Wednesday, 10 May 2017



I don't feel sure that the use of the Hebrew word 'olam' in the Torah means a statute is intended literally forever and ever.

Like, Abraham was commanded that circumcision was to be an 'olam' covenant. But Paul later was against demanding circumcision. 

The Levitical order of priesthood itself; and their linen garments and bonnets; and their ritual of washing hands and feet, were to continue for 'olam' throughout their generations.

Even the lamp in the tabernacle just outside the veil was to burn always, for 'olam'. 

Trumpets were to be blown on set dates, for 'olam'.

The priestly anointing oil was to be made with the set recipe, and used continually for 'olam'. 

The practice of offering burnt sacrifices at the altar was to happen continually, for 'olam'. 

The Jews were allowed to purchase Gentile child-slaves, and own them for 'olam'. 

The practice of banning from the congregation anyone with damaged testicles, and banning tenth-generation Ammonite or Moabite descendants, was a practice that was to remain in force - for 'olam'. 

If non-Levites happened to strike hard times and felt they had to mortgage their house, they were allowed the right to buy it back within a year if they could - otherwise the house became settled as the permanent possession of the buyer. But Levites were allowed to buy back their houses at 'olam' - that is, without the one-year time-limit. 

Moses told Israel they would never see the Egyptians again, for 'olam'.

If a Jewish city turned to idols, the whole city was to be killed, including animals; and the city and everything in it was to be burned - and the site was to remain an empty tract of land for 'olam' - the site was never to be rebuilt again.

Those instances of the word 'olam' in the Torah don't all seem to mean literally forever and ever. The word 'olam' itself didn't seem to always mean literally forever and ever. 

The mountains and hills were said to have existed for 'olam'. But we know creation had a beginning, and shall have an end.

Genesis 6:4 mentioned famous, notorious men who were of 'olam'. It didn't mean the men had existed literally in eternity past - because the verse tells us when they had been born! Yet it says the men were from 'olam' past. 

So it seems to me that if we're going to insist that 'olam' means literally forever and ever, and then apply that standard only to the feast of unleavened bread, or to some other of the feasts only - but not to everything else in the Torah that was also said to be for 'olam' - then we probably need to provide an additional rationale explaining why.

Merely saying 'olam' - without defending one's use of the word beyond the first line of questioning - seems to be an inconsistent use of the word, and doesn't quite settle it, in my mind.

No comments:

Post a Comment