Esther, Malachi, II Peter
Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking
after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers
fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the
earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed
with water, perished:
Spoke 17, Cycle 3
(II Peter 3.3)
The scoffers spoken of by Saint Peter appear to be asserting the doctrine
known as "uniformitarianism" which arose in the eighteenth century as part of the
Scientific Revolution. Here is the definition of
Uniformitarianism presented by the
Electronic Universe from the University of Oregon. Note the reference to
supernaturalism and the biblical flood:
Uniformitarianism is the doctrine that existing processes acting in the same
manner and with essentially the same intensity as at present are sufficient to
account for all geologic change. Uniformitarianism posits that natural agents
now at work on and within the Earth have operated with general uniformity
through immensely long periods of time. When William Whewell, a University of
Cambridge scholar, introduced the term in 1832, the prevailing view (called
catastrophism) was that the Earth had originated through supernatural means and
had been affected by a series of catastrophic events such as the biblical Flood.
In contrast to the catastrophic view of geology, the principle of uniformity
postulates that phenomena displayed in the rocks may be entirely accounted for
by geologic processes that continue to operate at the present day--in other
words, the present is the key to the past. This principle is fundamental to
geologic thinking and underlies the whole development of the science of geology.
The Doctrine of Uniformitarianism will play an essential role in understanding the connection with
Spoke 17 as discussed below. This doctrine was essential to the development of the Theory of
Evolution (cf. Apemen and Evolution).
The Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution
Along with Rene Descartes, the other great mind that wrestled with the new
universe opening up in the early European Enlightenment was Blaise
Pascal, a mathematician and sometime theologian. The universe in the
seventeenth century had expanded beyond human imagination. The century before
introduced Europe to an entirely new continent, filled with a people no one had
ever heard of before, who had a history spanning centuries, a history that would
forever remain a mystery to the Europeans. They looked at fallen cities in
Meso-America and gazed on stone stelae and books filled with a mysterious and
indecipherable language and realized a wealth of human history lay beyond their
The European Enlightenment by Richard Hooker
This quote is from the wonderful on-line history course from
Washington State University
(my Alma Mater).
It perfectly conveys the sense of wonder, awe, and open horizons that characterize the intellectual
revolution that dominated the Seventeenth Century. Perhaps the greatest intellect of the time
was Isaac Newton. Hooker discusses the main principles Newton's presented in his primary work
Principia Mathematica (1687) in his article
The Scientific Revolution :
- The universe could be explained completely through the use of mathematics;
mathematical models of the universe were accurate physical descriptions of the universe.
- The universe operated in a completely rational and predictable way following the
mathematics used to describe the universe; the universe, then, was mechanistic.
- One need not appeal to revealed religion or theology to explain any aspect of the
physical phenomena of the universe.
- All the planets and other objects in the universe moved according to a physical
attraction between them, which is called gravity; this mutual attraction explained the
orderly and mechanistic motions of the universe.
These principles are characteristic of much of the thought of the Seventeenth Century, as exemplified by
Isaac Newton's principles outlined above.
"Open science" as a practice became increasing widespread in Europe during
the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. It represented a departure
from the previously dominant ethos of secrecy in the pursuit of Nature's
Secrets, and its emergence was a distinctive and vital organizational aspect of
the Scientific Revolution. ...
Foundations were thus laid for the later seventeenth and eighteenth century
institutionalization of the open pursuit of scientific knowledge under the
auspices of State-sponsored academies.
The above quote is from the abstract to
Paul A. David's analysis of the
Scientific Revolution called "From Keeping 'Nature's Secrets' to the Institutionalization of
'Open Science.'" His thesis, written as an economist interested in the relation between open verses
closed proprietary scientific research, perfectly encapsulates the meaning of the Letter Peh and its
the Seventeenth Century Scientific Revolution
and the Books on Spoke 17 of the Bible Wheel.
The integration begins with the literal and symbolic meanings of the Seventeenth Letter. Literally,
Peh denotes the Mouth. God used it this way in three of the
Peh Alphabetic Verses. From this, its symbolic meaning as
"opening" naturally follows, which also appears in the form of many of its KeyWords, most notably
(Petach, Opening). God used this word in two of the Peh Alphabetic Verses.
The whole force of the letter Peh has to do with the ideas of opening, bursting, and breaking forth
(cf. Where is the Promise of His Coming?). This all integrates
with the theme of Open Science, and more generally, the entire intellectual revolution that dominated
the Seventeenth Century. These ideas are all profoundly integrated with the content of the books on Spoke
17. I begin with a Rabbinical commentary on the Book of Esther.
Unveiling the Hidden
There is a profound Rabbinic tradition surrounding the Megillat (Scroll of) Esther which interprets
it as The Revelation of Things Hidden. The
reason for this is explained by
Rabbi Dov Ber Weisman in his article
Revealing the Hidden :
In Hebrew, the word "megillah" shares the same root as the word "reveal".
By contrast, the name "Esther" comes from the root word meaning "hidden".
Megillat Esther (the Book of Esther), therefore, translates to mean:
"Revealing the hidden." It teaches us a powerful lesson about cause and effect
that we can carry with us wherever we go. We must not be satisfied with
superficial evidence. Rather, we must delve into the root cause of the issues
that we face.
The "superficial evidence" refers to the way things seem on the face of things, at the surface.
This then links directly to the Peh KeyWord
Panim), and leads to the profound Rabbinical understanding
that relates the Book of Esther to Rationalism and Natural Law.
Rationalism and Natural Law
Can a logical person see the hand of God and deny its existence? Certainly. God wears a glove
called Nature. The Divine Name [Elohim] which signifies God's mastery over the universe,
had the numerical value of n86, the same as that of ,
the laws of nature. Nature truly exists; it is God's way of exercising control over creation.
Can one find natural causes for events? Yes' almost always there are good causes for every effect.
When God dispatches angels to do his bidding, they take the form of fires, winning lottery tickets,
business upturns, winds that push balls over goal posts,
aggressors - the entire panoply of causes and effects that make headlines and history books.
So we are always challenged to see the Hand inside the glove.
Rationalism and the belief in Natural Law are two of the most obvious hallmarks of the Scientific
Revolution. It is the essence of the question posed by scoffers in II Peter at the head of this page.
The above commentary is from Rabbi Nosson Scherman's introduction to
Purim - Its Observance and Significance , with the
subtitle "A presentation based on Talmudic and Traditional Sources." It is primarily an explanation of the
Book of Esther. Rabbi Sherman's concern with Natural Law and the apparent hiddenness of God is based on thousands
of years of traditional insight into Esther, whose very name means "I will hide" and in which there is not
a single explicit reference to God. This is very rare for a book in the Bible, and it begs and explanation.
Here is part of the answer provided by the ancient tradition:
The man or woman of genuine faith, the human being who elevates himself above
the mirage of cause-and-effect, merits a Divine response.
For God's behaviour towards people mirrors
their own actions. In the famous homiletical interpretation of the Baal Shem Tov, the Psalmist's
declaration that Hashem is your shade (Ps 121.5) can be rendered as Hashem is your shadow.
If he is kind to others, God will be generous with him; if he is tightfisted to others, God will not be
gracious with him. If he believes that God is everywhere and in control of everything ... then God
will shower His personal attention on him.
And conversely, if someone is convinced that every occurrence has a natural reason that
is its only true cause, then he is the person that God speaks of in that chilling refrain
in the Admonition: our casualness toward God's message to us, a message that is delivered by
motley agents, will beget a wrath of casualness on His part.
This means that if we find the reason for everything in natural causes, then God, our 'Shadow'
will treat us in kind. He will abandon us to chance, remove His Provindence from us, and leave us
to the mercies
of our enemies and the vagaries of uncontrolled nature.
Remember, all of these ideas are part of the traditional rabbinical analysis of the Book of Esther - the
seventeenth Book of the Bible. Note the profound integration with Peter's question, as discussed
at length in Where is the Promise of His Coming?. And now for
the clincher - all of this is characteristic of the attitude that was prominent in the
Scientific Revolution, which was based on the utter rejection of supernaturalism and the demand
that everything be explained in terms of natural cause and effect, as noted above in relation to
Doctrine of Uniformitarianism and the work of Isaac Newton.