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


If you are looking for messages about the Europe Area Humanitarian Mission, go to http://stayinginfrankfurt.blogspot.de/



Monday, December 3, 2012

The 12 Days of Christmas


The 12 Days of Christmas are traditionally between Christmas and Epiphany, the 6th of January, when the arrival of the Wise Men is celebrated.

On my other blog, Creative Kidstuff, I posted stories, poems, songs and children's art activities for each of these 12 days back in December of 2010.  You'll find Day 12 : Trees in December of 2012

You will also find a Christmas activity my mother, La Fawn Holt, drew for "The Children's Friend" available for download.

Enjoy!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hebrew Terms for "Prophet"



There are several Hebrew terms used for"prophets" in the Old Testament and there were "true" ( or kosher) and "false" (or treyf) prophets in the Bible. The titles used in the text indicate whether someone was acceptable to God or not.

Acceptable or Kosher Prophets:
נָבִיא  nabi'                  prophet   (Genesis 20:7)
רֹאֶה   ro'eh                seer   (I Samuel 9:9)
חֲזֹון    chozen             visionary  (Isaiah 1:1)
אִישׁ הָאֱלֹהִֽים   'ish 'elohim man of God (I Samuel 9:10)

Unacceptable or Treyf Prophets (see Deut.18:9-14):

                qacam qacamim               diviner, soothsayer, or magician
                m'nachash          enchanter, whisperer
                m'keshef             to whisper a spell, or enchant for money
                m'onan                 to cover, or cloud over; act covertly
                chober chabar   to join, couple, fascinate with spells or enchant
                sheol "ob             to mumble, or a hollow sound; to call a father from sheol (hell)
                yada'ni            a knowing one; a conjerer or wizard
              doresh 'el-hamotim        to tread or frequent, to seek or ask or enquire after the dead

For the later rabbis, prophecy was only possible for an Israelite speaking Hebrew and living in
Eretz Israel (the Promised Land).              '

Monday, November 5, 2012

Widows, Orphans and Strangers in the Land : DONATE


Deu 10:17-18   For the LORD your God [is] God of gods, and Lord of lords, . . . He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.

Deu 14:28-29 . . . thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: . . . and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which art within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.

Deu 24:19-21  When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands.         When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.  When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.

Lev 23:22             And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.


WIDOWS : The YWCA has a wish list of items most needed by the women they serve.  Their biggest needs are new women's underclothing (all sizes), socks, and winter clothing.  You can learn more about the YWCA programs here.


 
ORPHANS:  Lincoln School is just one of the schools in the Salt Lake School District that have children who need coats, gloves, hats and boots for the coming winter season.  All sizes are welcome from toddler up to 12 years of age.  You may also contact the principal about other needs : Christine Pittam christine.pittam@slcschools.org


Donors Choose is a great program to connect people who want to donate to specific classroom needs with teachers.  You might enjoy seeing all the amazing projects teachers are in need of funding for.  You can donate DIRECTLY  through their website.



STRANGERS IN THE LAND:  The Good Samaritan Program administered by the Cathedral of the Madeline feeds about 8000 people a month.  They make sack lunches daily which are given away freely to anyone who asks.  The lunches only contain dessert when patrons donate STORE BOUGHT desserts.  You can also donate your time and help pack the lunches.






THE POOR:  Tabitha's Way, in Spanish Fork, provides wide-ranging services to the poor in Utah County.  Their 'Back to School' program provided clothing, shoes, haircuts, toothbrushes, and backpacks full of school supplies to over 600 children this year alone.  The food pantry is in need of all kinds of food: perishable fruits and veggies, staples, and canned goods (even up to 5 years PAST last date of use).
(for some reason, the links don't want to work, so go to:  http://www.chamberorganizer.com/spanishforkchamber/mem_Tabithasway/how_to_help)


Friday, November 2, 2012

Hebrew Alphabet Chart


Thanks to Amy Leach for the chart of Biblical Hebrew and it's antecedents.  She found it at the Ancient Hebrew Research Center website.

This chart is particularly useful as it shows you how the letters looked anciently and what the letter MEANS.
It also gives the names of the letters and how you transliterate them into English.

You can download the chart in color or as a black and white PDF.


It would be even more useful with the numerical values of the letters added.  You can write those in yourself.
I got this chart at Judaism 101

"Amahl and the Night Visitors" in Provo




Utah Lyric Opera will be performing Gian Carlo Menotti"s Amahl and the Night Visitors December 1st, 7:00 PM at the Covey Center Performance Hall in Provo.  It will be followed immediately by a Handel Messiah Sing-Along.

Lyric Opera is a marvelous performing group with amazing voices.  I highly recommend that you buy tickets and come enjoy a lovely evening getting into the true spirit of Christmas

New Religious Art at BYU MOA







A generous gift of Stanford C. Stoddard enabled the MOA to acquire a 19th-century marble sculpture, Isaac on the Altar (1863-64), by American Randolph Rogers. This neoclassical sculpture complements Stoddard’s earlier gift of a William Theed marble sculpture, Dismissal of Hagar and Ishmael (1881). A bronze sculpture Rebekah and Eliezer at the Well (19th c.) by Émile-Coriolan-Hippolyte Guillemin was also purchased by Stoddard to further expound on the story of Abraham and Isaac.

These new works will be on display along with other religious works, starting Monday, November 5.

​Statue above : Émile-Coriolan-Hippolyte Guillemin, Rebekah and Eliezer at the Well, bronze, polychrome-decorated brown patina, 19th c., BYU Museum of Art, Gift of Stanford C. Stoddard.

Friday, October 26, 2012

TURN : a testimony of what this word means

Sister Stephanie Smith  one of the directors of the CIA, has written the story of her conversion.  You can read it on Meridian Magazine

I don't know if she knows any Hebrew, but she certainly understands how to use the word SHUV = TURN.

"Disciples of Christ must be full participants in the community of Christ.  I recently read something that seems to me quite wise:  No one comes to church each week to find God; we come to share God—to share what we know and feel of Him, to strengthen and uplift and fortify each other.  True conversion requires not simply that we turn away from sin, but that we turn toward righteousness.  And righteousness involves turning toward others, loving them, serving them, bearing their burdens and sharing their joys.  On the path toward conversion and discipleship, I find that I must arm myself every day with prayer and scripture reading.  I was 49 when I opened the Old Testament for the first time, I’m ashamed to say.  Now I am a daily reader.  "

Well-said, Sister Smith

"Time Out for Women" Available FREE this week


SALT LAKE CITY — While tickets for the Time Out for Women's "Seek the Good" event at the Salt Palace Convention Center this Friday, Oct. 26, and Saturday, Oct. 27, are sold out, the event will be streaming live online for free. Registration is required to view the live stream at deseretbook.com/timeout/video_stream_info and those who register will receive an email with instructions.

This is the first time a Time Out for Women event has been streamed live. Also, the event will be available to registered viewers through Nov. 3 for those who might be in a different time zone or unable to view it live.

See deseretbook.com/timeout/event/214 for a list of speakers and presenters at the Salt Lake City event.

Monday, October 22, 2012

New Class Starting in Lindon



A new class is starting tomorrow in Lindon.
This will be a six week introduction to the study of the Old Testament, covering the first six weeks of material in the ongoing Old Testament classes.  

Those dates are: October 23 & 30, Nov 6,13, & 27, and Dec 4.  Note: class will NOT meet the week of Thanksgiving.

If you have friends in Utah County, let them know of this opportunity.
If you have attended any of my classes, you are welcome to come for a review.

The class will run from 11 AM - 12:30 in the chapel at 731 E Center Street, Lindon Utah.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Conference Announcement – “Mormonism And The Temple: Examining An Ancient Religious Tradition”


Margaret Barker is coming to Utah!

She will be speaking at a symposium to be held on the campus of Utah State University, in conjunction with the USU religious studies program, and hosted by Professor Philip Barlow. You can read more about the conference at the Temple Study blog.
Throughout the history of civilization, diverse societies have used temples and temple-places to both worship, and to commune with deity. This conference examines that tradition and its links with the temple tradition of the Latter-day Saints.
The newly-formed Academy for Temple Studies and the Utah State University Religious Studies program announce an important conference, to be held on October 29, 2012, on the campus of Utah State University.
The academic field of Temple Studies has grown in interest and importance among scholars in recent years, with thousands of articles and books focusing on the temple traditions of the Judeo-Christian religions alone. This is conference will interest both academic specialists and other informed students of the ancient temple — as typified by the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem — and its modern significance for and links to Mormonism.
Featured speakers (whose personal religious traditions include Methodism, Catholicism, and Mormonism) are noted for their expertise in these domains. The creative research of keynote speaker Dr. Margaret Barker has drawn attention both of critics and admirers in temple studies in England and the United States during the past generation. Additional speakers include the Reverend Dr. Laurence Hemming, Gary N. Anderson, Frederick M. Huchel, Danel Bachman, John W. Welch, and Drs. Le Grande Davies, John L. Fowles, John F. Hall, and Daniel C. Peterson.  You can read about each of the presenters here.http://www.templestudies.org/home/2012-conference/conference-presenters/
Registration for the day-long conference will be $50.00. [NOTE : in October the price was raised to @ $80 for late registrations]  Students with a valid student ID will be admitted for $20.00.
This conference marks an important milestone in Temple Studies in the United States. Seating will be limited. Call             (435) 797-1300      , to reserve your seat.
More detailed information on the conference will soon be made available.
Again, seating will be limited so call and register NOW!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fall Classes Start this week : Register Now




We will be continuing with our study of the Old Testament, starting where we left off in the spring..

Dates, time and location of classes: 

Springville:  Tuesdays, 6:30 pm
Start date: September 18- End Date December 4.

Ensign : Wednesdays 11 AM
Start date: September 19- End Date December 5

Sugar House : Wednesdays 7 PM
Start date: September 19- End Date December 5

Sandy : Thursdays 9 AM
Start date: September  20 - End Date December 6.

South Jordan: Thursdays 11 AM
Start date: September  20 - End Date December 6.

(One week TBA  in October we will not meet)

Number of weeks the class will be held. = 10 weeks

You can register for many of the Salt Lake classes online at BYU.edu.

You can register for the Springville Hobble Creek Stake class online at BYU.edu.

Addresses and contact information for all of the classes are listed online at the same links. If you have any questions, contact the class representative for the class you'd like to attend.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

More on "The Temple on Mount Zion"


































Here is the flyer for the Temple on Mt. Zion conference.  Email a copy to your friends.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

2012 Sperry Symposium in October
















A reminder of the 41st annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium at BYU.

"You Shall Have My Word: Exploring the Text of the Doctrine and Covenants"

Friday and Saturday, October 26 and 27, 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Temple on Mount Zion Conference in Provo


Saturday, 22 September, 2012, 9:15 am – 5:30 pm
3rd floor Ballroom, Provo Public Library,
550 North University Avenue, Provo, Utah 84601
We would like to announce a forthcoming conference, “The Temple on Mount Zion” to be held at the Provo Public Library on 22 September, 2012.  This conference was originally organized by Matthew Brown before his untimely passing.  The conference focuses on LDS conceptions of ancient and modern Temple theology as reflected in the Bible and LDS scripture.  We are attaching a program listing the participants and the time for their presentations, along with abstracts for each paper.
Admission to the conference is free, but seating is limited to about 300.  During the lunch hour you can bring a bag lunch to eat in conference room, or visit some of the restaurants around Center St. and University Ave, a few blocks south of the library.  The underground garage at the library is available for parking, but cars must be out at 6 pm.
Program Participants
Paper Abstracts
Please pass this information along.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fall Semester Classes Start in September



We will be continuing with our study of the Old Testament, starting where we left off in the spring..

Dates, time and location of classes: 

Springville:  Tuesdays, 6:30 pm
Start date: September 18- End Date December 4.

Ensign : Wednesdays 11 AM
Start date: September 19- End Date December 5

Sugar House : Wednesdays 7 PM
Start date: September 19- End Date December 5

Sandy : Thursdays 9 AM
Start date: September  20 - End Date December 6.

South Jordan: Thursdays 11 AM
Start date: September  20 - End Date December 6.

(One week TBA  in October we will not meet)

Number of weeks the class will be held. = 10 weeks

You can register for many of these classes online at BYU.edu.

Addresses and contact information for all of them are listed online at the same link.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Family Day at BYU Museum of Art

Today and TOMORROW (Saturday, June 16) are Family Day for the Islamic exhibit "Beauty and Belief."

 The special events, which run from 10 AM to 3 PM, include Middle Eastern music and musical instruments, dancing with scarves, how to wear the scarf, writing in Arabic, storytelling, henna designs on your hands, and two fun art projects.  The MOA cafe is serving special Middle Eastern food including a kids meal (hummus, pita and grapes). 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"God's Love For All Mankind" : First Presidency Statement

STATEMENT OF THE FIRST PRESIDENCY OF
THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS
REGARDING 
GOD'S LOVE FOR ALL MANKIND

February 15,1978

Based upon ancient and modern revelation. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gladly teaches and declares the Christian doctrine that all men and women are brothers and sisters, not only by blood relationship from common mortal progenitors but as literal spirit children of an Eternal Father.

The great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God's light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals.

The Hebrew prophets prepared the way for the coming of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, who should provide salvation for all mankind who believe in the gospel.

Consistent with these truths, we believe that God has given and will give to all peoples sufficient knowledge to help them on their way to eternal salvation, either in this life or in the life to come.

We also declare that the gospel of Jesus Christ, restored to His Church in our day, provides the only way to a mortal life of happiness and a fulness of joy forever. For those who have not received this gospel, the opportunity will come to them in the life hereafter if not in this life.

Our message therefore is one of special love and concern for the eternal welfare of all men and women, regardless of religious belief, race, or nationality, knowing that we are truly brothers and sisters because we are sons and daughters of the same Eternal Father.

[RHS note: on the FAIR site it is clear that the following 3 sentences were part of an article by the editors of FAIR and were NOT a part of the statement of the First Presidency. 


The Book of Mormon also makes this clear:

For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it (2 Nephi 29:12).

The Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have (Alma 29:8).]

RHS note: I downloaded this text here.  

I have a written copy in my possession (thanks to Jim Dosdall) which quotes all of the above, except for the final three lines about the Book of Mormon teaching.

Elder James E Faust Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles quoted this portion of the statement in a General Conference talk in April, 1980: 

'However, we claim that God’s inspiration is not limited to the members of this church. The First Presidency has stated:
“The great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God’s light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals. …
“We believe that God has given and will give to all peoples sufficient knowledge to help them on their way to eternal salvation” (Statement of the First Presidency regarding God’s Love for All Mankind, 15 Feb. 1978).'


 [Ensign,  MAY 1980 "COMMUNION WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT"; also From the April 1980 General Conference] 

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf,  then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, quoted this portion of the statement in an address entitled "Truth Restored" given at the BYU Campus Education Week on August 22, 2006.

'The First Presidency has clearly stated: “The great religious leaders of
the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as
philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of
God’s light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole
nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals.” '




Muslim Beliefs about Jesus


As requested.  Image is from this website:
http://www.understandmymuslimpeople.com/read.html.  
I cannot vouch for anything else on the site.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Islamic "Beauty and Belief" at BYU





A reminder to go and see the marvelous exhibit of Islamic art the BYU Art Museum.
Go to this link for an introduction to the exhibit by the designer, Dr Sabiha Al Khemir.

The exhibit, which opened in February and will close in September, is free and open to the general public.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Links to Floorplan of the Temple Posts

Students in the Ensign Stake class who want HANDOUTS of the illustrations of the floorplan of the temple should go to my post of March 15, 2011.

The illustrations of the linear representation of the Plan of Salvation chiasm are found in the March 18, 2011 post.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ezekiel 16 : Birth of a Nation



Eze 16:4-5  And [as for] thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple [thee]; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.
                None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the lothing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born.

In class we talked about the tragic fact that throughout history thousands and thousands (if not millions) of unwanted babies, especially girls, have been deliberately left to die in "an open field."  I gave the example of Oedipus, from Greek theater.

This is an interview with one of these baby girls: one who survived.
"10 Questions"; page 68.  Time Magazine, February 20, 2012


(This is a photograph of Fawzia Koofi, a member of the Afghan Parliment (taken by Mikhail Galustov / Michel Lafon Publishing).


As a newborn, you were left outside to die. When you survived, your mother took you in. Did you talk to her about that?
I always had sympathy for her, because as a woman in Afghanistan, she didn't want to deliver a girl. She knew girls did not receive enough care and love from the father and the family. She told me she thought the way to give me another life was for me to die. But I think after that day she understood that I have the determination to face the problems of this world.

In your new book, The Favored Daughter, you say your father spoke to you only once — to tell you to go away. Why did you admire him?
I admire my father for being a hardworking, passionate, very tough parliamentarian fighting for his people's rights. As a husband, as a father, he didn't accomplish his responsibilities very well. Would I accept him if he hadn't been killed when I was 4? I'm not sure.

How many attempts have been made on your life?
Two major attempts. One was a fight between my soldiers and Taliban. The second was an attempt to assassinate me in my campaign office. But almost every two months I get a letter from our security department warning me of death threats.

You also get marriage proposals. Which do you get more of?
There's a balance between the two, but I think people lose hope after trying to convince me to marry and then become my opponents. So I need to be careful about rejecting them.

Are you going to run for President?
If I'm alive in three years. In Afghanistan, you never know.  


Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2106494,00.html#ixzz1pFTWyuo3

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

What Commandments were on the Tablets?

Painting by Rembrandt

The King James Bible (KJV), translated from the Hebrew of the Masoretic text (MT), says that the writing on the second set of stone tablets was the SAME as God had written on the first set of tablets, which Moses broke.  


 Exodus 34: 1, "And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon [these] tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.


Joseph Smith added new information when he did the Inspired Translation (JST) of the Bible, both in Exodus and in Deuteronomy.  The JST changes are in italics.
________________________________________________________________
JST Exodus 34:1–2
 1 And the Lord said unto Moses, Hew thee two other tables of stone, like unto the first, and I will write upon them also, the words of the law, according as they were written at the first on the tables which thou brakest; but it shall not be according to the first, for I will take away the priesthood out of their midst; therefore my holy order, and the ordinances thereof, shall not go before them; for my presence shall not go up in their midst, lest I destroy them.
 2 But I will give unto them the law as at the first, but it shall be after the law of a carnal commandment; for I have sworn in my wrath, that they shall not enter into my presence, into my rest, in the days of their pilgrimage. Therefore do as I have commanded thee, and be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to me, in the top of the mount. 
__________________________________________________________________

JST Deuteronomy 10:1-4 At that time the LORD said unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto me into the mount, and make thee an ark of wood. 
2.  And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, save the words of the everlasting covenant of the holy priesthood, and thou shalt put them in the ark. 
3. And I made an ark [of] shittim wood, and hewed two tables of stone like unto the first, and went up into the mount, having the two tables in mine hand. 
4. And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the LORD spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the LORD gave them unto 

John A. Tvedtnes has written an excellent article about this called "The Higher and Lesser Laws"; it is available at the Neal A Maxwell Institute Website (aka FARMS).



Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hebrew Cosmology = Poetry




 "The Hebrew Universe: 
"The ancient Hebrews imagined the world as flat and round, covered by the great dome of the firmament which was held up by mountain pillars (Job 26.11; 37.18). Above the firmament and under the earth was water, divided by God at creation (Gen 1.6, 7; cf Pss 24.2; 148.4). The upper waters were joined with the waters of the primordial deep during the Flood; the rains were believed to fall through windows in the firmament (Gen 7.11; 8.2). The sun, moon, and stars moved across or were fixed in the firmament (Gen 1.14-19; Ps 19.4, 6). Within the earth lay Sheol, the realm of the dead (Num 16.30-33; Isa 14.9, 15).” (pg 339)  [see picture below]




"Firmament:
“The Hebrew term raqia’ suggests a thin sheet of beaten metal (cf. Exod. 39.3; Num 17.3; Jer 10.9; also Job 37.18)… Job 26.13 depicts God’s breath as the force that calmed (or ‘spread’, ‘smoothed’) the heavens. Luminaries were set in the firmament on the fourth day of creation (Gen 1.14-19). Rains were believed to fall through sluices or windows in its surface (cf. Gen 7.11).” ( pg 338-339)
— Achtemeier, Paul J (Ed). The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. (New York: HarperCollins, 1996)

Other artistic variations on a theme: how the ancients spoke of the universe in poetry.
NOTE: I just found these drawings online and I cannot vouch for the truthfulness of ANYTHING on their original websites.  Let the reader beware.







Friday, March 9, 2012

Cutting Covenants in Pictures



I have been asked to post pictures I've shown in class when we talked about 'cutting covenant."  Here are some of those pictures and the websites I got them from





Go to the sermon dated Aug 8, 2010


Exodus 24:8 And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled [it] on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.





Magen David and the Seal of Melchizedek

In Genesis 15:1, the word of the LORD came to Abram saying,  
אָנֹכִי מָגֵן לָךְ :
anochi magen lach : I [am a] shield to you.

[This is a photo of me and my brother, Doug, overlooking the ruins of Shilo - where the Tabernacle stood at the time Hannah prayed there for a son - in a Palestinian part of the Holy Land.]

It is believed that the Biblical kings had heraldic symbols to identify them to their troops and to their enemies.  The most well-known of these symbols is the Star of David, or the magen david, a symbol still used today on the national flag of Israel. 


  This calligraphic drawing of the magen (or shield) of David set inside an eight-pointed star is from the Leningrad Codex, the oldest complete manuscript of the Hebrew Bible in Hebrew, using the masoretic text and Tiberian vocalization. It is internally dated AD 1008.  In modern times, the Leningrad Codex is most important as the Hebrew text reproduced in Biblia Hebraica (1937) and Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (1977). This is the version of the MT (masoretic text) used by most scholars today.


Here you see the eight-pointed star on the altarcloth between Abel and Melchizedek.  Note the hand of God coming through the veil above them.

Many LDS scholars, including Hugh Nibley,  believe this symbol to be the magen Melchizedek or call it the seal of Melchizedek.  Recently, it has been used in the architecture of and symbolism on several LDS temples. Bryce Haymond has written about the San Diego temple in a four-part series on his blog, Temple Study.   Tim Barker has an interesting post on his blog,  LDS-Study.  A dissenting opinion is well-presented by Alonzo Gaskill here.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Covenants : Suzerain Vassal Land Grants


Throughout the Near East there are many secular documents that follow the same form as the covenant-making between God and man. 


 In Biblical scholarship, these are called Suzerain-Vassal treaties. A suzerain is a lord or king; a vassal is someone inferior who pays tribute to him or fights in his army. These treaties (or covenants) follow a standard form.


 1) The identification of the Suzerain by his name and titles (Genesis 15:1, 17:1).

2) The historical survey of the Suzerain's dealings with the vassal.  The purpose is to illustrate to the vassal how much the Suzerain has done to protect and establish the vassal who therefore owes submission and allegiance to the Suzerain (['what great things the LORD has done for His people' : I Nephi 17:23-42).

3) The next section of these treaties list the "stipulations," what the vassal is required to do and what the lord offers in return (Genesis 17:1-14).

4) There may be a requirement that the vassal deposit his copy of the treaty in his temple, where he is to occasionally read and study it to refresh his memory concerning his duties (Deuteronomy 17:17-20)

5)  Witnesses to the treaty (Isaiah 1:2) 

6) The last section of these treaties contains the blessings (if the vassal obeys) and curses (if the vassal is unfaithful) of the Suzerain (Leviticus 26).



 The treaties are written on a variety of surfaces : embossed on clay tablets, carved in stone, or engraven on metal (see above).  

The British Museum has many examples of these treaties carved on stones, which were then placed at the boundaries of the land given to the vassal by the lord.   Often, the sun, moon or stars are called as witnesses to the treaty and are carved over the heads of the parties involved.

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You can read more about these by Googling 'Suzerain-Vassal treaties.' There are interesting discussions here, here and here.