Time in ancient times was thought to be the outermost condition of man's experience. Were born, we live, we die. We cannot escape the condition of
time as long we exist. The ancient's corresponded this ontological principle of experience with the planet Saturn. A planet means "wandering star"
i.e. a star which moves across the sidereal. Thus, according to the symbolical worldview of the ancient Philosophers, the planet Saturn was the
physical manifestation of the principle of Time. Accordingly, the sun corresponded to the "life" principle, the moon to the subtle body principle, and
so on. The very outer edge, the one that seems to "contain" us the most, is Saturn, the Roman god of Time, equivalent to the Greek god Cronus, who
cuts off the phallus of his father Uranus.
The Greek concept of time depicted in Hesiods Theogony seems to convey a theology of time bringing an end to the primordial unity between Uranus (sky)
and Gaia (earth). In terms of principles, they are Male and Female, whereas in this theology, they could refer to the concept of the physical (Gaia)
and the intellectual (Uranus). Since Gaia gives birth to Uranus, the physical was apparently seen by the Greeks to be anterior to the intellectual.
Time comes along and separates the eternity of the original unity, hence, he carries a scyth with him.
The Hebrew view of the time is essentially different from this perspective. The Jewish God, Yahweh (יהוה), called Adonai (lord) by religious
Jews, commanded that the seventh day be called Holy. In Hebrew thought, the concept of the seven days is somewhat based on the pagan metaphysical
viewpoint. As such, the concept of 7 is related to the 7 wandering stars. On each day God (Elohim) created, there was some ontological change of
being. First a basic duality emerges, and so forth. On day 7, God rests. Interestingly, the Hebrew word for rest or cessation is Shabbath
(שַׁבָּת). The Hebrew word for the planet Saturn is Shabbati (שבתי). This establishes the 7th day with Saturn, and so, with Time. The
particular thing about the Jewish God is his involvement in Time, and in History. The entire Bible is based on the concept of a temporal development,
from the beginning, to an eschatological end. It's in Genesis 2 where it says 4 These are the generations of the heaven and of the earth when they
were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven (אֵלֶּה תוֹלְדוֹת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ
בְּהִבָּרְאָם: בְּיוֹם, עֲשׂוֹת יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים--אֶרֶץ וְשָׁמָיִם.) , here, the name Yahweh
occurs. But whats conspicuous is it's combination with the word Elohim (God). In Genesis 1, only Elohim (אֱלֹהִים) is mentioned. Elohim is
from the Hebrew El, which means "power". It's ultimately derived from the Canaanite. Elohim therefore equaled "the powers of nature", or nature in
it's totality. Attached to this name is the uniquely "tribal" God יְהוָה . This God makes things holy (And God blessed the seventh day, and
hallowed it) while Elohim only sees the 'goodness' in it. Taken ontologically, this could be saying: the natural is good, but what's supernatural is
holy. Elohim is the original condition, nature as it is, natural selection, the working out of impersonal laws and processes; but the uniquely human,
the add-on to the backdrop of impersonal natural processes, happens within the dimension of time.
Ironically, it is the seventh day, Time, which is hallowed as a day of "rest". In other words, the theology the Hebrews appear to be suggesting is way
in which people can "hallow' their lives within the context of time. Not only in time, but also in the sense of meaning which derives from our
experiences within time. One's pursuits in life, ones social interests, concerns for others, all happen within the context of time: they derive their
meaning and valuation from a knowledge that "time is precious". Viktor Frank once said "Some people say 'time is money', I say money is time",
meaning, he would never give up his time for the pursuit of money. In the Hebrews world view, life was unique, it is existentially unusual: why are we
here? Why were we born? How can I explain this vast world around me? and other people? My own self? And all of this around me seems to imply a
Creator. There seems to be so much symbolic meaning to everything. Why??? The Hebrew answer posited an explanation for the human situation, and as
such, was inherently existentialistic. It didn't think in terms of "processes" as Greek mythology (and most Pagan philosophies) did. Rather, life took
on a relational significance, between man and God. An I-Thou relationship becomes superimposed on a I-It background. God becomes mans companion, as
Enoch (7th generation from Adam) becomes with God in his 365th year.
Time is focus in Hebraic metaphysics and theology, and personal relations, experiences, and so, morality, are the foci of human living. This basic
metaphysical deduction explains the whole emphasis in the Hebrew Bible on personal relations, exceptionality, particularity, and law. Each of these
things pertain to the dimension of time and occur within the fabric of the multiplicity of diverse existence. The Talmud has an interesting comment to
make on this: "When one saves one life, One saves the whole world". In short, each individual is a universe of meaning and value.
Interesting, there is an inherent paradox in this. A metaphysical impersonal backdrop always and continues to exist. Natural selection, as
impressively explained by Darwin, is always at work killing off and advancing new species. Within one species, the weakest individuals are ruthlessly
discarded, while those with more favorable characteristics are preserved and "selected".
To me, this whole process is contained in the Hebraic concept of אֱלֹהִים. Elohim commands Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Translated into
a theological statement: Life's (natural and normal) conditions command us to sacrifice what we hold most precious (Isaac). What's most precious to
us? What is most important to us? What do we give up to satisfy the pressures of life, if not our moral purity? וַיִּקְרָא אֵלָיו
מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה, מִן-הַשָּׁמַיִם, וַיֹּאמֶר " And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said".
Here, in verse 11 of this narrative, it is this name of God, Yahweh, which intervenes in favor of the humanity of Abraham's son Isaac. Abraham does
not need to sacrifice his humanity in order to satisfy the needs of nature. Instead, Abraham "replaces" Isaac with a ram.
Replacement, superimposition, are a leitmotif of Hebrew thinking. It's the "second" not the first son, who is selected by God. Abel over Cain, Isaac
over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Ephraim over Manasseh, and the Hebrew Bible always make a special note of it. Pagan civilizations tended to advocate a
nature first perspective. Thus, they were eternity focused, and so generally thought badly of time. This focus on eternity is itself an impersonal
perspective, beyond all determined conditions created by "time". It therefore relies on a moral relativism. Conversely, the Hebrews always sought to
usurp the "first born" perceptions which precede moral understanding. The Hebrews thought reason, moral understanding, and connecting with the divine
within the context of time was what was intended: they were forward thinking, teleologically investigating the "why" of appearances, not just in
nature, but also in man. Why are we so different from nature? Why does nature impersonally destroy the weakest within species, while man feels drawn
to defend and help the weakest of his species? Why do we follow a different existential trajectory? Certainly these thoughts entered their minds. And
given their teleological assumptions, it signified something central about man.
edit on 13-12-2012 by dontreally because: (no reason given)