Thursday, October 20, 2005

Reading on the First Day of Succos

Zechariah 14:

"1 A day of the LORD is coming when your plunder will be divided among you.

2 I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city.

3 Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. 4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. 5 You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

6 On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. 7 It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime—a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light. 8 On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter.

9 The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.

10 The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up and remain in its place, from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses. 11 It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure.

12 This is the plague with which the LORD will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. 13 On that day men will be stricken by the LORD with great panic. Each man will seize the hand of another, and they will attack each other. 14 Judah too will fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected—great quantities of gold and silver and clothing. 15 A similar plague will strike the horses and mules, the camels and donkeys, and all the animals in those camps.

16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. 17 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. 18 If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. 19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.

20 On that dayHOLY TO THE LORD will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the LORD's house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. 21 Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the LORD Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD Almighty."


Seriously, does the Gog/Magog (as named in Ezekiel) eschatology seem like what a good God would do? The "Lord's Day" is a day of terror, suffering, plagues, madness, panic and abject war? Which will then be followed by severe meterological theism and indefinite threats of additional plague?

The great Puppetmaster really knows how to draw people to Him out of love, right?

8 comments:

alex said...

"The great Puppetmaster really knows how to draw people to Him out of love, right?"

You picked the "fear" verses. You'll have to look elsewhere for the "love" verses.

Come to think of it, verse 3 thru verse 14 (and parts of 20 and 21) are kind of "loving". Well, to the Jews, at least. The rest of the verses are indeed unusual.

Prince Imrahil said...

Who said God is a God of love? What does that even mean?
What about Justice?
Can evil live forever, outlast the night?
Apparently your not aware of the ancient principal elucidated in the Talmud that any negative and eschatological prophecy is not neccessarily going to happen, it can be negated so to speak (by Teshuva and personal transformation). If you really think the German nation will not reap what it sowed than you don't know what Love means.
As usual, I challenge simplistic understandings and adhoc assumptions. As usual, there are no quoted prophecies of the most pleasant variety (and we read those too). Cheers...

Orthoprax said...

Alex,

"The rest of the verses are indeed unusual."

They're not that unusual. Read through a few of the Prophets, it's not always nice stuff that they talk about.



Prince,

"Who said God is a God of love? What does that even mean?"

Forget love, is he good? So good that he feels he needs to threaten the world with plague and drought if they don't observe Succos? Does that even sound normal to you?

"Apparently your not aware of the ancient principal elucidated in the Talmud that any negative and eschatological prophecy is not neccessarily going to happen..."

I am familiar with it - but I am also fairly certain that Zechariah never heard of it. I don't think it will happen in any case, but the point is that Orthodoxy has to accept this type of activity as Godly and morally right. It must be an appalling dilemma for moral Orthodox Jews - if only they realized there was a dilemma to take note of.

"As usual, I challenge simplistic understandings and adhoc assumptions."

The text is pretty straight forward. Is Zechariah not saying that God will act like a big terrorist?

"As usual, there are no quoted prophecies of the most pleasant variety (and we read those too)."

Well, yeah... Not much to write about those.

Prince Imrahil said...

I'm with you kid, they don't sound too nice.
But your Gods' been killing people for millennia. Now that is not too nice. Come to think of it, evolution is not too nice either. All of those millions of species lost forever. And the terrible lion crushing the poor gazelle. What kind of a 'moral' god is this? And millions of sperm cells that don't make it. Horrible. Nature Red Tooth in Claw...

Terrorism is obviously not justice and Tzedek. I won't even waste time responding to it. Your points or feelings are obviously derived from Christian beliefs so why take issue with Tanach?

Orthoprax said...

Prince,

"But your Gods' been killing people for millennia."

My gods? As far as I know, nature is blind.

"Terrorism is obviously not justice and Tzedek."

In this chapter, it is God who gathers the nations against Israel and then punishes them to a ridiculous degree and uses clear terrorism to make them act as He wants. That is justice? That is tzedek?

"I won't even waste time responding to it. Your points or feelings are obviously derived from Christian beliefs so why take issue with Tanach?"

I disagree. My points are derived from my views on real justice. Or is it ok for a theistic God to not be just?

Prince Imrahil said...

Orthoprax,
Your points are perceptive and astute. But I submit that you haven't yet studied the Rambam's Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah. You'll gain a much more authentic and sophisticated understanding of God and metaphor. I've browsed most of your points on these type of issues and I find them to be critical of the crude pedestrian and dare I say popular Christian notions of God and the Universe. Like the old joke goes, the god you don't believe in I don't either.
Have you stidued Rav Kook at all?
Quick summary: There is a Primal and Subsuming Existence that 'Existentiates' all other existences - that is what we are referring to. To say God 'does' something, means Existence is being expressed in a particular way - there is no will being imposed on Creation.

Orthoprax said...

Prince,

I actually have read over the beginning of the Yesodei Hatorah. Some parts I liked, but I was rather distracted by his weird views (by today's standards) of cosmology. And he never really ties in how this Prime Existence works into why we should follow the mitzvot or believe that the Torah is divine.

"Like the old joke goes, the god you don't believe in I don't either."

Maybe that's you. What DO you believe after all? Is God a moral actor and concerned with human morality? Is the God as seen in the Torah or Tanach an accurate portrayal? Did God meet with Moses on Mt. Sinai and deliver the Torah to him (or over the next 40 years)? Is God just? Is there an afterlife?

My criticisms don't just deal with general Christian theology which I only give passing interest, but a) with the idea that the Bible came from God as either direct verse or by divine inspiration and b) here with the very concept of a just and moral-minded force in the world. That does cross the interfaith border, but is just as prevalent in Judaism as it is in Christianity.

alex said...

"They're not that unusual. Read through a few of the Prophets"

I didn't mean "unusual" vis-a-vis the other prophets. I meant unusual, stam.