Monday, July 23, 2007

No Baby Yet

It's late Monday and Mary hasn't had the baby. Today was the due date. Mary usually (7/8 times) has been a couple of days after her due date.

Today is my Dad's birthday. Happy birthday, Dad! Sorry we weren't able to give you a nice new grandchild on your birthday.

Yesterday, Sunday I held worship at St. Petri, Nazareth, and Oak Park. There was a special lunch after Oak Park for Glen and Linda. This week was Annette V.'s birthday and her and her husband's wedding anniversary. Thanks to God for His grace in providing for them through the years. Both Glen and Linda H. , as well as Annette and Glen V., have wonderful children and grandchildren. And it is a great privilege to serve them as their pastor.

I couldn't participate in the lunch. Funeral planning for Ernest R. started at 1pm in TR. I zipped off to Thief River Falls to be there. Ernest's funeral is at 2pm Tuesday at St. Petri, with visitation at 1pm before the service. It was hot today, and it's forecast to be hotter tomorrow. Please keep Ernest's sister, Cora, and their nieces and nephews in your prayers.

This is a drawing of the Gezer Calendar. The drawing is from Joseph Naveh's book "The History of the Alphabet." This particular bit of writing is on a small (about 5 1/2 inches by 2.5 inch by 5/8 inch thick) piece of limestone. The rock was found in 1908 by an archaeologist named R.A.S. Macalister in the ruins of the ancient Biblical city of Gezer. Gezer was one of the few ancient cities that actually had its name written on rocks at its city limits. That's how we can be reasonably certain that the rock comes from this Biblical city.

The archaeological context of the rock is a bit vague because Macalistar worked in a time when dating by soil layers (Soil Stratigraphy) hadn't been discovered yet.

But several scholars who study writing make comparatively educated guess that this rock was written on between the 12th and 5th centuries before Christ. The more recent datings put it at about the 10th century based on the style of the alphabet.

Some of you might recognize the shapes of some of our letters in this inscription. P and W and Z kind of stand out, even though the P is backwards and is actually equivalent to our "R". The W is actually pronounced "sh." And the funny Z with the extra vertical stroke on the left is pronounced something like "ts." The O doesn't have an equivalent in English but is something akin to choking on steak and trying to say the the letter G. The Y is what became our sound for W. The circle split down the middle to look like a backward P attached to a P is the letter Q. The little triangle is the letter D. The letter that looks like a sideways M with an extra leg is an M. The letter that looks like H with a bar at the top and bottom is pronounced "ch" like when you showed your mom something gross and she said "Ach! Put that away!" You get the idea. And there are no vowels written down: just consonants.

Tht mght b hrd fr sm t rd. Bt f y gt th hng f t. Rdng wtht vwls sn't s hrd.

I'll give you a transliteration of what it might have sounded like and then a translation.

(1) Yarchew asip. Yarchew ze-
(2) ra. Yarchew liqsh.
(3) Yarcho atsid pisht.
(4) Yarcho qtsir se'orim.
(5) Yarcho qtsir wakil.
(6) Yarchew zamir.
(7) Yarcho qets.
And the vertical writing at the bottom left: "Abiy."

The possible translation:

(1) There are two months of harvest. There two months of sow-
(2) ing. There are two months of planting.
(3) There is a month of cutting flax.
(4) There is a month of harvesting barley.
(5) There is a month of harvest and finishing.
(6) There are two months of vinedressing.
(7) There is a month of summer fruit.
And the vertical writing might by a name: "Abi" or "my Dad."

There are a lot of things that this inscription teaches scholars about the alphabet and the shape of the Hebrew language. But what strikes home to me is this: Farmers have always needed to educate their children about the right time to do things. Whether it was 1000 years before Christ or 2007 years after His birth farming is still the starting place for feeding everyone in this world. And farming is one of the first places that needs education and a written record for that education.

Some people today may not even know that milk comes from a cow's teats. And if they were told this they might be so grossed out they would stop drinking milk. But they'd probably still eat pizza and want all that wonderful cheese (from the same cow teats) and bread dough with tomatoes and oregano covered with pepperoni (dead cow) and sausage (dead pig). And they'd probably want to have a few beer's with it (wheat and barley).

So if you farm, rejoice in the long heritage of this vocation. It is truly the first vocation. For God placed Adam in the Garden "to till the ground." (Genesis 2:15) The world truly does depend on God's providential grace through you. The Gezer Calendar shows us that kids were learning this skill from their dads in ancient times and that the farmers had to write things down, even then.

Anyway, no baby yet. So after I was done with my sermon for the funeral I reviewed an old inscription. I thought you might enjoy it. I like old Semitic inscriptions quite a bit.

So, now I'm going to bed. And if Mary wakes up a bit I'll ask her, "Any contractions?"

And she'll groan at me, roll over and go back to sleep.

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