Papyrus and paper

Papyrus usually refers to a document written on sheets joined together side by side.  Papyrus was like thick paper, so that people could write on it.  The papyrus sheets came from the inner bark of the papyrus plant.  Normally, they would roll these parchments into a scroll.  This was the early form of a book.  The Greek origins come for this word for papyrus, βύβλος was similar to the Greek word for a book.  Thus, the English term ‘paper’ is derived from papyrus.

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The words of Yahweh in the Temple (Ezek 43:7-43:7)

“He said to me.

‘Son of man!

This is the place

Of my throne.

This is the place

Of the soles

Of my feet.

I will reside

Among the people

Of Israel

Forever!

The house of Israel

Shall no more

Defile

My holy name.

Neither they,

Nor their kings,

By their prostitution,

By the corpses

Of their kings,

At their death,

Defile

My holy name.’”

Yahweh spoke directly to Ezekiel using his normal appellation, son of man. However, rather than an amorphous glorified God, he refers to himself in anthropomorphic terms. Yahweh was going to sit on a throne, like a king. The soles of his feet would walk in this place. He was going to live among his people, not just for a short time but forever. However, there was a caveat. They were not to defile his holy name. Neither the people or their kings should tarnish his sacred name with their prostitution and dead bodies of kings in his Temple.

The burden of Yahweh (Jer 23:33-23:33)

“When this people,

Or a prophet,

Or a priest asks you.

‘What is the burden of Yahweh?’

You shall say to them.

‘You are the burden.

I will cast you off.’

Says Yahweh.”

What is the burden of Yahweh? Apparently the people of Judah, the priests, and the prophets had the same question. Yahweh’s response, via Jeremiah, is that they themselves are the burden to Yahweh. They need to be cast off because they were too much of a burden. Perhaps it refers to the prophetic difficult speech that is hard to bear.

The language problem of the Israelites (Isa 36:11-36:11)

“Then Eliakim,

Shebnah,

With Joah

Said to Rabshakeh.

‘Please speak to your servants in Aramaic.

We understand it.

Do not speak to us

In the language of Judah

Within the hearing of the people

Who are on the wall.’”

In words that are word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 18, the 3 ambassadors of King Hezekiah, Eliakim, Shebnah, and Joah asked Rabshakeh to speak in Aramaic because they understood it. The language of Judah refers to local Hebrew. Perhaps as early as the 8th century BCE Aramaic was the common Mid Eastern language, while Hebrew was the unique to Israel. Apparently the ambassadors of King Hezekiah did not want the people sitting on the wall to hear this conversation. Rabshakeh may have had some prior connections with the Israelites since he knew their local language.

The invasion of Assyria (Isa 5:26-5:30)

“Yahweh will raise a signal

For a nation far away.

He will whistle for a people

At the ends of the earth.

Here they come!

Swiftly!

Speedily!

None are weary.

None stumbles.

None slumbers.

None sleeps.

Not a loin cloth is loose.

Not a sandal-thong broken.

Their arrows are sharp.

All their bows bent.

Their horses’ hoofs seem like flint.

Their wheels seem like the whirlwind.

Their roaring is like a lion.

Like young lions,

They roar.

They growl.

They seize their prey.

They carry it off.

None can rescue it.

They will roar over it

On that day,

Like the roaring of the sea.

If one looks to the land,

There is only darkness.

There is only distress.

The light grows dark

With clouds.”

This oracle of Isaiah probably refers to one of the various Assyrian invasions of Judah and Jerusalem between 735-701 BCE. The nation from far away may be the Babylonians who will execute God’s judgment on them. These invaders are actually acting on Yahweh’s behalf since he gave them a signal and a whistle. They are going to come speedily, swiftly, not stumbling, sleeping, or growing weary. Their loin clothes and sandals are tight and ready to go. Their spears, bows and arrows, as well as horses are on the move. They roar like a lion about to eat its prey. They roar like a sea storm about to hit land. There will be darkness and distress, as everything will be cloudy.

Yahweh helped those wandering in the desert (Ps 107:4-107:9)

“Some wandered in the desert wastes.

They found no way to an inhabited town.

They were hungry and thirsty.

Their soul fainted within them.

Then they cried to Yahweh in their trouble.

He delivered them from their distress.

He led them by a straight way.

They finally reached an inhabited town.

Let them thank Yahweh

For his steadfast love!

Let them thank Yahweh

For his wonderful works to humankind!

He satisfies the thirsty.

He fills the hungry with good things.”

This section points out how Yahweh has helped those wandering Israelites in the desert. I am not sure what particular event this refers to since these wanderers seem to be looking for inhabited towns. This does not seem to be a reference to the 40 years of wandering in the desert, but a smaller group of lost Israelites who were hungry and thirsty. Their souls were fainting. In their distress they called out to Yahweh. Yahweh heard them. He led them in a straight path to an inhabited town. Thus they have to give thanks again to Yahweh for his steadfast love and the all the works that he has done for all humans. He has satisfied the thirsty. He has filled the hungry with good food.

Jeremiah hides the cult material (2 Macc 2:4-2:8)

“It was also in the same document

Writing that the prophet,

Having received an oracle,

Ordered that the tent and the ark should follow with him.

He went out to the mountain

Where Moses had gone up.

He had seen the inheritance of God.

Jeremiah came and found a cave-dwelling.

He brought the tent there

With the ark and the altar of incense.

Then he sealed up the entrance.

Some of those who followed him

Came up intending to mark the way,

But they could not find it.

When Jeremiah learned of it,

He rebuked them and declared.

‘The place shall be unknown

Until God gathers his people together again

Until God shows his mercy.

Then the Lord will disclose these things.

The glory of the Lord

And the cloud will appear.

As they were shown in the case of Moses,

And as Solomon asked

That the place should be specially consecrated.’”

Once again, this letter refers to the Epistle of Jeremiah. However, this reference to Jeremiah is more about not being enticed by the idols of the gods that they will see in captivity. This implies that Jeremiah went to Mount Sinai to get the tent of Moses. He then hid it with the Ark of the Covenant and the altar of incense in some cave that was sealed. No one would know about this cave until the end of time when God would gather all his people. Here then is a hint of eschatology, the end times. People tried to find this cave but were unable to do so. King Solomon also had the Ark of the Covenant passed around. The glory and the cloud are how God appeared to Moses.