Archive for July, 2011
I noticed a literary connection in the court-story books of the Writings…
In Esther 4:
Then Esther spoke to Hathach and commanded him to go to Mordecai and say, “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days.” (Est 4:10-11)
And in Daniel 2:
The king answered and said, “I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time, because you see that the word from me is firm—if you do not make the dream known to me, there is but one sentence for you. You have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the times change. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can show me its interpretation.” (Dan 2:8-9)
One is in Hebrew and the other in Aramaic, but the roots are cognates and the syntax is similar:
|“One is his decree”|
|“One is your (pl.) decree”|
I just thought that was cool. Can you think of another similar instance, either in the HB or in other ANE lit?
I’ve been light in the blogging department lately. July has turned out to be quite a busy month.
We went to Montreal from Canada Day to Independence Day (July 1-4) to visit Josh and Bekah. Pictures are up on Facebook.
When we got back, I immersed myself in ANE city laments, working on chapter 3 of my thesis, which is due on August 11.
I also have prepared two sermons for tomorrow’s services at Preakness Valley URC in Wayne, NJ. This might be one of the last times I go up there for a while, because they finally have a new pastor! He moves from Michigan and will be installed at a service on September 9, d.v. But I hope to still visit these dear brothers and sisters from time to time as there is need. I hope to post the audio of the sermons sometime this week.
Last week we celebrated three family birthdays: Daniel (7/25), Corrie’s Aunt Becki (7/27), and my Grandpa Frank (7/27). Daniel also was baptized on Sunday, and we had a lovely party afterward at my in-laws’ to celebrate.
Hopefully I’ll be able to provide some better content on the blog in the weeks to come. I just got some feedback from Dr. Jonker on my first two chapters, so maybe I’ll post little excerpts for your critique.
In the meantime, have a great summer! (Or winter if you’re in the southern hemisphere.)
LSUr is the longest of the extant city laments, at a length of 519 lines divided into five kirugus. Roughly eighty percent of the text is preserved on over thirty tablets. Michalowski posits that LSUr adapted the structure of CA: the curse is directed not at the city but at its enemies.
LSUr begins with the decision of the high divine council to bring calamity upon Sumer and Ur. One of the reasons for this calamity may have been overpopulation; in numerous instances the people are said to be “numerous” (41, 123). The divine decree is “to break up the unity of the people of Nanna, numerous as ewes” (30), and the god Nanna is said to have “traded away his people numerous as ewes” (103). Familial and social relationships are abandoned or broken as part of the destruction wrought by divine decree (12-16, 93-98). In another instance, all Ur suffers the same fate, besieged together by Elam (387-405).
The attack on the city results in the dispersion of the people: “Nintu had scattered the creatures that she had created” (24); “Nintu wept bitter tears over her creatures that she had created” (147). The people are said to have scattered like a school of fish (301,407a). The people are driven out of their homes (32, 186-87). Many are killed; others become fugitives and refugees (186-87, 407, 431). King Ibbi-Sin is taken to exile in Elam (35-37), along with the priests (345) and many of the people (71, 251-53).
The invasion of foreigners is a key part of the calamity, not just because of the attack but also because of the defilement of the city and temple (197). Foreigners, having overtaken the city, “even chase away the dead” (86). The city treasures (169) and the temple personnel and sacred articles (446) are carried off.
As in LU, the destruction of Ur in LSUr is ubiquitously described as a great flood/storm (59, 76, 81, 94, 107-08, 113, 163, 175-77, 207, 214, 405, 427, 456), including an adjuration to the storm itself at the beginning of the fifth kirugu (483-91).The invaders wreak indiscriminant havoc just as a flood—no one is spared.
The deities depart the cities of Sumer as the temples are destroyed one by one. Some of the deities become refugees (207-09), whereas others are said to have gone into exile with their people to Elam (271-78). The deities lament the loss of their people (147-48, 178-79, 225-42, 273-78). The restoration of the life and prosperity of the people is the decree of Enlil that triggers the restoration in the fourth and fifth kirugus (461-74; 509-13).
 Piotr Michalowski, The Lamentation Over the Destruction of Sumer and Ur (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1989); full text also available here.
 Ferris, “Lamentations: 2. Ancient Near Eastern Background,” 410-13 in T. Longman and P. Enns, eds., Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry and Writings (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 411
 Michalowski, The Lamentation Over the Destruction of Sumer and Ur, 9.
 Fleming ( “Ur: After the Gods Abandoned Us,” The Classical World 97 : 5-18.) compares the flood motifs in LU and Mesopotamian universal flood myths such as Atrahasis (14-18).
I was cleaning out some old files, and discovered this list I made up for a chapel sermon back in 2005:
Benj’s Top Ten Signs You’ve Visited a Megachurch
10. You park in section N3.
9. You take the shuttle from section N3 to the main complex.
8. You see vendors wandering the aisles of the sanctuary selling “Our Daily Bread,” WWJD bracelets, and Ichthus bumper decals.
7. Your kid brother is in a Sunday School class with children born in the same month he was.
6. When you drop him off at Sunday School, you and your brother each receive an irremovable bracelet with a tracking device and a 6-digit ID number.
5. The bulletin is longer than the Dodgers’ yearbook.
4. There are discipleship groups for left-handed, red-headed, former homosexuals.
3. The list of pastors’ phone numbers on the bulletin is longer than the members’ directory of your church back home.
2. The local high-school’s swim team trains in the baptismal during the week.
1. The church’s annual budget and the acreage of the church’s property exceed those of a Middle Eastern country.
Did I miss anything?
“Meeting a Holy God” is a sermon I preached at Preakness Valley United Reformed Church in Wayne, NJ, on June 26, 2011. The text is Isaiah 6.
Here is the MP3 audio (32:56, 30.2MB), and an excerpt:
Isaiah cries out, “Woe is me!” Now, in the previous chapter, a poetic oracle, Isaiah said six times, “Woe to you,” condemning those who oppressed the poor, and disregarded the Law of God, and lived lives of debauchery. The full revelation of YHWH’s holiness has made Isaiah realize—I am just as unclean as these people to whom I preach. I am a sinner. I am unfit to stand before a holy God.
Audio and text: ©2011 by Benjamin D. Giffone. Reproduction and distribution are permitted, providing that the author is properly credited and that no fee is charged.
This is awful. Thousands of American lives have been lost, and tens of thousands of Iraqi and Afghani wives and mothers have also mourned husbands and sons.
Let us never forget that war is itself an attrocity.