[b-hebrew] Sky (from Rolf Furuli)
TedBro at aol.com
TedBro at aol.com
Sat Sep 1 08:49:26 EDT 2012
Something strange is happening at the ibiblio.org. at the moment. My posts
do not go through, and the same is true for others. Moreover, I do not get
all the posts that are sent to the list. If you have access, please send
my attached post to the list.
There are several interesting observations in your post. I would like to
look more closely at the term "metaphor."
One definition of this term is: "A metaphor is a word which is used to
show the resemblance between things of some similar character. Metaphor
compares two things so that one thing is called as the other thing without the
use of words like or as which are used for comparison in the case of simile."
Your example of metaphors from Deuteronomy is excellent, and it fits the
definition above—one thing is called as the other one. But what about the
"foundations" in Psalm 104:5 (NIV): "He set the earth on its foundations
(MKWN); it can never be moved."? Is this a metaphor? We can compare these words
with Psalm 89:15 (NIV): "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of
your throne." From the last quote we learn that the word MKWN needs not refer
to something that is solid, but still it is used in the sense of a support
of something. Therefore, I am inclined to take MKWN in a literal sense in
Psalm 104:5. In no way would I say that the writer of this Psalm held the
modern view of our solar system. Nevertheless, our earth can be said to have
a MKWN, because gravity keeps it in its orbit. So, Psalm 104:5 needs not
refer to literal pillars or to a solid foundation, but it simply may show
that the earth stands in a fixed position by the power of God. From this
point of view MKWN is not a metaphor.
In a similar vay I would argue about RQY( in Genesis 1:6-8. When it is
said that the heavens will become brass, the one thing (the sky) is called
like the other one (brass). Thus, "brass" is a metaphor. But I do not see the
same in the use of RQYA, because this word need not always refer to
something that is solid. I see no reason to conclude that the writer does not
describe what happened during each "day" in a literal way. He tells that the
RQY( was formed, and that there was water below and above this RQY(. Later the
writer tells that the water above the RQY( fell down in the days of Noah.
Again the writer uses a literal language—one thing is not called the other
When we entertain a clear distinction between literal language, metaphor,
and simile, we may avoid several problems. For example, we have the word
YWM that is used several times. This word is used with three different
temporal references in Genesis 1 and 2, and a literal understanding of the word
needs not require that we believe that each day lasted 24 hours.
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