I have stitches on my arm right at the place where I typically rest my arm on the tables when I type. This means that whenever I sit down at my keyboard, I always hit my stitches and it hurts like a moe.
In other news, I have been reading a lot of very ancient near eastern literature lately, primarily Jewish. My favorite has been one called the Fragment Targum. A Targum the ancient translation of Scripture from Hebrew into Aramaic, the common language of Jews at the time. But, it is far more than a mere translation, the Meturgemams (the one's who translate) would attempt to explain the Hebrew rather than just translate. They developed their own oral traditions for doing so in the process and would often incorporate popular Jewish folklore into the texts. Sometimes, whole passages and stories are added to texts. Or texts are clearly distorted so that they will apply to the contemporary situation. The fragment targum in particular does this often. This Targum came from Palestine around the 1st and 2nd centuries. The more accepted Targum, Targum Onkelos (from Babylon around the 3rd and 4th centuries), was authorized by Rabbis and "cleaned up" many of these extra-biblical stories.
Anyway, here are some of my favorite sections from the Fragment Targum that I wrote in my notes.
- After the expulsion of Adam from the garden, a lengthy section is added: God’s shekhina dwells, “from the beginning, above the Garden of Eden, in between two cherubs; even two thousand years before the world had been created, He created the Torah [and] He established the Garden of Eden for the righteous that they might eat from, and indulge in, the fruits of the trees, for having observed the commandments of the Torah in this world; He established Gehenna for the wicked which is like unto the double-edged shard sword; He established within it sparks of fire and burning coals for the wicked, to be avenged of them in the world to come, because they did not observe the commandments of the Torah in this world; indeed the Torah is the fruits of the tree of life; whoever keeps it in this world shall continue to live like the tree of life in the world to come; the Torah is good for those who toil [in it] and who observe the commandments, just as the fruits of the tree of life in the world to come.”
- It might be helpful to know that it was popular belief by this time that Wisdom (or Torah) had been created long before the Genesis creation account. As Prov. 8:22, Wisdom is the first of God's creation.
- It is interesting that the Torah is the tree of life, even though the Torah leads to a knowledge of good and evil, just as the tree of knowledge does.
- This section is right after the Egyptians are drowned in the Red Sea: “The sea and the earth were arguing together; the sea said to the earth: ‘Receive you children.’ And the earth said to the sea: ‘Receive your slain ones.’ Neither did the sea want to swallow them up, nor did the earth want to receive her slain ones. A fear of her Father in Heaven grasped the earth, lest He demanded them [back] in the world to come… the earth immediately opened her mouth and swallowed them.”
- This section follows the Red Sea episode as well: “Four nights are written in the Book of Memories: The first night: when the LORD was revealed upon the world in order to create it… The second night: when the LORD was reveal unto Abraham better the pieces… was not Isaac thirty-seven years old when he was offered up on the altar; the heaven inclined and descended, and Isaac saw their perfection and his eyes flowed to the heights; and He called it the second night. The third night: when the LORD was revealed upon the Egyptians in the middle of the night; His left hand was slaying the Egyptian firstborn, and His right hand was rescuing the Israelite firstborn… The fourth night: when the world will reach its fixed time to be redeemed; the iron yolks will be broken, and the evil-doers will be destroyed; Moses will go forth from the wilderness, and the King Messiah will go forth from Rome. The one will lead at the head of the flock, and that one will lead at the head of the flock, and the memra of the LORD will lead between both of them, and they shall proceed together; and the Israelites will say: ‘(His) kingship is the Lord’s in this world and in the world to come – it is His.’”
- memra means "word." The memra of the Lord was an idea that was fully developed at this point. Indeed, creation was all done, according to the Targums, by the memra of the world. This no doubt is one of the ideas that informed the author of the gospel of John.
I could probably write a bit more about this, but no one likes blogs that get too wordy... do they Hibbles?!