THREAD: Meditations on marriage metaphors in Ruth

The book of Ruth is, of course, a story about a beautiful marriage. But even before the courtship and the wedding and the important genealogy at the end, we find interesting language that is strikingly reminiscent of Genesis 2:24
That important verse reads:

'Therefore a man shall leave [יַֽעֲזָב] his father and his mother and hold fast [וְדָבַ֣ק] to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.'
The verb עזב can be quite strong in force. For example, Joseph leaves behind [וַיַּעֲזֹ֤ב] his garment as he flees from Pharaoh's wife's sexual advances. Countless times, Israel is depicted abandoning the LORD, for example in Judg 2:12 [וַיַּעַזְב֞וּ], and going after other gods.
Likewise, the verb דבק is rather striking. Lot is mortified of disaster overtaking him [תִּדְבָּקַ֥נִי] as he flees from Sodom. Israel is commanded in Deut 10:20 to cling fast [תִדְבָּ֔ק] to the LORD and serve him and swear by his name.
Together they illustrate how radical God designed marriage to be. Marriage is a real severing of family relations in order to form a new, permanent bond with another human being.

Something very similar to this takes places in Ruth's life.
When returning to Israel destitute, Naomi encouraged both of her daughters to go back to their people and their gods. In response, Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye...but Ruth clung to her [דָּ֥בְקָה].

What is more, she made it clear just what she was clinging to.
'Do not urge me to leave you [לְעָזְבֵ֖ךְ] or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.' (Ruth 1:16)
Later, Boaz makes explicit just what Ruth has done in clinging to Naomi:

'All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your you left [וַתַּֽעַזְבִ֞י] your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before.'
Likewise he makes clear the full entailment of Ruth's actions:

'The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!' (Ruth 2:12)
It is the God of Israel that Ruth is clinging to, and seeking refuge under his wings.

In Ezekiel 16, Israel is depicted as a naked maiden, abhorred and abandoned. Nevertheless, the LORD took her as his own.
The LORD states: 'When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, you were at the age for love, and l spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness; I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord GOD, and you became mine.'
Of course, Ruth comes with a very similar request to Boaz later in our story. In a stunning statement, she says to him: 'I am Ruth, your servant. Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.' (Ruth 3:9)
The concept of being covered by someone's wings is a bit foreign to us, but we can readily conceive of marriage a kind of secure environment where intimacy is cultivated and shame is banished.
Indeed, when we return back to Genesis 2, we find that the very next verse explicitly states that the man and his wife were both naked, yet they were not ashamed.
The Lord Jesus is repeatedly depicted as the bridegroom of his church. Thus Paul:

'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.'
Christ also forsook heaven and came to earth, taking the form of a servant, being made like his brethren so that he could bind himself to them in covenant and take their burdens upon himself. Bearing the shame, he dyed naked on an accursed tree.
The Reformer Martin Luther was very fond of the marriage metaphor, and he uses it in such a profound way in his treatise 'On the Freedom of the Christian' (1520). These words are perhaps my favourite outside of Scripture:

'The soul is full of sins, death, and damnation...
...Now let faith come between them and sins, death, and damnation will be Christ's, while grace, life, and salvation will be the soul's; for if Christ is a bridegroom, he must take upon himself the things which are his bride's and bestow upon her the things that are his...
... If he gives her his body and very self, how shall he not give her all that is his? And if he takes the body of the bride, how shall he not take all that is hers?'
The power of love is compared to the power of death in the Song of Solomon (8:6–7)

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD.'
'Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.'

So, too, we see the fierceness with which Ruth clings to the God of Israel: 'May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.' (Ruth 1:17)
I close with the final words of celebrated polymath Blaise Pascal. This note was found in his coat pocket after his death:

'Year of grace 1654, Monday 23 November, feast of St. Clement...from about half past ten at night to about half an hour after midnight, FIRE...
'God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of philosophers and scholars. Certitude, heartfelt joy, peace. God of Jesus Christ. God of Jesus Christ. My God and your God...Joy, Joy, Joy, tears of joy...Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ.

May I never be 𝘴𝘦𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 from him.'

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More from @lettlander

15 Jan
THREAD: Who is Beelzebul?

In Matthew 10:25, Jesus hints that he, the master of the house, will be called Beelzebul, even as his disciples will be maligned.

The Greek word Βεελζεβούλ has a variant spelling, namely Βεελζεβούβ (also seen in the Vulgate Beelzebub).
At Matthew 12:24, we are given the identity of this personage by the Pharisees, who state that Beelzebul is the 'prince of demons'.

This view was common in Second Temple Jewish circles, as can be seen by various non-biblical texts.
For example, a certain Aramaic magic incantation formula (4Q560) found among the Dead Sea Scrolls appears to mention בעל] זבב] (see the image below).

Notice that this spelling matches the alternate variant we find in the New Testament.
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8 Jan
THREAD: What is Ugaritic?

Many of my threads involve Ugaritic texts, but I thought I might provide a brief introduction to the uninitiated.

If you're at all interested in the Hebrew Bible, I believe you should take some interest in the field of Ugaritic studies.
The WHAT: The terms Ugarit and Ugaritic refer to a Late Bronze Age (LBA) city-state and its people and language. This small kingdom flourished about 13 centuries before Christ, until it was destroyed along with many other cultures in the Late Bronze Age collapse.
The Late Bronze Age collapse was a series of catastophic events around 1200 BC which led to the destruction of many city states and kingdoms in the eastern Mediterranean region. Scholars still debate the exact mix of conditions and peoples which precipitated such upheval.
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11 Dec 20
THREAD: Latin vowels are interesting.

One of the first rules students of Latin learn is its simple accentuation system. The default stress is penultimate:

for-tū́-na, Rō-mā́-nī, a-mā́-mus

...unless the syllable is short, in which case stress the antepenult:

As an Indo-European language, Latin inherited a rather different accentual system, which was based on pitch and was mobile, as far as we can tell.

But in between the two systems, Latin went through a different intermediate phase: everything was stressed on the first syllable.
That's right. Archaic Latin had the stress system of the Germanic languages, Finnish, and Latvian (!).

How do we know this?

When we compare the vowel system in other archaic IE languages with that of classical Latin, we notice vowel changes in all but the initial syllable.
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10 Dec 20
Now, a session devoted to ongoing work in the critical editions of Samuel-Kings.

Craig Morisson, who is working in place of the late Stephan Pisano on BHQ Samuel presents on the role of the younger versions (Peshitta, Targums, and Vulgate) in the edition.

Next up is Guy Darshan, representing The Hebrew Bible, A Critical Edition (HBCE).

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9 Dec 20
Now onto linguistics and biblical interpretation. @michaelgaubrey presents on the divergent senses of a familiar verb.

He provides a very interesting chart here with how various translations deal with λύω.
As a thought experiment, consider a child’s gradual acquisition of a schematic network for ‘tree’ and various other lexemes which are slotted in.
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9 Dec 20
@K_L_Phillips now presenting on shorthand Masoretic manuscripts in the Taylor-Schechter collection.

A subset of these provide only the accented syllable (and sometimes only the first consonant of that syllable).
In the 1970s, Revell argued that these were Masoretic tools for the preservation of the accent system.
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