Thursday, November 15, 2018

Witch lights

You will not fear the terror of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
(Ps 91:5)

The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.
(Ps 121:6)

These are rather obscure allusions. Ross offers a naturalistic interpretation. He thinks they refer to surprise attacks at night. A military assault or invasion.

By contrast, Goldingay presents evidence that Ps 91:5 may have its background in nocturnal demons, although he's noncommittal on that interpretation. And Ps 121:6 might be a comparable metaphor. 

On a possibly related note is the disputed identity of Azazel in Lev 16 (cf. Lev 17:17). Michael Heiser defends a supernatural interpretation:

There is, though, the danger of anachronism when we use later traditions to interpret earlier texts.

But let's assume for argument's sake that these have supernatural referents. That's a reasonable, albeit inconclusive identification. 

I thought about these biblical passages when reading this:

Now, I'd like to have more corroboration. And this raises a similar issue. Assuming the reports are accurate, are these mysterious lights natural, but unexplained phenomena–or occultic entities? 

Is this the kind of thing that the biblical passages are alluding to? Since we don't live in the ancient Near East, we don't have the same experience or frame of reference. But given the proliferation of witchcraft in the ancient Near East, would there be analogous phenomena? 

In that regard it might be instructive to do a cross-cultural study of witchcraft in American Indian tribes. Are there similar reported phenomena?

Finally, you can see how this luminous phenomena, if genuine, might feed into ufology, where secular observers reinterpret their experience in reference to categories supplied by scifi movies. 

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