October 3, 2012
- 12 Chapter of Genesis– Jews come in –
- Attempt to deal with the question – where did we come from? – The
firs chapter attempts to answer.
- No proof of G-d
- No formal demonstrations or ethical teachings, we don’t begin with
the relationship with a certain people or divine law.
- Maimonides (Rambam = Rabbi Moses ben Maimon)
- Rashi (Rabbi Solomon itzchaki)
- (Rambam) The Guide of the Perplexed – Creation is the
fundamental doctrine which contrasts the religious view point from
a secular viewpoint.
- (Rashi) – Why did the bible begin this way? The 12 chapter of the
second book of the Torah – the first law.
- Creation is not just about cosmology – also the subsequent
- Fundamental questions – Where did our world come from? Why do
we have to engage in hard work? What’s the reason that women
have to undergo painful childbirth? Why do people murder one
another? Where do cities come from? Who made natural disasters?
Why do we speak to each other? Why are there nations? Why do we
wear clothing? Why are the relations from the sexes so
- Language of myth
- Myth in its original form are stories about gods.
- They relate to the heroes (elevated to a god-like status)
- Egypt, and Mesopotamia (Sumer, Babylonian)
- Myths are there as propaganda
- Ex. Enuma Elish – Babylonian creation story
- Justify their way of life, religion, cause, culture, etc…
- Reflecting things that are true about the culture – what are their
concerns or wants and locations.
- The cultural ethos of the people
- Ex Marduk – rules with a council of the gods.
- 2 methods of creating the world – 1) reproduction (sex between
gods) and 2) war
- We aren’t told how this god came in to being. So sexual
desire/sexuality in the production of the world.
- G-d speaks and it comes to be (there’s no resistance)
- Little physical dimension
- Creation out of nothing (Creatio ex niholo)
- Who’s telling us this?
- No divine beings are created
- Separating/dividing (logical distinction/characterization) - ^natural things
- after every single day G-d looks at what he has done and he says it
- At the 6 day he says very good – all encompassing for the
- The sky/the heavens aren’t labeled good
- End of 6 thday man doesn’t get labeled good.
- 1) Creation is orderly, structured, and well articulated
- 2) It’s the work of one god.
- 3) Constantly praises it
- 4) Man is made in the image of G-d – dominion over the animals
(rules and names) He is G-d’s representative on Earth.
- What does it tell us about what goes on. – Done for G-d’s own glory.
– demonstration of G-d’s power.
- Omnipotent – G-d – All powerful – no limit
- Last day he takes a break
- ^Symbol of completion – nothing left to do.
- Invention of the week
- The 6 days G-d labors
- ^new attitude towards labor
- Man created in G-d’s image – man has free will
- Man is like G-d because he is the creator of worlds
- Man has a mind/intellect – a capacity to understand the world,
which no other beings have.
- Not the physical – our physicality also limits us – a powerful G-d
cannot have a limited body.
- Let US make man in OUR image in OUR likeness (Gen 1:26) – who
is the us?
- 3 answers:
- 1) Royal “us” (royal “we”)
- 2) G-d and angels (consulting with…)
- in Christianity – Trinity
- Things have reversed themselves (heaven and earth in the first
chapter and then in the second its earth and heaven)
- Middle of a garden
- Forbidden to eat from the 2 trees (knowledge of good and evil and
- A man composed of breath and dust
- No mention of image
- Magic seems to be going on (with the trees) - Magic implies that there are impersonal forces superior to man and
the gods – they are the highest forms – he can make the gods do
- Much more child-like – G-d sets a limit for man – choices one can
make – teaching man that he cant have his cake and eat it too.
- Man was lonely – creation of women.
- One unit of man and female – a need for each other – we are not
meant to be alone.
- Man is not a being that can live alone
- High value Judaism puts on marriage and family.
- Deepest problem of human life – Boredom (idle hands are the
devil’s workshop) – might be a background to the man and women
in the garden.
- They are naked and not ashamed
- What appealed to Eve of the fruit
- 1) aesthetically pleasing
- 2) Good for food
- 3) The tree is desirable as a source of wisdom
- The trees have – Knowledge of good and evil and immortality
- The psychological play – internal drama – in which humans want to
have the thing they can’t (transition from childhood to adulthood).
- Not that we couldn’t have had that choice but you need to give up
one thing for another.
- Ex. you cant live in the child’s world when you’re an adult
- This is part of our education
- Their eyes were opened and they were ashamed of themselves
- The text is narrating a theology by showing us a story
- Shows us that man has an innate tendency that they want to be
like the gods.
- Why is the serpent there?
- The world would not be perfect – man is a beings that has to be
- The lesson seems to be – man cannot be like one of the gods
- A being that has no knowledge of good and evil – how can you say
you cannot eat from the tree?
- Man has from his innate constitution a prior knowledge of good and
- Educational process
- Learn to negotiate our relationships with others.
October 10, 12
Patriarchs and Matriarchs
- 1) Historical validity - 2)
- 3) Literary structure
- 4) Theme of blessing and promise
- 5) Distinctive religious ideas
- 6) Chapter 22 of Genesis.
- Pascal – not the G-d of the philosophers but the G-d of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob.
- ^Unique ways of approaching origins
- Why begin this way – from one person’s son to the next etc…
- For the bible these claims are not mythical but fact.
- The relationships between grandparents and grandchildren are a
distinctfully human quality.
- Nietzsche - The essential law is honor thy father and thy mother. –
what is this saying about Judaism – the passing on of things from
gen to gen – sense of obligations – extra-special emphasis on this
- Genesis 12 – begin a new phase in the history of Judaism/Man
- Abram appears on the scene – sent on by G-d.
- 3-fold “promise” – 1) A piece of land (Cana’an), 2) Progeny
(many ancestors), 3) Abram is tied with blessing – all the families
of the earth will thank themselves that their progeny is around.
- There are quotes around because - what does it mean by G-d
promises – gives stability/order – when you make a promise and
then fulfill it its like the world is a just place.
- ^The fact of promising is a new thing for religion.
- ^This promise will act as the structure to his story.
- The curses which came on man-kind though the events of the
Garden of Eden are reversed through the story of Abram.
- Noah wasn’t perfect (being the new Adam)
- ^This is the third beginning (with Abram)
- Adam to Noah – 10 generations
- Noah to Abram – 10 generations
- Nations are a great blessing – Tower of Babel – keeps people in
- Story of the first city, critique of civilization – man’s building isn’t
good w/o the direction of G-d.
- But the arts of civilization are problematic as well – Abram is from
Ur (modern day Iraq) – praying to idols, etc…
- Shows the double side of things
- Almost ends with the mere sacrifice of his son.
- 1) Historical Validity
- Archeologists – proof that the patriarchs did exist. – found
- Abram has to pass off his wife as his sister. - “There’s no fear of G-d in this place” – the king will try to kill him to
- That phenomenon in legal documents – saying my wife is my sister
are found in discoveries in the mid-east.
- The divine findings of divine names are found.
- Habiru invasions – wandering people who come from across the
river – came in to Mesopotamia – vast migrations where vast
numbers of people – Habiru (Hebrew)
- In the story of Abram – before he has a son he makes his servant
Eliezer his heir
- Tribal warfare – tries to save his nephew Lot – Alliances and war-far
- Impregnated Hagar – Ishmael
- The vows of Jacob
- Commercial transaction with a Hittite – the cave of Mathalah (where
he is to be buried)
- ^^^All of these are circumstantial evidence
- 3) Literary structures
- Deuteronomy and in Joshua
- Oral repetition
- The promise is preserved by remembering the past and why you
should obey it – you need to remember because you want him to
fulfill his promise.
- At the end of the book Jacob repeats his blessings to Joseph and his
other brothers – he recites the promises.
- Testing of the fathers.
- Abram is tested for simple faithfulness and if he is the kind of
person who has a sense of what kind of G-d this is, and stand up
for G-d’s justice (seen in Sdom and Gemorah)
- “should not the judge of all the Earth do justice” – holds G-d to the
standard to what he sees G-d.
- Promise is passed on through generations – each of the women
have to go through being barren and then have a child
- ^G-d can actually do it – make things happen which he wants to
happen – he says when and when you don’t have children
- Not just about a belief but about children
- Why did the fathers and mothers not get the promised land?
- They had to be shown to be prophetic – he “sees” into the future –
G-d has a reason for the 400 years
- It says that the sin of the Amorites is not yet complete (Cananites)
– history is a moral story – land is granted to people conditionally –
if you are living within harmony with G-d then you get the land but
if not then G-d retracts that right. – they sinned when they
sacrificed their children as their religion. - The story of the patriarchs anticipates the story of Israel
- Pattern of exile and return
- Patriarchs are pattern types for later history
- 5) Distinctive religious ideas
- it says about Abraham – he put his trust in G-d – “for I have known
him… that he may command his children and his household…”
- Abraham will be the man who embodies righteousness and justice –
makes Abraham worthy
- Is the story of the patriarchs and monotheism pure and simple? –
pre-Mosaic stratum of the faith.
- Divine names – important – they do reflect
- They are profoundly reflective of the nature of the name
- Ex, G-d, Adonai, El-Shaday (G-d all mighty), El-Yom (G-d most
high), G-d of the/my/your fathers, G-d of Abraham, Eternal G-d,
Elohay Ha’Shamayim, etc…
- There isn’t a single G-d context – Abraham didn’t have pure
- Henotheism (you have one G-d but you acknowledge the validity of
other gods but don’t exist for them) or monolatry
- Nature of the encounters that Abraham has with G-d
- 1) Sacrificial – sacrifices to G-d
- 2) Protective relationship to Abraham
- 3) Contractual – suggests that its more of a 2-sided thing/G-d
expects something from Abraham 1) exclusiveness of worship and
2) moral demands
- 4) Will he get an heir or not
- 5) Issue of justice – Held to a standard of justice
- 6) Chapter 22 of Genesis.
- Major event that changes everything for Abraham – take your son
and offer him on the mountain.
- Starts off with HaElohim – the G-d – not personal
- It’s a test – does Abraham love G-d because of what G-d does for
him or for the relationship?
- If G-d is omniscient why does he need to test him?
- 1) Wants to make an infinitive statement against child sacrifice
- 2) Wants to set a limit to fanatical devotion to G-d
- 3) The gentiles/world at large needs it – Abraham deserves this
relationship with G-d
- 4) A kind of parental aggression for the child – need to over-come
- Abraham’s duplicity to his wife – doesn’t tell her he is going to
sacrifice their son
- And same with Isaac when he asks where the sacrifice is. - Honesty and dishonesty.
- Proves himself worthy of the promise.
- After this story Sarah dies
October 17, 12
- Moses and Historical Freedom from Slavery
- 1) Significance of event
- 2) Historical context
- 3) Life of Moses
- 4) Textual Record
- 5) Commissioning of Moses
- 6) Experience
- 7) Divine names
- 8) The plagues
- 9) The ceremony of remembrance
- Collective entity in history
- Amarna Letters
- 13thC BCE – a century of great dislocations – ancestral traditions
were crumbling – major factor were big groups of people who were
- An account from a bunch of slaves who escaped from one of the
most powerful empires of the time – Jews and Egyptians
- Bible – there to glorify the G-d of Israel
- G-d’s promise which he fulfills – what the story testifies to.
- Formative moment for Jews
- The Hyksos were expelled from Egypt (Mesopotamians)
- People think that Joseph rose to power when the Hyksos were
pharaohs in Egypt.
- And when they are expthled the Jews were punished.
- Amman Hotef the 4 – known as Akhneton – changed the worship
center from Thebes to Amarna
- 1) He as pharaoh retains a god status as a mediator between man
and god – the sun disc
- 2) If we compare what he calls monotheism as what we do – then it
is not monotheism – The worship of a planetary object is not
- 3) it is not clear from our records that he ruled out any of the gods
– he could be the chief god.
- 4) his god is not a moral god – not concerned with justice.
- 1306 – 1200 – A general seizes power – names himself Pharaoh –
Ramses the 1 st– Puts his son in power – and then in 1290 – his
grandson Ramses the 2 – Rules from 1290 – 1224
- The great battle of Kadish – war with Egypt and Hittites.
- The great threat to Egypt. - It’s a stalemate – Lasts 10 years – signs a treaty – balance of
power – the area between Egypt and Meopotamia is neutral
- The Sea Peoples – people from the Mediterranean
- Egypt is in a state of destruction.
- Mernepteh Stele (1220) – records the feats of a king – “Israel is
laid waste, his seed is not.”
- Mernepteh – Pharaoh after Ramses 2 nd
- 1240 – Hittites taken over by Arameans – they are destroyed by
- Egypt is weakened
- Exodus - ~1280 – entry into Cannan - ~1245
- Nothing like history in our modern sense
- The Jews emerge in the state of history in the gaps between great
- 3) Life of Moses – A kind of model/emblem of the history of the
- His life plays out in advanced what is going to happen to the people.
- Emerges in Egypt – sees his brothers enslaved, kills task-master,
etc… - revelation at the bush.
- Moses is seen as the first prophet – his pattern by which he
becomes a prophet is a prototype.
- Tells us about the biblical understanding
- 1) G-d confronts the man (or woman) and announces to him – I am
the Lord (or I am the G-d of your fathers)
- 2) He says his piece 2a) sending you to speak for me, 2b) you will
perform a mission for me 2c) there is a specific mission I convey to
- Navi – prophet.
- 3) G-d says to the prophet – I will protect you
- 4) *key for Moses* - The prophet recoils and tries to escape.
- 5) Reassures and compels him (not giving a choice)
- Aaron will be a prophet for you (Moses having a lisp/stutter).
- Psychology of a prophet – 1) The prophet is accosted and grabbed
in the midst of life.
- 2) The prophet is called – not self appointed
- 3) The prophet cannot reject his mission
- 4) The prophet always tries to escape by saying he is unworthy –
only a true prophet will reject a mission
- Psychology of the prophet – a vessel for someone else’s words
- Commissioning of Moses
- 7) Divine names – Chapter 3 and 6 of Exodus – were Moses is
demanded by G-d – He reveals to Moses a different kind of name –
(Names are significant – That defines the essence of a being – Ability to call on others – Wants to be called on by humans – Name
is crucial – person who you are calling to)
- Also the danger with names – you can control something – perhaps
manipulate that G-d. YHWH meaning I shall be what I shall be –
you cant control – This G-d is above being in control
- The different names represent different attributes of G-d.
- G-d is a G-d that will be found how G-d wants to be found – n
image of G-d.
- HE is mysterious and had great power – aniconic – the only