Rosh Hashanah in the Bible

Shana tova! Not having been raised Jewish, but living in a Jewish household, some of the customs can be downright puzzling to me. Today is the first night of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. (As with most holidays, Rosh Hashanah is one day long in Israel and two days long everywhere else. This has to do with the early Jews wanting to be VERY CERTAIN that they did the holiday on the right day, since communication to and from Jerusalem may have been spotty.) This holiday is marked by eating of apples and honey and the blowing of the shofar, the ram’s horn.

Today happens to also be the one year anniversary of my first real post to this blog. So, today marks a very real beginning of a “new year” for this site. As such, I’ve made a few light changes here and there: added an “about” box on the side, changed the tag to reflect the “religion geek” attitude the site has been adopting, and a few other things.

Enough bellybutton gazing! Let’s talk Rosh Hashanah!

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Biblical Genealogy Revisited – Genesis Complete

It’s been several months since I’ve done any genealogy updates and there is a good reason for that: broken tools. The software that I was using to render the images was increasing buggy as I was completing the work on Numbers. What’s more, there was no way to export to something else. So, I’ve had to start over.

But this time, I’m cooking up my own system based on publicly available tools and a decent amount of programming. If you are a geek, or at least interested in the deep innards of my brain, read on.

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Va-Yera – Abraham vs Abimelech: Part I.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one… Abraham and his wife travel to a foreign country. They’re enjoying the sights, sampling the exotic food, but it doesn’t look good to be attached and so he asks his wife if she can, you know, pretend to be his sister for a few days… And then the leader of the country falls in love with her, abducts her, gets punished by God for his sin, and the couple get out as fast as they can. The end. Some jokes never get old.

We’ve reached the second of the three wife-sister narratives in Genesis. The first wife-sister narrative was in Genesis 12. This time, the guilty party is Abimelech, the King of Gerar.

Biblical Canaan was not a place for tourists. Abraham comes off as being weak-kneed. Read on for more.

Continue reading Va-Yera – Abraham vs Abimelech: Part I.

Va-Yera – Lot’s Final Indignity

Lot is the Rodney Dangerfield of early biblical figures: he really gets no respect. Only a few verses after Lot flees from the burning ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah, his story ends. Not with a triumph. Not even with any dignity. No. Lot gets raped by his daughters who, apparently, are tremendous idiots.

More after the break.

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Va-Yera – Justice in the Torah (So Far)

Obviously, my posting schedule has not been what I would hoped it would be. But, I have promised a friend that I would post weekly again and so I will desperately try to do that, despite whatever other challenges life throws at me. And to start, I’m picking up where I left off: a brief survey of justice in the bible prior to Abraham.

As I said in my previous post, the genius of Abraham was not just that he argued with God’s punishment (the first biblical figure to do so), but rather that he seemed to articulate a UNIQUE (to Genesis) view on justice. Up to that point, I postulated, all punishments and rewards were to families and clans rather than individuals. With one huge exception, that’s true. His view was that a small number of good people could keep from punishment a larger number of bad people. What he didn’t do was what we really might wish he had done: request individual justice. Save the good people, punish the bad ones. That’s what we all look for in divine justice, isn’t it? Sadly, it wasn’t to be. But, this is the closest we come up to this point, so that’s something. “Sins of the father”, or clan-guilt, is never fully expunged from the Bible, though later passages will also stress individual justice and the Book of Job will suggests that not all apparent punishments are for crimes anyway.

More after the break.

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