Wednesday, December 20, 2006
A Very Divine Mystery Hunt Through Scripture, Involving Seven Points of Ancient Exegesis
Genesis 1:3 Then God said, "Let there be light!"; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that [it was] good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light YOM (Day), and the darkness He called Night.
One: The ancients were very curious about everything in the Bible…They were always wondering about things. They were always asking questions. What was the light of the first day of creation? (Do we not see by the light of the sun, moon and stars created on the fourth day?). Where is the light God named YOM?? Was it the light of a lamp??? What did it illuminate???? What is the purpose of this YOM, what time did it keep without the sun????? Have we ever even seen this light?????? If it is around, where might it be??????? If it was around on the first day, where, oh where, did it go????????…The questions piled up.
Two: The ancients read the Bible really carefully, and I mean really carefully. In order to find out where the YOM went, they read through the Bible with a fine-toothed comb. They spotted the YOM first in a very surprising place:
Genesis 22:10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" So he said, "Here I am." 12 And He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your YAHID [lit. “only-one”] from Me." 13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind [him was] a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said [to] this YOM [day], "In the Mount of The LORD it shall be provided."
Three: The ancients read the Bible creatively, and I mean really creatively. The Greek Septuagint (ca. 2nd Century BCE) reads the Hebrew text another way:
(2ndOption, LXX’s) Genesis 22:14: And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Has-Seen (to it); that they might say today, “In the Mount, The LORD was seen."
Four: The Hebrew text was very important to these ancient interpreters. And the various nuances that the Hebrew text provided (as seen in the verse in question here) could be very significant indeed. …In fact, bearing in mind our “divine mystery hunt” for the enigmatic YOM, an even other interesting way an ancient might have read this verse in Hebrew is as follows:
(3rd Option, possible) Genesis 22:14: And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Be-Seen; as it is said, “The YOM, in the Mount of The LORD, shall be seen."
Five: The ancients were ready, willing and quickly able to relate disparate verses in Scripture with one another, bringing verses to bear on one another just because of similar Hebrew wording, “thematic material”, or subtle relations….if not flights of fancy altogether. Usually, the appearance of shared words among verses was sufficient enough to warrant a connection; this was called “Stringing Pearls”. Another place where ancient Jews spotted the special YOM is in a Psalm:
Psalm 118:24 This is the YOM that the LORD made.
Six: The ancients could also creatively link entities in adjacent verses that we might not necessarily connect together or perceive as (sufficiently) related. For example, they might connect “the stone that the builder’s rejected” in Psalm 118:22 with “the YOM that the LORD made” in verse 24:
Psalm 118:22 The stone that the builders rejected is become the chief cornerstone. 23 This is the LORD's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. 24 This is the YOM that the LORD made; we will rejoice and be glad in him.
Seven: Watching the ancients use scripture is as fun as it is enlightening. The Gospel of John links all the verses we discussed above to solve the mystery hunt of the YOM’s identity, its purpose, its special time to keep, its special object to illuminate. It opens up by telling us of the light’s “advent” – its coming into the world, its appearance, as foretold to Abraham (I have included parenthetical remarks to help you “feel” the special bearing of scriptures we referred to above):
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and what God was the Word was. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being [He “illuminates”]. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it …10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him [Only those who are his own can see by his light]. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God [like Isaac]. 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. ...[The earth experienced a “YOM” of God’s glory.]
John 8:12 "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life." … 56 "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." ...[What Abraham “saw” is told in Psalm 118.]
John 9:4 "We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 "While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world." ...[While Jesus was in the world, it was “Day One” of God’s work.]