The Legend of Korra Biblical Allusion

As I was trying to find a topic for our first allusion blog, nothing really came to my mind. Luckily, life has this way of dropping things/ideas right in front of me when I need them most. I was watching the season two premier of The Legend of Korra when it hit me. An entire season of one of my favorite shows that revolves around Korra trying to fulfill her role as the bridge between the physical and spiritual worlds, and how neglected spirits have become angry and have started wrecking havoc on her people? This is just brilliant! Who knew so much stuff could be hidden in a kid’s TV show?

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Just in case no one else is familiar with the show, here’s a bit of background information. The show is a spinoff of Avatar the Last Airbender. The world of these two series is filled with people who have the power to control, or “bend”, the elements, although not everyone has this ability. Most benders can only control one element, the one that is associated with the nation they’re from. So members of the Water Tribes control water, the Air nomads control air, the Earth Kingdom has power over earth, and the Fire Nation works with fire. However, the exception to this rule is the Avatar, a person that has the power of all four elements, has the power to connect with his/her past lives, and is the bridge between the real world and the spirit world. There is one Avatar alive at a time, and they cycle through the elements as they are reincarnated (water, earth, fire, air). This cycle’s Avatar is a member of the Southern Water tribe.

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So. Now to the allusion. The title of this Book (season) is Spirits, which is a huge clue as to what this season is all about.  So far, this season has taken place in the Southern Water Tribe, which is located near the South Pole. The Southern Tribe has fallen away from spiritual traditions, which has lead to the spirits becoming angry and attacking the people out at sea, much to the dismay of Chief Unalaq, who is visiting from the Northern Water Tribe. As the Glacial Spirits Festival is currently occurring, it is apparent that this once sacred festival has become a celebration of worldly things, and this does not go over well with the spirits, who control the balance of the world. It’s evident from this that the spirits can be viewed as a Yahweh-figure, and the Southern Water Tribe can be seen as a reflection of the young Hebrew nation. Also, since Avatar Korra is the bridge between the spirits and the physical world, she has a role as a Moses-figure in this world. With the help of Chief Unalaq, her uncle, Korra must learn to embrace her spiritual role in order to save her tribe from utter destruction at the hands of the spirits.

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Now, we all have read about how Moses was the spiritual leader of the Hebrew nation, as well as how crucial he was as a bridge between them and Yahweh. There are multiple occasions where Moses is left pleading with Yahweh for forgiveness for the people after they did something, for lack of a better word, stupid after having seen what the protagonist has done for them. For example, after Aaron and the rest of the Hebrew people create the golden calf to worship while Moses is receiving the Ten Commandments, he begs Yahweh to “Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people,” (Exodus 32:12). While the spirits so far do not necessarily speak, they are out to destroy the Southern Water Tribe, which can be seen in how they attack during the Glacial Spirits Festival.

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By understanding the story of Moses and the Hebrew people, a viewer can easily see why it is so important for the Avatar to restore the balance between the spiritual and physical worlds. If Korra is unable to bring her tribe back into the spirits favor, it could be the end of her people. So far, it is unclear whether her efforts will be successful or not. But hopefully, like Moses, she will be able to save her people from utter destruction.

Here’s a link to full episodes of this season, I used the first one (Rebel Spirits) for the allusion 🙂

http://www.nick.com/videos/clip/legend-of-korra-113-full-episode.html (Rebel Spirits)

http://www.nick.com/videos/legend-of-korra-videos (other episodes)

 

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Pictures:

http://santatizing.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/thelordsday.jpg?w=300&h=225

Where was Moses buried?

As we come to an end to the Pentateuch/Torah, we observe the death of Moses before the Israelites finally journey into the Promised Land. But something about the last chapter of Deuteronomy just seemed really strange to me. No one knows where the burial site of Moses is. 

 

 “So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day.” (Deuteronomy 34:5-6)

  

How can this be possible? I find it hard to believe that the Israelites would not have found the burial site of the person who led them for over forty years. But an even bigger question is where is he buried? Surely, in the over 3,400 years it’s been since his death, someone must have uncovered his grave? And why did the Protagonist feel the need to keep this place a secret? Unsurprisingly, there are several different theories on where Moses’ final resting place is located and why its location was kept from the Hebrew people. 

First, let’s try to conquer the where part. I only found two ideas on where the *actual* location of Moses’ burial site could be.

 

Theory #1: Moses was buried between Jericho and Jerusalem. 

This theory is from an Islamic perspective. The place is called Nebi Musa, and it’s located on the west side of the Jordan River (Nebi Musa). This is significant because the Promised Land is also west of the Jordan, and Moses wasn’t allowed to enter it because of his lack of faith in Yahweh. Another site goes into more detail about its location, saying that his burial site is “near a red hill, next to the road in Jericho” and that there’s “a mosque with Moses’ name” (Islamic Knowledge). This idea seems really plausible, but I’m not quite 100% positive that it’s the one. Personally, I don’t believe that the Protagonist or the Hebrew author would like the idea of Moses being buried west of the Jordan, seeing as he was prohibited from entering the Promised Land. But then again, this could be why they kept the location a secret if he was buried here.

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Theory #2: Moses was buried on Mount Nebo.

On the another side of things, many people who try to take a stab about the location of the burial place say that it’s located on the mountain where he died, Mount Nebo (Wikipedia). However the specific location of the mountain isn’t known. I also think that this could be answer. During the forty years of wandering through the wilderness, people were buried where they died. It wasn’t sanitary for the Hebrew nation to carry a dead person around for who knows how many years until they reached the Promised Land, so it makes sense to bury a person as soon as possible.

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I wasn’t able to find any other ideas on where Moses was buried, which I found to be really odd. Most people seem to agree that his remains have never been found, and use this to explain why his burial location is widely accepted as being unknown. However, there are several people who say that Moses’ remains haven’t been found because he wasn’t buried on Earth. Other people think that Moses is figuratively buried in the Torah, and he is only truly dead when the Torah is neglected and ignored (OzTorah). This makes a lot of sense to me, even though it doesn’t quite answer my question. As long as an author’s book is still read, he or she can live on through it long after death.

 

Most people seem to agree on why the Hebrew author and the Protagonist kept the location of Moses’ grave a secret. It seems to have been hidden so the Hebrew nation would not “worship his burial place” (Learn the Bible). If they knew where he was buried, the idea was that the Hebrew people would once again slip into idolatry with Moses being the one worshipped this time. And let’s face it; this is a highly likely possibility.

However, there’s one more idea out there that explains why the location is kept secret: he is to be one of the two end-time prophets/witnesses (Ted Montgomery). This theory goes along with the idea that Moses wasn’t buried on Earth. According to this source, Yahweh resurrected Moses in secret to await the eventual end of time. This theory also states that this is why Satan and Michael were in a dispute over the body of Moses in Jude 9. I’m not sure if I really believe that this is a solid answer to either of my questions, even though it does explain why Moses’ remains still have not been found to this day.

 

Unfortunately, all this research didn’t really answer where Moses is buried. It could be on the mountain where he died, or it could be between Jerusalem and Jericho. However, I do believe that it was kept hidden to keep the Hebrew people from slipping into idolatry after the loss of one of their greatest leaders. As of right now, the world may never know where Moses’ final resting place is. 

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Pictures:

Why were some animals considered unclean?

“And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, ‘Speak to the people of Israel, saying, these are the living things that you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth. Whatever parts the hoof and is cloven-footed and chews the cud, among the animals, you may eat.” (Leviticus 11:1-3)

“These you may eat, of all that are in the waters. Everything in the waters that has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers, you may eat.” (Leviticus 11:9)

  

The protagonist of the Hebrew narrative is very well known for laying out many laws that are very specific for his people to follow. These laws cover everything in the lives of the ancient Hebrew nation in order to set them apart from the surrounding nations. Chapter eleven in Leviticus stuck out in my mind in particular because it discusses what foods were “clean” and “unclean.” Why on earth would the protagonist feel the need to tell the Hebrew people what they could and couldn’t eat? After doing some research on clean and unclean animals, I found several theories that could make sense. 

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Theory #1: God wanted his people to be holy.

We have frequently talked about the fact that Yahweh tells his people to “Be holy because I am holy.” Be different because I am different. Along with this, some people think that the Hebrew people “would have associated the reference to clean animals with the animals God had set apart for their diet as well as what were used for sacrifice” (GotQuestions).

Many people still follow these guidelines today, including Muslims. One site states that many still follows them because they want to “send a message that they are able to make choices and show their commitment to the religion” (Santita Dwi Putri).

So basically people, both then and today, follow Yahweh’s decrees in order to be holy. Which does make sense to a certain point. The Hebrew author wanted to make sure that the people would set themselves apart from surrounding nations in order to be different and better worship the protagonist. But there has to be more to it than that.

 

After the first theory didn’t really give me an answer that I fully agreed with, I started thinking. What if the “unclean” foods were the foods that could potentially harm the Hebrew nation? What if they were meant to be animals that contained bacteria that were deadly to humans?

Theory #2- “Unclean” foods could cause disease

Most sources I found on this perspective mainly focused on the consumption of pigs. One site says that the consumption of pork can potentially cause more than seventy different diseases (Islamic Voice). Also, it is said that there are at least nineteen worms found in pigs, including one that causes trichinosis (Yahweh Blog). WebMD goes on to state that there are at least 39 diseases that people can catch directly from animals.

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 So it’s obvious that eating pork and other “unclean” animals could potentially kill the Hebrew people. It’s possible that the protagonist was protecting his people from harm so that they could worship him. Or that the author was trying to warn his fellow people that these animals were to be avoided for their own good.

 

In conclusion, I think that in a way, the Hebrew people were to avoid the “unclean” animals simply because the protagonist didn’t want them to be used in the worship of him. They were to be holy and set apart, in every way possible. But I also think that there is a bigger reason. Diseases were a serious problem in ancient times, since they lacked most medicines that we have today. Since these animals could potentially kill his people, Yahweh could have prohibited their consumption in order to protect them. Either way, the Hebrew author felt that this was important for the people to follow. Personally, I don’t think I would be able to follow all of these food laws in today’s world. I like bacon and ham too much 🙂

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Pictures:

http://heartofwisdom.com/images/blog/unclean.jpg 

The Bread Problem

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As I was reading through Exodus this week, I noticed that several things stuck out to me:

  1. Exodus tends to be a tad bit redundant.
  2. There’s something about the bread.

“They shall all eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it.” (Exodus 12:8) 

“Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day, you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.” (Exodus 12:15)

“And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread” (Exodus 12:17)

“…and unleavened bread, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers smeared with oil.” (Exodus 29:2)

Okay, we get it. Unleavened bread was very important to the Hebrew people. But why? What’s the big deal about unleavened bread? Why did the protagonist, Yahweh, insist that His people observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and only allowed unleavened bread to be used in worship of Him? Why such prejudice against leaven? So naturally I turned to the Internet in order to find an answer that made sense. And this is what I found…

First of all, what even is leaven? 

Leaven – an agent, such as yeast, that causes batter or dough to rise, especially by fermentation (The Free Dictionary)

So that makes sense. Leaven is what makes bread nice and fluffy. So why was the protagonist against it?

Theory One:

“So the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading bowls bound up in their cloaks on their shoulders.” (Exodus 12:34) 

We all know that the Hebrew people were eager to get out of Egypt before the Egyptians formed an angry mob and slaughtered them all. So as they were fleeing the country they didn’t exactly have time to wait for the bread to rise. One source states that by observing the Feast of Unleavened Bread and eating only unleavened bread during the Passover, believers are simply “remembering that the Israelites left Egypt hurriedly, without having even leavened their bread” (Think Atheist). Another source, Reformed Answers, also lists this as a possible reason for the importance of unleavened bread.

To me, this theory makes me think of why we celebrate Thanksgiving today. And I agree with it, for the most part. But to me, it doesn’t answer the question of why the protagonist insists that only unleavened bread must be used in worship, which led to the next theory.

Theory Two

“In the Bible, leaven is almost always symbolic of sin.” (Got Questions).

Whoa. That makes a lot of sense. Why would an all powerful creator that detested sin want something that symbolizes sin to be used in worship of him? Another source goes on to state that the removal of leaven is a part of the purification of the household during the Passover (Reformed Answers). Alright. Several people seem to agree that leaven symbolizes sin.

BUT WHY?!

One site says that “Like leaven which permeates the whole lump of dough, sin will spread in a person, a church, or a nation, eventually overwhelming and bringing its participants into its bondage and eventually to death” (Got Questions). Wow. It’s kind of hard to think that a simple ingredient that is used in the bread we eat is symbolic for something that is perceived as evil.

Another site lists these three reasons as to why leaven symbolizes sin:

  1. Sin grows relentlessly
  2. Sin spreads insidiously
  3. The sin of pride puffs up (Bible Study Guides)

Honestly, it’s hard for me to imagine food growing relentlessly, or spreading insidiously. But then again, I have never personally made bread or even used yeast, so it could be that.

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In conclusion, I think the reason the author of the Hebrew narrative placed so much emphasis on eating unleavened bread comes from both theories. They used it in the Passover meal as a remembrance of the trials they faced in Egypt and the miracle that led them out of there. Also, I believe that to the Hebrew people, having leaven symbolize sin was their way of explaining their beliefs to their peers and the world.

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*And on a completely random and somewhat unrealated side note, all this redundancy (and one of my sources) reminded me of a scene from one of my favorite movies (Monty Python and the Holy Grail). If you haven’t seen the movie, you really need to check it out sometime, it’s hilarious (unless you’re easily offended) 🙂

What’s in A Name?

“No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.” (Genesis 17:5)

“And God said to Abraham, ‘As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.” (Genesis 17:15)

“Then he said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” (Genesis 32:28)

 

Why are names so important in the Bible? And why did God decide to change the names of certain characters? These are just a few of the questions that I couldn’t get out of my head while reading Genesis. After doing some research, I think I have finally found the answers I’m looking for.

 

Question #1:

Why are names so important in the Bible?

 It’s obvious that in ancient times, a person’s name was very important and precious. But why? According to John J. Parsons, ancient Hebrew names “had symbolic and often prophetic significance, so much that the name of a person literally was identified with that person’s life, reputation, character, and even spiritual destiny” (Introduction to the Hebrew Names and Titles of God). From the point of view of someone who lives in our day and age, this is kind of hard to believe, but in a weird way it makes sense (at least to me it does). To think that a person’s name, generally given to them at childbirth, pretty much determined their future is crazy, especially when you live in a time where some people actually name their children names like “Hashtag” and “Kick.” 

 

Question #2:

Why did God decide to change the names of certain characters, specifically Abram, Sarai, and Jacob?

Most of the sources I found pretty much agreed that when God changes a name it symbolizes the changing of that person’s destiny in some way. One website states that while we don’t know God’s reasoning for why He changes names, it may be His way of telling that person that they have a new mission in life. (Got Questions). I believe that this explanation fits most with Abram/Abraham and Sarai/Sarah.

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However, another source states that the change of a name “signifies a change in the status of that individual” (Is, Was, and Will Be). The same source goes on to say that change in general “always signifies a type and shadow of spiritual growth.” This applies to all three of the characters in question. For Abraham (“Father of Many Nations”) and Sarah (“princess of many”), they are elevated from childless elders to the founders of many nations. 

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As for Jacob/Israel (“God strives”), I believe that it shows that he has grown in his spirit and that he is ready to do his part in the fulfillment of the covenant God made with Abraham. But although God changed Jacob’s name to Israel in Genesis 32, he is still often called Jacob throughout the rest of the book.

 As I was reading, this got to be really frustrating after a while. Why on earth would God change Jacob’s name to Israel, but still call him Jacob? The best answer I could find says that “he was called Jacob as long as he was living in rebellion” (Biblical Hermenutics). This answer actually makes a lot of sense to me. It’s the equivalent of a parent using a child’s full name when he or she is in trouble.

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Personally, I feel that both of the theories on why God changes names are right. In my opinion, He changed the destinies of Abram, Sarai, and Jacob when they had spiritually matured enough to deserve a change in status. As for Jacob/Israel, I think that calling him Jacob was God’s way of telling him that he needed to remember his past and where God had brought him from.

 

Pictures:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-L-RH8Es-950/T6Vk1_viArI/AAAAAAAALAY/X1RbFFbjsOo/s200/abraham-stars.jpg

http://ubdavid.org/youthworld/winners1/graphics/6_abraham-sarah-baby.jpg

http://schikelgruber.net/images/JACOB-ANGEL.jpg