Friday, March 5, 2010

Jenson on Ezekiel ix

Specifically, Ezekiel ix, 3-8 (p. 84):
jensonThe Lord instructs the recording angel: he is to go through Jerusalem and mark the foreheads of those in the city who have remained faithful - obviously not an overwhelming number, since there is one angel to do this and six to follow him and destroy the rest. There is wordplay here: the word for "mark" is also the name of the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, tau. We could therefore translate "make a tau on the forehead" - which indeed is how rabbinic tradition read the passage (Levey 1990: 37). Thus we know the shape of the mark; in the orthography of ancient Hebrew the tau was a cross. It is impossible not to notice: the angel is told to perform the very gesture of baptismal chrism and of Ash Wednesday's marking with ashes. [source]