Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Exodus: Chapter 19

Going up

and coming down

The moment of connection

When all must be kept apart

for fear of breaking forth

[For full chapter, click here
We finally reach “this day,” “this place.” We are back—as promised—at the “mountain of God.” The circle is complete. The gaping uncertainty filled. We leave the nadir of Refidim, with its existential doubt-“Is God amongst us or nothingness?” Now God has “brought you to Me.” A promise of an everlasting relationship: “you will be treasured from all people, a kingdom of priests”—which takes on new meaning in the aftermath of Jethro-the-priest’s visit. There is a brief moment of perfect harmony. Heaven “comes down” to earth. For once, the “entire” nation “answers together” to affirm rather than complain.
But in the background, looming danger. The consummation devoutly to be wished for carries its own danger. In the place of uncertainty, the desire for possession, to take, to have. “Do not touch” the people are warned again and again, and the “boundaries” are set into place and emphasized. Moses is again the liminal figure, going up and going down, binding heaven and earth. The mountain flames in a recreation of the burning bush, and the question is: who will be consumed? “Do not get close to a woman”—there is no place for human relations when surrounded by the encompassing Voice. Everything is on “edge”. And those who touch the "edge" will be destroyed by the "breaking forth" of the carefully contained power]

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