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Incense Protected Biblical Israelites from Radiation Burn

July 1st, 2013 No comments

In Talking with God: The Radioactive Ark Of The Testimony, I explore several key biblical terms and items associated with the Ark that have either been mistranslated or not clearly understood over time. One such item found in several verses of the Old Testament is “incense” (Hebrew, k’toret). My study uncovered a startling use for incense.

Throughout history consumers of incense have used the sweet, smoky fragrance for mystical rites—but not the ancient Israelites. For them incense had a very practical, protective function relative to the Ark of the Testimony. The Israelite priests were trained to manufacture and use the Lord’s specified mixture, not to propitiate the gods, not to make a nice smell, not to drive away demons or please kings and pharaohs. Instead, incense was used to protect the priests and people from radiation burn. The resinous material had to be burned to become activated. It was the protective smoke, not the fragrance, that made incense effective.

Where did the danger of radiation burn come from?

Many Old Testament laws were designed to protect the Israelite priests and people from radioactivity emanating from a cloud through which the Lord spoke when it descended onto the Ark. People died or became ill if they came too near or touched the Ark. Thus, the incense, uniforms of the priests, sacrifices, and strict safety regulations were all designed to protect priests, people, animals, buildings, clothing, and the environment from the radioactive danger emanating from the cloud.

This unique use of incense was in no way mystical or magical. The ingredients in the incense had a demonstrable, chemical, protective effect. In fact, researchers today are studying how the ingredients found in incense might counteract the effects of radioactivity. In an article appearing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Indian researchers assert that certain spices (a generic term for the chemicals contained in incense) “…can protect bacteria from radiation [and] might lead to a way of reducing the side effects of radiotherapy for cancer patients” (emphasis added, London Guardian, May 25, 2000).

Incense was widely used among ancient peoples, but as far as I know, only the biblical Israelites used it to protect themselves from the radiation in the cloud. In later times, however, the Israelites no longer used it to protect themselves. The incense altars that have been found all over biblical lands were probably simply used for ritual purposes.

The correct formula – a matter of life or death

The instructions for making incense were quite precise, and the Bible describes the recipe in detail. If the priests included a wrong ingredient or made a mistake in their measuring, the incense was rendered ineffective—to the detriment of everyone in the area. For example, when Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu brought incense that contained the wrong ingredients “before the Lord,” they were “consumed … and they died before the Lord” (Leviticus 10:1–2). If their incense had contained the correct ingredients and portions, they would have been protected.

Numbers 16 reports that a mob, attempting to overthrow Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, assembled at the door of the tent of meeting (at Moses’ clever invitation) with the wrong incense material burning. When the “radiance of the Lord” appeared, all 250 men and their leaders were consumed.

The ‘filling of hands’

In another biblical scenario, the Hebrew oomeelaytaw et yawdawm is traditionally translated “consecration,” a ceremony for installation of the priests. However, oomeelaytaw et yawdawm literally means “filling the hands.”

Leviticus 12–13 explains that Aaron, Moses’ brother, was to take a handful of incense and put it “on the fire before the Lord so that the … incense may cover” the Ark’s covering so that he would not die. In other words, with this order the Lord was protecting Aaron from the radioactive effects of the cloud.

The radical shift from incense as a protective material to one used in mystical rites raises several important questions, especially in our modern age where radioactive dangers abound. What was the chemical composition of the biblical incense? How did it protect against radioactivity? Why did the purpose of incense shift from protective to mystical?

There are clear answers to these questions, and the pieces to this puzzle have been put together in Talking with God: The Radioactive Ark Of The Testimony. Available online. Join the ongoing investigation of the Old Testament’s puzzling questions at TalkingWithGod.net.

Rosh Hashanah A Day of Rest, Not the New Year

September 21st, 2011 No comments

Rosh Hashanah is called the Jewish New Year, and this year it begins at sundown, September 28th. The words Rosh Hashanah (head of the year) are not found in the Five Books of Moses at all. They are used just once and that is in Ezekiel 40:1, but there it is only in reference to a Jubilee year, not a New Year. The ordinance that is called Rosh Hashanah today is found in Leviticus 23:24. It is in the seventh month, called Tishri:

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the Israelites, saying in the seventh month on the first of the month you will have a Sabbath…a holy gathering. You will do no work of service….’ ”

The actual Jewish New Year, that is the first day of the first month, is ordained in Exodus 12:2 and refers to the month of Nisan:

“And the Lord said to Moses and to Aaron in the land of Egypt…This month shall be the head of months Rosh Chadoshim) for you. It will be the first of the months of the year for you.”

The day now called Rosh Hashanah has come to be a day leading to the holiday of Yom Kippur, which is traditionally observed as a time of self-examination and repentance. But that wasn’t its original purpose as described in the Bible. Its original purpose was to be a day of rest. One of seven rest days prescribed in the Bible, the others included Passover (Pesach), the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag Hamatzot), the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot), the Festival of Booths (Succot), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the Sabbath day.

It is interesting that almost no online references to Rosh Hashanah refer to the biblical ordinance, but are overwhelmingly concerned with its later significance.

Why rest days? The clue is found in the law concerning the Sabbath day as found in the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:4. There the Lord commanded:

“Remember the Sabbath day, to sanctify it. Six days you will work…But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. In it you will not do any work, you, your son and your daughter, your man servant, your maid servant, nor your cattle nor the sojourner within your gates. Because in six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day….”

There was a reason given why the Lord rested and why humans and work animals were also to rest. It is a fascinating reason, and it is detailed in my book Talking with God: The Radioactive Ark Of The Testimony. Available at Amazon. Join the ongoing investigation of the Old Testament’s puzzling questions at TalkingWithGod.net.

Was God unfair to Moses?

February 11th, 2011 2 comments

Debby wonders why the Lord forbade Moses from taking the Israelites into Canaan after he struck the rock at Meribah. (Numbers 20:1–13) She feels “it seems grossly unfair that God would deny him the Promised Land just because he struck a rock …”

A traditional explanation is that they didn’t give the Lord credit for supplying the water, but took that credit themselves making the Lord jealous.  However, a close reading shows us that, just as at Mount Sinai, the “glory” of the Lord appeared in the cloud when He gave them the instructions to strike the rock. That meant that the area was dangerous, just as it was at Sinai, but there is no mention of Moses and Aaron protecting the people!

They forgot.  It wasn’t a little mistake. It was a tremendous one, endangering the whole people.  The idea is, “You can’t deal with the Lord without proper protection, and don’t ever forget it again!  And to make that point clear to all, I’m not going to allow you to take the people into Canaan.”  Strict as it sounds, at least the reason is more understandable than saying the Lord’s nose was out of joint.

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God’s Nature, Love and Life After Death (Part 3)

December 14th, 2010 No comments

This is the third of four responses to Donald question:

In your … opinion what and who is God, his nature, his will, his role in the universe, does he “love” us, is there life with him after death, etc.

Does He “love” us?

This is really a very difficult question to answer. There is nothing in the Four Books that says this. There is plenty in Deuteronomy that exhorts the people to love God, but only one mention of God loving His people (Deut. 7:9), and Deuteronomy was written much later.

I suppose you could say that what God did to protect the people in the wilderness was “tough love,” but certainly not the compassion that goes with our understanding of what the sentiment of love is. Further, if there is anything to the physics of God as described above, it would be hard to combine that with love.

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In the Spirit of Lexical Curiosity

November 26th, 2010 2 comments

In the spirit of lexical curiosity, which originally drove me to write Talking With God, I did a bit of Google research to see how people are accessing information about the same ancient words I studied. What I discovered was almost as surprising as what turned up in my primary research, namely that public discourse tends away from the words’ original, technical meanings and shifts to mystical/theological concepts.

Take Moses’ ark for example. In the Hebrew Bible, “ark of the testimony” (edut), found in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, shifts to “ark of the Covenant” (b’rith) in Deuteronomy and the following books. (See two exceptions in my Appendix A.)

Central to my book is the fact that the word edut, meaning the stones Moses received from the Lord on Mount Sinai and kept in the ark, has the sense of communication, not testimony. My retranslated terminology is “ark of communication.” Thus, my subtitle is Communication Through it.

Why does the same box have two totally different words relating to it?

Now the surprising facts:

  • In Deuteronomy and the following books, edut is no longer connected to the ark and there are no instances of edut meaning stones.
  • For the first time, (Deuteronomy 4:45) the meaning “testimony” is closely related to edut, shifting from a technological component to the theological concept, e.g. Because you…have not obeyed the voice of the Lord in His law, in His statues and did not walk in His testimonies (edut).” (Jer.44:23). This meaning doesn’t exist in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers!
  • The concept of the ark containing stones is replaced by “ark of the covenant” (b’rith) in Deuteronomy and the following books.

What’s happening here? I believe the eventual substitution of b’rith for edut signifies the end of the Israelites’ use of the ark as a communication device. Then, not understanding its technical nature, later writers supplanted it with theology.

How does this impact our understanding today? Google etymology reveals that only 320 people around the globe search for the more ancient “ark of the testimony” on a monthly basis, but 60,500 search for “ark of the covenant!” In other words the theological has taken root in exactly the same way it did thousands of years ago!

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