A short chapter, and I don’t have much to say about – a welcome relief compared to my very long posts, I’m sure.
Still, I have to admit that it frustrates me that as I round out 75 posts here I’ve yet to master the ability so many other bloggers seem to have of dragging meaning out of really small verses. At best, what I get are ideas, but they’re more images, half-formed puzzles, not anything I make explicit. I’m better at asking questions about what I read than providing answers.
As I often do, I fall back on noticing translation differences. The NRSV says the Israelites gave “offerings of well-being to the LORD,” while the NCT says they made “peace accord offerings to the LORD.” I did my usual digging and found that the term is zevah shelamim in Hebrew, with zevah being a slaughtered offering and shelamim the plural of peace (shalom). Apparently these are going to be outlined more in Leviticus, which means, hey, I have something to actually look forward to in Leviticus!
The image that struck me in this was of the elders getting to see God, yet only describing what God is standing (?) on, “something like a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness.” (v 10) That “something” is magnificent in its ineptitude, a struggle to describe something indescribable. And then they eat and drink…what? Did God give them a continental breakfast? Should I, as a Lutheran, interpret this sacramentally, where the presence of God is something that can be tangibly consumed?
Questions, questions, I don’t have answers. I do know that I to try to open my mind for the next seven chapters to try to find things deep and spiritual in a lot of descriptions of items and rituals that nobody performs anymore, rather than treating it like an anthropological study.
The Japanese: wakai “reconciliation, peace accord” (v 5), hachi “bowl, basin” (v 6), shikiishi “pavement,” sumu “to be clear, transparent” (v 10), juusha “attendant” (v 13).