Wednesday, June 23, 2004

in a funk...

What a crappy few days. It seems that I've been spinning my wheels the last few days trying to get anything done. Everything seems disorganized, and the more I try to organize it, the worse it gets. It seems Anya's visa to come visit could be in doubt (after I've already bought the tickets!) and the only solution seems to be to send a bunch of money to her so that she can show that she can pay for the trip herself. Which seems to be just raising the stakes on an already difficult situation. My HHT research seems to be at a standstill. I have to figure out how to send the blood and who will take it and if they're honest and if the candidates even have the stupid disease! Studying seems to be at a standstill, I haven't been running very much, I'm not happy with the 'friends' around me, nor my ones from Nevis who I couldn't contact to meet me in St. Maartan after they had made such a big deal about meeting me there this semester... THAT MEANS YOU VIJAY AND JESSICA AND EVEN YOU RRRRRRRAHUL!!! I HOPE YOU SEARCH FOR YOUR NAMES ON GOOGLE AND SEE THIS YOU BBBBBBBBBBASTARDS hehe... just kidding, sort of... :)
The three day weekend was a bust, just went out on Saturday night and got too drunk and stupid for comfort (I still need to pick up my backpack and liquor bottles from Robert's house). The internet connection doesn't seem to be working with Anya, so that trying to talk on internet phone is frustrating at best. The marriage visa is on hold for now, as are the wedding plans. Oh yeah, and my sleep schedule is all f***ed up. ...good thing I don't have a dog; it'd probably die...

What else. Oh yeah. Friggen Google doesn't seem to want to list my website so all the work that I've done on it seems to be just for my own shits and giggles. And that’s ok I guess, since the content parts of it are all haphazard and f***ed up still anyway. I checked yesterday; yep, I'm still the only one who’s ever seen the thing.

I do like this venting on the web thing, just wish I had something creative to say on it.
...which reminds me, I should take my St. John's wort now.
I wonder, if I died, how long it would take my family to get around to calling and find out. 2 weeks? a month? Assuming that the medical school for some reason didn't call them and let them know, like if I was hiking around the island or something and nobody knew what happened, I think they would probably email a couple of times after a couple weeks to ask where I am., it would take longer than that, I've been out of touch for a month or so before I ever remember getting an email. I'd bet 2 months would be the limit before they'd check on me. Although now, Anya would probably find out pretty quick and... no; it'd probably take her a couple of weeks to figure out that something was really wrong too. And she might have a hard time getting a hold of anyone anyway. Funny, I set them all up with internet phones that I made sure worked and showed them all how to work them when I was at home. interesting.

I'm really developing a loathing for the way a lot of people work. No, not my family and Anya, new subject. That is, politics and news about the world around us really gets me mad these days. How is it that we aren't helping the more than a million people in Darfur that are being burned out of their villages? Kofi Annan (that f***ing bastard) said that he's "not prepared to call it genocide yet." F*** HIM. He knows that the term genocide is a legal term necessary to give the UN the authority to go in and stop the thing. He knows that even if we go in today we won't be able to save everyone. He knows that the Sudanese government is working with the militias to burn the villages, rape the women, and poison the wells. He knows that... anyway.

I don't see how people aren't disgusted by every person in power. There is no good man who has stood up and said "we will not allow this to happen, we will commit the full resources of our government to stopping this from happening!" The US is spending 100 billion dollars (give or take) to make war in Iraq against a "brutal dictator" and yet we haven't committed anything worth while to Darfur! FUCKING BASTARDS. Where’s the moral accountability, where's the justice? But of course Kofi Annan is not really the problem in this case. He's just a symptom like all the rest of them. The world was looking for something to give them an excuse not to act. Had he not provided fodder, they would have found it elsewhere. The leaders of the world have no intention of going charging in to Darfur with tons of food and medicine and military strength to guarantee that it gets to the people who need it. They'll deliberate and debate and make comparisons to Rwanda in 1994 and look for a "political solution." Colon Powell himself set the precedent years ago when he called for an "even handed" approach to the "conflict" in Sudan. WHAT "even hand?" There's no even hand to be had in this situation! One side is, and has been driving the other out of its houses and villages.

Eventually, far too late (it already is) they'll send a small UN "peacekeeping" mission to the region to allow themselves to continue taking the high road when they debate ethical issues in public. They needn't bother. They've lost it already. They lost it in 1994 when they let a million die in Rwanda, they lost it in Yugoslavia when they let thousands be 'cleansed' from their country, they lost it in Liberia when America refused to stop the fighting when BOTH SIDES were asking them to help. They lost it in Iraq when they left Sadam in power in 1991 and when they sanctioned the economy of the country for a decade instead, they compounded it when they showed the world that they could spend 100 billion dollars on war without batting an eye, yet couldn't devote a fraction of that amount to building anything. France and Russia are showing it when they negotiate to make the new government pay back most of Sadam's debt. India and Pakistan show it when they build nuclear arsenals to aim at the other rather than giving the people of Kashmir the freedom to choose their future. The Arab world shows it when they continually feed their people scenes of horror regarding the west and Israel while refusing to acknowledge the evil of their own brutally (what kind of bastard saws a man's head off!!!!). The democrats even showed it when they selected Kerry, a man born of the same breed of politicians as Bush. Didn't they know that he supports the war in Iraq? If the war in Iraq is wrong, why would they support a man who refuses to oppose it; just because it was (somewhat) popular at the time? Are the democrats too willing to sell their soul for what they think will bring them votes!?? Of course they are. As a group we've shown that we all are. As a group we support each other's psychoses. We give each other the impression that there is meaning and structure and validity to the irrational behavior that we all have created.

"...those who write out evil writs and compose iniquitous documents, to subvert the cause of the poor, to rob the rights of the needy of my people, that widows may be their spoil, and fatherless children their booty: what will you do on the day of punishment, when the calamity comes from afar?"

I don't see it. My mother always told me, if it looks like a rat and smells like a rat...

I am not an idealist; this is life, this is TRUE. There is nothing we can say which can make the words actions of the governments of the world right. Go ahead! Vote Bush out of office. See if Kerry gives you peace of mind. When Kerry is president, will he devote thousands of troops and billions of dollars to the millions dieing in Sudan?

This is what I wrote this morning:

(Using numbers off the top of my head) The world has a maximum of 10% of the population who have the resources available to take care of those who are suffering from within the other 90%. The US, for instance, has 250 million people. Of those, maybe 150 million have sufficient resources to contribute significantly to those around. Assuming the rest of the world has, at maximum, 450 million people with the same capability; our world has 600 million people with significant extra resources available to help the others.
Not all of the rest of the world is poor. A large percentage have enough to get by, without having much extra. Still, we are left with perhaps a third of the population, 2 billion people, with fewer resources than they require. This means that for every 1 person with substantially more than they need, there are 3 or 4 with less.
Most of the "adopt a child" programs that I've seen advertised estimate that it costs $1/day to support a child in sub-Saharan Africa, the poorest population as a whole, in the world. This comes to $30/month. So, assuming that it's the moral responsibility of those with extra to assist those with not enough, the person with extra resources must give, at very minimum, around $100/month to those less fortunate.
This number assumes that every person with extra money does his/her part. This is not the case. Most people, whether they realize it or not, are bastards. So to say that it is our responsibility to cough up $120/month, and no more, is inadequate. Just to make up for the jerk next door, a person must double the amount. It also assumes that costs for sub-Saharan Africa are standard. They are not. $1/day goes a long way towards food and medicine in Africa, but that number can only be a small fraction of what it costs to root poverty out of the world at large. That said, it goes without saying that even $500/month would not too much to ask of our wealthy brothers and sisters. That’s like asking them to make a car payment to the rest of the world. Not all that much...

I'm not a communist, and I'm not a socialist either. I'm not even a liberal. In fact, it seems that the very foundations of conservative ethics are what require us to make these sacrifices. At what point did "if you will be perfect, go see what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come follow me" become "buy an SUV and follow me to church"? It doesn't make sense to me, and it shouldn't make sense to anyone else either.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Just finished path...

I just finished my pathology block 2 (of 5) exam. I think I studied as hard or harder for that exam than I have for any exam I remember, and I still didn't know enough. Who'd have thought that this medical school thing would be so difficult! In the end though, I feel like I really understand something about cardiac and respiratory pathology; I opened up a review journal to an article on acute coronary syndromes and it seemed to be all making a little sense. Anyway, I'm happy it's done... More later, I think...

Sunday, June 13, 2004

more about Isaiah

Isaiah 1 is properly made up of 7 parts, the last being 12 statements. The topic is seems to be the judgement of Judah and Jerusalem. Being the beginning of the book, it carries an introduction which lists the author and time in which he wrote. This is significant for 2 reasons: 1st, it means we are able to clearly define when the author claims these statements were made, leaving no doubt as to the author's claim of when the book was written. Thus, if we are to debate the time of authorship, we must first acknowledge that we do not believe the word of the author. 2nd, because it shows that the author considered this information to be important. Most other books do not seem to find this valuable, implying that either: A) Isaiah was written after the other books, in a period in which placing the historical timeframe was already considered important; B) The author (Isaiah) considered that the author and time were necessary in order to estabolish the validity of what is said (i.e. -he knew that prophecies being fulfilled years later must be dated so as to avoid confusion); or C) both.
It does not logically follow that any books not introduced by an author and date must be written before Isaiah. It could be that they were written afterwards, but did not consider these author and date to be of consequence. But it does follow that Isaiah itself was written with an understanding of the weight of his words, and that the book would be read at a time years later, when time and author were not so obvious to the reader.
It could also be that the introduction was added later for clarity; a point made stronger by the fact that the introduction is not written in the 1st-person. This does not negate the authenticity of the text however; telling your audience what they're reading seems to be a natural thing when passing down a text. The question would then become, however, "how much later was the introduction written, and how much knowledge does the author of the introduction have about the actual author and date?" Still, assuming that the introduction was written either by Isaiah, or shortly afterwards, the above points still hold.
Isaiah 1 is also separated by the rest of Isaiah by a further (and shorter) introduction at the beginning of chapter 2. This is significant to us because it allows us to cleanly divide the chapter as a stand-alone text. That is to say, chapter 1 is a prophecy, and chapter 2 and the rest of the text are further prophecies. We can thus deal with chapter 1 as it's own unit.

Again, I see chapter 1 being made up of 7 parts, the 7th consisting of 12 statements. Whether or not I've divided the first [6] parts properly, the last is clearly it's own unit, being preceded by the statement, "Assuredly, this is the declaration of the Soverign, the L-rd of Hosts, the Mighty One of Israel:"
At the risk of oversimplifying, here is an outline of the 7 divisions:
1. The L-rd has spoken: rebellous children don't know their master, they've forsaken the L-rd.
2. You're injured & seek further beatings; your land is waste and daughter Zion is destroyed except for a few survivors.
3. the L-rd says: I hate your sacrifices & sabbaths. When you pray, I won't listen.
4. Wash yourselves.
5. Your sins can be cleaned; if you agree, you will do well, if not you'll be destroyed.
6. the L-rd says: Jerusalem is a harlot.
7. the Declaration of the L-rd (12 statements): I will destroy my enemies, purify you, restore justice, & you will be called faithfull city. Zion will be saved in the judgement, but sinners crushed because of their desires. The 2 (sinners and their desires) will be destroyed together. The last statement, about sinners & their desires, is made up of 6 statements, comparing sinfull desires to a terebinth (tree) and the sinner to a spark, which will burn up together with the tree.

These divisions are not all clear-cut. The 2nd division, about seeking further beatings, seems to be somewhat a development of the 1st idea, about rebellious children. And the 4th and 5th parts, about washing yourselves and the bargain about what will happen if you do, are clearly developments of the idea preceding. However, supporting their separateness, the 2nd part changes pronouns with the 1st. The 1st part talks to "them," while the 2nd turns it into "you." -an interesting switch, requiring that the reader own the sinfulness themselves (or rather, ourselves); this pronoun switch is repeated again in verses 8 and 9, and in 21 and 22, both cases talking about Jerusalem. The 4th part divides itself by virtue of the fact that it is 7 clear instructions for the believer. And the 5th part divides itself by virtue of the fact that it is preceded by a "says the L-rd" statement.

Alternatively, breaking the text down into more pieces, we could divide it thus:
1. The L-rd has spoken: rebellous children don't know their master, they've forsaken the L-rd.
2. You're injured & seek further beatings
3. Your land is waste and daughter Zion is destroyed except for a few survivors.
4. The L-rd says: I hate your sacrifices & sabbaths.
5. When you pray, I won't listen.
6. Wash yourselves.
7. Your sins can be cleaned; if you agree, you will do well, if not you'll be destroyed.
8. The L-rd says: Jerusalem is a harlot.
9. The Declaration of the L-rd: I will destroy my enemies, purify you, restore just counselors, & you will be called faithfull city. Zion will be saved in the judgement, but sinners crushed. They will be tricked because of their desires, and will wilt like a plant without water. They, and their desires, will be destroyed together.

Perhaps even, the text could be divided up thus:
1. The L-rd has spoken: rebellous children don't know their master, they've forsaken the L-rd. You're injured & seek further beatings; you continue to offend.
2. Your land is waste and daughter Zion is destroyed except for a few survivors.
3. The L-rd says: I hate your sacrifices & sabbaths.
4. When you pray, I won't listen, because your hands are dirty. Therefore, wash yourselves, your sins can be cleaned; if you agree, you will do well, if not you'll be destroyed.
6. The L-rd says: Jerusalem is a harlot.
7. The Declaration of the L-rd (12 statements, 6 stand alone, 6 devolop 1 idea in 3 parts): 1. I will destroy my enemies, 2. purify you, 3. restore just counselors, 4. & you will be called faithfull city. 5. Zion will be saved in the judgement, 6. but sinners crushed. 7. Part 1. They will be tricked because of their desires; Part 2. and will wilt like a plant without water; Part 3. They, and their desires, will be destroyed together.

This last way of dividing the text, I think, is most coherant.
I'm dividing up the text this way for a couple of reasons. First, I think the format of the text demands it. Isaiah, like much of the rest of the Tanakh, is written predominantly in poetic verse. This verse, at least as far as I know, uses very little of the repetition of sound and rhyme that we're used to. Instead, it uses the repetition of idea and structure. Picking almost any portion at random, we can see this repetition in verses 18 through 20.

It's written:
-Come, let us reach an understanding, says the L-rd
-Be your sins like crimson
they can turn snow-white
-Be they red as dyed wool
they can become like fleece
-If then, you agree and give heed,
you will eath the good things of the earth
-But if you refuse and disobey
you will be fed the sword
-For it was the L-rd who spoke.

Here, the idea of the L-rd speaking, found in the 1st statement, is repeated in the last. The 2nd and 3rd statements repeat themselves, but say it the 2nd time in a more poetic way. The 4th and 5th statements, rather than repeating themselves, state the opposite alternatives of each other. Thus, the verses reflect on themselves in a coherant and self-contained manner. Expounding upon this, the statements about sins being a stain which must be washed clean, reflect back to verses 15-17 where the L-rd does not listen to the people's prayers because their hands are stained, and then describes the process of purifying oneself. Verse 15 itself refers back to the idea, found in verses 10-14 of the L-rd turning his back on people because of their sin. And verse 10 uses an analogy between Sodom and Gomorrah which was started in verse 9. These references go on and on, creating capsules of information which, though self contained, lead us to other points surrounding and distant.

So the information is there, and written clearly; it is only our eyes which are shut. It is written:

"Surely, this Torah which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nore is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, 'who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?' No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it." -Deut 30:11-14

"-Wisdom cries aloud in the streets,
raises her voice in the squares.
-At the head of the busy streets she calls,
at the entrance of the gates, in the city she speaks out" -Prov. 20-23

"-It is wisdom calling,
understanding raising her voice.
-She takes her stand at the topmost heights,
by the wayside, at the crossroads,
-near the gates at the city entrance,
at the entryways she shouts." -Prov 8:1-3

"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, his eternal power and G-dhead, so that they are without excuse." -Rom. 1:20

On the other hand, it is said:
"-Hear, indeed, but do not understand,
see, indeed, but do not grasp.
-dull that people's mind,
stop its ears
and seal its eyes
-lest seeing with its eyes
and hearing with its ears
it also grasp with its mind
-and repent and save itself." -Isa 6:9-10

"Yeshua answered and said to him, "Amen, Amen (true, true), I say to you; except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of G-d." -John 3:3

This is not to say that, by analyzing dividing up the text in the manner above, we are "born again." Nor am I saying that G-d has necessarily opened my eyes and ears; this would be an internally illogical assertation. -But in this manner, in this text, we are at least looking. This seems to be, at the very minimum, a prerequisite.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

On Isaiah...

The last entry, was an unfinished letter written december 26. This one is an unfinished entry written just a week ago. I've only gotten through an introduction and an outline; even the outline isn't finished. But, I have to bite off little bits, otherwise I'll never finish the whole thing anyway. I hope to get to the contents of Isaiah this weekend; that's really the amazing part...

Here's what I have so far:

I've started a study of the book of Isaiah, to try to decipher what meaning I may find; and my early readings seem to have borne some fruit. I see extensive meaning within the structure of the book, starting with the basic divisions, down to the patterns of individual phrases amongst each other. These patterns seem to be found so readily, even predictably, that I have little doubt that I will continue to see them as I work through the rest of the book. That is to say, each time I have presented the text with the question, "I wonder if there's any pattern to...?" I have been confronted with a decisive "yes," without having manipulated the text to find it. This manner of inquiry is not an objective way of gathering information; I believe it's known as expectancy bias; however, it does not make the information invalid. The existence of such a bias simply means that I cannot prove, based on my study, that the text does in fact have some sort of overarching meaning.
On this point, it’s important that I am careful what type of overarching meaning I am looking for in the first place. Often, it seems, these discoveries are placed within the context of proof of divine origin. This, it seems, is a quantom-logical leap. At this very moment, to be sure, authors all over the globe are lacing their respective works with sublime passages and 2ndary and tertiary meanings, without any pretense of divine origin. What difference does it make to our proof that these profound meanings happen to be in the Tanakh? In addition, there is always the comparative religionist, ready to point out that there exist innumerable religious texts with similar claims of higher meaning. However, if nothing else, if the layers of meaning are constant, it can be shown that the author at least intended for them to be there. For this to be true, the patterns must be consistant. Clear deviation from the norm must be counted as evidence against the text.
Again, on this point we have to draw a fine line. Believers often (rightfully) assume that deviations from the expected norm represent a shortcoming in their own understanding. This is a problem unique to the analysis of religious texts. The reader is presented with an enormous task. They must, in reading, either determine that the weight of evidence points to divine origin, or that it doesn't. By answering "yes, it is of divine origin" they place huge burden of proof on any contrary evidence. "Is this point important enough to jeapordize my entire belief structure?" -they ask. And so, the fine details of a schema are often brushed aside.
In this context, one must ask themselves, “how many points am I willing to concede before I change my paradigm?” To this question, religion has 2 things going for it. 1) People seldom (i.e. never) keep track of exactly how many points they have conceded in the course of their studies. That is to say, the pursuit of the mind of G-d is littered with suspension of disbelief. 2) Most people (wrongly) believe that faith somehow requires this suspension of disbelief, so that, even if contrary evidence builds past the point of plausibility, there always exists the refrain, “just believe.”
But I digress. This is not to say that an in-depth analysis of the Tanakh and Novoi Zavyet is meaningless. Only that it can be read within the context that we will not, in the end, prove anything (although proof may be there to be found). What I’m looking for is empirical evidence. In other words, in this case I can only say that I observe, upon early analysis, that a pattern exists. My task now is to root it out as far as it readily goes, to see where it goes. I keep open the possibility that it may lead nowhere...

"If you only have money for one newspaper, buy the opposition's."


a. The denunciation of Judah, 1:1-12:6
i. Judahs condemnation 1:1-5:30
1. The address
2. The indictment from God
3. A promise of restoration after judgment from God
4. Glory in the future kingdom
5. A purging
6. A millennial kingdom
7. The vineyard parable
ii. Isaiahs commission
iii. The Messiahs coming, 7:1-12:6
1. Immanuels sign
2. Maher-shalal-hash-baz
3. Messiahs sign
4. Samarias judgment
5. The retribution on Assyria and the return of Israel
6. The Branch of Jesse and its rule
7. A song of praise

b. The denunciations against the other nations, 13:1-23:18
i. Against Babylon
ii. Against Assyria
iii. Against Philistia
iv. Against Moab
v. Against Damascus
vi. ***Against Israel
vii. Against Ethiopia
viii. Against Egypt
ix. Against Babylon
x. Against Edom
xi. Against Arabia
xii. Against Jerusalem
xiii. Against Tyre

c. The Day of the L-rd, 24:1-27:13
i. Judgments of the Tribulation Period
ii. Triumphs of the Kingdom
iii. Praise in the Kingdom
iv. Israel in the Kingdom

d. The denunciation of Israel and Judah, 28:1-35:10
i. Samarias woe
ii. ***Judahs woe, 29:1-31:9
1. The hypocrisy
2. The alliance with Egypt
iii. The kingdom of Messiah
iv. The destruction of Assyria
v. The judgments of Armageddon
vi. The blessings of the kingdom

II. Sennacheribs denunciation, 36:1-39:8
a. The Taunt from Assyria
b. The Truth from God
c. The Threat from Assyria
d. The Triumph over Assyria
e. The Sickness of Hezekiah
f. The Stupidity of Hezekiah

a. The Greatness of God, 40:1-48:22
i. In releasing Judah
ii. In relation to creation
iii. In reference to idols
iv. In provision of His servant
v. In restoring Israel
vi. In Using Cyrus
vii. In the judging & release of Judah from Babylon

b. The Servant-Messiah and Salvation, 49:1:57:21
i. The servant is commissioned
ii. The servant is contrasted with disobedient Israel
iii. The remnant is encouraged and exhorted
iv. The suffering and the triumph of the servant
v. Salvation song
vi. Salvations invitation: Blessings given to the gentiles
vii. The rebuke to those who refuse salvation

c. Israel’s future: Program for Peace, 58:1-66:24
i. The Contrast between Right and Wrong Worship
ii. The Dealing with Sin 59:1-21
1. Israels sins described
2. Israels sins confessed
3. Israels sins blotted out
iii. The Glory of Israel
iv. Messiah's Ministry of Peace during the Advents
v. Israels restoration, future of Jerusalem
vi. Vengance of G-d
1. What is needed for blessings
2. Gods enemies judged
3. Gods people make confession
4. The repentance of sins
vii. Climax to history
1. Kingdom characteristics
2. Hypocrisy rebuked
3. Israels rebirth The Rebirth of Israel
4. Great rejoicing in the Future

The outline is more important than it may look, I think. Where each topic lies in relation to the other topics is significant. The number of ideas represented in each section is important too. Notice that most portions are broken into either 7 or 12 parts, and notics that the middle section, written to the King and not in prophetic language, seems to fall into 6 sections. Whether these divisions are inherant and intended, or a remnant of the analysis is open to debate of course...

Letter to Prishant:

This is the start of a letter I wrote replying to a classmate at MUA named Prishant. I never actually finished it, nor did I send it, but I did spend a lot of time on it, so I figured it was worth including. Here it is:

“Other Scripture” vs. the Bible

Reply 1
Why we believe

Nazerene & the Branch

Reply 2
Nazerene vs. Nazerite


Reply 3
Son of Aaron
1 Chronicles 24
misc. OT references

-That John was Elijah
-That Yeshua was born on Succot

References to John vs. Elijah

Reply 4
2 principles of biblical writing
Who was Elijah?

Response to Prishant
Hey P.J. J This is Scott.
Thanks for the reply about our conversation. I appreciate that you spent time thinking about it. My biggest problem as far as “religion” is concerned tends to be quality control. There are so few people interested in discussing and debating anything concrete about G-d or the Bible, etc. that I never have a chance to see how my ideas stand up to criticism; so I appreciate you considering it.

Since you spent time with my ideas, I’ll do the same.

So, last things first. Your final paragraph said, “One can argue that the “Torah” or “Other scripture” might say things differently, but as Christians, we believe the Bible is the divine & inspired word of G-d regardless who wrote it. Thus if there are discrepancies between the Bible & other scripture I would stick with the Bible.”

Reply 1: Absolutely. This principle is undoubtedly central for any believer. There are 2 points I would like to make though.

The 1st may have been due to my lack of clarity. It is to say that the Torah and “other scripture” is the Bible. The word “Torah” refers to the first 5 books: Genesis, Ex, Lev, Num, Deut. At the time of Yeshua (Jesus), these were considered the “gold standard” of the Hebrew faith which He came to fulfill. I use the words “other scriptures” to refer to the rest of the Old Testament (OT). OT can be broken down several ways, often it’s called the Law (Torah) & the Prophets (rest), other times its broken down to the Law, the Writings or Books of Wisdom (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, & song of Solomon), and the Prophets, and often the Prophets themselves are broken down into major and minor. I was being brief by saying “other scripture” but perhaps I was also being unclear.

The 2nd point is that, though we acknowledge the Bible as the basis for our belief, we must be careful not to over-simplify. I do not accept that my belief in the Bible stands unchecked by other evidence. Questions must be asked like, “Why do I believe in the Bible and not in another text?” and, “How does the Bible prove that it is the divine & inspired word of G-d?” Both of us have heard it professed that this is somehow a matter of individual faith and that, to these questions we cannot know an absolute answer. That may well be, but its clear to me that the Bible itself provides guidelines from which we can answer these questions. In my opinion, the New Testament (NT) clearly and frequently refers to the Old Testament (OT) for authority, and, within the OT, the Books of Wisdom & the Prophets refer to the Torah for authority. That is to say that we believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is the messiah because the books of the Prophets demanded him to be, and the books of the Prophets expanded upon the principles of the Torah, which also pave the way.

It seems clear to me that you would agree with this, at least in principle. Your reference to Zach 6:12 (the Branch) is perhaps one of the best examples of evidence from the OT, and there are many others. Isa 53, for example, is amazing in its clarity; Psalm 110 talks about him in poetic terms; Daniel 9, especially starting in verse 24, gives a concrete timeline; and Isaiah 7:14 talks about him being born of a virgin.

Related to this is a second interesting point. You wrote “Matt 2:23- Jesus is a Nazarene fulfilling prophetic scripture, I Samuel 1:11, Numb 6:2, and Zach. 6:12- talks about Jesus the “BRANCH.”

Reply 2: Your statements are absolutely true. However, grouping Matt 2:23 together with I Sam 1:11 & Numbers 6:2 reflects a common misunderstanding. It’s significant too, because anti-missionaries often site this as evidence that either the authors of the NT were trying to stretch the truth, or over-zealous Christians try to make an association where there is none.

In I Sam 1:11, Samuel’s mother is promising to dedicate her 1st-born son to the priesthood if the L-rd would give her one. She promises that he will take a nazirite vow. You correctly connected this vow with the one spoken of in Numb 6:2.

There are actually several vows of this type. The most drastic is the one she promised for her son, its a lifetime vow in which the person could never in their life cut their hair, drink anything alcoholic, or consume anything made from the vine (including wine, grape juice, etc.). They also chose to adhere strictly to the laws of cleanliness that were prescribed in the Torah. The priest Samson (the guy caught messing around with Delilah) is another good example of someone taking this vow; I’m pretty sure John the Baptist also took it. There were similar vows that people took which didn’t last as long. A person could take the same vow for the period of a year or some concrete period of time, after which they would go to the temple, make some sacrifices, & cut their hair. Paul most likely took this same vow in Acts 18:18, and definitely took it, along with several of his colleagues in Acts 21:17-26. The later scripture is significant in its own right because it refutes those who think that Paul taught differently than the OT. He showed that, in fact, they followed every letter of it, including the laws of purity.

But I digress. The point is actually that this is different than the prophecy about a Nazarene. It’s an easy mistake because the 2 words sound the same, but Yeshua was a Nazarene, from the city of Nazareth; Samuel, Samson, & John took the nazirite vow.

So what’s the deal with the Nazarene? Anti-missionaries love to point out that this prophecy isn’t actually in the OT, but they’re stretching the truth. The city of Nazareth comes from the word “netzer” in Hebrew. Netzer means “branch.” So your last scripture is actually the key. Yeshua coming from the city called “Branchtown” is pretty significant, I think.

A cool thing about the Bible is that everything points to something else, so even if 1 point eludes us, another sends us in the same direction. Samuel wasn’t a symbol for Yeshua, he was a symbol for John. Both of them took the lifelong nazirite vow, both were born when their mother prayed about it in the Temple in their old age, and just as Samuel prepared the way for king David, John prepared the way for Yeshua, the “son of David.” Pretty cool I think.

I, personally, find this interesting because I don’t call myself a “Christian.” In my opinion, Christian is a loaded word. Yeshua and his students didn’t call themselves Christians, and the Christianity of today actually bears little resemblance to the faith that they followed. The NT does call them a sect of Jews called the “Nazarenes” though, meaning that they were followers of the one from Nazareth. I tend to call myself a Nazarene Jew too.

Regarding Zacharias serving in the temple, you site 3 very relevant scriptures, Luke 1:8-10, Ex 30:7-8, and Lev 16:17.

Reply 3: Luke was reportedly the most well-versed of the writers of the gospels, so we can imagine that he began his book with what he felt to be the most relevant information. Luke 1:1-4 are clearly introduction, so verse 5 is the first new information that we get; undoubtedly important. It says, “In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.” So here we have both John’s dad’s name, as well as his family name. Incidentally, it’s not insignificant that Elizabeth was “from the daughters of Aaron.” In ancient Israel there were 12 tribes (1 with 2 divisions, essentially making 13). The tribe of Levi was appointed as priests. In addition, the “sons“ of Aaron were appointed high priests. These were called the “Kohenin.” A person was considered to be Israelite if their mother was Israelite (the Jews, descendents of the tribe of Judah, still follow this principle). However, the High Priests were “sons of Aaron,” so their genealogy was transmitted paternally (thus the common Jewish name “Cohen” today). So to say that Zacharias was of the family of Abijah (one of the families of Aaron) and that his wife was also one of the daughters made him absolutely eligible for service in the temple (priests were required to marry within the Israelite community).

What makes me think Abijah was one of the families of Aaron you ask? Good question. As a background, Ex 28 and 29 explain that the Aaron and his sons should serve in the temple. A few highlights:

Ex 28:1- “You will bring forward your brother Aaron, with his sons, from among the Israelites, to serve Me as priests: Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, the sons of Aaron.”

29: 4-8- “Lead Aaron and his sons up to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, and wash them with water…take the anointing oil and pour it on his heard and anoint him…gird both Aaron and his sons with sashes; and so they will have priesthood as their right for all time.”

29:43-46- “For there I will meet with you, and there I will speak with you, and there I will meet with the Israelites, and it will be sanctified by My Presence. I will sanctify the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and I will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve Me as priests, I will abide among the Israelites, and I will be their G-d, and they will know that I the L-rd am their G-d who brought them out from the land of Egypt that I might abide with them, I the L-rd their G-d.”

But the answer is found very clearly in 1 Chronicles.

1 Chronicles 22-29- describes King David’s preparations for his son Solomon to build the Temple in Jerusalem. Chapter 23 talks about the “sons of Levi,” including a description of the Aaronites, and 24 lists the “divisions of the Aaronites.” Verses 1-6 of 24 give a good background, and verses 7 through 19 actually show the family names and their order. You’ll notice that Abijah was 8th out of 24. Verse 19 sums it up by saying, “According to this allocation of offices by tasks, they were to enter the House of the L-rd as was laid down for them by Aaron their father, as the L-rd G-d of Israel had commanded him.”

The Jewish calendar year is lunar-solar; it’s about 51 weeks long (every few years another month is added to keep it concurrent with the solar year, the Muslim calendar is purely lunar, so it slowly recedes with reference to our calendar (meaning Ramadan will come a little earlier next year, etc.)). There are two, eight day festival periods when everyone would have served, and three more 1 day festivals. That leaves 48 weeks for the individual families to have served, each of the 24 getting 2 weeks. In addition, the Jewish calendar has 2 New Years; 1 secular, and 1 religious. The secular falls on the day of Rosh Hoshanah in the fall. The religious falls exactly 6 months later, on the 1st day of the month of Abib in the spring (this is nice because all the festivals but 1 fall in these months, so they occur both at the beginning of the year, picturing renewal, and in the 7th month, picturing the fullness of the year). It would have been from the beginning of the religious calendar, or Abib, that they would have started counting. Abib basically coincides with the month of April. Last year it started, and this year it should start, near the beginning of April. On the 14th of Abib is Passover, followed by the 7 day Festival of Unleavened Bread. So the 1st family (Jehoiarib) would have served the 1st 14 days, followed by a break of 8 days when everyone served, and then the other families would have started. If you count 7 more families, each serving 2 weeks, from late April, it puts you at about the beginning of July; the time when Zacharias was serving in the Temple.

So you see, it makes it clear what family he was in, in Luke 1. Chronicles is clear about when that family served, and to those familiar with the Jewish calendar, its clear what time of year that would have been. In fact, the readers of Luke at the time would almost certainly have known all this. Life in Israel revolved around that calendar just as ours revolves around the Gregorian calendar.

So getting back to your 2 scriptures, you were “right on” about Ex 30:7-8. This was in fact part of the daily ceremony that was done by the sons of Aaron. There were many other responsibilities as well. Much of Leviticus, and especially chapters 1-7 describe them in detail.

You also say that Lev 16:17 “talks about the process of atonement that Zacharias was doing in Luke 1:8-10.” I see how the association was made, however, this is not technically accurate. Probably, you were reading Ex 30:7-8 about the alter of the incense, then read on to verse 10 where it said, “once a year Aaron will perform purification upon its horns with the blood of the sin offering of purification…” I have a feeling the margin directed you to Lev 16 which describes this purification ceremony. Specifically, verse 18 says, “he will go out to the altar that is before the L-rd and purge it: he will take some of the blood of the bull and of the goat and apply it to each of the horns of the altar.” The association is correct. Lev 16:18 does describe the purification spoken of in Ex 30:10, but the daily incense and the purification of Lev 16:18 are 2 different things.

Lev 16 is explaining the activities that the High Priest must do on the day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). Yom Kippur is the day when G-d’s people were to “make atonement for…all their sins once a year.” The symbolism of this day is important for believers, and, incidentally, a mistranslation in this chapter gives us the term “scapegoat.” However, the atonement done on this day, especially the sacrifices done within the “Holy of Holies” or “shrine behind the curtain” was not to be done by the “sons of Aaron,” they were to be done only by Aaron (16:3). This means that at the time of Yeshua and Zacharias, whereas there were whole families assigned to the Temple duties the rest of the year, only the High Priest was allowed to do these things, and then only once a year.

So, referring back to the discussion of Christmas, if we count from early July, the time when we said Zacharias was in the Temple, and count 9 months from there, we end up back in early April; Passover.

I see this as leaving the final 2 tasks. The 1st you discussed in your letter, the 2nd you eluded to; it builds upon the first premise.

1. That John was Elijah, likely born on Passover; and
2. That Yeshua was born near or on the festival of Succot.

Referring to the first, you site several good scriptures with good points. First, you quote Malachi 4:5 as saying “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord…” Then, Joel 2:31 “The sun shall be turned into darkness & the moon into blood, before the great & the terrible day of the Lord come.” You follow with “Thus, Elijah comes NOT necessarily before Christ born but at Christ’s 2nd coming.”

At the end of your letter, you add John 1:23-25 “He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the L-rd, as said the prophet Esaias (Isaiah)… [they said] why baptized thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias (Elijah), neither that prophet?” You comment, “Thus John has the power of Elias & in the same spirit of Elias foretells Jesus’ ministry but not Elias.”

Reply 4: Yes, yes, yes, and no. J J J The first 2 scriptures are important and they’re clearly talking about the same day, but lets save that for last. I think we have 2 steps to make first.

1. We should recognize some general principles about biblical prophecy and symbolism.
Prophecies have several levels of fulfillment in time.
Beyond the aspect of time, biblical texts have at least 4 layers of meaning. Jewish commentators typically assign titles to these layers. They are:

Peshat- literal meaning
Remez- allegorical meaning in which there is cross-reference to other texts. This is the rational or philosophical level
Derash- moral meaning
Sod- mystical meaning

2. We need to establish who this Elijah guy was as well as his relationship to John (and I hope to finish it by midnightJ ).

1. Biblical prophecies generally had at least 3 layers of fulfillment. Basically, prophecies describe past, present, and future events in parallel. I say at least, because they often do this for different peoples at different times, leading to multiple present and past fulfillments. In fact, at just about any point in the Bible, we find that those described are in some way fulfilling prophecies written of before, so that they begin to form an intricate web of ideas that radiate from each other (kind of like studying medicine, I think. Studying neuro may, for example describing meningitis, which leads us to understand ideas in micro, which have pharmacological applications, and on and on for frickin’ ever!). This is part, I think, of the Remez meaning, or philosophical understanding, when it was written in Eccles. 1:9 “Only that will happen which has happened, only that occur which has occurred; there is nothing new under the sun.” That is to say, all things present direct us back to an event in the past, while at the same time prophesying about some thing to come.

One example comes immediately to mind, that is the association of the High Priest Melchizedek with the Aaron and the Levitical priesthood, with Yeshua, who we expect to see sitting on the throne with his people as priests in the future.

Melchizedek is mentioned only twice in the OT, first in Gen 14:18, and again, poetically, in Psalms 110:4. Still, we find a long, complex discussion of him and his prophetic role in Heb 5-7. Hebrews begins a long discussion of the priesthood, basically in chapter 3. Then, in chapter 5:1-10, the author Paul makes an interesting connection between this Melchizedek character and Aaron, and finally, Christ himself. In case we were confused about the association before, Paul adds to it with an even more detailed analysis starting in chapter 6:13 and going well through chapter 8. It’s clearly more than we want to get into, but the crux of the association is made clear in vs. 14-17, “For its is evident that our L-rd was descended from Judah…and this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek…for it is witnessed ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’” And again in chapter 8:1, “Now the main point in what has been said: we have such a high priest, who has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens, a true tabernacle, which the L-rd pitched, not man…[the priests] serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.”

This all culminates throughout the book of Revelation. A few examples:

Rev 1:5-6- “and from Yeshua the Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us, and released us from our sins by his blood, and he has made us a kingdom of priests to his G-d and father…”

Rev 7:13-17- “And one of the elders answered, saying to me, ‘These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and from where have they come?’ And I said to him, ‘My lord, you know.’ And he said to my, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason, they are before the throne of G-d; and they serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tabernacle over them. They will hunger no more…for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and G-d will wipe every tear from their eyes.’”

This theme goes on throughout the book. What I’m trying to show here is an example of how 1 event points to the next, and that to the next. Just looking through Revelation to find these scriptures, I saw several other examples; the woman being the congregation of believers is a striking one, found in dozens of places throughout the Bible. Even within the verses sites, we find the image of a lamb. This refers back to the lambs sacrificed at the time of Yeshua’s death, to the fact that King David was himself a shepard, to the lambs of the Passover before the Exodus from Egypt, and even to the lamb sacrificed by Abel in Genesis.

None of these symbols necessarily mean that the person is that thing which is referred to, but that he/she/it is the current reflection of the thing which came before.

Which leads me to point #2. Every event in the Bible reflects several layers of meaning within itself. In Judaism, for example, they define it concretely according to a fourfold method of textual interpretation [hermeneutics]. The four levels of interpretation are:

Peshat- literal meaning
Remez- allegorical meaning in which there is cross-reference to other texts. This is the rational or philosophical level
Derash- moral meaning
Sod- mystical meaning

Often within the Bible, we find an author writing predominatly in one level or another. Usually, however, the text gives hints of other meanings. Yeshua’s parables, for example, were filled with these types of understanding. They often told a real-life story (Peshat), with a clear moral lesson (Derash). Once we compare them with other passages in the Bible, or even with other authors of his time, we find even more meaning (Remez); and the mystical meaning (Sod) can be deciphered by whomever is given the understanding.

Christian interpreters don’t generally use such specific definitions in their interpretation, but the same general understanding is there. In fact, the fact that Christian theology is not often specific about the different layers of meaning in Biblical writing leads to many misinterpretations and oversimplifications of the meanings found within the Bible. In any case, whether one choses to accept defined levels of meaning or not, is not important, what is important is the realization that oftentimes more than one interpretation and level of meaning is present. That is to say, often, some would say always, a passage in the Bible has multiple interpretations. These interpretations were either intended by the author, or placed there divinely by G-d.

I’ll go into it in a couple of paragraphs, but the point of all this is to say that, when we read passages about something as complex as the role of Elijah the prophet and his relationship with John, we should be careful not to oversimplify. We must keep our eyes open for 2nd and 3rd levels of meaning in time, as well as within the text itself.

So who was Elijah, and what was his relationship to John? Here are the most relevant scriptures (I’ve excluded the parallel references to the same stories in the Gospels):

I Kings 17-21 & II Kings 1-2:18- Here we find the story of Elijah. It’s actually quite interesting.

Malachi 3:1-end- This section is a prophecy about the messenger who will prepare the way for the L-rd. It’s important to note that it is written about him that he will ”purify the descendants of Levi… so that they will present offerings in righteousness.” It seems clear that this hasn’t happened yet.

Matt 11:7-19- Yeshua specifically calls John Elijah, “This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’…for all the prophets and the law (Torah) prophesied until John. And if you care to accept, he himself is Elijah, who was to come.”

Matt 17:1-13- Moses and Elijah appear with and hold a conversation with Yeshua. Afterward, it’s written, “Yeshua commanded them, saying, ‘Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.’ And his disciples asked him, saying, ‘Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ And he answered and said, ‘Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you, that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that he had spoken to them about John the Baptist.”

Mark 1:1-8- Mark shows that John was the one sent to prepare the way for Yeshua.

Mark 6:14-29- This is the story of Herod having John’s head cut off and put on a plate. Here too people say, “[He is] Elijah.”

Luke 1:13-17- Here is the end of the story of John’s birth. It’s written, “And it is he who will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the L-rd.”

John 1:19-28- In this passage, priests and Levites ask John directly if he is Elijah. He says no, but then responds that he is the “voice of one crying in the wilderness.”

What seems interesting to me is that this scripture list seems incomplete; it has no real beginning or end. The story of Elijah in 1 & 2 Kings is interesting, but it offers little to foreshadow his prophetic role. Only his death (or rather, lack thereof) points to something more than “just” a prophet. In addition, if John was Elijah, as Yeshua said he was, then why didn’t he fulfill the rest of the things ascribed to Elijah?

It’s also clear that everyone at the time associated John with Elijah. Why didn't he say as much himself? The answer seems to be that he was only one manifestation of Elijah. He was not the same man that had been written about in the OT, and he was not the same man that is expected to come "in the last day." This refers back to the idea aove, that each event in the Bible has several manifestations in time.

So why should we have expected Elijah to come at the time of john? That is, why is it logical to conclude that John could be Elijah even though he didn't actually do the things expected of Elijah?...

maybe I'll finish this someday...

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

eto dla tebya!

Просто мысли...
Вот уже утро, еще один день без тебя. Солнце застенчево заглядывает в мое окно. Что ты сейчас делаешь? Еще спишь, а может ты только что открыл глаза и улыбнулся новому дню. Солнце сегодня не постоянно, но тепло еще будет, его будет достаточно много. Но как бы много его небыло, мне все равно холодно и грустно без тебя. Мне очень одиноко и неуютно. На улице весна и мне так хочется найти или встретить тебя, того кому скажу: люблю тебя! Ведь сейчас весна, 3 весна нашей любви. И кому мне подарить это все? Весенний город, уютный, умиротворенный, это море бесстрашно борющееся за лето, но прикрасно понимающее что нужно ждать.. ведь у нас все еще в переди! И кто-то когда-то сказал: если ты потерял деньги, ты не потерял ничего, если ты потерял друга, ты потерял полжизни, если ты потерял надежду, ты потерял все! Нет. Надежда на нашу встречу живет и будет жить во мне до тех пор, пока живу я. Но почему ты не рядом? Где ты сейчас? О чем ты думаешь? Мне грустно, я никому не могу подарить все это. Как мне хотелось бы любить тебя, того кто любит меня! А если меня никто не любит? Я хотела бы любить тебя все равно, чтобы заслужить твою любовь. Чтобы радостью стало ожидание встречи со мной и счастьем меня обретение.......................