Our Favorite Games

Dear Reader,

Are you looking for some good gifts for the whole family? Our family loves playing games so I thought I would share some of our favorites. Of course, we also play some well-known ones like Scrabble, butbelow are some that you might not have heard of. I give my estimate of the age ranges for each one. They are all games that I haven’t minded playing, no “twaddle” games here, you know.

Chicken Cha Cha Cha — ages 4-9; This is a game like memory but more interesting and more competitive. In my experience the kids usually win.


Hiss – ages 3-6; Take turns by drawing cards and building snakes by matching the colors on their body parts. Whoever finishes a snake takes it and whoever has the most cards at the end wins. This is not hard but plays quickly and is aesthetically pleasing so while I wouldn’t want to play endless games my husband and I never found it too tedious. In fact, I think my husband is a little heart-broken that the kids no longer want to play it ;) The hardest part for little ones with this game is learning to take turns.

Sleeping Queens – ages 5-10; Especially popular with girls, in this game you can practice your adding skills as you play your king cards to awaken the sleeping queens. I will admit adults get sick of this one after a while, but it is a cute game and kids can easily play it by themselves too. The cards are really cute.

Frank’s Zoo – ages 7 and up; No top age for this one because here we are getting into games that are good for adults too. In Frank’s Zoo, you have a handful of animals. Some beat (eat?) others. So, for instance, if I play a polar bear, you can beat it with two polar bears or one killer whale. Points are given for taking certain animals like lions and hedgehogs. Younger kids won’t do as well with this one; there is some strategy involved, but if you go easy on them, they will likely still enjoy it. It works best for 3 or more players, though we have come up with our own version so we can play with just two. Consider buying card holders for the little ones so their hands are manageable; they are a huge help with any game involving cards.

Five Crowns – ages 7 and up; A rummy-like game with its own set of cards. There are five suits hence the name. A nice touch is that after the first player goes out, everyone else gets one more turn to try and make sets. What is wild changes every round so that when you have 3 cards in the first round, 3s are wild and so on until you have 13 cards and kings are wild.

Bohnanza – ages 8 and up; Everyone has a bunch of cards with different beans on them (chili beans, black-eyed beans, etc,; another one with cute pictures). You trade them and try to make sets in your “bean fields” (i.e. down on the table in front of you). A nice feature of this game is that it has modified rules for two players. It is easier with just two which makes that a nice way to play it with kids on the younger end of the spectrum.

Bob’s Hat — ages 9 and up; I am wavering on what age to put on this one. It might be more like 10 and up, though our kids have also started playing it younger. This is a bridge-like game (in a very general way) in that there is a trump which changes every round and one has to bid one what colors they think they will take befpre playing starts. The hands are then played in tricks, with everyone playing one card at a time and the highest card taking it. When your kids can play this game, they have really become interesting people.

Tayu — ages 6 and up; The idea behind this game is pretty simple. There is a bag of tiles with lines on them. These are rivers; one has to play them connecting them to what is already on the board. The goal is to get the most river ends at your sides of the board. One nice catch is that your score is the multiple of how many river ends are on your one side times how many are on the other side. So if you get 10 ends on one edge but zero on the other, your score is still zero. It is a two-layer game with an option for  a third player who is the “flummoxer” and just tries to keep the other players from getting points. I can’t even begin to tell you how much my 10-year-old likes flummoxing others.

Tsuro – ages 5 and up; This game is super easy to pick up and plays very quickly. It one of the prettiest and most aesthetically pleasing games ever. Everyone had a marker which is a pretty colored stone and three tiles at a time. The tiles have lines representing paths. You play one in front of your marker and then move it along the path. As more tiles get played, the paths get complicated. The goal is to be the last one to not either run off the board or crash into another player.

Those are some of our favorite games. What does your family like to play?



Two Movies on the American Revolution: Which Should You Let Your Kids Watch?

Dear Reader,

Since we have been studying the American Revolution in our homeschool, I got  a couple of movies set in that time for the kids to watch. One of them, which I have already reviewed, was The Crossing, a made for TV movie starring Jeff Daniels. The other, which we just watched today, is the American Girl movie Felicity. As I think over these two, I find myself wanting to recommend one of them and to warn you to steer clear of the other. And the odd thing is (or perhaps not so odd) that it is the American Girl movie which was made for and marketed to kids that is the one I really didn’t like. The reasons why have a lot to do with what makes one movie (or book) bothersome to me and another not.

The Crossing, as I said in my earlier post on it, has some violence and bad langauge. Hessians get killed, some by the sword up close and some tossed around by cannon fire. Now by modern movie theater standards, this movie is not shockingly violent (it is made for TV, after all). The killings by sword are shown pretty clearly and they are not pretty, but overall it is not what I would call gory. When it comes to langauge, this movie is again not one of those with swear words thrown around left and right, but there is mention of fornication, the word “balls” is used  a couple of times and not to refer to round rubber playthings, and the word “ass” is used. In fact George Washington himself is made the utterer of these words in one scene. Compare this to Felicity in which the only violence whatsoever is against a horse and even that is not shown clearly and there is absolutely no objectionable langauge at all.

And yet I liked The Crossing a lot better than I liked Felicity despite the violence and langauge issues. The langauge in The Crossing could have been left out, in my opinion, though I am sure in real life there must have been some bad langauge among a company of freezing, starving soldiers.  The violence was definitely part of the story; it is a war after all. Nonetheless, The Crossing has a good story to tell and a good message to convey. As I said in that earlier review, it gives a very good picture of the complexities of the rebels’ situation. It does not gloss over their injustices even while they fight what they see as the King’s unfairness to his colonies. It does not make war pretty or depict the Americans as pristine heroes with no blemish upon them and yet at the same time there are heroes in  this story. George Washington above all comes off well, and even some of his aides look pretty good. They show courage, fortitude, and a willingness to pursue the course they deem right despite incredible odds and lots of naysayers. They show loyalty too, even at the risk of their own lives. I came out of this movie liking the people involved and respecting them.

And then there is Felicity. This movie tries to show both sides of the issue; there are loyalists ands patriots in the town. Felicity and her friend both feel torn between them, and yet the final message seems to be that it doesn’t matter what one believes. I think the filmmakers were going for “we can all be friends even though our beliefs differ” but really what it comes off as is “one’s firmly held beliefs really don’t really matter.”

I wish Felicity had been trying to say something about disobedience to authority. It could have been a great vehicle for it. It is after all set during the Revolution when the colonies rebelled again their parent country and the main character, the girl Felicity, is quite disobedient to her parents. But the connections were not clearly drawn and Felicity’s disobedience always works out well for her. She gets what she wants, never gets punished, and the downsides are not shown. There was potential here, but they just did not make anything of it and in the end Felicity, despite all her disobedience and sneaking around, is portrayed as the heroine and her faults are never really addressed. The take away message seems to be “kids know best so it’s fine to ignore your parents’ instructions and wishes.”

Lastly, there is the theology of the movie. Though Felicity lived in a time when most people would have professed faith in Christ (no matter what the state of their hearts may have been), God is largely left out of this movie. Once Felicity says she prayed and that prayer is answered (though this seems again to reward her disobedience) and once we see her praying and that prayer is again answered, but the family as a whole shows no signs of faith. When the grandfather dies, her mom tells Felicity that he is not gone because love doesn’t end. But there is no mention of him having gone to heaven. It is hard to believe a family at the time would not have had a belief in the afterlife. And then the final message of the movie seems to be that there is good in all of us. Even the mean character in the story is shown not be really mean. Felicity says that despite all outward appearances that is not who he really is and that he (and everyone else presumably) is good deep down inside. This I find a lot more insidious and dangerous for kids to see than the message of The Crossing.

When asked about books and movies, we parents tend to want to know is it violent? Are bad words used? Are there “adult scenes”? And I am not saying that these are not important considerations, but the spirit of a movie is far more important. I would rather my kids see a movie like The Crossing which portrays war and people’s natures realistically but also shows the greatness of the human character, albeit mixed as it is in real life with more coarse threads, than one like Felicity which tries to make everything sweetness and light and ignores both the truth of our human nature and the importance of adherence to principles. I worry a lot more about the subtle messages of a movie like Felicity which seems to family-friendly on the surface than about the violence and language in one like The Crossing.


Book Review: Stepping Heavenward

Dear Reader,

I recently read Stepping Heavenward  by Mrs. E. Prentiss. I suspect many of you have preceded me to this book; it seems to be a popular one among Christian women, and rightly so. If you are Christian and female and haven’t read it yet, run, don’t walk, and go get it now. I will admit that I was a  bit skeptical going into it. I don’t tend to like things that are popular in the Christian world, but this book turned out to be  a real treasure. I have said this of a few books, probably less than a handful, but this book made me want to be a better person (read about one of those other books, a real hidden treasure here).

Stepping Heavenward is a journal begun by a young woman and continued as she grows into adulthood. It is her spiritual journey. I also tend not to like diary type books and yet again I was surprised by this one. It didn’t take long for me to say that this is a good book and to think that I want my older daughter to read it. And then as I got further into it, I thought this is really for me too. You see, as the author herself grows, so her spiritual struggles change and she goes through a lot of what we too go through and many things that I hope we never do.

I don’t want to give away too much but this is a great book to read if:

- you struggle with being faithful in prayer and Bible reading

- you struggle to find meaning or see how you can give glory to God in the midst of menial day-to-day tasks

- you feel mired down in your spiritual journey

- you feel that every other Christian is so much further along and more perfect han you are

- you have ever wondered if you are really saved

- you have been on bedrest or been sidelined due to illness

- you have faced the prospect of losing a child

- you have had to live with your in-laws or difficult relatives

This is the sort of book from which different people are going to take away different lessons and to which one could return in the various stages of life and take new lessons. If there is one big overarching lesson to the book, I would say it is that our lives are spiritual journeys and we needn’t look at others who are farther along and berate ourselves for not being where they are. Personally, I was struck with the idea that I need to make holiness a goal that I work towards, both every day and for the long haul. I think I had sort of assumed holiness was something God would accomplish in me, but I had never really thought that I need to be actively participating in that goal. I am not sure I am describing that correctly. I have of course had goals like “be more patient with my children” and “don’t yell” and aspirations like “I want to be like Mrs. M when I grow up.” But the idea of holiness itself as the goal was a revelation to me. It is as if I had been focusing on the parts or the shadow and my eyes have been lifted to the actual thing I should be aiming for. I am still not sure if that makes sense, but you can always read the book for yourself :)

Anyway, long story short, if I haven’t already said it half a dozen times, read this book. Then read it again. And give it to the other women in your life.


My Master List of Booklists on American History

Dear Reader,

At this point I have published quite a number of posts detailing what books we have used to study American history. For convebience sake, I thought I woudl give their links all in one place so they are easir to find. Below is that list. I will continue to add to it as I do new posts so check back periodically.


Booklists for American History


History Books: The Settlement of Virginia

Books on Colonial New England

Studying the Salem Witch Trials

History Books: Colonization

Living Books on the American Revolution

And Some Related Posts:

History Spine Books

Movie Review: The Crossing

Two Movies on the Revolutionary War






Living Books on the Revolutionary War

Dear Reader,

We have almost finished studying the American Revolution and so I thought I would give a list of what books we have used. I am pleased to say that there have been very few duds in this section.

To let you know where I am coming from — I am homeschooling four kids, ages 9, 10, 12 and 14. We take a Charlotte Mason approach to our schooling. We read “spine” books together which give an overview of the era and then each child has his or her own reading on the same time period, often more specific books which might just cover the life of one person or the details of one event. They also at times read historical fiction which I do not usually make them narrate. When we can, we also listen to audio books in the car that relate to the period we are studying and watch DVDs on it too.

Booklist for the Revolutionary War

Spine books:

This Country of Ours by H.E. Marshall — We began this book last year when we studied the colonization of America and are continuing through it this year. I continue to love this book. The chapters usually make a good reading in one sitting, though occasionally I have split them in two or combined two in one. Marshall does an excellent job of making history a story covering all the big events with just the right amount of detail.

George Washington’s World by Genevieve Foster — Foster’s books are also real treasures. Heritage History which we have used in the past recommends using two spines on any given period and I have found this to be helpful. I know the CM way is to read things once and expect kids to get them but the truth is different authors have different perspectives and I find it helpful to get a couple of looks at the period we are studying. We had been through American history once before when the kids were littler; this time I am trying to give more of the global perspective while still concentrating on America. Foster’s book is perfect for this. If I were using it alone, I would find its treatment of the important events in America like the Boston Tea Party and the Shot Heard Round the World too brief. Since we have already covered those with Marshall’s volume, Foster’s approach which spends a good deal of time on what was happening in other countries as well is the perfect complement. She does a great job of focusing on individual characters and of drawing together all the many strands of narrative she has so that what seems like a lot of loose ends in the beginning of the book all comes together by the end.

Stories of Massachusetts by Mara L. Pratt — Since we live in MA and a lot of the events of the revolution happened here, I decided this would be good time to try to delve a little deeper and read portions of this book on our home state specifically. My high schooler is exempt from this one as he has other work he needs to get done without his siblings. The style of this book is easy and conversational. The content is a bit of a mixed bag. The author has some really good stories to tell but at other times talks a lot about historic houses in the various towns of MA and tends to lose my kids’ interest. We are using the Kindle edition of this book which makes it hard to skip around and just select the best parts. It is also quite poorly edited and occasionally I can’t even figure out what it means to say.

Books for ym 9th grader:

Story of the Revolution by Albert Marrin — We had used one of Marrin’s books in the past, one on oil of all things, and I thought that he made what could have been a dry subject very interesting and informative. So I was excited to find that he had a book on the Revolution. My high schooler did not seem thrilled with this book (that is rare with books they know are for school anyway) but he did  a great job narrating it, which I consider a good test of a book, ad he learned a lot of details that we did not get in our other reading so I was pleased with this choice.

Year of the Hangman by Gary Blackwood We had also done a couple of Blackwood’s Shakespeare books as read alouds and I was pleased with them so I thought this would be good choice for my high schooler to give him a bit of historical fiction on the era. I do not have them narrate these books so I get less feedback but he says he likes the book (again, they hate to praise anything they know is schoolwork so this is a pretty glowing recommendation). It does not apparently have much to do with hangmen but the year 1777 was considered the year of the hangman because all the 7s in it look like nooses.


Books for the middle schooler:

Story of the Thirteen Colonies by Helene A. Guerber — This is another older book that we were able to get for free in the Kindle edition. It was really a bit on the easy side for my 8th grader but I couldn’t find much else to fill the gap. At times she seemed to have little to narrate. I think really she could have read Marrin’s book as her older brother did and this one would be better for a slightly younger child.

Toliver’s Secret by Esther Wood Brady– This was her historical fiction so again I got no narrations. Even my very contrary daughter says that “it is good for a shcool book.” It is the story fo a girl who disguises herself as boy to carry a secret message to General Washington. The whole girl disguised as boy thing seems a very common theme in books about this era.

Books for the upper elementary students:

American History Stories by Mara L. Pratt — This book seems to have a lot of chapters but each on is pretty brief so it really goes more quickly than one might expect on first inspection. I think the level was good for my 5th grader. I like the short chunks at this age even if he ends up doing two of them in a day. It seems to have been done a bit better than Pratt’s book on Massachusetts (see above). If it had editing errors, I think I would have heard about it and he never complained the book was unintelligible. It also seems to be better in terms of the content, I think because there is really more to say and it was hard to come up with enough to say on MA alone.

Arrow over the Door by Joseph Bruchac — This was my 5th grader’s historical fiction. It is the story of a Quaker boy in the year 1777. It seems just about right for his reading level and he says it is a good book.


Trouble at Otter Creek by Wilma Pitchford Hayes — This was an added book for my 5th grader. Though no otters seem to actually figure into the story, he loves otters and one of the characters shares his name so I thought I would make him read it. It is the story of a family who moves to Vermont and meets Ethan Allen. It was not a hard book for him and could be done by a child a year or two younger. It seemed like a good story though.


A Namesake for Nathan by Monjo – Yet another book for my 5th grader to fill in some gaps in our schedule (it is hard to keep everyone on the same reading schedule so we are all doing the same topics at roughly the same time!). Monjo is a favorite author who makes a good story of everything he writes. We used one of his books on the Pilgrims too. This one is about Nathan Hale.

King George’s Head was Made of Lead by Monjo — Another one by Monjo; this one is easier and shorter. I had my 4th grader read a number of smaller, shorter books. This one is really about a statue of King George but along the way it tells what happened to the actual King George III when his colonies rebelled. It is a clever little book and would be good for slightly younger kids too.

Phoebe the Spy by Judith Griffin — The story of a girl who saves George Washington from poisoning. My daughter is a sucker for stories of girls who do things. She really seemed to like this one and to appreciate the mystery involved in figuring out who was trying to poison General Washington. When Phoebe’s dad was mentioned in other books we read, she got quite excited so I know she connected with this book.

Carolina’s Courage by Elizabeth Yates — As I write this, my daughter has yet to read this book so I can’t say too much about it but we have liked Yates’ books in the past.

Secret Soldier by Ann McGovern — This is the story of Deborah Sampson who dresses as a man and fights in the war. She is from the town adjacent to us and there is a statue of her there so it seemed like a good one to read. And it is a good story. My daughter enjoyed it too.

Oodles of books by Jean Fritz — If you don’t know Jean fritz, check her out. She seems to have been quite prolific, especially on this period of American history. Each of her books focuses on a particular character. They are all the same length (about 44 pages of reading) and yet she is not overly formulaic. She makes a good story of each one. Some of the books available, many of which my 4th grader read, are:

What’s the Big Idea, Ben Franklin?

Why Don’t You Get a Horse, Sam Adams?

And then What Happened, Paul Revere?

Can’t You make them Behave, King George?

Will You Sign here, John Hancock?

Where was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May?


Books we listened to:

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes — We listened to this classic years ago but no list of books on the Revolution would be complete without it so here it is. For reading level, it would be middle or high school.

Mr. Revere and I by Robert Lawson — This is Paul Revere’s story told from the point of view of his horse. It is a clever idea and I thought it was not a bad story. My kids found it too homeschool-y.

War Comes to Willy Freeman by James Lincoln Collier — A free African-American girl loses her parents and travels around Connecticut and New York searching for her mother disguised as a boy (yet another girl in boy’s clothes story). My children stated out opposed to this one as being educational but I think they were won over by the story in the end. It does start a bit slow then grow on you. My own caution would be that the girl is groped by soldiers early on and later almost assaulted by one; this might be something you wouldn’t want your kids to hear.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson — Like all of Anderson’s books, this one is unusual. The story is an odd one. It takes a bit to figure out what is going on and I don’t want to be a spoiler. It is the story of a boy and his mother who live in a house with a society of scientists who do weird experiments that often seem quite inhumane. It is set just before and during the revolution in and around Boston.  This was a hard book for my younger kids to understand. I would say it is definitely high school level,. There are bits that have mature themes, for instance the main character is asked to read some porn to his roommate. I didn’t think it went too far but one would need to be careful with younger kids.

The Rifle by Gary Paulsen — I had heard this book recommended in the context of the Revolutionary War and we have listened to and liked a number of Paulsen’s books, including his Mr. Tucket series which I would recommend, so I was optimistic about this one. I was disappointed. The book starts with a very long section describing the making of the rifle which is really the main character of the story. This really bored my kids (and me). The rifle itself is used in the Revolution, but this is a fairly small part of its history. Much of the story happens in modern times, and here the book veers into anti-NRA propaganda. The author seems pretty clearly (to me) to be saying in the end that despite what people say (“guns don’t kill people; people kill people”), guns do kill people. I am not a rabid pro-gun person. I have never used one or lived in a house with one. But I was really irritated by the tone and message of this book anyway. It doesn’t help that the one context in which religion is mentioned is to refer to one particularly deranged gun-toter as also a believer in Jesus. I have no doubt this character is an accurate depiction of how some people are, but I do think there are also more level-headed, intelligent pro-gun people and I know there are more level-headed Christians. I would recommend you skip this book.

Videos we watched:

The Crossing – Already reviewed here

Felicity — This is the American Girl movie. I was optimistic about it because we had seen and liked the one set during the Depression. This one was a disappointment. Read this post to get the specifics.

Schoolhouse Rock — The old classic from my childhood has a few segments that relate to this period. They are brief and perhaps not overly informative but always fun.

Soldiering Through History: Revolutionary War– This video and accompanying book were made by a group of homeschooling brothers. They are reenactors themselves and the main focus is on how to reenact being a Revolutionary war soldier. The video itself is only about 25 minutes long. They do cover things like how the soldiers dressed and it was informative but my kids didn’t find it thrilling. They also have videos on other wars America has been involved in If you child is more into soldiering than mine are, this might appeal to them. The book lists other resources but I found its activities too workbook-y for my tastes.

Liberty’s Kids — If you have never seen this TV show, it is worth a look. It was a series of cartoons set during the Revolutionary War. The premise is that there is a group of kids who work with Benjamin Franklin in his printing shop and find themselves in the midst of all the big events of the time. It is very entertaining. Though we had watched it all probably a couple of times previously and own the DVDs, I had never noticed the historical inaccuracies before, and there are a number of them. For this reason, I would recommend studying the war first and then watching the videos. For instance, in the first episode, “The Boston Tea Party,” the throwing of the tea happens as soon as the ship carrying it has docked whereas in reality there were a number of days in between. Also the tea was in barrels in the show while we, having been recently to the Tea Party Ship Museum, know it was in wooden chests. My kids noticed these discrepancies too which I suppose is a good sign.

Obviously there is a lot more out there on the American Revolution to read and see. This is all we had time for. Are there any favorites of yours we missed?




Jeremiah 9 and 10: Brothers, Fathers and Mothers, and Aramaic

Dear Reader,

In my study through the book of Jeremiah (find all the posts here), I am up to chapters 9 and 10. I only have  a few observations on these chapters.

In chapter 9, what I noticed were references to family members. The chapter begins with an indictment of the people yet again. In verse 4 (Hebrew v. 3), we read:

“Let a man guard himself against his neighbor;

And on every brother do not let him trust.

For every brother will indeed supplant,

And every neighbor will go about slanderously.” (Jer. 9:4; my translation)

This verse is a nice example of Hebrew parallelism.  Notice how the first and fourth lines use the word “neighbor” and the second and third use “brother.” I don’t think we need to particularly distinguish between the relationships here. The point is that those who are close to one are treacherous. Israel is really one family and every neighbor is a brother. Biblical Hebrew has no word I know of for cousin or the like and so brother can be used more generally than we would usually use it.

The word I have translated “supplant” is one that immediately drew my attention. It actually occurs twice here. There is an intensive form of the verb in Hebrew called the infinitive absolute which we usually translate, as I have here, something along the lines of “indeed” or “truly.” As its name suggest, this form is used with a finite form of the same verb to intensify its meaning. So we have the same word, in slightly different forms, here twice in a row. And the word root is the same as that in the name Jacob. The Hebrew here would sound like ‘aqob yaqob (the ‘ is what is called a glottal stop and the q is  a hard k sound).  Compare this to the name of the patriarch: Ya’aqob. The difference is only the matter of one short a sound. It is hard then when one reads this passage indicting brothers for their crimes against each other, not to think of Israel’s ancestor, the patriarch Jacob, who also gained his inheritance and birthright by supplanting his brother. The root used, ‘qb, in both the name and the verbs we have here comes from the word for heel and means something along the lines of to grab the heel of (as Jacob did to Esau in the womb).  More figuratively the idea is that one is right on the heels of another with the aim of overtaking or supplanting. What I get from all this is that God, through Jeremiah, is saying to His people, you have not changed; your forefather was a supplanter and you still betray your brothers at every opportunity.

Later on in the chapter, I noticed a contrast being made between two other family members — fathers and mothers. In verses 14 and 16 (Hebrew vv. 13 and 15), we find:

“They have walked after the stubbornness of their heart,

And after the baals as their father taught them . . .

Therefore I will scatter them among nations whom neither they nor their fathers knew . . . ” (Jer. 9:14, 16; my translation)

Notice that the fathers of the current generation taught them to worship false idols. The chapter goes on to call the women to come and mourn for Israel’s destruction. This is how things would have been done in ancient times; women would wail and carry on in times of grief. Professional mourners might even be hired at funerals and the like to carry on a good and proper lament. The Lord then says:

“Hear, women, the word of the LORD,

And let your ear take the word of His mouth.

Teach your daughters a lament,

And each woman [will teach] her neighbor a dirge.” (Jer. 9:20 [Hebr. 9:19])

Because they have followed their fathers’ instruction and engaged in false worship, now as a part of their punishment, they will learn not from their fathers but their mothers, and the lesson to be learned is one of mourning. Now I don’t think this is meant to say anything particularly horrible about a mother’s instruction (as a homeschooler, I could hardly think that, could I?), but it does give one the impression that the men who are supposed to be in charge in this society are gone. Because of their false teaching, they have been wiped out and the females are left, mothers and daughters lamenting together. Perhaps I go beyond the intent of the passage but I think it often happens this way among God’s people. It is easy to blame women who seem to rule in churches as violating God’s established order, but I think the women would not often take charge if the men did not cede to them their rightful position. A lack of leadership on their part, or as in the case of this passage even bad, wrong teaching, has opened the door for the women to step in. Okay, that probably does go beyond what Jeremiah intended here, but it is what it made me think of.

My only observation in chapter 10 of Jeremiah is to point out that in the middle of the chapter we get a bit of Aramaic. The vast majority of the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew. Over time the people themselves came to speak a closely related language, Aramaic. I like to compare the two to Spanish and Portuguese; they are very near cousins. A good chunk of the book of Daniel as well as portions of Ezra were originally written in Aramaic. These are later books describing events during and after the exile of the southern kingdom. Here in Jeremiah we are not yet to the exile though it is looming. In the reign of Hezekiah, as recounted in II Kings, it seems that the people still speak Hebrew though their Assyrian oppressors speak Aramaic (see II Kgs. 18:26). This would have occurred in the 700s BC. Aramaic seems to have taken over during the Babylonian exile which began circa 586 BC. Yet here in Jeremiah 10, somewhere between these two events, we have this one verse in Aramaic:

“Thus you will say to them, ‘The gods who heaven and earth did not make,

will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.'” (Jer. 10:11)

The next verse tells us, once again in Hebrew, that it is God who make the earth and established the heavens. What is the significance of this one verse being in Aramaic? The people have adopted the gods of their neighbors and the language of their neighbors and oppressors is here used. Perhaps it adds to the sense of condemnation. It separates them from their God, the God of the Hebrews, to use the langauge of the foe.

There is one more point to note in v. 11. The way the Aramaic reads, there are two words that are almost homophones in a row. You can see in my translation above that the first line ends with “did not make” and the second line begins with “they will perish.” Each of these is only one word in Aramaic.The two words are ‘abadu and ye’badu respectively. They look and sound very similar. Again a nice parallelism is created. The first line has “heaven and earth”” and then the verb; the second has the verb, soundly much like the one in the previous line and then “earth and heaven.” It is an ABBA pattern in which the order of the elements is reversed in the second line. My own opinion is that this serves to highlight th contrast in meaning between the verbs — they, the false gods, “did not make” and therefore they “will perish.” Interestingly, this would not have worked in Hebrew since the first verb, the one for make, has a different meaning in Hebrew.

And that’s all I have on Jeremiah 9 and 10. What observations did you make in these chapters?





Six Weeks of Christmas Ornament Crafts for Kids

Dear Reader,

My daughter is beginning a series of six posts featuring easy and cheap ornaments kids can make this holiday season. The first one, fake shrinky dink ornaments is now up. If you are looking for something to do with your kids, you might want to click over there and check it out. And be sure to check back every week for more fun ideas.



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