Tuesday, March 4, 2008

the name

49. Leviticus 24 & 25

We use words flippantly in our culture. We say we believe in free speech and use this mantra to excuse certain language. You can read on bathroom walls profanity that would make a grown man blush. We turn on our televisions and invite into our homes language that is inappropriate and coarse. We go to the movies and pay someone to curse at us in surround sound. Even the video games that we play for amusement uses language that we would not endorse, except that we celebrate the birth of Jesus by wrapping these games up and giving them to our children. All in all our culture is overloaded with words. There is absolutely nothing that is off limits. Nothing.

In Hebrew culture things were different. In Leviticus 24 Moses relates a story about the son of an Israelite woman. The text says that this son "blasphemed the Name with a curse." Interesting. Even in retelling the story Moses could not even mention the name of God. Throughout the Old Testament the writers took out the vowels when writing God's name. YHWH. This is what we have translated God, or Jehovah, or Yawheh into English. Moses couldn't even write it. The son of this woman was accused of blasphemy because he said "the Name." God then commanded the whole assembly to take this son out and stone him. The entire community was responsible for his punishment. He was put to death because of his words. Because he mentioned the Name of God.

May we be careful about what we say, and may we as a community be responsible for changing our culture.

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