N.B. This page is beginning at verse 3 because the previous sedra, Be Har, which is extremely short, runs from Leviticus 25:1-26:2, and so it has been contained in a single blog-page. To read the text and commentary on the first two verses of this chapter, click here.
26:3 IM BE CHUKOTAI TELCHU VE ET MITSVOTAI TISHMERU VA ASIYTEM OTAM
KJ: Then I will give you
rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the
field shall yield their fruit.
BN: Then I will send the rain in its season, and the land will yield her produce, and the trees of the
field will yield their fruit.
Now we reach the real terms of the covenant: not a partnership at all, but a bullying relationship between a totalitarian god, and a people who he has already made clear in the previous chapter are his servants (note again that the word AVODAH means "slavery", but it is also used for the service of worship in the Temple, and now the synagogue). And of course, the hold he has over them, in the Mosaic epoch, before he became the god of abstract morality that he is today: fertility; the workings of Nature, and our dependence on its benevolence. We are back in the realms of the Av-Rahamic theocracy.
Two types of fertility, one male, one female. The rain comes from the sky-god, who is also the sun-god. The rain, however, can only provide nourishment to the seed, which requires the female to hatch it: the moon-goddess. In this epoch Yah and YHVH rule the heavens together, one by day, the other by night, just like Shimshon (Samson) and Delilah. YEVULAH: See my note on YOVEL in the previous chapter.
26:5 VE HISIG LACHEM DAYISH ET BATSIR U VATSIR YASIG ET ZARA VA ACHALTEM LACHMECHEM LA SOVA VIYSHAVTEM LA VETACH BE ARTSECHEM
KJ: And your threshing
shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time:
and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
BN: And you will go on threshing until the grape harvest, and harvesting the grapes until sowing time; and you will eat bread until you are satiated, and dwell in your land in safety.
DAYISH: Is this the same root that yields DISHAN, or DISHON, a name found in Genesis 36:21? That name is thought to be rooted in DUSH (דוש), which is a species of gazelle, but the link to the corn is much more likely.
Exactly the same language used by politicians at the hustings - and not the first example of this in the Torah either (cf Exodus 23:25-29 ff). Though in this case it is terribly easy to test; don't follow the ordinances and see if the fruit seeds and the corn grows anyway.
26:6 VE NATATI SHALOM BA ARETS U SHECHAVTEM VE EYN MACHARID VE HISHBATI CHAYAH RA'AH MIN HA ARETS VE CHEREV LO TA'AVOR BE ARTSECHEM
KJ: For I will have
respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my
covenant with you.
BN: And I will turn my face to you, and make you fruitful, and increase your numbers; and I will establish my covenant with you.
U PHANIYTI ALEYCHEM: I'm not sure why the King James translator went for "respect" here , which is barely even good interpretation let alone accurate translation. The key yet again is the Yevarechecha, in which YHVH promises to "turn his face to shine on us", enabling all those good things we associate with sunshine at the end of a long winter, as opposed to HISTIR PANAV, when he turns his face away from us, putting the cloud back over the sun, in order to bring the rain, but very much out of its season. It should be translated as: "And I will turn my face to you..."
BERITI: Even the terminology makes clear this is a one-sided covenant. Beriyti - my covenant. Should that not read Beriteynu - our covenant? Note also the connection between HIRBEYTI and BERIYTI, both words coming from the same root. Once again confirming that this is a covenant with a fertility god, and endorsing the view that circumcision, which is the human symbol of the covenant, was a literal clipping of the vine so that it could run to fruit.
26:10 VA ACHALTEM YASHAN NOSHAN VE YASHAN MI PENEY CHADASH TOTSIY'U
KJ: And I will set my
tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.
BN: And I will set my tabernacle among you, and my soul shall not abhor you.
NATATI: This could equally be translated "And I will make my dwelling-place among you". LO TIG'AL: Why the negative, when a positive would win so many more votes? A contemptuous dictator then, but at least a benevolent one(benevolent; not much historical evidence of beneficent). He condescends not to hate his people. Only, wait, see, just a few verses on, and he will, o yes he will.
26:12 VE HIT'HALACHTI BETOCH'CHEM VE HAYITI LACHEM LE ELOHIM VE ATEM TIHEYU LI LE AM
KJ: And I will walk among
you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.
BN: And I will walk among you, and I will be your god, and you shall be my people.
My people, but AVADIM, slaves, servants - worshippers.
Why do the translators render the future as "will" in the first parts, but "shall" in the second? I have a feeling that the word "rigour" (PHARECH - פָרֶךְ), thrice-used in the previous chapter, and translated by me there as "tyranny", may be the subtle distinction between "will" and "shall".
26:13 ANI YHVH ELOHEYCHEM ASHER HOTSE'TI ET'CHEM ME ERETS MITSRAYIM MI HEYOT LAHEM AVADIM VA ESHBOR MOTOT ULCHEM VA OLECH ET'CHEM KOMEMIYOT
KJ: I am the LORD
your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not
be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go
BN: I am YHVH your god, who brought you out of the land of Mitsrayim, that you should not be their bondsmen; and I have broken the bars of your yoke, and made you walk upright.
That you should not be their bondsmen; but so that you can be mine. One form of servitude exchanged for another. Yes, but with rainbows now. With milk and honey rainbows. Or maybe not. Because this covenant is not a mutual-consent agreement, as we are about to see.
pey break 26:14 VE IM LO TISHME'U LI VE LO TA'ASU ET KAL HA MITSVOT HA ELEH
KJ: And if ye shall
despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do
all my commandments, but that ye
break my covenant:
BN: But if you will reject my statutes, and if in your soul you hate my ordinances, to the extent so that you will not carry out all my instructions, but break my covenant...
All my commandments, note; not some - all. And "my" covenant, note, again. Not "our" covenant. A one-sided agreement, not a mutual and reciprocal agreement achieved by negotiation and collective bargaining. Indeed, not really a covenant at all. Sign, or else. Is this really the god that Mosheh brought his people to Sinai to worship? Is this really the god of the humane laws that we read earlier? Or is this another text, added later, by some Bible-bashing Prophet of the pre-exilic era, trying to frighten his people into subservience? There are so many versions of god in this Torah; and this is not one that anyone in their human dignity could ever worship. To hell with your damned covenant, if this is what it amounts to. To hell with your damned commandments. Bring me pork and then bring me famine; I'll survive, without god, on my human wits. Give me back the god of Exodus, who brought me out of Mitsrayim to make an end of slavery. Give me Kerensky, even Lenin, not this Stalin.
LEHAPHRECHEM: Yet another occasion when the case makes itself for reading the Tanach in Yehudit and not in translation. At verse 12, I couldn't resist finding an excuse to remind you of that word PHARECH, which is translated rather gently as "rigour", but is really much stronger than that, suggesting oppression and tyranny. And why did I feel justified in doing so? Because here is the same word again, in its Hiphil or Causative form; and related back to the keeping of the commandments, not to the sustaining of the covenant, which is how it is mis-translated here. YHVH is not simply warning against the breach of his commandments; he is effectively declaring any such breach an act of rebellion, resistance, revolution. And if you still think I'm overstating the matter, read his next "Tweet", in verse 16. President Trump to North Korea, August 2017:-
26:16 APH ANI E'ESEH ZOT LACHEM VE HIPHKADETI ALEYCHEM BEHALAH ET HA SHACHEPHET VE ET HA KADACHAT MECHALOT EYNAYIM U MEDIVOT NAPHESH U ZERA'TEM LARIK ZARA'CHEM VA ACHALUHU OYEVEYCHEM
KJ: I also will do this
unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning
ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow
your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
BN: And I will do this to you as well: I will send every weapon in my armoury against you, both calamity and chaos, so that your eyes become inflamed, and the breath of life in you is atrophied; and you will sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
Wonderful poetry though - the very onomatopoeia strikes terror - using a sophisticated vocabulary not witnessed before in Torah (think of the very different language between Chaucer and Shakespeare; the former at the point of emergence from the Dark Ages, when Viking and Anglo-Saxon had barely started to emerge from Celtic and Latin, the latter three hundred years of French and the sophistication of Elizabethan society later). Which of the Prophets is this? Yesha-Yahu (Isaiah) or Yechezke-El (Ezekiel) is my guess, but this needs a scholar to do the stylistic graphology (having said which, see verse 19 below, and click the multiple links there - a very strong sense that this must surely be Yesha-Yahu).
HIPHKADETI: Again the use of the Hiphil that we saw with LEHAPHRECHEM above. The root is PAKAD, not PACHAD, which would mean "fear" or "terror", but sadly the translators have it wrong again; not completely wrong, because the "hostile attack" which is the meaning of the Hiphil form of PAKAD, is intended to create optimum terror, to such a degree that we might apply the word PHARECH to it. And at the same time...
BEHALAH: ... does not mean "terror" either, though many translations use that word here. In seeking which Prophet it might be whose sermon is being ascribed here to Mosheh and/or YHVH, I note that Jeremiah 15:8 and Isaiah 65:23 both use it to mean "calamity" or "disaster", the threat of which of course induces terror...
SHACHEPHET: The disasters and calamaties are now listed, and they come like plagues in Mitsrayim rather than in military uniform. The first is from the root SHACHAPH, which has the sense of Yeats' "things fall apart", whether it be the bark of trees or the scales of fish or a human being growing ever more emaciated, whence here and in Deuteromomy 28:22 it is taken to have been consumption.
KADACHAT: To kindle or to burn, whence fever.
MECHALOT EYNAYIM: This one is straightforward; a MACHALAH is an illness or disease, and EYNAYIM are eyes.
MEDIVOT NAPHESH: Not terribly different from SHACHEPHET, except that this time it is spiritual, or whatever the ancient equivalent of psychological might have been, an attenuation of the soul, the being, the will to live; something metaphysical.
Christianity has always worked on the same principle, starting with St Paul, continued by St Augustine – frighten them with Hell, and create conditions half-way-to-Hell on Earth so that they can have a taste of what it will be like; then they'll buy into the Ponzi scheme: "invest everything in us now and we guarantee you an incredible return on that investment, at some unprovable time in the future - when the Messiah comes". Generally, Jewish ghettoes provided the exemplar.
26:17 VE NATATI PHANAI BACHEM VE NIGAPHTEM LIPHNEY OYEVEYCHEM VE RADU VACHEM SONEYCHEM VE NASTEM VE EYN RODEPH ET'CHEM
KJ: And I will set my face
against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you
shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.
BN: And I will set my face against you, and you shall be smitten before your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you; and you will flee when no one is even pursuing you.
NATATI PHANAY: Once again that third version, alongside the YEVARECHECHA and HISTIR PANAV, the reversal here of verse 9.
NIGAPHTEM: Nothing, however seemingly rude, provocative, offensive, nothing is ever written here without something in the text that bears it out and validates it, even if that makes the reading still more uncomfortable. So I stated, seeming flippantly, under SHACHEPHET, that "the disasters and calamaties" were now coming "like plagues in Mitsrayim". And so they were, because NIGAPHTEM is precisely the verb used in Exodus when YHVH sends those plagues. In Exodus 7:27 for example:
VE IM MA'EN ATAH LESHALE'ACH HINEH ANOCHI NOGEPH ET KOL GEVULCHA BA TSEPHARD'IYM
"And if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all your borders with frogs...
And in fact, the tone as well as the language used in those chapters, the threats and bullying of the Pharaoh, are virtually identical to the ones here, adding further weight to my conviction that the text of Exodus, like this one of Leviticus, owes a great deal more to the Prophets of the early 6th century BCE than they do to either Mosheh in the (? 13th ? 14th) or Ezra and the Redactor in the latter years of the 5th century BCE.
RADU ... SONEYCHEM ... NASTEM: I imagine the poor little kid in the corner of the playground hearing this from the senior bully: and we're going to put frogs in your bed, and worms in your schoolbag and force you to listen to Bruce Springsteen and watch Fox News…
26:18 VE IM AD ELEH LO TISHME'U LI VE YASAPHTI LE YASRAH ET'CHEM SHEVA AL CHAT'OTEYCHEM
KJ: And if ye will not yet
for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your
BN: And if, even after all these things, you still will not listen to me, then I will chastise you seven times more for your sins.
The terms of this same relationship have been described with extraordinary lucidity, by Edward Said in his book "Orientalism", though he was actually writing about the relationship between the coloniser and the colony; or indeed, the one described by Dostoievski in his story of "The Grand Inquisitor". I will rule you for your own good, and I will be the definer of that good, and if you fail to obey, I will punish you for your own good. And your job in this? To accept my rule, and to collaborate in your own victimhood. Divine imperialism! Not difficult to compile a list of despots ruling countries today who fit this description to a pharech.
KJ: And I will break the
pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as
BN: And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass.
Too gorgeously poetical to re-translate, so let me simply explain it through exegesis:
GE'ON: Really means "sovereignty" or "majesty" (Exodus 15:7, Isaiah 2:10, 2:19, 2:21, Job 37:4 et al) but came to be used metaphorically as "ornament", "glory", "splendour" (Isaiah 4:2, Amos 8:7, Jeremiah 12:5 et al); and from there developed to mean "pride" and even "arrogance" (Proverbs 16:18, Nahum 2:2, Job 35:12 et al) - which assists the dating of this verse. Once it entered Yiddish in mediaeval times the word found yet another growth, a "ga'on" being the "pride" of the family or the community: a genius, or at the very least an extremely wise person, usually in the sense of being gifted in knowledge of Torah. This is immensely ironic: he who is most observant in the commandments becomes "ga'on", where in this original usage it is "ga'on-ness" that will be destroyed for failing to keep the commandments.
BARZEL: Eventually, if we are patient enough, something in the text, even just a single word, will give away, not just the dating of that verse or phrase, as with GE'ON here, but also the stages of development of the verse or phrase, because these are stories that were recounted again and again for a thousand years, and stories change with time and context, as language changes, and ideas. So these verses may well have started as Mosheh, but we can hear other voices, speaking in different dialects, offering their own internal commentary, redirecting the text to the needs of their own agenda. And sometimes we can pin down a moment very precisely. So, here: The Book of Samuel (4:1) will record, several centuries after Mosheh, the fear and trepidation in the court of King Sha'ul, when reinforcements start arriving by boat from Kaprisin (Cyprus), bringing some new-fangled materials that are rendering the Pelishtim (Philistines) unvanquishable; and then the attempts by Sha'ul (Saul) to buy or steal it for the Beney Yisra-El to use (I have written about this at length in Part One of "City of Peace"). Iron. Yet here it is in the Torah, attributed to Mosheh fully thee hundred years before it was known in that part of the world.
NECHUSHAH: But we also need to recognise this figurative language as such, because figurative language is almost never used in the Torah; this, again, is the language of the Prophets, with the stand-out example of precisely these figures of speech the opening of the Book of Yechezke-El (Ezekiel), where he sees "a radiance like brass – ke eyn chasmal" and creatures with feet that "sparkled like the colour of burnished brass – ke eyn nechoshet kalal". NECHOSHET, brass, was the principal metal of the day, before iron supplanted it; Mosheh's caduceus pole, his staff of office, his banner, was named NECHUSHTAN - the brass serpent. But for iron and brass to appear in the same sentence, and in the form of a prophecy of destruction for disobedience that is precisely the manner of the Prophets, gives us yet another date for the text: not earlier than the 8th century BCE, and quite probably as much as three centuries later. And just to be clear, this does not date the text finally, it simply notes that the final text was created by amalgamating various previous texts (oral more than written), and the methodology I have used above enables us to identify some of those component parts.
26:20 VE TAM LARIK KOCHACHEM VE LO TITEN ARTSECHEM ET YEVULAH VE ETS HA ARETS LO YITEN PIRYO
KJ: And if ye walk
contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more
plagues upon you according to your sins.
BN: And if you wilfully oppose me, and refuse to listen to me, I will bring seven times more plagues on you according to your sins.
A statement that seems to indicate that there were originally only seven plagues in Mitsrayim (Egypt); which of course is logical, in the cult of YHVH. And if there were only seven, which of the ten do we rule out? This is worth going back and examining, because in fact it's very easy to work out.
But there is an equally good argument for there having been twelve plagues (in an Arthurian, Jesuitic, Davidic, amphictyonic cult there would have to be) - it entirely depends on which pantheon of gods is at the heart of which "plague" liturgy. Thus a case could also be made for eight, because at one point of Egyptian history the pantheon was eight - the Ogdoad; or for nine, from the epoch of the Ennead).
The statement also confirms that the reason for the plagues was the atonement for sin, which itself confirms what we indicated about the Sinaic journey, that it was not a flight for freedom, but the re-institution of an ancient annual pilgrimage, the primal Yom Kippur as part of the spring harvest.
KJ: And if ye will not be
reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me;
BN: And if, in spite of all these things, you still will not do what I have told you is correct, but continue to oppose me....
This idea of "walking" inverts the concept of the good men, Av-Ram and others, who we were told "walked with YHVH". From it comes the construct Halachah, which is the technical term for the laws, rules, ceremonies, rites and regulations of the Jewish way of life. It is to this that Jesus is probably referring when he says "I am the Way" - though he may have been intending an allusion to Zoroastrianism, whose principal deity Ahura Mazda uses the same phrase: "I am the Light, I am the Way"; priests of Zoroaster (Magi) were present at his birth, according to Matthew 2. 26:24 VE HALACHTI APH ANI IMACHEM BE KERI VE HIKEYTI ET'CHEM GAM ANI SHEVA AL CHAT'OTEYCHEM
KJ: Then will I also walk
contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.
BN: Then I will also continue to oppose you; and I will smite you - yes, I, me - seven times for your sins.
SEVEN again. But is this is the original seven, the seven times seven of verse 21, or yet a further seven? 26:25 VE HEVE'TI ALEYCHEM CHEREV NOKEMET NEKAM BERIT VE NE'ESAPHTEM AL AREYCHEM VE SHILACHTI DEVER BETOCH'CHEM VE NITATEM BE YAD OYEV
KJ: And I will bring a
sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant:
and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence
among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.
BN: And I will bring a sword upon you, which will execute the vengeance of the covenant; and you shall be gathered together within your cities; and I will send the plague among you; and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.
Whichever Prophet it was who wrote this fire-and-brimstone rant, he must surely have been aware of the significance of the word CHEREV, because it was precisely the CHEREV HA MIT-HAPHECHET, the flaming sword (the original swastika... shhhh!), that YHVH placed at the entrance to the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24); and immediately before that, though somewhat briefer, a similar set of curses upon Adam and Chava (Eve) for their willful failure to obey the commandments.
At the time of the plagues in Mitsrayim (Exodus 7:14-11:10), I commented that the plagues appeared to be liturgical rather than literal, that they belonged to some sort of mummers' play in the style of the Dionysos festival of Greece. We seem to have returned to that same territory throughout these last few chapters; and here explicitly, with the DEVER or pestilence (see my notes to Exodus 9:3).
Jesus quotes this verse in his "I come, not to bring peace, but a sword", in Matthew 10:34.
26:26 BE SHIVRI LACHEM MATEH LECHEM VE APHU ESER NASIM LACHMECHEM BE TANUR ECHAD VE HESHIYVU LACHMECHEM BA MISHKAL VA ACHALTEM VE LO TISBA'U
KJ: And when I have
broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven,
and they shall deliver you your bread
again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied.
BN: When I break your staff of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver your bread again by weight; and you shall eat, but not be satisfied.
The phrasing of this verse is strongly reminiscent of the Book of Baruch, thought to have been Yirme-Yahu's (Jeremiah's) scribe, though probably the book that bears his name was not written until early Maccabean times and attributed to Baruch in the same way that Moses de Leon attributed his Zohar to Shimon bar Yochai.
samech break 26:27 VE IM BE ZOT LO TISHME'U LI VA HALACHTEM IMI BE KERI
KJ: And if ye will not for
all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me;
BN: And if you will still not listen to me, but continue to oppose me...
Boy, is the volcano blowing its top! Or pehaps it's the avalanche, streaming down the mountain; the tornado howling; the typhoon storming; the hurricane, ripping through the shanty towns; the Nile, in full flood; black clouds over Himavant; the jungle crouching. Then spoke the thunder... At some point he must surely stop and consider that, if after all this they still won't follow him the way he wants, then maybe he should look for another people to be god to; or maybe he should recognise that the terms of his covenant just won't work for humankind, and try to create a covenant that might. The two paragraphs above are not mutually contradictory; they simply describe the human dilemma, which is Life, which is Nature, which is Theology, which is Science.
26:28 VE HALACHTI IMACHEM BA CHAMAT KERI VE YISARTI ET'CHEM APH ANI SHEVA AL CHAT'OTEYCHEM
KJ: Then I will walk
contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times
for your sins.
BN: Then I will also continue to oppose you, and in fury now; and I will chastise you in my anger seven times for your sins.
Is this the same additional seven as before, or another seven on top of those? And indeed, another seven beyond the seven I asked about in verse 24. Note that the opening phrase is virtually identical to verse 24, save only the addition of CHAMAT - "fury" - or actually "great heat": we are still at volcanic Sinai.
APH ANI: a play on words? It could mean "even I", echoing the GAM ANI - "yes, I, me" - of verse 24; which is how King James translates it; but don't forget the "inflamed nostrils" of the deity, which are being propitiated through the "sweet savour" of the burnt offerings (see Exodus 32:10 and 32:19 for two perfect examples).
26:29 VA ACHALTEM BESAR BENEYCHEM U VESAR BENOTEYCHEM TO'CHELU
KJ: And ye shall eat the
flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.
BN: And you shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall you eat.
Hopefully this means "eat their flesh" in the eucharistic manner, as good Christians do, symbolically; alas, this hope is in vain: the text really does intend cannibalism, and the fact that it does so, entering thereby the deepest abyss of Prophetic language, tells us again that we are in the Prophetic realm, this time specifically Yechezke-El's (Ezekiel's) dry bones - long, long after Mosheh, though not necessarily Yechezke-El himself: his style is somewhat different (the constant plays on HALACHTEM and ACHALTEM; the excessive repetition...). The final chapters of Yesha-Yahu (Isaiah) are also worth comparing.
26:30 VE HISHMADETI ET BAMOTEYCHEM VE HICHARTI ET CHAMANEYCHEM VE NATATI ET PIGREYCHEM AL PIGREY GILULEYCHEM VE GA'ALAH NAPHSHI ET'CHEM
KJ: And I will destroy
your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the
carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.
BN: And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your sun-pillars, and cast your carcasses upon the carcasses of your idols; and my soul shall abhor you.
CHAMANEYCHEM: A second piece of clear evidence for dating. A CHAMAN was actually a stone bust of the sun god and not a sun-pillar, but leave that slight mis-translation aside; more importantly - it was Persian (Median, not Eylamite or Iranian), and came into Yisra-Eli mythology only at the time of the exile in Babylon, when the Babylonian conquerors were themselves defeated by the Median, and Koresh (Cyrus) the Great enabled the Yehudim to return to Yisra-El. The Persian New Year myth of Ishtar and Marduk, which includes the worshipping of Marduk the sun-god in the form of a Chaman, returned with the exiles in a variant form, as the Purim tale of Esther and Mordechai and Haman.
We have noted various references or hints in the earlier verses of this chapter to early chapters of Genesis, and this may not be coincidence, for the first Creation myth, as I have demonstrated, was itself of Persian origin. Was Leviticus, or at least this chapter of Leviticus, a writing from that era then, and not Ezraic as I have suggested from just a single hint of phrasing that might perhaps be Baruch? Though if it really was Baruch, Yirme-Yahu's scribe...
26:31 VE NATATI ET AREYCHEM CHARBAH VA HASHIMOTI ET MIKDESHEYCHEM VE LO ARIYACH BE REYACH NIYCHO'CHACHEM
KJ: And I will bring the
land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished
BN: And I will reduce the land to a state of desolation; and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it.
And of course, if this is preaching in Babylon, then it isn't future-predictive at all, but an attempt to explain why the people ended up conquered and in exile; and very useful to Ezra when he starts to impose this new god, and new Torah, on that vast mix of peoples and cults who are about to become the new Yisra-El under his leadership.
26:33 VE ET'CHEM EZAREH VA GOYIM VA HARIYKOTI ACHAREYCHEM CHAREV VE HAYETAH ARTSECHEM SHEMAMAH VE AREYCHEM YIHEYU CHARBAH
KJ: And I will scatter you
among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be
desolate, and your cities waste.
BN: And I will disperse all of you among the nations, and I will draw the sword out in pursuit of you; and your land shall be desolate, and your cities shall be laid waste.
EZAREH: I am struck that no translation (none that I have found anyway) has chosen the verb that I have chosen. Technically, of course, the Diaspora is the Tefutsah, and not from the root that gives EZAREH here; but nonetheless... CHARBAH: from the same root as CHEREV. In which case, literally, "put to the sword". And again, preaching this in the exile in Babylon has a power that is palpable, much stronger than the boredom of another Jeremiac Saturday morning Devar Torah, in the peace and comfort of a secure and prosperous Yisra-El.
26:34 AZ TIRTSEH HA ARETS ET SHABTOTEYHA KOL YEMEY HASHAMAH VE ATEM BE ERETS OYEVEYCHEM AZ TISHBAT HA ARETS VE HIRTSAT ET SHABTOTEYHA
KJ: Then shall the land
enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your
enemies' land; even then
shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths.
BN: Then the land will accept her Sabbaths willingly, for as long as she lies desolate, and you are in your enemies' land; even then shall the land rest, and accept her sabbaths willingly.
This is not about the land "enjoying" the Sabbath. It is the concept of RATSON that we have discussed previously: the sacrificial beast must go "willingly" to slaughter, and the bringer must bring it "willingly"; so the land, with its year of rest, the Jubilee. When the people "opposed" the ways of the deity, working the land too hard, without a weekly or septennial sabbath, was one of the "sins"; but now the land is in a state of permanent rest: reduced to the desert of desolation, producing not so much as a weed. Infertility, the ultimate weapon of a fertility cult!
26:35 KOL YEMEY HASHAMAH TISHBOT ET ASHER LO SHAVTAH BE SHABTOTEYCHEM BE SHIVTECHEM ALEYHA
KJ: And upon them that are
left alive of you I
will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the
sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a
sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth.
BN: And as for those that are left of you, I will put faintness in their heart in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a driven leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as one flees from the sword; and they shall fall when no one is pursuing.
Both the translation and the punctuation in the Yehudit text are awkward.
As it goes on, we become more and more convinced that this must be a later Prophet speaking, from the tone, but especially the vocabulary, which has no parallel or precedent anywhere else in Torah, or even in the Books of Joshua and Judges. To claim this is authentic to the age of Torah would be like finding references to the Internet in the plays of Shakespeare – sorry, not possible. But it isn't just the language - it is the need for this, in Ezra's time, and the absence of need for it, in Mosheh's. A leader who is confident in his authority, and his support, does not need to lock up the opposition - this onslaught is the religious equivalent.
26:37 VA CHASHLU ISH BE ACHIV KE MIPNEY CHEREV VE RODEPH AYIN VE LO TIHEYEH LACHEM TEKUMAH LIPHNEY OYEVEYCHEM
KJ: And ye shall perish
among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.
BN: And you shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.
There are those who explain the one thousand eight hundred and seventy-eight years of exile and diaspora between the fall of the Third Temple in 70 CE and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, as the fulfillment of these verses and a statement of the level of sin perpetrated by the Beney Yisra-El over the preceding centuries. (I commented on this in the previous chapter, in speaking about PHANAI). The trouble with this take on history is that it allows those who perpetrated the pogroms, the auto-da-fes, the Holocuast, to abrogate responsibility.
26:39 VE HA NISHARIM BACHEM YIMAKU BA AVONAM BE ARTSOT OYEVEYCHEM VE APH BA AVONAT AVOTAM ITAM YIMAKU
KJ: And they that are left
of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies' lands; and also in
the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.
BN: And those who are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies' lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away.
Once again I feel I am hearing some later prophet in Babylon, regaling the people, telling them this was predicted, Mosheh and YHVH told us this would happen, it's your own fault - and using it to prevail on them to return to Yehudah with Zeru-Bavel, to rebuild the land, Yeru-Shalayim, the Temple, to re-establish the covenant and keep it properly - and about 75% of the exiles rejected it, preferring to stay among the fleshpots of Bav-El.
26:40 VE HITVADU ET AVONAM VE ET AVON AVOTAM BE MA'ALAM ASHER MA'ALU VI VE APH ASHER HALCHU IMI BE KERI
KJ: If they shall confess
their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which
they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me;
BN: And they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, in the treachery which they committed against me, as shall they who have continued to rebel against me.
MA'ALU VI: Several Yehudit versions have this as a single word (MA'ALUVI). This is a typographic error (and quite probably some websites have simply copied-and-pasted the one with the error, and never bothered to proofread). Others hyphenate the two words (מָעֲלוּ-בִי), which is how you will find it in the original-original (click here to see it). To assist in understanding, TheBibleNet has eliminated all hyphens except those where two words are joined by hyphen to make one (Gal-Ed, Av-Raham, Beit-Lechem, Avi-Melech etc)
26:41 APH ANI ELECH IMAM BE KERI VE HEVE'TI OTAM BE ERETS OYEVEYHEM O AZ YIKANA LEVAVAM HE AREL VE AZ YIRTSU ET AVONAM
KJ: And that I also
have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their
enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of
the punishment of their iniquity:
BN: But I will also oppose those who oppose me, and I will bring them into the land of their enemies; if then, per chance, their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they then accept the consequences of their errors...
26:42 VE ZACHARTI ET BERITI YA'AKOV VE APH ET BERITI YITSCHAK VE APH ET BERITI AV-RAHAM EZKOR VE HA ARETS EZKOR
KJ: Then will I remember
my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant
with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.
BN: Then I will remember my covenant with Ya'akov, and also my covenant with Yitshak, and also my covenant with Av-Raham will I remember; and I will remember the land.
Why are the patriarchs mentioned in reverse order? And why remember these covenants now, especially as their terms are so different from the ones that have just been described here? And was there ever actually a covenant with Yitschak in the first place?
26:43 VE HA ARETS TE'AZEV ME HEM VE TIRETS ET SHABTOTEYHA BA HESHAMAH ME HEM VE HEM YIRTSU ET AVONAM YA'AN U VE YA'AN BE MISHPATAI MA'ASU VE ET CHUKOTAI GA'ALAH NAPHSHAM
KJ: The land also shall be
left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without
them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even
because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my
BN: And in the meanwhle the land that has been abandoned by them shall lie fallow, and it will take its Sabbaths willingly; and they shall receive the consequences of their iniquity; because, precisely because they rejected my ordinances, and their souls abhorred my statutes.
26:44 VE APH GAM ZOT BI HEYOTAM BE ERETS OYEVEYCHEM LO ME'ASTIM VE LO GE'ALTIM LECHALOTAM LEHAPHER BERITI ITAM KI ANI YHVH ELOHEYHEM
KJ: And yet for all that,
when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither
will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them:
for I am the LORD
BN: And yet, for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I hate them so much that I will destroy them altogether, and break my covenant with them; for I am YHVH their god.
LO ME'ASTIM VE LO GE'ALTIM: A highly poetical form of grammar that has no parallel elsewhere in the Torah, but many parallels in the later books of the Tanach.
We can also read in these splenetic verses how very far the Yisra-Eli concept of god had evolved over the centuries, the Nature-god of Creation and fertility at the beginning of this tirade more or less replaced by the god of law and (a)morality at the end.
26:45 VE ZACHARTI LAHEM BERIT RI'SHONIM ASHER HOTSE'TI OTAM ME ERETS MITSRAYIM LE EYNEY HA GOYIM LIHEYOT LAHEM LE ELOHIM ANI YHVH
KJ: But I will for their
sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the
land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.
BN: But for their sakes I will remember my covenant with their ancestors, who I brought forth out of the land of Mitsrayim in the sight of the nations, that I might be their god: I am YHVH.
The switch from "you" to "them" merits some commentary. As though YHVH has disowned his own chosen people. But note the phrasing: this is a Mosaic text, addressed to the Beney Yisra-El during the desert wanderings: "their ancestors" is also the live audience (see the next verse). Should we not expect Mosheh, if it is Mosheh, and this is a pulpit sermon to drive his people to accept the renewed covenant, should we not expect him to say "you", at some point?
26:46 ELEH HA CHUKIM VE HA MISHPATIM VE HA TOROT ASHER NATAN YHVH BEYNO U VEYN BENEY YISRA-EL BE HAR SINAI BE YAD MOSHEH
KJ: These are the
statutes and judgments and laws, which the LORD made between him and the
children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.
BN: These are the statutes and ordinances and laws, which YHVH made between himself and the Beney Yisra-El on Mount Sinai through the hand of Mosheh.
And then this most sublimely neutral and bathetic closing verse, a reassuring hug from the Papa Grande, a change of tone so total it makes us feel that all the remainder should have been in quotation marks, and this last a mere stage-direction at the end of the script, or the voice of the anchor-man in the studio interjecting in perfect BBC nondescript: "that was a party political broadcast on behalf of the God Is Likely To Be Very Angry party", or "you have been listening to a recording of the sermon by Isaiah on Mount Ebal last Thursday; download the full podcast at @Isaiah.tweet."