Wednesday, October 19, 2011

God, Job and sky

     כסיל  kesı̂yl  Job 9:9

The ancient Boof of Job is written in a unique dialect of Hebrew and may represent wisdom from Bosra or Edom. The amazing book contains many powerful poetic references to atmosphere and night sky reflecting on God's works of creation.

Job 9
Then Job replied:
 2 “Indeed, I know that this is true.
   But how can mere mortals prove their innocence before God?
3 Though they wished to dispute with him,
   they could not answer him one time out of a thousand.
4 His wisdom is profound, his power is vast.
   Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?
5 He moves mountains without their knowing it
   and overturns them in his anger.
6 He shakes the earth from its place
   and makes its pillars tremble.
7 He speaks to the sun and it does not shine;
   he seals off the light of the stars.
8 He alone stretches out the heavens
   and treads on the waves of the sea.
9 He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion,
   the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.

10 He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
   miracles that cannot be counted.
11 When he passes me, I cannot see him;
   when he goes by, I cannot perceive him.
12 If he snatches away, who can stop him?
   Who can say to him, ‘What are you doing?’
13 God does not restrain his anger;
   even the cohorts of Rahab cowered at his feet.
 Job 9:1-13

The referenced four constellations in Job 9:9 are in Hebrew
עשׂה־עשׁ כסיל וכימה וחדרי תמן

‛ayishBear (or Leo) migrating, wandering
kesı̂ylOrionburly one
kı̂ymâhPleiadescluster of stars
chedre teman?southern chambers

How can we possibly know for sure what constellations these are?

The message   God has made the constellations of stars!

Job 3
May those who curse days curse that day,
   those who are ready to rouse Leviathan.
9 May its morning stars become dark;
   may it wait for daylight in vain
   and not see the first rays of dawn,
10 for it did not shut the doors of the womb on me
   to hide trouble from my eyes.

Job curses the day he was born, may its morning star be dark!

Job 22
12 “Is not God in the heights of heaven?
   And see how lofty are the highest stars!
13 Yet you say, ‘What does God know?
   Does he judge through such darkness?
14 Thick clouds veil him, so he does not see us
   as he goes about in the vaulted heavens.’

Job admires the glory of God in the heights of heaven and stars. Vaulted heavens is in Hebrew
וחוג שׁמים יתהלך
ve chug shamaim yithalek

walks chug of heavens. chug is circuit  rather then the architectural element vault used in the NISV translation.

The message
Men think that God is somewhere up there beyond the stars and unable to see their deeds. When thick clouds veil the sky He is unable to see us from the vaulted heavens so let us do freely what we want!

This is a form of practical atheism: even if there is a God up there, what does He know?

Photo: wikimedia
Job 37
1 “At this my heart pounds
   and leaps from its place.
2 Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice,
   to the rumbling that comes from his mouth.
3 He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven
   and sends it to the ends of the earth.
4 After that comes the sound of his roar;
   he thunders with his majestic voice.
When his voice resounds,
   he holds nothing back.
5 God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways;
   he does great things beyond our understanding.
6 He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’
   and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’
7 So that everyone he has made may know his work,
   he stops all people from their labor.
8 The animals take cover;
   they remain in their dens.
9 The tempest comes out from its chamber,
   the cold from the driving winds.
10 The breath of God produces ice,
   and the broad waters become frozen.
11 He loads the clouds with moisture;
   he scatters his lightning through them.
12 At his direction they swirl around
   over the face of the whole earth
   to do whatever he commands them.
13 He brings the clouds to punish people,
   or to water his earth and show his love.

The message
The stars and constellations are visible so clearly over the Near Eastern night sky in the Arabian desert regions from where the Book of Job possibly originates.

But also the atmospheric phenomena, winds, clouds, thunder and lightning are all works of the same mighty and high God.

It is good to remember that in those days some 2500 years ago many nations worshipped divinities of thunder, lightning and rain as personal deities. Weather god, sky god and mountain god aspects unite in the Greco-Roman pantheon and such divinities are known from many civilizations around the world.

The temptation to worship the weather god Baal in order to guarantee the rains so crucial to the agriculture in the Land of the Bible was overwhelming to the people of Israel.

In the Book of Job there is no trace of such idol worship and the poet looks at them all as the mighty works of God. The existential configuration is quite modern, God, His creations and men who either fear Him or do not care about Him. Some are like Job involved in deep fight with God about the righteousness of His deeds towards the human beings He has created.

Therefore the Book of Job demonstrates the error for example in the wikipedia article on weather god mythology where Baal-Haddad is ignorantly equalled with the God of Israel:

"Storm gods are conceived of as wielding thunder and lightning. They are typically male, and powerful and irascible rulers. Notable examples include the Indo-European deities derived from the Proto-Indo-European Dyeus, and the Ancient Near Eastern storm god, Tarhunt/Teshub/Hadad/Yahweh, the latter name becoming the proper name of the God of Israel in the Iron Age kingdom of Judah."

Therefore, people revere him
14 “Listen to this, Job;
   stop and consider God’s wonders.
15 Do you know how God controls the clouds
   and makes his lightning flash?
16 Do you know how the clouds hang poised,
   those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge?
17 You who swelter in your clothes
   when the land lies hushed under the south wind,
18 can you join him in spreading out the skies,
   hard as a mirror of cast bronze?
 19 “Tell us what we should say to him;
   we cannot draw up our case because of our darkness.
20 Should he be told that I want to speak?
   Would anyone ask to be swallowed up?
21 Now no one can look at the sun,
   bright as it is in the skies
   after the wind has swept them clean.
22 Out of the north he comes in golden splendor;
   God comes in awesome majesty.
23 The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power;
   in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress.
24 Therefore, people revere him,
   for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart?”

No comments:

Post a Comment