A Study Conducted by
Edna Pasher Ph.D & Associates, Herzliya, Israel
andGottlieb Duttweiler Institut, Zurich, Switzerland
Researchers: Elisheva Wohlgelernter
Dr. Edna Pasher
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 1997
For more information e-mail: email@example.com
Know that such is wisdom for your soul!
If you attain it, there shall be a future;
Your hope shall not be cut off.
*** This passage from Proverbs, one of the books of wisdom in the Bible, expresses the command and requirement: Know! Acquire Knowledge, Acquire Wisdom. Knowledge is at the highest rung. It is the peak to which we strive. Even wisdom is subservient to it. Implied by the use of the Hebrew Imperative, used here grammatically as the continuous command or the future continuous, 'Know' is a constant. We must always be aware of the struggle to know, seek, pursue. If so, there will be wisdom, a hope and a future. The key to a promising, sweet, fruitful future and the possibility of arriving at such a future is hope. Hope is not a rational concept given to statistical analysis. Hope is that speculation and estimation with which we plants seeds now and hope to reap later. Knowledge is bound to that hope. Learning is like that seed, which we plant today. We do not know where and when it will be profitable, but we know it is and will be.
This paper is a piece of learning. We will follow the concept of knowledge in the Bible. Our methodological approach is to study verses and meanings of knowledge on the simple textual level. We will look primarily at texts within their contexts, translations, some Medrash and commentary to elucidate our topic of knowledge. An overall theme will be reached as this paper evolves. Knowledge of Bible has of late become a topic of interest in other, non-literary fields of study. This is not surprising and indeed reflects a desire to return to the ancient text to see what knowledge can be attained. As we delve into the past, we will have hope for a successful future.
Knowledge, by its very nature, is interdisciplinary. It is expansive, contagious, associative and logical. Delving into other sources expand the mind and increase productivity even when this source seemingly stems from another world, another field. The Bible is one of the most utilized works, shared by many religions and nations. It has been on best- seller lists as well as studied, translated, spoken, and quoted more than any other work. It is a shared "commodity" both in the religious and secular world. Many look upon it as literature, theology, scripture, and holy tongue. Found in it is Narrative, Law, History, Ethics, Code of Life, and a manifestation of great Oratory skill that captures the human soul. The Bible itself is interdisciplinary containing legal thought, philosophy, history and poetry. It is both popular and sacred at the same time. From its pages spring forth a tradition of exegesis and commentary extending thousands of years. In it, Hebrew comes to life and the voice of God is heard.
It is no wonder that a study of Knowledge in the Bible would be beneficial to anyone. We will analyze various examples of the use of the concept knowledge in order to illucidate (perhaps) the goals of "knowledge management" within the business sector. Obviously, this topic is expansive, so we will limit ourselves. This is only a partial study, for our goal is only to whet the appetite for such an endeavor.
Wisdom, Truth, Understanding. Love. Intuition, Consciousness, Experience. Recognition, Information, Ethics. These are just a few meanings of the concept of Knowledge in the Bible. Da'at. Knowledge, is seen differently than its 'synonyms': Chochma, Bina, Machshava and Sechel- Wisdom, Understanding, Thought and Intelligence respectively. The Bible chooses its words carefully, and there are no simple synonyms. Each word or translation for Knowledge carries with it a connotation going beyond its superficial meaning. The study of the variants and forms of this word from Biblical times to the present is fascinating. Meanings are constantly evolving and all connected in the large scope of things. It is not mere coincidence that a word has more than one meaning, and sometimes the same word assumes its opposite meaning as well. The various possibilities, as remote as they often seem, are related, either directly or through creative and associative channels.
A few examples will suffice (now) to show the flexibility of language. Some modern derivatives of the root Y.D.A' are Meida- data, Mada- science, and Yeda- Knowledge in its broadest sense. Biblically, there is Yediah- knowing as in belief and trust. "To know someone in the `Biblical sense'" is obviously sexuality, and the most outstanding of meanings is breakage, and destruction.
The scope of "knowledge" in the Bible would require volumes upon volumes (such is the nature of such a vital and source- giving topic); therefore, we will discuss Da'at- Knowledge specifically. This root itself has over nine hundred entries in a Concordance of the Bible and encompasses a wide range of meaning. The reason why Da'at- knowledge is chosen, because this word particularly has the most variants and also functions as a compilation of other sources. It is the connecting force of other 'synonyms'.
In Cabbala the three types of knowledge, Chochma, Bina and Da'at, loosely translated as wisdom, understanding and knowledge, are traditionally seen as separate parts which complement each other. Each type of Knowledge- way of knowing- is compartmentalized in order to understand the specific function of each. Chochma- is seen as the Masculine manifestation of God's wisdom, which comes from an external source. We grasp this type of knowledge through sense perception and intelligence. This external wisdom is taught, learned, acquired. The extent of which includes whole treatises, facts, data, as well as simple information. The skills used, as receptors of this type of knowledge would be sharpness of mind, quickness of thought, ability to abstract, lucidity, focusing, etc.
Bina- is the Feminine manifestation of God's knowledge, which is understanding and interpreted as intuition. An Internalization from within, a Consciousness or deep awareness. The trite expression-praising women as having a "Bina Yetera" an extra portion of this 'Bina' is of a similar vein as the expression "women's intution". Bina- is expressed as "lilmod davar metoch davar" to deduce knowledge from existing information. To draw conclusions and apply that which is gained through study. The skills used to acquire this type of wisdom are patience, creativity, sensitivity, association, the ability to see into the future, imagination, and the skill "to put yourself in someone else's shoes."
Given these two opposite manifestations of ways of learning, Da'at, the third and peak of this triangle, is then the 'child' of the two, the combination, resulting from the marriage, as it were, of Chochma and Bina. Da'at, this integrative type of knowledge, incorporates the wisdom from without the deep understanding and intuition from within in order to create an experience, something completely new.
Extending this metaphor, we can trace this movement and translate it into technical language: input, deduction or analysis, and output. The facts, data, wisdom we get from outside together with the reasoning capabilities we have from within are the source for creating a well thought- out product. This pattern can be applied to various fields, which require analysis and synthesis, in the academic, religious, and business world.
*** Da'at, this combination and synthesis of the two, is special. I would like to choose a number of examples of Da'at, Knowledge in its many forms, both as verb and noun in various verses. In all of them the concept of "Chibur"- Connection, Integration is made manifest. These verses will show the nuances of this root. We will then look in detail at a longer, far reaching interpretation of knowledge.
The simplest meaning for knowledge is: notice, recognize, which is also expressed as information, as in "I did not know that". This type of knowing is also related to facts and is the most common meaning in the Bible for `know'. An example of this is found in the law of the Unsolved Murder from Deuteronomy 21:1-8. "[This is what you must do] when a corpse is found fallen in the field...and it is not known who the murderer is." The elders are then called upon to measure the closest city to the corpse and perform a ceremony in which they say "Our hands have not spilled this blood, and our eyes have not witnessed it." The Priest responds with "Forgive your people ... do not allow [the guilt for] innocent blood to remain with your people Israel." Even this simple, factual usage of not knowing relates to a deeper meaning expressing connection. They are unaware of who the murderer is because they did not see it nor witness it. They are indeed exonerated, but a hint of responsibility is there. They need to repent. Why? Because they should have known! They should have seen. There should have been a connection, a friendship, a relationship with the murdered stranger whom no one knew. No knowledge of whom the murderer or victim is reflects any connection with the situation and the person.
Knowledge also means concern, to worry, to care as in Megillat (Scroll of) Esther 2:11. "And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women's pavilion, to know how Esther was and what would become of her (lit. what will they do to her)." This expression 'to know', 'laDa'at' shows Mordecai's compassion and responsibility to his young niece who was taken by force to the king's palace in order that he might find a new wife. The implication of knowing does not merely state that he wanted facts concerning her predicament, rather he wants to know how she is feeling, how she is holding up, her fears, her concerns. To know something on a deeper level implies feeling. Mordecai empathizes with Esther and therefore visits her so that he can care for her well being. Again the connection, the human compassion is demonstrated in the word know.
The root of Da'at, knowledge as a noun, can also mean a relative, as in the book of Ruth 2:1. "And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband's, a mighty man of valour, of the family of Elimelech, and his name was Boaz." Boaz is Naomi's relative and he is a "Moda'". He is literally "known" to Naomi precisely because he is related to her. Naomi, widowed and poor, has just returned with her widowed daughter in law, Ruth from Moab and they are in need. Naomi realizes the responsibility a relative has towards her and will seek his help. The redemption of Ruth in this beautiful book happens because of the bond Boaz has towards his family. This bond is expressed through the use of the root of Da'at, because knowledge makes demands. Boaz will redeem Ruth and Naomi out of a consciousness of doing the right thing. Even before he will literally "connect" with Ruth by marrying her, his initial connection and responsibility towards them is there from the start. This is expressed through the use of the root Da'at as relative.
In Psalms 55:14-15, the psalmist beautifully states his connection to his friend: "But it is you, a man of my measure, my guide, and my intimate friend; together we would take sweet counsel, in the house of God we would walk in company". "Intimate friend", "Meyuadi", uses the root of Da'at, knowledge. It is significant that the friend is his equal, " man of my measure" and yet he is his guide, tutor, and teacher. They walk and worship God together. Friendships are essential in sharing and teaching knowledge and also a deep knowledge of someone turns into a liking and a loving of that person. The more one knows someone, the more they are fascinated with them and befriend them. Furthermore, "together we would take sweet counsel"' is literally translated as "Together we will share Sweet Secrets!" This is a beautiful manifestation of their knowledge of each other and their friendship. The goal of which leads to a disclosure and sharing of a collection of secrets. When one shares a secret with a friend, they have indeed connected.
The opposite of connection, of building is destruction and breakage. This too is expressed by the root Da'at. In Judges 8:16 in states: "And he took the elders of the city and thorns of the wilderness and with them he smote the men of Succoth." Gideon is the judge, hero and leader at this time and "he smote" correctly understood as he broke, lowered, diminished his enemies at Sukkoth. The Hebrew word for this destruction or war is "Yoda" from our root of Da'at. Another instance in which "knowledge" means destruction is in Ezekiel 19:7, "He broke their castles and laid waste their cities; and the land was desolate because of the noise of his roaring." Broke is translated from the Hebrew root of Da'at, knowledge. God is punishing and the literal translation of "know" for "broke" does not fit. The root Da'at seems out of place. How could a verb reflecting knowledge be used? There are two ways to understand this. There are a number of Biblical roots, which mean something and its opposite. Here as well, breaking, lowering is the opposite of connection and knowing something. To destroy is to disregard, not notice, not to be concerned with. Apply the negative to all that was written above, and we have the alternative to knowledge. Also, knowledge applies here in the context of punishment because it is as if there are two actions taking place. First, God knows and calculates and determines that they deserve punishment and then He executes this, whereby breaking them. It takes knowledge and an initial connection in order to then disconnect and decide to abolish. The verse with Gideon can be understood in the same way. This is expressed again in Proverbs 10:19. "He that walks righteously will find security. But he who perverts his way shall be lowered / found out". "Found out" or lowered is a form of Da'at in the Hebrew "Yiyada'", and we see the other meaning for knowledge.
*** Four figures from the Bible, and the narrative that surrounds them stand out as reflecting the movement and thrust of Knowledge in the Bible. They are Adam, Abraham, Moses and Job.
We first encounter Da'at, knowledge, in its noun form shortly after the story of Creation. Adam and Eve are placed in the Garden of Eden with the tree of knowledge as its center. Commentators have been puzzled by this and their fall still remains an enigma and ambiguous. It is clear though that there are two types of knowledge: pre - sin and post - sin. Adam and Eve eat from the tree of knowledge, literally "the tree of knowing good and bad" (or evil). Immediately they realize that they are naked and are subsequently punished and banished. Before eating from the forbidden fruit, knowledge was of a divine character. After the sin, knowledge becomes human. They gain an awareness and consciousness of which they are as human beings and are hence embarrassed. This existence is the one we share. Good and Bad, are relative terms, only appropriate in the human sphere. Before the fall, there was no good and bad, rather Truth and Falsity. The latter terms are absolute and describe a world of a completely divine nature. Truth and False are Objective terms, which cannot be interpreted or manipulated by man. They can only be understood and exist as a goal for man to reach. Good and Bad are Subjective, demanding interpretation, meaning and application. To enter the world of "the subjective" is to enter the field of human interaction. Embarrassment, clothing are the result of human "norms". These are the products of people imposing their law, the human, relative, subjective. Although seemingly negative, it is this subjective knowledge, which reflect human connection, where the laws are defined, changed, interpreted by Man.
Furthermore, in the idyll of Eden man did not struggle; he had no conflicts. His progress manifested itself as he took the path going forward towards truth. The process was patterned for him without choices, without changing direction. The earth obeyed him. After the fall, Adam's progress is more difficult. He has a challenge. The earth was cursed because of him and will not beckon to his command. Yet, Adam is commanded to work the land after his exile. Is this a Sisyphic battle where he cannot win or produce? No. Challenge and struggle await him and his hope is to find the Truth out of the relative, subjective good and bad.
Adam's knowledge of good and bad has to be refined, tested, practiced. There will be errors and sins but he now has the ability to learn and grow. Knowledge then is "interpreted" in human terms and becomes fluctuating and relative. If we decontextualize the concept of a human knowledge, the tree, the source of knowledge, is not seen as negative. Man was destined to work, struggle, progress, build cities and trade in commerce. It is necessary for man to enter this new, relative world. In our world, where knowledge is not absolute, something can be seen as good or bad depending on the context and situation. Knowledge is neutral, open to possibility and can be good or bad, productive and helpful or useless and irrelevant. We aspire to goals of knowing Truth and Falsity; however, in our day to day modern society, the terms functional and useless take precedent, at least for the time being.
The most outstanding meaning of Da'at, knowledge, is sexuality. "And Adam knew Eve, his wife." This type of sexual knowledge is seen many times. In Genesis 24:16, "The Girl [Rebecca] was extremely good looking and she was a virgin untouched by any man", literally "not known" by any man. In Sodom, when Abraham's angels come to save his nephew Lot it states: "They called out to Lot and said, 'Where are the strangers who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we may know them" Gen. 19:5) To know them- literally, hence we have the term Sodomy. Although perverted, it still a sexual knowledge. Also in Kings I 1:4 "The damsel was very beautiful and she became a companion to the king [David] and ministered him; but the king knew her not", again a sexual closeness of knowledge.
All knowledge represents a connection, a joining, a "becoming one" between subject and object. The person subsumes the knowledge, and it becomes a part of him, literally. Knowledge changes him. The power of knowing something is seen because of the sexual connotation it bears. Sexuality is the final step to know someone. This goes beyond recognition, feeling, researching. It is the consummation of the above. As mentioned above, Da'at is the "Chibur", the bridge, the friendship (a friend is Chaver, from Chibur) between outward and inward knowledge. The end product of such a relationship is made clear through our passage. If fruitful, sexual relations can lead to a child.
The parallels between the two meanings of knowing are seen in English as well. The word "conception" has a double meaning related to one another: conception of a baby/ child due to sexuality and conception as an idea, a thought, a concept newly discovered. A concept happens after thought that has been jelling for a while and voila! it comes to fruition. Both are equally creative and are expressions of human capability. The expression "brainchild" proves our point because one's invention, product, idea, is as much his/ her child as a biological one. One's self comes to full expression equally in his/ her brainchild as children. In slang, we refer to a personal thought, product, and patent as "that's my Baby". We call a moment of silence, when someone is deep in thought a "pregnant" pause and we refer to a term or word that is open to interpretation as "pregnant with meaning". When an idea is going through a formulation and a process, we say the idea is "gestating". Borrowing terminology from the biological world of reproduction is quite appropriate in our world of knowledge production. The Bible's use of the same root for both, shows how serious and life giving knowledge is. Furthermore, The Torah views a teacher on par with a parent. The Talmud, Sanhedrin 19b, brings this verse in Numbers 3:1-2 "These are the chronicles (lit. Descendents) of Aaron and Moses...These are the names of Aaron's sons." The Rabbi's ask, why does it say the "chronicles of Aaron AND Moses" when only the chronicles of Aaron are mentioned? They learn out that: "Whoever teaches his friend's son Torah, [whoever teaches someone Torah] it is as if he had given birth to him." Although Aaron was their real father, the text considers Moses as an additional father to them because he taught them. When someone teaches and gives over, expands and shares knowledge, it IS as if he/ she gave birth to that student, for he/she continues the growth process. Birth alone creates a person, but learning and acquiring knowledge maximizes that person's ability to face life's challenges. Knowledge enables a person to fulfill his potential as an intelligent being. The "chibur"- connection between teachers and students, sharing wisdom and learning, is as powerful as the parent- child bond. One might say that the parent- child bond is an extension of the teacher - student one because it is the parent who has the ability to share, not only his genes, but his history, wisdom, ethics and knowledge with his/her child. It is not enough for parents to raise their children physically. They are equally responsible for the education of their child.
Abraham, the first of the Patriarchs, forefather, is the first to recognize and know God. God speaks to him and commands him to pass this "Knowledge" down to his descendants. The thrust of the first book, Genesis, is God making himself known to the small group/ family of Abraham. We will see how this develops in the other books. The raw potential of this awesome knowledge is broadened and set into action with Law, by Moses. Abraham came to know God on his own. He represents an intuitive knowledge. A Belief not passed down from his teachers. The Medrash in Genesis explains how Abraham looked at the Sun, Moon, Stars and the world around him and came to the conclusion (deduced) that there must be a God. After this, God speaks to him and tells him to leave his home and country and go to Canaan. Only there will the application of his revelation come to fruition.
In Genesis 10:11, there is a famine in the land and Abraham and Sarah must go to Egypt. Abraham fears that the Egyptians will kill him because they will desire Sarah for she is beautiful. He devises a plan. "As they approached Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, `I realize [I now know] that you are a good looking woman." Realize/ know is our root of Da'at. Commentators ask: Did Abraham not already know that she is beautiful? It is clear that he did know, but this type of knowledge is NOT informational, rather experience and consequence oriented. Abraham knew his wife was beautiful. It is explained that he realizes it even more because during a difficult journey one's beauty usually does not hold up, and yet Sarah's beauty prevailed. This type of knowledge, is one that comes from experience. It is the type of awareness that continues to excite and delight although one already knows it. Another meaning is that 'NOW I know that you are beautiful', I always knew it, but now I must apply that knowledge practically. Knowledge is often stored and not used until it needs application. Abraham now must DO something because of his awareness that Sarah is beautiful; therefore, Abraham states this fact now. Practical consequences cause Abraham to think; his plan is to say that she is his sister in order to escape execution. We learn from here that "Now I know", is not simply informational but is potent with meaning.
God promises Abraham that his descendants will be as many as the stars in the sky and they will inherit the land. In Genesis 15:8-13, Abraham asks "By what/ how shall I know that I am to possess/ inherit it." Abraham is essentially asking for concrete proof for this knowledge. God's promise remains that which is abstract. Abraham wants to concretize it and make it `touchable' and more believable. He also wants to know with what merit, "at what cost" is this promise to be fulfilled. Abraham wants to know what to do! How can he make this knowledge, the promise, binding. God's 'answer' to him is a Covenant, a act/ ceremony done by Him and Abraham together in which God informs him that his descendants will be slaves. "Know well that your offspring shall be strangers in a land not theirs, and they shall be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years" (Gen. 15:13). The expression "Know well" is not the correct translation of the Hebrew "Yadoa' Teda'", which uses the root of Da'at two times, in the imperative, and future. Other translations say, "Know surely" or "You Should know". The double form of the verb is used to reflect a knowledge that goes beyond informative knowledge. This type of knowledge reflects awareness and a constant consciousness for Abraham and his descendants. At this crucial juncture in which the destiny of Abraham and Israel's is being foretold, Knowledge is at the center. Slavery in Egypt is a necessary process in order to become a nation, leave Egypt, receive the Law/ Torah in the desert and inherit the land. God is telling Abraham that he and his descendants must internalize this knowledge because it is part of their identity of who they are and what they will become. God's telling of future events is not merely a fact, but actually creates structures, shapes their destiny and history.
Identity is reflected in learning, knowledge, and behavior that has been ingrained from the start. Only with this type of awareness and consciousness can one mold his/ her being. This knowledge is not easily separated from the person. The connection, "becoming one with the knowledge" is clearly seen here with Abraham and his descendants. They constantly carry this burden with them, which enables them to mold their identity and destiny. This knowledge is like Memory. Memory is vital in order to create a nation. Memory links the past with the present as they move towards the future. The talent is to turn knowledge into memory and utilize this memory when needed. Abraham and the Israelites "Must Know" (surely know) this. Abraham begins a tradition of faith. He passes down this faith so that they may internalize it. Only internalization and total connection and commitment will be fruitful. Abraham, forefather and teacher must pass this on.
A further link in the relationship between God, Abraham, descendants and Knowledge is seen in Genesis 18:19. Three translations will show the use of "I have known him". God says: "I have given him special attention (lit. I have known him) so that he will command his children..." also translated: "I have singled him out (lit. I have known him) that he may instruct his children and his posterity to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is just and right, in order that the Lord may bring about for Abraham what He has promised him." and finally "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him and they shall keep..." The syntax of the verse is difficult to follow; therefore, most traditional commentators translate "For I have known him" as "Because I LOVE him for he will command...." Knowledge is translated as love. It is clear that the knowledge God has for Abraham is not mere knowledge, but relates to an affinity He has for Abraham. He has given him special attention, singled him out, known and loved him.
To know someone is to relate to him differently. God loves him now and deems him trustworthy that he will command and guide his descendants. This is quite extraordinary, for Abraham has no ties. He has broken with the tradition his own family when he left his birthplace. He took another path, left his past and the ways of his father. Yet, Abraham is trustworthy that he will indeed pass on a new tradition. This knowledge, this love that God has for him, precisely because of his leap of faith leads to trust. Abraham will continue to pass on the knowledge and recognition of God and initiative that he intuitively acquired.
After many promises, Abraham is called upon to sacrifice his son Isaac. This final test measures Abraham's unwavering faith. God commands him and he obeys. Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his son when God stops him. Genesis 22:12: "And he said, 'Do not harm the boy (lit. Do not raise your hand against the boy). For now I know that you fear God." Did God not know that Abraham was God fearing? Up until this point, Abraham proved himself again and again. "Now I know" does not saying something really NEW, rather now it has been proven once again that Abraham is God fear. Experience is the best source of knowledge. One can know something in theory, but when it is tested in the laboratory and a hypothesis is proven, he experiences true knowledge and delight in his discovery. Over and over Abraham passed God's tests and experiments. God now KNOWS Abraham's faith through real, action proof experience.
Furthermore, this proof or experiment is one that is publicized throughout the world. God might have known, but His objective is to show the world. "Now I know that you fear God" means that now I can "show you off" publicize, 'publish' the results. As we have said, knowledge, by its very nature demands a public forum. The publicity that Abraham gets is vital in understanding the goals of Genesis. God revealed himself to the Patriarchs and the close knit family of Israel. This movement will expand and become knowledge, a faith, and a tradition for a whole people. In Exodus, God reveals himself with a mighty hand as he frees the Israelites from Egypt. The goals of Exodus, the second book, are threefold: First, to make God's power known throughout all of Egypt. Second, to make the people know Him vis-a-vis His miracles. Third, to give them the Torah, the Law as they become a nation. The Intuitive Knowledge of Genesis becomes the Concrete, Learning Knowledge of Law. Moses is the figure who brings the Law to the Israelites and is the master teacher of God's knowledge.
The connecting link between the books of Genesis and Exodus is collective memory. The seventy people who go down to Egypt (Jacob, his sons and family, the small clan) turn into a people, a large nation. What keeps them unique and enables them to have a 'national' character are the promises that were said to their forefathers. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob passed this knowledge of God, a uniquely monotheistic belief, to their children who became the Israelite nation. It is in the merit of their learning this teaching that they were able to leave Egypt. Had the promises been forgotten, they would have assimilated into The Egyptian nation. This knowledge set them apart and gave them a hope for a future. (See opening verse). It would have been a difficult, if not impossible task for Moses to unify them as a people and get them out had this memory and internalization not been instilled in them already. But we are jumping the gun. Let us return to Egypt.
Slavery in Egypt begins with Exodus 2:25: "A new king, who did not know (of) Joseph, came into power over Egypt." The new Pharoh's 'not knowing' Joseph, his brothers and Jacob, is the source of slavery. Is it really possible for him not to have heard of Joseph, second in command to the old Pharoh? Joseph saved the land of Egypt from famine. That is not something one does not know. Rather, it is interpreted that he did not have the same affinity and love for Joseph's family as the previous Pharoh had. Some commentators say that he knew quite well who Joseph was, but made himself appear as if he did not for the purpose of distancing himself, shirking responsibility towards them, and thus enslaving them. Here the concept of knowledge as 'to give attention to' or 'show concern' is appropriate. Pharoh's active forgetting, his negation of memory will be combated in this book, when God will "remind" Pharoh with His plagues.
Memory as stated above, is the awareness that has kept the Israelites a nation and kept them hoping for redemption as was promised to them. God will remember them and give them special attention in order to redeem them. Exodus 2:25: "God saw the Israelites and, and He was about to show concern/ God took notice of them (lit. He knew)." In 3:7 God appears to Moses at the Burning Bush, "God said, 'I have indeed seen the suffering of My people in Egypt, I have heard how they cry out because of what their slave drivers [do], and I am aware of their pain. (Lit. I know their suffering.)" In plain language, God "feels" their pain. Knowledge is not abstracted, rather leads to specific concern, and feelings. God always knew that they were suffering, but now, since it is time to redeem them, He "really" knows and will do something about it. God has an invested interest, as it were, with the Israelites because of His promise to their forefathers.
This intrinsic "connection" between God and His people is made clear through the use of Da'at, Knowledge. God knows everything but focuses now on His people who are suffering. God is aware, knows in advance, (3:19) that the Egyptians will not let them go and therefore, will make His name and power Known throughout Egypt. This knowledge will have a physical application as He proves His power and forces them to let the Israelites go. Before God manifests his love and solidifies His connection with His people, the bond between God and Moses is made. Exodus, chapter six begins as God speaks to Moses saying, "I am Lord. I revealed Myself/ appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as God Almighty (El Shaddai), and did not allow them to know Me (did not make Myself known to them) by My name YHVH." It is here that we see the concept of revelation in which God appears with a different name. Knowing God's name in the true sense is something great. A name signifies His essence as it were. Although no one ever reached that level of true knowledge of God, Moses came the closest. Here Da'at is expressed as an active revelation.
The Patriarchs did not know God as Moses did. The level or purpose of knowledge in Genesis, as we have stated, is small, personal and intuitive as opposed to the grand, miraculous, awesome revelation in Exodus. This is understood as private miracles or nature versus public, out in the open miracles. The movement from Genesis to Exodus is a process as God slowly reveals himself more and more. The culmination of which occurs after leaving Egypt, at Mt. Sinai. At this point God's knowledge is put in a framework and given as Law. Moses instructs them how to live and shares with them the learning he has acquired straight from God when He spoke with him "Face to Face", as it were. A society is created with the knowledge, and it is the objective of Moses to instill in his people this awareness. Abraham began the process, Moses is the Connecting force, the mediator between God and the Jewish People, from Mt. Sinai onwards.
After the Israelites commit the Sin of the Golden Calf, Moses prays for their forgiveness and then makes a personal request. This passage is crucial. Exodus 33:12 15, "Moses said to God, 'You told me to bring these people [to the Promised Land], but You did not tell me whom You would send with me. You also said that you know me by name and that you are pleased with me. (Lit. I have found favor in your eyes.) Now, if you are indeed pleased with me, allow me to know your ways, so that I will know to [remain] pleasing to you. [Also] You must confirm that this nation is Your People." The verb Know, appears three times, each with its own emphasis.
God's response is 33:17-20 "Since you have been pleasing to Me and I know you by name, I will also fulfill this request of yours...” Moses wants to see, experience, Know God. God enables him only to see his Divine Glory. God tells him "You cannot have a vision of My Presence A man cannot have a vision of Me and still exist (mortal man cannot know me/ see me and remain alive.) Moses came the closest to knowing God, but complete knowledge is impossible because Mortal man, being of matter and finite cannot grasp that which is only of the spirit. Moses cannot live and see God. For living implies body. When not on the same level there cannot be total connection.
Similarly, Moses was too high on a level to speak directly to his people and therefore, Exodus 4:14 states that a translator was present. The translator filtered the knowledge that Moses received down to the level of the common man, the people. Moses could not, was too far from them, both spiritually and intellectually to 'speak their language'; an interpreter was needed in order to succeed in the goal of sharing knowledge, of being fully understood.
Knowledge sharing and learning requires a level of understanding, of being on the same level. If this is not achieved then the method of transmission must me modified. It is clear why God and Moses are set apart from the rest. If we extrapolate this, in order for learning to be effective, it is necessary for student and teacher to see eye to eye, to be on a same level. This is why it is so important in study to have a learning partner, a "Chevruta". The peer learning is different from that of the teacher - student relationship. Learning and study takes place on two levels: the partnership of two equals who share their knowledge, talents and complement each other AND the teacher who educates, draws out of the student his/her capabilities while the student equally enlightens the teacher. Humility is required from both the teacher and student. Knowledge does not belong to any one person. It must be shared, explored, taught, given, as the Torah, to anyone who shows an interest.
The event, which transforms the Israelites from slaves into a unique and precious nation, is the giving of the Torah, the Law, literally the "Teaching" on Mt. Sinai. The Israelites express their utter devotion to their leader, now teacher, and their God through saying "Na'aseh V'Nishmah"- "We will do and we will listen". However, this should read: We will listen and then, Do. Rational beings first listen thinks, mull over, consider, discuss and decide if an endeavor is worth pursuing. The children of Israel do not do that. This, their acceptance of the Torah sight unseen is seen in their favor. They were able to make such a decision not from rational wisdom, information, intellectual knowledge and "shikul da'at", reasoning, but from a deep emotional response. An intuitive calling. At this moment, they responded to a different source of knowledge. This will cause them to act and beat to a different drummer. This emotional response, out of love and gratitude to God, is similar to the type of knowledge reflected in Abraham their forefather, mentioned earlier. They accept almost blindly and forgo a certain 'knowing' intellectually because their senses and passions are more convincing and acute at this moment. Their spontaneous overflowing emotional love enables them to choose an alternate path of accepting God as their king and ruler. The source for this intuitive sense of bonding and connecting with God's knowledge is experience. This was acquired in Egypt while witnessing great miracles. Their perception skills were sharpened and therefore were able to indulge in the irrational. Also, the teaching and received knowledge from their fathers and elders going back to their forefathers was enough to inculcate them with a love and desire to know God. Received and passed down knowledge is powerful and is oftentimes as true as that which is acquired on one's one. An object lesson is learned; this type of knowledge is valid and should not be disregarded as a source for creativity. Their passion, conviction, the will and desire to know and sometimes to forgo a certainty of knowledge is oftentimes without reason, but responds to an intuition, a hunch, a second sense and a feeling. These qualities of decision making should be taken quite seriously as sources for knowledge.
Deuteronomy, the last of the Five Books of Moses, contains Moses' grand oratory speech. Moses had led his people forty years in the desert and is now about to die and tells the new generation of Israelites, who are about to enter the land of Cana'an, of events past and re commanding and reinvigorating them with law, history, rebuke and encouragement. This restating of memory is vital in order to infuse them with the knowledge that their parents had received. Moses is the connecting link between the old generation and the new, and this knowledge, wisdom, Torah, as well as miraculous experiences is passed onwards. Moses then passes his leadership and role of master teacher on to Joshua, who will bring them into the land to inherit it. Moses' speeches contain strong words, which are necessary as a leader. Moses warns them of leaving the path and following an idolatrous prophet and states in Deuteronomy 13:4, "Do not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. God your Lord is testing you to see (lit. to Know) if you are truly able to love God your Lord with all your heart and all your soul." Again we see knowledge, Da'at being used as experimentally motivated. It is experiential with practical consequences for both the Israelites and God. God is testing in order "to know" to confirm His attitude regarding His nation and in order to issue punishment or reward depending on the outcome of their choice.
Further on in Deuteronomy 29:2-3, Moses rebukes them while reminding them of all the trials and tribulations they or their parents experienced. "Your own eyes saw the great miracles, signs and wonders. But until this day, God did not give you a heart to KNOW, eyes to see and ears to hear." Knowledge here has utmost significance. It is also connected with eyes and ears- sense perception and the heart- the source of love, intuition mentioned earlier. Obviously they know, recognize, realize. The are not blind to their surroundings that they lived in the desert miraculously for forty years (Manna from heaven etc.) What does Moses mean by "they still do not know?" Did Moses fail? I do not think so. This knowledge which Moses strove to instill in his people whom he devoted a lifetime, proves to be a process. Knowledge, especially knowledge of God and specifically to a once enslaved and stubborn nation is a difficult task. But more that that, teaching this type of knowledge needs to be internalized until it becomes a part of them. At this point they did not reach this level of D'vekut, of ultimate Bonding and connection with God. Moses' whole intention is that they should know. This process might take a number of generations or even an entire history. Although far from perfect, there is something positive in a process, of knowledge constantly being perfected with the ultimate goal still existing `slightly' out of our reach. Our striving towards more and higher levels of knowledge does not deter us from the here- and - now applicability of the knowledge, which we do have. Still, there is always continuity. Joshua continues Moses' leadership and so on and so forth through the rest of the Bible and Jewish literature.
The second to last verse of Five Books of Moses states: "No other prophet like Moses has arisen in Israel who knew God face to face." (Deut. 34:10) Literally, it should be translated as "whom God knew face to face." Two significant and relevant points are intrinsic in this verse. First, it is God Himself who shows interest, concern, and love for Moses. It is He who befriends and knew him. Second, the value of knowing someone face to face is integral in a knowledge relationship. If we decontextualize this, we learn that in order to give over knowledge, the situation of 'face to face' must exist. Knowledge sharing requires honesty, openness, concern in which one can see the person's face. Face to face, reflects equality and respect. This is what sharing is, both members gain in the learning process.
In Hebrew face to face is "Panim el Panim". Panim also means sides or ways of looking at something. Interpretation of the Torah is referred to as having "Seventy faces", "Shivi'm Panim" or seventy sides, many many levels and various interpretations. Seventy is a large number and shows the many avenues of knowledge that may stem from this One Book. This expansive idea of knowledge enables the "seventy" interpretations of a verse to all are true simultaneously.
As our last example, I would like to discuss briefly the Book of Job, which appears in Writings. The story begins with Satan questioning Job's piety to God. Job is publicly known, in the heavenly court above and below, as a righteous man who "was whole-hearted and upright, and one that feared God, and shunned evil." (1:1) Satan refuses to accept that Job's loyalty to God is unwavering and insists that if inflicted Job would indeed rebel. In order to publicly prove Job's righteousness, God allows Satan to inflict suffering upon him. Job's family and fortune is taken from him, yet he steadfastly does not question. Once inflicted with a debilitating skin disease, Job subsequently curses the day he was born. His three friends arrive to comfort him, and the book is a series of poetical speeches between them and Job.
One main theme which they explore is the problem of 'the righteous who suffer' and conversely 'the wicked who prosper'. The problem of Theodicy is not seen as unsolvable to the friends who seem to have logical solutions. Towards the end of the book, a fourth person, Elihu, shares his knowledge and then finally God appears and speaks to Job. God informs the others that their accusations against job and their logical assumptions and methodology is wrong. The book of Job is about pain, speculation, Existential anguish and frustration and about Knowledge. Job wants to understand why the righteous (as he is) suffers and the wicked prosper. The book's premise is a philosophical one, dealing with issues of order, justice, Providence, cause and effect, and if they’re really is a 'logical' explanation for everything in the world.
While the problem of Theodicy is fully explored, a psychological understanding of human suffering and comfort is also reached. It is vital to the story that this philosophical debate and discussion is in a forum. Any answers to such "big questions" of God's presence in the world and His way of running it can only occur through dialogue, here specifically poetical dialogue. Through the interaction of persons as different as Elifaz, Bildad, Zophar, Elihu and Job wisdom comes forth. Each one brings his own attitude and perceived knowledge to the problem/ topic. Job would not be complete had God answered Job at the beginning. There is great value in the process, and Job's forty-two chapters prove this. Job ultimately wants to understand the ways of God. The book pursues God's wisdom as manifested in this world. Job's understanding of this wisdom is limited, and therefore he cannot achieve a true or complete knowledge. The book's great poetry reflects the sincerity of Man's plight even though absolute answers are out of his reach.
God's appearance, as it were, makes it known that the three friends' entire "mode of thinking" was wrong. They were not flexible to think of other possibilities than: Job is suffering therefore, he has sinned. For our purpose and our discussion, it would seem that Job's friends were not 'creative' in their approach. They held steadfastly to their own beliefs that the righteous are rewarded and that it is heretical to even question God's ways, as mysterious as they sometimes are. Likewise, it would do no good to even speculate or try to understand. God informs them how small minded Man is and specifically how small minded their attitude is. There is much more to knowledge than they think; there are no simple answers.
It is clear that Job does not only want his stature, health, family and wealth back, for even with compensation, his life can never be the same. Suffering has caused him to desire something greater. Job wants two things; first, he wants justice and to be exonerated especially in the company of his friends that he did not sin. Second and more importantly, he wants to Know God and His ways.
The ending of the Book of Job does not answer his questions about justice- about the righteous suffering. He does however, hear God's voice in which he learns a great deal about the Knowledge of God. Job speaks:
I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You [God] have said, "Who is this that hides my plan without knowledge?"
Indeed, I have spoken without understanding,
Of things too wonderful for me which I did not grasp.
You have said, "Hear, and I will speak";
I will ask you, and do you inform me.
I have heard of you by hearsay,
But now my own eyes have seen you. (Job 42: 2-5)
Our root Da'at, Knowledge, appears five times in this short passage of Job's response to God's speech. Job is then comforted. The words: know, knowledge, understanding, grasp, inform, in this translation all appear in Hebrew with the same root of Da'at. They appear in noun and verb form as well as passive and active. Clearly Job wants knowledge very much. The thrust of this philosophical work is Knowledge. Some classical commentators, especially Maimonides in the Guide to the Perplexed, his main philosophical work, see the story of Job, like that of the Tree of Knowledge, as a metaphor about knowledge. In the Guide III/ 22-24, Maimonides reads into the characters of Job a specific philosophical viewpoint. Each one representing a view of his time- Medieval thought.
Similar to God's response to Moses, there are certain limitations on knowledge that humans cannot grasp. Job did not realize this. His newfound knowledge, which consists of an 'experiential' knowledge, an experience of God's concern for him, comforts him. Job does not receive answers, but finds comfort anyway in God's love for him through His revelation and rebuke to his three friends. He knows that God sees, remembers and loves him. Job knows that God "knows" (about) him is enough. When we say that God knows, it means that God cares, takes an interest and desires to connect with him. All of the meanings of knowledge presented in this paper culminate into this Knowing, this connection and bond that God has with Job. Yet, Job realizes that total connection and knowledge of God is limited and incomplete. Man cannot know God and still live, as Moses came to know. His knowledge and understanding will be a partial one. Job realizes this, actualizes it and is indeed comforted. Not knowing everything and living with it is the key. Job need not be paralyzed. God did not explain Himself or His way of running the world entirely, as job will never know the significance, function and purpose of all God's creations in the vast and mysterious world. God's only answer was that He cares, He Knows.
God educates this forum of "thinkers" and rebukes them for missing an essential link in understanding the world. Job's friends here learned that there is something that escapes the 'ratio', and that is compassion. They were moved by a logical theory (the righteous prosper and suffering precludes sin) and were not able to see Job, as a person, but rather as an object on which one applies cold theories. They only looked at the objective and not at the subjective (as we mentioned earlier). On the human level, this is unacceptable. For the friends who indeed know much, they should have "known", connected, loved him. God did just that and showed this colloquia how to truly 'solve' the Job problem.
By the end of the book, Job demonstrates altruism where he brings sacrifices of forgiveness for his friends. Job himself learns, though his suffering, how to feel for another. Some modern Jewish thinkers view Job in this light, in seeing that his "sin" was one of self sufficiency and that he never reached out to anyone. The end of the book too has rectified this. Job learns how important he needs his friends and how their 'correct' opinion of him is crucial for his survival. Job teaches us that no one lives in a vacuum.
The limitation of knowledge reflected in Job is relevant to anyone. Job's friend learned that they do not have all the answers and so does Job. We can learn to accept this and still continue to progress and create. What one may learn from Job is that it is possible to 'know' God even with our human limitations.
I have only heard about You
But now I see you with my own eyes
Therefore I melt (in the sense of surrender)
And am comforted despite the catastrophe. (42:5-6)
"I see" means "I understand" or more precisely "I experience"; these meaning relate to our forum of Da'at, knowledge. Paradoxically Job is comforted. On the one hand, he knows that he is nothing but 'dust and ashes', and in his surrender to God- the ultimate source of knowledge and power- he is comforted in that his powerlessness is justified. In other words, it is O.K. to be limited. On the other hand, he is comforted in that he has indeed attained a certain "knowledge" of God. In all his human weakness, he has 'seen' and experienced God Himself and not via a substitute. One will never amass all knowledge, so one might as well begin to apply that knowledge he / she has already acquired. Do not wait to know all there is. That pursuit is futile in as much as it does not lead to action. Apply what you know as you progress and attain more knowledge.
In contrast to the book of Job, difficult from its poetical and philosophical stance, I would like to conclude this paper with a quote from Proverbs. Proverbs, also in Writings, is a book of wisdom whose goal is to educate one to honest, ethical, authentic and practical way of living. Its tone is down to earth and didactic. Knowledge, and the pursuit of which, is central to this book. It begins with a title, a heading:
The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel; to know wisdom and instruction; to comprehend the words of understanding;
To receive the discipline of wisdom,
Justice, and right, and equity... (1:1-3)
This instruction or ethic, or code of living represents the most relevant, practical application for a balanced life. Here knowledge is seen as "a way to live". Da'at is joined with 'Mussar'- instruction, its complement. Knowledge of good and bad (to put it simply) and knowing how to recognize the difference between them is Proverb's main message. Proverbs tells us stories, parables, and compares the abstract terms 'good' and 'evil' into concrete images. Often these are personified, such as portraying a Wanton Woman versus the Woman of Valour. The "Eishet Chayil"- Woman of Valour- this multi talented woman of the last chapter (31) in Proverbs represents practical living at its best. King Solomon praises her wisdom above all else. On the simple reading, she is the well-rounded woman who runs her businesses as well as her household. She educates, and does many acts of Chessed- kindness. She abhors fraud and embraces belief. For all this and more, she is truly blessed.
Often in our practical and subjective world, there is a fine line between good and bad. To determine this is to know how to apply that which one has studied. In this book there are dozens of entries for the noun Da'at, knowledge. The pursuit of which is ambitious as well as a 'full time' job as stated by King Solomon's father, King David in Psalms 19:3: "Day unto day uttereth speech, And night unto night revealeth knowledge". One not only by day pursues knowledge, but at night reexperiences, reabsorbs it. This night time quality of knowledge is special in its intimacy. Furthermore, knowledge is seen as reflecting a sensitivity and creativity as in: "The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge, And the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge" (Proverbs 18:15) as well as "The heart of him that hath discernment seeketh knowledge; but the mouths of fools feedeth folly." (Proverbs 15:14). The wise is "Navon Lev" which literally means an understanding/ wise heart. The emphasis on heart is crucial for knowledge. Like night time, the time for dreamers and deep speculation and revelation, this person of a "wise heart", the sensitive and feeling, is capable of experiencing knowledge in ways unknown to the "daytime" and only cerebral person. One must combine night and day, the mind and the heart in order to maximize our knowledge potential.
How does one do this? "In all your ways Know Him [God], and He will direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5) One is obligated to acknowledge Him and come to know Him through many ways, many paths, avenues, possibilities. There are various methods to attain knowledge and here King Solomon tells us that we should use ALL those possibilities, talents, channels that are available to us.