Kinisi 13







Found in translation

Now on the sixth day:
bulls eight, rams two

– Numbers 29:29
Everett Fox translation

Sounds like a National Football League forecast, apart from the improbability of the score itself. Besides, it’s set for a Saturday, not Sunday.

Still I was amused when that line popped out at me from the page.

Now, for a little perspective, here’s how Robert Alter renders the text:

And on the sixth day eight bulls, two rams, and fourteen unblemished yearling lambs.

It’s all part of a series of proscribed daily sacrificial burnt offerings.

Any Chicago or Los Angeles fans out there?


That’s ten times ten equals one hundred, more or less Roman style.

Assuming the empire had an equals sign or even multiplication.

How did they ever do math?

Especially since they didn’t have a zero, which seems to have come into its own, as a number, around the 5th century C.E. in India and worked its way into Europe via the Italian mathematician Fibonacci (aka Leonardo of Pisa) around the year 1200. That’s the background on what’s considered a full zero, the average of minus one and one.

Before that, the written orb was just a placeholder, like a punctuation mark or the zeros in the Arabic numeral 100. That placeholder usage likely started in Babylon between 400 and 300 B.C.E.

To thicken the plot, an awareness of full zero also originated from scratch in Mayan culture of the New World around the first centuries C.E.

Which is a roundabout way of pointing out that when it came to the radical mathematical concept of nothing (or less), the Romans came up empty.

There wasn’t even a Year Zero, back then. Our current dating system goes from 1 B.C.E. to 1 C.E. That’s why this year technically isn’t the beginning of a new decade, but the final year of one.

Not that we ever were taught any sense of the wonder of all that, back in our math classes. The closest we ever came was the mystifying concept of multiplying anything by zero and watching it disappear.

So back to that XXX = C in the title. I can’t help thinking it looks somehow obscene. Like graffiti.

How about you?

Meanwhile, upstairs?

Living in New England, I’ve been in rain falling at 26 degrees Fahrenheit and snow coming down at 36 F as well as mixed precip everywhere in-between.

Much of that, of course, depends on the temperature higher overhead (the case, too, with hail) or sometimes the ground-level influence of our nearby ocean.

Guess we just have to be flexible when in comes to dressing accordingly, right?

Have you ever encountered similar confounding or weird weather?