Angels and Idols

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6 Responses

  1. MP says:

    The Kuzari (1:97) says it was a representation to be used as a conduit between man and G-d. A Moses replacement.
    Also see the comments of RaMBaN on the relevant p’suqim in Sh’mos 32.

  2. Ilana says:

    Malbim points out that Yeravam lived in Egypt for years after fleeing from Shlomo, and suggests he was directly influenced by the Apis temples at Memphis and Heliopolis.

  3. Arie Folger says:

    Now connect some more dots, as the Ramban does: how about linking the vision of Yechezkel to the verse in Shemot 24:11 : And upon the nobles of the children of Israel He laid not His hand; and they beheld God …, and linking that, in turn, to the Golden Calf?

    The net result would be an interesting claim that the Egyptian Apis, the Chaldean Kirub, Yeravam’s bulls and the Golden Calf are all possibly derived from one of the appearances on the Heavenly Chariot (the Jews made the Golden Calf *after* being exposed to the particular revelation described in Shemot 24:11!), and that that which makes all the above idol worship is a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the Chayot and our relationship to them. IOW, it’s based on truth, but it’s deeply, deeply wrong to either represent them physically, or to pray to them, and the descent into idolatry as described by Maimonides is a lot more factual than we usually imagine, now that we see it may sometimes be based on the actual revelation of the Heavenly Chariot. And it’s still deeply, deeply wrong, profoundly idolatrous to have even a fraction of that mistaken attitude towards the keruv/chaya.

  4. micha says:

    RAF,

    If anything, you poked a hole in my idea. I was claiming that this reinforced the notion that the eigel was an attempt to replace the missing Moshe. You just showed that the concept of keruv held a different place in their mindset than did Moshe — as they were each present at Har Sinai.

    In any case, I wonder how similar the Merkavah was to what was scene at Har Sinai, or for that matter how similar each of the zekeinim’s perception were to each other. Some details must have been the same, or else the pesuqim describing just one vision wouldn’t make sense. But isn’t the vision of a nevu’ah something the navi’s own mind creates around an experience in order to clothe it in the familiar and comprehensible? And “ein shenei nevi’im misnab’im beaignon echad” — so those images shouldn’t be expected to be identical.

    Maybe what was seen at Har Sinai didn’t include chayos, or if it did, the chayos looked to them very differently than they looked to nevi’im living centuries later, products of an autonomous (and declining) Israel — in contrast to products of slavery and overt miracles.

  5. Arie Folger says:

    The Esteemed Blog Owner wrote:

    . I was claiming that this reinforced the notion that the eigel was an attempt to replace the missing Moshe. You just showed that the concept of keruv held a different place in their mindset than did Moshe — as they were each present at Har Sinai.

    Not necessarily. The People of Israel, in their still naive, barely-out-of-idolatrous-Egypt mindset (cf. Ibn Ezra about taking Egypt out of the Jew), may very well have conceived of Moshe as a kind of demigod, so that the comparison is apt. In fact, since the function of the Merkava Elyona is to bear the Divine Throne, and we have statements like Avot Hen Hen haMerkava, which is understood to include all the righteous (see Messilat Yesharim, here), their understanding was arguably correct.

    So, they understand Moshe as part of the Heavenly Chariot, and want to replace him with a keruv/bull, another one of the four faces of the Chayot.

    In any case, I wonder how similar the Merkavah was to what was scene at Har Sinai

    Hey, I did not draw that analogy, Ramban did.

    or for that matter how similar each of the zekeinim’s perception were to each other. Some details must have been the same, or else the pesuqim describing just one vision wouldn’t make sense. But isn’t the vision of a nevu’ah something the navi’s own mind creates around an experience in order to clothe it in the familiar and comprehensible? And “ein shenei nevi’im misnab’im beaignon echad” — so those images shouldn’t be expected to be identical.

    Could have been similar enough. I guess that that is what Ramban implicitly claims.

    Maybe what was seen at Har Sinai didn’t include chayos, or if it did, the chayos looked to them very differently than they looked to nevi’im living centuries later, products of an autonomous (and declining) Israel — in contrast to products of slavery and overt miracles.

    Again, my comment was based on Ramban, and he has some interesting textual clues. That this interpretation makes the egel (and, inter alia, the cherubim on the kaporet of the aron) easier to understand, makes it therefore more cogent, more attractive and more likely closer to the truth.

    Re: better understanding the aron, I refer you to two verses (there are several more). One is השמים כסאי והארץ הדם רגלי, איזה מקום מנוחתי ואיזה בית אשר תבנו לי, and the other one is the 6th chapter of Yesha’yahu, where he testifies that שוליו מלאים את ההיכל, thus showing us that the aron is like the Merkava, whereupon the throne rests when G”d reveals Himself, and in a sense, while the entire earth is G”d’s footstool, the Beit haMiqdash is a particular footstool.

  1. כ״ד באדר א׳ תשע״ו – Thu, Mar 3, 2016

    […] while back I posted about the linkage between the two (“Angels and Idols“). According to the Kuzari and the Ibn Ezra, the eigel was an attempt to replace Moshe, […]

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