Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Seven Swords, Easter and Pentecost

Some weeks ago I asked if anyone knew the identity of the seven swords of the Dawn Treader. Here's one possible suggestion.

We are in the period known as counting the Omer, the 50 days between Passover and Pentecost, the Jewish feast of the first-fruits of the harvest. From this week's excellent commentary here on current events in this context, I noted this paragraph
The counting of seven weeks came to reflect seven character attributes associated with key divine qualities, each of which we emulate in fulfilling our creation in God's image: Chesed (Love/Grace); Gevurah (Discipline/Rigor); Tiferet (Beauty/Compassion);Netzach (Victory); Hod (Glory); Yesod (Foundation/Righteous Loyalty); and Malkhut(Majesty/Leadership). All seven weeks and all seven days of the week each correspond to a different attribute. This results in a seven-by-seven grid of virtue-pairs, traits we must cultivate in preparation for reliving our ancestors' spiritual elevation as freed slaves receiving the Torah and becoming both "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exod. 19:6).
On the question of the origin of the name Easter, I came across this article showing several possibilities. There's a cute story about the venerable Bede who may not have been so venerable in his surmise on this question. Finally the article suggests this:
Scholars who study the history of languages have established that the roots of the word "Easter" are found in the Proto-Indo-European language, the prehistoric language that is the common ancestor of nearly all European and Southeast Asian languages. The Proto-Indo-European word "aus," meaning "to shine," gave birth to the Proto-Germanic word "austra," which, in turn, gave life to the Old English word "Easterdæg," the predecessor of our modern English "Easter." In short, the origins of the word are found in a verb meaning "to shine."

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