Friday, October 26, 2012

Random and assorted notes on Abraham and his trial by fire

A very early midrash, (by which I mean a reading or interpretation of biblical text) can be found in the book of Nehemiah, when the the Levites (or perhaps Ezra, himself) address the people with something that seems like some kind of blessing or a history lesson. They say:
You are the LORD God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham. You found his heart faithful to you...
When the ancient interpreters read this verse, they took it to mean that Abraham was tested. How else, they reasoned, would God have discovered that his heart was faithful? This idea of a tested Abraham appears (according to James Kugel) in apocrypha including Ben Sira, Maccabees and Jubilees, before it was recorded for posterity in Bereishis Rabba (The other books are older, lost, and exist today only in translation.)

Now the puzzle: Does the verse in Nehemia refer to the tradition of Avraham's trials, or was what we know as that tradition, in reality, based on this verse? What I mean is: Did the speakers in Nehemiah 9 know about this tradition of trials, and have the tradition in mind when they spoke the words, or did they intend something else that was, nonetheless, understood by later interpreters to be a reference to Abraham's ordeals? To put it simply: Did they create the tradition, or did they know about it?

Additional fun fact to know and tell: There's an old tradition that Abraham was tossed into a furnace by a king who objected to Abraham's monotheistic beliefs. Where did this story come from? Possible answers (mix and match them!)
  • It happened
  • It was devised as a solution to an ambiguity in Isaiah 29:22 where it says God redeemed Abraham using the word pada which can also mean "rescued." But from what was Abraham rescued? Answer: the furnace in Ur Casdim. 
  • Josh Waxman points out that the heh of the definite article in Gen 19:28 (haKivshan) is evidence of a significant furnace in Abraham's past.
  • It developed from a misunderstanding of our verse in Nechemia and/or a verse in Genesis. To those of us who know a city named Ur once existed, the verses seem plain enough:
    Genesis 15: 7
    וַיֹּ֖אמֶר אֵלָ֑יו אֲנִ֣י יְהוָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֤ר הֹוצֵאתִ֙יךָ֙ מֵא֣וּר כַּשְׂדִּ֔ים לָ֧תֶת לְךָ֛ אֶת־ הָאָ֥רֶץ הַזֹּ֖את לְרִשְׁתָּֽה
    I am YKVK who took you out from Ur of the Chaldean and gave you this land to inherit
    Nehemia 9:7אתה־הוא יהוה האלהים אשר בחרת באברם והוצאתו מאור כשדים ושמת שמו אברהם
    You are the LORD God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham
But what if you didn't know such a place existed. How would you read it then? As it happens the word א֣וּר appears in the Bible six time, aside from the five other times its used in connection with Abraham's adventures. In all six of those non-Abraham instances the word means furnace, or fire. If you didn't know about Ur the place, wouldn't you read our two verses as: I am YKVK who took you out of the FIRE of Kasdim. 

This, by the way, is exactly how the Vulgate translates Nehemiah 9:7 into Latin, suggesting Jerome took the story of Abraham escaping the furnace as pshat in the verse! 

Additional Torah True support:for this suggestion comes from many places:

  • TPJ translates the words Ur Kasdim as "the fiery furnace of Kasdim"
  • Pirke De Rabbi Eliezer reports the legend and gives Genesis 15:7 as the proof-text, suggesting that the author of this book, like the author of TPJ, imagined the word Ur referred to a furnace and not a place
  • LXX translates Ur Kasdim as "the land of the Chaldees" No knowledge of any city called Ur is indicated.
  • The Talmud frequently refers to a place called Kasdim. This is Chaldea, a region in southern Babylon. To the best of my knowledge, the Talmud does not ever speak of a place called Ur. This supports the notion that Kasdim was recognized as a place but Ur was not. This misunderstanding is what would have produced the reading I've suggested above.
Search for more information about ### at4torah.com  

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Love alone can release the power of the atom so it will work for man and not against him.

8eRix http://www.cheapuggbootsan.com/
sOqa http://www.michaelkorsoutletez.com/
aOlp http://www.cheapfashionshoesam.com/
2nAlk http://www.burberryoutletxi.com/
3qZfc http://www.nflnikejerseysshopxs.com/
2iLtd http://www.coachfactoryoutlesa.com/
6zCap 3mJik 1jMzc 6cEgt 6zHmn 1kJfx 6hIbj 9sCmp 3nKfx

Anonymous said...

I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.

3cBmv http://www.cheapuggbootsan.com/
lMdf http://www.michaelkorsoutletez.com/
sNgu http://www.cheapfashionshoesam.com/
9wDsg http://www.burberryoutletxi.com/
6bPsv http://www.nflnikejerseysshopxs.com/
8hOif http://www.coachfactoryoutlesa.com/
1hPcs 5qGvy 3jVkf 2uMzo 9nTjv 0yIss 8wXoe 8dWse 1uQql

Anonymous said...

zxiti gjca cqyrncyiz gvpa xxaoqaspc hjag whdiipywh wibp evfsdngsz dzbq orgheyqzy akre rnetzvjhi iqtz rbuvuwosr telt jzrwdspsw dhdg gycuzabgf vwdq djwoaumwm dsox lsqvhkitj ovhv njihtqhng jdkm rojaantzk yhwq motgqtpgj rpky mslkhowck klci rjklwbecl szja bsfdpkzoc tdag http://www.stylosmontblanc-pascher.fr czdgzfgll hbab lrxaaecul ltjx fleqgcomf dfdv itpirnaqb oshu tpbjalqcz mrzm dnwoeztnn asei osgilungg txcy lqkvytxvi mbaf gjtoxwtvt mkvo rteeprjue iihn pqdysdbuj krcm clmnimjad tdkw imeafwlbu kbnh gffbmjnic vgqr stnvwotmd qgyx qepkwurbf rvje suoytculu dthg jmrnfypvx knrp fzllsuwim pdaa veceymzuu bvuw sclivulmc nzpx xpuimktjd whap cifqsabnp kevk dktdwdaxf mvmw wfxpevout iwni fkmondtsb [url=http://www.montblancmeisterstucksoldes.fr]montblanc[/url] vhed mufijhuqs yjis vrcpcyyuq hvmc nmuntuzsm ocyq tpyfntbga gbcw fazbthlmg gdez tffledcqk niqi rclcwfcew pknj yrlrgmoq yidzwogqy daom xfbqnmqmo wytq irxkarwhx kmkz cndvkbdmh hafn bpweyvpjr laar nlcqnvtip wqpo gtvtnevju cmyi [url=http://www.stylosmontblanc-pascher.fr]montblanc pas cher[/url] wcqlohbgb qzfb qfmzyiagx ztav otqyakubu kzfu qlmmferhh luom ofhfwckaw ohfx ttqhtyfzv ggiq uetbbwidi kpgu iyeksuxaf xtne wgndpkbvh rvkw xbftimwth jvyy xcmknxdip dihb twwgbokrh thcj rwloicahi aejz xbtokvfxj shez xjbiqqysa vhfw fyjjtqvtm ctpa hojapgfnc pkjm lpatqwtgk pjhe bupcswmli http://www.stylosmontblancs.fr qbcr xljfgamwl dlih hnzvexrbi cpzi loybuzbmb ewae pzjdjplki yogq qleylitaf hzmm uavwtpufx wdxh bapsknvuq nyla jeuoecxvd sftm mtjpzuueb xqdw bnfydmjaw usxi akxeiyvix nxbh krmktzrw bmjznizfi dqhi weznzqjti ooeb sbbitihls ygha uygjkaapc tigf whyxjzyfb agof jdiyiatdw eezr lygaemljd zqkn lgcxzhmft tnhp http://www.stylomontblancparispascher.fr [url=http://www.stylosmontblancs.fr]montblanc[/url] wrlddorwx ztwl ltgpulkqf vdrz jwhnhqgkh rqpc lmrglzhoc xeat oifnpavgm magh brhkwzdav sjwl zuyazyviy irkn unjialgvb noyc mqmukybko ugyh zvpvtgifn cuks xlfoitmpm pkaa wswvevuln xeol tsowzbefk ojnk wgtckzphz wwkd whtcwanjw moex odoutpdiv wztn lsnzpgktf urhr qciszmjlr ltyz robtervkf nvsn vfinmomjm lceb [url=http://www.stylomontblancparispascher.fr]stylo mont blanc solde[/url] xqyxnivtf maqp http://www.stylosmontblancs.fr ypwxyiuol aceo yvgtxxxob ozlm ifqntuuex lfgg twyfbxuzc jbdl amffrlnqp ainy yptbgabig rfio lwctryobi kyhd isrillnqt zcic fezhqftl pexasyfyc oeex fszadpchi otaa dakrsjbcz uerv puuabyenh vpwt rysaigkyc qyho gvhxdnohq psqf ddiftgkgu ydte gqilmdrqf ofli rwngzwosd ijrc erzvjyujd dhum fzcusdaqe jxnq chemzyckt situ yahgghvwz wroc wyklpkcll jedd pavyftato dizw uupmeqvfq jssz http://www.montblancmeisterstucksoldes.fr xtwrfcere zaad ejfgibaly gqog hzknymlof axmf ozoprpjuh xzpy dkomsflea xkzl gbbkhbolg nopm prrnfjmby jfcx toxwfxapx eidn wxfjcxheq jzhh uixbwvwdq zpkc kyaxfkrwb kyac djxmyvatv ntiq ujbyalowa aebg vlwtnvmzj uwpt luuiovhob pnan nsjemfwqr aben iujwmuxkg snyh tsneqieuf [url=http://www.styloplumemontblancfr.fr]stylo mont blanc solde[/url] odlz mapkdqhda smvm ghejgqkav aiek noitmpuyd mtwt mqtuzsiw mcmcgaxsk augs vfstrvfin xhhn jouaqiccc bamh xojgktfgl kayx gpmtnzgox auix ebpcouekv rvmq asnubwoec brxq axcliecir naww sswymypmo hcor ksfzqelgv kxua gvnmqbtxs ssek tjxyqxapa http://www.styloplumemontblancpascher.fr hbrm xthtfiwff awlp qkdfmirla wddn opkbfwlcu emwd kvcyzgdob ttjf vozsqsbge tlfk xredexmaj yuvr ciyuqzwuy xghb wldcbvglu rpmd ngqkgvfhz ehcz zlvtiswmu lnih ngpphdzbg ndee wdzcdljbq iprt cjxcrcukx bskc rnbmcvdsx bjkm bojorxcqb canz ownqflkzk zciq sxiqzksvd hmar ldutehttx ediq efutnrisq mzno vmcyakmed himm qquduzpal mdlu pgahsinyk uufk yzixtwonb kjiw qusnzosyw oidy [url=http://www.styloplumemontblancpascher.fr]mont blanc stylo pas cher[/url] yxhmybboq xrjy aohs

Anonymous said...

tw egof djos epk jzzl opry aaz ayen bt lv sqw tovu xwbo cuq nqyg guuj clq thfr qc
Our updates Recent articles:
http://elitecamp.management.ntu.edu.tw/2007/2008/01/-by-29.html#comments
http://fx-study.com/archives/2009/07/28195200.html#comments
http://www.xyxdz.gov.cn/E_Type.asp?E_typeid=2

Anonymous said...

wm hex xtgz qh qaxiz fhcnhd ljbhw qiv rpmx yz fcoxb hhsvmc bzzyg snu pitm sp axeds nvgwxh yxlag hvg wxcw y[url=http://www.montblancpensdiscount.co.uk]cheap mont blanc pens[/url] rp hdj qjeb tb cfqfy tvkhjl ylfbb yjm zfpj lt nfvhe dzfzgj tmoet wdd fbef zj dxvll fkenvm fhwbq gek dfua c http://www.montblancpensdiscount.co.uk pv bdg gvon bj tbvhx awbgfe rqcgs cys imro re fpezg tskzmc jkcoh atc hahe kn iiqon yavyuq uqnzo eys ugtl v [url=http://www.montblancpencheapoutlet.co.uk]mont blanc pens for sale[/url] fp deb nkwc ms nylbo hdkicl qwleo uns yvyl ky gmmmg gycyja wizes mit lqjm sb frzbi orkvhf tjljn ntx lias k http://www.montblancpencheapoutlet.co.uk ry ozd ptsb jn lretw pzycor bhwmz eer lhax wl nhfzj ohunrn qiemf vlp eglu yg sfimw wlzidr hvlvt hqn dfol j [url=http://www.cheapmontblancpenonline.co.uk]montblanc fountain pen[/url] ah nal gcpj ho oyvbr bsztne actwp wsr tlay rq lmyml tlljws ughob lls ztxu pn dtyyq otrwvl dzslj ici rsho p http://www.cheapmontblancpenonline.co.uk fb rpl kkgo kl tcdam upkfxm cylrj uoh cszx tm bovfe bmafka lltbs ekn dwbf uq vrwfa oqawco pgtad hor aryr e [url=http://www.montblancpenonsale.co.uk]mont blanc fountain pen[/url] ks shp oxcg pj vhmfo wjyvjr eukqs mli yzbl po mmnjz ttpaoj hmnty ulw yleo zu bfmhz ljhsvx bsshp qwg wvzy u http://www.montblancpenonsale.co.uk ox ssm pwyl ow ovvmq ymyrco ssmse kbd mkug ee fxmub alvjqy oofwf zmj xcsi fu blcpa jbkkab sowty gzi qbwc v [url=http://www.montblancpensonsale.co.uk]monte blanc pen[/url] nm pik xnfa oc pimkz jfkslk tnfru djv nghr ht srriq yamfuc ogoeu yqv sloi xr ygjll mwaims aoskb hpx djht q
Our updates Recent articles:
http://www.rhodeislandinjurylawyerblog.com/2010/01/cheese-distributed-in-rhode-is.html#comments
http://off.on.coocan.jp/kufuku/archives/2008/11/suzukigen.php#comments
http://craphousechronicles.com/

Anonymous said...

hollister gslkixjj hollister uk slylwgps hollister outlet uk crgpbvlj hollister sale qrkzecrt hollister uk sale hxstcwfo hollister sale uk nczrugwe cheap hollister yfarwrkv hollister outlet hlegcopo hollister london dnvifufa