Sunday, November 01, 2015

Heard a Blessing of Yahweh Lately?

Wow. 7 months go by rather fast. That's how long it's been since my previous post here. Answer to myself in the future when I ask, What's been consuming my time? Health maintenance & engineering work.

I've been 13 months at the same job, & it does not appear to have an end in sight, which is great for me. Aside from steady pay, excellent complimentary lunch, located about halfway between my house & my staircase training spot. A great blessing from God, for which I'm extremely grateful! Several people regularly pray for me, & I'm very grateful to them as well. This is a unique time in my life with this fabulous combination of circumstances, so I want to exploit it to the max.

Along with training & racing, I've spent some considerable time improving my jerky-making skills over the past year, as well as sugar-free chocolate & ice cream (which I can say without hyperbole is the most delicious ice cream any human has ever eaten in the history of the world). I now have an awesome menu of highly nutritious, mostly homemade snacks available for breakfast & dinner.

None of this is particularly related to LMLK stuff, except for the fact that it's what I've been doing instead of LMLK stuff. I'm still recovering mentally from last year's big event at NEAS & ASOR, the 1st anniversary of which is fast approaching. And what became of it?

After devoting most of 2014 to it ... well, nothing at all. No regrets, & life goes on. At this point it's just an interesting memory. Not nearly as positive as the memory of writing my 1st book 12 years ago, or setting up the LMLK Research website 13 years ago, but interesting nonetheless.

Almost 2 years have elapsed since I built a new photo-searchable web page, & that's taken a backseat to other activities as well. The best-laid plans, right? I had thought of giving a preview of it at last year's NEAS lecture, but lack of Internet access at the conference & a 30-minute time constraint killed that plan ... so it's remained dormant, as has the whole site. As a bonus to anyone reading this blog, here's the secret link, which I never integrated into the rest of the site since it was still in the construction phase, not fully tested, with other features planned but unimplemented. Maybe something similar will one day become available to scholars via Tel Aviv University's domain.

The primary reason for this post, is to give a quick review of the relatively new & very interesting book edited by Meir & Edith Lubetski, "Recording New Epigraphic Evidence: Essays in Honor of Robert Deutsch" (ISBN 978-965-7162-21-7; no publishing company, apparently self-published by the editors). I have not fully studied it, but here's a quickie overview of the contents:

"Robert Deutsch: The Man and His Achievements: Bibliography of Robert Deutsch" by Meir and Edith Lubetski

Interesting 4-page overview of his academic contributions as well as his personal life, followed by his comprehensive bibliography (with much more to come in the future I hope). Humorously, the first footnote is to a review by Andy Vaughn of one of Deutsch's books, but it echoes the sentiments of the present editors, "[T]he editors have done the scholarly community a great service..."

"Evidence of the Taxation System of the Judean Kingdom –– A Fiscal Bulla from the Slopes of the Temple Mount and the Phenomenon of Fiscal Bullae" by Gabriel Barkay

30 pages of everything you ever wanted to know about fiscal bullae! Barkay provides the first classification system, with Type I having 29 specimens (31 if you include 2 late arrivals) whose inscriptions (probably) contain "LMLK" (some are fragmented but the surviving portions follow the same textual structure); then Type II with 25 specimens, which don't mention "LMLK" (except for one which does, interpreted as a personal name rather than "king", "royal", "government" ... or "God"). Barkay provides photos & line drawings, followed by discussions of their dates. He lists 13 reasons why they belong to the reign of Manasseh rather than Hezekiah (counter to Deutsch in the next chapter) or Josiah. Maybe someday I'll have time (yeah, right) to address each of them. For now I'll (surprisingly) say that some of his reasons sound (surprisingly) like those upheld by a certain professor/archeologist at Tel Aviv University.

"Ten Unrecorded Hebrew Fiscal Bullae" by Robert Deutsch

Deutsch explains in his first footnote that he was unaware that this volume was going to be in his honor. I suspect it was designed to counterbalance the damage done to his reputation by the Golan/forgery trial (referred to as "Kafkaesque" by the Lubetskis in their opening article). The highlights here are the 1st one, which, though highly fragmentary, Deutsch reads as "Beersheba" (only "SBO" remains of that word); & the 2nd one, which Barkay included in his list, bearing "ZF" (yes, the same spelling as seen on 3 of the 6 LMLK Ziph designs). The 10th one is also remarkable for bearing the personal name of "NTNMLK" followed by "LMLK" (c.f. 2Kings 23:11; Deutsch was not able to publish its photo, but made a line drawing from memory after having seen it courtesy of another [anonymous] antiquities dealer).

"Some Notes on the Epigraphical Features of the Phoenician and Hebrew Fiscal Bullae" by Martin Heide

Four Phoenician seals whose inscriptions begin with "OSR" (="tithe"). Interesting! And it's worth noting that none of my work was referenced or used by the author.

"A Daughter and Her Bird: Another Ammonite Seal" by Regine Hunziker–Rodewald


"Balm/Basalm in a Hebrew Ostracon from the Kaufman Collection" by Andre Lemaire

Originally published by him in 2012 (Semitica 54, pp. 33-49):
  • Your son Shelemyahu
  • sent to greet
  • Yahmolyahu and greet
  • your house. I bless you by
  • Yahweh. And now: a letter of the
  • king arrived for Nura and
  • the balm/basalm in the vat [?]
  • And now: Elishama' went down
  • towards you and you will give him 20
  • jugs and we carried/levied the
  • balm/basalm and will not be taken [?]
Lemaire dates it "to about 600 BCE."

"Father of Nehemiah Reflects Spirit of the Time" by Meir Lubetski

"HKLYE" (=Hachaliah).

"Aramaic in Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon –– Stamps on Bricks from Babylon and Stamps on Jar Handles from Judah" by Alan Millard

Millard, who has so generously shared his work & thoughts with me over the years, asks, "[Was Aramaic] less widely current in Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon than in Ashurbanipal's Nineveh? Two signs point in the opposite direction." In the course of discussing those signs, he enters LMLKology, & does me tremendous honor by citing my book & website in footnotes 10 & 15. Wow!

"The Idumean Marketplace: Who Trades What and When in the Commodity Chits" by Bezalel Porten

If my count is correct, this is not an essay, but a reprint of 51 slides from a slideshow replete with pie charts & graphs aplenty emphasizing the products, amounts, months, & people associated with this phenomenon.

"The Language of the Dedicatory Inscription of Kulamuwa (KAI 25) Is Phoenician" by Philip C. Schmitz

The Jeopardy-style title answers the question of whether this 7-line inscription on a gold tube is Phoenician or Samalian (another scholar even suggested Aramaic for the last 3 lines).

"Fourteen Hebrew, Two Phoenician, and One Edomite Ostraca from Jeselsohn Collection" by Daniel Vainstub

This was probably the least interesting of the articles, simply because the ostraca are so brief & fragmented ... & unlike the one Lemaire discussed, they don't mention a blessing of Yahweh.

Speaking of which, it was again a blessing to partake in a complimentary breakfast presentation with Ken Ham a few weeks ago in my neck of the southern-California woods. I got there early so I could climb the tallest staircase in the Disneyland neighborhood: the Anaheim Marriott's 19-story Palms Tower with 257 steps, ascending 155 feet ... wearing my new 4-pound shoe weights ... only 3x casually ... I didn't want to go to the breakfast sweaty)!

Mr. Ham gave us an informative, hour-long update on the Ark Encounter project, & as noted now on his own blog, they'll be announcing the opening date on Nov. 12. The breakfast was an all-you-can-stuff-in-your-face-hole buffet, so afterwards I climbed the Marriott 3 more times ... much faster than the pre-breakfast session, under 2 minutes for each lap ... & yes, that made me sweat)!

Another big event for which I've been patiently waiting for many months, was a visit to the Passages (temporary) exhibit in Santa Clarita. I was hoping to see some LMLK handles formerly in the Michael Welch collection. After all, how often can you pay to see something in a museum that at one point used to be on your bed?!?! But alas, the exhibits skipped the Israelite/Judahite monarchy, & went right from cuneiform tablets to Dead Sea scrolls. But alas again, the occasion still relates to LMLK, as the first 3 digits on my ticket's serial # proves:

Overall it was an excellent exhibit, & well worth the admission fee (really friendly bunch of people working/volunteering there too). Although I only had an hour to buzz through it at the end of the day, I enjoyed seeing their Lunar Bible, an ALS by Martin Luther (4-Oct-1518), 2 copies of Tyndale printings while he was still alive (though my own specimens rival what they had on display), & a couple of palimpsests (one of which had multiple publications). I never get tired of seeing gold-leaf manuscript pages, of which there were several spectacular examples; & about half-a-dozen Bibles bearing fore-edge paintings. I also enjoyed the live-update display showing points of light on a global map where people were in the process of reading the Bible online. The entire east half of the USA was illuminated, with only dots & small clusters elsewhere on the planet.

I didn't notice the Khabouris Codex, but read about its importance in the brochure afterwards (according to a note by the scribe, it was copied from a source written in the 2nd century AD), & would've liked to have spent more time staring at it. I would also have liked to have spent time watching the full videos shown at some of the stations.

I liked their talking-mannequin (i.e. animatronic) displays of Tyndale about to be burned, & Jerome saying his full name; though these & others were much larger than actual size, which seemed weird & 20th-century-ish (i.e., antiquated). If I were spending the money for such an exhibit, I'd get them made closer to a realistic size. The guys hiding scrolls in the Cairo geniza looked like Goliath & one of his brothers!

On the down side, I was disappointed by so many replicas, especially of the DSS. Although noted on their tiny placards, it was probably not obvious to other paying visitors that they were seeing copies instead of originals. The Green family has enough outstanding material that this surprised me. I may be mistaken, but they only had a single square-inch genuine DSS fragment, which was solid black. I could not discern any letters, & it would've been helpful to see a processed/filtered image showing the actual text.

They also had a full-length Isaiah-scroll replica unrolled, & it surprised me how small it was. I always thought it was much longer based on the photos I saw of the original circular display at the Israel Museum; but now that I look at its website, I see that it's not actually as big as I imagined. I have a cheapo replica that I bought way back when, but have never unrolled it fully. Another thing to add to my to-do list!

After the museum closed, I was in no big hurry to get into L.A.-rush-hour traffic, so I strapped on my 10-pound ankle weights & 10-pound wrist weights, adding to my 8-pound shoe weights (4 pounds ain't enough anymore) that I usually wear all day long ... & walked around the parking lot several times (totaling about 1 mile according to Google Earth) for about 20 minutes until some really lost-looking guy pulled alongside me, rolled down his window, & asked for directions to a lecture at Passages.

It turns out that Chris Heard, Associate Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University just happened to be scheduled for that night discussing, "How the Flood Became a Children’s Story"! I would also tell you that Todd Bolen, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at The Master's College was the guy who asked for directions in the parking lot, but then you might think this was all some sort of prearranged thing by 3 long-time bloggers, & it wouldn't be nearly as interesting to blog about...

Before I tell you about Dr. Heard's lecture, I have to plug a new Bible-based game that he's been working on (& plugged during his lecture):

"Crossroads is both a collaborative and competitive game where skill matters more than luck. Attempt to successfully complete each story as an individual, or better yet, build a community for a better chance against the game. You and your community members become the active Travelers in each story alongside Moses, David, Paul, etc. as you face the challenges of the game."

Okay, with that out of the way (until he releases a version featuring Hezekiah & Isaiah presiding over the distribution of stamped jars), he delivered his lecture very well (much weller than mine at NEAS). I especially liked how he unapologetically mentioned that he uses "A.D." instead of "B.C.E." because he's a Christian. I successfully resisted jumping up, doing an endzone dance, & shouting, "Who da man??? Who da man??? You da man!!! You da man!!!"

He skipped the historicity & scope of the Flood, & began with 4th-century Christians admonishing parents to teach their children. For centuries, the emphasis was on scaring children (at times using Noah's drunken nakedness episode rather than the way-beyond-genocide drownings), but in the 19th century the tide (pun intended) turned the opposite direction by altogether skipping the scary aspects of God's judgment.

As we all know, now the emphasis is on the cuteness of animals, the joy of being saved, & the pretty rainbow. Three important factors that led to this dramatic shift were social literacy, the development of education systems, & a sense of shame leading parents to utilize discretion over what their children were taught at various ages (in contrast with parenting in earlier centuries when children weren't shielded from adult-themed subjects).

Afterwards, Dr. Heard masterfully addressed 2 questions from the audience, giving a brief explanation of The Watchers in the recent Noah film, & how he taught his own children about the Flood. A 3rd member of the audience paid him a great compliment on the presentation, noting how well God's Word has been preserved despite the complications imposed by humans.

In keeping with the theme of his lecture, I wanted to get drunk & naked before introducing myself to Chris ... but I decided not to embarrass Todd, & we introduced ourselves respectfully afterwards. It was so cool to see his surprised & genuinely happy reaction. Online conversations are great ways to exchange ideas, but nothing beats seeing a happy face behind it all. Getting to spend an hour with a couple of prominent & exceptionally bright Christians, this occasion was truly a blessing of Yahweh!

Finally, to comply with the fairness doctrine, one more plug:

G.M. Grena

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