lethargic_man: (reflect)
The last time I saw my mother, I was struck by the fact she was wearing her glasses; this was something the countless deathbed scenes one sees on the small and silver screens had not prepared me for, as they never show people dying wearing their glasses. But of course, just because you've taken to your bed for the last time doesn't mean you would want to see the world as a blur.

After my mother died, I intercepted two pairs of her glasses on the way to the bin, and, ahem, put them in a cupboard and forgot about them for almost two years. But I've finally donated them to charity today; my opticians will now send them off to be reused in developing countries.

My mother wanted her corneas to be donated after her death; for a variety of reasons (including corneal abrasions) that was not possible; this strikes me as the next best thing.
lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)

Chapter 34

This chapter starts with an episode with no Biblical precedent whatsoever (unless it's Abraham's intervention in the war of the four kings and the five kings):
Read about the war between Jacob and the seven kings of the Amorites. )

I think this is there as foreshadowing for the story we'll get to next week.

The story of how Joseph was sold into slavery is simplified: Joseph's premonitory dreams are missing, and the attempts by Reuben and Judah to talk the other brothers into not killing him elided to just "They changed their minds and sold him to Ishmaelite merchants" (missing out the confusion in the Biblical text between Ishmaelites and Midianites).

Potiphar, who buys Joseph, is described in the Bible as סְרִיס פַּרְעֹה שַׂר הַטַּבָּחִים. This is translated as "an officer of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard," which is misleading. סְרִיס is elsewhere translated as "eunuch"; evidently eunuchs could reach high status if the one word can also mean "officer". As for "captain of the guard", שַׂר הַטַּבָּחִים means more literally "chief executioner". I'd be intrigued to know what the Ge'ez text says in Jubilees; the out-of-copyright translation I use for my postings here says "chief eunuch" but my modern translation "court official"; the second description in both is "chief cook!" Jubilees also describes him as "priest of the city of Elew", which makes explicit the identification of the Biblical Potiphar, Joseph's master, and Poti-phera priest of On, Joseph's future father-in-law; and indeed in Ch. 40, Joseph's wife is described as the daughter of Potiphar, priest of Heliopolis, the chief cook.

Jacob's mourning for the loss of his son is intensified in Jubilees:

On that day Bilhah heard that Joseph had perished, and she died mourning him, and she was living in Qafratef, and Dinah also, his daughter, died after Joseph had perished. And there came these three mournings upon Israel in one month.
This is again used to provide justification for the date of a Mosaic festival:
Read more... )

The goat is, of course, relevant to both Joseph's story and Yom Kippur. (In actuality, the date of Yom Kippur was probably set so that Israelites, who had come to the Temple (or earlier, the Tabernacle) for Succoth might also be there on Yom Kippur a few days earlier, as Yom Kippur is not in itself a pilgrimage festival.)

[Dead Sea Scroll of Jubilees] Jubilees posts                     Jewish learning notes index


Tuesday, November 24th, 2015 10:00 pm
lethargic_man: (linguistics geekery)
Just discovered, from Wikipedia, about the Wymysorys or Vilamovian language, "a West Germanic micro-language actively used in the small town of Wilamowice, Poland." "The inhabitants of Wilamowice", it says, "are thought to be descendants of German, Flemish and Scottish settlers who arrived in Poland during the 13th-century."

Wait, what's this about the Scots colonising Poland!?
lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)

Chapter 31

In Gen. 35:2, Jacob tells his household to put away their foreign gods. The narrative continues (v.4) They gave to Jacob all the foreign gods in their possession, and all the earrings in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak by Shechem. )For the author of Jubilees, with his attitude towards righteousness, this isn't good enough:
Read more... )

Note that this is the first mention of Rachel stealing her father's teraphim; the story of Rachel taking them and sitting on them so Laban couldn't find them when he searched her possessions is completely missing, presumably so as to miss the implication that Rachel was actually taking them for use in worship.

When Jacob had many years earlier tricked his father into giving him the blessing intended for Esau, we were told Isaac's eyes had grown dim in his old age. What happens afterwards in Jubilees )

Isaac then blesses these grandsons of his, and once again the narrative imputes justification from the patriarchal age for something which actually arose much later: Read more... ) Having returned to Bethel, where God had appeared to him before he fled, now Jacob performs lots of sacrifices, for which Jubilees gives dates corresponding with the later festival of Succoth. Read more... )
Rebecca went and returned to her house to his father Isaac, and Jacob sent by her hand rams and sheep and billy-goats that she should prepare a meal for his father such as he desired.
Sound familiar?
And he went after his mother till he came to the land of Kabratan, and he dwelt there.

Where? This book explains, which perhaps I should read;* it looks like it has better commentary than the copy of Jubilees I read.

* Subtext: If I want to turn this blog series into a talk for Limmud the way I did my Samaritan Torah notes. I'm making no promises about this, though!

Chapter 33

Reuben sleeping with Bilhah )

[Dead Sea Scroll of Jubilees] Jubilees posts                     Jewish learning notes index

lethargic_man: (Berlin)
You've heard of the Great Wall of China? Well, this is the Very Short Wall of Berlin. I've been going past this fragment of Berlin Wall for years on the train; today I finally visited it to take a photograph.

lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)

Chapter 29

When Jacob returns to Cana`an, Jubilees pauses to talk about how the Rephaim were destroyed by God on account of their evil deeds, but misses out altogether the episode of Jacob wrestling with the angel (which is the source of the name Israel, "Wrestles with God", which God still gives him here, but without explaining the reason), and reduces the confrontation and reconciliation of Jacob and Esau to a single sentence. Possibly this is because the traditional enmity between Israel and the Edomites (by now called Idumaeans) was still ongoing at the time Jubilees was written,* and the author didn't want to dwell on their reconciliation.

* This being shortly before the Hasmoneans conquered the Idumaeans and gave them the choice between conversion to Judaism or exile, which the consequences of which are that, when, a couple of centuries later, King Agrippa I (who, as a descendant of Herod, was patrilineally an Idumaean though in other ancestry Jewish), read in public Deuteronomy 17:15, stating that “you may not put a foreigner over you” as king, his eyes ran with tears, but the people cried out, “Don’t fear, Agrippa, you are our brother, you are our brother!” Unfortunately when Edom later became associated with first Rome then Christianity, the ancient animadversity towards it became reinstated in Jewish feeling.

After Jacob returns to Cana`an, he lives some time near Shechem, until forced to flee after his sons kill its inhabitants after the rape of Dinah, then he travels to Bethel, and only then does he go south to visit his aged father. One might have thought he would have done this immediately after he returned. Jubilees tries to exonerate him, thus:

Read more... )

There's no indication, by the way, that Abraham built any tower in the Bible. This is the first mention of it here; it will prove significant, if briefly, in terms of plot later.

There's also no mention in the Bible that Rebecca was still alive when Jacob returned to Cana`an, but there's also no mention anywhere of her death, just, obscurely, that her wet nurse Deborah died at this point. (In Jubilees, she's with Jacob because she is accompanying Rebecca with Jacob to Bethel.)

Chapter 30

The story of the rape of Dinah starts in the Bible with by saying וַתֵּצֵא דִינָה בַּת־לֵאָה אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה לְיַעֲקֹב לִרְאוֹת בִּבְנוֹת הָאָרֶץ׃ "Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land," which, it strikes me, has a slight undertone of "If Dinah hadn't gone to socialise with the Canaanite girls, Shechem wouldn't have seen her and she wouldn't have got raped."

Jubilees avoids this entirely; not only is this verse missing, the story starting with "there they carried off Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, into the house of Shechem, the son of Hamor, the Hivite, the prince of the land, and he lay with her and defiled her", but the very next sentence imputes innocence to Dinah by saying, with no Biblical justification at all, "she was a little girl, a child of twelve years." Though, come to think about it in Biblical times, that wasn't so young at all. I wonder what words the original Hebrew used here. (I'll probably have to go on wondering: apart from fragments among the Dead Sea Scrolls, we don't have the original text; it's primarily preserved in Ge'ez, the sacred language of Ethiopia.)

In the Bible, Jacob is troubled by the fact Shim`on and Levi massacre the inhabitants of Shechem. His response in Gen. 34:30 may be interpreted as just fear of reprisals from the Canaanites, but when it comes to his deathbed blessing of his children, what they get in Gen. 49:5-7 is actually more like a curse. Jubilees, however, perhaps wanting to impress upon its readership that rape of Jewish women by non-Jews is utterly unacceptable, goes into a long rant justifying Shim`on and Levi's action, starting:

Read more... )

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Thursday, November 19th, 2015 05:48 pm
lethargic_man: (reflect)
I had my CV evaluated by a company who were offering that for free; they basically said my CV was rubbish.* Now of course, they're wanting to sell me their services, though they offered plenty of advice for free (and at up to three-figure sums, I think they can take a running jump). What they don't know is that the last time I applied for jobs, my CV as it stands (minus only of course the details of my last job) got me interviews for both positions I applied for. OTOH, then I was applying within a very small field, of which very few people had my level of experience. So I will take the company's advice, but I still think they're using scare tactics.

Interestingly, they also said "93% of all Hiring Managers use a CV scanning software to filter candidates from the application pool" (that certainly wasn't the case when I helped my boss to plough through hundreds of CVs seven or so years ago) and "it is likely that hiring managers will be confused by the file type and simply dismiss it. You might want to consider converting your document to a Microsoft Word file." Come on, you're saying hiring managers in a high-tech company won't recognise HTML!? Though amongst the things their Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) failed to pick up were contact details; this is because the email address on the online version is output by JavaScript, meaning it's legible to human readers, but not to web spiders, to stop it being harvested for use in spamming me. This is a bad thing, as obviously I do want to be contactable; but OTOH their ATS also identified my most recent employer as the BBC, which employer I left six and a half years ago.

(This amuses me somewhat, as it's the same misidentification I get from lots of people, for whom the name BBC is memorable but the small company I worked for afterwards instantly forgettable.)

* Details: "I found your design to be visually uneven and cluttered. The appearance is not polished, and it doesn’t say 'high potential' as your experience suggests." "From the way the CV is worded, you come across as a 'doer,' as opposed to an 'achiever.' Too many of your job descriptions are task-based rather than results-based. This means that they tell what you did rather than what you achieved. This is a common mistake for non-professional CV writers" (their emphasis).

† I've been, where possible, pointing people at the online version of my CV as a web page. (Sometimes I use a version without the site-wide background.)
lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)

Chapter 28

In much the same way that the story of Eliezer Abraham's servant's selection of Rebekah as a wife for Isaac is missing, so too is that of Jacob's first meeting with Rachel, along with the line "and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had for her":
He went on his journey, and came to the land of the east, to Laban, the brother of Rebecca. He was with him, and served him for Rachel his daughter one week [of years].
When Laban fobs Jacob off with Leah, and responds to Jacob's remonstrances with "It is not the done thing in our country to marry off the younger daughter before the older", the angelic narrator of Jubilees adds:
It is indeed not right to do this; for thus it is ordained and written in the heavenly tablets, that no one should give his younger daughter before the elder; but the elder, one gives first and after her the younger; the man who does so, they set down guilt against him in heaven, and none is righteous that does this thing, for this deed is evil before the Lord. Now command the children of Israel that they do not this thing; let them neither take nor give the younger before they have given the elder, for it is very wicked.

[Dead Sea Scroll of Jubilees] Jubilees posts                     Jewish learning notes index

lethargic_man: (Berlin)

As you know, I shall be emigrating to Berlin shortly. For many of the more fungible of my possessions without sentimental value, it does not make sense for me to shlep ship them there. If anyone wants anything listed below, please let me know. I've provided as-new prices; many of the items are sufficiently used that they will no longer be worth that, others will (e.g. the bookcases). I'm not going to hold anyone to any price, but it would be nice to get some remuneration for my possessions, given that I'm going to have buy new ones at the far end, and do not currently have an income.


  • £190 extending circular dining-room table, surface somewhat stained, scored and etched (tip: don't leave past-their-expiry date batteries on a wooden surface!)
  • 5 × £11 folding chairs, each equipped (if I haven't lost any) with a Blenda chair cover (all in need of dry-cleaning!)
  • 3 other folding chairs of unknown provenance (no one admits to lending them to me!)
  • 3 × £55 Billy bookcases
  • 1 bookcase/storage cupboard which came with the flat
  • Monopod pedestal
In addition, I haven't quite decided whether to get rid of the following:
  • Revolution Courier Race bicycle, this year's model is £349, plus mudguards, which seem to be £30+. Nine years old and heavily used; various parts have been replaced. I need to research whether it's remotely cost-effective to ship this to Berlin.
  • Track bike pump, £15
  • Succah: This was a real labour of love, and I would be sad to leave it behind, but it might not make financial sense to bring with. It's put together to a design by [personal profile] my_torah and his father (which I'm sure he'd be happy for me to pass on), and consists of the following separable components:
    • 40-odd × 8' bamboo poles (Homebase offers ten for £5.49). Some of them are no longer quite straight. These will definitely not be coming with me!
    • 6'×32' light hessian wrap, with strings attached for tying to the roof
    • Cable ties
    • Tree tefillin Rubberloc tree ties, £12 in 2010
    • Matting to act as סְכַךְ
    All together it came to about... £80, I think, in 2008, which was considerably cheaper than any of the prefab ones you can get Golders Green.

Cutlery and crockery

  • 5 × cheap and cheerful wine glasses (The nice ones are going with me!)
  • Set of 4 matching tall glasses; set of 5 matching tall glasses (plus 1 unmatched one).
  • Various cutlery, pots, pans; including kosher le-Pesach ones, amongst which two very large pots useful for kashering the rest in before Pesach.


  • Hinari food processor. Some bits of this have broken; it doesn't seem possible to get replacements firsthand any longer (and for me secondhand parts are out on kashrus grounds), but it's still good for chopping and blending things.
  • Electric whisk
  • Electric urn

Kitchen and white goods

I expect the following white goods which I got since I moved in will stay here (along with the poor but serviceable condition chairs and armchairs, which I shall leave for the next owner to probably throw out):
  • Whirlpool 60l IIRC A-rated upright freezer
  • Matsui washing machine, was £224 inc. delivery and installation when I got it
I'm sure there'll be other things I haven't thought of here. (And indeed, there are a number I can think of that I doubt anyone is interested in, e.g. a pair of somewhat clapped-out loudspeakers (I find they still sound reasonable with treble boost applied), or my crockery, much of which is chipped.) I might update this list as I think of further examples.
lethargic_man: The awful German language (Mark Twain's words, not mine) (Die schreckliche deutsche Sprache)
I've been displacing from resuming learning German by trying to get my head around the non-English sounds I have trouble with.

I had difficulty getting my head around [ç] (the "ch" in ich) when [livejournal.com profile] curious_reader first tried to explain it to me a decade ago, but then it became easy when I learned that it also existed in English as an allophone of /h/ in words like "hew" and "huge".*

* I hadn't even realised /h/ had any allophones in English until then. Likewise, it wasn't until I learned about them that I realised /l/ and /p/ do, which makes me wonder whether Biblical Hebrew speakers were aware of the sound differences between the letters בגד כפ״ת and the versions with דָגֵשִׁים (centre dots), which differences were allophonic in Biblical Hebrew but today either lost or phonemic (i.e. either version could appear in a particular context, e.g. פ vs. פּ in קוּף and קֶטְשׁוּפּ).

I've been struggling also with the long A in German; the sound in Vater. IPA transcriptions revealed it's not the front vowel [æː] (the long version of the sound in English "cat", which doesn't exist in standard English, but which I am familiar with nonetheless), nor the back vowel [ɑː] as in English "father", but [aː], which is somewhere in between.

Like quarter-tones in Arabic music, this falls between the categories I am conditioned to hear: I can perceive it fine, but remembering it and reproducing it is another matter! Again, though, Wikipedia came to the rescue, when I studied the page on English phonology and discovered the sound did exist in English, as the first half of the diphthong [aɪ], as in "price". So the key to getting my head around it is to say "price" really slowly, so I can hear what I'm saying, then only pronounce the first half. :o)

Unfortunately, though, there's only so far English will get me. I still can't pronounce the long "e" in my girlfriend's name, and listening to me trying to get the difference between the [œ] that Wikipedia says one should use for short /ö/ and the [øː] for long /ö/, or the [ʏ] or [yː] for short and long /ü/ is like listening to a giggle stick...
lethargic_man: (Default)

Chapter 24

The author of Jubilees is unaware of the midrash which explains the red lentil stew which Jacob made as a mourning meal for the death of Abraham:
Read more... )
Isaac swears an oath of peace with Abimelech king of Gerar. The author of Jubilees is disquieted at this oath of friendship between a Hebrew and their traditional enemies the Philistines, and adds:
Read more... )
Strong stuff!

Chapter 26

When Isaac said "The hands are the hands of Esau, but the voice is the voice of Jacob", why did he continue to accept Jacob's subterfuge? The Bible doesn't give an answer; Jubilees supplies one:
Read more... )
When Esau returns from the hunt, and discovers he has been deceived, he cries out "Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, my father!" Isaac responds:
Behold, your dwelling shall be from the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above; And by your sword shall you live, and shall serve your brother; and it shall come to pass when you shall have the dominion, that you shall break his yoke from off your neck. הִנֵּה מִשְׁמַנֵּי הָאָרֶץ יִהְיֶה מוֹשָׁבֶךָ וּמִטַּל הַשָּׁמַיִם מֵעָל׃ וְעַל־חַרְבְּךָ תִחְיֶה וְאֶת־אָחִיךָ תַּעֲבֹד וְהָיָה כַּאֲשֶׁר תָּרִיד וּפָרַקְתָּ עֻלּוֹ מֵעַל צַוָּארֶךָ׃

Now, הִנֵּה מִשְׁמַנֵּי הָאָרֶץ יִהְיֶה מוֹשָׁבֶךָ, "Your dwelling shall be from the fatness of the earth", can mean either "Your dwelling shall be of the fatness of the earth," making this a blessing, or "Your dwelling shall be far from the fatness of the earth," making it a curse. Jubilees (predictably) goes for the latter, and then, not content with that, adds to the end:

You shall sin a complete sin unto death, And your seed shall be rooted out from under heaven.

Chapter 27

The Bible continues: "Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, Let the days of mourning for my father be at hand, then will I kill my brother Jacob. These words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: and she sent and called Jacob her younger son," and told him to flee to Ḥaran. But wait; how could Rebekah know something Esau only said in his heart? Jubilees provides the answer by supplying, after "were told to Rebekah": "in a dream". In the Bible, Jacob meekly goes along with his mother's plan; in Jubilees, he is more assertive:
Jacob said, 'I am not afraid; if he tries to kill me, I will kill him!' But she said to him: 'Let me not be bereft of both my sons on one day.'

[Dead Sea Scroll of Jubilees] Jubilees posts                     Jewish learning notes index

lethargic_man: (Default)
I'm in the middle of reading, after hearing the author speaking on the BBC's "The Museum of Curiosity" (though to my chagrin cannot now remember what she said), The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The Mostly True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua, a graphic novel with factual footnotes (and endnotes to the footnotes, and footnotes to the endnotes). I can't remember anything which has made me laugh out loud so often since Douglas Adams, possibly not even Terry Pratchett (though this may reflect my memory more than what I've been reading). If you're remotely interested in the history of computers, or in steampunk, or are a geek, or find the conceit of (just to pick one example from hundreds) the Analytical Engine, when Ada Lovelace goes into its internals to sort out a problem, popping up a sign reading "Just what do you think you're doing, Lovelace?" amusing, or (likewise) are interested to learn that, before the invention of the telegraph, Babbage proposed a network of zipwires across London for fast distribution of letters, then run, do not walk, out to buy this book!

When I ordered this book, and was told it was only out in hardback, and was £16.99, I said to the bookseller, "It had better be worth it for that price, then." Well, so far (I'm a third of the way through it), it's worth every penny. The only slight quibble I have with it is that the author is a Canadian, and occasionally the characters' diction reflects her Canadian English rather than the Victorian British English they would actually have spoken. But I suppose that is a small price to pay for Canada's having come up with someone who would think of writing this book in the first place.

Now I need to stop burbling here until I've read the rest of it.
lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)

Chapter 19

The story of Eliezer Abraham's servant's selection of Rebekah as a wife for Isaac is completely missing in the Book of Jubilees; I wonder why:
In the fourth year thereof he took a wife for his son Isaac and her name was Rebecca [the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Nahor, the brother of Abraham] the sister of Laban and daughter of Bethuel; and Bethuel was the son of Melca, who was the wife of Nahor, the brother of Abraham.
Why did Rebekah favour Jacob when Isaac loved Esau more? Jubilees makes this Abraham's suggestion:
Abraham saw the deeds of Esau, and he knew that in Jacob should his name and seed be called; and he called Rebecca and gave commandment regarding Jacob, for he knew that she (too) loved Jacob much more than Esau. He said to her, "My daughter, watch over my son Jacob, For he shall be in my stead on the earth, And for a blessing in the midst of the children of men, and for the glory of the whole seed of Shem. For I know that the Lord will choose him to be a people for possession unto Himself, above all peoples that are upon the face of the earth. And behold, Isaac my son loves Esau more than Jacob, but I see that you truly love Jacob. [...]"

Chapter 20

Why was Abraham so insistent that Isaac not take a Canaanite wife, and why was Isaac so grieved when Esau did? Genesis does not give us an answer, but Jubilees fills that gap, in the form of Abraham giving instructions to his children:
Do not allow them to take to themselves wives from the daughters of Canaan; for the seed of Canaan will be rooted out of the land.

Chapters 22-23

Jubilees has an extended, and slightly odd, description of the death of Abraham, in which Jacob plays an important part. First Abraham gathers his family, and spends some time commanding and blessing Jacob, then:

The two lay together on one bed, and Jacob slept in the bosom of Abraham, his father's father; he kissed him seven times, and his affection and his heart rejoiced over him. And he blessed him with all his heart and said: [still more blessings].

He placed two of Jacob's fingers on his eyes, and he blessed the God of gods, and he covered his face and stretched out his feet and slept the sleep of eternity, and was gathered to his fathers. And notwithstanding all this Jacob was lying in his bosom, and knew not that Abraham, his father's father, was dead. And Jacob awoke from his sleep, and behold Abraham was cold as ice, and he said 'Father, father'; but there was no reply, and he knew that he was dead. And he arose from his bosom and ran and told Rebecca, his mother; and Rebecca went to Isaac in the night, and told him; and they went together, and Jacob with them, and a lamp was in his hand, and when they had gone in they found Abraham lying dead. And Isaac fell on the face of his father and wept and kissed him. And the voices were heard in the house of Abraham, and Ishmael his son arose, and went to Abraham his father, and wept over Abraham his father, he and all the house of Abraham, and they wept with a great weeping.

[Dead Sea Scroll of Jubilees] Jubilees posts                     Jewish learning notes index

lethargic_man: (Default)
This is ridiculous: I'm going to be leaving Cornwall still without ever having tried a Cornish pasty, because there's nowhere that serves vegetarian ones which does not also serve meat. (Though given the origins of the pasty, this shouldn't really be too surprising.) Possibly I should try to make my own.

For other veggie-restaurant seeking visitors to Cornwall, I can highly recommend the Bean Inn in St Ives, who do a really nice Moroccan vegetable and chick pea chermoula casserole. Also Michael House just outside Tintagel, which is not a restaurant but a guest house with evening meals open (on advance booking) to non-guests. When I was there that meant me and a family of four sitting around a dining room table and socialising all evening. :o)


Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 09:51 pm
lethargic_man: (Default)
One thing you don't pick up from seeing what rice paddies look like on television is that growing rice smells just like rice being cooked!


Sunday, October 25th, 2015 07:55 pm
lethargic_man: (Default)
Katrin WINOLJ/DW has suggested that [livejournal.com profile] aviva_m and I go ice-skating with her this coming weekend. The last few times we went together, my skates (or, to be more accurate, the boots to which the skates were attached) ended up chafing my legs raw at the top. It didn't seem to make any difference whether I did them up tightly or left them a bit loose. What am I doing wrong?
lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)

Chapter 16

Gen. 19 describes how the progenitors of the nations of Ammon and Moab were the result of the incest of their mothers with their own father. Deuteronomy makes clear that the Israelites are not to hold this against these nations:
And when you come nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give you of the land of the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession.
Despite this, and despite the Toraitic injunction against punishing children for the sins of their parents, Jubilees takes a less accommodating stance, though deferring punishment until the end of days:
Behold, it was commanded and engraven concerning all [Lot's] seed, on the heavenly tablets, to remove them and root them out, and to execute judgment upon them like the judgment of Sodom, and to leave no seed of the man on earth on the day of condemnation.
Jubilees finds precedent for the celebration of Succoth in the life of Abraham, after the angel has announced to Abraham and Sarah that, as well as Sarah being pregnant, Abraham would have six more children:
Read more... )
(Wreaths upon their heads?) Whilst there is no derivation of the festivals from the lives of the Patriarchs in the Bible, the rabbis would, a few centuries after Jubilees was written, declare that the lives of the Patriarchs were a sign for what would happen to their descendants.

Chapter 17

Why did God test Abraham with the Binding of Isaac? Jubilees makes it at the instigation of Mastema, similar to God's testing of Job:
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Chapter 18

The Binding of Isaac story finishes in Jubilees with:
Abraham went to his young men; they arose and went together to Beersheba, and Abraham dwelt by the Well of the Oath. He celebrated this festival every year, seven days with joy, and he called it the festival of the Lord according to the seven days during which he went and returned in peace. And accordingly has it been ordained and written on the heavenly tablets regarding Israel and its seed that they should observe this festival seven days with the joy of festival.
So that's a justification for Pesach from the lives of the Patriarchs too, though a week one, and a wholly unnecessary one too IMO in the light of its justification based upon the Exodus.

[Dead Sea Scroll of Jubilees] Jubilees posts                     Jewish learning notes index

lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)

Chapter 12

In the midrash, Teraḥ is portrayed as a maker of idols, against whom Abram rebels. The author of Jubilees, whilst approving of Abram as rejecting idolatry in favour of monotheism, is obviously concerned at his filial impiety, and seeks to ameliorate it:
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The Midrash, commenting on the Biblical verse "Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees" famously describes how Nimrod cast Abram into a fiery furnace for destroying his father's idols; and how only after he survived did Abram's brother Haran decide to follow his example, as a result of which he got burned. Jubilees, however, tells a quite different story:
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In Gen. 12, God tells Abram, without any reason given, to get up and leave his country. Jubilees gives a reason for this: it's in response to a prayer of Abram's:
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Again, Jubilees seems to be troubled by Abram's filial impiety at leaving his father and not coming back to him:
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That said, of course, Abram never returned and fetched his father.

Chapter 15

In Gen. 17, God commands the just-renamed Abraham to circumcise himself and all the males in his household as a sign of the covenant between him and God. But why circumcision as such a sign? Jubilees provides an answer:
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[Dead Sea Scroll of Jubilees] Jubilees posts                     Jewish learning notes index

lethargic_man: "Happy the person that finds wisdom, and the person that gets understanding."—Prov. 3:13. Icon by Tamara Rigg (limmud)

Chapter 11

Gen. 16:11 describes how, at the Covenant between the Pieces, when Abram laid out his sacrifices, birds of prey came down on the carcases, but Abram drove them away. Jubilees leads up to this by an extended piece of foreshadowing, the reasons for which I do not understand:
The prince Mastema sent ravens and birds to devour the seed which was sown in the land, in order to destroy the land, and rob the children of men of their labours. Before they could plough in the seed, the ravens picked (it) from the surface of the ground. For this reason [Nahor] called [his son's] name Terah because the ravens and the birds reduced them to destitution and devoured their seed. And the years began to be barren, owing to the birds, and they devoured all the fruit of the trees from the trees: it was only with great effort that they could save a little of all the fruit of the earth in their days.
A few paragraphs later:

The seed time came for the sowing of seed upon the land, and they all went forth together to protect their seed against the ravens, and Abram went forth with those that went, when the child was a lad of fourteen years. A cloud of ravens came to devour the seed, and Abram ran to meet them before they settled on the ground, and cried to them before they settled on the ground to devour the seed, and said, 'Do not descend: return to the place whence you came!' and they proceeded to turn back.

He caused the clouds of ravens to turn back that day seventy times, and of all the ravens throughout all the land where Abram was there settled there not so much as one. All who were with him throughout all the land saw him cry out, and all the ravens turn back, and his name became great in all the land of the Chaldees. There came to him this year all those that wished to sow, and he went with them until the time of sowing ceased: and they sowed their land, and that year they brought enough grain home and eat and were satisfied

In the first year of the fifth week Abram taught those who made implements for oxen, the artificers in wood, and they made a vessel above the ground, facing the frame of the plough, in order to put the seed on it, and the seed fell down from it onto the share of the plough, and was hidden in the earth, and they no longer feared the ravens. And after this manner they made (vessels) above the ground on all the frames of the ploughs, and they sowed and tilled all the land, according as Abram commanded them, and they no longer feared the birds.

[Dead Sea Scroll of Jubilees] Jubilees posts                     Jewish learning notes index


Wednesday, October 14th, 2015 09:24 pm
lethargic_man: (beardy)
If you look at, for example the sunrise and sunset almanac on timeanddate.com, you'll see there are three types of twilight: civil twilight (taking the sun to 6° below the horizon), nautical twilight (to 12°) and astronomical twilight (18°).

Wikipedia explains: at civil dusk (the end of civil twilight), terrestrial objects may no longer in good weather conditions be clearly distinguished; at nautical dusk navigation via the horizon at sea is no longer possible; and whilst astronomical twilight might look like full night to the casual observer, there is still too much light to observe stars, nebulae or galaxies which are no brighter than sixth magnitude.

However, as a cyclist, and a (reasonably) observant Jew, the periods of twilight divide for me more naturally into: fifteen minutes of good lighting conditions (in the absence of overcast) for cycling, fifteen minutes of failing lighting conditions, and fifteen minutes of "Is Shabbos out yet?" :o)


lethargic_man: (Default)
Lethargic Man (anag.)

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