Showing posts with label Genesis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Genesis. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Who's Dwelling In Shem's Tent?

"The structure of Genesis 9:25-27 is a heptastich which is divided into three parts by the repeated refrain of Canaan’s servitude, a son of guilty Ham:
                And he said,      
                   Cursed be Canaan;
                   A servant of servants will he be to his brother.
                                                                -Verse 25
                And he said,
                    Blessed be the Lord God of Shem;
                   Let Canaan be a slave to him.
                                                                -Verse 26
                God will enlarge Japhet,
                   But He will dwell in the tents of Shem;
                  Let Canaan be a slave to him
                                                                -Verse 27
Now the key issue is this: Who is the subject of the verb ‘he will dwell’ in Genesis 9:27? We concur with the judgment of the Targum of Onkelos, Philo, Maimonides, Rashi, Aben Ezra, Theodoret, Baumgarten, and Delitzsch that the subject is 'God.' Our reasons are these: (1) the subject of the previous clause is presumed to continue into the next clause where the subject is unexpressed; (2) the use of the indirect object of the previous line as subject (‘Japhet’) would require strong contextual reasons for doing so; (3) the context of the next several chapters designates Shem as the first in honor of blessing; and (4) the Hebrew phrase weyiškōn be’oh°lê šēm, ‘and he will dwell in the tents of Shem,’ hardly makes sense if attributed to Japhet, for Japhet had already been granted the blessing of expansion.
The plan of the whole prophecy appears to devote the first strophe only to Canaan, the second to Shem and Canaan, and the third to all three brothers. On the balance, then, the best option is to regard God as promising to Shem a special blessing. He would dwell with the Semitic peoples. The word for ‘dwell’ is related to the later concept of Mosaic theology of the Shekinah glory of God wherein the presence of God over the tabernacle was evidenced by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. Hence, the man Shem would be the one through whom the ‘seed’ promised earlier would now come. Had not God said, 'Blessed be the Lord God of Shem’ (Gen. 9:26)? And why did He use this distinctive form of address? Could it not be that the blessing and indwelling were linked? And could it be that they were God’s next provision to earth’s latest crisis?"

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Ten Commandments: An Echo Of The Creation

“The words ‘God said’ appear ten times in the creation account. In this way the creation narrative anticipates the Ten Commandments. This makes us realize that the Ten Commandments are, as it were, an echo of the creation; they are not arbitrary inventions for the purpose of erecting barriers to human freedom but signs pointing to the spirit, the language, and the meaning of creation; they are a translation of the language of the universe.”
-Joseph Ratzinger, ‘In the Beginning…’

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Two Creation Accounts?

Here is a good summary of the reasons to reject the Documentary Hypothesis concerning Genesis 1-2.
Another point concerning the two names for God found in Gen. 1 and 2, that the author of the article did not mention, is that since Gen. 1 describes a broad view of creation, the generic name for God ("Elohim") is used. Whereas in the more intimate account of creation in Gen. 2 focusing on man, the covenant name for God ("Yahweh") is used, which is entirely fitting.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Genesis 3:15 And The Annunciation In The Fathers Of The Church

The following is from my article, The Church Fathers' Marian Interpretation of the Old Testament:

In his Quaestiones in Genesim, that great Spanish composer of Marian literature, St. Isidore of Seville (d. 636) gives a marvelous exegesis of Genesis 3:15:

The seed of the devil is a perverse suggestion; the seed of the woman is the fruit of a good work, by which the perverse suggestion of the devil is resisted. She will tread upon his head, because from the beginning she expels his perverse suggestions from her mind. He will strike at her heel, because until the end he will try to deceive her mind, which he was unable to deceive with his first suggestion. Some have understood the following expression in reference to the Virgin, from whom the Lord was born: "I will put enmity between you and the woman," since it was promised that the Savior was going to be born from her, in order to defeat the enemy and to destroy death, of which the enemy was the author. For they also understand the following as a reference to the fruit of Mary’s womb; namely, Christ: "She will tread upon your head, and you will strike at her heel." This means: You will attack him to kill him, but he (Christ), after you have been defeated, will rise again and tread upon your head which is death (19).

We see here in this exegesis the intimate union between the woman and her seed. Mary’s fiat at the Annunciation leads to the birth of the Savior, the one who "will rise again and tread upon … death." Mary’s fiat wasn’t just a "yes" to the Annunciation, but rather also a "yes" to the death of her Son on the Cross, where Mary would also be crucified spiritually and a sword would pierce her heart as well. The Church Fathers, in seeing Mary as the "woman" of Genesis 3:15, unearth the seed for the doctrine of Mary as Co-redemptrix and Mediatrix of All Graces. Co-redemptrix because she actively participates in the crushing of Satan’s head, and Mediatrix of All Graces because she mediated Christ into the world, who is the source of all grace. Nobody sums this doctrine up in relation to Genesis 3:15 better than that great master of Scripture, St. Jerome when he states: "Death came through Eve; life through Mary" (20).


(19) Quaestiones in Genesim 5, 5-7, quoted in Luigi Gambero. Mary and the Fathers of the Church, 378.

(20) Epistle 22, 21, trans. Charles Christopher Mierow, in Ancient Christian Writers, No. 33 (New York, NY: Newman Press, 1963), 154.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Melchizedek In The Targums

“In the Targums (Neofiti I, Ps-Jonathan, Fragmententargum) Melchizedek is further identified with Shem, and thereby given a genealogy. It is noteworthy that though the scroll, the Fragmententargum, and Neofiti I call Melchizedek khn [cohen=priest], the Targums Onqelos and Ps-Jonathan avoid this title. The following paraphrases of Gn 14.18 are found: ‘and the upright king, the king of Jerusalem, that is the Great Shem, brought forth bread and wine; and he was a priest serving in the great priesthood before God Most High’ (Neofiti I, fol. 23 verso 18-24, recto 2). Ps-Jonathan (ed. Ginsburger): ‘and the upright king, that is Shem the son of Noah, the king of Jerusalem, went out before Abram, and brought out bread and wine. And at that time he was serving before God Most High.’ Fragmententargum (ed. Ginsburger, p. 9): ‘And Melchizedek, the king of Jerusalem, who was the Great Shem, was a priest of the Most High; he brought out food and wine, and was standing and serving in the great priesthood before God Most High.’”

-Joseph Fitzmyer, The Genesis Apocryphon of Qumran Cave I