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Bibles & Beer 02.13: What Not to Say to a Burning Bush


Well, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, everyone. I’m so glad that every one of you can join us tonight. It is time yet again for another update, a twist on the Wednesday night Bible study that you may have grown up with today. Reverend Dr David Breeden will offer readings from the Hebrew and Christian scriptures that make up the Bible. We’ll cover some of the Christian basics and explore the Bible’s themes, contradictions and curiosities. Tonight, we got to get all theological as we start to understand the concept of God as Brown and we see the burning bush. So tell me more, David. What are we talking about tonight?

Well, I mean, speaking of flames, I have left my saint Kurt Vonnegut Candle, a secular saint and president of the American Humanist Association, humanist of the year, great novelist and quite the spokesperson for humanism for many years. So Saint Kurt here. So we got a little flame going on. Also, it is Passover season for our Jewish friends. It will be extending from last weekend until April the 4th. And therefore it’s going to be Bibles and vino tonight just to celebrate the Passover season. This is Boggle, a Californian wine that’s voted one of the best in the country and one of my wife’s favorites. And hey, for the price point, as they say, it’s good. So there you go. We will we will drink a little libation to Moses and the burning bush tonight. So that’s the idea.

Definitely. Definitely. Definitely. I’m so glad that you brought up Kurt Vonnegut. You’ve been talking about him a lot in coffee and wisdom this week.

Yep, yep, yep. Kurt Vonnegut was a real deep thinker and one of the one of the great saints. As I say, you know, people really listen to him because of his. He had his authorial voice. He was a New York Times best selling author. And humanists don’t get into the limelight all that often, shall we say. But he was one that kind of crossed over into a larger popularity and really served as a great spokesman for humanism when he was alive,

That he outlined the theology for humanism.

You know, one of his brilliant what he is brilliant things was his tracing of a kind of a sci fi science fiction world, but it’s always a little absurd. He he created a science fiction fiction writer as a character, Kilgore Trout. And Kilgore is not the best science fiction writer in America, but he tries very hard, so.

Yeah. Well, I guess it’s enough about humanism theology. I think it’s about time we talk about Jewish and Jewish philosophy and theology. I was a little bit about more about God and a burning bush.

All right. Well, one of the interesting things about the third chapter of Exodus, which is we will be looking at tonight, is that it’s one of the few places in Hebrew scripture where we get painfully close to actually talking theology. One of the things about Hebrew scripture is it’s mostly stories, it’s history, and it’s God always interaction with the Hebrew people. But that’s what it is. It’s interaction in history. It’s not about where God is, how God is or any of those things. Now, there are reasons for that because of the vast time scale we’re looking at in terms of human history. But there’s also great care not doing that. But tonight, we’re going to look at the one place where that kind of gets close. So it’s all to do.

Let’s throw this on up here.

All right. Let’s get on it then. Yeah. All right, what not to say to a burning bush and this is the third chapter of Exit is so just a real quick little recap, a C often knee is when a manifestation of the divine meets up with a human being. There are a few things affinis in Hebrew scripture and some in Christian scripture as well. But these are the places where the veil has lifted and suddenly we are looking at the other world. Some person for some reason is seeing the other world. Now, just for jollies here, I did want to share with you in English, we use the word God. And so I looked it up on the online etymology dictionary, which you can to this actually is a very good source. We have to be careful when we use the Internet. Sometimes the sources aren’t that great, but often they really are. And this is one of the finer examples of an etymology dictionary that you can find. So God is an old English word, meaning supreme being deity and the Christian God, or it can be a godlike person like Elvis right now. Do notice that it comes out of Germanic languages because we know the romance languages use database where we get the term deity as well. So proto Germanic Goossen, which goes into old Saxon, old Frisian Dutch God, old high German, got German and got Old Norse, Gousse, Gothic and etc.

the the little T on the D thing is a t h sound. So Gousse all right. It is of uncertain origin, but it may come from Proteau Indo-European that is that a language constructed by scholars, by going back into the deep etymology of the various languages and see where they must have separated on time with different kinds of pronunciation. So Proteau Indo-European hootch, that which is invoked. All right. So then we and we also have Zovko to call in Sanskrit Huta, which means invoke and it is an epithet for Indras. So to call or invoke appears to be the etymological root of the word God in English. So at one time was a verb. This becomes important. Hey, on a popular etymology that God is comes from good appears not to be the case, although we don’t exactly know it could be that that’s part of it as it goes in. We just take one out and you got God, et cetera. Now also originally a neutral noun in Germanic, the genders shifted to masculine after the coming of Christianity. Isn’t that odd? The old English word God as the Germanic word God did not have a gender and probably meant something like the Latin nouman. That would be a kind of a presence more more than a God, I think sort of the Newman new analogy, a better word to translate deluce might have been the Proteau Germanic and souce, but this was used only the of the highest deities in the Germanic religions and not of foreign gods.

And guess what? This day was guy coming in from the south was a foreign God at first. It survives in English, mainly in personal names beginning and os os. So if your name is Osgoode etc, you probably have a priest somewhere in your background back in the Druidic days. So the tetragrammaton, the tetragrammaton is a part of Jewish tradition. It’s Tatra for four letters and the letters are a Y and H a W and an H usually pronounced your way. This is the name of God or the tetragrammaton of the word God. The Hebrew that you see at the top is Yachad. Hey La Hey Yachay. Four elements. Now the interesting thing about this God, we’ll see in just a few moments. This is again Exodus, Chapter three. Moses was keeping the flock of his father in law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led his flock beyond the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. A couple of interesting things going on here. No. One in the Bible, in Hebrew scriptures, shepherds are good things, right? Jesus becomes the last shepherd in the Christian tradition. But shepherds go way back in terms of Hebrew mythology. His father in law is Jethro and a priest of Midian. Now, Midian was probably not in a geographic place exactly because of the wandering nature of the peoples, and there were probably several tribes involved.

But we’ve got Egypt over here. We’ve got what’s going to become Palestine up here, and we have Midian down here. The Midlands may have worshiped a God named ya way before the Hebrews learned of your way. This is a. Very tantalizing historical stuff, the ancient Hebrew scripture may reveal where the name of the God comes from, and it wasn’t out of what we’ve all been studying in Genesis. Apparently the history of that actually didn’t lead into the name of yours. How do we know that? Because there is some graffiti in Midian that appears to be those that tetragrammaton and it does predate any of the Hebrew occupation of that area. So a very interesting thing that we had all the ancient God coming out of the Near East, little further north. And here we have way coming out of a little bit toward the south. Well, Mount Horeb is that Mount Sinai, which, of course, you know, is where the Ten Commandments come down from. So there’s a lot of debate about this is the real Mount Sinai in Arabia and where is the real Mount Sinai? And everyone would love to prove where Mount Sinai is and if Mount Horeb is the same as Mount Sinai. But nobody knows and we can’t agree on the locations. So there you have it.

Where did that mountain come from? Where is it? Or did it really exist at all? Because there’s a lot of mountains around there. We don’t really know the answer to that there. The Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a brush. He looked in. The bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, I must turn aside and look at this great site and see why the bush is not burned up. Now, there is a tradition going on here in which the human, the human being cannot look at the manifestations of of the gods. This is not just a Hebrew idea. So, yeah. Hey, wait, you don’t don’t look this way and take off those sandals, dude. And there’s you know, if you start looking online, there are a lot of burning Bush pictures. I can I can tell you that when when you always saw that he had turned aside to see because we find out this is your way in a bit. Elohim, that is the God called out to him out of the bush, Moses, Moses. And Moses says, here I am. Well, look at this picture from the Middle Ages. This is the burning Bush are supposed to be. And here’s Moses with a halo taking off his sandals. But wait, why is the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus in the burning bush? I guess some Christians got a hold of the story and decided to reinterpret it within some kind of Christian terminology and ideas.

Interesting but weird picture you’ll have to admit then. You always says, come no closer, get those sandals off your feet. And he said further, I am the God of your father. OK, Doug, God, the Elohim again, el being the ancient Near Eastern God that leads into the term also of Allah, the God. So you see how that’s working. Then the Lord said, I have observed misery of my people. They are enslaved in Egypt. Those of you have been following along. We watched them willingly go into Egypt so that they wouldn’t starve to death there in Palestine with Jacob and then Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat. Now they are a multitude of people years later and they have now been enslaved within Egypt is the situation. Moses is supposed to lead them out of Egypt into a land flowing with milk and honey. And this appears to be the oldest of the appearances of this particular terminology. A land flowing with milk and honey add to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Emirates. Oh yeah, all the indigenous people. You get to kill them because it’s your promised land. Go right ahead. All right. So I’ve heard this call and Moses is a little bit skeptical about this. He hasn’t heard of this God before, although probably dead from his father in law since he was the high priest of your way there in.

But one of the things that your way tells him is you can believe me, because when you come back through, you’re going to worship me right here on this big honkin mountain. So that’s one way that you can know that I’m working in the world. So here is the bit where the divine name is revealed. But Moses said to God, if I come to the Israelites and say to them, the God of your ancestors has sent me to you. And they. Asked me what’s his name, what shall I tell them? So note that the the God of the Hebrews pretty clearly doesn’t have a name now. How did that happen? We’ve been naming your way. We’ve been naming Elohim all the way back. Well, that’s because Genesis hasn’t been written yet. That’s the actual answer. But it is an interesting thing, isn’t it? So we’ve got this guy and what’s what’s it going to be called? This big God. So God says to Moses, I am who I am now. We have to note that the to be verb, which is what this is in Hebrew, has no tents to it. So we can’t indicate time, past, present, future, et cetera. But I am who I am. It would be one way of saying this or I am what I am, one way of saying this or I will be what I will be, which is another way of saying it.

So God says to Moses, I am who I am, or maybe I am what I am, or I will be what I will be. Most rabbis, when they do translate this into English, prefer the one in red. Right. And there’s the Hebrew of this response. I’ll get to it a moment. Or it can also be I create what I create. I do what I do right. Or I am the existing one. OK, well that’s that’s cool. So here are some questions. Is the voice merely being evasive as to a name? I mean, you walk up to me on the sidewalk and you ask me my name and I say I am who I am. You’re going to be a little bit ticked about that you will you will feel that I am being evasive. Hmm. Now, the actual Hebrew is a Asir anyway, so you can hear the term your way within this slight mispronunciation, of course, because I can’t do Hebrew. Or does this reveal the theology of the ancient Hebrews? We really don’t know. Could it be that they slipped up and left the Midian part in and we can now actually trace the the entomology certainly of the word, if not the concept of the Hebrew God, what’s going on here? All right. So I am who I am. Just think about these statements for a moment.

I am what I am. I will be what I will be. I am the existing one. All of these statements are statements of pure being. Perhaps that would be a being that is not bound by any kind of face or name or or arms and legs or something. Great, big. That could be what’s going on here. But then there is this term. It could also mean I create what I create, which could mean that we go back into that idea of your way again. Remember that when we read through Genesis, we actually have your way hanging out in the Garden of Eden, making people out of clay and breathing into them so it could be that kind of God. We really can’t tell from the context going on here. But as you can see from this poster in Judaism, this is still very much remembered, I.A as here I am, that I am again, that’s the preferred English translation among rabbis. But it does give me the idea of speaking the many names of God within Muslim tradition in Islam, especially in Sufism. Reciting the ninety nine names of God is one of the sacred meditative practices. So God has a lot of names. Here is the idea, the beautiful attribute, because Allah is the name. But actually all is the in law is God. So Allah, the God and then the God who is, you know, and we start adding adjectives to that in order to get the many attributes of Allah.

But back to this story, he said further. Thus, you shall say to the Israelites, I am. I am has sent me to you. God also said to Moses. Thus you shall say to the Israelites, the Lord, the Lord, when spell with capital letters stands for your way, the Tetragrammaton. Right. And notice that the your way in the high yea the to be verb sound a lot alike. It’s a punning construction here. The God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob has sent me to you. So he’s going to go, he’s going to say out of all the gods you’ve heard about, we’ve got one. It’s the God of your fathers patriarchy. And that guy’s name is. Weigh this name. This is my name forever, so I’m not just messing with you here, although it seems to be messing with us here and go assemble those elders, because I’m going to send you to the milk flowing with milk and honey. We’ll take a little break here before we do any tourist thing about and so that we can think a little bit and ask any questions. I don’t know if you’ve explored this one very much. There’s a lot of speculation as to what this could possibly mean. We don’t know. It’s a mystery, but there you go.

It is a mystery. I mean, it’s definitely a it was a deep thought process because if you can understand who God is, then you can understand why he is who he is, why he makes us who we are right now is is fundamentalist. We we’re very much about we bought into what we knew from the Bible and memorizing and learning everything you could about God gave us a clear picture of who he was or she was. But coming from my background, he

Unlikely and patriarchy.

So understanding the concepts around the name. And there was always a lot of research into exactly that, that that purpose in my study and stuff along those lines.

Yeah, absolutely. Well, and in coffee and wisdom, we’ve been discussing that the old Greek philosophers, one of the things they always thought you had to do was do the do the metaphysics. You had to you had to figure out what kind of universe you lived it. And, you know, for humanists, that’s kind of a no brainer. It’s it’s the scientific universe. But this is not a scientific universe that we’re dealing with here in this writing. And it’s a universe where there are a bunch of gods. You got to ask the gods name right when he shows up because there are other gods out around out there in the sticks that also can set. The kid said Bush is on fire, so you got to be careful. Who are you? And I’m going to be able to tell your name and. Yes. And then you have some kind of mystical hold over that right after you acquire the name. And the fact of the Tetragrammaton is that many of the Jewish traditions, because they’re a bunch it’s not a monolithic. You can’t say that word. Yeah, right. It’s too holy. And so what you’re going to say instead is Adonai, which is where we get the word lower. Right. And why we use the term Lord in English, which actually comes from a monarchical tradition that has nothing to do with Judaism. But you know how these things suddenly get confused. But I do think it’s interesting that God, you know, here in the English speaking world started out as as a foreign invader, not God, you know, don’t I?

We do have a question. And I think this comes from one of our volunteers who are helping overrun the First Unitarian YouTube page. Thank you so much for your help. By the way, you read this and you talk about the burning bush and it clearly talks about multiple gods and Conexion about it. Why is that? People get so hung up on saying that there is only one.

The ancient Hebrews were theists in all theists, and that meant that they believe in many gods, but they believe that there’s only one that’s for them. This is it’s a little bit hard for us nowadays to get our heads around. But in those days, they believed that God’s word geographically bound. So you’re always going to live in going to live in Palestine is going to be tied, as a matter of fact, that Mount Sinai is going to be regarded your way hangs out. Right. That’s going to be if you go up there like Moses will later in Exodus, you’re going to meet with him because he’s up there right in the distance, you know, but there are many gods in the world. So there when Muslims say there is no God but God, that’s a much later thing that’s, you know, seven hundreds in the common era. At this time period of three or four thousand years, BCE people still thought all all those gods were real. Right. It’s really Christianity that begins to question that the God of the Hebrews becomes geographically bound only when the Hebrew people are taken into exile. When that happens, they have two choices. They can they can worship the gods of the people who took them away, or they can hold on to their God and say, wait a minute, he’s everywhere. And that’s where that God gets to be everywhere right now.

And so really, when we’re talking about this, they were seeing it as multiple gods. I mean, we see in the Old Testament, we see the multiple gods and the concept. I mean, we were taught that there was only one true God. There was everyone else was false idols. These were man made deviations. Right. Not not not not reality. And if we understand the theology of the basis, right, there is multiple gods and they are talked about from from from a biblical perspective. There is a question from William Jones. He wants to have a little bit more information about the word adenine.

Yeah, well, yeah, if you go to two Jewish synagogues today, you’re going to hear that quite a bit. That is the term used, which we translate as Lord, so far as I know, it doesn’t have a direct translation to it, but it’s mighty king, you know, the ruler and all that kind of thing, remembering, you know, now Egypt has a pharaoh, of course, but the the hurting peoples of the desert region, they don’t have kings. There are tribal, they still have chieftain’s. And so they’re not going to have the idea of a monarchical God, because that’s not that’s foreign to the way their way of being. And that’s a it’s hard to get your mind into the concepts of the time, but that’s that is the way that that that works. Yeah. Yeah. So Adnani is just Lord. But it’s the way of not saying your way, which many people won’t say, so

The names have power being able to say the name takes control if you share that with your enemies. They have power. Joyce redressal throws this question on. How did the Jews manage not to have the feminine aspect of God like all the other religions around them?

Good question. Yes. Well, as a matter of fact, if you really are interested in this kind of stuff, look into the gods of Midian from that time period. And Astaroth was what was the feminine principle goddess in Midian of the day. So we are already getting this Hebrew idea of patriarchy because it’s not as it’s not Astaroth who shows up in the burning bush. Right. It’s the male God. It’s the guy. You know, already we have patriarchy working within the the Hebrew mind that’s going to lead to the monotheism that justice is talking about. You know, the idea of a perfect, all powerful God is a Christian medieval idea. It’s not it’s not Hebrew at all. It is it comes more out of the ideas of Persia than it comes out of Palestine. So.

Yeah, yeah. Well, shall we dig back in?

All right. We’ll do a little more digging and see where we get to. So you yes. You can visit the actual burning bush. Well, if it’s the actual burning bush, that is by going to the monastery. And here it is, the sacred monastery of the God trod trodden Mt. Sinai. Now Mt. Sinai is right up there, as you can see, and the burning bush is hanging out here in this enclave. Oh, but wait a minute. Remember what I was saying? We don’t know where Mt. Sinai is. Well, there is a tradition. This is a Greek Orthodox monastery that was built around what they thought was the actual burning bush. I have a suspicion that whoever went looking for that probably did a lot of praying and it was suddenly revealed or something. I just don’t think there were any charred remains around in the rocks. But yeah, so you can do that. But this may or may not be Mt. Sinai or Mt. Aura that is looming up on the other side of that monastery. We just don’t know. Again, one of the things we’re going to see is when the Hebrew children do escape Egypt, as with the Passover story, they’re going to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Well, this wilderness is something that we’ve already seen Joseph Cross in a couple of days. So how did that happen? Well, Moses couldn’t ask for directions very clearly. But also we were already told in this story that Moses knows this area very well.

He’s hanging out as a shepherd. So it’s very unlikely that he would have gotten lost in an area like this if any parts of this story are actually true. But again, you can’t think about this kind of plot too much. They will listen to your voice says your way, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and you’re going to say, let my people go. We know how that’s going to work out, but we’re getting the instructions here from your way about how this is going to be. I will bring this people into such favor with the Egyptians that when you go, you will not go empty handed. Each woman shall ask her neighbor and any woman living in the neighbor’s house for jewelry of silver and of gold and clothing. And you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. And so you shall plunder the Egyptians. That’s not nice. Your way is really setting these folks up to make some cash here. Now, this little statement, though, has a couple of things about it. One is, yeah, God is saying, yeah, go steal from these people. Good onya. Thou shalt not steal at all. He hasn’t said that yet. Right. Because the Ten Commandments haven’t come down. So that’s OK. But the other thing is look at this very closely and you will see that there’s a problem. The we have seen the Hebrew children as enslaved people downtrodden and subjugated in Egypt, but suddenly they are neighbors now.

Yeah, they’re also living in the neighbor’s house. So maybe they’re living maids or something, but they’re also neighbors. Now, what’s up with that? The people who have gold and silver to loan to people don’t live in the neighborhoods where the enslaved people lived. That’s not doesn’t make a lot of sense. So, again, this is one of those weird contradictions. We can’t explain it. It’s just this comes down through oral tradition. And as I have mentioned before, in Bibles and beer, actually, there’s no historical record that the Hebrew children were ever in Egypt in any mass way. So we don’t know where these folk traditions come from or how they really get written down into these forms. But there are at least three different traditions going on within this story itself. The Elohim God, the way is God, and then the Deuteronomy, the priests who are writing specifically to make a religious points. And that’s where the theology is coming from. Well, love to talk about this some more. Thanks a lot. This week with our coffee and Wisdom, we are saying you practice coffee three times fast. And tomorrow we’ll be talking about how a French scholar of Greek and Roman antiquity brought back some of the ancient spiritual practices that had been lost to Christianity. So that’s tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. And also you can, of course, catch it on the din of conversation on YouTube. So, yeah, let’s go back, shall we?

Absolutely. I’m totally thankful that you talked about that. We also have that in podcast form as well for anyone. I was just reviewing our podcast, making sure that everything is all set up. We got the today’s episode already released. For anyone who wants to listen to that, you can find coffee and wisdom or Bibles and beer anywhere that you can find. You can also find another great show that we produce called Keep Living, Keep Living as Jay Exodus Whooper. They are a they work at their affiliate minister of First Unitarian Society, correct? Yep. And they do a lot of amazing, great work. They do a lot of great music work with the stuff that they’re doing out there. And definitely take a look. Take a listen. Last night we had Pam, Pamela Wynn on discussing about women in prison systems and the necessary laws that need to be done to resolve those things. So definitely take a look at all shows within the Secular North Network. Thank you so much for listening. I’ve gone ahead and thrown into chat our link to the Bible for the after party. We’ve got to have a little bit of conversation. We’re going to take a little bit deeper. I want to talk a little bit more about the names of God, what they actually mean as they tie into monotheism with David. If you wanted to join us for that conversation, definitely. I’d love to see you over there for our after party. Thanks so much for joining us. Anything out? Last words that you want to share, David?

Well, I do want to say that, you know, it’s going to be warm here in Minnesota pretty soon. And so we will be taking a warm weather break because even Bibles and Beard can’t can’t compete with the beach. I don’t know why, but, you know, in some people’s mind, beaches are better. So we’ll be putting it on a bit of a hiatus and but we will be coming back in some form in the fall. So if you would like to communicate, what what would you like to see for Wednesday night Bible study and a humanist fashion? We’d love to have some ideas so you can email me Minister at First Unitarian, Doug and I would love to hear your ideas. You may have the perfect one, so.

Absolutely. Well, thanks, everyone, for joining us. We will see you next Wednesday.

Bye bye. Bye.

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