Posts for Mar, 2008.

3/31/2008 7:43:00 PM

Yavneh Yam

Posted Monday, March 31, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
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 ×•×™×‘א הושעיהו בן שב

י ויקח את בגד עבדך כאשר כלת

את קצרי זה ימם לקח את בגד עבדך

וכל אחי יענו לי הקצרים אתי בחם

  ש   אחי יענו לי אמן נקתי מא



And Hoshayahu son of Shobi came and took the garment of your servant. After I measured the grain over those days, he took the garment of your servant. And all my brothers will answer for me, the ones harvesting with me in the heat of the [sun]. My brothers will answer for me “Amen”. I am innocent from blame.

This is only part of the letter, the complete letter can be read elsewhere.This seems to be a clear case of oppression of the poor, such as Deuteronomy fights against. Follow the link for a discussion of the background of the letter and why the garment was actually taken. 

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3/29/2008 6:51:00 PM

CS Lewis on Friendship

Posted Saturday, March 29, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
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A great quote from Lewis on friendship with a very interesting take on heaven. It is from the chapter on friendship in The Four Loves.

In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald's reaction to a specifically Caroline joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him "to myself" now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald. Hence true Friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can then say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, "Here comes one who will augment our loves." For in this love "to divide is not to take away." Of course the scarcity of kindred souls-not to mention practical considerations about the size of rooms and the audibility of voices-set limits to the enlargement of the circle; but within those limits we possess each friend not less but more as the number of those with whom we share him increases. In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious "nearness by resemblance" to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah's vision are crying "Holy, Holy, Holy" to one another (Isaiah VI,3) The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.

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3/27/2008 8:48:00 PM

Peter Enns Suspended

Posted Thursday, March 27, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
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When Peter Enns published his book Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament , I am sure that he was expecting some negative reactions. But I doubt he expected how much heat he actually received. I remember buying the book three years ago at ETS because I thought he was going to go a different direction than he actually did. I read it on the trip and was not highly impressed, but did think some of his arguments were interesting. But the book seemed to hit a nerve. Critical reviews started appearing, and the following year at ETS I attended a packed-out session in which Enns presented a paper (only partly defending himself) and several others critiqued him on several points (Richard Schultz seemed especially pointed). Beale and Enns have had several published exchanges, and the issue continues to be a hot one. The latest is that Westminster, where Enns teaches, has suspended him. This is not quite the same as firing, although that appears to be the next step. I am not quite sure what to think at this point. I do not agree with much of what Enns writes, but I also am not sure that suspending him is the best choice either. It makes me nervous, as if we are heading back to the modernist/fundamentalist debate once again (an issue which Westminster knows well). I am not sure that Enns has actually crossed any lines that would require this kind of response, even if I do not agree with him. But then, I haven't read the book in three years, and maybe I am too generous. 

See here for a copy of the letter that was sent out and other details.

If you missed the book, Enns tries to refine how we read the Bible. He focuses on three topics: other ANE literature that is similar to the Bible, theological diversity in the Bible, and the way the OT is used by the NT. He says that these are three very serious issues that evangelicals have not dealt with sufficiently, and if we deal with in a proper manner it will change the way we read the Bible. He advocates an incarnational model of Scripture, where we recognize both divine and human aspects. The reason for the reaction has been that he emphasizes considerably more human aspects than are usually thought present. Another part of the reason for the reaction was that Enns directed it at non-academics, which meant that there was less footnotes and argumentation, and that non-academics (who had not read anything else on the subject) were reading it. 

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3/27/2008 8:22:00 AM

Ketef Hinnom

Posted Thursday, March 27, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
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This is one of the more important finds in the past few decades in Israel. This is the earliest part of the Bible that has ever been discovered, even though it is only a few verses, and its relationship to the Bible is debated. But it is very old, at least back to pre-exilic times. The tombs in which this was found can be seen today, behind the Begin building across the valley from Mt. Zion and Jerusalem University College. Gabriel Barkai, one of my teachers at Hebrew University, was the director at the dig and told us the story about how it was found. The tombs had been known for a long time, so they were not expecting any great finds. One day there were some junior high kids who came to help at the dig, and one boy in particular turned out to be very annoying to Barkai, asking incessant questions. So he gave him a broom and told him to sweep out one of the repositories, the hollow area under the place where the bodies are laid and in which the bones are stored. Just a few minutes later the boy came up to Barkai and showed him a nearly complete lamp. It turned out that the boy had gotten bored and started pounding on the floor of the repostiory with a hammer. Underneath he found a secret stash of items, untouched since they had been buried thousands of years ago. The junior highers were sent home and archaeology students from Hebrew U. were enlisted. The dig was done around the clock in utmost secrecy for several days until all the items were taken out. There were many, many items of various types, including a lot of silver items. The most famous are the two tiny silver scrolls which contain part of the Aaronic blessing, available for viewing at the Israel Museum. They are so small the second one was not even noticed until they sifted the dirt. Great story.  

Ketef Hinnom 1:

YHWH…. The great one who keeps the covenant and kindness to those who love him and guard [his commandments?] … the eternal… blessing more than any snare or evil because in him is redemption. For YHWH is our restorer and rock. May YHWH bless and keep you. May YHWH make his face shine…

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3/24/2008 1:56:00 PM

Kuntilet Ajrud

Posted Monday, March 24, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
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More inscriptions which raise the issue of whether YHWH has a consort. 

Pithoi A “[  ] says: Say to [   ] and Yaush and to [   ] I bless you by YHWH of Samaria and by his Asherah”


Pithoi B “Amaryau: Say to my lord [   ] I bless you by YHWH of Teman and by his Asherah he will bless you and keep you and will be with my lord.”

One of the main options for the Asherah is that she is a goddess and the consort of YHWH (Freedman). She appears as the consort of the great god El in Ugarit, so it would be logical to assume the same here. If YHWH had “replaced” El, then we can expect Asherah to follow. Also, she is asked to bless someone, so that would assume something more than a tree or a temple, it would mean something that can give a blessing. There are also some Biblical references that support Asherah as a goddess. For example, 1 Kings 18:19 refers to 400 prophets of Asherah, which Freedman views as being inherited by YHWH after the defeat of Baal. Many fertility figurines have been found in Israel from this time period, and it is possible to identify them with Asherah. Further, there is a picture at Ajrud that might be Asherah.

The problem with this view is that third person suffix: his Asherah. Personal names in Hebrew do not appear with a suffix, so this strongly encourages the view that Asherah is not referring to the goddess. Freedman tries to get around this argument by quoting a section from Shakespeare about “her Romeo,” and while I understand what he is saying, it does not seem to be a likely interpretation of this particular text. The picture that supposedly refers to Asherah really shows one or two pictures of Bes and a woman playing the lyre, none of whom can be Asherah. While the Ugaritic texts can be helpful, there are several hundred years prior to our text here and in a different country. The Phoenician texts are closer in time, but do not have any mention of a Asherah with Baal. The Biblical evidence, while it might hint sometimes toward a goddess, usually goes against that view. For example, Asherah appears with the article, which does not appear with names.

The other main view of the Asherah (Lemaire, for example) is that it refers not to a goddess but to a concrete item that was used in a shrine. There is an Akkadian word “asirtu” which means a holy place. There are also cognates from Old Aramaic and Middle and Late Phoenician which have the same meaning. The Biblical evidence indicates that the Asherah was some kind of tree. For example, Deuteronomy 6:21 talks about planting a tree as an Asherah and Deuteronomy 16:21 speaks of one being planted, and Exodus 34:13 describes them as being cut. LXX reads Asherah as grove. The most likely meaning of Asherah is as a sacred tree that was used in various holy sites and sanctuaries.

These inscriptions help us understand a little bit about Israelite religion. While the Asherah (sacred trees) had been used for a long time apparently, they were on the verge of becoming personalized in these inscriptions, which is seen as a common pattern in the ANE (McCarter). They were not yet, but they appear to be on the way. This process could be why the strongly monotheistic prophets react so strongly against the Asherah. For example, Hosea 10:8 talks about the high places (of which the Asherah were apparently a key part) will be destroyed. The other aspect of Israelite religion that appears is the linking of YHWH with a locale. Apparently the people who wrote these inscriptions viewed YHWH as directly connected with local places and not just as a national god.


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3/21/2008 4:33:00 PM

Good KJV Preaching and Urinating

Posted Friday, March 21, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
Categories: Hermeneutics   Comments: None
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Some friends of mine played this youtube clip for Doug Moo on a break in our class (it is about five mintues long). If you want to know what is wrong with America today, why the NIV and NKJV are bad translations, and, most importantly, what it means to be a man, this is the sermon you need to watch. It also serves as an excellent "argument to absurdity" of how some evangelicals treat the Bible. One part of the text the speaker misses, however, is that the text says "wall" quite specifically, which would have an effect on his interpretation of the text. This has been traveling around the blogosphere, I picked up the address from Ben Witherington's blog. The youtube clip has been viewed over 130,000 times. 

As funny as this video is, the issue he brings up is a problem, although not how he thinks. See Codex Blogspot for two posts (1 and 2 ) about this. The Hebrew text does say "him who urinates against a wall."  But the modern translations all say "male." They certainly get the referrent right: it does refer to males. But this is not speaking about males in a positive light: this is fairly crude and derogatory language, which "male" does not communicate. This is the classic problem of translating both the literal meaning as well as the way the literal meaning would have been understood or felt. If it is correct that this refers to an action of dogs, then a modern equivalent would be urinating on a fire hydrant, something (at least in my mind) more closely connected with dogs doing their thing. But one cannot simply introduce fire hydrants into an ancient text.  My best shot would be some kind of combination: all the males, all the ones who urinate against a wall like a dog. Or something like that. 

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3/19/2008 4:14:00 PM

Khirbet Beit Lei

Posted Wednesday, March 19, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
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These inscriptions are hard to decipher, so there are two transcriptions of them into Hebrew.  

a. Naveh


A. יהוה אלהי כל הארץ ה

רי יהד לו לאלהי ירשלם 


YHWH is the God of the whole earth, the mountains

of Judah belong to him, to the God of Jerusalem


B. המוריה אתה חננה נוה יה יהוה

The (Mount of) Moriah you have favored, the dwelling of Yah, YHWH




A. אני יהוה אליכה ארצה

ערי יהדה וגאלתי ירשלם  


I am YHWH your God

I will accept the cities of Judah

And will redeem Jerusalem


B. נקה יה אל חננ נקה יה יהוה


Absolve (us) O merciful God!

Absolve (us) O YHWH

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3/18/2008 3:48:00 PM

Khirbet El-Qom

Does God have a consort?

Posted Tuesday, March 18, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
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a. Following Naveh.

אריהו השר כתבה

ברך אריהו ליהוה

נצרי ולאשרתה הושע לה



Uriyahu the governor wrote it

May Uriyahu be blessed by Yahweh

My guardian and by his Asherah. Save him

(save) Uriyahu


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3/16/2008 6:58:00 PM

Tomb of the Royal Steward

Posted Sunday, March 16, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
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זאת         יהו אשר על הבית. אין פה כסף. וזהב             

  אם       ועצמת אמתה אתה. ארור האדם אשר              

יפתח את זאת

This inscription was found in the village of Silwan, across the Kidron valley from the City of David. This area seemed to be a cemetary during the Iron Age. Sadly for us, a Byzantine monk decided to make this tomb his home and put a beam across the room, obliberating part of the inscription. And he even chose to rub out the name of the person buried. Very sad, since it might very well refer to a biblical character. But even without the name, it is still a very interesting inscription. Details below include a commentary on the inscription, short comments on the writing style, and the biblical connection. 


This is the [grave of ????]yahu who was the royal steward. There is no silver or gold here, only the [his bones] and the bones of his maid servant with him. Cursed the man who will open this.

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3/14/2008 10:11:00 PM

Silwan Tunnel Inscription

Posted Friday, March 14, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
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This inscription was found in Hezekiah's Tunnel in Jerusalem and is now located in Istanbul (it was found during the time of the Ottoman empire). It appears to commemorate the day of the finishing of the tunnel from the perspective of the workers, without a word about Hezekiah or anyone else "important." The details below include information the type of inscription, the spelling, and the way the letters are formed.  

 ×”נקבה. וזה. ×”×™×”. דבר. הנקבה. בעוד                     

הגרזן. אש. אל. רעו. ובעוד.שלש. אמת. להנ      ×¢. קל. אש. ק

רא. אל. רעו. ×›×™. הית. זדה. בצר. מימן  ומ    אל. ובים. ×”     

נקבה. הכו. החצבם. אש. לקרת. רעו. גרזן. על   רזן. וילכו

המים. מן. המוצא. אל. הברכה. במאתים. ואלף. אמה. ומ 

ת. אמה. ×”×™×”. גבה. הצר. על. ראש. החצב                       


[The day of ] the tunnel. And this is the record of how the tunnel was made. While [the diggers were digging?] the axe of a man toward his neighbor and while three cubits to cu[t through] the voice of a man calls to his neighbor for there was a fissure in the crack from the south to the [north]. So on the day the tunnel was made the diggers struck, each man towards his neighbor, axe on axe. And the water came from the spring to the pool, a distance of 1200 cubits. One hundred cubits was the height of the rock above the head of the diggers.

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3/11/2008 2:19:00 PM

The Moabite Stone

Posted Tuesday, March 11, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
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The Mesha stone is a fairly long inscription from King Mesha of Moab (see 2 Kings 3). The discovery of the stone 100 years ago is worthy of a movie. Someone saw it in Jordan and recognized its value, so he made a squeeze of it (a copy). But as he was finishing it, some men came to attack him, so the last part was rather rushed. He later offered to buy the stone, but since they saw it was valuable, they decided there must be some kind of valuable metal in it, so they put it in a fire and broke it into pieces. It eventually ended up in the Louvre in Paris. Follow the link below for a discussion of the theology of the Moabite stone, the relationship to 2 Kings 3, and the differences between Hebrew and Moabite. 

This section is found in the midst of a series of accounts of military actions taken by Mesha. The stele begins with an introduction (lines 1-4), then continue with the military actions (4-21). After the battles comes a description of the repairs undertaken by Mesha (21-28). A conclusion comes after that (28-31), and then strangely more battles are described again in the unclear bottom of the stele (31-34). This particular section is the first battle described in the battle section and highlights the actions of Chemosh as opposed to Mesha, who is only described as rebuilding, not fighting. 


י. מלך. ישראל. ויענו. את. מאב. ימן. רבן. כי. יאנף. כמש. באר

צה \ ויחלפה. בנה. ויאמר. גם. הא. אענו. את. מאב \ בימי. אמר כ

וארא. בה. ובבתה \ וישראל. אבד. אבד. עלם.                        


Omri King of Israel, and he subjected Moab for many days, because Chemosh was angry with his land. His son succeeded him, and he also said “I will subject Moab.” In my days thus he said. And I saw up on him and upon his house [my desire? my will?] and Israel was destroyed forever.


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3/9/2008 4:50:00 PM

The Gezer Calendar

Posted Sunday, March 09, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
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ירחו אסף ירחו ז

רע ירחו לקש

ירח עצד פשת

ירח קצר שערים

ירח קצר וכל

ירחו זמר

ירח קץ




Two months of harvest

Two months of sowing

Two months of late planting

One month of hoeing flax

One month of barley-harvest

One month of harvest and measuring

Two months of vine-pruning

One month of summer fruit




Follow the link for a discussion of Hebrew gramamr, the purpose of the calendar and the date of the calendar (it's old!).  

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3/9/2008 4:49:00 PM


Posted Sunday, March 09, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
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Since I am still feeling sick and not up to writing actual intelligent thoughts yet, I thought I would bring out a paper from the years past. This is a final for a class I took on Hebrew inscriptions while I was at Hebrew University several years. This is a very interesting area, so I hope that you enjoy reading some of the inscriptions. I've got a transcription and a translation of each of the inscriptions and answers to various questions about them, whether it be details of Hebrew grammar or how it relates to the Bible. I hope you enjoy them!
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3/3/2008 9:15:00 AM


Posted Monday, March 03, 2008 by Charlie Trimm
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I am just recovering from a week of the flu, so blogging will be slow until coherent thoughts start appearing in my brain again. I was so sick for a few days that I didn't even feel like reading, which for me means I am very sick. We are also expecting our second child to be born at some point this month, so that means there will be large swaths of nothingness on the blog this month as I try and survive the other areas of life. But when all the dust settles I'll be back, and I might have a few posts in the meantime.
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