Saturday, September 02, 2006

nov jIH - Alien am I!

'The puH DIchDaq ghobe' taH sold Daq perpetuity, vaD the puH ghaH mine; vaD SoH 'oH novpu' je yIn as foreigners tlhej jIH.

'The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; for you are strangers and live as foreigners with me. Lev 25:23

(click for podcast)

In the catalog of useful Klingon expressions, the Conversational Klingon learning tape offers this phrase and advice:

"you might need (help) in an emergency. You may have to be a little persistent to get a Klingon to come to your aid. ...not because they are ignoring you, or savoring your discomfort, it is just that what Terrans consider dangerous and unpleasant a Klingon usually finds exhilarating and enjoyable. So, if no ­one comes to your aid at first, shout out the phrase:

"I am not a Klingon."
{tlhIngan jIHbe'.}

This will make your plight explicit and a Klingon is sure to respond. "

Now, I'd note that another way you might state this idea is to say:

"nov jIH" / I am an alien.

Nov - alien, is our word for today. For here in Leviticus, we are reminded that our attitude is to BE an alien, or a "stranger and sojourner" in this world - in Hebrew the words are "ger," someone who stops as a guest, and "towshab," a temporary resident.

This passage from Leviticus is part of a section that covers legislation involving the year of Jubilee. The rules are ones that we would find challenging - as the Life Application Bible notes:

It included canceling all debts, freeing all slaves, and returning to its original owners all land that had been sold. There is no indication in the Bible that the Year of Jubilee was ever carried out. If Israel had followed this practice faithfully, they would have been a society without permanent poverty.

The point that captures my attention are the words:

vaD SoH 'oH novpu' je yIn as foreigners tlhej jIH.
for you are strangers and live as foreigners with me.

We're being told here that our lives are not to be rooted, pinned down to this world - as Larry Norman said "don't mind me, I'm only visiting this planet." If we can hold fast to that perspective, then we'll keep from getting weighed down and anchored by this world. The apostle Peter said it this way in his first letter:

Dear brothers and sisters, you are foreigners and aliens here. So I warn you to keep away from evil desires because they fight against your very souls. (1 Peter 2:11 NLT)

To me, one of the joys of imaginative stories of rockets and travel through space is the notion that we are on a journey, that our residence here is not perpetual. And I have to admit, it HAS pleased me that a number of modern translations have used the word "alien" to translate some of the Greek and Hebrew terms for wayfarer, stranger and sojourner.

When we recognize the journey we are on, the eternal home we believers approach through life - we can discover that all our priorities will re-arrange.

Looking for help from our Lord? Perhaps we do need to call out

"nov jIH," I AM an alien!


denise said...

Ok, now wait. If someone yelled out: "Help me! I'm not a Klingon!" Would the Klingons really render aid or would they just say, "Mmm, easy pickin's!" and steal all my stuff?

Just curious.

Love the podcast!

Joel said...

Well - the Klingon language tapes ADVISE you to say "I am not a Klingon"... so I think you're safe. (It would be dishonourable to take advantage of "easy pickin's" - you're thinking of Ferengi, I think.... :)