Numbers 21:33-35 (NET)
Deuteronomy 3:1-4 (NET)
|Then they turned and went up by the road to Bashan. And King Og of Bashan and all his forces marched out against them to do battle at Edrei. And the Lord said to Moses, “Do not fear (yârêʼ, תירא) him, for I have delivered him and all his people and his land into your hand. You will do to him what you did to King Sihon of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon.||Next we set out on the route to Bashan, but King Og of Bashan and his whole army came out to meet us in battle at Edrei. The Lord, however, said to me, “Don’t be afraid (yârêʼ, תירא) of him because I have already given him, his whole army, and his land to you. You will do to him exactly what you did to King Sihon of the Amorites who lived in Heshbon.”|
|So they defeated Og, his sons, and all his people, until there were no survivors, and they possessed his land.||So the Lord our God did indeed give over to us King Og of Bashan and his whole army and we struck them down until not a single survivor was left. We captured all his cities at that time – there was not a town we did not take from them – sixty cities, all the region of Argob, the dominion of Og in Bashan.|
I also commanded Joshua at the same time, Moses continued, “You have seen everything the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) your God did to these two kings; he (yehôvâh, יהוה) will do the same to all the kingdoms where you are going. Do not be afraid (yârêʼ, תיראום) of them, for the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה) your God will personally fight for you.”
The third occurrence of yârêʼ requires more consideration (Deuteronomy 4:10 NET):
You stood before the Lord your God at Horeb and he said to me, “Assemble the people before me so that I can tell them my commands. Then they will learn to revere (yârêʼ, ליראה) me all the days they live in the land, and they will instruct their children.”
The Hebrew word was yârêʼ. The Tanakh reads: ‘Assemble Me the people, and I will make them hear My words that they may learn to fear Me all the days that they live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.’ The Septuagint reads: “Assemble the people to me, and let them hear (ἀκουσάτωσαν, a form of ἀκούω; See Luke 16:29) my words so that they may learn to fear me all the days as long as they live on the earth and may teach their sons…” Yet the NET translators chose revere and I don’t have any quarrel with it. Doing this study has helped me realize that something is happening to the fear of yehôvâh.
I’ve already heard Moses associate this fear with faith. Here, too, it is associated with something like faith. Moses said (Deuteronomy 4:1-4 NET):
Now, Israel, pay attention to the statutes and ordinances I am about to teach you, so that you might live and go on to enter and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. Do not add a thing to what I command you nor subtract from it, so that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I am delivering to you. You have witnessed what the Lord did at Baal Peor, how he eradicated from your midst everyone who followed Baal Peor. But you who remained faithful to the Lord your God are still alive to this very day, every one of you.
The Hebrew word translated remained faithful was dâbêq (הדבקים), clinging, adhering to in the NET dictionary. But ye that did cleave unto HaShem your G-d are alive every one of you this day. I picture a child clinging to her parent’s leg for comfort and security. It reminded me of President Obama’s gaffe on the campaign trail:
For a second day, Mr. Obama sought to explain his remarks at a recent San Francisco fund-raiser that small-town Pennsylvania voters, bitter over their economic circumstances, “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them” as a way to explain their frustrations.
A believer looking back might easily perceive the clinging of those who did not join themselves to Baal Peor as a kind of faith. In the Septuagint it was προσκειμενοι (a form of προσκαρτέρησις; translated held fast in English): “strong perseverance which prevails by interacting with God.”
I’ve been thinking lately about the ubiquity of the hero’s journey as a function of the religious mind, the pride (ἀλαζονεία, a form of ἀλαζονεία) of life. Looking back—after the judgment and condemnation (Numbers 25:4, 5) that distinguished those who engaged in πορνεία with the Moabite women and their gods (Numbers 25:1-3) from those who did not—the latter group may seem the more heroic whether through a “strong perseverance which prevails by interacting with God” or having remained faithful. But Moses’ choice of dâbêq (הדבקים) may reflect the actual situation when the next step on the hero’s journey seemed to be a love and peace initiative with the descendants of Abraham’s nephew Lot through his eldest daughter (Genesis 19:37), while the less heroic in Israel clung to yehôvâh’s commands regarding idolatry and adultery.
The only other occurrence of dâbêq (הדבקים) in the Old Testament was in Solomon’s proverb: there is a friend who sticks closer (dâbêq, דבק) than a brother. I have no idea what that meant to Solomon. To someone who knows the Holy Spirit it is difficult not to think of Him as that friend. Moses continued, a significantly different attitude toward the law than Luther/Graebner indicated (Deuteronomy 4:5-8 NET):
Look! I have taught you statutes and ordinances just as the Lord my God told me to do, so that you might carry them out in the land you are about to enter and possess. So be sure to do them, because this will testify of your wise understanding to the people who will learn of all these statutes and say, “Indeed, this great nation is a very wise people.” In fact, what other great nation has a god so near to them like the Lord our God whenever we call on him? And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this whole law that I am about to share with you today?
Then Moses recalled the giving of the law:
|Exodus 20:18-20 (NET)||
Deuteronomy 4:9, 10 (NET)
|All the people were seeing the thundering and the lightning, and heard the sound of the horn, and saw the mountain smoking – and when the people saw it they trembled with fear and kept their distance. They said to Moses, “You speak to us and we will listen, but do not let God speak with us, lest we die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not fear (yârêʼ, תיראו), for God has come to test you, that the fear (yirʼâh, יראתו) of him may be before you so that you do not sin.”||Again, however, pay very careful attention, lest you forget the things you have seen and disregard them for the rest of your life; instead teach them to your children and grandchildren. You stood before the Lord your God at Horeb and he said to me, “Assemble the people before me so that I can tell them my commands. Then they will learn to revere (yârêʼ, ליראה) me all the days they live in the land, and they will instruct their children.”|
Here Moses chose yârêʼ for the fear that was yirʼâh in Exodus. The translation revere seems cognizant at least of a meaning other than simple fear. “We want it understood that we do not reject the Law as our opponents claim,” Luther/Graebner asserted in their “Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians” under the heading The Twofold Purpose of the Law. “On the contrary, we uphold the Law.”
Their twofold purpose was “to check civil transgression, and to magnify spiritual transgressions.” Paul added another purpose: through the law comes the knowledge of sin. Luther/Graebner allowed:
The Law is also a light like the Gospel. But instead of revealing the grace of God, righteousness, and life, the Law brings sin, death, and the wrath of God to light. This is the business of the Law, and here the business of the Law ends, and should go no further.
I would add under this rubric of light that the law like all Scripture is a way to know…the only true God, and Jesus Christ.
Luther/Graebner recognized “three ways in which the Law may be abused” (actually, four ways):
First, by the self- righteous hypocrites who fancy that they can be justified by the Law. Secondly, by those who claim that Christian liberty exempts a Christian from the observance of the Law…Thirdly, the Law is abused by those who do not understand that the Law is meant to drive us to Christ. When the Law is properly used its value cannot be too highly appraised. It will take me to Christ every time.
The fourth way the law may be abused is to be ignorant of it. Luther/Graebner cited this as the introduction to the other three ways: “The doctrine of the Law must therefore be studied carefully lest we either reject the Law altogether, or are tempted to attribute to the Law a capacity to save.” I was ignorant of Leviticus 5:4-6 (though I had certainly read it) while Numbers 30:1-2 stuck with me.
|Numbers 30:1, 2 (NET)||
Leviticus 5:4-6 (NET)
|Moses told the leaders of the tribes concerning the Israelites, “This is what the Lord has commanded: If a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath of binding obligation on himself, he must not break his word, but must do whatever he has promised.”||…when a person swears an oath, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips, whether to do evil or to do good, with regard to anything which the individual might speak thoughtlessly in an oath, even if he did not realize it, but he himself has later come to know it and is guilty with regard to one of these oaths – when an individual becomes guilty with regard to one of these things he must confess how he has sinned, and he must bring his penalty for guilt to the Lord for his sin that he has committed, a female from the flock, whether a female sheep or a female goat, for a sin offering. So the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his sin.|
I hope Jephthah (Judges 11:34-40) was ignorant of Leviticus 5:4-6 (though I just stumbled across an essay that claims Jephthah didn’t sacrifice his daughter but merely consigned her to a life of celibacy [according to her own will]). I had thought that Jephthah’s sacrifice was necessary and in some sense “good,” given my understanding of the law. Now I consider Jephthah’s attempt to justify himself by law a failure, whether he sacrificed his daughter or consigned her to celibacy, for he did not confess his thoughtless oath. As James wrote (James 2:10, 11 NET):
For the one who obeys the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a violator of the law.
This time however I see the hero’s journey as an aspect of the religious mind as well. It seems so much more “heroic” (in the sense that I pay the price of obedience to God’s law) to sacrifice one’s daughter, whether to death or celibacy, than to confess one’s sin. To confess sin is a weakness and a disgrace by comparison to a hero’s journey.
In the book of Esther, Letters were sent by the runners to all the king’s provinces stating that they should destroy, kill, and annihilate all the Jews, from youth to elderly, both women and children, on a particular day, namely the thirteenth day of the twelfth month (that is, the month of Adar), and to loot and plunder their possessions. Esther interceded with the king on behalf of her people: let an edict be written rescinding those recorded intentions of Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, which he wrote in order to destroy the Jews who are throughout all the king’s provinces.
But the king’s decree could not be rescinded: Any decree that is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring cannot be rescinded. The only solution was to write another decree authorizing a day of civil war in the kingdom: The king thereby allowed the Jews who were in every city to assemble and to stand up for themselves – to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any army of whatever people or province that should become their adversaries, including their women and children, and to confiscate their property.
When Moses interceded with yehôvâh, pleading for the lives of the descendants of Israel (Exodus 32:9-14), the Lord (yehôvâh, יהוה), unlike the king of Persia, repented (nâcham, וינחם; Septuagint: ἱλάσθη, a form of ἱλάσκομαι) of the evil which he thought to do unto his people. Follow me, Jesus said. John wrote (1 John 1:8-2:2 NET):
If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us. (My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.) But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One, and he himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world.
The fear of yehôvâh might compel one to sacrifice his daughter, whether to death or celibacy. To confess one’s sin and bring the appropriate sacrifice, So the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his sin is something else altogether. To revere yehôvâh is not an altogether unworthy attempt to encapsulate that difference in a word.
 New York Times, April 13, 2008, On the Defensive, Obama Calls His Words Ill-Chosen, by KATHARINE Q. SEELYE and JEFF ZELENY
 Commentary on Galatians 3:23
 The opposing view is defended adequately in “Jephthah’s Vow”