This is the 3rd in a series of Biblical poetry where I am “translating” verses of the Bible. You can read the first two here: Biblical Poetry and Biblical Poetry, Part 2.
One of my primary purposes of doing this work is to strip away patriarchal veneers that have been layered upon original teachings. I reach into ancient pagan knowledge in order to reclaim what I believe to have been lost.
Below is each verse in 3 versions. First is the King James Version (KJV) for familiarity, the second is Jeff Benner’s Mechanical Translation (Benner) which uses a consistent translation for each word. I use his translations to get a better sense of how the words originally fit together.[i]
The third translation is my own (Mystic Pagan Version or MPV).
And every plant of the field before it was in the earth,
and every herb of the field before it grew:
for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth,
and there was not a man to till the ground.
and all the shrubs of the field before existing
in the land and all the herbs of the field
before springing up given that “YHVH” [He exists] of “Elohiym [Powers]”
did not make it precipitate upon the land
and without a human to serve the ground
And all potential seedlings existed as life.vibration
And every sapling of the land existed as life.vibration
Given that Vibration.Being of All-Potential Powers
Had not yet coalesced into earth water
And without yet a mindful human.being to circulate seeds.
But there went up a mist from the earth,
and watered the whole face of the ground.
and a mist will go up from the land
and he made all of the face of
the ground drink.
And the goddess’s cauldron[ii] boiled, overflowed and mixed with the air
A blessing of the waters to relieve the thirst of the land.
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground,
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;
and man became a living soul.
and “YHVH [He exists}” of “Elohiym [Powers]” molded the human
of powder from the ground
and he exhaled in his nostrils a breath of life
and the human existed from a being of life.
And Vibration.Being of All-Potential Powers crafted shapes from earth,
and inspired life with breath
so that living consciousness
would breathe deeply the bestowal of existing.life
There are many words used to represent divinity in the bible. YHVH (yud-hey-vav-hey) and El (along with its variations) are the most common. Below are brief notes about their translations.
- YHVH (yud-hey-vav-hey):
KJV always translates YHVH as “LORD.” Benner translates it as “he exists.” I do love Benner’s concept of a divine entity as “existing,” but when divinity is gendered as in “he” then the grand mystical mystery of creation is reduced to half its potential. And that, to my mind, is a great tragedy which has sundered our world for thousands of years and lessened the role of women by tagging divinity as male.
I take a different tack for YHVH and use “Vibration.Being.”
I believe that YHVH is a compilation of vibrational sounds that are power syllables. By chanting the syllables, doorways are opened so that we are able to feel the connection and vibrational aspect of our bodies in relation to the greatness of creation.
There is historical precedence. Greek historian Josephus wrote about the syllables in his 78 CE work about the destruction of Jerusalem (which occurred in 586 BCE.) Even though he wrote centuries after the event, he likely had access to historical materials that were later destroyed at the Alexandria library. Josephus includes an interesting description of the headgear of the high priests; “A mitre also of fine linen encompassed his head, which was tied by a blue ribbon, about which there was another golden crown, in which was engraven the sacred name [of God]: it consists of four vowels.”[iii]
Because Josephus did not specify which four vowels he was referring to, this line has been the topic of much scholarly debate (and, as usual, argument). Because he cites “the sacred name,” one of the most common arguments is that he was speaking about YHVH. [The letters themselves, even in Hebrew, can be used for consonants or vowels much the same way that the letter “Y” in English can be both.]
I wanted my translation to recognize the vibrational aspect of the syllables and how important that concept is in the processes of creation. Vibration.Being also sets up a counterpoint to we humans, in fact all of humanity[iv], as a reflection of divinity – Human.Being.
As I discussed in more detail in my first blogpost of this series (link above), the KJV uses “god” for EL. Benner uses “powers.” I use “all-potential powers” in recognition of the coming together of opposites which gives rise to life.
[i] To learn more about his technique, visit his website at: https://www.ancient-hebrew.org/
[ii] Although not used in this specific passage, Tehom is used in the bible to describe the watery depths from which mists arise. This a variation of the name of the Sumerian goddess Tiamat.
[iii] http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/josephus/war-5.htm; consulted November 2012. [Bolding my own.]
[iv] In shamanic terms, humanity refers to all of manifest existence. “Hu” is also a power syllable which I wrote about here: https://feminismandreligion.com/2020/06/15/the-sacred-hu-by-janet-maikai-rudolph/
Janet Maika’i Rudolph. “IT’S ALL ABOUT THE QUEST.” I have walked the spirit path for over 25 years traveling to sacred sites around the world including Israel to do an Ulpan (Hebrew language studies while working on a Kibbutz), Eleusis and Delphi in Greece, Avebury and Glastonbury in England, Brodgar in Scotland, Machu Picchu in Peru, Teotihuacan in Mexico, and Giza in Egypt. Within these travels, I have participated in numerous shamanic rites and rituals, attended a mystery school based on the ancient Greek model, and studied with shamans around the world. I am twice initiated. The first as a shaman practitioner of a pathway known as Divine Humanity. The second ordination in 2016 was as an Alaka’i (a Hawaiian spiritual guide with Aloha International). I have written three books: When Moses Was a Shaman, When Eve Was a Goddess, (now available in Spanish, Cuando Eva era una Diosa), and One Gods. In Ardor and Adventure, Janet.now available in Spanish. Cuando Eva era una Diosa
12 thoughts on “More Biblical Poetry by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”
I love everything about this. Thank you for sharing.
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Thanks so much. I love your moniker “Echoing Multiverse.” Very apt to this discussion.
Cool! I’ve always found the KJV, or Authorized Version, harsh in sound and meaning. The George Lamsa translations from the ancient Aramaic Manuscripts are better, but they’re still mostly patriarchal. I like your version best because I feel that you’re approaching a sort of super-reality (if that makes sense), or at least a metaphysical reality without going all New Agey. Have you finished Genesis yet? I’ll be interested to see what you do with all those old old old old men. And Abraham and Sarah and Hagar.
I knew a terrific Jewish scholar named Savina Teubal who wrote Sarah the Priestess: The First Matriarch of Genesis and another good book about Hagar. I recommend these two books.
Bright blessings to both scholarship and poetry!
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Thanks Barbara, Hmmmmm “super-reality.” I think I have to sit with that but I do like it.
Even though these first 3 posts are mostly sequential, I am not sure I am going in that direction. I have done some poetry from other biblical books. It is part trying to understand the pagan meanings and part inspiration so its hard to know where I’ll end up with this. And so as to finishing Genesis, let’s see if go that way or not.
And thanks for your supportive words.
Oh and I wanted to let you know that I have read both of Teubal’s books – probably on your recommendation. I love them both. What a fascinating look at a history that is not apparent but which she makes so clear.
I met Savina and two other friends in about 1990, when we all had new books just out. Savina and Gloria Orenstein once took me to visit a beautiful synagogue in (I think) Brentwood, where I was fortunate to meet and observe a Reform–feminist–service. Those women were marvelous.
I’m not sure I’d ever be brave enough to tackle all of Genesis. I was half-teasing you. But I enjoy your work. Have you considered rewriting some of the Psalms? Widen the poetry, so to speak?
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Lovely story re: Savina and Gloria Orenstein.
I have done some work on a few Psalms and Proverbs, and passages from a few of the prophets. If you have any special Psalms in mind that could use a good MPV treatment let me know. I’m always looking to find sources of inspiration.
I love your versions of the poetry! They express not just the creation of life, but the joy of living and bring a sense of ongoing relationship through the vibration that continues on throughout our cosmos eternally. Whether Genesis or the Psalms or some other biblical or ancient poetry, please keep on going!
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Thanks Carolyn, You write just what I am working to express – as you say the creation of life, joy of life and our ongoing relationship with that cosmic vibration. Oh my I feel a song coming on (in honor of your post – LOL).
This is such a fantastic project you are doing. I love looking at the ancient scriptures and trying to understand them from various angles. So many times I think I understand them, but there are important pieces I didn’t know about. i remember learning in seminary that YHWH means “I am what I am” and “I am because I am” and “I am what I am creating” and “I am because I am creating” and “I am what I am becoming” and “I am because I am becoming.” Such rich, powerful meaning in a symbol for divinity, and to reduce it to the feudal patriarchal term “lord” is a sacrilege. The evolution of the symbols the Hebrews used for divinity, how they became increasingly hierarchical and male as the society moved from agrarian to agricultural is one of the saddest chapters in the faith tradition for me. I stopped using “lord” decades ago, I use “Source” or “Eternal” or “Wellspring” or various other symbols. Bless your work, Janet– doing exactly what the scripture writers themselves always did, and rewriting these texts to be of the most use to your own context! Who knows what they were before we saw them – maybe they were closer to what you’ve written! <3
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Thank you so much Trelawney. Your support means so much.
I love that you use such poignant words as Source, Eternal and Wellspring for the Divine. Just fabulous!
“I am that I am” or as you write so beautifully, “that I am becoming”, “creating” etc . . . is (phonetically) “ehyeh asher ehyeh.” Ehyeh comes from the same root as YHVH and both are related to the root meaning “existence” and “being”. Also, not at all uncoincidentally, also related to Eve’s name: Hawwah or Chavah.