Before the first yearly portion, Breishit [“in the beginning”], ends, Noah and his sons are introduced (Breishit/Genesis 5:28-32). Similarly, the second portion, Noach [Noah] — which is highlighted by the Flood (6:9 – 9:17) and Tower of Babel (11:1-9) stories — closes with an introduction of Abraham and Sarah (then called “Abram” and “Sarai”) and their family members (11:26-32).
Several translators/commentators note Moses’ use of the expression “Presence in the Bush” — or as Fox has it “Seneh-bush dweller” — to bless Joseph. “Seneh” — samech nun hey — appears in the story of Moses meeting God in the “thorn bush” in Exodus/Shemot 3:1-6. It’s next use is here in verse 33:16:
With the bounty of earth and its fullness
And the favor of the Presence in the Bush [shochni s’neh]
This way of naming God is unique to this verse. The Torah: A Women’s Commentary adds a note that “the later concept of God’s Presence as the Shechinah comes from the same root as the expression “shochni.” For example, God promises, “And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them [v’shachanti b’tocham] in Exodus/Shemot 25:8.
As we near the end of Deuteronomy/Devarim and prepare to begin the cycle again, I think it’s worth taking a few moments to notice the differences between translations/commentaries. Even when the English does not appear to vary much, each translation/commentary shifts the focus slightly. Take, e.g., Devarim/Deuteronomy 32:2:
May my discourse [likchi] come down as the rain [matar],
My speech distill as the dew,
Like showers [se’irim] on young growth,
Like droplets [re’vivim] on the grass. — Plaut/JPS (also Plaut/Stein)
The Song of Moses, Devarim/Deuteronomy 32:1-39, also known as Shirat Ha’azinu [“Give Ear”], ranges over past, present and future in Israel’s relationship to God. In outlining the poem’s structure, Nechama Leibowitz cites Moses Mendelssohn‘s Biur and an early 20th Century article published in German.
I know that it’s a little peculiar to insist on linking the Akedah, the “binding of Isaac,” with “Emissary,” the pilot episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I feel I should begin these remarks by saying that. In addition, I am fully aware that the wormhole entities, AKA “the Prophets of Bajor,” to whom we are introduced in this television series are not meant to reflect the God of Genesis. Nonetheless, I am absolutely convinced that Deep Space Nine‘s “Emissary” episode has more to teach about the Akedah, about God-human communication and about teshuvah [“repentance” or “return”].
Robert Alter points out, in a note to verse 30:1, that “the term ‘turn back’ (shuv, reiterated in this chapter) is the thematic center of this passage, alternating between Israel and God in dialectic interplay.”