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9

N creature whose leb could obey or disobey. Therefore, to love God with all the heart was to love knowing obedience brought blessing, but to love with all N was to be on the dependent side of a love-bond knowing God alone ultimately provided sustenance and safety.

    Though the leb and N both desired, the desire of the leb and the desire of N were not the same and need not be confused by scholars of today. Whereas the leb desired obedience or disobedience, N desired according to its familiar theme. The leb desired what it intentionally wanted; N desired what it vitally needed. Returning to Judah was equated with deliverance by the Israelites in Egypt during the time of Jeremiah; given this association, "their N desired to return to dwell there". (Jer. 44:14) More common in the OT period, N desired food for sustenance and nourishment. "Because N craves flesh, you may eat as much flesh as N desires." (Deut. 12:20) N desired food because it was through food that N was sustained and nourished.

    One particular phrase connecting N and desiring is found in the con­text of an act of deference, usually to a king. In Israel the king was the all-powerful head who represented the people before God and sometimes also mediated for them. The way in which he led the people could even determine whether of not the nation was judged to be right in the sight of their God. The king was in a position to "reign over all that his N desires". (I Kings 11:37) Others encouraged the king to act "according to all his N desire" (Sam. 23:20) and thus wished that all would go well for his N.

   Still another use found mostly in the Psalms pictures the wicked enemy receiving the desire of his N against the righteous. David pleaded with the Lord, "Give me not up to the N of my adversaries." (Ps. 27:12a) He alluded to the wicked N that were consuming and thus could sustain themselves by devouring the righteous. A reading of Is. 57:20 indicates that the wicked were believed to be like the sea. "The wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot rest and its waters toss up mire and dirt." David asked that the wicked be unable to say that "they have had their N desire and swallowed him up". (Ps. 35:25) Not only the wicked devour; watchmen are pictured as "dogs that have a mighty N and never have enough". (Is. 56:11) The wicked, like sheol and the sea that engulfed Jonah, could acquire a misdirected kind of nourishing which maliciously sought sustenance through the consumption of N itself! The Hebrew might have imagined the wicked N as fat due to a consuming, greedy need; they ate everything in sight in an effort to be sustained. True to form, the images of iioilrisliing and devouring were limited to the desires of N and were not directly related to the desires of leb at all.

   Certain aspects of the relation between N and leb were typical of many Hebrew anthropological terms. Each had its own specific constellation or field of meaning which distinguished it from the others to the extent that a given contextual theme or image permitted one appropriate term or a limited selection of terms. Contemproary use of heart, soul, spirit, and mind have more overlap than ancient Hebrew anthropological terms. Overlap perceived among Hebrew terms is largely due to a misunderstanding of their relationship. The desires of the leb and the desires  of N participated in separate constellations of meaning. To cite another example, ruah and neshamah overlapped to the extent thatthey both could denote t-he breath, yet even here it can be argued thatruah always carried an opened up nuance of wind and spirit which was not characteristic of neshamah. The way ruah and neshamah operated linguistically is somewhat similar to the way N and dam both denoted the blood. Note, however, that the intention here is not to create neo­dualisms between basar (flesh) and ruah, dam, or N; it is to suggesttheir different linguistic fields meaning.  

    It is worth mentioning that the Hebrew anthropology included terms which would not be included today. The term kavod (glory) often suggested a part of the body. "Therefore my leb is glad, and my kavod rejoices; my basar also dwells secure." (Ps. 16:9) "Let the enemy pursue me [N] and overtake me, and let him trample my life [hayyah] to the ground, and lay my soul [kavod] in the dust." (Ps. 7:5) The fact that kavod and a term for liver, kaved, agree in their consonantal root kvd and have only a vocalic difference suggests there may also be an etymological basis for viewing kavod as a body part which reflected a grasping of a totality. After the NT era, kavod took the form of a halo over the saints. 

    The manner in which one died was of particular importance to the Hebrew. Strangling was an evil fate because ruah was being choked. Job was at rock bottom when he uttered, "My N would choose strangling and death rather than these bones." (Job 7:15; 'bones' here refers to his lasting sufferings since bones are the most indestructible portion of the body.) It was a particularly offensive way to die because N was attacked right where its supply of ruah was most vulnerable -- the neck. One was not to tamper with ruah any more than N; of all things in creation it most suggested God. The drowning that Jonah anticipated was offensive on two counts: he would have died through the direct removal of his supply of ruah and also through the consuming throat of sheolish water. In this instance, water was in the process of sealing N from life-giving ruah.  

     There were others events surrounding death which were also particularly offensive to the Hebrew. Death by burning such as occurred during child sacrifice by neighboring peoples or burning of the corpse meant that that individual was utterly cut off, utterly annihilated. In these instances not even the bones remained. The form of death and the fate of the corpse indicated something about the one who had died. The desired fate was to be respectfully put to rest in the grave, but this could not be granted to those who, for instance, were left dead in the field where birds could gather.

   "The ideas of the grave and of sheol cannot be separated. Every one who dies goes to sheol, just as he, if everything happens in the normal way, is put into the grave. When the earth swallowed up Dathan and Abiram with all that belonged to them, they went straight down into sheol (Num. 16:29ff.), and Jacob now speaks of going into the grave (Gen * 47:30), now of going into sheol (Gen. 37:35). The dead are at the same time in the grave and in sheol, not in two different places." (Pedersen, p. 461) However, it was noteably those who suffered a shameful death, the slain or the wicked enemies of the godly, that were referred to as actually dwelling in sheol. Thus, Pedersen was perhaps not completely accurate when he wrote that all who died went to sheol. "The wicked shall depart to sheol, all the nations that forget God." (Ps. 9:17; see also Ps. 55:15; Prov. 5:6, 7:27, 9:18) Wicked scoffers could even make a covenant with death and sheol. (see Is. 28:15,18) To die a natural death full of years had its honour and satisfaction. One was "gathered to his people" (Gen. 25:8, 35:29, 49:33; Jud. 2:10) or "sleeps with his fathers" (I Kings 2:10, 11:43) in the family grave. Even in death, the godly participate in the family line. Pedersen was correct in holding the opinion that the grave and sheol cannot be viewed as separate; however, it is important to note a difference between his two examples regarding Jacob. In Gen. 37:35 Jacob refuses comfort after being told Joseph his son was killed, but in Gen. 47:30 Jacob's house is in order and he is therefore now ready to die. The word sheol is used, appropriately, only in the first example.

    OT Biblical scholars agree that the ancient Hebrews believed N could die. N was subject to death and therefore was a perishable existence. Ruah-breath left flesh, and N thereby ceased to exist since the vitality of N-blood was no longer sustained. There was no idea of an immaterial entity that left the body at death. It was ruah as breath viewed through the synthetic mind of the Hebrews which concretely, visably left. Human wind departed, not an invisible non-physical entity of more value than a body from which it travelled. Breath and flesh returned to their former conditions and the person took on a new existence, a new status, as one of the rephaim. Pedersen tried to re-define soul when he wrote, "When death occurs, then it is the soul that is deprived of life. Death cannot strike the body or any other part of the soul without striking the entirety of the soul...There can be no doubt that it is the soul which dies, and all theories attempting to deny this fact are false." (p. 179)

   Samson pleaded, "Let me [N] die with the Philistines." (Jud. 16:30) Balaam said, "Let me [N] die the death of the righteous." (Num. 23:10) According to John Robinson, "There is no suggestion that...the soul (N) is immortal, while the flesh (basar) is mortal. The soul does not survive man--it simply goes out, draining away with the blood." (p. 14)

    Murtonen in Living Soul stated, "N is able to die, but the result is not a dead N but the N of a dead." (p. 29) Murtonen noted that a dead N was a contradiction in terms, and asserted that the corpse must have had some form of life or action since N always denoted these properties. Certainly, once N was dead, 'it' ceased existing. Nonetheless, it must be remembered that this 'it' was not an entity removed from the person. It was a body part caught up in the earthly status of the person. With no blood-vitality, the person ceased to exist as N., "Apparently the dying was conceived as a more or less long process during which man was still called N on account of the 'life' or 'action' which took place in the corpse." (Murtonen, p. 29-30)


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