http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/030751338407000113?journalCode=egaa

[9] John 8:24 (ISV)

[10] Isaiah 43:10, 11 (Tanakh)

[11] Isaiah 45:12 (Tanakh)

[12] Leviticus 18:24, 25 (NET)

[13] Genesis 7:11b (NET)

[14] Exodus 33:3a (NET)

[15] Numbers 13:23a (NET)

[16] Genesis 8:21b (NET)

[17] Genesis 9:5, 6 (Tanakh)

[18] Deuteronomy 32:35 (Tanakh)

[19] Deuteronomy 32:5, 6a (Tanakh)

[20] Genesis 21:8 (NET)

[21] Numbers 17:8b (NET)

[22] Genesis 50:15 (NET)

[23] http://www.greekdoc.com/lexicon/end.html#endeiknuw

[24] Deuteronomy 5:9 (Tanakh)  “You shall not do obeisance to them, nor are you to serve them, because I am the Lord your God, a jealous God, repaying (ἀποδιδοὺς, a form of ἀποδίδωμι) the sins of fathers upon children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me…” (Deuteronomy 5:9 NETS)

[25] Romans 11:32a (NET)

[26] Romans 4:5 (NET)

[27] Galatians 5:22, 23a (NET)