Tag Archives: aaron

Snow in the Bible – Part One – Leprosy and Purity

snow-in-jerusalemI made one huge mistake in my last trip to Jerusalem, in January: I didn’t bring a heavy enough coat. As an American, I tend to think of Israel as a hot place– and indeed it is much of the time.  Tel Aviv rarely gets below freezing and even in the winter the overnight lows tend to be in the forties. Jerusalem is in the mountains and tends to be a bit colder than Tel Aviv– as I found out– and it snows there with accumulations every few years. This January, Jerusalem was blanketed by nearly eight inches of powder! In the far north of Israel, on Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights, it even snows enough for a ski resort.

With my eyes opened to snow in the land of Israel, my second though turned to snow in the bible. I couldn’t remember even a single bible story that involved snow. Seeing this as a challenge, I set about to research everywhere that snow appears in the bible. And it does appear: twenty-seven times in the Hebrew Bible– most often in the Book of Job– and three more in the New Testament. While it factors directly in only one bible side-story, the way that it is used as an image or metaphor in different parts of the bible display a beautiful complexity.

This first part covers the very first mentions of snow in the Torah and how the metaphor of snow started as one of impurity ultimately transitioned to one of purity. Additional posts will follow. It’s exciting! Read on for more.

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Yom Kippur in the Bible

Today was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, probably the holiest day in Judaism. Technically Yom Kippur ended at sundown (and I’m chasing midnight with this post), but it’s difficult to keep a schedule and my fasting today turned my brain into mush. For the last several years, I have done my best to fast alongside my wife in support for her and her religion. I don’t know that it helps her, but it’s worth doing for the chance that it does.

As I mentioned in my previous post, this is the month of Tishri in the Jewish calendar (generally September or October) and it is a month with many holy days. Last week was Rosh Hashanah, this week is Yom Kippur, and we’re just a few days from Sukkot and Simchat Torah. After that, we get a break until Hanukkah. I have resolved this year to try and offer (as best I can) a biblical explanation for each of the holy days (and holidays) as they come around.

And even if you aren’t Jewish, Yom Kippur has the distinction of being the holiday that we get the term “scapegoat” from, using a real live goat. Read on!

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