Torah Study Notes 9-1-13

September 1, 2013
p. 1382
Second Isaiah continued. This contains some of the best known passages in the Torah – some of which have become songs.
61:10 Here Israel is presented as a bride in a marriage with God. Again a stark contrast with the Book of Deuteronomy. Note that this is the final reading from Second Isaiah – which presents the question as to why it is presented in this order. Note the transition from the first passage which is one of a childless mother comforting her child. Here there is no sense of being forlorn – all is potential with the childless bride. In a few days we will have Rosh Hashanah and all will be new again.
62:1 Who is being addressed here? The about to be wedded couple? Only metaphorically. It is the people of Israel who are being encouraged to think positively about the future. The reference of this chapter is believed by most scholars to be taking place within the land of Israel – upon return from captivity. They have been imbued with the romantic vision of returning to Zion. Now they are there and one senses a bit of a let-down. They need to be reinvigorated. Note that those who wanted to avoid going to Babylon likely fled to Egypt. The Exodus accounts are likely written as an extended metaphor for the Babylonia exile. The Babylonian Captivity is confirmed in the historical and archeological record but there is nothing to confirm time spent in Israel. Note that the Torah is best interpreted based on the time of publication – not by the controversial issues of when parts were written. Publication most likely occurred in this post-Exilic period when a variety of other writings or oral history were collected. LL: This raises the question of why something is published. In modern times publication is clearly purposed in terms of fiction or non-fiction and then broken up into even more numerous categories. We do not sense that separation in Torah – those distinctions was apparently considered important. PG: This reflects the Jewish tendency to reject true or false –extremes. Truth and justice is not found in either/or it is found in the struggle to reconcile various sources of truth. PG: This presents the issue of high and low criticism – the abstract meaning vs the written word. We want to engage them both at the same time –immerse ourselves in the text but at the same time examine the abstractions. PG: Consider the work of Leo Strauss – the political philosopher. One of his most famous works is “Persecution and the Art of Writing.”
Writers living in oppressive regimes will often purposely obscure their message to avoid getting into trouble. Another approach is to see the writing as one of exclusion – limiting the understanding of the readership to those already “in the know.” On the other hand Second Isaiah does contain explicit criticism of Nebuchadnezzar. It is more likely that Exodus is pre-exilic. It is unknown if they were bed-time stories, tribal legends, etc. Some of them were preserved because at a later date they had relevance. SF: The purpose of the entire Torah is to develop a moral code and connecting to God. That is the intent of the writers then and it continues to work now. That is the path to joy, happiness and personal fulfillment. PG: That is the over-all message of the Torah but these passages emphasize the value of God in the face of tragedy.
62:4 Names are utilized in several Torah portions. Here the names “forsaken” and “abandoned” are changed to “My Delight is in You.”

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