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I Want/Intend to Make for Him a Helper Genesis 2:18

          A very profound statement that I wish to discuss. I would love to hear your opinions as to the meaning of this pasuq

וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהִ֔ים לֹא־טֹ֛וב הֱיֹ֥ות הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְבַדֹּ֑ו אֶֽעֱשֶׂהּ־לֹּ֥ו עֵ֖זֶר כְּנֶגְדֹּֽו׃

Genesis 2:18

          There are two primary parts to this pasuq [verse]. The first part ends with לבדו levaddo [by himself] and the second part ends with כנגדו keneghdo [as his opposite]. The first part began with a consecutive imperfect verb ויאמר wayYomer [then he said] and the second part began with a volitional imperfect- specifically, the cohortative אעשׂה e’eseh [I want/intend to make]; this latter verb is conjuncted to the prepositional phrase לו lo [for him] by the maqqef [a hyphen] which indicated the indirect object of the volitional verb [I want/intend to make].
          While the first part of the verse began with a consecutive imperfect, there is no definite direct object of the verb [then he said]. On the contrary, the entire clause לא־טוב היות האדם לבדו lo-tov heyoth ha-Adham levaddo [it is not good that the human being should be alone] is an independent clause and is, therefore, the direct object of the verb. The dependent clause היות האדם heyoth ha-adham is not the primary point of the independent clause itself- rather the prepositional phrase לבדו levaddo [alone] is. We can remove the relative clause out and the phrase would still contain the main meaning of the negating element [Then YHWH Elohim said, alone is not good].
          The second part of the verse explains the corrective course of action which YHWH intended to remedy the problem that the human was alone. The primary focus of the intention was upon the noun עזר ezer [help] which is the direct object of the verb אעשׂה e’eseh [I want/intend to make] while the indirect object is the prepositional phrase לו lo [for him]. It is clear that the primary intention of YHWH was to make for the human a helper. The final prepositional phrase, then, expresses the function of the direct object which YHWH intended to make for the human כנגדו keneghdo [as his opposite].
          At no time did YHWH express an intention to make an equal for the man, but a helper. This is important because many assume that the woman was an equal to the man and, somehow, lost this equality when she ate from the forbidden fruit. That opinion, however, is not tenable from the context of Genesis 1-3.
          While it is true that YHWH stated that both the man and woman had rule over the creatures of the earth, at no time did he place human beings under that purview of rule- neither had the right to rule over the other. Therefore, it was not any right of equality of rule which the woman- somehow- lost. In fact, there is no mention of the woman having lost anything in YHWH’s judgment of her. She remained, as was originally planned and intended, a helper- not a slave, a helper.
          According to the narrative, the desire of the woman would be toward her man and that he would ימשׁל־בך yimshol-bakh [he shall rule you]. This is not a statement of loss of position as the woman was never said to have rule over anything but the creatures of the earth- the same as the man. It was clear that she was intended to be a helper, not a co-regent. She was never demoted. The man, as is the right of every firstborn, actually had the role of leadership- albeit, there are instances in the Tenakh where the firstborn lost that right. Adham was made first and the woman made from the man- meaning she was from him, but he not from her. At no time was the man beholden to the woman, but she was beholden to the man. This is not a position of inequality, but of respect- the elders of the family have more “authority” in decision making than the younger.
          The wife is, as was originally intended, the helper of her husband. It must be born in mind that helper does not mean servant- although service is also a form of help. On the contrary, help means a mutual endeavor to achieve a common goal. Although the man has the rule of the house and his wife is, as are his children, his property, this does not mean the man has no responsibility in the household- she is not his slave. Both must work together to make a Peaceful, Functioning, and Mutually Beneficial home.
 א Who can find a valiant woman? for her price is far above precious stones.
ב The heart of her husband safely trusts in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
ג She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
ד She sought wool and flax and worked willingly with her hands.
ה She was like the merchants’ ships; she brings her food from afar.
ו She rose up even at night and gave food to her family and a portion to her maidens.
ז She considered the inheritance and bought it; with the fruit of her hands she planted a vineyard.
ח She girded her loins with strength and strengthened her arms.
ט She perceived that her merchandise was good; her fire did not go out by night.
י She laid her hands to the spindle, and her hands held the distaff.
כ She stretched out her hand to the poor; yea, she reached forth her hands to the destitute.
ל She shall not be afraid of the snow for her family, for all her family is clothed with double garments.
מ She makes herself tapestries; her clothing is of fine linen and purple.
נ Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.
ס She made fine linen and sold it and delivered girdles unto the merchant.
ע Strength and glory is her clothing, and she shall laugh in the last day.
פ She opened her mouth with wisdom, and the law of mercy is upon her tongue.
צ She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat bread in idleness.
ק Her sons rose up and called her blessed; her husband also, and he praised her.
ר Many daughters have done valiantly, but thou dost excel them all.
ש Grace is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but the woman that fears the LORD shall be praised.
ת Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.
Proverb 31:10-31
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Interpretation and Biblical Scholarship

כֹּל פֵּירוּשׁ שֶׁאֵינוּ עַל פֵּירוּשׁ הַטְעָמִים לֹא תֹאבֶה לֹו וְלֹא תִשְׁמַע אֵלָיו

You shall not consent to nor listen to any interpretation which is not according to the interpretation of the te’amim [meaning the Masoretic vocalizations and accents].

Abraham ibn Ezra 1089–c.1167 one of the most distinguished Jewish biblical peshat commentators and philosophers of the Middle Ages. Bracketed text is mine.

The Massoretic vocalization and accents are the written vowel signs and accent marks found in the Hebrew Bible which were devised by the Masoretes- a group of priestly Bible scholars between the 5th and 10th centuries ACE. Their responsibility was to safeguard the meaning of the Hebrew Text and the correct pronunciation of the Hebrew language due to the exile of the Israelite peoples and their subsequent loss of their knowledge of the Hebrew language. It is due to the work of these Masorete Scholars that the Hebrew Text of the Bible was safeguarded- as well as the correct rules to Hebrew grammar.

To be a scholar [חָכָם- Hakham] of the Hebrew Bible, which is the definition of a Karaite, one must use proper skills in interpretation. Interpretation means, literally, translation- it comes from the Latin interpres which was a broker or one which was employed to act as a liaison between two parties. Anyone who wishes to have an interpretation of the Bible can only have one in which it is between the Hebrew Text and themselves; in order to do this, one must first have mastered the Hebrew language. No person can be said to interpret a text of scripture from a translation [a word which means something that was carried across- that is, carried from Hebrew to another language]. Exposition of the Hebrew Text is being able to extrapolate exegesis from the Hebrew Text and expound it to those who do not know Hebrew themselves in a correct and understandable manner. When it comes to true Biblical Scholarship, one employs the skill of exegesis- meaning one brings a meaning from the Text. This is then passed along to others in the form of exposition- which is setting the exegesis before an audience or students.

Poor Biblical Scholarship is the exact opposite. A false interpreter uses eisegesis- adding something into a text which wasn’t there- and imposition- which means to put a thesis into the Text.

True Biblical Scholarship= Exegesis and Exposition

False Biblical Scholarship= Eisegesis and Imposition

A false interpreter= one who does not know the original language for which he claims to translate- all interpretation equals translation which cannot be accomplished from one ignorant of the language to be translated.

I challenge everyone who reads this to do an etymological search for the following words:

Interpretation

Translation

Exegesis

Exposition

Eisegesis

Imposition

What many, today, mean by interpretation is actually opinion. Opinion comes from the Latin opinor which means to opine- that is, to imagine or the think, to suppose. The motto of the Karaite [Bible Scholar] is

חַפִּשׂוּ בְאֹורַיְיתָא שַׁפִּיר וְאַל תִּשָּׁעֲנוּ עַל דַּעְתִּי
Search in the Torah thoroughly and do not support yourself with my opinion.
Anan bin David
 

This motto is interesting and profound. The first part is Aramaic and the second Hebrew. The first word חַפִּשׂוּ- happisu is a plural imperative from from חפשׂ which meant to search- it is a duty for everyone to do this. The second part begins with the negating particle אל- al which is used as a temporary negation; when a permanent negation is meant, the negating particle לא- lo is used. This means that we are not to support ourselves on any opinion immediately, but are to take every opinion to task and search in the Torah for the truth of the matter. If it proves to not violate the Tenakh, then we may accept an opinion.

An example of how we can understand the advice of ibn Ezra and the Karaite Motto spoken by Anan ben David can be seen from the first chapter of Genesis.

In the first chapter of Genesis, we find the statement

וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֔ים נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה אָדָ֛ם בְּצַלְמֵ֖נוּ כִּדְמוּתֵ֑נוּ וְיִרְדּוּ֩ בִדְגַ֨ת הַיָּ֜ם וּבְע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֗יִם וּבַבְּהֵמָה֙ וּבְכָל־הָאָ֔רֶץ וּבְכָל־הָרֶ֖מֶשׂ הָֽרֹמֵ֥שׂ עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃

And Elohim said, “We want to make a human in our image- according to our likeness; that they may rule over the fish of the seas, the bird of the skies, the beast, over all the earth and the creeping things which creep on the earth.”

The normal translation of נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה אָדָ֛ם na’aseh adham is Let us make a man- which indicated that Elohim was seeking permission as opposed to stating His intention and desire to accomplish the act. The verb נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה na’aseh is a cohortative and not simply an imperfect verb. A cohortative always comes at the beginning of its clause- as this verb clearly did. An interesting aspect of the cohortative is that it expresses a wish or desire- an intention to accomplish something. In a similar manner, we can also understand other uses of the cohortative in relation to YHWH- for instance in Genesis 12:2-3

 

וְאֶֽעֶשְׂךָ֙ לְג֣וֹי גָּד֔וֹל וַאֲבָ֣רֶכְךָ֔ וַֽאֲגַדְּלָ֖ה שְׁמֶ֑ךָ וֶֽהְיֵ֖ה בְּרָכָֽה׃
I will make you a great nation, and bless you; I want to make your name great- so be a blessing,
 
וַאֲבָֽרְכָה֙ מְבָ֣רְכֶ֔יךָ וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ֖ אָאֹ֑ר וְנִבְרְכ֣וּ בְךָ֔ כֹּ֖ל מִשְׁפְּחֹ֥ת הָֽאֲדָמָֽה׃

I want to bless those blessing you and those cursing you, I will curse; so that by you all the families of the land shall be blessed.

The final clause “and you will be a blessing” is grossly mistranslated by all translations. The verb וֶֽהְיֵ֖ה wehyeh is an imperative- it is a command; every translation falsely translated this imperative as an imperfect וְהָיִיתָ [and you shall be]. The final clause is rightly translated as “so be a blessing.”

Another interesting thing about these translations is the final clause of the first section וַֽאֲגַדְּלָ֖ה שְׁמֶ֑ךָ which is normally translated as “and I will make your name great” as if this is a consecutive verb, but it is not. The verb וַֽאֲגַדְּלָ֖ה wa’aghaddelah is in the cohortative- which expresses a volition, a wish in the 1st person singular or plural. If it had been a consecutive verb in the imperfect, it would have been written וָאֶגְדַּל wa’eghdal, but it was not. The clause should have been translated as “I want to make your name great.” 

This same construction was used throughout this parashah [section]- for instance:

וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהוָ֔ה זַֽעֲקַ֛ת סְדֹ֥ם וַֽעֲמֹרָ֖ה כִּי־רָ֑בָּה וְחַ֨טָּאתָ֔ם כִּ֥י כָֽבְדָ֖ה מְאֹֽד׃ אֵֽרְדָה־נָּ֣א וְאֶרְאֶ֔ה הַכְּצַֽעֲקָתָ֛הּ הַבָּ֥אָה אֵלַ֖י עָשׂ֣וּ ׀ כָּלָ֑ה וְאִם־לֹ֖א אֵדָֽעָה׃

And YHWH said, “the cry of Sodom and Amorah- it is great; for their sin has become very great. I want to go down and see- have they completely done according to its cry that comes to me; and if not, I want to know.” Genesis 18:20-21

I think it is better to translate any cohortative in reference to YHWH as a volitional intent as opposed to translating it as a request using the English let- as this is a form of asking permission or allowance to do something.

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Sefer ha-Torah

Sefer ha Torah

PDF with facsimiles of a Torah Scroll as used in Synagogue

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Does the Bible Really Support the Claim of Flat-Earthers that there is a Dome in the Sky?

This is a short study explaining the incorrect view that the Bible supports the flat earth view of a solid dome over the earth.

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For the Prophet of Today was Called the Seer Before-times

In the course of human history, there have been many individuals who were known as a prophet; mostly, this title held a religious connotation, but in many instances, the prophet was also a military commander on the battlefield. The prophet, according to the various religious Judeo-Christian-Islamic texts, spoke for God and was the means by which the Divine Inspirations were delivered to humanity. According to the Israelite text, God spoke through the prophets by means of dreams and visions; God, accordingly, would do nothing in the physical realm without first informing his prophets (1917 The Jewish Publication Society Numbers 12.6; Amos 3.7). The English word prophet derived from the Greek prophētēs— itself derived from the Greek preposition pro and the substantive phētēs. Originally, the term meant to speak out or to speak openly— it can even mean to speak in advance. In the ancient Greek writings, the prophet was the herald of the champions who competed in the Olympian games (Bacchylides, Epinicians 9.3). According to this understanding, John the Baptist was understood to be the herald of Jesus the Nazarene. In the Semitic languages of Judaism and Islam, the word for a prophet was נָבִיא navi’ which was derived from the verb נָבָא nava’ meaning to inform. In the Hebrew Text, Abraham was the first to be named a prophet, but it was Joseph who was the first to demonstrate just what a prophet could do.

 

Joseph was the first son of Jacob that was born to Rachel— his younger brother was Benjamin. Rachel was the beloved wife of Jacob for whom he labored seven years to marry. Of course, Jacob was tricked into marrying her sister Leah— seeing that she was the firstborn. According to the Hebrew Text, Leah was the first to have children- which was an act of God because Jacob did not love Leah. After many years, Rachel finally gave birth to Joseph- as Jacob had become old; for this reason, Joseph was the beloved son of Jacob— prompting jealousy from his 10 other brothers.

When Joseph was around the age of 17, he had a dream; in his dream, he was binding sheaves with his brothers. His sheave stood up and the sheaves that his brothers had bound prostrated themselves to Joseph’s sheave. When he told this to his brothers, it made them even more jealous— to the point that they could not speak any peaceable word to Joseph. To add fuel to the fire, Joseph related to his parent and his brothers a second dream. In that dream, Joseph saw the sun, the moon, and eleven stars prostrating themselves to Joseph. This time, even his father admonished him.

As his brothers were keeping their father’s sheep, Jacob sent Joseph to them to bring back word. It was at this time that his brothers plotted against him— at first, considering to kill him. In the end, they decided to sell him into slavery. He was taken to Egypt by a caravan of Ishmaelites and was sold to Potiphar— the chief executioner of Pharaoh.

As the servant of Potiphar, Joseph received the honor of being the chief steward of Potiphar’s house. All of the household affairs was left to Joseph. In time, Joseph ran into some problems with Potiphar’s wife which landed him a demotion— from being the chief steward to being the chief jailer at the prison which was located at the house of Potiphar. While Joseph was in this position, two of Pharaoh’s servants- the chief cup-bearer and the chief baker- were both sent to the prison in which Joseph was the administrator. While in prison, these two men each had a dream— Joseph was able to interpret both dreams. The baker was executed by Pharaoh and the chief cup-bearer was returned to his duties.

A few years passed by and Pharaoh himself had two dreams in the same night. When he woke from these dreams, he sought for one who could explain the meaning of the dreams— none of Pharaoh’s advisers could proffer an explanation. At this point, the chief cup-bearer remembered Joseph and how he was able to interpret his own dream while in prison; the cup-bearer informed Pharaoh that such an interpreter was available.

Many have attributed the ability of Joseph to interpret these dreams as being a divine inspiration; it is, however, more likely that Joseph was educated enough to deduce the meanings of the dreams himself. The station in which Joseph found himself, as well as the dreams of Pharaoh, is sufficient to prove this theory.

First, it must be established that Potiphar was the chief executioner of Pharaoh; Joseph was formerly his chief steward who was amazing at running the affairs of Potiphar’s household. The only problem came from Potiphar’s wife who accused Joseph of sexual advances. Many might have assumed that Potiphar was angry at Joseph for this and placed him in prison, but this is not correct according to the narrative. Joseph was demoted and given charge of the prison— at which he also excelled. Potiphar and Joseph remained friends and it was Potiphar who set Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer and chief baker under Joseph’s charge. It is probably that Pharaoh had already determined that the chief baker would be executed— Potiphar, the chief executioner, would have sure explained this to Joseph. To the men, however, it seemed as if Joseph was inspired by God.

In Pharaoh’s first dream, he found himself standing on the banks of the Nile when seven healthy cows emerged from the river to feed upon the grass. After them, emerged seven unhealthy and lean cows which ate the healthy cows. In Pharaoh’s second dream, he saw seven healthy and full ears of grain growing from a single stalk; he then saw seven unhealthy ears of grain which seemed to have been blasted and dried out by an Eastern wind which grew up after the seven healthy ears— then he woke.

Joseph, again, explained the meaning of Pharaoh’s dreams correctly; the question is how? There are several clues in the dreams themselves which can shed light on how Joseph understood them. First of which is Pharaoh’s position in the dreams— standing on the banks of the Nile. The Nile was used to begin the Egyptian year; the Egyptian calendar began at the inundation of the Nile when the Nile overflows its banks and re-nourishes the farmlands with fresh silt. In Egyptian mythology, the Nile was named after the personification of the inundation itself— Hapi. Hapi was considered a fertility deity as well as a deity of the established cosmos; in other words, Hapi kept the cosmos in order. Since Pharaoh was standing on the banks of Hapi, Joseph understood that this dream was related to the cosmos, the order of the universe, as well as time itself. The cows of Pharaoh’s dreams would have been easily identified with the Egyptian goddess Hathor— her name meaning the House of Horus [the Egyptian Sun god]. She represented the primordial waters from which the sun was born at the beginning of time; she was represented as a cow. The cows, being fourteen, naturally would have represented fourteen events connected with time; the fact that Pharaoh stood on the banks of the Nile for this dream meant that it would have been fourteen years as the inundation was the beginning of the Egyptian solar year.

Immediately, Joseph would have recognized fourteen years in Pharaoh’s first dream; the next step would have been to understand just what about these fourteen years Pharaoh was dreaming. The first seven cows were healthy while the last seven were lean and fed upon the healthy cows.  Although these cows could have represented any number of interpretations, Pharaoh had a second dream. In that dream, he saw the seven healthy and full ears of grain after which seven wind-blasted ears grew up. Grain is the source of bread and of life in Egypt. In ancient Egyptian, the words for life and grain are written the same— ankh. The difference in the words are found only in the determinatives; for grain, ankh would have three seeds as a determinative sign while for life or living beings, ankh would have the scarab beetle as a determinative. The scarab was the symbol of creation, being, existence as well as resurrection and renewal of life. With these two dreams, Joseph would have understood that both represented a fourteen years period in which life and food would be involved. The seven healthy cows and the seven full ears of life-giving grain would have naturally represented a seven-year period of plenty. The seven lean cows and the seven wind-dried ears of grain would, then, represent a seven-year period in which food would be scarce.

In addition to these clues, there was also the direction of the wind which blasted and dried the grain— from the East. This clue would have brought Joseph’s attention to the generational cycle of famine which plagued Cana’an. There was famine in the days of his great-grandfather Abraham; there was also a famine in the days of his grandfather Isaac. The famine of his generation was already beginning when he was sold into slavery— the reason why the sons of Jacob were in Shekhem and not in Hebron with their father. The herbage had already begun to be scarce. The fact that the wind was from the East meant that the famine would, eventually, reach Egypt. Joseph, then, had all the clues to figure out the meaning of the dream without divine inspiration.

There is an interesting verse concerning prophets and seers in the first book of Samuel

Before-time in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, thus he said: ‘Come and let us go to the seer’; for he that is now called a prophet was before-time called a seer. (1917 The Jewish Publication Society 1 Samuel 9:9)

The Hebrew word for seer is רֹואֶה ro’eh— from the verb רָאָה ra’ah [to see]. In the Hebrew Text, when God would appear to someone, it was written that God was made to be seen; the niph’al [passive] verb וַיֵּרָא wayyera was consistently used. In the first book of the Chronicles is another interesting passage concerning Uzziah seeking the visions of God from Zechariah

And he set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the vision of God; and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper.

(1917 The Jewish Publication Society 1 Chronicles 26:5)

In this passage, the hiphil participle הַמֵּבִין hamebin was used as a periphrasis for the skill of Zachariah— in other words, the prophet; Zechariah was the one able to make the visions of God understandable.

A prophet, the Semitic word meaning one who is informed, began as a seer. A seer is someone which is enlightened and pays attention to the situation and time in which he/she find him/herself. By seeing and observing the events in the prison, Joseph was able to rightly interpret the dreams of Pharaoh’s ministers; by understanding the past environment in which he lived and the stories passed along from his parents- as well as having an understanding of the political and religious life of Egypt- Joseph was able to rightly predict the coming famine of Pharaoh’s dream.

And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said: ‘Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.’ And Joshua the son of Nun, the minister of Moses from his youth up, answered and said: ‘My lord Moses, shut them in.’ And Moses said unto him: ‘Art thou jealous for my sake? would that all the LORD’S people were prophets, that the LORD would put His spirit upon them!’ (1917 The Jewish Publication Society Numbers 11:27-29)

 

 

 

 

 

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Courts and Jurisdiction

Stubborn and Rebellious son

In parashath Shofetim [Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9], we learned that we were to take any case- which was too wonderful for the local magistrates- to the place YHWH chose to set His name- to the Kohanim and Judges presiding in those days and in that place [Deuteronomy 17:8-13].

 

In parashath Khi Theitzei [Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19], we are given the example of a case concerning a son who will not obey his parents- even after they have corrected him. In this case, the parents were told to seize the child and take him to the gates of his city and to the elders of his city and explain the case. The child is then stoned to death [Deuteronomy 21:18-21].

Here is a clear case which was investigated and the accused was clearly guilty; the child was not taken to the Place and to the Kohanim and Judges, but to his own city and to his own elders. The people of his city would have been familiar with the case and knew that the parents were speaking truthfully and the child- indeed- was stubborn and rebellious.

In last parashath Shofetim, we were given the example of an accidental death; the one which killed his neighbor had the opportunity to flee to the city of refuge [Deuteronomy 19:4-13]. In the city of refuge, he was afforded the right to trial and present his case. The Kohanim were to take the man to that Place and to the Kohanim and Judges in those days who were to diligently examine the case. If found guilty, the man was delivered to the redeemer of blood for execution. If found not guilty, he was remanded to the custody of the city of refuge until the death of the Kohen Gadhol [Numbers 35:25, 28].

In this last case, the accused was taken to the High Court and tried. This is because, in the case of accidental murder, there would be no partiality due to familial relations in the city in which the accused and his neighbor might have lived. He would be given a fair trial.

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