Thursday, July 8, 2010

Who Hath Stood in the Counsel of the Lord?

For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it?
כִּי מִי עָמַד בְּסוֹד יְהוָה וְיֵרֶא וְיִשְׁמַע אֶת דְּבָרוֹ מִי הִקְשִׁיב דברי [דְּבָרוֹ] וַיִּשְׁמָע.

-Jeremiah 23:18

Walker, this one is for you.

Medieval Jewish commentaries on the scriptures are fascinating. They often are very perceptive, as the following example shows.

The word rendered as counsel in the translation of Jeremiah 23:18 is sod. Not sod as in certain hostile instructions of the English language, but, as the Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testaments puts it, a circle of confidants. From this developed an abstract, secondary meaning of something confidential, a secret if you will. It corresponds fairly closely to the word mysteries. Indeed, Jewish mysticism such as kabbalah is termed in Hebrew torat ha-sod, or the doctrine of the mystery.

One might be tempted to conclude that medieval commentators were oblivious to the history of word development because they frequently projected backwards onto the text a current theological understanding, but it simply is not true that they always twisted the text to match their preconceptions. They were just as likely to examine the text with sound philological methods.

Metsudot (fortresses) is a commentary in two parts by Rabbi David Altschuler of Prague, completed after his death by his son Yehiel during the early part of the 18th century. There are to parts each named metsudah. Metsudat David deals with difficult phrases, Metsudat Zion with difficult words. None of the commentary is original, but is a distillation of prior works in lucid, popular form. This garaunteed its popularity, even a place in all editions of Mikraot Gedolot (the Rabbinic Bible) since the 18th century.

Metsudat David.

"Who has marked
" - indeed he who has marked his word like Jeremiah who hearkened unto the Lord's voice and carried out his commandments is the one who hears the prophecy unlike the wicked.

"For who hath stood" - He [the prophet] gave a reason for why they [the wicked] would not hearken unto them when he said for who of these stood in the counsel (sod) to recieve prophecy and who saw the visions of prophecy and who among them heard his word for being wicked they aren't worthy of prophecy.

מצודת דוד
"מי הקשיב" - אמנם מי שהקשיב דברו כירמיהו שהקשיב בקול ה' ועשה מצותיו הוא השומע הנבואה ולא הרשעים האלה

"כי מי עמד" - נתן טעם למה לא ישמעו אליהם באמרו כי מי מאלה עמד בסוד ה' לקבל נבואה ומי ראה מראות הנבואה ומי מהם שמע את דברו כי בהיותם רשעים אינם ראויים לנבואה

Metsudat Zion.

"In the sod" - it should be said in the place wherein prophecy is effected.

"Marked (hikshiv)" - a matter of listening and recieving.

מצודת ציון
"בסוד" - ר"ל במקום השפעת הנבואה

"הקשיב" - ענין האזנה וקבלה

1 comment:

  1. Oooh, thanks Allen! This is fantastic. I might have to incorporate this into a future post.