Thursday, April 02, 2009
  ראשׁ as headland?
Carmel ridge from south.
One of the delights of writing a commentary, at least one that is published publicly (here I intend to imply, rudely, that print publication seeks to privatise works, while electronic publication actually publishes them ;) though that is not the purpose of this post), is that readers write back. Today I had an email from such a reader.
...reading your commentary, I am not happy with the "dried crest of Carmel", for the crest of every mountain is dry, naturally, even without Adonai roaring, and the crest ist scarcely a pasture.

How about taking ro'sh not in the partitive sense (top of mountain), but in the metaphorical (huge rock rising from the plain), as in the european languages "Cape", from Latin caput head? Head of Carmel would then be a poetical version of the prosaic "Mount Carmel" and we can easily imagine meadows in the lower parts.

I want to propose this idea to you as an experienced scientist, while I am quite new in Hebrew.
from Carmel north-east
This is an interesting suggestion. Certainly in English not only "cape" but also "headland" and "head" itself (as in Bream Head) would seem to be direct uses of "head" metaphorically of just such a geographical feature. However, I can find (on a quick look - life is hectic at present, selling our home and B having medical tests etc.) no evidence for this usage in biblical Hebrew.

Does anybody know either of such Hebrew usage, or of such an expression in a related language? If so please let me know!

I am not as convinced by the argument that this makes better sense of the verse in Amos, because (at least in modern times) the Carmel Ridge is quite forested and green. But again does anyone know if this is from modern irrigation or whether it would likely have been green in the Iron Age?

The mention in the commentary is at Amos 1:2.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008
  Christmas: In the deep mid-winter?
I've just received the latest mailing from Doug Greenwold of Preserving Bible Times (whose superb videos from a helicopter I enjoy using to show classes and church groups something of the layout of the land).
Photo by CharlesFred
Doug's "Contextual Reflections" emails often provide a neat reminder of the importance of geography or culture to reading between the lines of biblical texts. For this post I'll not focus on the main point of his Christmas message, they were largely not news to me, though could provide useful details for many a Christmas sermon. I'll mention a detail that's topical for us in the Southern Hemisphere, as we gear up for Christmas, singing carols about deep mid-winter and snow, while the weather, at last, starts to behave as if summer is on the way, and heaters get replaced by fans (or for the fortunate air conditioners ;)

The first Christmas was likely in summer!

Remember those shepherds "abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night"? Do you remember also Jesus' talk of sheepfolds (in John 10)? The habit, at least in areas near a village, was to pen sheep at night. So, why were the shepherds "keeping watch over their flock" "in the fields" at night? The peasant farmers round Bethlehem ("house of bread") would hardly want sheep trampling their fields of grain! (Few fields were fenced or walled in those parts.) However, after the harvest, things were different, sheep ate the stubble and, following digestion, their excretions fertilised the fields. At that season, sheep in the fields makes sense. Harvest would be in summertime. If there were sheep in the fields near Bethlehem at night then it seems likely that God ordained the first Christmas for summertime.
Christmas Eve by Frédérique in NZ
This is rather nice for complexed Southern Christians, who somehow feel that roaring fires, yule logs, snow and the rest of the traditional European festival are a necessary part of the season! (Barbara's choir just held their carol service, it is timed so that they can sing by candlelight at the close of the service ;)

[PS: Bite my Bible has a post claiming erroneous calculations by an Aussie astronomer are behind thoughts of a summer Christmas Jesus was a Gemini? they ask, while (by implication) answering "No!" - I think they are wrong Bite my Bible is too cautious by half ;) ]

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Saturday, November 22, 2008
I've been uploading photos to Panoramio, it makes a change from marking ;) Besides Panoramio is a great tool, you can geocode your photos, so that they are associated with the place you took them, and some get selected for display on Google Earth. This means that increasingly now I can find Creative Commons licenced photos of places, just by "going" there in Google, and clicking on the little square boxes that indicate a view... The photos I've uploaded have mainly been
  • Archaeological sites in Israel
    • Like the olive press at Hazor (above top)
  • or our South Island trip
    • like this moody glacial valley
    • or these pebbles at Birdlings Flat (below)
Really niceis that if you find them on Google Earth or see them in Panoramio (just click an image to try it) you see where they were taken, and maybe other people's photos of the same location :)

My collection is at next I'll have to organise them better with tags... ;)

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Friday, April 20, 2007
  Cool tool: Use a map
Thanks to Jane's E-Learning Pick of the Day for pointing out Useamap, you can generate shareable maps, like this one for our bach - be envious, be very envious! If anyone is thinking of visiting Carey we are here, convenient for the motorway... and if you are looking for inspiration in Auckland try the BBC!

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Saturday, January 06, 2007
  Negev flash flood video ::
Todd Bolen (of the superb has a link to this cellphone video of a flash flood in the Nahal Zin, about 60Km south of Beersheba in the Negev. If you have ever wanted to see why psalm 23 delights in being led by "still waters" just imagine sheep drinking from the pools you see at the start of the video!

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