Who was Rahab, what was her significance to the Hebrew narrative, and what does her story tell about the character of the protagonist?

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Reading through Joshua this week, a blog topic practically jumped off the page! The passage that initially struck my interest was Joshua 2:1, “Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there”. Having heard this story many times, I was pretty familiar with the character of Rahab. My familiarity was very one-sided. Growing up in the “Bible belt”, I was only taught the surface of this story. Looking at the Bible from a literary perspective made this passage full of potential questions. Who was Rahab? What was her significance to the Hebrew narrative as a whole? What do the authors want the reader to understand about the protagonist from her story?

The first question was the easiest to answer. From the text we know that she had family within the city, but we do not no anything else about them except that they will be spared because of Rahab’s courage. Her home was within the outer wall of Jericho and this location will be the eventual sanctuary for the spies of Yahweh. The most notable characteristic of this woman, however, is her job. As a major helper in the advancement of God’s chosen people, one would assume she has a very respectable job. Nope. She’s a prostitute, a harlot, a lady of the evening. The words prostitute and harlot have a very negative connotation. Biblegateway.com states that, “Three times over Rahab is referred to as “the harlot,” and the Hebrew term zoonah and the Greek word porne have at no time meant anything else but “harlot”—a woman who yields herself indiscriminately to every man approaching her”. (biblegateway.com) However, according to Jerold Aust of UCG.org, Halley’s Bible Handbook suggests she may have been a temple prostitute, which in Canaanite eyes was an acceptable line of work (2000, p. 190)“(UCG.org)  Maybe her job’s negative connotation was dependent on the cultural perspective you ascribe to. Aust goes on to say that, “Besides her infamous profession, it appears that Rahab engaged in less-questionable labor as well. Either raising or buying flax, she dried it on her rooftop and made linen from it”.(UCG.org) Aust helps the reader see a possible alternative lifestyle for Rahab. It is possible, that within her own culture, she was a perfectly respectable woman of the day. Either way, this woman risks her life to hide and aid the Israelite spies and even goes on to become a wife to one of them and it from her line that Jesus Christ will eventually come.

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So,what is this woman’s significance? How can this woman, especially a prostitute, be mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus Christ? In our society it’s not odd to read a woman’s name in a genealogy. In fact, I normally read right over it without giving it a second thought; until now. Looking at this idea from a literary perspective, you have to understand the role of women in that culture. According to Judith Baskin of myjewishlearning.com, the, “woman is a subsequent and secondary creation, formed from man’s body to fulfill male needs for companionship and progeny“.(myjewishlearning.com) The authors at Bible-history.com go a bit further and state, “In ancient Israel the Jewish culture was one of the most male dominant cultures in the whole world. In ancient Judaism the woman only had rights in the home and even that was very limited. The man had authority over his wife and daughters establishing their activities and their relationships. Women were passed from the control of her father to the control of her husband with little or no say in the matter. They were sold for a dowry settlement usually when they came of age. The Mishnah taught that a woman was like a gentile slave who could be obtained by intercourse, money or writ (m. Qidd 1:1).(bible-history.com) These two ideas paint a very sad, miserable picture of the ancient role of women for this culture. However, can this all be true if a woman plays such a big role in the narrative?

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The answers to this question, I believe, are what the author is trying to point out with this episode. I believe the author is trying to show not only the future generations but current ones that women were important. Rahab’s story is significant to the narrative and culture of these people as a whole because it illustrates that women can be used by Yahweh for more than childbearing and keeping the house. Another thing the author shows us here is a deeper look into the nature of the protagonist. By using not only a woman, but a sinful woman, we see that Yahweh can use and transform anyone. Rahab shows the Hebrew people and eventually the Christian people that the protagonist can work through anyone. We see this same idea in Moses. He did not believe that he was worthy or even capable of being Yahweh’s messenger to Pharaoh. The protagonist, however, pushed him and he became one of the most prominent figures in the Old Testament. Essentially, Rahab is the female counterpart to this idea.

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In conclusion, Rahab’s mentioning is very significant to the Hebrew narrative. Firstly, she is significant because she shows that women can be used as integral pieces of Yahweh’s plan. Secondly, she is important because not only shows women can be used, but that sinful women can be used. Her being a sinful woman, gives way to the notion that ANYONE can be used by the protagonist. In a male dominated culture, especially one so focused on being holy and obedient to Yahweh, Rahab is essentially the worst of the worst and it is from her line that Jesus Christ himself is born.

 

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Gomorrah, California: A Biblical Big Bang Theory Alluison

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Most people have shows they DVR and watch religiously. For me, The Big Bang Theory is one of those shows. The show depicts daily like for four male scientists working at Cal Tech and their significant others. This series is filled with hilarity and it does not kill brain cells. That’s right! You can actually learn random, true, facts from this show! Yay knowledge!

Throughout the series we are introduced to several smaller characters. These people seem to pop in and out of episodes on a whim and are not considered to be “main” characters. One of these such characters is Sheldon Cooper’s mother, Mary Cooper. Mary Cooper is a deeply religious woman from the great state of Texas. She is very conservative and also very verbal on her opinions. For instance, she states that, “Well, I can’t spend 12 thousand dollars on a handbag, but it’s free to look upon those who do with righteous condemnation”. She also says, “You’re missing out; it’s going to be wall-to-wall fun; it’s all themed. There’s Jonah and the Whale-watching. All you can eat Last Supper buffet. And, my personal favorite, Gunning with God”. These are just two quotations that show just how openly religious this woman is.

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The quote I would like to concentrate on is from an episode entitled, “The Rhinitis Revelation”. In this episode, Mary Cooper comes to town to visit Sheldon and his friends for a few days. She gets into a fight with her son and spends most of her time sight seeing with his friends. One of the sights they visit is a church. In this church she encourages all those in her company to pray. She starts her pray by saying, “It’s easy. I’ll show you how. Lord, Mary Cooper here. Coming to you from Gomorrah, California”. Her reference to Hollywood as “Gomorrah”, brings to mind several different ideas that add to scene and her characterization as a whole. This entire scene within the church shows the intent of the writers, producers, etc., to portray Mary Cooper as a member of the “bible belt”. Even with out the reference to Gomorrah, we still get that same picture. So why is this reference made?

This reference adds to the episode because it gives the watcher a deeper view into the Psyche of Mary Cooper. Through this small, seemingly insignificant line, we see how shes views this particular city. In the book of Genesis we see the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. These were obvious cities of disobedience to God and sexual abominations. This city was ultimately destroyed by the same God that Mary Cooper worships. The fact that she would refer to Hollywood as “Gomorrah”, California, shows that she equates that city with sexual abominations and a general way of life that is against her God. It also shows the viewer this character’s judgmental nature and how critical she is of people who live in a different manner than what she deems fit.

In conclusion, when watching our favorite shows or listening to our favorite songs, if we’re looking carefully we can find a biblical “easter egg” that will lead to a better understanding of the song, show, or even book. The reference to Gomorrah in the Big Bang Theory, shows not only the type of place the character views Hollywood, but also develops her character by hinting at a possible judgmental and critical nature.

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What was the significance of the numerology of 12 and 40 for the Hebrew narrative?

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Reading through Deuteronomy this week I noticed several numbers being repeated. What was the significance of certain numbers being repeated? Was this a coincidence or did they have a symbolic significance to the Hebrew people? Numerology is something that has always been interesting to me so I decided to base this week’s blog around it. Specifically I want to look at the significance of the numbers twelve (Deut 1:23) and forty (Deut 10:10) to the Hebrew culture and how do they advance the narrative?

First, let’s consider the number 12. The most significant and widely known occurrence of this number in the Old Testament is the institution of the twelve tribes of Israel. The question is why twelve? Why not another biblically important number like 7 or 4? The simplest answer to the significance of the number of tribes is that there were twelve sons of Israel. Is there any other reason hidden below the surface? I believe that there most definitely is a deeper meaning.

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According to numerology, certain numbers represent or symbolism ideas. Listverse.com explains that the number twelve represents, “a kind of totality(listverse.com) . This idea correlates perfectly with the Hebrew narrative. Since each tribe was given a specific function with the collective whole of the Israelite people, it gives way to the image of puzzle pieces working together to make a picture. Mary Fairchild of Christianity.about.com, has a related, but different opinion. She infers that it, “relates to divine government” (christianity.about.com).  This theory is also very applicable as well. Each tribe has its own heads and miniature forms of government to make sure each group was doing their part. I believe Fairchild’s opinion is the most accurate, however, I also believe it’s important to put both interpretations together in order to establish the most accurate portrayal of the significance of the number twelve. When combined we gain a better understanding of why there were twelve tribes of Israel. The combination suggests a divine perfection or totality of government established through this group of men. This number will also further the narrative later when the twelve apostles are established. Since a lot of the newly converted christians were former Jews, they will understand the correlation of the apostles to the twelve tribes and will therefore attach with these men the divine authority that was also associated with the twelve tribes.

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My next question is in regards to the significance behind the number forty. This number is much more repetitive throughout the Old Testament than twelve. For instance, during the great flood, it rained for forty days and forty nights, the Israelites wondered in the wilderness for forty years, and Moses was on Mount Sinai for forty days waiting on instruction from the protagonist. All of these instances lead to huge peaks in the narrative and therefore must be significant. So why forty? What does this numeral represent? According to biblestudy.org, the number forty represents, ” a period of testing, trial or probation“(biblestudy.org). This assessment fits the majority of the scenes above, but what about the flood?

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According to Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis of myjewishlearning.com, forty is, “designating a time of radical transition or transformation” (myjewishlearning.com). Authors, at ridingthebeast.com, go on to state that it generally represents, “a new chapter of the history of the salvation” (ridingthebeast.com). These ideas go hand-in-hand and are seen in all scenes showing the significance of the numeral forty. During the “great flood”, it rained for forty days and nights. The use of forty here shows that there was not only a radical transition, in that the majority of the world was killed by the protagonist, but also that there was a new chapter for the Hebrews, in which God gave humanity another chance to start fresh with a small generation of believers. Later in the narrative, Moses stays on Mount Sinai preparing for the ten commandments for forty days. Again we see a radical transformation and a new chapter, because for the first time there are official, “set in stone” laws for the people to abide by. We read again how the people wandered the desert for forty years only for the majority of them to die and never see the promised land. This episode is similar to the “great flood”. Again, the majority of the people (here just the hebrews, not worldwide) die so that a new, more obedient generation can start over. This number will also advance the narrative in the New Testament. These ideas based on the numerology of forty will add a greater meaning for the Christ to be tempted for forty days. Not only do we see this as an obvious period of testing but shortly after this episode, he is crucified. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ marked the beginning of a huge chapter in the narrative with regards to salvation.

In conclusion, it is important to consider the symbolism behind the prominent numbers throughout the Old Testament. By studying the numerology, the reader will gain a deeper understanding of the text as well as the Hebrew culture. Through this method, we see a possible meaning behind there being twelve tribes as opposed to seven or ten. Twelve may have been chosen to represent that the protagonist had made a perfect, complete government through these men. We can also conclude that the number forty also has great meaning. It can represent not only a period of tribulation or of faith being testing, but also of a radical change that would bring about a new development in the Hebrew narrative with concern for the salvation of mankind. These two numbers also have a huge significance in the New Testament and give way to a better understanding of things to come.

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What is the significance of the consecration ceremony of Aaron and his sons with particular emphasis on Leviticus 8:23?

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Reading through Leviticus was quite a daunting task for me. There was a lot of repetition and I found it difficult to be particularly struck by any one instance or passage until, however, I came upon Leviticus 8:23 which states,” Moses slaughtered the ram and took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot.“(Biblehub). After reading that, I was wonder-struck.  What on Earth just happened? If you read this passage and were not confused you are crazy in my opinion! I was just completely caught off guard. I was following the idea of blood being put on Aaron, but the placement made no sense to me after merely reading it. I became absolutely DETERMINED to decipher the craziness found in this ceremony.

After a little bit of research, it became obvious that in order to understand this verse you have to look at the ceremony as a whole to some extent. So, for the sake of going in logical order, let’s look at the definition of consecration in order to determine the purpose for the ceremony to begin with. According to Dictionary.reference.com the word consecration means, “to make or declare sacred; set apart or dedicate to the service of adeity‘ (Dictionary.reference.com) This definition helps give purpose to the actions about to take place in the text. This ceremony was to set these men apart from other men. These men were to “sacred” or God focused rather than focused on the things of the world.

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This idea of being “set apart” is supported by Douglas Jacoby. Jacoby believes that this verse’s meaning is universal to modern Christians, but for the purpose of this blog let’s just concentrate on his theorized meaning and not who he meant it for. He believes there is a specific purpose for each extremity. First off he explains the ear lobe’s significance by saying that they were supposed to be, “holy in the things we listen to–what goes into our head”. He goes into specifics of that by including, “avoiding worldly thinking, gossip, etc“. Next he explains the purpose of the hand was to show the need to be, “holy in our actions, not using our hands to sin“. Lastly he theorizes that the foot intended to symbolize the need to be, “holy in the places we go, not walking into temptation or darkness” (DouglasJacoby.com) Similarly, David Guzik’s theory is about a differentiation in lifestyle. Guzik states, “They should hear differently because the blood was on their ear. They should work differently because the blood was on their thumb. They should walk differently because the blood was on their toe.” (enduringword.com) I believe both Jacoby and Guzik’s explanations go perfectly with idea of being set apart, because it emphasizes the importance of using these body parts for Yahweh. There is no mention of self, but instead a concentration on a life that is dedicated to the protagonist only. That was exactly the life these men would be expected to live and therefore did this ceremony as a physical sign of there commitment and sacredness.

Similarly, Aaron McCarter believes that, “The putting the blood of the sacrifice on the tip of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the great toe of the right foot, was doubtless intended to signify that they should dedicate all their faculties and powers to the service of God; their ears to the hearing and study of his law, their hands to diligence in the sacred ministry and to all acts of obedience, and their feet to walking in the way of God’s precepts. And this sprinkling appears to have been used to teach them that they could neither hear, work, nor walk profitably, uprightly, and well-pleasing in the sight of God, without this application of the blood of the sacrifice.“(AaronMcCarter.com). McCarter goes a step beyond the theories above by showing the significance of the blood sacrifice. According to McCarter, these men cannot be the people they are to be before the protagonist without the sacrifice. For the Hebrew people, this idea would be a familiar one. They, too, cannot be the people God is calling them to be with the sacrifice and the cleansing it brings.

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Micheal Ballai has a view similar in nature to those previously stated. We see that he believes this was a physical symbol of commitment as well. Ballai states, “The blood being applied to the ear lobe provides a beautiful picture. The people of Israel were freed from their slavery, yet someone who wanted to be a willing slave would have his ear lobe pierced with an awl”.(theologica.ning.com) This theory paints to a different picture than the ideas of my other sources. The idea here is that the blood on the ear lobe represents both the willingness of Aaron and his sons as well as the extent of their commitment. As a slave you are subject to the every command of your master and lose all selfish desires. You would show your willingness for this relationship by piercing your ear as stated by Ballai. Though these men did not pierce their ear with an awl, the blood on the lobe can be seen as a symbol of the same kind of commitment to their heavenly master.

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  I found a completely different interpretation that totally fascinated me. This theory focuses on the thumb and toe. According to Melissa of torahsparks.wordpress.com, “the Israelite people bring their animals to the altar in front of the sanctuary, and there the priests officiate over the slaughter and over the burning of certain parts to create a fragrance pleasing to God.  Thus both the priests and the altar are intermediaries between the people and God.” This idea of priests and the alter as intermediaries between the Hebrew people and God is bridged together with Leviticus 8:23. According to Melissa, “Moses also poured the blood of purification on the ground at the foundation, or footing, of the altar.  Both the priests and the altar must be pure where they reach toward heaven, and also where they have their feet on the ground.” (torahsparks.wordpress.com)  This idea was very different from anything else I came across during my research. As a “bridge” to God for the people, they needed to be sacred on both “ends”. The hands lifted up to God and the feet connected to secular things or Earth being touched with blood can be seen as symbols of the priest’s holy connection to Yahweh.

In conclusion, I think it’s safe to say that this ceremony represented the physical and emotional commitment of the role they are being called to fill by the protagonist. There are several theories on the exact symbolism behind these particular body parts. The correct interpretation is not quite clear. I believe it was a combination of all of them. It showed the commitment to the master to use all their faculties to be the intermediary that Yahweh was calling them to be.

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Why were frogs chosen as a plague by Yahweh on the land of Egypt?

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Reading through Exodus, brought up several interesting questions and potential topics for research. The most intriguing for me was found after reading Exodus 8:1-4 which reads, “1 [a]Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague of frogs on your whole country. The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. The frogs will come up on you and your people and all your officials”. (BibleGateway.com) So let me get this straight, in order to strike the fear of God into the heart of Pharaoh, your plan is to annoy them with frogs? That sounded to me like putting a child in time out; its annoying, but really nothing serious. Having no clue as to the method behind the madness, I decided to explore and see what I could come up with.

Since the plague was on Egyptians, I assume the significance will be found in their culture. According to ancientegyptonline, “Heqet (Heket) was a goddess of childbirth and fertility in Ancient Egypt. She was depicted as a frog, or a woman with the head of a frog”. The article goes on to say that “According to one tradition, she was the wife of Khnum, the creator god of Abu (Elephantine). He created each person on his potter  wheel, and she breathed life into them before they were placed in their mother’s womb. Heqet and Khnum are depicted on Hatshepsut’s birth colonnade in her Mortuary Temple at Deir el Bahri. Heqet holds an ankh (symbolising life) to the infant Hatshepsut and her ka. According to another tradition, She was the wife of Heh and it was he who crafted each person before she brought life to them”. (ancientegyptonline)  This article shows one relationship the Egyptians had to frogs which was their belief in a goddess who was depicted with the head of the frog.  So why would the protagonist send down, as a plague, the image of an Egyptian God?

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One theory of using the symbol of Heqet, according to Scott Thompson, is that,“the plagues were chosen to mock the Egyptian gods and show their powerlessness compared to Yahweh“(ehow.com). This theory makes sense since the stated reason for the plagues was to show that Yahweh was the one true God. What better way to do this than to make fun of their inferior gods? This idea of mocking the Egyptians gods is seen again later in the same article when Thompson states, “The followers of Yahweh may have wanted to demonstrate that their God could control the natural world and the polytheistic gods of the Egyptians could not” (ehow.com) . Similarly, David Guzik believed that the frog was sent as a way to not only make fun of their gods but of their magicians and sorcerers. Guzik states that, “For all their occult powers, all the magicians could do was make more frogs! They could only make the problem worse“.(enduringworld.com). This theory of mockery is very convincing and is not the only instance of it found in the Old Testament. Yahweh does something similar in 1 Kings 18 when he has his prophet go “head to head” against the prophets of Baal to show that he is the most powerful and the only one worthy of worship.

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Mockery, however, was not the only theory I found. According to touregypt.net, “The four male primeval gods of the Ogdoad – Nun (water), Amen (invisibility), Heh (infinity) and Kek (darkness) – were all frog gods” (touregypt.net). So apparently Haqet is not the only frog deity of Egypt. The word plague has a very ominous connotation. The plagues were supposed to be a warning to pharaoh to heed the requests of Aaron and Moses. The frog god “Kek” represented darkness. This immediately made me think of the analogy of light and dark representing good and evil. This analogy would make sense to show that the plague was sent as warning. This theory would make sense since the culture of the time indicated that the frog could be represented as darkness or evil.
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Another theory is presented by universeofsymbolism.com which states that the, “frog is the totem of cleansing” (universeofsymbolism.com). This is perhaps my favorite theory. The pharaoh was, by Hebrew standards, unclean in his attitude towards Yahweh. The frog can be seen as representing a cleansing which was exactly what the Egyptians needed in the eyes of the Isrealites. Pharaoh himself admits that his behavior was sinful. When he finally agrees to terms of Aaron and Moses, his heart is changed and “cleansed” of evil. That does not last long, however, before he chases after the Israelites in epic fashion. This idea is not only seen in the frog plague but in the Nile being turned to blood as well. The water became undrinkable and needed to be “cleansed” just like the religious practices of the people needed to be cleansed in Yahweh’s eyes. It’s also seen during the story of the parting of the Red Sea. The Egyptians chasing the Hebrews were essentially cleansed off the Earth by water when the seas returned to their original, unparted selves.

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In conclusion, there are a few different ways to theorize the reason behind the protagonist sending frogs upon the Egyptians. The most likely, I believe, are that either the frog represents a cleansing, or need thereof, or that the Egyptian deities were being outright mocked by the Hebrew God. I have always seen the protagonist as having a sense of humor (come on he created the platypus for crying out loud) so this theory amuses me and has a decent amount of evidence to back it up. However, I also believe that the theory of cleansing has plenty of evidence as well. Both theories are seen in more than one Old Testament narrative. In my opinion, there is not clear winner. The decision is left up to the interpretation of the reader.

 

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What was the significance of making an oath by touching under a man’s thigh?

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Reading through Genesis over the past week has stemmed several questions and possible blog topics. The most intriguing question for me was associated with Genesis 24:2-4 which states, ” He said to the senior servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh. I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites,among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.”(biblegateway). This idea of placing your hand under a man’s thigh when giving an oath is also seen later in Genesis 47:29-30, “When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt,30 but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.”(biblegateway). These passages seemed very odd to me. What was the significance of the thigh?

Researching the significance of the thigh to Jewish culture I found some very interesting ideologies on the interpretation of the word “thigh” in these passages. According to Dr. Taylor Marshal, “The placing of one’s hand under the “thigh” is a euphemistic way to refer to swearing upon the testicles of the master.” (Taylormarshall.com) This hypothesis was obviously startling and brought several more questions to mind concerning this tradition. If this theory is true then this practice just became a whole lot weirder and a little gross. I did some digging into this idea and found several sources that back up Dr. Marshall’s theory.  GotQuestions.org states that, “The thigh was considered the source of posterity in the ancient world. Or, more properly, the “loins” or the testicles. The phrase “under the thigh” could be a euphemism for “on the loins.”(GotQuestions.org) With this euphemism theory becoming a distinct possibility, I looked into the significance of  touching a man’s genitals as a sign of promise.

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According to Dr. Taylor Marshall, “The testicles are the sign of Abraham’s descendants (they literally contained the “seed” that God had promised to bless in Genesis 15, 17, 22)” (TaylorMarshall.com) GotQuestions.org has two theories on the connotation of swearing on a man’s loins. The first being that, “Abraham had been promised a “seed” by God, and this covenantal blessing was passed on to his son and grandson. Abraham made his trusted servant swear “on the seed of Abraham” that he would find a wife for Isaac.“(GotQuestions.org) This promise of a seed is answered in part through Isaac. The covenant between God and Abraham was that through his seed would be a great nation. In order to complete this covenant, Isaac would also have to have children. In order for him to do so, he will obviously have to have a wife. If the promise made in Genesis 24 was made on the symbol of  Abraham’s seed, it would represent that his servant was promising to take part in the covenant coming to fruition by finding the woman who would bear Isaac’s children and by association, Abraham’s seed. The second theory of GotQuestions.org is that, “Abraham had received circumcision as the sign of the covenant (Genesis 17:10). Our custom is to swear on a Bible; the Hebrew custom was to swear on circumcision, the mark of God’s covenant.“(GotQuestions.org) This second theory I believe is the strongest. Swearing on the Bible for a Christian is the most sacred of oaths. One is literally swearing on the most sacred of physical symbols in the Christian religion. Likewise, at this time in history, the most significant physical symbol of their religion was circumcision. Promising on the circumcision shows that this was an act made not only before Abraham but also before Yahweh.

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The idea of an agreement being made in this fashion is also seen in another species. According to pychologytoday.com, “ Two male baboons who cooperate with each other by forming aggressive alliances against other baboons frequently fondle each other’s genitalia.” (Psychologytoday.com).  The author goes on to explain this phenomenon by saying that the baboons do this as a sign of both parties being exposed and trusting the other. (Pychologytoday.com) This idea in part coincides with the event in Genesis 24. Abraham allowing his servant to touch him in what was a very vulnerable place shows Abraham’s faith in his servant not to do wrong against him in a physical sense as well as showing his faith in this man to fulfill his promise.  This similarity gives way to the idea of touching a man’s loin as having a possible evolutionary or scientific backing instead of a cultural or religious one.

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Another interpretation is the literal one. The word used in Genesis 24 is thigh. If it does in fact mean simply “thigh” then what was the significance of that? According to rexcurry.net, “ That ritual might derive from the belief that the thigh is a center of power”. (rexcurry.net) In order to symbolize the seriousness of the oath the servant touched Abraham in a spot that was considered to hold the most power. Sadly, after hours of research, this was the only theory I could find that supported the idea of a literal interpretation.

In conclusion, when deciding the significance of an oath being made on the “thigh”, first the reader must decide how they will choose to interpret that word. I hypothesize that the evidence points to a looser translation. The word thigh should not be seen as literal but as a euphemism for the male genitalia region, whether that be the circumcised area or the testicles themselves. The evidence simply does not back up a literal interpretation. The question, therefore, that the reader is left with is “what was the significance of making an oath by touching this particular area”? Is it because of the promise of Abraham’s seed? The sacred symbol of circumcision? Or possibly an evolutionary or scientific meaning? Personally, I believe it was the ancient equivalent to swearing on the Bible to show how sacred the promise truly was and also to show that is was made before not only men, but also before Yahweh.

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Mark of the Beast allusion associated with the RFID chip

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Since the Book of Revelation was written, every generation has developed theories about the prophesies it contains. For example, the Antichrist has been rumored to be anyone from Nero to Hitler to President Obama. Another frequently talked about prophesy is the idea of the “mark of the beast”.  It is to believed to be anything from metal and rock music to credit cards or even television. Recently a new theory has been brought to the table by the Virginia legislature. They believe that the RFID microchip proposed in America’s Affordable Health Choices Act HR 3200 is the mark mentioned in Revelation.

The Affordable Health Choices Act HR 3200 proposed the incorporation of the RFID microchip to help in the realms of both welfare and healthcare. According to Obamacarefacts.com, this act “included a section that allowed for data to be from all class II devices (which includes RFID chips) for purposes of postmarket safety and outcomes data“(obamacarefacts.com) So what is this chip and what is its proposed use? The microchip is the size of a grain of rice that is implanted into the body usually underneath the skin between the thumb and four finger. The proposed legislation by Obama wanted to use these chips to help make important health data available anywhere. For example, if a person with this chip were in an accident the EMT’s would be able to scan the chip and access their medical records instantly instead of searching for a card in a wallet or contacting their physician or family member. It could also be used as a GPS like we do with our pets. The proposal also went on to ask for these chips to be mandated by certain employers or healthcare companies.  Luckily for us this legislation did not pass and these chips are not a part of the ObamaCare act that did go into affect.

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Many people today, including the Virginia legislature, believe this is the “mark of the beast” as depicted in Revelation 13. Delegate Mark Cole of Virginia penned a proposed act that would ban the use of a mandated  microchip in Virginia. Why is this chip seen as the mark of the beast? Mark Cole states, “My understanding—I’m not a theologian—but there’s a prophecy in the Bible that says you’ll have to receive a mark, or you can neither buy nor sell things in end times,” Cole told The Washington Post. “Some people think these computer chips might be that mark.” (allgov.com)The “mark” mentioned in this quote obviously alludes to the mark of the beast in Revelation. This chip is argued to the mark because it is inserted into the right hand as described in Rev 13:16.  I’m not saying that the RFID chip is the mark of the beast, but this argument was pretty convincing to me. 

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 When looking at the context of the mark in Revelation, we can see that there is a HUGE significance to this act being called “the mark of the beast”. Revelation 13 :3-18 reads, “And one of his heads seemed to have a deadly wound. But his death stroke was healed; and the whole earth went after the beast in amazement and admiration.They fell down and paid homage to the dragon, because he had bestowed on the beast all his dominion and authority; they also praised and worshiped the beast, exclaiming, Who is a match for the beast, and, Who can make war against him?And the beast was given the power of speech, uttering boastful and blasphemous words, and he was given freedom to exert his authority and to exercise his will during forty-two months (three and a half years).And he opened his mouth to speak slanders against God, blaspheming His name and His abode, [even vilifying] those who live in heaven.He was further permitted to wage war on God’s holy people (the saints) and to overcome them. And power was given him to extend his authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation,And all the inhabitants of the earth will fall down in adoration and pay him homage, everyone whose name has not been recorded in the Book of Life of the Lamb that was slain [in sacrifice] [b]from the foundation of the world.If anyone is able to hear, let him listen:10 Whoever leads into captivity will himself go into captivity; if anyone slays with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Herein is [the call for] the patience and the faith and fidelity of the saints (God’s people).11 Then I saw another beast rising up out of the land [itself]; he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke (roared) like a dragon.12 He exerts all the power and right of control of the former beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell upon it to exalt and deify the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed,and to worship him.13 He performs great signs (startling miracles), even making fire fall from the sky to the earth in men’s sight.14 And because of the signs (miracles) which he is allowed to perform in the presence of the [first] beast, he deceives those who inhabit the earth, commanding them to erect a statue (an image) in the likeness of the beast who was wounded by the [small] sword and still lived.15 And he is permitted [also] to impart the breath of life into the beast’s image, so that the statue of the beast could actually talk and cause to be put to death those who would not bow down and worship the image of the beast.16 Also he compels all [alike], both small and great, both the rich and the poor, both free and slave, to be marked with an inscription [[c]stamped] on their right hands or on their foreheads,17 So that no one will have power to buy or sell unless he bears the stamp (mark, inscription), [that is] the name of the beast or the number of his name.18 Here is [room for] discernment [a call for the wisdom [d]of interpretation]. Let anyone who has intelligence (penetration and insight enough) calculate the number of the beast, for it is a human number [the number of a certain man]; his number is 666.” (Revelation 13:3-18) In this chapter we are given the significance of the mark. The inscription on the hand or neck indicates that a person worships and follows the beast. Those who do not have the mark follow Christ and refuse to worship the beast. In verse 15, a mere statue of the beast has the power to kill those who do not have this mark and refuse to bow down to the image. Not only could those without the mark be murdered, they would not be allowed to buy or sell. The significance of this RFID chip being referred to as the “mark of the beast” implys that it could potentially be used against those who do not possess it. It also implores the idea that the entity administering them would be the beast mentioned in Rev. 13:11. Ultimately, it implys that we are living in the “end times” as David Nedd described by saying “that some fundamentalist Christians believe that bar codes and implanted microchips could be used by a totalitarian government to control commerce — a sign of the coming end of the world.” (washingtonpost.com)

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What is the significance of the numerology in Revelation with emphasis on the numbers 4 and 6

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Reading through Revelation this week I was overwhelmed at the amount of numbers used. It seemed like everything described had a number of something associated with it. Some numbers were used more than others. As I read I kept wondering what the importance of this repetition was. Why did John use certain numbers constantly? What did they mean? Was it coincidental or purposeful? With all of these questions I was faced with, I decided to do my blog on finding their answers. Obviously attempting to look into the significance of every number used in Revelation would be a very daunting task. I decided, instead, to pick a few numbers and inquire about them.This blog is not about what the things associated with the numbers mean but the numbers themselves. The passages that most intrigued me were, Revelations 14:3 which gives mention to the number 4 and Revelation 13:18 which mentions a repetitive number 6. My question became “what is the significance of the numerology in these passages?”

Revelations 14:3 states, 3And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth.” (http://biblehub.com/revelation/14-3.htm) The first part of my research I focused on the number four. This passage mentions that there were FOUR living creatures present with the elders. The creatures themselves can represent many things including the writers of the four gospels. My question is what is the significance of there being four creatures? According to Markberrier.com, the number four represents the “the world or the universal number”  (http://markberrier.com/content/articles/articleMBNumbersInRevelation.aspx) The idea that the number four represents the earth or the universe is also seen outside the realm of religion. According to www.Britanica.com, “The number of order in the universe is 4—the four elements of earth, air, fire, and water; the four seasons; the four points of the compass; the four phases of the Moon (new, half-moon waxing, full, half-moon waning“. The use of the number four in reference to the world or the universe is also seen in Genesis. According to Genesis 1:1-19, the first four days of creation focused on the world and the universe. I do not believe that these are mere coincidences.

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The use of the number four in Revelation is also seen in reference to the FOUR horseman of the apocalypse. Revelation 6:1-8 states, “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth” (http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Revelation-Chapter-6/) What bothered me about this use of the number four is that it references disorder and destruction. How can the number four represent both creation and destruction or order and disorder? This idea of order reminds me of a particular law of science. According to Newton’s third law, “in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. The size of the forces on the first object equalsthe size of the force on the second object. The direction of the force on the first object is opposite to the direction of the force on the second object. Forces always come in pairs – equal and opposite action-reaction force pairs.” (http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/newtlaws/Lesson-4/Newton-s-Third-Law) I realize that this law is in reference to motion. However, it can also be used in reference to the order of the universe because it shows how it works. This law helps make sense of how very opposite ideas can be represented by the same thing, in this case the number four. As stated earlier, the number four represents the creation of and order in the universe. The four horseman play into this concept because they bring destruction or an end. If every action has an equal and opposite reaction, then every beginning has an end and every creation has a destruction.

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  The second part of this blog will focus on the 6 in the number of the beast. Revelation 13:18 states, “Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six” (http://biblehub.com/revelation/13-18.htm). When I read this passage, I thought it was obvious that the number six was of great significance since it is repeated three times. What was the meaning behind the number six? According to www.agapebiblestudy.com, “Both man and the serpent were created on the sixth day, therefore, the number six represents both man and rebellion” (http://www.agapebiblestudy.com).  Furthermore, the number six, according to www.ridingthebeast.com, can represent “the imperfection, the sin, the Evil, according to the Bible. But it is also the number of the test, the work and the servitude in the Hebraic law, which ordered to work during six days, to sow the earth during six years and that a slave serves his master during six years“. (www.ridingthebeast.com). I hypothesize that it is no coincidence that the number 6 can represent not only man and sin but also Satan since the serpent was also made on the 6th day. There are three representations pertinent to the reference in Revelation 13 which I hypothesize is the reason for the number being represented three times as the mark of the Beast.

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In conclusion, the numbers 4 and 6 are both used purposefully in the book of Revelation. The number four represents the order set in motion during creation, particularly the first four days. Four also represents the culmination of order with disorder and destruction. The number six, however, represents three things: 1.) man 2.) sin/rebellion and 3.) the serpent or Satan. All three of these representations are seen in the number of the beast “666”.

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What was the significance behind Satan being compared to a lion?

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While reading through 1st Peter this week, I came across a verse that troubled me. “8Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1st Peter 5:8). Typically when I’m looking for a blog topic I look for symbolism. This week was no different except that the symbol completely bewildered me! How could Satan, the very epitome evil, be compared to a lion? Is Christ not referred to as the “Lion of Judah”? How can two opposite figures be compared to the same symbol? I began researching trying to make some kind of sense of this seemingly crazy comparison.

I decided to take a slightly different route than i have in the past this weeks. I tried to first look at the animal itself and not just what it has represented throughout history. The context of the verse references a lion on the hunt. According to http://www.ecotravel.co.za, “Most hunting takes place under the poor light conditions of early evening or dawn, and during the night” Lions are also “opportunist hunters, and, after a careful stalk, will take the closest animal regardless of its age, sex or condition” (http://www.ecotravel.co.za). I believe that these characteristics are a possible reason why Peter chose to compare Satan to a lion. The comparison in 1st Peter uses the lion to warn Christians that Satan does not “hunt” in the “daytime” when we expect but at night when we are “asleep” and are not alert and on the ready for him. I also believe that  the lion is used because it is not biased about its prey. Peter was trying to help Christians understand that Satan does not seek out a certain kind of person, whoever is near and convenient will do. Peter also used this animal because it was one that his readers could relate to. According to jewishvirtuallibrary.org, “the last lions in the Middle East were destroyed in the 19th century” (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/lion_term.html). Lions were around in biblical times and attacked towns and people feared their attacks. Peter compared Satan to a lion, to help them understand not only the way Satan “preyed” upon them, but also to show just how dangerous he was.

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From just looking at the habits and characteristics of the lion, it makes sense why peter would make this comparison. The problem lies in how this symbol is the same one used to compare the prophesied redeemer in the Jewish culture. Even with the conclusions I have come to I still can’t make sense of the protagonist and the antagonist being seen as the same animalistic image. I could not just leave this alone so I took my normal symbolism route.

The lion is seen in religious symbols throughout history and in seemingly every culture. According to www.catholic-saints.info, “The Lion Christian Symbol represents alertness and watchfulness” ( http://www.catholic-saints.info). According to lionalert.org, “The Egyptian Warrior Goddess Sekhmet (pictured above), most commonly depicted as a lioness, was the fiercest of warriors, creating the desert from her breath and believed to be a terrifying goddess worshipped as “the destroyer”.  Amongst the Hindu Gods and Goddesses, you find a parallel, as echoed by the Goddess Kali, the Creator, who starts the motion of the ‘Wheel of Universal time’, creating the Universe, and at the end of the cosmic cycle of manifestation, devouring all of Creation.” (lionalert.com) In both the Egyptian and Hindu religions, the lion symbols depicts two sides of the same coin. This helped make sense of why it would do the same in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

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The best way for me to truly wrap my mind around this concept was to relate to a Disney’s “The Lion King”. In this film, there are two lions (Mufasa and Scar) who are essentially the leaders of light and darkness. As lions they are both majestic, powerful, bold and dominant in their realms. Peter may have chosen the symbol of the lion to purposefully compare the highness of Christ on the moral side to the power of the devil on the immoral side.

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In conclusion, Peter may have described Satan as a lion because of the similar characteristics of their hunting habits, or even because they were a feared animal for his readers. I agree that he chose the lion as a means for warning his readers. I also believe the warning goes beyond the surface characteristics of the animal itself. Peter using one of the many known Jewish symbols for the prophesied redeemer (whom the Christians believed was Christ) helped show his readers that Satan is not just any leader, but the ultimate leader of evil, just as Christ is seen as the ultimate leader of good.

 

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Christ Allusion in “The Big Bang Theory”

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I don’t watch a lot of TV. I have a few shows I record and watch when I’m bored. The Big Bang Theory is one of these shows. This series follows six scientists and one ditsy waitress aspiring to be an actress. The friends in this series seem to be held together by the oddball of the bunch. This oddball is a theoretical physicist named Sheldon Cooper. Sheldon is originally from Texas where he was raised to be a God-fearing southern male. However, he grew up to be the opposite in every way possible. Sheldon was a child science prodigy who apparently spent his adolescence doing advanced science projects. He sees himself in a very omnipotent, god-like manner. This elevated sense of self comes from his insane confidence in his intellectual ability. Throughout the series there are constant references to Sheldon being superior to everyone, even his best friends that are also fellow physicists.

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The episode entitled, “The Skank Reflex Analysis”, portrays an allusion of Christ on the cross. One of the minor plots in this episode is that Sheldon takes over their department paintball team. When his teammates decided to give in the towel, Sheldon takes it upon himself to sacrifice himself for the team. He walks out onto a small mound, provokes the enemy and gives himself over to their bullets. He concludes the scene by saying “if there’s ever a church of Shledon, it starts today”.  This scene alludes to the crucifixion because Sheldon has his arms up in a similar matter to what Christ would have had on the Christ. It alludes to Christ because Christ for the Christians is the head of the church and here we see that Sheldon sees himself similarly as the head of the “church of Sheldon”.

The reason for the allusion in The Big Bang Theory is to push the point further of just how highly Sheldon sees himself. Sheldon sees himself as a god compared to other “normal” people. In most episodes, Sheldon just states his superiority. He’s gone as far to as to say he is a new and improved species. In “The Skank Reflex”, Sheldon goes a step further and places himself in a similar light to Christ.

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