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Originally posted by speculativeoptimist
I have often wondered if this "law," if you will, is for our own good or for control of the masses.
A Blessing in Disguise (Chinese Folk Story)
by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, December 28, 2007
An unlucky event can bring about happiness
A long, long time ago, there was a kind old man who lived on the plains outside the Great Wall of China. The gentle old man had only two passions in his life: collecting rare breeds of horses, and his son, whom he loved more than anything else.
The old man and his son would ride their horses every day. They would travel great distances to trade horses, meet new people, and enjoy the good fortune that life had bestowed upon them.
One morning, a servant left the stable door open and one of the old man’s favorite stallions escaped. When the neighbors heard the news of the stallion’s escape, they came to comfort the old man. They told him they were sorry he had had such bad luck.
But strangely enough, the gentle old man was not upset. He explained to his neighbors that losing the horse wasn’t necessarily bad luck. There was no way to predict that the horse would escape, it just happened, and now there was nothing that could be done about it. “There is no reason to be upset,” said the old man. The neighbors soon realized that there was nothing they could do to help get the horse back, and that they shouldn’t feel sad for the old man’s misfortune.
One week later, the stallion came back, and he brought with him a mare. This was not just any mare, but a rare and valuable white mare. When the neighbors heard of the old man’s good luck, they quickly came to congratulate him. But again, the old man was not excited. As he had explained before, it was not necessarily good luck that had brought him this new and beautiful white horse. It just happened, and there was no reason to get excited over it. Still a bit puzzled, the neighbors left as quickly as they had come.
A short time later, while his son was riding the white horse, she slipped and fell. She landed on the son’s leg, and broke his leg, so that he would always walk with a limp. Again, the neighbors came to the old man’s house to give their sympathy for the bad luck that had befallen his son. One of the neighbors suggested that the old man sell the mare before anymore bad luck could happen, and others said that he should take his revenge and kill the mare. However, the old man did neither. He explained to the neighbors that they should not feel sorrow for his son, nor anger towards the mare. It was purely an accident that could not be predicted, and there was nothing he or they could do to change it. At this point, the neighbors thought the old man was crazy and decided to leave him alone.
Two years later an enemy invaded the country, and all of the old man’s neighbors were drafted to defend the country against the attack. Because the old man’s son was lame, he did not have to join in the fighting. The war was very bad, and most of the old man’s neighbors were killed, but his son was spared because he had been hurt by the white horse two years earlier.
Very often, when an event takes place that everybody thinks is good luck, the end results are disastrous. In the same way, an unlucky event can bring about happiness. Therefore, you should not lose your will to continue if an unlucky event happens, nor should you be too overjoyed or feel too self-satisfied because of a lucky event, or because something that you desire comes very easily to you.
As you can see, there are no definite black/white answers from a christian perspective. I prefer to let other perspectives, such as science, philosophy, other religious suggestions etc be part of an inclusive (and approximate) answer. I was most curious about the King James interpretation and how/if it differs from original Hebrew intent.
The major advantage to the Mechanical Translation for the student of the Bible is that it consistently translates each Hebrew word in the exact same way each time it occurs in the text. This allows the reader to see the Hebrew text, without even knowing Hebrew, in its pure form void from any personal interpretation being interjected into the text. Below are a few examples from the book of Genesis comparing the Mechanical Translation (MT) and the Revised Mechanical Translation (RMT) with Young’s Literal Translation (YLT), King James Version (KJV), the Revised Standard Version (RSV) and the Stone’s Edition Tenach (SET).
and~from~Tree the~Discernment Functional and~Dysfunctional Not you(ms)~will~Eat From~him Given.that in~Day you(ms)~>~Eat From~him >~Die you(ms)~will~Die
and from the tree of the discernment of function and dysfunction you will not eat from him given that in the day you eat from him a dying you will die,
and of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it, for in the day of thine eating of it -- dying thou dost die.'
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.
but of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad, you must not eat thereof; for on the day you eat of it, you shall surely die.
The English words "good" and "evil" (or bad) do not completely convey the Hebraic meaning of the word tov and ra which are more related to the function of a person, place or thing rather than their appearance or morality
Rabbi David Fohrman of the Hoffberger Foundation for Torah Studies, citing Maimonides's Guide for the Perplexed, states that "the tree did not give us moral awareness when we had none before. Rather, it transformed this awareness from one kind into another." After eating from the Tree, humanity's innate sense of moral awareness was transformed from concepts of true and false to concepts of good and evil. Genesis describes the tree as desirable (3:6), and our concepts of good and evil, unlike our concepts of true and false, also have an implicit measure of desire.