International Observers

Because the United States has had such trouble transitioning to a democratic government with fair and free elections, there will be United Nations observers at polling places around the country. These observers will be drawn from such bastions of democracy as Serbia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, as well as France, Germany and the Ukraine. Read the story at The Hill.

United Nations-affiliated election monitors from Europe and central Asia will be at polling places around the U.S. looking for voter suppression activities by conservative groups, a concern raised by civil rights groups during a meeting this week. The intervention has drawn criticism from a prominent conservative-leaning group combating election fraud.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a United Nations partner on democratization and human rights projects, will deploy 44 observers from its human rights office around the country on Election Day to monitor an array of activities, including potential disputes at polling places. It’s part of a broader observation mission that will send out an additional 80 to 90 members of parliament from nearly 30 countries.

Liberal-leaning civil rights groups met with representatives from the OSCE this week to raise their fears about what they say are systematic efforts to suppress minority voters likely to vote for President Obama.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP and the ACLU, among other groups, warned this month in a letter to Daan Everts, a senior official with OSCE, of “a coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans — particularly traditionally disenfranchised groups like minorities.”

The request for foreign monitoring of election sites drew a strong rebuke from Catherine Engelbrecht, founder and president of True the Vote, a conservative-leaning group seeking to crack down on election fraud.

“These activist groups sought assistance not from American sources, but from the United Nations,” she said in a statement to The Hill. “The United Nations has no jurisdiction over American elections.”

Neil Simon, director of communications for the OSCE’s parliamentary assembly, agreed the U.N. does not have jurisdiction over U.S. elections but noted all OSCE member counties, which include the United States, have committed since 1990 to hold free and democratic elections and to allow one another to observe their elections.

The observers, from countries such as Germany, France, Serbia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, will observe voting at polling places and other political activity.

“They [will] observe the overall election process, not just the ballot casting,” said Giovanna Maiola, spokeswoman for OSCE. “They are focusing on a number of areas on the state level, including the legal system, election administration, the campaign, the campaign financing [and] new voting technologies used in the different states.”

I think that it is just terrible how all those Conservative are trying to suppress the Necro-American vote. I am sure observers from countries where the dead vote regularly will be able to help out.

I would not object to the concept of international observers, if I thought they would be unbiased and ready to pursue electoral irregularities from both sides. Since it seems that they will be looking out for Conservative attempts to suppress the minority vote, I have little confidence in their fairness, especially since it seems that many international organizations including the UN prefer Obama over Romney. I think we had better have people observing the observers.

It would seem that Liberals have no problem with the UN overseeing our elections. I do. Leaving aside the suspicions I have about the bias of such observers, it seems to me that an organization as corrupt as the UN doesn’t have the right to criticize anything about our elections.

 

Jehovah

This has got to be one of my favorite scenes from Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

Actually, I am positive that no one was actually stoned in ancient Judea for saying “Jehovah“. How can I be so sure? Because you could dance down the streets of first century Jerusalem shouting “Jehovah” at the top of your voice and no one would have a clue what you were saying.

The word Jehovah is actually a mispronunciation.

There are several words used to identify the deity in the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible, but God’s personal name is revealed to be a word made up of the Hebrew letters: י(yodh),  ה(he), ך (waw), ה (he), which, converted to our Roman alphabet, is rendered YHWH, or YHVH. The name YHWH seems to be derived from a root word in Hebrew which means something like “that which is” or “ that which is eternally existent.

13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.[c] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord,[d] the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’

“This is my name forever,
the name you shall call me
from generation to generation. (Exodus 3:13-15)

Centuries later, Jesus identified himself as I AM seven times in the Gospel of John.

58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.(John

To the Jews in the crowd, Jesus was clearly claiming to be divine. Either he was blaspheming or insane. Either way, it seemed like it might be a good idea to stone him.

You probably have noticed that the Divine Name consists of four consonants and no vowels. This is because the Hebrew alphabet has 22 consonants and no vowels. This is not as great a handicap in Hebrew as it would be in English because Hebrew, being a Semitic language, has a vocabulary based largely on root words of three consonants. The basic meaning of a word depends on the root consonants with vowels and additional consonants providing nuances of meaning, such as verb forms, cases, etc. In most cases, only the consonants are really needed to understand at least the basic meaning of a written work. Most scholars believe that YHVN is pronounced Yahweh.

So, how did Yahweh become Jehovah? The Jews believed, and still believe, that God’s personal name was too sacred to be pronounced aloud. When reading from the Hebrew Bible, either in liturgical or other uses, they developed the custom of saying the word “Adonai”, meaning “The Lord”.

Hebrew had ceased to be a spoken language by the time of Jesus. That made understanding the Hebrew Bible a little more difficult, so sometime in the later half of the first millennium, the Hebrew scribes, known as Masorotes, developed a system for writing vowels. They didn’t introduce any new letters but created a system of diacritical marks called Niqqud. The Jewish scribes did not want anyone to accidentally pronounce the Name so they combined YHVH with the vowel marks for Adonai, resulting in something like YaHoVaH, or Jehovah.

During the Middle Ages, the only Bible known by Christians in western Europe was the Latin Vulgate. Knowledge of the Greek language of the New Testament and classical writers was all but unknown in the West. Starting from the fourteenth century, however, as the Byzantine Empire  fell to the Turks, Greek speaking scholars fled to the West, bringing knowledge of the Greek language and ancient Greek manuscripts, including the Bible. Renaissance scholars eagerly learned Greek from them and used this knowledge to produce new and better translations of the Greek manuscripts into Latin and the various vernacular languages. Among the works of translation was the New Testament. But the Renaissance scholars also wanted to translate the Old Testament from the original Hebrew, so they learned Hebrew as well.

The first person known to have used the word Jehovah seems to be Galantinus, who learned Hebrew and Aramaic with the intent of using the Jew’s own scriptures and doctrines,including  the Hebrew Bible and the Cabbala, to refute them. He, and others were unaware of the pronunciation of YHWH and assumed the the diacritical marks were the correct ones. Most early printed editions of the Bible, including Tyndale’s English translation, used Jehovah, though others used “The Lord” where YHVH is in the text, including later editions of the King James Bible.

Modern editions of the Bible, including the New International Version, generally print “The Lord” in small capital letters. There are still editions of the Bible that say Jehovah, though fewer than before and it seems the use of Jehovah for the name of God is dying out, at least in English language translations. I have only seen one translation that uses “Yahweh”, the World English Bible.

So, the next time any Jehovah’s Witnesses show up at your door, you can tell them that they have their name all wrong. They should be calling themselves “Yahweh’s Witnesses”.