Seventeen and Good

In the first story of the Act of Creation (Genesis 1) God says ‘good’ seven times. At the end each of the six days of creation God said He saw ‘it was good’ (with the exception of the second day). On the third day He said ‘it was good’ twice when he gave life to the earth and at the end of all six days having looked upon His creation He said ‘it was very good’.

What is the meaning of ‘good’? Good does not mean ‘good’ in the commonly understood sense, i.e. ‘not bad’. Good in this context means ‘change’. Change inasmuch there is a change in state of the universe during the process of creation. In Hindu concepts there are three gods: Vishnu the creator; Shiva the destroyer and Brahma the Preserver. This means that in order to create something new, something else must be destroyed in its place. So too the steady state of chaos and void of the universe – the state of unity and of oneness – the aleph - before the act of creation, ultimately had to be changed in order to create a new universe of duality. Was this good or bad? In prosaic language – you can’t make an omelette without smashing eggs! So the word ‘Good’ implies that something ‘apparently’ negative has to happen in order that something good will follow.

So why did God not say: ‘it was good’ on the second day when:

And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so: And God called the firmament Heaven; And there was evening and there was morning, the second day: (Genesis 1:7-8)

It is because the firmament that was created was Heaven. Heaven is unchanging: it is indeed a ‘firmament’ and constant and therefore God did not say ‘it is good’.

The word ‘good’ in Hebrew is tov, טוב spelt teth-vav-beth and has a value of 9-6-2 = 17. If we look through the Bible we will find that the number 17 occurs on several interesting occasions.

In the story of Noah’s Ark (See hyperlink Noah’s Ark), the flood began on the 17th day of the second month

In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened: (Genesis 7:11)

Again we find that finally when the rain had stopped and the water subsided, the Ark finally touched dry land:

And the Ark rested on Mt. Arahat on the seventeenth day of the seventh month (Genesis 8:4).

The destruction of mankind and all living beings through The Flood would seem to be a devastating act against the very act of creation that had taken place only 10 generations previously!! Yet ultimately it led to the reconstruction of mankind and life under a new legal framework – the pre-Noachian laws were replaced.

Before The Flood the story of creation was about the evolution of mankind. After The Flood is was only about the evolution of what came to be the Children of Israel.

There was a radical change in the life-span of the patriarchs too. Before the flood the average age was 857 years. It would have been longer had it not been for Enoch who died at the early age of 365 year because:

And Enoch walked with God; and he was not; for God took him (Genesis 5:24).

However he was the father of Methuselah who is the oldest person ever to live on earth at 969 years. After the Flood the age of the patriarchs was reduced substantially to an average age of 268. (See graph)

Finally God decides that man is living too long and therefore:

And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for he also is flesh; yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years (Genesis 6:3)

So the number 17 in the case of the Flood meant that a new world order came into being and which replaced the old world which was wicked and evil (Genesis 6:5)

The number 17 appears again when Joseph who was seventeen when he was sent out by his father in search of his brothers, and as a result was sold into Egypt and changed the face of Jewish history

These are the generations of Jacob; Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brother (Genesis 37:2)

The act of being sold was hastened by a ‘certain man’ (Genesis 37:15) who found Joseph wandering in the fields and steered him towards his enslavement by guiding him to his brothers. One can only assume from this that ‘the man’ was sent by God to ensure that history took place as planned. Joseph was in fact sold into Egypt by the Ishmaelites who were descendent of Isaac’s brother Ishmael (See hyperlink Abram Hagar and Ishmael).

The act of Joseph being sold to Egypt, in the short-term, is seen to be ‘evil’, yet the outcome is ‘good’ for as a result of this evil act Joseph brings his entire family down to Egypt to avoid the famine. As such, Jacob and all the tribes of Israel leave the promised land of Canaan for the heathen land of Egypt, which was seemingly a bad event forced upon them by famine, but ultimately allowed the Children of Israel to fulfil the first commandment in the Bible: ‘to be fruitful and multiply” to become a reality (See hyperlink be fruitful and multiply in Egypt). This is proven by the fact that Jacob lived in Egypt 17 years before he died:

And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; so the whole age of Jacob was a hundred and forty seven years: (Genesis 47:28)

This suggest that Jacob’s transportation from his homeland Canaan to Egypt may have seemed bad at the outset, for ‘going down’ from Canaan to Egypt was moving from a land unity and singularity to a land of duality and multiplicity (See hyperlink singularity and duality), but was good in the long term plan of things. The purpose of going down to Egypt was not to avoid the famine and starvation to preserve the Children of Israel, for they would have survived in one form or another anyway, but to fulfil Gods promise to Jacob at the scene of Jacob’s Ladder, that: And your seed shall be as the dust of the earth (Genesis 28:14). (See hyperlink be fruitful and multiply) Indeed the 70 souls that entered the Land of Egypt became 600,000 men + in addition women and children at the time they left Egypt. (See hyperlink the 70 children of Israel go down to Egypt)

It is also noted here that Jacob lived in the Land of Canaan a total of 130 years which again links to the name of God and suggest that for the whole duration of 130 years he walked with God and God walked with him.

Similarly Joseph was 30 years old when he became governor of Egypt meaning that from the time he was enslaved and imprisoned in Egypt at the age of 17 until he became governor was 13 years and during that whole duration of time God was with him (Genesis 42:46) Here 13 and 130 are related to/one half of 26 the gematrical number for God and again portrays the image indicated in the text, that God was with both Jacob all this time he was in Canaan (anfd Egypt and with Joseph all the time he was in Egypt (See hyperlink the aleph, the Name and 26).

Other examples of the implication of the number 17 resulting in change and reflection of something seemingly 'bad', to become 'good' are:

 

  • In accord with ancient law it is said that Moses fled Egypt after he had slain the Egyptian when he was 17 years old and which ultimately resulted in him realising his mission in life at the incident of the burning bush’ (See hyperlink burning bush and God of fire).
  • The prophet Jeremiah bought a field for 17 shekels of silver from Hanameel at the time of destruction of Jerusalem under the Chaldeans in order to answer God’s promise that after bringing about destruction, evil and exile upon the Jewish nation because of their sins and non-compliance to the Torah, so too He would redeem them and their land for money. So the purchase of land by Jeremiah in the Land of Israel for 17 shekels reverses the process of exile and destruction imposed by God for the redemption of the Land of Israel people (Jeremiah 32: 9).

 

In all these instances, the number 17 and its relationship to the word ‘good’ demonstrate not so much an act of ‘goodness’ but rather a process of change.

Effectively ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are opposite sides to the same coin. Evil must take place before it can be replaced by good. A consequence of goodness will ultimately be the upsurge of evil.

17 and Kid of Goats

What is the connection between ‘17’, ‘good’ or ‘change’ and ‘Kid’? A kid (a young goat) is gdi גדי in Hebrew and is spelt gimmel-dalet-yod = 3-4-10 = 17. Kid appears several times in the Bible.

 

  • When Jacob stole the birthright from his twin brother Esau (Genesis 27), two kids were taken and prepared as a meal by Jacob’s mother Rebekah for her husband Isaac, who was blind in order to deceive him into giving the blessing and the birthright to Jacob instead of to Esau (Genesis 27:9). Also the skin of a kid was used to cover Jacob’s arms in order to deceive his father to believing he was Esau when receiving the blessing of the birthright (Genesis 27:16). (see hyperlink Jacob, Esau and the birthright

  • A kid was used to present to Tamar by Judah after he presumed her to be a harlot, when in fact she was his daughter in law (Genesis 38:7). (See hyperlink the Tamar Incident)

  • Specifically 'kid' appears in the commandment 'thou shalt not boil the kid in its mother's milk (Exodus 23:19)

 

How do these three incidents link up with the term ‘good’ change and 17?

In the incident of Jacob and Isaac and in the case of Judah and Tamar the parties were committing a great sin. Jacob and his mother plotted to deceive their husband/father in order to steal the birthright from their brother. – How much worse can it get?

In the incident of Judah and Tamar, Judah had not only promised his third son to his daughter-in-law Tamar, for marriage and which he didn’t fulfil, but also, albeit unwittingly, slept with her and made her pregnant – even worse than Jacob!!

However although these acts of social atrocities were atrocious, the outcomes of these two incidents were not only positive but changed the world as we know it today:

(i) Jacob, as a result of receiving the birthright from Isaac and all the benefits associated with it, goes on to become father to the twelve tribes of Israel and effectively the race that are called Jews today

(ii) Tamar gave birth to twins one of which is Perez who is the line of David and ultimately lineage of the Messiah

So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife; and when he went in to her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son:… and they called his name Obed; he is the father of Jesse, the father of David. (Book of Ruth 4: 13 & 17)

Both incidents in their first light are seen to be positively wrong and bad, yet in the final analysis the long-term result is good (See footnote).

But how does this theory of change that appears to be bad ultimately become ‘good’ fit into the obtuse commandment thou shalt not boil the kid in it mother’s milk which occurs prolifically on three occasions throughout the Torah/ Pentateuch? – And which has resulted in a multitude of sub-ordinances concerning not mixing meat and milk and affecting the lifestyles of Jews throughout the globe.

Basically ‘boiling a kid in its mother milk’ is reversing the process of change in the opposite direction. Whereas the process of change/good should be destruction in order to make something new, in this case the milk which should be for nutrition and creation of new life is instead used for the consumption of life.

This inversion or reversal of the process of change reflects the ‘genius’ of the Third Reich when they turned the sign of the Swastika 450. Effectively they converted a most revered symbol of Hinduism and Buddhism and a symbol of harmony, change and evolution of the human soul to one of death, destruction and genocide (See hyperlink swastika and the cross).

The contradistinction of change from what is appears to be bad and turns out to be good is seen in the world of opposites (See hyperlink the world of opposites).


I once discussed the invasion of Tibet by China with a Tibetan Lama. He saw that the invasion of Tibet by the Chinese was an act of evil, yet he agreed that it has resulted in the dissemination of Tibetan Buddhism, an otherwise secret doctrine, throughout the Western world bringing new knowledge and new understanding to the world - which was good. So was the invasion of Tibet good or evil?

 

In Chinese history, during the Spring and Autumn period of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (7th Century B.C.E), there is the story of Guan Zhong who was a Chief Minister to the warlord of a regional kingdom. When the warlord was murdered by his brother, Duke Huan , Guan Zhong quickly showed his obeisance to the new ruler, whereas his closest colleague decided that it was more honourable to commit suicide than to show loyalty to the new ruler. At this point in time one might say that his colleague was a virtuous man and consistent in his loyalties, and that Guan Zhong was a rogue as bad as his master and fickle in order to stay alive. However as time went on Guan Zhong proved to be a formidable minister bring both power and wealth to the regime under Duke Huan. He introduced many just laws and legislation that became extremely popular with the people to the point that the people adopted his hairstyle of the pigtail right up until the end of the nineteenth century. So the question now arises, was Guan Zhong right not to commit suicide and was his colleague wrong to commit suicide. Could not his colleague have served the world beter if he had not committed suicide? The answer given in the I Ching is ‘Every man’s life has its own time’. For Guan Zhong’s colleague the time had come; for Guan Zhong the time had not yet come.

 

 
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