צו לצו צו לצו קו לקו קו לקו קו לקו (God Sounds Dada) (Isaiah 28)

dada

In the synagogue today, the haftarah reading –proud crowns, drunkards of Ephraim, wilted flowers, filthy tables covered by vomit so that no space is left, God, something strong and might, storm of hail hurled with force to the ground. But what do the people hear? צו  לצו צו לצו קו  לקו קו לקו קו לקו.  The King James translates this strange phonetic byte as “precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line.” The JPS translation gets the meaning better, translating these words as “mutter upon mutter, murmur upon murmur (Is. 28:10, 13). Both translations miss how in the Hebrew the word of God is supposed to sound like to people without clear understanding, pure gibberish: tzav la’tzav tzav la’tzav kav la’kav kav la’kav, kav, la’kav. That’s what God (really) sounds like (to most of us).

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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