And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. Isaiah 8:17

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Genesis 1 : Hebrew Poetry

In class we went through the 6 days of creation and found significant ORDER in them.
This (the commentary posted below) is typical of how this idea is presented in Jewish publications.

The JPS (Jewish Publication Society) Torah Commentary : Genesis
The Traditional Hebrew Text with the New JPS Translation
Commentary by Nahum M. Sarna

(Page 4) Notes on Creation : Be-re'shit [the Hebrew name for the book of Genesis] (1:1-2:3)

Then there is the literary structure, which presents the creative process with bilateral symmetry. The systematic progression from chaos to cosmos unfolds in an orderly and harmonious manner through a series of six successive and equal units of time. The series is divided into two parallel groups, each of which comprises four creative acts performed in three days. The third day in each group is distinguished by two productions. In each group the movement is from heaven to terrestrial water to dry land. Moreover, the arrangement is such that each creation in the first group furnishes the resource that is to be utilized by the corresponding creature in the second group. The chart below illustrates the schematization.
The principle of order, deliberation, and direction is further inculcated by means of the progression from inorganic matter to the lowest forms of organic life to four categories of living creatures: fish and fowl, reptiles, the higher animals, and finally humankind. In addition, the entire narrative adheres to a uniform literary pattern. Each of the literary units begins with a declaration formula, "God said," followed by a command, a statement recording its fulfillment, a notice of divine approbation, and a closing formula, 'There was evening and there was morning," with the accompanying numbered day.
Finally, the Narrator employs the device of number symbolism, the heptad, to emphasize the basic idea of design, completion, and perfection. The opening proclamation contains seven words; the description of primal chaos is set forth in twice seven words; the narrative's seven literary units feature seven times the formula for the effectuation of the divine will and the statement of divine approval; and the six days of creation culminate in the climactic seventh.
This seven-day typology is widely attested in the ancient world. As early as the twenty-second century B.C.E., King Gudea of Lagash, in southern Mesopotamia, dedicated a temple with a seven-day feast. The literatures of Mesopotamia and Ugarit are replete with examples of seven-day units of time. Most common is a state of affairs that lasts for six days with a climactic change taking place on the seventh. While the Creation narrative conforms to this literary convention, it is unique in that a different action occurs each day, with no activity at all on the seventh.

Group I The Resource Group II The Utilizer
Day Creative Act Day Creative Act
1 Light 4 The luminaries
2 Sky, leaving terrestrial waters 5 Fish and fowl
3 Dry land 6 Land creatures
Vegetation Humankind
(Lowest form of organic life) (Highest form of organic life)

1 comment:

  1. whenever i read your posts I feel like I am back in your institute classes. Continue feeding the other saints with your scriptual knowledge.