Saturday, November 11, 2006


Hoch Suy' je cattle, HIja', je the Ha'DIbaH vo' the yotlh, the toQmey vo' the sky, the fish vo' the biQ'a', je whatever passes vegh the Hemey vo' the seas

All sheep and oxen, yes, and the animals of the field, the birds of the sky, the fish of the sea, and whatever passes through the paths of the seas. Psalm 8:7-8

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Someday, somewhere out in the galaxy, perhaps human explorers will be faced with a whole new zoology - never-seen-before creatures for which they just won't have names. Should there be sentient natives, perhaps they'll need to ask what they're called. Otherwise, like Adam, they'll need to come up with names.

This is a problem here on planet Earth as well. Translating the Bible into English (or Klingon) we need to know the correct word that maps to the animal being described. Here at the end of Psalm 8, David lists a catalog of all the creatures over which humans have dominion - and you'll see my KLV only had terms for a few of the English words. Our knowledge of Klingon is still limited.

But worrying about being sure that tsone' (Hebrew for sheep) was something like a Klingon "Suy'", or the Klingon "toQmey" for birds was the same as Hebrew tsippowr, is missing the point. David is not giving us a precise catalog, anymore than suggesting God has fingers and hands in the earlier verses. Instead he is giving an example of the extent of creation that we are charged with tending.

It was interesting to note in several commentaries that the authors felt the book of James refers obliquely to this list of animals when he says:

vaD Hoch kind vo' animal, toQ, creeping Doch, je Doch Daq the biQ'a', ghaH tamed, je ghajtaH taH tamed Sum mankind.

For every kind of animal, bird, creeping thing, and thing in the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed by mankind. James 3:7

after which he concludes:

but no one can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:8 NLT

Nature is vast, and we humans have found ourselves charged with its care. Yet for all the power we exercise over nature - James is right to see that the limit of this power is not on the outside - but within our hearts. We can indeed tame all manner of beasts, and someday we may travel out deep into space, to other stars, but whatever we can do out there, we need to find the help first to command the power of our tongue and words.

James offers advice in that direction, too:

If you are wise and understand God's ways, live a life of steady goodness so that only good deeds will pour forth. And if you don't brag about the good you do, then you will be truly wise! James 3:13 NLT

Having the words to name all creatures may be good, and it is important that our care and taming of beasts is an important part of our place in God's plan. But true mastery, and truly living out that plan requires we turn to Him for wisdom, and the power to live according to God's word. And don't worry, he wants to give you that power:

'ach chugh vay' vo' SoH lacks valtaHghach, chaw' ghaH tlhob vo' joH'a', 'Iv nob Daq Hoch liberally je Hutlh reproach; je 'oH DichDaq taH nobpu' Daq ghaH.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach; and it will be given to him. James 1:5

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