Monday, April 04, 2016

Away with you!

In the geography of the ancient Near East, deserts were seen as liminal in-between places representing the zone between civilization and order, on the one hand, and chaos and disorder, on the other; between life, on the one hand, and death, on the other. To be cast out of a community into the desert was to be sent away from the ordered human world and thereby to lose one’s social status. In the symbolic thinking of ancient Israel the barren desert, associated with death, was further away on the holiness spectrum from the temple, associated with the living God. It is not that going into the wilderness made one unclean, but simply that the wilderness was symbolically further from the life end of the spectrum and as such represented uncleanness.— The Biblical Cosmos, page 56

<idle musing>
Which is why the Akkadian exorcist spells and Hittite scapegoat ritual, to say nothing of the Day of Atonement in Israel, sent the evil spirit into the wilderness. It was their natural home.
</idle musing>

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