Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The (Were)Wolf Howls Again

Poor Thom Stark just can’t seem to keep his promises. He’s still grinding out comments, this time insisting that uses of enash must mean just regular old men like Joe Garbage Collector on 5th Street. Tch tch. Let's see what we can do to help him.

A point to start, though. Stark had earlier posited instances of the Hebrew enosh rather than the Aramaic enash, which is what he should have been doing. The words are related, of course, but not exactly the same in terms of language and connotation. I forgot this myself; it didn't occur to me until sometime yesterday, so I won’t beat that into the ground, other than to say that unlike Stark, I will admit my error. He doesn’t, anywhere that I can see. And that would be typical of his all points south moral compass. (Later add on: Which isn't to say that enosh can't likewise be seen defined the way Herzfeld's definition offers.)

But let’s see what he has to say now that he’s actually making a vain attempt to exegete passages. I’ll first offer his comment, then the verse, then my comment, with enash indicated in its translation by surrounding asterisks. Remember that my defense is per Herzfeld, that “son of man” means, “heir or successor to royalty, or of a free man of the highest class.” So enash by itself means royalty, or a free man of high class.

Dan 2:10 uses anosh as a general term for “man”, and there it clearly cannot denote royalty, because it refers to every man on earth, except the king!

The Chaldeans answered before the king, and said, There is not a *man* upon the earth that can shew the king's matter: therefore [there is] no king, lord, nor ruler, [that] asked such things at any magician, or astrologer, or Chaldean.

Wrong. It doesn’t refer to every man on earth. Stratified experts like the Chaldeans would hardly lessen their own honor by so much as implying that any common man might be able to match their skills at interpreting dreams and such. Rather, enash makes perfect sense here in terms of some high class person – here, likely in mind is someone within the Chaldeans’ class of astrologers.

It is used in Dan 3:10, again, to refer to every male in the land, except the king, because the men are to bow down to the king.

Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every *man* that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, shall fall down and worship the golden image:

Oh really? So Nebuchadnezzar wanted every human in the land to do this, right down to Farmer Joash? That would be an ego to match Loftus – or Stark. But no, sorry. We can hardly expect that they thought people all over Babylon’s enormous empire would be able to hear the call to worship, so to speak, in such a localized place. This makes far better sense as a call for all of the king’s high class men and heirs to take a loyalty oath. (Rather amusingly, I once had an atheist make this very objection about all those people being able to hear that call.)

Stark makes the same mistake with Daniel 6:12.

It is used in Dan 4:16, contrasting the heart of man with the heart of an animal.

Let his heart be changed from *man's*, and let a beast's heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him.

It refers to the king himself. The king is royalty. I have said that enash means royalty. Does Stark want to borrow some crayons so he can connect the dots?

He makes the same mistake regarding Daniel 7:4.

It is used again in Dan 5:7 to refer to men who are not royalty.

The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. [And] the king spake, and said to the wise [men] of Babylon, *Whosoever* shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and [have] a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.

Apparently Stark forget that enash also means free men of the highest class. That’s who the king ends up calling on of course – Chaldeans and high placed people. Stark loses yet another year’s supply of Rice a Roni on that one. He should pay closer attention.

For the last one, he goes to Ezra 6:11, where he says it is used to “refer to any man in Judaea.”

Also I have made a decree, that *whosoever* shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this.

Here, in an English, no-context reading, one could arguably make a case that any man in Judaea could be meant, but I’m not so sure. For one thing, to the best of my recollection, timber was a fairly limited resource that the average Judean Joe didn’t get to use in his house construction. So if my recollection is right, the threat would only make sense if it was directed to the higher classes. ("Change this decree, and I'll turn a hose on your mud hut!")

In addition, the warning is not to alter the words of the decree, which only makes sense if said person is 1) literate; 2) is in a position to be able to alter it. That only makes sense if they’re a member of the highest class, or royalty, because the average Judean was illiterate and certainly did not have the ability to change decrees made by the higher class. Perhaps Stark needs to brush up on his “social world of the Bible” scholarship a bit.

So bottom line – Stark continues to fail rather miserably in his attempts to decree that enash doesn’t mean what Herzfeld said it did. And there’s also no reason not to think that the meaning was not preserved from the time of Old Babylonian into Daniel’s age. After all, there were plenty of Hebrew words that managed to keep their nuances for several centuries, and in a culture finely attuned to the preservation of tradition, it’s hardly a stretch.

Generic human being – that’d be a great title to put on Stark, though. Maybe Loftus should make him a T-shirt.

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