Monday, June 8, 2009

The Ten Utterances

My Hebrew tutor, Gilla Nissan, told me today that those "ten commandments" aren't commandments at all.

Jews know them as "aseret ha-dibrot" which could be translated "the ten utterances" of God or even "the ten revelations" given to Moses by God on Mt. Sinai.

They are God's first big gift to humanity, after the covenant with Abraham.

Yet somewhere along the way, certain Christian leaders translated them as "commandments" with all the heavy negative weight that word implies.

She and I sat for a moment in rueful silence after she explained this to me.

Kyriarchy once again--an emphasis on God as ruler and punisher rather than creator and nourisher.

That's why I wanted to learn Hebrew. I had an inking that the Psalms and other passages I love would have a different sound in their original language.

Now I'm feeling snookered, once again. I wish we women had gotten our hands on these texts sooner.

Women today are trying to avoid words like "Lord" and "King" for envisioning the One in whom we live and move and have our being.

I wonder if women in the past would have moved away from these words, had we gained access to the texts and the translation of them a millennium or two earlier.

What would Hildegard have done?

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