Abram Rejects Idolatry and Learns Hebrew: Jubilees 12: 12-18

. R. H. Charles edition

  • [12] And in the sixtieth year of the life of Abram, that is, in the fourth week, in the fourth year thereof, [1936 A.M.] Abram arose by night, and burned the house of the idols, and he burned all that was in the house and no man knew it.
  • And they arose in the night and sought to save their gods from the midst of the fire.
  • And Haran hasted to save them, but the fire flamed over him, and he was burnt in the fire, and he died in Ur of the Chaldees before Terah his father, and they buried him in Ur of the Chaldees.
  • And Terah went forth from Ur of the Chaldees, he and his sons, to go into the land of Lebanon and into the land of Canaan, and he dwelt in the land of Haran, and Abram dwelt with Terah his father in Haran two weeks of years.
  • And in the sixth week, in the fifth year thereof, [1951 A.M.] Abram sat up throughout the night on the new moon of the seventh month to observe the stars from the evening to the morning, in order to see what would be the character of the year with regard to the rains, and he was alone as he sat and observed.
  • And a word came into his heart and he said: All the signs of the stars, and the signs of the moon and of the sun are all in the hand of the Lord. Why do I search (them) out?
  • If He desires, He causes it to rain, morning and evening;
    And if He desires, He withholds it, 
    And all things are in his hand.’
  • And he prayed that night and said, 
    ‘My God, God Most High, Thou alone art my God, 
    And Thee and Thy dominion have I chosen. 
    And Thou hast created all things, 
    And all things that are the work of thy hands.
  • Deliver me from the hands of evil spirits who have dominion over the thoughts of men’s hearts, 
    And let them not lead me astray from Thee, my God.And stablish Thou me and my seed for ever 
    That we go not astray from henceforth and for evermore.’
  • And he said, ‘Shall I return unto Ur of the Chaldees who seek my face that I may return to them, am I to remain here in this place? The right path before Thee prosper it in the hands of Thy servant that he may fulfil (it) and that I may not walk in the deceitfulness of my heart, O my God.’
  • And he made an end of speaking and praying, and behold the word of the Lord was sent to him through me, saying: ‘Get thee up from thy country, and from thy kindred and from the house of thy father unto a land which I will show thee, and I shall make thee a great and numerous nation.
  • And I will bless thee 
    And I will make thy name great, 
    And thou shalt be blessed in the earth, 
    And in Thee shall all families of the earth be blessed, 
    And I will bless them that bless thee, 
    And curse them that curse thee.
  • And I will be a God to thee and thy son, and to thy son’s son, and to all thy seed: fear not, from henceforth and unto all generations of the earth I am thy God.’
  • And the Lord God said: ‘Open his mouth and his ears, that he may hear and speak with his mouth, with the language which has been revealed’; for it had ceased from the mouths of all the children of men from the day of the overthrow (of Babel).
  • And I opened his mouth, and his ears and his lips, and I began to speak with him in Hebrew in the tongue of the creation.
  • And he took the books of his fathers, and these were written in Hebrew, and he transcribed them, and he began from henceforth to study them, and I made known to him that which he could not (understand), and he studied them during the six rainy months.
  • And it came to pass in the seventh year of the sixth week [1953 A.M.] that he spoke to his father and informed him, that he would leave Haran to go into the land of Canaan to see it and return to him.

Free Will: The False Dilemma

   Ira Glass, on NPR’s “This American Life,” cited David Kastenbaum and a study of the question of free will, concluding that because we have neurons, none of our actions are free. Therefore, our criminal justice system need be reconsidered, they said. If our actions are not free, but caused by outside agents such as neurons, we cannot be responsible for our actions, including crime. And it is obvious to all that there are neurons and such things as atoms and molecules. Therefore there is no free will.

   This has always seemed to me to oddest intellectual pun imaginable- a “Zeno’s paradox” in four dimensions- just after the time when there was no time required for time to begin at one time and not another. We cannot think outside of time, and so, at the beginning, have made a contradictory assumption, like applying something to one side of an equation but not the other.

   A good part or the confusion is clarified by asking if we require un-caused effects in order that an action be deemed. We seem to be assuming that if an action is cased at all, it is not free, because we cite prior causes as evidence that actions are “determined.” We seek some causal looseness, some ‘s Schrodinger’s Box, in order to believe like Laplace in the necessity of every event forever back in time from the first events. We assume that there are only what Aristotle called material and efficient causes, not to mention the assumption that time and causation work tightly, as we imagine. The efficient cause, like billiard balls, precedes the effect in time. But behold! The cause exerted by form is not that way! I move the pen across the page at the same time that the pen moves across the page! Simultaneity of cause and effect characterizes hierarchic causation, as within organisms and, astonishingly, with the tools we pick up, making them as if a part of our causal system. (Next week, we will consider how purposes in a sense, and final causes, beyond simultaneity, in a sense cause” from the future). The cause”What we ignore on one side of the consideration of the question of “free will” is that WE cause. Cells and parts make up a whole organism that is a cause, even in animals. 

   Determinists are answering a question of metaphysics with the terms of physics. But physics is based upon assumptions from outside of matter, such as math. The chair is made of wood. But what is the form made of? I smash the chair, and still have the same wood, but without the form, the chair is useless, and I throw it out.

   Physics cannot explain the form of the objects it assumes, even what makes the ball which Galileo rolls downhill to be a ball, all those molecules to roll as one thing. Artificial things are strange enough, but life: the line of demarkation between physics and biology- cannot be understood by either science, but is simply assumed. With the living organism come purposes. With animate life comes self motion, and these beings are causes as no rock or ball is a cause. Despite its being made of neurons etc., The animal as a whole is a part of the chain of cause and effect, and this is part of what we mean by “free will.” Or why consider the neuron to be a cause? Since it is made up too of organelle’s, etc, and these in turn…?

   Still self motion is not quite what we mean by the sort of “free will” that is required for responsibility and justice as is assumed by working governments. It is our intelligence and sense of justice that we assume when we hold criminals responsible for the violation of the rights of their fellow citizens, even while there are all sorts of causes and factors, we assume that one who takes the life to which another has the right he is justly convicted and sentenced for murder.

   Similarly in psychology and psychiatry, arguments against responsibility are cited to persuade against the injustice of what is called “stigma,” or scapegoating. Anomalies in the brains of murderers are found, and suddenly it seems as though, since there is not a Cartesian dualism, murderers are not guilty. As though determinism would not apply equally, or even more so, to the sentence! Beings are both form and matter, and would it not be more surprising if nothing at all were going on in there?

   Neurons do not go to the door because they intend to get the morning paper.

   Humans have access to justice, and to the extent that other animals also perceive justice, the human things would also apply to them. But in addition to self motion, shared with all animate life, is a mystery similar to those demarkating botany and zoology in that it introduces what is like a whole new dimension of being. According to one reading of Genesis, these the creatures able to change not only their places and their courses, but also their WAYS. Every man is presented the choice of good and evil, and the matter is simply of a whole different dimension from self motion. From the two and three dimensions of the plane and solid, the addition of motion and time which makes for physics still cannot comprehend the added dimensions of being that unfold with life, animate motion, and then the knowing good and evil that is the likeness of God. And because of this likeness, we say, man has all the inalienable rights, and to strike one may be assault, to kill one murder. Just as geometry cannot comprehend time so physics and neurology cannot comprehend the the human circumstances and the causes of the human things. Suddenly, moving up the hierarchy, there is what Karl Popper called “World Three,” the world of human thoughts, hypotheses and such, which do exist, right here, in fact, and perhaps whether their cause still exists or not! To ask “where” is, like, a question not appropriate to the dimension. The same is of course true, and more, for mathematics itself, whose truths do seem unchangeable, and from which almost all believe that there is something eternal. Now here is the ringer: Everyone admits there can be unjust laws.

Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody Interpretation

The following is from the book “Rock Commentaries, in the Menu at the top of the site. I’ll blog the section because Fresh Air did an interview, and a new movie has come out, without beginning at a reading of the lyric.

   Bohemian Rhapsody is one of the more difficult, though one of the more interpretable of songs. The band is said to be protective of the secret of the song, to keep us guessing. It is done in five sections, which a note on the internet site Songmeanings.com explains, contains five sections with different modes of music in the same pattern as the five stages of death, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, developed as a theory by Elisabeth Kubla-Ross. If so, the connection between the modes and the meanings might be revealing. The song is, literally, about a murderer or killer in prison awaiting trail and likely execution. The first section…



Just killed a man

Put a gun against his head

Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead


Life had just begun

But now Iv gone and thrown it all away

Mama ooh

Didn’t mean to make you cry

If I’m not back again this time tomorrow

Carry on, carry on as though nothing really matters


Too late

My time has come

Send shivers down my spine

Body’s achin’ all the time

goodbye everybody, I’ve got to go

Got to leave you all behind and face the truth


Any way the wind blows,

I don’t want to die

I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all

Nothing really matters to me

“Any way the wind blows” refers to a character criticism of the modern youth, that because we have no principles, we are blown about by whatever happens to us, rather than approaching life with a set plan.

He then sees himself, as the small silhouette of a man on trial:

III. I see a little Silhouetto of a man

Scaramouch, Scaramouch,

Will you do the fandango?

Thunderbolt and lightening

Very very frightening

Galileo, Galileo

Galileo, Figaro Magnifico

I’m just a poor boy…

Nobody loves me

He’s just a poor boy from a poor family

Easy come easy go

Will you let me go?

Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me

For me, for me

Let me go

We will not let you go

I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me

He’s just a poor boy from a poor family

Spare him his life from this monstrosity.

The defendant and the advocate plead not that he is innocent, but that he is poor and should be spared from “This Monstrosity.”

Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia let me go

Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me

For me, for me.

He may plead the mercy of the court not because he is innocent, but because he will be punished already in the afterlife. A “Scaramoush” is said to be “a disdainful character who appears as a boastful coward.” So, what occurs is that the judging voice appears, to say something like “slave, will you dance!” The poet or protagonist then laments that Beelzebub, the Devil, has a devil set aside for the torment of the guilty after death. Bismillah is said to be an expression that means “in the name of Allah,” and so is an Islamic expression (Bi-smi-Allah).

So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye                       [anger]

So you think you can love me and leave me to die

Oh, baby

Can’t do this to me baby

Just gotta get out

Just gotta get right out of here.

Nothing really matters

Anyone can see

Nothing really matters to me.

Here, as it appears, we get into the meaning of the song. The outburst of rock, in the “anger” stage, is anger about being spurned in a bad way by one who once seemed to love him, but now has left him to die. “Get out of here,” a familiar theme, means get out of prison, but this is the non literal or truer level, and so he may be suicidal. Our guess then at the mystery of the song is that his cruel dismissal by one he loves is compared to death sentence, as though he were guilty of murder. All men are said to be guilty of the fall of Adam, and to participate in the sin of Cain, even, as Jesus teaches, when we are angry at our brother. Rejection in love is like a sentence of death for our mortal nature. For this, we are not owed love. As above regarding the thief in Paul Simon’s “Somewhere they Can’t Find Me,” love brings images of crime. Suicide is a crime because it is a murder, and hence our irresponsibility with our own lives is like manslaughter. Is the man he has killed himself?

Any way the wind blows

Nothing really matters to me.


   One can see in this song that rock wants to become rock opera. The title of the album is A Night at the Opera, after the Charlie Chan Movie of that name. The song is like a small drama, condensing a story in a snapshot that is like a dream, or daydream, from the anger at the loss of love in a jilting.