Monday, August 15, 2016

Genesis 1: 6, 7 8, 9, 10

Genesis 1. 6. And God said,Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
              1. 7. And God made the firmament , and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
              1. 8. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
             1.  9. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
             1. 10. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering  together of the waters called the Seas; and God saw that it was good.
I find this interesting architecture.  There’s a ‘firmament’ in the midst of the waters.  The firmament is called ‘Heaven”.  There are waters above and below the firmament.  Isn’t this unusual.  Dry land appears but the dry land isn’t the firmament and gathering together of the waters is the seas. But what of the water above the firmament.  What is this ‘water’ , this dynamic, above the heavens.  It’s a mystical conceptualization.  Heaven is a dividing place.  There’s been so often a flat earth with flat sky interpretation but that’s not what’s written in the Bible. There’s a distinctly different message here and a different cosmos than commonly taught in Sunday school. What is this firmament that is called Heaven.  And what are these ‘waters’ which are above and below and become apparently when gathered together both earth and seas.  Sounds very quantum physics to me.

The above is the King James Bible, an early interpretation when men were closer to the sacred and the world wasn’t digitalized and separate with fear so much today. The historical revisionism of the past assumes an ethnocentricity and states ‘we’re superior, they’re primitives’ but even the studies today, unbiased as such, show that the dark ages and medieval times were not nearly so ignorant or unhappy as the ‘modern’ mind would have.  I loved the “Cloud of Unknowing” from the medieval times.  But King James Bible is an interpretation and my study of hebrew shows it much deeper and more profound than ‘new’ language and scientific English known for it’s accounting capacity and recording capacity more than it’s poetic and illumination capacity. Old languages likes Hebrew, Sanskrit, Aramaic all served first and foremost the purpose of communication and less the purpose of empire which came later and ultimately science and banking which came even later.  Poetry, song, story telling and prophecy are early roles for the old language.  Much like the Old English of Chaucer which is not that very old at all but seems to a large degree untouched by the rigors of Francis Bacon. Modern theoretical physics and the psychology of the unconscious of Jung and Freud have more in common with the old than the high school or college scientific depiction or the language of law and accounting. They’re different.  Very different. Not necessarily superior or inferior but with a different purpose and a different meaning.
The NIV is the latest translation.  It’s definitely more ‘modern’ and very much less poetic than King James Version. It’s written by people more differentiated from their surroundings, more separate and apart than any one was in the time of King James.  Today we are atomized and alienated in a way which would have been inconceivable to earlier generations where kinship with family and community was the rule.

Genesis 1. 6. And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water."
              1. 7. So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so.
              1. 8. God called the vault “sky”. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
              1. 9. And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered in one place, and let dry land appear.” And it was so.
             1. 10 God called the dry ground “land”, and the gathered waters he called ’seas’. And God saw that it was good.
Isn’t this amazing. The ‘firmament’ becomes a ‘vault’. The waters are still above and below the ‘vault’ and the gathering of water still produces ‘land’ and ’seas’ but the ‘heavens’ now becomes ’sky.’  Frankly I don’t like the idea of the ’sky’ being a ‘vault’ or that even the translation by the moderns is close to that of the ancients likely captured better as ‘heavens’.  But this does show the significance of translation and interpretation.
In the Bible a hebrew world for Heavens and a Hebrew word for Sky might well be interchanged but here a ‘vault’ and a ‘firmament’ seem distinctly different so one wonders if the translators even had the same text. A Jewish Scholar might sort this out. The interpretation and translations of the Bible get complicated by which ‘folio’ or ‘book’ and which bit of which book is used.
But it’s a mystery isn’t it.  A really deeply moving mystery which one must get is some kind of mystical and intuitive conceptualization of the beginning of the world handed down by oral traditions for thousands of years and then written and re written and translated and interpreted for thousands more.  Yet most people think they ‘know’ Genesis.  I do or did but keep returning to ponder, what is this water that is above and below ‘heaven’ or even ‘sky’.  That sure does sound like Plank and Einstein.  The emptiness of outer space isn’t empty but here on earth there is a ‘gathering’ a greater density of the fabric of the universe, the space between the stars and this ‘gathering’ can be land or sea.  But what is this ‘vault’ , this ‘firmament’ and what is ‘heaven’.  I really don’t think it’s just sky. Even a ‘vault’ is a thing that holds something. I would say more than ‘sky’.  A vault is a receptacle for ‘souls’ perhaps or another enclosed space. For what purpose.
When I look at Hebrew translation for Heavens I found a marvellous article in Spectrum, “Then Genesis Account: Six Hebrew Words Make all the Difference. Brian Bull and Fritz Guy, ‘Translating Backwards,” in God, Sky and Land: Genesis 1 as the Ancient Hebrews Heard It.
The Hebrew word ‘shemayim’ may mean: heaven, sky, visible heavens, heaven as realm of the stars.  It was thought that in 1530 the physics of the sky was a dome with stars and sun moving back and forth across it.  Today we think of universe, and sometimes heavens is translated in modern times as ‘cosmos’ or ‘universe’ concepts unknown by Tyndale and unknown in 1530 and likely supposedly unknown at the time of the biblical writing.  I ‘m not so sure of the later but the modern translation chose ‘sky’ as a limited ‘choice.
raquia, the hebrew word means “extended solid surface, vault of heaven supporting waters above, firmament, dome, vault.
Aha, there is this agreement here
I won’t get into the other 4 words but this ‘vault’ and ‘firmament’ seems satisfactorily explained in a limited ‘architectural’ way but there’s still no clarity around this ‘water’ idea.  There’s also persisting ‘ethnocentricity’ which suggest we know physics and creation better than the ‘intuitive’ or ‘ancients’. Interestingly much of modern science has ‘confirmed’ the ‘insights’ of the ancients. This was seen when MRI’s and CTScans and Functional MRI”s supported to a large extent the insights that psychoanalysts had gained. They simply weren’t wholly ‘new’ ideas but rather built on the ‘observations’ and the ‘meditations’ of the people of before.
When I look for Biblical translations of the meaning of ‘waters’ I find that Genesis is said to use it in the idea of it’s two forms, one of the oceans, a symbol of death and the other as conventional water, a symbol of life.  Water to a dessert people is ‘life giving’.  There is life above and below the ‘vault’ so again there’s this image of heaven separating two ‘worlds’.
We pass to the other side in death. Our pets meet us at ‘rainbow bridge’.  Death be not proud. The Christian idea of this world is that of a kindergarten. Kierkegaard described this life as ‘suffering to death’.  People have thought of this life as the real purgatory and the future life of heaven or hell.  Heavens are this other place of life creating waters or the place between.  The Tibetans describe a ‘bardo’ or passing through place between reincarnations while the Hebrew describes
Strongs concordance describes the word as stemming from the Hebrew “mayim’ meaning water or waters, masculine noun.  Interesting this symbol of life and death or simply of life should be ‘masculine’ in the Hebrew which tends to be patriarchal.  Matriarchal society predates the later patriarchal society and then the patriarchal predates the matriarch.  They’re rather cyclic that way.  But translations then occur in the midst of cycles and understandings are influenced by the fashion of the day and perception of the day. Later they are interpreted through the lens of the listener or reader.
The Hebrew ‘Shamayim” was one part of the Hebrew three part cosmology, the others being ‘berets’ , the earth and ‘sheol’ the underworld.  Sheol is the ‘underworld’ where both righteous and unrighteous go and is mostly described as rather colourless.  However Isaiah describes it as the name of a ruler of the underworld which may be something different and the Elohim can save one from the Sheol. Sheol is feminine which takes us back to the patriarchy of Hebrew.  But was this Sheol a creation of the earlier matriarchal times or later patriarchal times.  One ‘descends’ in death whereas in the new testament Jesus ‘ascends’ to heaven.  The Christian believes more in ‘ascent’ to heaven in general whereas as the Jew definitely descends.

It’s seems like nit picking but when I look on the internet I’m delighted to see others also ‘struggle’ with the ‘conceptualization’ which is a form of advanced meditation practice especially in the ‘mindfulness’ traditions. It’s contemplative and together old men gather to simply consider these points and together’ experience’ the meaning of ‘where two or more are gathered there too shall I’.


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