19 July, 2007

Unerasable graffiti

Filed under: Hebrew,Israel,Judaism,Semiotics by Joel @ 3:03 am, 19 July 2007.

Graffiti at Efrat’s entry road There was some strange Runic-looking graffiti along the southern entrance to Efrat that I saw a number of times on the way to the Trampiada before finally identifying it. I eventually recognised the rightmost symbol of the large text as being the Hebrew letter yod (י) in an ancient Hebrew script (כתב עברי). The script we use today is a variant of the Assyrian script (כתב אשורי; or “square script”) adapted from that borrowed from Imperial Aramaic around the Babylonian Exile.

After recognising the first letter, I realised that I could identify (with confirmation online) that this large text was actually the Tetragrammaton, in Judaism the ineffable and most sacred name of God, albeit that its letters were highly stylised. Altogether, we have the phrase “יראת ה’“, “fear of God”.

Now because, for those who can read it, the graffiti includes the Name of God, does this mean it cannot be erased as would usually be the case with this four-letter name? (more…)

3 November, 2006

Deluge and peace: the dove, the olive, the rainbow

Filed under: Music,Semiotics,Society and culture,Tanakh by Joel @ 4:37 pm, 3 November 2006.

According to an article forwarded to me by my USyd teacher Shani Berrin, excavations in Israel’s north (at Allone Abba) have recently uncovered a stone seal engraved with an image of a bird and an olive branch. It was found within an olive press used during the Hellenistic and Roman periods (4th-1st century BCE), and while its purpose and meaning have not been identified, it is a beautiful reminder of last week’s torah reading.

Shani had sent me this article in response to my asking: Where do these symbols of peace come from? Is the origin within the biblical story of Noah? Is their adoption much earlier, or much later? (more…)

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