झींगा लाला द्वीप

अपने ट्विटर अकांउट पर मैं झींगा लाला द्वीप के विषय मे चर्चा करता रहता हूँ। वहाँ का विचित्र चाल-चलन, उलट-पलट आचार-विचार एवं चौपट व्यवस्था के विषय मे कुछ न कुछ लिखता रहता हूँ। इस शुभ दिवस पर मेरे हृदय मे यह प्रेणा-स्त्रोत उत्पन्न हुआ की में इस विचित्र स्थान का, जो मेरी कल्पना की उपज है, उसका विस्तृत वर्णन करूँ। मेरी आशा है कि इस कहानी को पढ़ने के उपरान्त पाठक को कुछ सीख मिलेगी और उसका मनोरंजन भी होगा।

झींगा लाला के निवासी मूल रूप से हठी, मोटी बुद्धि वाले और घमंडी होते हैं। इनकी सभ्यता पुरातन काल से चली आ रही है और इनका चलन वर्तमान मे भी रूढ़ीवादी है। इनकी व्यवस्था तो नाम मात्र की है, जिसके हाथ मे लाठी उसकी भैंस । उदाहरण के लिये इनकी यातायात व्यवस्था ही ले लीजिए, जब यह अपने वाहनों पर सवार हो पथ पर निकलते हैं तो जैसे कोई रथ सवार युद्ध पर निकला हो। वाहन तो जैसे उड़न खटोला बन जाता है, हवा को चीरते, और दो-चार झींगा लाला वालों को स्वर्ग की राह दिखाते हुए, अपने गणतव्य की ओर बढ़ा चला जाता है। राजपथों के दोनों ओर इनके वाहनों के टूटे-फूटे अवशेष इनकी वीर गाथा का जैसे गीत गा रहे होते हैं।इनकी बुद्धि इतनी मोटी है की अगर कोई यह कह दे कि ‘भाई, यह जंगल वाली व्यवस्था तुम को ही लील जाएगी’, तो वानरों के समान सब के सब उस अभागे को ही कच्चा चबा जाएँगे जो इनको सचेत करने का प्रयत्न कर रहा है।

आपस मे तो लाठी-डंडा बजाने मे बड़े वीर हैं, परन्तु फिर भी कई सदियों से विदेशीयों का जूता खाते आ रहे हैं। यह भी एक विचित्र तथ्य है ? इसका कारण यह है की अपनी मोटी बुद्धि के चलते यह बूझ न पाए की समुंद्र पार कर इनपर हमला करने वाले भी उस ही संसार मे निवास करते हैं, जो इनसे कहीं अधिक निपुण और युद्ध कौशल में इनसे कहीं आगे हैं।झींगा लाला वाले तो जैसे मदिरा-पान कर खम्बे पर चढ़ने वाला सरफिरा हो, वैसे ही अपनी काल्पनिक संसार मे रहते हैं। इसका लाभ विदेशी अधिक से अधिक उठाते आए हैं। उनको यह पता चल गया है की अगर इनको खम्बे पर चढ़ा दो तो यह अभागे विपत्ति को भूल फैल जाएँगे, उसके उपरान्त इनको लूटना तो एक सरल प्रक्रिया है। इसी के चलते वर्तमान मे झींगा-लाला वाले लुटे-पिटों के समान इधर-उधर संसार मे भटकते रहते हैं, विदेशीयों के हाथ सशक्त करते और आपस मे लात-जूता करते रहते हैं। ऊपर से अगर कोई सशक्त विदेशी इनके घर मे घुस कर दो-चार झाँपड़ जड़ भी देता है, तो यह वानर के समान दाँत चियार कर रह जाते हैं।

अगर कोई साहस कर यह चिल्ला-चिल्ला कर इनसे कहे की, ‘भाई तुम्हारा भयंकर अंत होने वाला है, इस तरह की सड़ी-गली व्यवस्था लेकर कितना चल न पाओगे, इस संसार में बड़े क्रूर लोग हैं जो तुम्हारी इस अवस्था को देख तुमको कच्चा चबा जाएँगे’, तो यह उसे पागल की उपाधि देकर फिर खंभे पर चढ़ जाते हैं।इनका द्वीप टोलों मे बटा है, कोई किसी तरह का तमगा लगाए घूम रहा है, तो कोई दूसरा और लगाए है। जब इनको विपत्ति दिखने लगती है तो यह विचित्र व्यवहार करने लगते हैं, अपने तमगे हिला-हिला कर चिल्लाने लगते हैं की, ‘हम तो यह हैं, अथवा हम तो वो हैं’, ‘हमारे पूर्वज यह थे, हम तो आसमान से उतरे हैं’। इनके अनुमान से आक्रमणकारी भय से काँपने लगेंगे, जो कभी नहीं होता और आक्रमण और तीव्र होने लगते हैं। कई आक्रमणकारी तो इनका यह विचित्र व्यवहार देख कर ठहाके लगाकर हँसते भी हैं, पर खंबे वालों को तो अपने से ही सरोकार है ?

इसका पूर्वानुमान लगाना कठिन नहीं की इनका क्या होने वाला है ?

इस काल्पनिक कथा से कुछ तो सीख मिली होगी ?

My Friend

Most of us struggle with friendships as it involves a measure of trust. Trusts can be broken and that fear drives some amongst us to be introverts. Thankfully, a lot of online and offline counselling resources exist for people suffering with the trauma of handling broken relationships. But, the scars never go away.

A lot of us turn to our faith when we see all the brokenness in the world around us. People are finicky and selfish, that’s our DNA. Maybe, it was the fruit at Eden ? So, what does our faith lead us to ? Or to be more precise do we see a ‘friend’ type of relationship with our Elohiymᴱˡ ?

In the Tanakh/Old Testament, Adonaiᴬᵈ is the ראשון, the First and, אחרון, the Lastᴵˢ. El-Elyonᴳᵉ is a Living Entity wreaking havoc on those who defy His miztvotᵐᶦ , warning them before letting loose the hammer. His Name is considered so Holy that it is not usually written or mentioned, unless in the act of quoting scripture. I am referring to the Tertragrammatonᵀᵉᵗ.

One of the mitzvot was that besides ordained priests aka Levites, no one could enter the Inner Temple. The קדש הקדשים or the Holiest of the Holy Place ( literal translation, otherwise Holy of Holiesᴷᵃᵈ ), was only accessible to the High Priest. The Ark of the Covenant was kept in the Holy of Holies, and a veil hid this inner sanctorum. There was a decorum to follow before entering the Holy of Holies, otherwise the priest would be struck down by El.

King Uzziahᵁᶻ was one of those who defied the mitzvah, he barged into the Inner Temple and offered incense. He was immediately struck down by צרעת, Tzaraath, a type of skin condition, ( rendering one ritually unclean and destined to be locked away far from habitation till they are healed ). His was not the only case of fiery Divine Punishment falling down on those defying mitzvot. I am mentioning Uzziah because otherwise he was a splendid king and did much for the betterment of the kingdom of Judah. His tale always brings a pang of remorse in my heart.

El-Israel is thus to be feared and respected. Does that mean that no one could claim Him to be a friend ? The Tanakh mentions just one individual, who was called as a friend by El-Shaddaiˢʰ : Abraham, ( although His face-to-face interaction with Moses also implies that Moses was like a friend ). But, that’s about it, for the rest, it was a different story.

The featured image displays the Hebrew word אהבי, from Isaiah 41:8, used for friend, when the El calls Abraham as His friend and then the Greek word φιλους, used in John 15:15, when Christ calls His followers as His friends.

With the advent of the Messiah, we see a titanic paradigm shift in the human-El relationship. Yeshua called all His followers as His friends !!! ᶠʳ We are not just עבד or servants, ( used frequently for Israel in the Tanakhᵉᵛ ). The Hebrew term ‘eved’ also implies slavery and serfdom. This is not all, we are effectively princes and princesses in His Kingdom ! A royal priesthoodᴾᵉᵗ ! I mean all of us, the street rabble, not just the kings and queens and the important people.

There is a message in this. El-Israel yearns to be with His Creation, so much so that He would walk amongst us, bear our sins, be crucified and rise up again to rule all dominions. In doing so, the veil of the Temple was tornᵛᵉ. The chasm between El and mankind was bridged over. Is this all that this wonderful and fantastic event conveys to us ? I think not, in fact I have just started off here.

Kicking off, in my view, this answers why the Messiah never explicitly emphasised on His Divinity vis-a-vis mankind. ( I am the El you worship –kind of stuff ). He did give sufficient hints both by His Wordsᴶ and His Healing Powers that He is the El-Israel but that was it. The point was that Christ was here not to reinforce the chasm between Him and sinful mankind, but to bridge it. That is why we also do not see His destructive power in play during His stay hereᴹ, which would have more than reinforced His Divinity but would also have proven counterproductive. A point that is missed by opponents.

The other takeaway is that this would be mankind’s last fling at Eternity before the Day of Judgementᴰᵃʸ. A sort of final bridge walk, before Creation is destroyed. There will be no more chances at getting it right. The Retribution ( His Destructive Power ) for mankind’s evil has been kept at abeyance, till the Day of Judgement. It’s like mighty waters that have been kept in check by a dam. The dam will be broken on that Day.

So, in conclusion we end up having an Eternal friend, who will never ditch us, come high or low. The shekinah, שכינהˢʰᵏ now rests in us. The laws are written in our heartsˡᵃʷ, and we are enslaved, or beholden by His Love for us. It works better this way. If men love somebody cause they have been won over, they will obey that person. Now, I do spiritual stuff not because I have to but because I want to. It makes life so much simpler and better.

References:

ᴱˡGenesis 1:26: First occurrence of the word אלהים , which I have literally translated to Elohiym, trying to keep it phonetically equivalent to Hebrew. It means the Deity that we worship.

ᴬᵈGenesis 15:2: First occurrence of the word Adonai, אדני, ‘Lord’.

ᴵˢIsaiah 48:12

ᴳᵉGenesis 14:18: First occurrence of the word לאל עליון, L’El Elyon or God the Most High.

ᵐᶦmitzvot

ᵀᵉᵗTetragrammaton

ᴷᵃᵈHoly of Holies

ᵁᶻUzziah

ˢʰGenesis 17:1: First occurrence of the words El Shaddai, אל שדי‘God Almighty’.

ᶠʳJohn 15:15 φίλους, friends.

ᵉᵛIsaiah 41:8: Another instance of the word , eved, עבדי or ‘Servant’ , used for Israel.

ᴾᵉᵗ1 Peter 2:9: ..βασιλειον ἱερατευμα εθνος ἁγιον..; a royal priesthood, a holy nation.

ᵛᵉMatthew 27:51: ..του καταπετασμα του ναου ἑσχισθη.., the veil of the temple was torn.

John 5:17: ..Πατερ μου ἑος ἁρτι ἑργαζεται καγο ἑργαζομαι, my Father works till now and I am working. Referring to the Sabbath, He is G-d of the Sabbath. At this point He had crossed the line and in the eyes of Jews was claiming to be G-d Himself, hardening the resolve of the religious zealots to kill Him.

Matthew 26:53: ἡ δοκεις ὁτι ου δυναμαι παρακαλεσαι τον Πατερα μου και παραστησει μοι ἁρτι πλειω δωδεκα λεγιωνας ἁγγελων. Don’t you know that I am able to call my Father and He will send 12 legions of angels, presently ? *This has reflections in the OT when King Hezekiah’s prayer was answered by sending ‘one angel’ that slew 185, 000 soldiers of the Assyrian king Sennacherib, who then fled back to his kingdom. 2 Kings 19:35*

ᴰᵃʸIsaiah 13:9 Judgement Day.

ˢʰᵏ2 Corinthians 6:16: ..ἡμεις γαρ ναος Θεου ἑσμεν.., we are the temple of God.

ˡᵃʷHebrews 10:16: ..διδους νομους μου ἑπι καρδιας αυτων.., putting my laws into their hearts.

The snare of Ba’al

Its good to go back to our roots. A sort of homecoming. Going back about 4000 years ago, I guess that is where our journey actually starts with Abram, who would leave Urᵁʳ of the Chaldees, around 2000 B.C.ᶜ to be called later as Abraham, the father of nations.

The script in the featured image of this post means “may it be well with you” in Ugaritic cuneiform.

Abraham shunned the polytheism of Mesopotamiaᴹᵉˢ and embraced worshipping the one true G-d. In my mind that was a drastic step, and it involved shedding a lot of cultural baggage to embrace a dramatically different faith.

The majority scholarly opinion is that Abram lived around the Middle Bronze-Ageᴮʳᶻ. Ur was a major city in the ancient world and Akkadianᴬᵏ was the lingua franca of Ur and its surrounding regions, another language of the time was Sumerianˢᵘ but it did not manage to hold for long. During Abram’s time in all probability Ur was under the control of an Akkadian or a Sumerian dynasty with the king assuming the role of a god king, building several temples dedicated to a pantheon of gods.

My interest zeroes in on another ancient city called Ugaritᵁᵍ, now Ras-Shamra in the northern part of modern Syria. Excavations from this site have led to the discovery of ancient clay tablets which carry the tales of a culture bearing striking resemblance to the religion of Canaanite deities mentioned in the Old Testament. The city rose to prominence around 1400 B.C. and was a major trading centre, connecting the Mediterranean sea route to ancient Mesopotamian land routes.

The Ugaritic scriptˢᶜʳ found on the ancient tablets unravels an ancient pantheon of gods that would ensnare Israel time and again. The chief deity was El, the father/ruler god figure, and his wife, the goddess Ashera, their sons and daughters, chief among them being his son Baalᴮˡ, and Baal’s brother Mot. The ancient religious texts centre around three epics: The Legend of Keret, Tale of Aqhat and The Baal cycle, recorded by the high priest Illimilku; reconstructed from various clay fragments and tablets, even though a few portions were missing.

The Baal Cycle displayed in Louvre. For attribution and License of image, check Referencesᴬᵗᵗ.

Baal, was the storm god of fertility and according to some scholars, he was the central figure in the pantheon, even though El was the supreme deity. Dagonᴰᵍ appears in some texts and was also a deity that was worshipped across several Mesopotamian and later Canaanite cultures.

The point is that this pantheon was well established in the late Bronze-Age as Ugarit was a city port, where several cultures intermingled with each other. The ancient texts recovered from Ras Shamra are in several languages like Ugaritic, Akkadian, Hurrian and Hittite.

This brings us back to our forefathers, and the first mention of Baal as a source of the Creator’s anger against Israel, pops up in the book of Numbers.

במדבר כה.ג ׃ ויצמד ישראל, לבעל פעור: ויחר-אף יהוה, בישראל


Numbers 25:3: Then Israel worshipped Baal-Peor: and this incited God’s anger against Israel.

After this it was pretty much downhill, with the later kings and queens and the people of Israel embarking on a tour of monumental stupidity ( worshipping idols ) culminating in the enslavement and exile of the entire population by 600 B.C.. Evidently the snare of Baal was too hard to resist even at the risk of seeing the kingdom of Israel destroyed.

Looking at the pantheon itself, it’s not quite different from the fertility god cycles of other Semitic cultures. One wonders as to why Baal in various forms was so attractive to Israel ? Maybe the Ugarit and Israelite cultures were connected in some way ? Some scholars point out that the pantheon of Ugarit has reflections in the Tanakh, and was probably the source of some of the legends in the Tanakh. I would argue to the contrary, that it was the Hebrew culture that affected Ugarit, as it preceded the Ugarit civilisation. None of the assumptions carry any backing evidence.

Is there any difference in the El of Israel and the El of Ugarit? I mean if they are similar that could explain Israel falling for Baal worship, time and again. However, to my mind, there is a strong contrast between El-Ugarit and El-Israel. ( I am going to switch to the present tense here because El is a living deity in this present age. ) The El of Israel demands complete obedience with a great stress on holiness. The El of Israel has no consorts and is not a being of flesh and blood that involves in human family like relationships. He is distinct from His Creation, a separate entity.

Holiness was not much of an issue in the Baal pantheon and in the associated polytheistic Semitic cultures; ritual human sacrifice, sexual rites were all too common. The gods had their consorts. Most of the kings and priests identified themselves as being part of the godly bloodline, being born of part human and part godly ancestry, so the gods were part human, but only when it came to kings and queens. They certainly displayed human traits and were constantly warring and fighting with each other. The gods of the Baal type pantheon were ‘flexible’ in that they could be appeased with sacrifices to flow with human wants. In short, the control was with the priests and important dignitaries like kings and courtiers.

The El of Israel in contrast has complete control, none of it rests with the follower. Since He has no competition, and no equals, there is no question of Him warring to save His throne. His views on right and wrong are absolute, and He insists on mankind to follow the path of righteousness and justice.

עמוס ה.כד: ויגל כמים, משפט; וצדקה, כנחל אותנ


Amos 5:24: Let justice flow up as waters; righteousness as a mighty stream.

The masses were not too happy. They saw all kinds of shady dealings and wantonness in the kingdoms around them, and yearned for some ‘action’. They wanted a Baal like god riding on a swashbuckling chariot crushing perceived foes, winking at the evils committed by his followers while destroying the evil ‘others’. The El of Israel is none of this and saw through the hypocrisy of Israel.

ישעיהו כט.יג :ויאמר אדני, יון כי נגש העם הזה, בפי ובשפתיו כבדוני, ולבו רחק ממני — ותהי יראתם אתי, מצות אנשם מלמדה


Isaiah 29:13: Therefore the Lord said, These people draw near me with their mouths and lips, but their hearts are far from me — their fear of me is like a man-made commandment learned by rote.

Unlike the gods of the pantheon, Hashemᴴ is a living and active agency, warning His people before visiting vengeance on them, (for their evil acts). He is not going to wink evil away.

This distinction between the El of Israel and the pantheon becomes more apparent with the Messiach† ,משיח, plan of mankind’s redemption. The gods of the pantheon were elevated and lived in higher spheres, supernatural beings who would never stoop low to walk among the rabble at large i.e. us. El, is different in that He foretold of the arrival of the Messiah and carried out His Redemptive plan. The Messiah would be a Man of sorrows, One who would walk amongst the ordinary. Emmanuel — G-d with us.

The Book of Isaiah, sometimes referred to as the fifth gospel, in Chapter 53, mentions the very ‘un-Baal’ like plan of Redemption. The sins of the world would be ascribed on to the Messiah and He would be scourged and chastised to death. Then, He would rise again in victory, to rule the dominions.

ישעיהו נג.ח׃ מעצר וממשפת לקח, ואת דורו מי ישוחח: כי נגזר מארץ חיים, מפשע עמי נגע למו

Isaiah 53:8: With oppression and judgement He was taken away, who amongst his generation has protested ? He was cut off from the land of the living, because of the transgression of my people, for whom the stroke was due.

Predictably, when the Messiah did arrive, the reception was very hostile. But, this was El-Israel’s plan all along, isn’t it ? These verses in Isaiah are also a slap on the face of those who keep blaming Jews for ‘killing’ Christ. With the advent of Yeshua Christos, the difference between the El of Israel and the Baal pantheon becomes more evident. In one of the Gospel passages He mentions that there are no sexual relations in the heavenly realms.

Μαθαιον 22:30: εν γαρ τε αναστασει ουτε γαμουσιν ουτε γαμιζονται αλλ ως αγγελοι Θεου εν το ουρανω εισιν.

Matthew 22:30: At the resurrection, neither do they marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels of God in Heaven.

The tales of marriage/sexual relationships in spiritual realms was an internalisation of the Baal culture, during His time.

Has the snare of Baal diminished today? I am afraid not. It has simply been carried over into our age, in various forms. Violent pogroms against Jews or the significant ‘other’ are a testimony to the internalisation. Point is if El-Israel decides to slay sinners, it’s going to be pretty much all of mankind. It’s not going to be we the pure-bred holy beings vs. the evil others. I think then that El’s plan of redemption via the Messiach Yeshua Christos was much better.

Ρομαιους 3.23– παντες γαρ ἡμαρτον και ὑστερουνται της δοξης του Θεου,

Romans 3:23– For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God,

This brings me to another issue, that of ‘names’ that Middle-Eastern and surrounding cultures use in calling El. There is a misguided assumption doing the rounds that ‘Allah’ is a pagan deity and that Arab Christians should stop calling the name of Allah. The Syriac Church has been around much before any other Church globally and uses the Biblical Aramaic ܐܠܗܐ or Alaha, to call El-Israel, Elahi, Illahi, Allahᴬˡ and Elohi are all related to El. Semitic languages are related and often use cognates of the same name to call on their deities.

In conclusion, we are not so different from the Ugaritic city folks living their lives around 2000 B.C., and that should keep us on our toes or else we stand to lose everything in the light of the Scripture. We may look and feel more modern but the primal urge to gain imaginary control of our situation is always lurking around the corner, the snare of Baal.

References:

B.C. is Before Christ

ᵁʳUr of the Chaldees

ᴹᵉˢMesopotamia

ᴮʳᶻBronze-Age

ᴬᵏAkkadian language

ˢᵘSumerian language

ᵁᵍUgarit

ˢᶜʳUgaritic Alphabet

ᴮˡBaal in the Baal Cycle texts

ᴬᵗᵗSource photographer, License, No changes were made to the original work.

ᴰᵍDagon

Hashem

Messiach: The Tanakh/Old Testament abounds with references to the arrival of El’s Redemptive work for mankind.

ᴬˡAllah

Aramaic in the Old and New Testament

Winding down deeper into the Scriptural ancient scripts trail, one discovers so much more. It often seems like diving deeper and deeper into a bottomless ocean. There is so much knowledge and spirituality to be gained, I often wonder, as to how did I miss making this pleasant journey earlier in my life? It’s happening now all thanks to a microscopic bug labelled Covid. Ironic.

If you have read the previous ancient scripts trail post, then you know that Hebrew is the script for the Tanakh/Old Testament (OT) and Koine Greek for the New Testament (NT). However, it now emerges that considerable portions of the scripture text are written in Aramaic. Well, its just about 1% of the OT, but then that is about 250 verses, and a few of them in the NT too. ( The Gospel of Mark, chapter 5, verse 41 has the Aramaic “Talitha Kumi” or “Little girl, arise” also used as the featured image of this post. )

The Aramaic language was the official language of various empires that attacked and subjugated the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel and Judahʳᵉᶠ. Not surprising then that the books of Daniel and Ezra carry many chapters in Imperial Aramaic*, the lingua franca of the Babylonianᴺᵉᵇᵘ and the Achaemenidᶜʸʳ empires.

I was able to code in Imperial Aramaic to my system, for the pleasure of the interested readers. It has a Unicode block allotted to it, . Daniel chapter 2 verse 4 kicks off the Aramaic portion and it ends with chapter 7. The script reads from right to left.

Daniel 2:4 — Then the Chaldeans spoke to the King in Aramaic – “O King, live forever! Tell the dream to your servants, we will give the interpretation.”

דניאל ב.ד — וידברו הכשדים למלך, ארמית: מלכא לעלמין חיי — אמר חלמא לעבדך ופשרא נחוא

𐡃𐡍𐡉𐡀𐡋 — 𐡅𐡉𐡃𐡁𐡓𐡅 𐡄𐡊𐡔𐡃𐡉𐡌 𐡋𐡌𐡋𐡊 𐡀𐡓𐡌𐡉𐡕 𐡌𐡋𐡊𐡀 𐡋𐡏𐡋𐡌𐡉𐡍 𐡇𐡉𐡉 — 𐡀𐡌𐡓 𐡇𐡋𐡌𐡀 𐡅𐡐𐡔𐡓𐡀 𐡍𐡇𐡅𐡀

Above, you can see the English, then Hebrew and lastly in bold italics, the Imperial Aramaic text. It almost takes me back to the time when Daniel must have stood before an enraged emperor i.e. Nebuchadnezzar, who wanted to tear apart all the magicians, soothsayers and wise men of his kingdom. He wanted them to tell him what his dream was and to interpret his dream. The slaughter was about to begin as no one was willing to do so. That is until Daniel stepped in. Living in faith was never easy.

The NT has far fewer Aramaic portions. The older Imperial Aramaic script had changed to a form closely resembling the Syriac-Aramaicᴾᵉˢʰ script. (The script reads from right to left and has its own Unicode block, allowing me to code it in my system.) It is an established fact that Aramaic was the common language in Israel, during the time of Christ. The Gospel of Mark, chapter 15 verse 34 has Aramaic in it.

Mark 15:34 — At the ninth hour, Jesus cried in a loud voice – “Eloi Eloi lema sabachtani” which is translated as “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?”

ܐܠܝ ܐܠܝ ܠܡܢܐ ܫܒܩܬܢܝ

Aramaic in bold italics, above. The Syriac Peshitta NT puts it as ‘Eil Eil Lmana Shwaqthani’. I have rendered it as ‘Eli Eli Lmana Sabaqthani’ᴱˡᶦ, more in line with the traditional rendering. Some of the bystanders of the crucifixion, heard His cry, and misunderstood it as a call to Elijah. ‘Eli’ rhymes partly with ‘Elia’, Aramaic for Elijah.

The Aramaic script fills an important void as far as my understanding of the Scripture goes. It brings into focus the times of Jewish captivity and exile in Babylon and then other empires, then on to the Messiah and His Ministry. The language and the script continued to be used widely in the Middle-East till the 7th century AD. Thereafter, it managed to survive through the centuries in parts of Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Israel and India. Currently, it is the liturgical language of the Syriac Orthodox church.

That’s all from me.

Please do check out the references below if you are interested in digging deeper into Aramaic.

References:

ʳᵉᶠ History of ancient Israel and Judah

* Imperial Aramaic

ᴺᵉᵇᵘ Babylonian Kingdom

ᶜʸʳ Achaemenid Empire

ᴾᵉˢʰ Syriac-Aramaic Unicode Peshitta — The Syriac NT

‘ᴱˡᶦ The cry of the Messiah on the Cross — ‘Eli’ translates to ‘My God’, ‘El’ for God and the ‘i’ suffix denotes the genitive case ‘My’; ‘sebaq’ means to forsake, in Aramaic.

The Trail of Ancient Biblical Scripts

Hi there!!

I have been busy on the ancient scripts trail, while studying the Tanakh aka Old Testament and the New Testament. Thanks to the Coronavirus, well not really!

The oldest ‘known’ ancient script ( i.e. backed by ancient artefacts discovered by archaeologists ), which was used by the Hebrews is Paleo-Hebrew *(PH for short) aka the Phoenician* script. Due to the availability of it’s alphabet in Unicodeⁿ, I was able to modify some system files to incorporate it in my operating system. This script was in use from 1000 B.C. to 500 B.C.ⁱⁱ

Another script that was even more ancient and, was the precursor of PH, was the Proto-Sinaitic** (PS for short) script. Unfortunately it is available only as a user font as of now and we cannot use it across the internet. This script was used, from Canaan to Sinai, during the period: 1900 B.C. to 1500 B.C.ⁱⁱ, i.e. from the time of Abraham’s exploits to Joshua’s reign. PS was also the precursor of the ancient Greek script, which led later to the development of Koine Greek.

The relevance of getting to know these ancient scripts lies in the fact that we can ground ourself in the historical basis of the Scripture. Further, we can make out that far from being nonchalant in communication, people in ancient times were constantly trying to better the writing scripts and preserve their history, for later generations.

Let’s kick off by using the PH, PS scripts for Genesis 1:1, ( in Hebrew — בראישת א.א ) , please keep in mind that all these scripts were written in a right to left style.

Latin: In the beginning, God made the Heavens, and the Earth.

Hebrew: בראשית, ברא אלהים, את השמים, ואת הארץ

PH: 𐤁𐤓𐤀𐤉𐤔𐤕, 𐤁𐤓𐤀 𐤀𐤋𐤄𐤉𐤌 𐤀𐤕 𐤄𐤔𐤌𐤉𐤌, 𐤅𐤀𐤕 𐤄𐤀𐤓𐤑

Rendering of Genesis 1:1 in PH Image form , top row and in PS script, bottom row.

As seen in the image above, the Paleo-Hebrew (PH) script had evolved from the Proto-Sinaitic (PS) one and this is brought about by the images of the PH script, which is the basis of the PH text. *The PH images and text alphabet chart is available in the resources link section at the end of this post.

Consider the first word in Genesis 1:1⁰: B’reishit or נראשית, it means ‘At first’ or as translated in English ‘In the beginning’. The key alphabet here is ‘ר’ or Resh, in Hebrew. Resh means the head, and since it was/is considered the prominent part of the body it also means authority and being first. Now the PS script clearly brings out the ‘head’ part with their pictographical alphabet Ra’š, that of a human head.

The Hebrew alphabet Resh, starting off from the PS ‘head’ at the bottom row, ( presented prominently on the right part of the image above ) and its iterations through PH 𐤓 , and finally to its current form of Hebrew ר , on the top row.

Digging deeper we find the Hebrew alphabet chain starts at א, or aleph, this is a variation of an ox head pictograph which was used in the PS script. The ancients regarded power to be represented by an ox head. I am assuming that this is because most of them were agriculturalists and knew the importance of cattle. Aleph thus represents strength and leadership, even in the current Hebrew alphabet system. The PH script comes close to representing Aleph as an ox head 𐤀 , but the PS script takes the cake with the image of its first alphabet, below:

The alphabet Alp in PS script also known as aleph in later PH and Hebrew scripts, it matches almost perfectly with an ox head.

Moving on to Koine Greek we have Christ Himself describing Himself as the Alpha Α and Omega Ω, in the New Testament. Alpha starts the Koine Greek alphabet chain and Omega is the last alphabet in the chain. Thus Christ is the Absolute Power as both the Head and the End of All Creation. This will be the subject of another post delving into how the PS script morphed on to the Phoenician aka PH script and then created the ancient Greek writing system. Koine Greek and the modern Greek script are the children of the PS script.

I could go an and on but this post will almost certainly turn into a thick novel, so its time to conclude by saying that if you find the PS, PH and Phoenician scripts mention confusing, don’t blame me. It all happened at the tower of Babel, and we are all just wading in the aftermath. I would also like to point out that this is no way an exhaustive description of ancient Biblical scripts, interested readers may delve deeper by using resources mentioned below just to start on this trail.

Resources:

*Paleo-Hebrew/Phoenician: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleo-Hebrew_alphabet This page contains the PH Image and text chart. Remember PH is the abbreviation for Paleo-Hebrew.

ⁿUnicode: https://home.unicode.org

**https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Sinaitic_script Please remember that PS is the abbreviation for Proto-Sinaitic script. The font is by Kris J. Udd, copyright information of his fonts is available online.

ⁱⁱTime periods are approximate, as are the timelines of the Biblical patriarchs.

https://biblehub.com/interlinear/genesis/1-1.htm Note: I did not use the nikkud marks because these were not used in ancient Hebrew scripts. Nikkuds are vowel marks, and vowel pronunciations were left to the reader, who were quite aware of the consonant-vowel word play.