The English physicist Isaac Newton had a bit of thing about the number seven; so convinced was he that it was the number God had chosen to order the universe, that he looked for it everywhere. He was convinced that the Sun had seven planets, that the rainbow was made up of seven colours and that the number seven was at the heart of all creation.

Unfortunately, any five year old will ask the question ‘Isn’t indigo just dark blue?’, and put a hole through his argument. Of course it is the same colour – yet Isaac Newton had to include it, otherwise the rainbow would have had just six colours and not fitted into his theory at all!

As a young man, Newton came up with many key theories that are still true; his theory of gravity, his theories of motion, his theory of light, and he (arguably) discovered calculus, yet as an older man he devoted himself to trying to crack the code behind all the numbers mentioned in the Bible. What the result of this ‘code cracking’ might have been, we will never know, as he died with his work incomplete and his Biblical theories unresolved.
It is easy to adopt a ‘pick and mix’ attitude to many aspects of the Old Testament...
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Comment by Forrest Curo on 10th mo. 2, 2014 at 12:10pm

Speaking to the whole article -- a couple quibbles.

We will say 'a month' meaning '28 days [or even less]' to '31 days [or even more]'. Biblical use of numbers is typically approximate in the same sense, '3 days' or 'forty years' for example.

Um, other quibble later, at greater length, when time permits.

Comment by Forrest Curo on 10th mo. 2, 2014 at 3:50pm

The "Law" that Jesus spoke of  fulfilling was not our contemporary 'Old Testament' nor was it the Torah of Rabbinic Judaism.

There were disputes between the ancient territory called "Israel" (ie Samaria, Galilee) that went back to the reign of David. Some Samaritan legends of their origins even claim that ancestors of theirs separated from other Israelites when the monarchy itself was formed. Whatever the truth of that, Galilee was only put (forcibly) under 'the laws of the Judaeans' about 100 years before Jesus' time. Galilee maintained Israelite laws and customs, but these went back to the Kingdom of Israel rather than to that of Solomon and his descendants in Jerusalem.

The Law (what 'is written') was not embodied in one standardized Torah scroll even in Jerusalem.

'To read' meant 'to recite publicly', 'to proclaim' (much as it did later when Mohammed recited the Koran and his followers learned it by heart, apparently not agreeing on a written text until a ruler decided to settle the matter centuries later.) A person would typically 'read' from a scroll that was only intelligible because the reader already knew what it said; such scrolls normally served as performance notes for a reaffirmation of 'what everybody knew' through oral teaching. 

There was general agreement on much of this material; but as much regional disagreement on significant points as you might find between Protestant and Catholic Irishmen. Jerusalem had the priests and most of the scrolls; the Galilean peasantry had their own traditional practice of the covenant, which Jesus was upholding & renewing, vs 'the teachings of men' aka the interpretations of those priests and lawyers supporting the Temple & Roman-appointed High Priest in Jerusalem. Hence the conflict which led to Jesus' condemnation and death -- not a conflict between 'Christianity' and 'Judaism' but between customary Law (practices that like 'Jubilee' worked to keep villages together and peasants working their ancestral land -- vs more Roman-style commercial practices that were concentrating wealth and spreading destitution, much as they had already done in Rome & Italy.)


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