Saturday, April 21, 2018

How left and right became good and bad

The adjective δεξιος (dexios) means right (the opposite of left) and is used 54 times in the New Testament; see full concordance. Particularly compared to the "left," the "right" has a decidedly positive connotation. In English we use the word "right" for things that are proper and just, whereas our word "left" hails from an ancient word that means "foolish." "Left" is also the homograph of the past tense and participle of the verb to leave, which is why it's not right to be left.

The Latins called the left sinister (hence our negative English word "sinister") and the right they called dexter (hence our positive word "dexterity," and of course the name Dexter). The Hebrews associated the right both with the south and with strength and alliance (hence the name Benjamin, or Son of the Right Hand), and thus the left with the north and weakness and hostility. The word for "right" in French is the same as our English word "adroit," meaning resourceful, whereas the French word for left also means clumsy or awkward. In English a clumsy person has two left hands.

But while the curious distinction between right and left can not be denied, it's hardly a simple matter of good versus bad. In fact, the modern folkloristic distinction between right and left is rather clearly rooted in a very sensible ancient one. And it's that venerable ancient usage that is reflected in the Bible.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The gospel code

Contrary to popular inflection, the gospel of Jesus Christ is not simply just another theology, and Paul's many admonitions to obey the rules of the state (Romans 13:1-7, Titus 3:1) had nothing to do with the state's desired perpetuation but rather with a most efficiently placing of agents of the state's ultimate demise. As Socrates had explained many centuries earlier: since every governmental system has facilities to deal with foreign threats, a system can only be overthrown from within its own apparatus, and by its own members. Or in other words: a ship's rudder has to be a part of the ship (James 3:4).

The most fundamental operating principles of the gospel and those of the Roman Empire were mutually exclusive, and when Constantine "converted" the Roman state to Christianity, he merely grafted Christian terminology upon the Roman machine. After Constantine, the emperor had new clothes but he had no new heart and certainly no new way of doing things.

  • The Roman Empire was based on the idea that one man could be divine, and was to impose his rule upon the rest of humanity in order to save humanity from its own darkness and violence. The penalties were severe and everybody was scared witless. A Roman citizen was to fully obey and even worship the state and its emperor — and note that a mere 25% of Roman people were citizens; the rest were slaves. The state became a web of rules and hierarchies, committees and counsels, and it was virtually impossible for any citizen to find and dispute the source of the rules that ran this person's life (Ephesians 6:12).
  • The gospel of Jesus Christ declares every person — that's 100% of humanity — an anointed king and high priest, with no earthly superiors (Exodus 19:6, 1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6). That means that every human being has a direct link to the Creator of heaven and earth, who in turn places the laws of nature (and thus of a perfect, natural human society) in every person's own heart (Romans 2:15, Hebrews 10:16). The most common command in the Bible is to have no fear (1 John 4:18). Every human being is both as free and as integrated into the biosphere as any of God's creatures (Romans 8:19-22), and wholly responsible for the purposes and effects of his or her own life.
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After Constantine, the emperor had new clothes but he had no new heart and certainly no new way of doing things.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The noun φοβος (phobos) means fear

The noun φοβος (phobos) means fear (hence our English word phobia). It comes from the verb φεβομαι (phebomai), meaning to flee in terror or be put to flight. This verb isn't used in the New Testament, and in turn stems from the Proto-Indo-European root bhegw-, meaning to run.

The issue of fear in the Bible is curious. The prohibition (fear not) is the most repeated command in the Bible, yet fear also describes man's proper and prescribed attitude toward the deity (Deuteronomy 6:13). In our article on the Hebrew equivalent of our Greek noun, namely ירא (yara'), we propose that fear is a natural reaction to the unknown and uncontrollable. Man was commanded to rule the beasts (Genesis 1:26) and God instilled the fear of man in them (Genesis 9:2), which means that if man feared beast, the natural order was reversed.

Mankind was endowed with the gift of convention (and not intelligence, as the myth dictates), which allowed him to agree with others to the point in which he could devise speech and script and other technology that would help him understand creation and be safe in it. Knowledge allowed very little to be beyond man's control and man's natural reaction to the unknown and unexpected became humor and laughter (on a physical level, laughing and screaming with fear are pretty much the same thing). This is possibly why the "son of the promise" was called Isaac, which means He Will Laugh.

Here at Abarim Publications we suspect that the term "the fear of the Lord" is a trick-phrase like "the love of money"; it consists of two mutually exclusive elements, and that's how the issue is explained. The love of money — which in addition to all confusion, is often misinterpreted as the love for money, but no, it's the love of money — is a force that works between people just like love, which causes them to exchange goods and services, just like love. But money-love is entropy based and will always seek balance without creating anything new. Real love gives without wanting anything in return and thus propels the very realm it exist in onto a whole new existence.

To a human who is fully aware and in control of the whole of creation, the only thing that remains unknown is God. By that time, man's reaction to the unknown will have evolved from a basic fight or flight reaction to a super-collective sense of adoration and great joy (Jude 1:24).

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Feet and erotica in the Bible

It's been overly reported that in Hebrew "feet" may be a euphemism for the male genitals, but that's jumping the gun a bit. Men would wear long tunics and any kind of laborious activity would require hoisting up the tunic to free one's feet (that's where the "girding of the loins" comes from; 1 Kings 18:46). The colloquial expression "covering one's feet" is the opposite of that, and describes a pose of rest. All this is on a par with keeping one's ears and eyes open during periods of activity and alertness, and covering ears and eyes during periods of slumber.

The expression "covering one's feet" is in English almost perfectly reflected in the expression "taking a load off," which also describes a pose of rest after performing labor. When judge Ehud had murdered fat king Eglon of Moab, Eglon's servants didn't dare to go into the room he lay bleeding and spilling his refuse because they figured he was "covering his feet," which in this case strongly implies that they thought he was taking a load off by taking a dump (Judges 3:24). Likewise, during one of Saul's campaigns to apprehend David, Saul went into a cave to "cover his feet," which only means that he went in there to take a load off (1 Samuel 24:3). In this case it is implied that Saul was taking a nap.

When at the end of a working day or long journey, a man came into a home — his own or someone else's — the "covering of his feet" would be preceded by the washing of them (Genesis 18:4, 1 Samuel 25:41). One would obviously not recline to dine and certainly not slide into bed with one's wife with unwashed feet, and that ties the washing of feet with taking a rest after a period of work, having diner and sleeping with one's wife. When David sent Uriah home to "wash his feet" (2 Samuel 11:8) he didn't express his concerns for Uriah's smelly feet but literally told him to go home and take a load off, implying that he would subsequently sleep with his wife Bathsheba. When Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, He also implied that He had brought them into a period of domestic rest (John 13:5), but when Mary anointed Jesus' feet with fragrant oil, she unmistakably prepared Jesus for His wedding night (John 12:3, see for more on this our article on the name Nicodemus).

Commentators usually miss the sexual connotation of Mary anointing Jesus' feet, but erroneously ascribe a sexual connotation to Ruth's dealings with Boaz (Ruth 3:1-18). Naomi told Ruth to go into Boaz' quarters after he had dined and gone to sleep (for which he had washed and covered his feet), and uncover his feet and lay herself at his feet. When Boaz woke up in the middle of the night he noticed that his feet were uncovered and a lady was sleeping at his feet.

Boaz was obviously a man of honor who not only wanted to honor the levirate law but also wanted to allow a closer relative to marry Ruth (Ruth 3:12-13). What women back in those days still knew was that no woman can catch an honorable man by putting out on the first date. If Ruth had uncovered Boaz' privates that night, he would doubtlessly have kicked her out of his tent. Now that she had uncovered his feet and lay herself at his feet, she indicated that she placed herself at Boaz' service and also respectfully asked Boaz to go to work for her. Boaz got the message, did the honorable thing and even protected her from the walk of shame (3:14). Boaz contacted Ruth's close relative and offered him his rights to Ruth (4:1), but the relative declined and demonstrated as much by removing his sandal, which is also a symbol of the foot-genre (4:7). Someone who puts a sandal on his foot indicates he's fixing for action (Exodus 12:11, Isaiah 5:27); someone who removes a sandal indicates his standing down (Exodus 3:5). When John the Baptist said he was unworthy to untie Jesus' sandal, he also indicated that he could not possibly take over Jesus' work and give Him a break (Luke 3:16).

Another much quoted reference to feet possibly euphemizing genitals is Isaiah 7:20, where Isaiah states that YHWH will use the king of Assyria as a razor with which He will shave Judah's head and "hair of the feet," which is then explained to denote pubic hair. Here at Abarim Publications we have no objection to pubic hair but see no reason to let hair of the feet denote pubic hair. It simply reads that the Lord will shave Judah head to toe, from top to bottom.

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Monday, April 9, 2018

Lucifer, pleased to meet you

Doubtlessly much to the chagrin of fans, Lucifer is not a personal name and it certainly is not the personal name of the devil.

Pleased to meet you -- hope you know my name!

The word lucifer is a common Latin word and occurs in the Old Testament in Job 11:17 (= the dawn) and Job 38:32 (= some constellation), Psalm 110:3 (= the dawn), Isaiah 14:12 (see below), and once in the New Testament, in 2 Peter 1:19 (= φωσφορος, phosphoros, the Morning Star or Venus, see below).

Of all English, German and Dutch translations of the Bible, only the King James Version and the Darby Translation mention Lucifer and that only in Isaiah 14:12. All other occurrences of the word lucifer are translated as "morning star," "shining one" or "day star" or something to that extent in all European translations over the last four centuries.

Revelation 2:28 and 22:16 also speak of the morning star, but the Latin Vulgate uses stella matutina; literally star of the morning.

The only time that Lucifer could possibly be perceived as a personal name is in Isaiah 14:12, where the Lord makes the observation: "How you have fallen from heaven, lucifer, son of the dawn!". This observation is part of a larger statement addressed to the king of Babylon (14:4), in which Babylon's fall from grace is discussed. Babylon's prior rise to grace isn't mentioned in this chapter, but is part of the general rule that everything belongs to God and whatever grows, grows because the Lord makes it grow (see for instance Isaiah 45:1-7). Hence Babylon could not have risen to prominence without the blessing of YHWH, and its fall is due to Babylon's desire for wealth and power.

A similar sentiment is recorded in the Book of Ezekiel, where the prophet speaks of the king of Tyre, "You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty; you were in Eden, the garden of God" (Ezekiel 28:12-13). The Tyrians and the Phoenicians in general had built a highly successful empire on the basis of respect and free trade, and had achieved such great levels of skills and wisdom that Solomon had asked them to build the Temple of YHWH in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 2). Sadly, even the Phoenicians became corrupt and were wiped out by the Romans (read our article on the name Hannibal for more details).

Because the archangel Michael kicked satan out of heaven (Revelation 12:9), and satan was present in Eden (Genesis 3), there is some similarity between satan and the kings of Babylon and Tyre in the words of Isaiah and Ezekiel, but similarity is not the same as equality, and they are really three different entities.

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Is the Bible infallible?

The answer to the age old question whether the Bible is infallible depends entirely on the standard you use or the stage upon which you unfold your arguments.

Take the number pi for instance. Ask any mathematician if pi is always 3.1415... and most will say yes! But a mathematician with a slightly broader scope will calmly inform you that the value of pi will be lower than 3.1415 on a spherical surface and even continuously change on a hyperbolic surface. The value or even the constancy of pi can not be addressed if the geometry is not declared. Same with the Bible.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Cosmos, the Antichrist and the Second Law of Thermodynamics

The noun κοσμος (kosmos) means order. It probably stems from the verb κομεω (komeo), meaning to take care of or to tend, but apparently mostly in the sense of guiding young or untrained things to a properly behaving adult state. On rare occasions, the form κομεω (komeo) shows up as variant of the verb κοσμαω (kosmao), which means "to let hair grow long." In the classics this verb occurs much more frequently than one would expect in texts that don't necessarily tell of a tribe of hairstylists, which is because this verb also carries many a metaphor — to stick a feather in one's hair, to let one's hair down, to flaunt one's wicked do — or tells of plants and trees that wave in the breeze or grow into fruit-bearing maturity.

When we westerners hear the word "cosmos" we think of space, but that's because Pythagoras and later philosophers used our word to describe the universe as an orderly affair rather than a messy joint ran by whimsical deities. This was of course highly advanced, but what is not often recognized is that Pythagoras' choice of word implies that he imaged an evolving universe rather than a stead state one.

The Greek word kosmos means order and speaks of the Logos versus polytheism

In the universe entropy must always increase, which is why straight lines never stay straight for long and every neat pile of whatever will inevitably turn into a floating cloud of chaotic dust. The Creator created hyper-complex rainforests, vast systems of unpredictable stormy weather and the Second Law of Thermodynamics and deemed that good (Genesis 1:4, 1:10, 1:12, 1:18, 1:21, 1:25) and some of it even very good (1:31). Mankind came along and for some bizarre reason began to favor static straight lines and flat surfaces over the dynamic world of eternal change that God had taken such a shine to.

Rich people discovered that they could get richer by enslaving people who didn't think so. And that's how modern governments were invented. They set themselves in palaces and surrounded themselves with police and military, and proceeded to extract all natural energy from society and transmute that into things like infinity pools and Maseratis. That went a whole lot better if they knew where everybody was, which led to censuses (απογραφη, apograph), last names, addresses, postal codes — in short, societies that were organized like legions: people forced to stand still in rows and tiers whilst taking their instructions from a single boss, who is boss not because he is better at anything but because he was made boss by a bigger boss.

This idea of order is wonderful for the happy few who sit atop the heap, but not so for he heap. In the past it was often thought that natural evolution requires nothing but fortunate typo's and lots of time to progress, but today we know that diversity is the key. The more diverse a set is, the wider the span between the elements, and thus the more varied the combined result, which leads to a more diverse set of next generation sets. In order for humanity to go anywhere, all human individuals need to be free to do whatever they want — and 'all' means 'all'; your freedom can't limit someone else's freedom.

The order that's ordained by God (Isaiah 28:10) is one in which every human being is a christos or anointed king; sovereign, autonomous, wholly free and thus wholly responsible for their own actions. Any sort of tyranny that limits the freedom of people is precisely the opposite: antichristos, which is doomed to be ended by the very laws upon which the entire universe operates (Revelation 20:10).

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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Deep cries out to deep

As the deer pants for the waters so my soul longs after thee

Everybody knows about the panting deer of the opening line of Psalm 42, and many experience the sentiment that gave rise to this image. But few realize the exquisite and valiant choice of words the sons of Korah display, especially in the seventh verse.

Psalm 42 is a dance of fluidic words. Meticulously, the author breaks a continuum, evokes contrasts and has elements congrue into new onenesses.

The word for "deer" comes from a root that generally denotes a protruding or something that stands proudly and quietly ('wl; other derivations are words meaning: belly, leader, porch, ram, door post, terebinth).

Its longing or panting is penciled with the verb arag, a very unusual word that, judging from equivalents in cognate languages, rather means a bending, declining or even ascending.

Contrary to common interpretation, the image is gentle and still and charged with great tension. The deer emerges from the forest — early morning perhaps; mist in elongated blurs rests nimbly on the grass — and as it stands attention the observer feels its thirst. Slowly the animal stoops towards the flow of water below.

The author yearns to emerge from the throngs of those who challenge his trust in the One he desires. But in stead of drinking Him, he drinks his own tears, and all that pours is his own soul within him, descended, like the very water that the deer yields towards. The author's soul is depressed, like the Jordan (means Descender or Descended, follow the link below to visit our Biblical Name Vault). That is why he remembers God from the Jordanian low land, but also from the high peaks of the Hermon, and thus he creates the maximum vertical stretch possible from his local perspective. The author fills the entire leap from highest point of the earth to the lowest; the deepest depth, and cries out to the deepest depth after which he was created.

Creation began when the Spirit of God hovered over the waters, and darkness lay on the face of the deep (tehom; same word; and note that the word for 'to' is 'el, which is also the word for God). In Romans 8 we read about creation groaning and suffering anxiously from longing for the revelation of the sons of God, and we must recognize that in the private ardor of Psalm 42, the voice of the entire universe resounds, perhaps even as primary intend. But that's far from all.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Of course ancient Hebrew had vowels!

It's often said that vowels were added to ancient Hebrew by the Masoretes. This is wholly incorrect.

The oft repeated rumor has it that Biblical Hebrew has no vowels, and any now existing vowels were added later. This is incorrect. The great success of the Hebrew language lies precisely in the Hebrew invention of vowel notation. This invention was made around the time of king David (roughly 1000 BC, at the dawn of the Iron Age), and it gave ordinary people access to vast amounts of information. Prior to vowel notation, reading and writing was a magical affair for which one had to train in special priestly schools. Vowel notation allowed ordinary people to access vast vaults of information after a relatively simple education. Upon vowel notation, simply everybody could learn, share and add to what mankind knew, and this in turn led to the surge of human modernity that is still in full swing today.

Even in the Stone Age there was a highly sophisticated wisdom tradition — to give a hint: all domesticated crops such as potatoes, rice and corn, and animals such as sheep, dogs and pigs, were bred from feral ancestors in the Stone Age; folks from the Stone Age also invented metallurgy, music, painting, architecture, international trade, and pretty much everything (shy of the electric grid) that makes modern man modern — but a major problem was how to preserve data. When wisdom was shared orally, it only took an accident, battle or bout of some disease to knock out the village wizard (= wise-ard) and hence delete the village's data. The consonantal alphabet and later vowel notation not only turned every Tom, Dick and Harry into a sagely priest (hence a kingdom of priests — Exodus 19:6) it would also allow data to be preserved in a medium other than a fleshly brain.

The Hebrews understood that a happy life went hand in hand with knowledge of creation, and made science their form of worship (Psalm 19:1, Zechariah 8:23, John 4:23, Romans 1:20). They defined the deity as the Creator, who, per definition, had to exist separate from creation. But in a brilliant feat of deductive reasoning, they also surmised that between the creation that so closely followed the Creator's character and nature, and the Creator Himself, there had to be a kind of transition that was both: where Creator and creation met and were one; that "attractor" upon which the whole chaotic universe was designed to converge and would settle in (not merely the First Mover but more so the Ultimate Destiny of everything that exists).

This bottom-line from which everything that exists derives its existence, this attractor to which everything that evolves must evolve, this intermediate between the Creator and creation, this they called "the Son" (Psalm 2:12), and "the Word" (Genesis 15:1). In later Scriptures this semi-natural phenomenon famously became personified in Jesus Christ (John 1:1, 1 Timothy 2:5).

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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Eat Me, Drink Me, Taste Me, Spend Me

We humans call ourselves with some pride Homo sapiens, after the verb sapio, meaning to taste or have taste and thus to have the ability to discern between that which is tasty (i.e. nutritious) and that which isn't (Genesis 2:16-17). But although the acquisition of knowledge may come natural to us moderns, the pursuit of knowledge as a conscious collective objective is a relatively late invention (Genesis 4:26).

To be wise is to taste

People, like animals, initially counted on their physical power (Psalm 73:22, Ecclesiastes 3:18, 2 Peter 2:12, Jude 1:10) and strength in numbers (Psalm 20:7, 33:17, 2 Samuel 24), and when some proto-nerds began to see the potential benefit of connecting certain sounds to certain objects or actions, they first had to convince their tribe members of the advantages of convention itself. Even something as universally accepted as language was once a novelty, and while anatomically complete ancient humans were living their happy and fulfilled lives, few of them would have imagined that their intuitive yawps and grunts could be refined into implements of data retention. When formal language tried to emerge on the efforts of a few visionaries, it was doubtlessly met with opposition from conservatives and traditionalists, who insisted that the old ways were better and all that new stuff would surely cause cerebral flatulence.

Without a shared language, it's nearly impossible to tell whether another creature is smart — hence the recent consternation among scientists who at long last discovered that creatures such as dolphins and elephants have theory of mind, just like humans, and are therefore quite "sapient." Better yet: without a conscious sense of self and thus others, creatures can not distinguish between themselves and the rest of the group, and even though an intelligent observer may see separate bacteria, ants or penguins, the bacteria, ants and penguins only see the collective. Prior to speech, mankind could have had no clue how different from other creatures man could be, or whether an encountered Denisovan or Neanderthal was a sure foe or potential friend (see for more on this our article on the adjective αγιος (hagios), meaning holy).

The earliest appreciators of knowledge faced the same problem as the earliest linguists: how to convince the populace at large of the vast peace-making benefits of liberally collecting and thus freely sharing information about the natural world (1 Kings 4:33-34, 1 Thessalonians 5:21). If the general population then was anything like ours today, it saw the world as a hotchpotch of uncontrollable forces and no amount of effort other than wielding clubs at anything big and hairy to make any sense.

Only when proto-nerds were able to produce faster spears and hotter fires and so to demonstrate that knowledge equaled power and thus prosperity — which first required convincing people of a correlation between intent and effect, which is still difficult today — began knowledge to be appreciated. People who had knowledge were probably initially domineered by people who had physical power, but when knowledge began to be recognized as something more potent than strength or even wealth, people who had knowledge rose in social status. Knowledge became a commodity, like gold or jewelry, which in turn meant that it could both be hoarded and counterfeited. Both the secret and the lie were invented, and along came a whole new form of tyranny.

Like any currency, knowledge can be converted into a kind of fiat currency. Fiat currency is a unit of agreed upon value (a piece of paper that reads words like "I owe you 10 apples" or "angels will protect you") without an intrinsic value (actual apples or actual protection). As long as currency is redeemable for the value it represents and forgeries can be curtailed, the economy is pretty safe. But when currency is disconnected from actual value, as is the case with modern money and its forgone gold standard, it's no longer clear what actual value the currency represents simply because not all an economy's value is represented in its money.

Such dissociated fiat currency has to be "believed" in all religious meaning of the word, and subsequently controlled by a central institution (a bank or church) which can issue more of it at will. Since in such an economy such institutions are not limited by some actually limited amount of true wealth (gold in the vault, food on the table) fiat currency tends to drift increasingly further away from the tangible value it originally was designed to represent. Fiat wisdom, subsequently allows for speculative bubbles (crazy sects), rampant inflation (hence the thriving Christian Industrial Complex), and economies peopled by revered experts in fields that don't relate to the substantial world (hence the many esotericisms).

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