[b-hebrew] g(r Psa. 106:9 - exorcism?

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Tue Dec 14 14:54:56 EST 2004

Dear Clay,

>What prompted my query is the notion that monotheism of the Psalmist reduces
>the physical universe to dead matter of 20th century materialist. That Psalm
>106:9 is just talking about moving some water aside to make a path and there
>is no other dimension to this. No cosmic conflict between spiritual beings
>represented in this event. This "flat" reading of the text is really quite

HH: Well, anytime you have God speaking and nature responding, there 
is something more than flatness. But if the universe's very creation 
began with God's saying "Let there be light," we know that nature 
will be responsive to God's word. If there is a verbal aspect to g(r 
in Ps 106:9 and in EPITIMAW (Mt 8:26; Mk 4:39; Luke 8:24), and there 
evidently is, then we might want to think in terms of forces of 
nature endangering people and being rebuked on that basis. The term 
EPITIMAW is also used when Jesus rebuked a fever that endangered 
Peter's mother-in-law (Lk 4:39). If the Sabbath exists for man, then 
in a sense nature exists as his home. When it threatens him, God can 
rebuke it.

HH: I don't know how much you can read into a divine "rebuke." 
Whether we should think of personification of nature, imagine demonic 
powers at work, or suppose ancients conceived of nature as alive is 
not clarified in the text. Writers of that era seem perfectly capable 
of conceiving of nature as simply nature. The latter chapters of Job 
suggest this. They could use mythic and poetic elements to demonize 
or personify nature, but it is hard to know how seriously they took 
the imagery as they used it. If Isaiah says the trees clapped their 
hands, I gather he is a poet conveying an image of joy. I don't 
automatically conclude that he saw nature as spiritually alive. So 
unless the context clearly informs me that demon exorcism is present, 
I am not likely to import that meaning into the text by the mere 
presence of a word like "rebuke." However, that does not mean that 
there might not have been demonic forces at work in some situations. 
But the Red Sea just sitting there does not conjure up the forces of 
demonic evil in my mind, despite the use of "rebuke," and despite the 
imagery associated with Yam. It strikes me more that the Red Sea 
represented an obstacle threatening the survival of the Israelites as 
they came out of Egypt. God rebuked it, or drove it away, in its 
threat to Israelite survival.

					Harold Holmyard

>Psa. 106:9 wyg(r byM-swP
>Bryan, I take it that you would have no problem with the suggestion that g(r
>with yM-swP as an object involves subduing a hostile spiritual force, not
>just the physical event of making a path through the sea.
>Clay Bartholomew
>b-hebrew mailing list
>b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org

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