Tuesday, August 28, 2012

James takes on Harbinger Seven, The Erez Tree

On page 100, in his Chapter 10, The Ancient Mystery: The Nine Harbingers, David James has arrived at The Erez Tree. This is Harbinger Number Seven so I'm passing over the earlier ones for now.

He opens the topic with:
FACT CONCERNING ISRAEL: Israel planted valuable cedars of Lebanon to replace sycamores in defiance of the Assyrians who cut them down and in defiance of God who had sent them to judge the nation. *
Well, perhaps they did eventually plant them, but Isaiah 9:10, which is the focus of The Harbinger, only says they INTENDED to plant them. The point about that verse is always the intent, the heart attitude, the defiance of God in the making of plans to overcome the effects of God's judgment.

He continues:
CLAIM CONCERNING AMERICA: A Norway spruce was planted at Ground Zero to replace the sycamore to give hope to a hurting nation. *
I'm wondering WHOSE claim he has in mind here. It's not Jonathan Cahn's claim, which is that all the harbingers represent America's defiance of God just as Israel's intention to rebuild and replant was defiance of God. Few Americans recognized 9/11 as God's judgment and did all kinds of foolish things in their desire to "recover" from the attack, to rebuild and replant just as Israel determined to do, and they did call the Norway Spruce The Tree of Hope because that was the whole tenor of America's response to 9/11, rather than a recognition of being out of God's will and a call to the nation to repent. But anyone who thought of 9/11 as God's judgment could only see such actions as a foolish refusal to submit to God and to seek our hope in Him rather than merely human plans.

Some interpret Isaiah 9:10 to suggest that Israel KNEW they were defying God's judgment by their plans to rebuild. I'm not sure where they get that -- from the preceding verse that describes their plan as coming from the pride and arrogance of their hearts? But we don't have to consciously intend to defy God to express that sort of arrogance, it's implicit in the very lack of acknowledgement of Him, the lack of submission to Him, as if He simply doesn't exist. America just "doesn't think that way," we don't think in terms of God's judgments, we're "modern" people who see only our human enemies in an event like 9/11, only chance in natural disasters, hurricanes, floods and so on. But by God's standards this IS the same arrogance of heart as Isaiah 9:9 describes of Israel. America WAS once a Christian nation, did once call upon God AS A NATION too, even observed days of repentance and prayer AS A NATION, called to it by our own Presidents. We've fallen a long way since then. We've forgotten God altogether. Now we do it ourselves and as an afterthought ask God to bless our efforts. The sad thing is that this call for God to bless America is mistaken even by David James as acknowledging God rather than defying Him, so that he himself expresses the unwittingly defiant attitude of America in this way, which I can demonstrate in many places in his book.

James goes on to point out that in The Harbinger the similarity that makes a match of the Norway Spruce to the Erez tree of Isaiah is a botanical similarity, while the match between the sycamores is a match of names only as botanically they are different trees, similar in appearance but botanically different. James says "He can't have it both ways." I'm not sure why not. I simply see similarities here, I'm not sure the different basis for the similarities is important, but let's say for now it's something to think about.

But now he is going to object to the botanical basis for the similarity of the spruce to the erez tree anyway. Cahn, he says,
...mishandles the scientific evidence, but even more important, his argument goes beyond a lack of biblical evidence. It contradicts the biblical evidence. In addition, he again fails to accurately convey the historical context of the events.

First, Cahn tries to persuade the reader that the spruce that replaced the sycamore at Ground Zero exactly matched the cedars in Isaiah 9:10 when The Prophet says, 'It is a particular kind of cone-bearing evergreen.'[TH p. 90] But he then immediately reverses direction by arguing that the match is due to the fact that cedar and spruce trees are both part of the same broad category. He cites a commentary for support: 'The Hebrew erez rendered 'cedar' in all English versions, is most likely a generic word for the pine family.'[Revell Dictionary p. 198].
OK, that's a big enough bite to start with. James is first of all saying that Cahn is contradicting himself even practically in the same breath, by supposedly first saying there is an exact perfect match and then seeming to take it back by making the match within a class of trees of a similar kind.

James does this sort of thing a lot in this book. He finds what superficially seems like a contradiction to him, although a moment's hesitation should have told him that Cahn could not possibly have committed such a contradiction within a sentence or two and therefore must have meant something else than James first took him to mean. Benefit of the doubt at least: you'd have to be a bit demented to create such a contradiction and not notice it. So, in this case shouldn't it be understood that by "particular kind" Cahn MEANS what James calls the "broad category," or the "pine family?" This is simply a matter of words being taken in the wrong sense. The pine family IS a "particular kind" of tree; there are other "particular kinds" of conifers as well. Again, the identifying of such supposed self-contradictions is a recurring theme in James' book, and in all of them it seems to me it's the same kind of confusion on James' part that could have been avoided by a little generosity of spirit. (I'll allow that perhaps Cahn could have expressed his meaning more exactly in some places, but even given that possibility a reviewer ought to be able to tell a lack of precision from a contradiction.)

He goes on from there to quote part of a dialogue from The Harbinger showing that Cahn is equating the erez tree with the pine family or the pinacea family, having The Prophet say
Yes. The most botanically precise translation of the vow would be, 'But we will plant pinacea trees in their place" [TH p. 90].
Which prompts James to emphasize the supposed self-contradiction:
So, which is it? Does the spruce match the erez tree because it is a particular kind of tree? Or does it match because erez refers only to a broad category?
And again, they are one and the same thing, the category IS the particular kind Cahn has in mind. Obvious, really.

But now he does go on to seemingly score a point against The Harbinger, (or does he?):
The remainder of Cahn's argument hinges on erez referring only to the broad category of Pinacea familyk, or pine tree. But that is not the way erez is used in the Bible.

Well, this is true. In the Bible, in all the English translations, erez is rendered "cedar." There are even other members of the Pinacea family specifically referred to in the Bible translated from other Hebrew words, such as the fir and the pine. there isn't a single exception to this. There isn't a pine or a fir translated from erez, and there isn't any other Hebrew word translated "cedar." So did Cahn just make up the meaning Pinacea Family off the top of his head?

Stay tuned.

Have received information that the asterisked quotes had escaped the author's edits and that they are now being corrected for the next edition.