Friday, May 23, 2014

Exodus: Chapter 22

What is found
 the unexpected
 and our gods on earth
 local and small

flaming out of control
a field consumed

Oaths by the Name alone
that hears, responds
and is waiting

It continues to resonate
a pressured scream

[For full chapter, click here
The chapter continues the translation of revelation to the everyday. The further details of “Thou shalt not steal,” with detailed restitution.  The translation of “God” (Elohim, lit. powers) to the earthly realm: the elohim of the courthouses of temporal justice, the local gods that must not be worshiped—but should not be cursed. A curious ambiguity and merging between divine and temporal gods.
Most of all, a translation of the “Name that brought you out of Egypt.” He is the God of faithful oaths—the one who kept  his promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the name that must be used for our own promises. And the continuing resonance of the exodus from Egypt: The first borns “belong” to God; Do not mistreat the alien, the widow, the weak. If you “press”  (lahatz) them as you were pressed, they will “scream” (tzaka) as you screamed, and God will once again answer. The national redemption will continue on a personal level.
This new reality to local gods, of granting sanctity to the human realm, gives further resonance to human action. The leitword of the chapter is “found” (motze) implying the appearance of the unexpected. “If a man causes a field or vineyard to be eaten (yaver—also, “set fire”) “ “if a fire goes out and finds thorns…the one who set the fire (mmaver ha-be’era) shall pay”: our actions can take on their own reality, moving from passive to active.  These local powers are dangerous, eating all in their path (in contrast to God who burns the thorn bush, but leaves the “bush unconsumed”). The chapter closes by enjoining to “be holy” and abstain from eating that which is carrion in the fields. Some things that are “found” should not be used.]

No comments:

Post a Comment