Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bribe : what say you ?

爱我的人说:

不可受贿赂;因为贿赂能叫明眼人变瞎了,又能颠倒义人的话。( 23:8
Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the innocent. ( Exodus 23:8 )





爱自己的人说:

看情形咯!
It depends !

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jonah's Gourd

There are different accounts of what was really the plant mentioned in the Biblical Book of Jonah.

This is how the New International Version ( NIV ) puts it :
 5 Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city ( Nineveh ). There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the LORD God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. 8When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
   “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”

 10 But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”



Other versions of bible translate it differently too, generally based on Hebrew Masoretic Texts, and Latin translations of Bible :
kikayon ןקיקין in Hebrew ( BHS 1977 );
hederam in Latin, which means ‘ivy’ ( Sacra Vulgata 1899 );
ivy ( Wycliffe 1395, Douay-Rheims 1609 );
gourd
( Darby 1854 , KJV 1611 , ERV 1885, ASV 1901, JPS 1917 );
vine ( CEV 1995 ); 
broad-leafed tree ( MSG 2002 );
a plant ( NAS 1971, GNT 1976, NKJV 1982, GW 1995, ESV 2001 ); 
蓖麻, in Mandarin, pronounced bìmā , which is castor oil plant ( Ricinus communis ) ( CUV 和合本1919 ).








Kikayon ( Hebrew ) – A Plant - Broad-leafed Tree

The older Hebrew versions indicate it as ‘kikayon’, which is not very determinative of the plant species. 
A conservative translation would simply put is as ‘a plant’, not even an indication of the shape or size of the plant.  But it would most probably a broad-leafed, be it a tree, a shrub, or a liana, as does most terrestrial plants do, except palms, grasses etc.

From the scripture, we know that it is leafy and capable to provide shade over Jonah’s shelter to ease his discomfort.  This fits the practice of training a gourd vine over a shelters, to help cooling down the shelter’s temperature.

Jonah was very happy about the plant, as we were told ( Jonah 4:6 ).  Yet it is very subjective of a man’s happiness, and his level of expectations.  So, there are still room for discussion about the leafiness of the plant.

However, it is not to be taken into consideration the growth rate of the plant, of which it seems to grow overnight into a shady plant.  This is of course God’s work, and it is not necessarily to our comprehension.  





Hederam ( Latin ) – Ivy - Vine

The later Latin translation, put is as ‘hederam’, which means ivy.  Hederam is an accusative singular of ‘hedera’.  Today’s plants classification uses Hedera to name ivy, a genus of 12 – 15 species of evergreen climbing or ground-creeping woodly plants in the family Araliaceae. 
Some newer Bible versions translated from the Latin Vulgate seems to maintain the ‘hedera’ translation of ‘ivy’ ( Wycliffe, Duoy-Rheims ).  Ivy is a climbing plants, thus falls into the category of ‘vine’ ( CEV ).

Ivies ( genus : Hedera ) are natives to Europe ( H.helix, H.colchica, H.cypria, H.Iberica, H.pastuchowii, H.hibernica ), Macaronesia ( H.canariensis, H.maderensis, H.azorica ), NW Africa ( H. algeriensis, H.maroccana ), and Asia ( H.nepalensis, H.rhombea ).  None is close to the city of Nineveh, which was ancient Assyrian city in present day Iraq. 



Gourd

JPS’ ( Jewish Publication Society of America ) Hebrew translation of The Holy Scriptures in 1917 was based on KJV, thus maintained the usage of the word ‘gourd’. 

The word ‘gourd’ also appears in OT’s 2nd Book of Kings, where Elisha’s servant harvested gourds from wild vine and cook a pot of stew of it ( 2Kings 4:39, KJV ).  The wild gourd seems to be poisonous ( 2Kings 4:40 ), yet edible after cooked.
 
Gourd refers to the plants of the family Cucurbitaceae.  The term is also used for the plants’ fruits which include crops like cucumber, squashes, pumpkins, luffas, and melons.  However, the term ‘gourd’ is more specifically refers to the hard-rinded inedible, dried, and hard fruit shells of the plants of 2 Cucurbitaceae genera Lagenaria and Cucurbita, which are often used for ornament, instruments, utensil, and vessels.  

But the type of gourd remains a mystery.




蓖麻 ( castor oil plant,  Ricinus communis )

The CUV ( Chinese Union Version, 和合本 ) was translated from English Revised Version.  ERV was revised from KJV to adapt the old English language to modern version.  While both ERV and KJV uses the word ‘gourd’, but CUV uses ‘蓖麻 castor oil plant’ instead.

The word ‘kikayon’ is philologically appears to be connected with ‘kiki’, an Egyptian name for the plant Ricinus communis.  R.communis is native to southeastern Mediterranean Basin, Eastern Africa, and India.  Its leaves are large, with >5 lobes, whence its name of Palma Christi. 

It is planted for its seeds, of which oil are extracted from them.  The castor oil is known for its medicinal properties. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

St. Peter’s fish ???

St. Peter’s fish is Tilapia , a group of fish of the Tilapiini tribe ( commonly known as tilapiine cichlids ) of the Cichlidae family. 

Tilapia is the name broadly referred to some species of cichlid fish of the Tilapiini tribe, of the genus Tilapia, Sarotherodon or Oreochromis.  Tilapia inhabit a variety of tropical fresh water habitats. Due to their adaptability to various tropical habitats, IUCN list Tilapia as one of World’s 100 Worst Alien Invasive Species.  However they cannot tolerate cold temperature.

The genus name ‘Tilapia’ was introduced by Andrew Smith, a Scottish in 1840, from Tswana word ‘thiape’ which means fish.  Tswana is a language belongs to the Bantu group of the Niger-Congo languages, which is the national and majority language of Botswana. 
Since Tilapia is so widely distributed, it has many names in many languages and dialects.    It is known as amnon in Hebrew.  It is known as luofei ( 罗非鱼) in China,  Wu-Kuo ( 吴郭鱼 ) in Taiwan, and  feizhou ( 非洲鱼 ) in Malaysia.

The name ‘St. Peter’s fish’ comes from the story in the Bible about the apostle Peter catching a fish that carried a coin in its mouth.  Though the passage does not name the fish, it is most likely to be Sarotherodon galilaeus galilaeus.

A few other Tilapia ( Astatotilapia flaviijesephi, Oreochromis aureus, O. niloticusTilapia zilii, Tristamella sacra, T. simonies intermedia, T. simonis, T. mossambicus ) are also found in the Sea of Galilee, where the event took place. 

Some suggests that the fish would have been Tristamella simonis ( synonym Chromis simonis ).  This fish has a mouth large enough to accommodate a coin.  The male takes some 200 eggs into its mouth, and the hatched fish continue to be sheltered there for a number of weeks.  It is equally possible for the fish to be a Sarotherodon galilaeus galilaeus, as it is too is a mouthbrooder.


The name also refers to Zeus faber, but it is not found in the Sea of Galilee. 


There are some 11 genus in the Tilapiini tribe, of which 3 are commercially preferred for their large size, rapid growth and palatability: Oreochromis, Sarotherodon, and Tilapia.   
In 2000, Tilapia is the 5th most important fish in fish farming.
China is the largest Tilapia producer in the world, seconded by Egypt.

Tilapia has very low levels of mercury, as they are fast-growing and short-lived with primarily herbivorous diet.
They are low in saturated fat, low in calorie, low in carbohydrate and low in sodium protein.
They are rich in phosphorus, niacin, selenium, vitamin B12 and potassium.
However, farm raised Tilapias has a high fat content due to the feed.

Tilapia serve as a natural, biological control for most aquatic plant.  They consume floating aquatic plants, submerges plants, and most forms of algae.  States of Arkansas and Arizona keeps Tilapia to help purify pond and lakes by consuming aquatic vegetation.
In Kenya, Tilapia help control mosquitoes’ larvae, of which the adult females cause malaria.



Biblical Account – Matthew 17 ( New International Version )

24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”
 25 “Yes, he does,” he replied.
   When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”
 26 “From others,” Peter answered.
   “Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”



Commentary
IVP New Testament Commentary

Adult Jewish male paid an annual 2-drachma tax ( Exodus 30:13-16 ) for the upkeep of the Jerusalem temple.

As usual, Jesus knows in advance Peter’s question ( Matthew 17:25 ).  He also does not regard the poll tax as a binding on himself or Peter, but recognizes that the tax collectors may.  He thus does not rebuke Peter for committing him; he wishes to avoid unnecessary cause for misunderstanding that might turn people away from his gospel unnecessary.  Jesus has offended members of the religious establishment before ( Matthew 15:12-14 ), but this is an unnecessary ‘stumbling block’ because it addresses one’s own rights rather than the truth of God’s kingdom ( Matthew 18:6 ).

Jesus’ point here is similar to Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 9 and 10:29-33 : one should sacrifice one’s own privileges for the sake of the gospel.  Head of poll taxes normally listed specific exceptions who would not have to pay.  Conquerors subjected conquered peoples, not their own subjects, to taxation.  Priests were exempt from the 2-drachma tax, so in later times were rabbis.  Most significant here, dependents of a king were naturally exempt from his taxes.

The 4-crachma coin probably is a Tyrian stater, precisely enough to pay 2 persons’ temple dues.  Following an old Greek story, some Jewish stories of uncertain date speak of God blessing pious people by leading them to find precious objects in fish.  If Peter knew of such stories, the moral of Jesus’ causing him to find money in a fish would not be lost on him.  This is irony of a sort  : the King’s children can pay the tax because the King gives them the money to do so.  Jesus can take care of his people who walk close to him.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Joseph's Coat = Amaranthus tricolor

Jospeh’s coat is Amaranthus tricolor.  It is native to South America, yet may of its varieties are widely distributed all around the world. 

Joseph’s coat or A. tricolor sometimes interchangeably refer to other amaranths, A. gangeticus, A. dubius or any of its species.  It is because there are very few distinguished characters among ±70 species of the Amaranthus genus, thus making it difficult to differentiate them. 

A. tricolor, as the name suggested, has striking yellow, red and green foliage.  The leaves may be eaten as a salad vegetables, as well as cooked as a leafy vegetable.



Biblical Account ( Genesis 37 )

Joseph’s father Jacob favoured him and gave Joseph as a gift when he was 17 years of age.  As a result, he was envied by his brothers, who saw the special coat as an indication that Joseph would assume the family leadership.

Jacob may had favoured Joseph most out of his 12 sons, from the fact that Joseph was the son of Rachel, Jacob’s first love.

His brother’s suspicious grew when Joseph told them of his two dreams in which all the brothers bowed down to him.   His brothers then plotted to kill him, had not the eldest brother Reuben interposed.  Reuben persuaded them instead to throw Joseph into a pit and secretly planned to rescue him later. 

However, while Reuben was away, they others sold Joseph to Ishmaelite merchants for 20 pieces of silver.  The brothers then dipped Joseph’s coat in goat blood and showed it to their father, saying that Joseph had been torn apart by wild beasts

Friday, July 8, 2011

Job's Tear = Coix lacryma-jobi

Job’ tear is Coix lacryma-jobi, a tall grain-bearing tropical plant of the family Poaceae ( grass family ) native to East Asia.  It is known as vjanti beads ( Sanskrit ), Juzudama 数株玉 ( Japanese ), yulmu 율무 ( Korean ), bali ( Malay ), luk dueai  ลูกเดือย ( Thai ).   In mandarin, its called 川谷 ( pinyin : chuān gǔ ) or 薏苡 ( pinyin : yì yǐ ) for the plant, and 薏仁 ( pinyin : yì rén ) for the grains.  They are sometimes also referred as coix seeds.
It has several synonyms : C. agrestis, C. arundinacea, C. exalatata, C. lacryma.

Job’s tear gets its name from the droplet-shaped seeds of the plant that resemble tears.  It is also related to the biblical man of the Old Testament’s Book of Job, who endured great suffering.  

The specific epithet lacryma-jobi, also derived from the tear-producing lacrimal grand located near the eyes.





It is often mistakenly referred  as Chinese pearl barley, despite the fact that its not same as barley ( Hordeum vulgare ), which is 大麦.

There are 2 varieties :
Coix lacryma-jobi var lacryma-jobi which has hard shelled pseudocarps which are very hard, pearly white, oval structures used as beads for making rosaries, necklaces, etc.
Coix lacryma-jobi var ma-yuen which is harvested as a cereal crop and is used medicinally in parts of Asia.


In Korea, a thick drink called yulmu cha 율무차 is made from powdered Job’s tear.
In Chinese cuisine, 薏米水 ( pinyin : yì mí shǔi ) is prepared by simmering whole polished Job’s tear in water and sweetening with sugar.
In Korea and China, distilled liquor are also made from the grain.
In Japan, it is used to make vineger.