Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Paragraph 95

Again in another instance, He saith: “Woe unto those who, with their own hands, transcribe the Book corruptly, and then say: ‘This is from God,’ that they may sell it for some mean price.” This verse was revealed with reference to the divines and leaders of the Jewish Faith. These divines, in order to please the rich, acquire worldly emoluments, and give vent to their envy and misbelief, wrote a number of treatises, refuting the claims of MuḼammad, supporting their arguments with such evidences as it would be improper to mention, and claimed that these arguments were derived from the text of the Pentateuch.

Here is the tenth paragraph, of thirteen, concerning the words, "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet."

Well, to start, we just want to point out that an "emolument" is a profit arising from an office, or a wage. And a "treatise" is a just a written work or argument dealing with a particular subject.

But we don't really want to dwell on definitions.

No, we're far more interested in the development of the various types of "perverting" the text. In paragraph 92, He describes how the Jewish peoples had "perverted" the text by rescinding a law, even though they did not have the authority to do so. They really believed that they were doing a good thing. And even then, the text itself wasn't changed. You could still go back and read the original law for yourself. it was only the application they changed.

In paragraph 93, He describes how the divines interpret the text according to their own imagination or vain desires. Again, they're not changing the text itself, just twisting the meaning to satisfy their own ego or wishes, probably unconsciously.

In paragraph 94, they twist the meaning again, but this time they do so consciously.

Here, they actually transcribe the text itself incorrectly, knowing that they are doing so. And why do they do this? For a small sum of money, and to give vent to their envy. They knowingly falsify the text, and then claim that it is true.

Baha'u'llah is showing us, through example, increasing levels of this "perversion". It begins with very good intentions, and we can actually understand where the people doing it are coming from. It moves through selfishness and ignorance, in which this twisting of the text is done with disregard, Finally, it culminates in a deliberate action, in which the changing of the text is calculated and premeditated.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Paragraph 94

In yet another instance, He saith: “A part of them heard the Word of God, and then, after they had understood it, distorted it, and knew that they did so.” This verse, too, doth indicate that the meaning of the Word of God hath been perverted, not that the actual words have been effaced. To the truth of this testify they that are sound of mind.

Here is the ninth paragraph, of thirteen, concerning the words, "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet."

Back in paragraph 92, Baha'u'llah talked about how the Jewish people changed the application of the Law without actually changing the words of the text itself. In paragraph 93, He points out that the people couldn't just change the text itself because the text was spread all over the world. Now He is talking about those who understand the text, but then consciously distort it. They deliberately distort the meaning away from its intent.

We can understand the rationale of the Jewish people of the day, struggling to understand how to survive in their dire circumstances. They may have overstepped their bounds, but we can understand it.

Here, deliberately distorting the truth, is something that we know is wrong. Over and over again, Baha'u'llah reminds us that we need to sanctify our heart. We have to consider the past. We need to truly seek after the truth, care for it, really love it. And we must be careful with it. Over the past 70 paragraphs, Baha'u'llah has continually shown us that there are myriad meanings of each and every one of these verses, but we can't just read them any way we want. We can't allow our own passions and desires to dictate our understanding of these precious words.

There is a coherency to religion. There is a context in which all these verses are placed. And our understanding must be in line with this general understanding.

For example, the whole of the message of Jesus is "love". If we ever understand anything from the Bible that leads us to anything other than love, we can be sure that we have mis-understood.