Saturday, January 24, 2015

Words worth while

A couple of posts I noted this morning -

Kurk Gayle on Love - surely the best reading of Luke 10 I have ever seen - makes one of two as Britten does in one of his choral songs that I cannot find.

Dovetails nicely with Ken Schenck's brilliant list of paradigm shifts in reading the Bible, phylogeny recapitulating ontology again.

probably I should have noted more but the 'mark all as read' button is too inviting.

Friday, January 23, 2015

You might want to read this review

A book on Genesis 1 - What really happened in the Garden of Eden?

From inside:
The translation “rib” is discarded, as Zevit indicates that that was not even considered as one of the options by the early rabbis. His suggestion is that the limb/appendage referred to is the baculum—the bone that other species have in the penis but is absent in human beings (137–50).
I've requested a review copy - not holding my breath.

Have I got porcupine in my capitals, or bittern in the lintels

Or bats in my belfry? Here is Zephaniah 2, chapter 1 is here. There is a curious possible repetition of the strange word for watchers שׁרר in the Psalms - or it is a hitpolel root of singing שׁיר. I think the animals are metaphorical by the way.

Assemble yourselves together and assemble together,
O nation not yearned for.

Ere a decree is born as chaff, a day passes,
ere the burning of the anger of Yahweh come upon you,
ere the day of the anger of Yahweh come upon you,

seek Yahweh, all the afflicted of the land who have worked his judgment,
seek righteousness, seek gentleness, so he will hide you in the day of the anger of Yahweh.

For Gaza will be forsaken and Ashkelon, desolate.
Ashdod at noon they will expel, and Akron.

Alas for the inhabitants of the margins of the sea, a nation of those who are cut off.
The word of Yahweh is against you, Canaan, land of the Philistines, and I will make you perish and there will be no inhabitant.

And the margin of the sea will be homes, digs for shepherds, fences for flocks.

And the margin will be for the residue of the house of Judah. On them they will pasture.
In the house of Askelon in the evening they will recline for Yahweh their God will visit them and turn their captivity.

I have heard the reproach of Moab and the revilings of the children of Amon,
that they reproach my people and promote themselves on their borders.

Therefore I, Living, an oracle of Yahweh of Hosts, the God of Israel: for Moab as Sodom will be and the children of Amon as Gomorrah, heir to nettles and salt-digs, a desolation for evermore.
The residue of my people will despoil them and what is left of my nation will inherit them.

This is for them under their pride.
For they have reproached and promoted themselves against the people of Yahweh of Hosts.

The fear of Yahweh will be on them for he will emaciate all the gods of the land.
And they will worship him, each from its place, all the islands of the nations.

Even you Ethiopians, the profaned of my sword are they.

And he will stretch out his hand against the north and make Ashur perish,
and define Nineveh, a desolation, arid as a wilderness.

And troops will recline in her midst, all the animals of the nations, even an unclean bird, even porcupine in her capitals will stop over.
A voice will be watcher in the windows, sword in the doorway, for he will expose her cedar.

This is the exultant city, the confident inhabitant. She says in her heart, I am and my ends continue.
How she has become desolated, for the animals to recline. All who pass by her will hiss and waggle their hand.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Psalm 16

This translation makes some guesses as to what the psalm 'means'. The problem of who is talking to whom is magnified in this psalm. In verse 1 the poet and the reader address God, seeking refuge. In verse 2a, the poet addresses himself, so it could read I said rather than you said. Or perhaps the poet is in dialogue with another unnamed person. Verse 2b reaffirms trust and recognizes the immense difference between my good and יהוה ’s good. There is a rest on of them in verse 3. The holy ones and majesties, I have taken as the same as those of verse 4 who following, rush headlong. Verse 5 closes the first section of the poem. Verses 1 to 5 are linked by the second person pronoun. (Right hand column is syllable counts between line breaks in the Hebrew. Line breaks usually correspond to cadences and accents.)

מִכְתָּ֥ם לְדָוִ֑ד
שָֽׁמְרֵ֥נִי אֵ֝֗ל כִּֽי־חָסִ֥יתִי בָֽךְ
1From gold, concerning atonement, through inscription, of David.
Keep me O God for I take refuge in you.
אָמַ֣רְתְּ לַֽ֭יהוָה אֲדֹנָ֣י אָ֑תָּה
ט֝וֹבָתִ֗י בַּל־עָלֶֽיךָ
2You said to Yahweh, You are my Lord,
my good pales beside you.
לִ֭קְדוֹשִׁים אֲשֶׁר־בָּאָ֣רֶץ הֵ֑מָּה
וְ֝אַדִּירֵ֗י כָּל־חֶפְצִי־בָֽם
3About the holy ones that are in the earth
of them,
and of majesties ... Is all my delight in them?
יִרְבּ֥וּ עַצְּבוֹתָם֮ אַחֵ֪ר מָ֫הָ֥רוּ
בַּל־אַסִּ֣יךְ נִסְכֵּיהֶ֣ם מִדָּ֑ם
וּֽבַל־אֶשָּׂ֥א אֶת־שְׁ֝מוֹתָ֗ם עַל־שְׂפָתָֽי
4Let their idols increase. Following they rush headlong.
I will not spill out their libations with blood,
neither will I bear their names on my lips.
יְֽהוָ֗ה מְנָת־חֶלְקִ֥י וְכוֹסִ֑י
אַ֝תָּ֗ה תּוֹמִ֥יךְ גּוֹרָלִֽי
5Yahweh is the portion of my share and my cup.
You yourself maintain my lot

חֲבָלִ֣ים נָֽפְלוּ־לִ֭י בַּנְּעִמִ֑ים
אַף־נַ֝חֲלָ֗ת שָֽׁפְרָ֥ה עָלָֽי
6Pledges have fallen to me in pleasures.
Indeed for me there is a glistening inheritance.
אֲבָרֵ֗ךְ אֶת־יְ֭הוָה אֲשֶׁ֣ר יְעָצָ֑נִי
אַף־לֵ֝יל֗וֹת יִסְּר֥וּנִי כִלְיוֹתָֽי
7I will bless Yahweh who advises me.
Indeed in the nights my vital centre chastens me.

שִׁוִּ֬יתִי יְהוָ֣ה לְנֶגְדִּ֣י תָמִ֑יד
כִּ֥י מִֽ֝ימִינִ֗י בַּל־אֶמּֽוֹט
8I have agreed with Yahweh in front of me continually,
for he is at my right hand so I will not be moved.
לָכֵ֤ן ׀ שָׂמַ֣ח לִ֭בִּי וַיָּ֣גֶל כְּבוֹדִ֑י
אַף־בְּ֝שָׂרִ֗י יִשְׁכֹּ֥ן לָבֶֽטַח
9So my heart will be glad and my glory rejoice.
Indeed my flesh will dwell in trust.

כִּ֤י ׀ לֹא־תַעֲזֹ֣ב נַפְשִׁ֣י לִשְׁא֑וֹל
לֹֽא־תִתֵּ֥ן חֲ֝סִידְךָ֗ לִרְא֥וֹת שָֽׁחַת
10For you will not forsake me to the grave.
You will not permit one within your mercy to see destruction.
תּֽוֹדִיעֵנִי֮ אֹ֤רַח חַ֫יִּ֥ים
שֹׂ֣בַע שְׂ֭מָחוֹת אֶת־פָּנֶ֑יךָ
נְעִמ֖וֹת בִּימִינְךָ֣ נֶֽצַח
11You will make known to me a path of life,
satisfaction of gladness in your presence,
pleasures at your right hand always.
Music per Vantoura (an older copy with translation under the text also)

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Who will lead me to an enclosed city?

So begins the second half of Psalm 60 also reflected in Psalm 108. Either one gets giggles from the choir for the phrase 'Moab is my washpot'. Zephaniah picks up the idiom of the enclosed city. Here is my first cut at Zephaniah chapter 1 - you have to start somewhere with new work.

Raw, no Hebrew, no notes - readable? There is one surprising anomaly. I never read the preposition used for belonging (as in my beloved is mine and I am his) as meaning 'against' - so see if you can spot my workaround.
The word of Yahweh that happened to Zephaniah, child of Cushi, child of Gedoliah, child of Amariah, child of Hezekiah,
in the days of Amon's child, Josiah, king of Judah.
I will wreak havoc for all from off the surface of the ground, an oracle of Yahweh. 
I will spread havoc for human and beast. I will spread havoc for fowl in the heavens and fish in the sea and the stumbling-blocks are with the wicked.
And I will cut off the human from off the surface of the ground. An oracle of Yahweh. 
And I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all those whose seat is in Jerusalem.
And I will cut off from this place the Baal's residue, the name of those who crave with the priests,  
and those who worship on the roofs to the host of the heavens, and those who worship swearing to Yahweh and swearing by their king, 
and the spineless, late of Yahweh,
but who neither seek Yahweh nor search him out.  
Be hushed from the presence of my Lord, Yahweh,
for near is the day of Yahweh for Yahweh prepares an offering. He sanctifies those he called. 
And it will be in the day of Yahweh's offering that I will visit the nobility and the king's children
and all those clothed in alien clothing, 
and I will visit all who leap over the adder on that day,
those filling their master's house with violence and deceit. 
And it will be on that day, an oracle of Yahweh, the voice of an outcry from the fish-gate and of torment from the second,
and a great shattering from the hillocks. 
Howl, you who inhabit the hollow,
for undone are all the people of Canaan,  cut off are all the carriers of silver. 
And it will be at that time I will plan Jerusalem with lamps,
and I will visit the mortals dulled from dregs, who say in their hearts, Yahweh will not do good and he will not do evil. 
And their wealth will become plunder and their houses desolate,
and they will build houses but not inhabit and they will plant vineyards and not imbibe their wine. 
Near is the great day of Yahweh,
near and most impetuous.
The voice of the day of Yahweh is bitter. There a valiant one screams. 
A day of fury is that day,
a day of trouble and distress,
a day of vanity and ruin,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of cloud and dark turbulence,   
a day of shophar and shout of triumph
over the enclosed cities and over the haughty presence. 
And I will be the adversary of humanity and they will walk like the blind for they that are Yahweh's, they sin.
And their blood will be poured out as dust and their intestines as a roll of dung. 
Even their silver, even their gold will not be able to deliver them in the day of Yahweh's fury, but in the fire of his jealousy all the land will be devoured.
For surely, a consuming vexation he will make for all those inhabiting the land. S

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Zephaniah 3:8 as an example verse for conflicting cantillation schemes

Here's a comparison of Vantoura vs Jacobson traditional cantillation using a single verse.

I could use some help. I have changed the pdf to be easier to read and summarized the music for this verse using both methods - I don't have much confidence in my cantillation according to Jacobson since this is the first verse I have tackled.

I also was completely wrong on my first version since I used the page on Torah cantillation instead of Haftarah. That made some differences (huge differences) in shape. As well, from the CD it appears to me that all the musical shapes are generally at a constant pitch. I.e. they do not change pitch depending on the reciting note. Whereas in the SHV scheme, the ornaments do change pitch based on the reciting note. O my blinding assumptions!

Some aspects of the results in both systems may be somewhat awkward to get used to or even be somewhat unsingable. That's for future considerations. Meanwhile I am going to get back to translation. I might as well finish Zephaniah now that I have started it. It's not a book I know very well. Maybe will concentrate on the 12 for a while.

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Reading 1000 pages alone

Joshua R. Jacobson, Chanting the Hebrew Bible, The Complete Guide to the Art of Cantillation is on my desk. Also there are a host of reference books open in various positions and a computer with 12 pages on the web open, a dozen other programs running including a remote link to my office computer a few kilometers away with more programs running. Such a state that when the computers get updated, it takes 5 to 10 minutes to recover where I was.

How will I read these 1000 pages alone with so many bookmarks being kept for me. Well maybe one at a time and maybe not. I am both impatient and grumpy, a resistant learner, I suppose.

When it comes to the music, it seems to me that there is both a preserving and a scattering of knowledge over the last 2000 or more years in the Jewish traditions of cantillation.

On the one hand, the text has been lovingly preserved and we are all grateful, but the music has been elaborated in all sorts of ways - and perhaps this is as it should be, for music is above all creative and an expression of beauty, though I think I have heard the odd cantor in a hurry at times.

Suzanne Haik-Vantoura's scheme was foreign to me when it was introduced to me in 2010 at the Oxford conference on the Psalms, but it had an immense appeal to me because of the inferences she had made based on the data she discovered. And they were the inferences of one who designs from a simple principle, like the four letters of the DNA alphabet. One could grasp immediately that learning was possible. And I heard the results. There is a scale, modal for the Psalms, Proverbs, and the speeches of Job, and a full octave scale (not exactly diatonic but familiar) for the remaining '21' books. You may remember I described it here and have explored it in many posts. Others have also written about it.
Here is the first set of marks, the scale for the prose books as deciphered by Suzanne Haik-Vantoura (SHV).
ב֧ ב֤ ב֣ ב֑ ב֖ ב֥ בֽ ב֛
These she sets to correspond (reading left to right) exactly to a tonic sol-fa scale with a raised fifth. C D E F, G# A B C. Notice how close the poetry scale is: D# E F# G A B C.
ב֤ ב֣ ב֑ ב֖ ב֥ בֽ ב֢
All these pitches are relative to the tonic, the third note of the prose scale and the second note of the poetry scale.
There it is in a very few words, the germ, the design document. Of course the names are foreign, and I haven't mentioned the ornaments (see the link and my next post). And the tonic, the second note of the modal scale or the third note of the prose scale, can be any note that is comfortable for the singer, and so on. The names are difficult to get into my head. I now have a few. If they were sung as part of a piece, one could remember them as one remembers language. And with SHV's scheme, one starts with the music. The names are not as important as the impact of the sound. And the sound accomplishes the disjunctive and conjunctive aspects of punctuation without one having to remember a 1000 rules. One can, in fact, probably derive the rules from the usage.

Breakfast anyone? It is food for the love of Scripture. In a period when the ear and the tone was known, perhaps as long ago as 700 BCE, it was taught by rote from the then known abstraction of the design. And there were variations, depending on how you tuned your lyre. Perhaps it was passed from generation to generation in this way for years. When the temple was destroyed the first time, and the song was no longer being taught in the temple schools, to preserve the sound, it was reduced to a set of little squiggles representing hand signals. This is a common way of documenting music in the ancient world before the advent of neumes in the late first millennium CE.

But the design document, the rationale behind the squiggles, has been lost, and now there are a myriad of aural interpretations. Torah manuscripts for chanting even today are written without vowels or music. The cantillation must be memorized. When the temple was destroyed again in 70 CE, the design disappeared and an oral tradition was forced upon the scattered community. The question is - did SHV uncover the original design or something close to it?

How can I get away from these 1000 pages? I'm through the punctuation bit. Now I have many pages of music to see - but it seems No written out examples from the text of the Bible. One good example would teach so much, or even one text with the dozens of settings. Instead I am faced with a host of fragments to integrate with libretto being the name of the sign to see if there is an overall principle. Ah - I've remembered there is a CD - I am going back to aural learning mode - yea! But the first of the 87 aural examples made me laugh - it has the underlay 'siluq' illustrating a few seconds of exercise. But there some examples that are real text sung - this will give me what I need since I can reduce them to music for comparison's sake. (It will also train my ear in Hebrew. Tov.)

And I did find one short example on paper (page 849) from Lamentations 3:1-6. It is a special melody but set with underlying text rather than a libretto consisting of the names of the signs. And I think I see a few verses of Esther. This will give me at least a few direct comparisons from Jacobson's hand which I can compare with examples from Vantoura (whom he mentions in the Bibliography but only there!). So what I will do, as HaShem has patience with me, is to construct examples based on the CD and compare the systems against the inferred design of Vantoura's that I have. It will take several posts - I think I already told you (and me) that.

This site is very good for the technical stuff. Let's take that as a given. My article referenced above is OK for SHV's scheme, and I have produced hundreds of examples and can produce any part of the Bible on a few minutes notice. But patience! Where is the germ of the music? My next post will have a summary table of sign and musical expression to support reading the text for 'meaning'. And let meaning be open-ended and shrewd, not superficial or demeaning. And let me, us, not be impatient and grumpy, resistant learners.