05 November 2011

Standing up

There's a pun at the core of the sheviit laws. The word tvuah, which means ‘that which is brought in from the earth’ (Leviticus 25:16), and which is the only thing that can be transacted in when real property is devised, comes from the same word as 'ki tavouh el ha'aretz' the contextual frame for all the laws of sheviit (Leviticus 25:2). 
The occupation of the Land of Israel defines the people of Israel as produce in relation to the land. They are tavouh to the land in contrast to the tevuah they bring out from the land. In both cases they do not gain any direct purchase of the real estate itself. 
It ties to the story of Sodom and to God's concern about the imminent destruction of the land itself. That episode revolves around the word maqom, a site of standing up. 
The 'm' prefix denotes a site of some action: it makes the verb suffix into a noun denoting the site where the verb form occurs. Hence miqdash is the site where consecration takes place; mizbeach is the site where slaughter takes places; mitbach, where cooking takes place, etc. 
The episode of Sodom is introduced in Genesis 18:16 begins with the words "vayaqumu misham ha'anashim". Then, when YHWH deliberates about bringing Avraham into the decision to devastate the land of the Jordan valley, He says "lemaan havih YHWH al Avraham es asher diber alav." (Genesis 18:19) 
The havih that YHWH does to Avraham is part of the complex of actions having to do with the place where standing up occurs. 

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