Sunday, December 7, 2014

Numbers: Chapter 34

Mark for yourself

The boundaries of home

The sloping shoulder
The flowing hair 

[For full chapter, click here
This chapter continues the focus on space. From tracing the nomadic journeys through the desert, we now “draw the contour” (tit-ar) around the future borders of Israel.
The key word of this chapter is “for you”—la-khem. A simple word that holds within it the opposing ambiances  of this chapter. On the one hand, intense intimacy. The borders seem almost alive, “rising” “falling” “turning,” “leaving” “passing” with an anthropomorphized “shoulder”  and an ambiguous “side” that is also “hair” (pe’ah). They are all personal, “for you” , as you “draw the line” from one point to another.

On the other hand, a sense of the arbitrary. This is the land that “falls” (nafal) to you. You draw the line, which is for you. The land itself remains unchanged. The lines drawn belong fully in the human realm.  There is an intense relationship between you and land, but the land is always itself. ]

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