Thursday, January 31, 2019

Obadiah 1:21

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Obadiah 1:20

Daily Hebrew: 

v. 20a) 

v. 20b) 

The northern kingdom's exiles are represented by Halah, and Judah's exiles are represented by Sepharad: 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Obadiah 1:19

  • Title: Expanding Galaxy
  • Creator: Craig Schaffer
  • Location: U.S. Embassy Bern 

Daily Hebrew: 

v. 19a) 

v. 19b) 

Verse 19 has a strong centrifugal tone, with divine vitality directed expansively away from Mount Zion, the assumed sacral center or axis of outward force. The sculpture by Craig Schaffer [], based on fractal forms, captures, in my imagination, the center-based, center-dependent, sacral, life-infused spirituality of this part of Obadiah. 

Monday, January 28, 2019

Obadiah 1:18

Daily Hebrew: 

Burning pile of wheat chaff and straw (Life Photo Collection):

Images of flames and fire are often of rich, multilayered meaning in the Hebrew Scriptures. Even when the primary denotation is judgment/justice and/or destruction, connotations of lively otherness/mystery/the sacred are usually at hand. I think of Ezek 10:7, and its caution that no human authority or cause has control of or even direct access to the fiery numinousness of God. Bestial cherubim and a heavenly attendant stand between God's sacred fire and any contact it might make with terrestrial reality. Artworks sometimes grope to express some of this rich quality of fire to wield symbolic power. In "Sacred Fire" (below) the artist used a very unconventional method of "pouring" paint that awakens a feeling as if the flame is blazing dynamically and numinously before our eyes.

  • Title: Sacred Fire
  • Creator: MOTONAGA Sadamasa
  • Date: 1964
Sacred Fire, 1964:

Friday, January 25, 2019

Obadiah 1:17

Daily Hebrew: 

The image in this verse of Mount Zion, the temple mount, as a holy and secure divine refuge for God’s people draws strongly on the mythic-poetic archetype of the Cosmic Mountain. Art history offers us many beautiful examples of the divine mountain, aglow with cosmic significance and sacramental power. Here are two examples for reflection: 

  • Title: Climbing the Lantau Peak at night 
  • Chinese painter: Huang Bore
  • Date Created: 1956
  • Theme: Landscape
  • Physical Dimensions: w86.6 x h67.5 cm
  • Location in the artwork: Lantau Peak, Lantau Island, Hong Kong 

The artist, Huang Bore, created this magnificent painting from a sketch he made on a hike up the Lantau Peak mountain that included an overnight stay at the Po Lin Monastery located there. The sublime and transformative character of the mountain inspired several hikes there and quite a few works of art from his hand. 

  • Title: Sculptural vessel representing sacrifices presided over by Aia Paec in the mountains
  • Creator: Mochica style
  • Date Created: 700 - 850 C.E. 

I was attracted to this ritual/mythic-poetic image from Lima and enjoyed putting it in conversation with this verse of Obadiah, because the mountains of the vessel so much resemble (in my “reader/viewer response”) the divine hand cradling God’s people in holy safety that I imagine behind Obadiah 1:17. The figures cradled in the crevices of the mountain appear to shrink back in awe at the holiness of the mountain scene. A lead figure on the highest peak (in the top center of the vessel) appears prostrate in reverence. Redish bands flowing down from his body suggest new, sacred life, the holy rivers of life, often associated with the Cosmic Mountain archetype (e.g., see Ezek 47). 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Obadiah 1:16

Daily Hebrew: 

v. 16a) 

v. 16b) 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Judean Motza Temple of Pre-Exilic Times

The site of Motza west of Jerusalem had been understood since the 1990s as a locale of large silos of the Judean monarchy, a kind of national bank of the state of Judah from the tenth to the sixth centuries BCE. Since 2012, further excavations have unearthed what appears to many scholars to be a large shrine of the ninth century BCE. Broken cult objects, including figurines of horses, help to identify the site as a temple.
The meaning of the horse figurines is not certain, but, in my view, they could be connected with notions of solar theophany and rites of solar vigil at the Motza temple. The connection of horses with the sun and its poetic/ritual importance is clear from texts such as 2 Kings 23:11; Zech 6:1; and by the upper tier image on the Taanach stand. The importance of the sun in at least some forms of Israelite worship is evidenced by references to the rising sun in Pss 17:15; 46:5; 63:1; 84:11; and 110:3; by the narratives of 2 Kings 23:5-11 and Ezek 8:16, by the just-mentioned Taanach stand, and by horse figures with sun disks found at Lachish, Hazor, and Jerusalem.

I have poked around the Web a bit, and have been unable to find any good diagram or labeled photos of the Tell Motza Temple. There are pictures and video of the Motza site, but without labels, it is hard for people to make out any sacral structures with a sense of confidence:
Thus, I've gone ahead and looked at some of the work done on understanding the temple by folks such as Garfinkel, Mumcuoglu, Greenhut, de Groot, and Kisilevitz, and produced the following image, which attempts to make some initial sense out of the above aerial photograph of the temple site (click to enlarge):

Obadiah 1:15

Daily Hebrew: 

For reflection, consider the painting "Justice and Divine Vengeance Pursuing Crime" by Pierre-Paul Prud'hon (Date: about 1805 - 1806). 

For me, the play of light and darkness in the artwork is particularly powerful, drawing us in to the urgency and drama of the relentless threat of evil and violence in human life. The thief and murderer races, or is pulled, into the darkness, but moonlight unveils the horror of what has happened and torchlight will overcome the power of the darkness into which he tries to flee. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Obadiah 1:14

Daily Hebrew: 

v. 14a) 

v. 14b) 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Obadiah 1:13c

Daily Hebrew:

v. 13c) 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Obadiah 1:13b

Daily Hebrew:

v. 13b) 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Obadiah 1:13a

Daily Hebrew: 

v. 13a) 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Obadiah 1:12c

Daily Hebrew:

v. 12c) 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Obadiah 1:12b

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Obadiah 1:12a

The Obadiah page in the Willy Wiedmann "mile-long" Bible: 

Verse 12, Part a: "Do not gloat over your brother’s day,
The day of his misfortune." 

Daily Hebrew: 

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Obadiah 1:11b

Also check out: 

Daily Hebrew: 

v. 11b)

Some art to put in conversation with the verse that may stimulate theological or spiritual reflection: 

Rana Bishara: 

Randomness of the Dice... War Crimes and Assassination 

–– Palestinian Territory, 2016 

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

The "Slave Bible"

We recently experienced the exhibit on the "Slave Bible" right over the Potomac in Washington DC.

These "Bibles," which were specially produced for slave populations, cut away huge sections of Scripture, particularly those emphasizing freedom and liberation. Instead, passages emphasizing submission were give pride of place. There are not many of these Bibles still extant, but this one that was printed in London in 1809 for use by slaves in the British West India Islands is currently on loan to the DC Bible Museum. 

Obadiah 1:11a

Daily Hebrew: 

v. 11a)

Monday, January 07, 2019

Job's New Being: Reflections in Clay Sculpture by Jill Williams

One of my advanced students in last semester's Hebrew Bible seminar, Jill Williams, presented a sculpture of Job as her final project accompanied by exegesis and theological reflections in Job's ultimate transformation in the book.

Jill reports that a crucial decision for her was which posture to place Job in. "The posture itself should embody the paradoxes I believe Job’s existence now encompasses. I chose to put Job down on one knee in the dust and ashes. By placing Job in this position, the sculpture reveals how Job shows that he has one part of himself kneeling in honor and in awe of the Lord, while he still has one part of himself trying to stand up." Here I believe that Jill has discovered an exemplary spiritual posture that Abraham also exhibited in Genesis 18. There, Abraham, who has done no wrong, approaches God in both lowliness (“…I who am but dust and ashes”) and determination (God expects and even waits for Abraham’s challenge). Jill goes on to write, "It is a continual internal struggle to stand as a man in front of the Lord, to retain something of one’s own self, while at the same time surrendering everything that you are to God. This is a continual sacrifice... Is Job being pushed into the dust and ashes or rising out of it? Yes. Both. This is one of the paradoxes."

Obadiah 1:10

Daily Hebrew: 

Archaeological discoveries in the eastern Negev reveal Edomite expansion into Judah during the sixth century B.C.E., probably from the era when Babylonia was threatening Judah. Among the artifacts uncovered at Qitmit and En Hatzeva were limestone altars, terra cotta incense burners, and assorted figurines (see the worshiper model below), most likely signalling Edomite worship shrines.

Friday, January 04, 2019

Obadiah 1:9

Daily Hebrew: 

Teman: In Obadiah's poetry here, Teman is a poetic parallel term for Edom. It may be a tribal territory of inexact delimitation. If it is a specific location, and not just a general territory, it is difficult to pin down with any certainty. Some simply equate Teman with Bozrah, Edom's capital since the eighth century BCE. This would place Teman in Edom's north (see map below). However, the Kuntillet ’Ajrud inscriptions mention “Yahweh of Teman,” and Kuntilet Ajrud is south of Bozrah, south of Kadesh Barnea on the ancient route leading to Eilat and the Gulf of Aqaba. This may suggest a southern locale for Teman. Further, the fourth-century CE historian Eusebius locates Teman in the southern part of Edom and ties it to the ancient king Husham (Gen 36:34).  

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Obadiah 1:8

Daily Hebrew: 

Edom was famed for its “wise men.” See Jer 49:7; also the nation’s association with Job from Uz, which is considered by some to be in Edom, and with Job’s friend Eliphaz the Temanite. Further, living on the fringe of the northern Arabian desert and benefitting from the caravan trade and accessible copper deposits, it may be that Edom was known for its business acumen or diplomatic shrewdness. 

A wise owl considers its own demise in a 16th century woodcut:

  • Title: Allegory with an Owl
  • Date: 16th century
  • Technique: Woodcut
  • Credit Line: Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Paul J. Sachs
  • Artist: Johann (Hans) Wechtlin 

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Obadiah 1:7b

Daily Hebrew: 

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Obadiah 1:7a

Daily Hebrew: