Sunday, May 11, 2008

King Over Time

The May 2008 issue of Photonics Spectra magazine contains an interview, "The Importance of Trust" (pp. 42-3), with Howard R. Schlossberg, who holds a PhD from MIT (see the original article for his impressive list of technical accomplishments). When asked how he makes a judgment call on who he trusts to fund research, he replied, "By spending time in their locations or in conferences to get to know people. The longer you know them, the more you trust them."


I've emphasized on numerous occasions that I believe God created humans to get the one thing that can't be created: Trust/Faithfulness. Life provides each of us the opportunity to spend some time getting to know God, & the more I learn about God (primarily through the Bible, but also through observations in my immediate environment, & from stories by other people), the more I trust God.

The writer of the Hebrews epistle highlights the faithfulness of Moses contrasted against the faithlessness of the other Israelites, then quotes God in Psalm 95:10 lamenting with disgust, "they have not known My ways." Like Moses, they could see God's actions, & they responded to God's actions, but never demonstrated an ability to function well on autopilot. For whatever reason, they just didn't care. God didn't interest them.

Earlier this year while searching for info on the Yod & Kaf suffixes as used in Hebrew grammar, I discovered The Bible Wheel. The best representations of it are available on this Introduction page.

According to his FAQ page, "Richard Amiel McGough, the sole owner, author, and developer of [the] website, discovered the Bible Wheel on the morning of May 12, 1995." (Even though I first learned of it months ago, it's amazing that it didn't even dawn on me until I began proofreading the draft of this blog entry that its 13-year anniversary is tomorrow!)

Basically, he found a clever way of combining & arranging the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet with the 66 canonical Bible books, such that the 22 pizza-slice "spokes" of the wheel form 7 major divisions on 3 levels ("cycles"):

1-5 Torah; 23-27 Major Prophets; 45-49 (major Pauline) NT Epistles

6-17 OT History; 28-39 Minor Prophets; 50-61 (minor) NT Epistles

18-22 Wisdom Literature; 40-44 NT History; 62-66 (Jude/John) NT Epistles

(Note that I contrived the parenthetical/adjectival prefixes to the NT Epistles.) Yes, I'm aware that the OT subdivision doesn't follow that of the TNK (The Wheel's irrelevant without the NT), & that Luke's gospel & Acts are a letter/epistle written to somebody specific, while John's Revelation is not in the format of a letter written to somebody specific (it would make more sense to call the inner wheel "NT Writings" than "NT Epistles"). Still, there are so many fascinating coincidences that apply primarily to the Protestant version of the canon, arranged in this 2-dimensional circle!

In particular, notice as highlighted on the website, the alignment of the first, & arguably most important books of the Law, Prophets, & Epistles: Genesis, Isaiah, & Romans (essentially "The Gospel According to Paul", arguably with more "good news" than the 4 gospels). Although I'm impressed by The Wheel's juxtaposition of Exodus & Jeremiah (i.e., being freed vs. being captured), I'm not sure I perceive any relevance that can justifiably tie into 1Corinthians (people who should be freed from earthly desires were ironically suffering spiritually from being captured by them?).

Another neat coincidence is the contiguous arrangement of the post-Exilic books of Ezra, Nehemiah, & Esther with Haggai, Zechariah, & Malachi. Also the notion that Job may have been the earliest written OT book, lining up with Matthew, who probably wrote the sayings of Jesus, therefore qualifying as the earliest NT writer. But again, I can't think of any connection to the "NT epistles" on the inner circle, so the coincidences seem to fade there a bit too.

Something else I never recognized before (see The Inner Wheels page) was the coincidence of Isaiah containing 66 chapters, also divided into 1-39 & 40-66 by its content like the Bible itself (assuming that chapter 35 doesn't actually belong to "Deutero-Isaiah", which is a fair possibility if there was only one real prophet); & the division of Revelation into 22 chapters like the Hebrew alphabet. These 2 coincidences are independent of The Wheel, but still fun stuff to contemplate!

Getting back to the Yod & Kaf suffixes, even if you think The Wheel is a ridiculous conjecture, Richard's discussion of these 2 letters is the best that I found on the Internet. They tie in nicely with my brief mentioning in Lv1 (pp. 30) of what may have been the original pictographic meanings associated with the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet.

I deliberately omitted anything specific for Kaf & Yod in my book (I'm planning to comment on all the letters in Lv2), but I have a far better understanding now of the difference between these pictographs--instead of just a hand & an arm (respectively), a spread-fingered open hand at the end of an extended arm, vs. an entire arm terminating in a clenched-fist (no visible fingers); & the signification of 2nd-person possessive (your/yours) vs. 1st-person possessive (my/mine).

That highly attractive gal, Ms. Serendipity, paid me yet another visit as I perused the site, & found its "Ancient Witness" page. Here he quotes rabbi/physicist Aryeh Kaplan associating the Hebrew word "galgal" (for "wheel") with the Hebrew alphabet, & stating in his commentary, "the Galgal is depicted as king over time."

The commentary referred to is Sepher Yetzirah ("Book of Creation/Formation"), a non-canonical Jewish religious text dating back many centuries, much utilized by kabbalists. McGough mentioned 2 other kings for 2 Hebrew letters, but this inspired me to seek the association of the other 20 as well (via 2 English translations I found online; the one I linked to above, & this alternate rendering):
  1. Alef: King over Air

  2. Bet: King over Wisdom

  3. Gimel: King over Health/Wealth

  4. Dalet: King over Fertility

  5. Hey: King over Speech

  6. Vau: King over Mind/Thought

  7. Zayin: King over Movement

  8. Het: King over Sight

  9. Tet: King over Hearing

  10. Yod: King over Labor/Work

  11. Kaf: King over Life

  12. Lamed: King over Sex

  13. Mem: King over Water

  14. Nun: King over Smell

  15. Samek: King over Sleep

  16. Oyin: King over Anger

  17. Pey: King over Power

  18. Tsade: King over Taste

  19. Quf: King over Mirth

  20. Resh: King over Peace

  21. Shin: King over Fire

  22. Tau: King over Beauty/Grace

Most of those don't make any sense to me (though Mem=water is obvious), but now the most frequently used letter in LMLK seals certainly has a whole new meaning!

Ultimately, I didn't learn anything new about God directly from this Wheel or Sepher, but they did serve as an interesting backdrop to other studies within the Bible.

Song of the week ... toughest choice yet! But out of 12 candidates, I had to pick the one by a "gal" that works on so many different levels: "Circle In The Sand" by Belinda Carlisle (click the song title to visit Amazon; click here for a 25-second sample; 328kb).
G.M. Grena

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