Tuesday, June 30, 2009

X-ing out your enemy

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My word of the week for ABC Wednesday is . . . XENOPHOBIA.
(zěn'ə-fō'bē-ə, zē'nə-) Fear and contempt of strangers or foreign peoples

( This photo needs to be clicked on, for sure! )
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In ancient Egypt the custom was to inscribe on a figurine the name of your enemy and appropriate curses. Then in an ancient ritual the figurine was smashed and the curses were activated, in the belief that this would break the enemy's power.
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One such clay figurine bears on its chest the name Rusulimum (Jerusalem) and names of other enemy Canaanite cities.
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I myself almost fainted when I first saw this display at Jerusalem's Tower of David Museum!!
What an idea! Talk about the power of words . . . Talk about hatred of foreign peoples . . . !
Can you imagine doing such a thing? (BTW, "thing" and "word" are both expressed in Hebrew by the word davar. In the old days, a word was not just a sound you heard. No. A word was a thing in itself, having its own existence, carrying power. And if you know a person's name, you have power over him; you call out his name and he stops and turns around.)
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The clay figurine is a copy of the original, courtesy of the Royal Museum of Art and History, Brussels.
The execration (!) text is from Egypt, 19th to 18th century BCE.
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execration
1382, from Latin execrationem, noun of action from execrari "to hate, curse," from ex- "out" + sacrare "to devote to holiness or to destruction, consecrate," from sacer "sacred"
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1. the act of execrating
2. a curse or imprecation: "The execrations of the prophet terrified the sinful multitude."
3. the object execrated; a thing held in abomination
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See also "execration" in Jeremiah's strong words: Jer. 42:18.
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Shalom, dear blog readers, and blessings be upon you.
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36 comments:

RuneE said...

No one can doubt that you are an archaeologist! Thank you for an interesting post. Xenophobia is all too common - a fact you of course know all about. And it is a world-wide problem.

I had heard of the old Egyptian custom, but never seen one "in the flesh" (or clay?). The belief in this kind of Voodoo has always eXisted and I'm afraid that it always will.

PS Thank you for the comment! I quite agree with you about the level of knowledge necessary for that kind of language treatment... ;-)

James said...

Sort of reminds me of a voodoo doll.

photowannabe said...

A touching,soul stirring post for the letter X.
I guess there is nothing new under the sun. Man's hatred toward man is so ugly.
Thanks for this though provoking post.

bennie and patsy said...

HATE is so evil.
In your post about tax on fruits and vegetables. Here in Arkansas we got a 01 cent reduction in state grocery tax in effect Wednesday and in 2007 a tax cut reduction in the state sales tax on groceries -halved from 6 percent to 3 percent. That was a promised in Gov. Mike Beebes campaign in 2006.
Patsy

JM said...

What an interesting post, Dina! I've been in Egypt but I don't remember being told about the curse/smashing thing. Thank you!

JoAnn's-D-Eyes said...

Very interesting X-post I always love to read a story behing the picture, Thanks for sharing.

Happy ABC Dina!(my X is up)

Creative greetings from JoAnn

Cloudia said...

A most worthy and interesting post, Dina! Shalom Aloha

Comfort Spiral

Sara said...

...and may your blessings return to you a hundredfold!

This was fascinating. People still do this in some circles with voodoo dolls (or so I'm told).

In looking closely at the figurine I could not help noticing his cute little mustache.

Janie said...

Wonderful post about man's inhumanity to man. It would give a person goose bumps to see the shattered figurine.

Reader Wil said...

This custom of smashing a doll with the name of your enemy, is also practised in some asian countries. Words are mightier than the sword! This is a very impressive post, Dina! Could you take photos of buildings in your country which have wall ties? I should like to know where and when they were used.

Catherine said...

The idea of concidering the word as a thing itself surprised me. I'm not really used to it, I find it hard to imagine. But interesting.

Miss_Yves said...

Xenophobia...Alas
Interesting post, fascinating statue and great refleXion about the power of words, annd the sad power of hate !

Leslie: said...

Unfortunately, some peoples have not moved away from this ritualistic belief. Discrimination of any sort is a terrible thing! Great choice for today, though.

Beverley Baird said...

Words definitely have power!.
Thanks for sharing this xtraordinary info on xenophobia.

pasadenaadjacent said...

Fear of the outsider seems to have been with us forever. The word has power. What a great post

I think the wee fellow is kind of handsome. I'm not scared of him one bit (and he's older then me) ha!

Kay said...

You nearly fainted? Are you telling me it does hold some kind of power then? Hate must be a human condition throughout the ages to the present. We have to try to tame it whenener, wherever and however we can.

Tumblewords: said...

Fascinating - the beliefs continue to this day. Amazing. Excellent post!

Paula Scott said...

Well, it is the other end of the xenophile, isn't it?
Fascinating, compelling and thought-provoking post! Thanks!

mire said...

beautiful Dina,
This is a very beautiful presentation.


But I don't see why you would be so shocked and disbeleiving over this. How is this ceremony any different then our modern warfare.they truly believed in the ancient ritual that this smashing of the figurine would crush the enemy and in our modern warfare entire nations are crushed.

And I think there is a lot of truth to the power of words, how they are charged prophecies.A word is a powerful entity. A nation rises and falls from thoughts to build or destroy.Words and thoughts are the seeds of action.

But what I find very sad about all of this is that this ritual existed in ancient times and in modern times with the advancement of civilization and culture you would thing that we would know better.

Just to give a few examples the bombing of Nagasaki, and Hiroshima and a zillion good fridays draped in blue won't take away the sin.

Anyway, that was an excellent post to philosophize on.

civilization and culture has collapsed it has failed.

What should we try next? ha ha
love and light.
shalom

mire said...

that was funny Dina I was rereading my comment and I read what should we try next and then in the same breath I said love and light

Yes that's it let's try love and light.next ha ha.

Roger Owen Green said...

Frankly, xenophobia comes to mind too easily. Interesting.

Revista said...

Great and meaningfull choice for X.

http://digitalpolaroids.blogspot.com/

Eki Qushay Akhwan said...

Dina, this is a superb post! I love it.

Words have always had powers. One of their functions is "performative", i.e. They make things happen.

Eki Qushay Akhwan said...

Oh, thank you for sharing it.

Shalom - peace be upon you.

(See how shalom performs the thing the speaker wants? :))

*SparkleMirror* Kiln-Fired Art Studio said...

Shalom, Dina... I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for alerting me to these ceramic gems thousands of years old... I only wish this one had a more positive purpose, but nonetheless intriguing. Since part of SparkleMirror's appeal is "art built to last a thousand years...", you warm my heart that maybe my pieces will warm the hearts of future archeologists.
Thank you, TY, TY~
David

Rose said...

An excellent word and a very thoughtful post. Xenophobia should itself be stamped out on the face of the world. The relic just shows that man has not learned much from his past. Thank you so much for sharing this information and making us all stop to think a little.

JC said...

Blessing to you my friend. I love learning things from you. I never heard of this but I do believe in the power of our words. Wouldn't it be great to write a person's or nation's name then write blessings underneath. That way the name is connected to a blessing. How that is power!

Q said...

Thank you for sharing this.
I did not know about this ritual.
Fear is an amazing emotion. I understand why words can be things and that they do have power. We need to be aware of our words spoken and written.
Xenophobia is still (maybe even more so) an active dis-order!
Perhaps a campaign for awareness and treatment is in order!
Blessings,
Sherry

Dina said...

Thank you, one and all, for contributing your thoughts to the discussion!

Kay, what made me "almost faint" when I saw this exhibit at the museum was just the idea behind it, that 3,800 years ago men in another country would go to all the trouble of making a doll with which to convey curses on another people. It was so new to me. I personally do not believe in the power of curses. Superstition or not, verbal curses still are sometimes given in our days. I know of at least one modern building in Jerusalem that was cursed by at least one rabbi (and as a business venture the tall building became a total failure). Go figure ...

Mediterranean kiwi said...

love your x-ing!

the earthquake was felt in eastern crete - i live in western crete!!

mire said...

beautiful Dina
Thankyou for your profound posts.
I agree with you Dina, in this historical strict sense of the word curse probably isn't believable. when you are standing there poking holes in a voodoo doll that is suppose to represent a person and then you expect harm to come to that person then that probably isn't believable although people believe in the opposite -psychic healing-
When you send someone a get well card then aren't you healing them psychically--
Anyway you inspired me to look up some latin-
curse-malidecere
malidecere- to speak ill of abuse slander
and then the word belongs to a familly of words
maledictionus-abusive language abuse
malefecere to do wrong
maleficium-offense harm injury wrong
maleficus-wicked vicious criminal

when these curse words are combined with real possibilities then they do have the power to destroy.
culture and civilization rose only because of and along side of language it is totally hinged on this and language is the root of all goodness and evil.

If you speak ill of someone it has negative consequences.
Our courts of law recognize this.People are punished for slander.

And here is another modern example of a curse
when the pope quoted the text that Mohammed represents all things evil, well this was a curse and a nun died because of this.

Well anyway Dina I enjoyed this philosophising.

In my own personal life I try not to say negative things about people and I wish everyone well and for this reason I feel I don't have any enemies.

Thanks for the oppoturnity to share this.

I wish you peace health and much happiness and may your spiritually rich journal be blessed.
shalom

mire said...

I don't wish to leave this post on a negative note ha ha view the above reasons.

No ha ha but this post interested me initially because I am fascinated by the power of the mind that isn't recognizable immediately only intuitively etc.

I have engaged in psychic workshops where the time was spent practicing psychic healing and sending thought messages.

I feel intuitevely and have had some evidence that we are all connected to all events in the universe and really I did not want to sound too pessimistic but within this framework it would be possible to send harm through thought if for no other reason the negative thoughts would attract harm inducing events.
But the good news is if we are capable of doing this negative transformation we are also capable of protecting ourselves from this negative message through thoughts that defend.And if we have this power think of the other side of the coin the good that we have the power to create.
So let those figurines exist there is an infinitely positive side to them.

In terms of the collapse of civilization well there are so many wonderful sacrificing people on the planet who love and are compassionate but our political systems are corrupt and so is capitalism and so are the values we inculcate through the media.
And it seems that people who are on the receiving end have a natural tendency to support the status quo,
our educational systems are corrupt-science rushes on to create nuclear weapons without attaching spiritual values.......

Karyn said...

This is an AWESOME post! So informative and interesting.

I am fascinated by the concept of the Hebrew word 'davar'.... explaining the concept of words having power.

Great choice of word to represent 'X', BTW - and excellent portrayal of your word.

monikamanchanda said...

this was informative

i got to know so much abt X today :)

my entry is here

http://monikamanchanda.wordpress.com/2009/07/01/xxxy/

Allu said...

Very interesting posting, thanks.

Louis la Vache said...

Shalom, to you, too, Dina!

Very interesting post!