excerpt from the book : 

Why Moses 

was not allowed to enter the promised land

 Essays and considerations


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Why Moses was not allowed

to enter the promised land





Moses had led the children of Israel out of Egyptian captivity and through the desert for forty years to guide them to the land east of the Jordan, which God had once promised to the fathers and their descendants. 

But at the end of the way he was not destined to go over there himself.

He was one hundred and twenty years old when he climbed Mount Nebo, the highest elevation west of the Jordan, from which, far beyond the Jordan Valley, one looks to the region that extends east of the river. From there, God showed Moses the land. He reminded him of his promise and then said to Moses:

I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there5 Moses 34,4


Why was it destined to Moses to see the promised land after forty years of wandering in the wilderness but not to enter it?

The reason is less familiar, but is articulated in the preceding texts, in the descriptions at the end of the wandering: The people were dissatisfied because they suffered from a lack of water. 

There were allegations against Moses, whereupon he and his brother Aharon visited the tabernacle to ask for God's help. God told Moses to take a staff and to gather the congregation. In front of their eyes he should speak to a rock to let water flow:

Take the staff; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink. 4 Moses 20, 8


Moses initially did as he was told. He stepped before the people and said: Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?

Then, instead of speaking to the rock, as instructed, Moses, it is said, hit it twice with his staff. There was a lot of water coming out and the community could drink and their cattle.

Then it is said:

But the Eternal said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as the saint before the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them“


The water had flowed out of the rock in front of the eyes of the congregation, in such a quantity that all, and also the cattle, could drink enough. But in what, after all, consisted Moses’ failure not to have treated God as the saint before the eyes of the children of Israel?


One might think it could be seen in the announcement with which he stepped in front of the crowd: Listen, you rebels, shall we bring water for you out of this rock? He refers to himself and Aharon, without mentioning God.


But this interpretation would not really consider content and background of the encounter between God and Moses; it would be an assumption that disregards the essential and articulated difference between the instruction of God and the behaviour of Moses: Moses was supposed to speak to the rock - instead he had hit it twice with his staff.


It was not the first time the people had complained about a lack of water and Moses, at God's command, had let flow water from a rock. It had already happened once before, at the beginning of the wandering. At that time, God had specifically instructed Moses to hit the rock with his staff. 2 Moses 17, 5


Now he instructs him to take the staff along, but then to speak to the rock, to let the water flow. It should, so it seems, be made clear to all eyes that now not the staff, but the word opens the rock.

But Moses again grabs the staff and hits the rock.

The commentator Rashi emphasizes: Because God had not commanded to strike the rock, but 'you shall speak to the rock ....' if Moses and Aharon had not failed here , they would have entered the land. 

Raschi Commentare, Die fünf Bücher Moses, 20, 12


This is the reason given as to why Moses was only allowed to see the Promised Land, but not to enter it.

He had not, as commanded, spoken to the rock to let water flow, but used the staff as a tool. He did not let the Word become presence.


What was it about the staff?





The staff of Aharon



For the second time the people complained about a lack of water. At the first complaint, at the beginning of the journey through the wilderness, when God had commanded Moses to strike the rock with the staff for water to flow out of it, he had specified the staff: ... take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile.  2 Moses 17, 5


This points to an earlier use of the staff. It was supposed to be the staff that was used to hit the Nile, so that it turned into blood. This was the first of the ten Egyptian plagues that came about because Pharaoh did not want to let the Hebrews go. 

Here, again, a reference is made to a previous use of the staff: you shall take in your hand the staff that was turned into a serpent... 2 Buch 7:15


It was the staff of Aharon. Before the imposition of the ten Egyptian plagues, Moses and Aharon had come before the Pharaoh to demand the release of the Israelites from Egyptian captivity. 

At that time Aharon, by God's direction, had thrown the staff down in front of the Pharaoh and his entourage, so that if the Pharaoh asked for a miracle, the staff would turn into a serpent as a reminder to let the children of Israel go:

When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, ‘Work a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’ 2 Moses 7, 9

The Pharaoh had then instructed his sages and wizards to turn their staffs into serpents too, and, surprisingly, they succeeded. But, it is said, the staff of Aharon devoured their staffs.


A snake as a staff or erected on a staff is a recurrent image. 

Later, Moses receives the instruction to make a copper serpent and raise it up on a staff. Those who look at them are healed by the bites of fiery snakes who had come upon the Israelites for their nagging

4 Moses 21, 4-9. 

Outside the Bible, there is a similar image in the symbol of the Aesculapian staff.


The staff of Aharon had been turned into a serpent and again into a staff. With it Aharon had struck the Nile, so that it turned into blood, and after the departure of the Hebrews and the beginning of the wandering in the desert, Moses was told to hit the rock with it.


But towards the end of the wandering, in the fourth book of Moses, after the people had again complained of thirst, Moses should take the staff along but not use it in front of everyone. Instead, he should talk to the rock in order to let water flow.


What has changed in the time between the first water shortage and the second?

 In the meantime almost forty years had passed. The Israelites had received the Tablets of the Law, the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. 

Thus, according to Jewish understanding, man was for the first time addressed as an individual, in his own relationship to heaven, in directive and answer and with his own judgment. 

The Exodus from Egypt, the liberation from a collectivist understanding of man, was now also spiritually accomplished for the Hebrews. In Christianity, the feast of this event of individuation, Shavuoth, which is celebrated on the fiftieth day after Passover, became the feast of Pentecost. Pentecost means fifty. 

It was the feast of Shavuoth, to which the disciples had gathered, as recorded in the story of the apostles, when the Holy Ghost came down upon each of them, and each received their own spirit.


By receiving the instructions on Sinai, the individual emerges from the captivity of the collective, the bondservice, in which he is perceived as a mere function of the community. 

Thereby he is also freed from being determined by utilitarianism. He is no longer determined by a function, he has his own beginning. Thus, he is also able to see the world as his counterpart and not as something, that exists only as utility Bacon

The Word is given to him.

Therefore, the first of the The ten Commandments says: I AM your God who led you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of servitude. Do not have another deity before my face.. 2 Moses 20.2, 

Following the German Buber / Rosenzweig translation, the tetragram appears as the basicword of the person: ICH bin dein Gott, der ich dich führte aus dem Land Ägypten, aus dem Haus der Dienstbarkeit. Nicht sei dir andere Gottheit mir ins AnICH bin dein Gott, der ich dich führte aus dem Land Ägypten, aus dem Haus der Dienstbarkeit. Nicht sei dir andere Gottheit mir ins Angesicht.gesicht.


The emphasis on uniqueness is that of identity. 

Pharaoh's wizards also had staffs, they too were able to transform them into serpents and do something with them. 

Up to this point, Moses was only gradually superior to them because Aharon's staff devoured those of the Egyptian priests. But it was done by using a tool -  a utilitaristic act.

A mentality, from which man had stepped out of at Mount Sinai.

Until then it was only God who had worked through the Word in the Bible. 

So, in the third verse of Genesis, where it is written: Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.  

Through the Word Thou created the heavens, says the psalm.


After the Sinai-event, heaven is supposed to work in the word of man.

The recourse to the staff of Aharon represented a disregard of this fact.

Moses had not allowed the Myth to become present.  

Therefore, it says: Because you did not believe me and did not want to testify to me as the saint before the eyes of the Israelites …

Only Moses and Aharon had been entrusted with the staff of Aharon had been entrusted. In a certain sense, this exclusive position was still similar to that of the pharaoh in Egypt. The instruction to speak to the rock, to let the water flow, meant an emancipation of the individual: Speech is given to everyone.

By talking to the rock, it becomes clear that every person now has their own dialogical relationship with heaven - and with nature.

His speech to the people -  Hear now, ye rebels; shall we bring you forth water out of this rock? -  could be seen as a motive of Moses to be confirmed again in the old authority. And so to beat the rock with the staff instead of speaking to it.


Having reached the Promised Land under the guidance of Joshua, the Israelites did not form a collective but found a federative polity, the Twelve tribes, an association of associations whose communication and interaction were not determined by a centralized state but by a common spirit.


Martin Buber refers to the anarchistic, federal idea of this polity. This era, called the Time of the Judges, ended when the elders in Israel declared that they wanted to have a king as well: now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have. 1 Sam 8


King David, the successor of the hapless Saul, the first king of Israel, later carried out the first census. It took place against the will of God, who did not want the children of Israel to be counted and to be comprehended as a counted quantity. Here we can find a first characterization of scientific thinking


The German author Heinrich Böll took up the idea in his short story about an employee of the city who has to count the daily passers-by of a bridge. 

He does, however, not count a woman who comes by every day and whom he secretly loves.

Heinrich Böll, Die ungezählte Geliebte



Thou shall speak to the rock


Because Moses did not as he had been told, namely to speak to the rock, the stone was not addressed by the beating with the staff.

By being treated with an instrument the rock remained just a purpose. Instead of being addressed with a Thou, the rock remained an It, a functional thing. Martin Buber


Nature remains unredeemed where it was supposed to become an encounterpart.

Martin Buber emphasizes this deciding situation in the disposition of man. 

The decision between the I-It-relationship, in which things are seen as utility, and the I-Thou-relationship, in which things become an opposite to be encountered and in which they are spoken to.


This is expressed in a remark of Baal Shem Tov about the sacred sparks, which Martin Buber recounts: The sacred sparks, which have fallen when God built and destroyed worlds, it shall be raised and upwardly purified by man from rock to plant, from plant to animal, from animal to speaking creature, 

to purify the sacred spark that is enclosed by the world of shell. 

It is known that every spark that lives in a rock or plant or other creature has a complete figure with the full number of limbs and sinews, and if he lives in the rock or plant he is in the dungeon, cannot stretch hands and feet and cannot speak, but his head lies on his knees. And who, with the good power of his spirit, can raise the holy spark from rock to plant, from animal to speaking creature, leads him to freedom. And no solution of prisoners is greater than this. How to save a king's son from captivity and bring him to his father.    from: Baal-Schem-Tow, Martin Buber


The staff of Aharon, which was temporarily a serpent, corresponds in the astrological interpretation of the Münchner Rhythmenlehre to the principle of Mars, which has to free the trapped waters from the rock.

Mars, which liberates the waters, appears in many places in the mythological images. 

With a lightning wedge, the Babylonian god Marduk strikes the dragon Tiamat and frees the waters that the dragon devoured, whereupon heaven and earth arise.

Likewise, the Vedic Indra, who strikes the dragon Vritra with the lightning bolt, so that the waters of the truth are released.


Mars, belonging to Aries, represents the other side of the sign Pisces with its planet Neptune. Mars is the Avenger of Neptune, who has to liberate the waters. 

At the end of the path Mars must become Neptune again.

Similarly, in the Arthurian legend, where the sword of Arthur, which he once pulled out of a rock, at the end is handed over to the lake. Wolfgang Döbereiner


In the case of Moses, who again used the staff instead of speaking to the rock as instructed, Mars was to become dialogue, the waters of speech.

It is not without reason that in German the preposition gegen - against forms a word field, which contains the fundamental element of the relationship – Begegnung - encounter, Gegenwart - presence, Gegenüber - opposite, counterpart, zugegen – present. 


Here, it is man, whom it is given to liberate the waters.


The name of Moses represents the Hellenized form of the Hebrew name Moshe-שששה. Moshe contains the root mosh - מוש – to pull. 

To the word field belongs moshekh -מושך - pull out, mussag - מושג - idea, moshia - מושיע - savior, as well as moshiakh - משיח, which became Messiah in Greek. In the case of Moses, according to Martin Buber, the name means pulled out, but also the one who pulls out or leads out.


Also, the Greek word Mythos, associated to mystic, from mysticos, the hidden or the secret, presumably goes back to the Hebrew adjective musthar - מוסתר -hidden, secret.

The Mythos is the Geheimnis, the German word for secret. Geheimnis comes from Heim – home. Originally, it means nothing elitist, something that is accessible only to the initiated, but the personhood of man, his sensibility, which is neither public nor measurable, the intimacy of his relationship to heaven.







Categorical imperative and the approval of the death penalty





Immanuel Kant:

In this way: that whoever steals anything makes everyone’s property insecure; he therefore robs himself of all security in property, according to the right of retaliation. Such a one has nothing, and can acquire nothing, but he has the will to live; and this is only possible by others supporting him. But as the state should not support the thief for free, he must yield his powers to the state to be used in penal labour; and thus he falls for a time, or it may be for life, into a condition of slavery.

But whoever has committed murder, must die. There is, in this case, no juridical substitute or surrogate, that can be given or taken for the satisfaction of justice.

Imanuel Kant, On Criminal and Pardon Law / Metaphysics of Morals



Martin Buber:

Answer to a questionnaire in 1928

- My answer to the questions submitted to me can be summarized in the following sentences:

1. The death penalty is partial suicide without legitimate subject.

2. It acts not as a deterrent, only by its terror it will disturb people even deeper into confusion.

3. The self-protection of society must be limited by its purpose, and it must always be reconsidered.

Martin Buber, from:  Nachlese, 1965




Categorical imperative

and the approval of the death penalty


A dialogue




How does Buber come to the conclusion that the death penalty means partial suicide?


- The one who kills another or causes his death, kills his counterpart. With this he also wipes himself out as a subject.

He kills something in himself. That is a primal sensation. It results from Buber's thoughts of I and Thou

In it he articulates how the person-being of man, his I, grows out of the recognition and the acknow-ledge of the other person, the Thou. Who eliminates his Thou also cancels his I. Buber transfers this to the community, which primal emerges from the I-Thou relationship. Here the individual is affected as well as the community as such: The community kills itself by killing the individual under the pretending of community security. Thus it dissolves itself in its foundation.


- Kant emphasizes that his maxim of the Categorical imperative - act as if the standard of your actions can become the principle of the action of all - is not suspendable. In all circumstances, even against a murderer, you have to be truthfull, otherwise you commit a breach of the law. Anyone who deliberately breaks the law, questions its general validity and thus makes social life impossible.

Also, no one could be misused for a purpose or reduced to a purpose.


- But precisely with this maxim, all life excitement and all living together is made to a purpose. More than before. Namely, by understanding the individual as a function of the community. The road to collective coercion, over that of the Prussian military state to that of German National Socialism, is laid down in it.


- Kant, however, contradicts even the ethical claim of his imperative with his statement of reasons of the death penalty. A murderer must die, says Kant, for that there is no other satisfaction of justice in this case. A contradiction to his deduction of the Categorical Imperative, according to which no person may be misused for a purpose or made to a purpose.

Now he calls the execution the only adequate punishment for one who has murdered, on the grounds that only then can one speak of a satisfaction of justice.


- In fact a contradiction, since justice is granted an absoluteness here, it is even personified, by able to be satisfied.

However, in Kant's philosophy, justice can only be an intersubjective consensus geared to creating social conditions for the advantage of all. 


- That's how Kant formulated it:

An amount of rational beings who demand general laws for their preservation, but from which each of them is inclined in secret to exclude themselves from it, to order and establish in their constitution in such a way that, even though they are against each other in their private attitudes, they nevertheless hold each other back in such a way that in their public conduct the success is the same as if they had no such evil attitudes.   (Perpetual peace) 


- A right of retribution can not be deduced from it and arbitrarily set. A satisfaction of justice by the death of the delinquent represents the reduction to a purpose and is in contradiction to the alleged ethics of the Categorical imperative.


- The contradiction exposes Kant's imperative in its basics. It lies in the matter. With Kant's advocacy of the death penalty it only becomes obvious. Since the very maxim of always acting in such a way that one's own action can be regarded as the yardstick of the community makes the community a functional end in itself, in which the individual is reduced to the purpose of maintaining the community. This is the essence of Kant's teaching.

The appreciation of Kantian philosophy in Prussian-dominated Germany and in the emerging industrial society may find its explanation here.


- The sentence forms the concept of modern democracy. Namely, to organize the selfish claims to power in way that they keep each other in check.


- A political mechanics. One speaks also with reference to Adam Smith of the Mechanism of the market.


- That will cause that those prevail, who best understand how to disguise their striving for power as a mechanism.


- Insofar as a society actually invokes this rule and not something else, it leads to the dictatorship of constraint of facts.


- Into the dictatorship of those who understand how to present their interests as constraint of facts.


- The leader of Eastern espionage in the Nazi state, Reinhold Gehlen, who founded, fostered by the USA the german Federal Intelligence Service after the war, once formulated this coherently.

In a letter a few years after the collapse of the Nazi state, when the future german federal government was still in the process of forming itself, he speculated about that after the Nazi dictatorship and prussian Kaiserreich and the associated catastrophes, political decisions could no longer be communicated to the people via the authority of persons, since people's trust in any form of personal authority was irrevocably gone. Government measures could no longer be justified in this way. Therefore it would be advisable to present them as a constraint of facts.


- Gehlen apparently uses Hegel's definition according to which Freedom is the insight into necessity. Despite the differences to Kant completely in his sense. Both presented the theoretical equipment of the Prussian state and its guiding principle of state duty as the highest virtue.


- Kant's lapse of thought is systemic: proponents of community coercion are usually also supporters of the death penalty. It is the repression by the collectivy compulsion that demands sacrifice. This is the root of the matter.

At any rate, the death penalty is in conflict with the idea of democracy. In its essential sense, democracy excludes the use of the death penalty.


- Why should the imposition of the death penalty be undemocratic? The USA is a democracy, actually the first modern democracy, and they have the death penalty.


- The democracy in USA is not so old yet.


- Is it not said that the foundation of the United States of America in 1789 is the model for the modern democratic state?


- Does not it belong to a democracy that the population chooses the government, that everyone equally entitled to vote?


- Yes, that's exactly what was stated in the US Constitution.


- It was not valid for the Indians and the slaves. These were not eligible to vote. If only certain sections of the population are allowed to vote, one can not speak of democracy.


- Teething problems. That was overcome. Today, all citizens in the US are allowed to vote.





- Let's take Japan. Japan is also a democracy. There they have also the death penalty. In Britain, one of the oldest democracies ever, it was still practiced until the 1950s. Who wants to say that Britain was not democratic at the time? The death penalty seems quite compatible with democracy. Then it is a democratic agreement. If someone has killed, then he should also be punished with death. Whoever has taken the life of another, thereby forfeited the right to life.


- What does that look like in detail? Who should determine whether one forfeited the right to life?


- The state, I think, the courts.


- From whom do the courts and the state obtain the legitimacy to deny someone the right to life?


- From the people, from the community.


- By voting, so to speak? Do you mean that with democratically?


 - In this way, in a country of law, laws are made and the organs of jurisdiction are determined indirectly. Democracy means "the people itself rule".


- If everyone is allowed to participate in the vote, is it not because everyone is given a basic right, which includes the right to life? In total what we call human dignity?


- Yeah right. Everyone is granted this dignity, including the right to life, unless he has killed another. This should, so the statement, be punished with death.


- What then ultimately decide the community again. 


- Correct.


- This would mean that it is up to the arbitrariness of the community or its majority to deny a person the right to life. In so doing it self contradicts this principle of the right to life in a fundamental way.


- Why contradicts? Why arbitrariness? It is like a social contract in which certain statutes have been laid down, according to which the one who commits a murder forfeits his right to life. It is his decision. He does not have to kill; He who lives in a community also accepts its conditions, to which he, in a certain way, contributes.


- It contradicts itself fundamentally, because the right to life can not be subject to the decision of the community, since the right of the individual to life is the presupposition of its constitution.

If it denies someone the right to life, it abolishs in principle this elementary condition of respect for the human dignity of the other man in principle. Therefore Martin Buber calls the death penalty a partial suicide of every community.


-  But this is about a murderer, not about anyone.


- A murderer is also anyone. It's about a community that claims the right to deny a murderer the right to life. And that is contradictory, because in a community that claims to be based on respect for the individual's life, this can not be subject to conditions because it would fundamentally nullify that respect.

Therefore, Buber also named the death sentence against Eichmann, the only death penalty ever imposed by an Israeli court, a mistake of historical proportions. 


- Can you say that if the community denies this right, that this decision would be arbitrary? Can you?


- You ask rhetorically. Perhaps you think that democracy in its essence is about making political decisions that are made by the majority.


- In fact, that's what I think.


- In fact, this is only the secondary principle of a democratic society. Secondary because it is a consequence of the fundamental respect for the dignity of the individual. From the relationship of the individuals, who recognize each other and generaly, namely each human being in his dignity, the liberal community is enable in the first place. It is the crucial condition.

Only out of this the functions and doings of community formation, including voting by majority vote of this indivuals, are resulting.


- But the majority decision is a fundamental function of democratic society.


- But it is not the basic content of democracy. The Greeks distinguished democracy from laocracy, the rule of the crowd.

The majority decision alone is not decisive, since it could negate its own precondition.


- Majority principle is not equal to democracy?


- The majority decision is based on respect for the dignity of the individual. She is derived from her and this is her prescondition. Therefore, it can not deny the dignity of one or more individuals, as it then dissolves in its ethical basis.


- Well, that's plausible. The majority principle can not be the sole legitimization principle. But there is also the natural law. And so it lies in the logic of the matter that one who has murdered, deserves death.


- You think he also deserves to be murdered?


- Not murdered! Punished by death by sentence. 


- If you speak of the logic of the matter, then you mean that here is an act to be repaid one to one.

And that means: A murder is atoned for by a murder. That would not be democratic jurisprudence, but the revenge principle, like it dominates in clan societies. 

Anyone who wants to live like this should do so. But he should not, well provided with social security and pension insurance, advocate the state or the community for his murderous desires.

Let him take a gun and go. Then we would have a clan rule as they still may exist in Europe in the scipetarian mountains. They should go to the scipetarian mountains. Guaranteed that these well pension insured supporters of death penalty would shit themself there


- You are wrong. The lex talionis, the retaliatory thought, for example in the ancient jurisprudence, is not comparable to the clan revenge. This goes beyond the idea of revenge, according to which the same should be compensated only with the same.

The biblical eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth is by no means a tighter jurisprudence in its time, but on the contrary; it represents a containment of the clan revenge by specifying a rule and introducing a generally binding case-law.


- You're right. The lex talionis is not synonymous with the clan vengeance. However, your biblical quotation is not about retaliate the same thing in the narrow sense with the same.


- Not?


- In the Mosaic laws it is not called an eye for an eye. In the wording it says:

give an eye for an eye ... 

Thus the directive has a completely different meaning than commonly stated. It is not aimed at the injured party, who should now demand the eye of the perpetrator for his lost eye, nor at a judge, but at the polluter to compensate for the damage.  It goes without saying that the instruction to him does not literally mean, to rip his eye out and to give it to the injured party, who anyway would not be helped with that, but that a compensation is meant here.


- This is only partially true. This directive is repeated several times in the Five Books of Moses. Only once, the first time, it says Give life for life, an eye for an eye ... in the 2. Book of Moses, chapter 21, verse 23 and 24. Only here, the causer of the damage seems addressed.  But what is meant in another passage, say 3 Moses, 24, verse 19 to 20?

There it is said expressly  If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done, it shall happen to him, fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him.

Here the higher-level instance of a jurisdiction is addressed: so shall it happen to him. And it is even clearly articulated that the similar should be retaliated with the similar.


- Again, it is about adequate compensation. The original Hebrew text contains the word takhat and that means instead of or in place of.  

The takhat is a continuous principle when it is about accidents or damages in biblical jurisprudence.


- Anyway. Two lines before it is said that if anyone kills any man, he shall die. You will not be able to refute that in the Mosaic laws, at least some offenses are listed as death-worthy offenses


- The statements are actually applicable to all sides. They would also apply to judges and executioners. But other interpretations are also possible for the well-known sentence in the first book of Moses 9, 6.

"Shofekh dam haAdam, baAdam damo jeshafekh" -

"Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed" King James

would be a literal translation that corresponds to the sentence position.


- What other interpretation?


- The comma is already an interpretation. There is none in the original Hebrew text. A well-known Talmudic derivation now puts it elsewhere, not in front of but behind "baAdam". The prefix "ba" would then no longer mean "through a person" but "in a person". The sentence then reads:

"Whoever sheds man's blood in a man, his blood will be shed."


- A man in a man?


- The statement was related to the unborn child. It is considered the prohibition of abortion.


- That does not contradict the other interpretation. It even includes the killing of the unborn child.


- That's true. However, it highlights the range of meanings of the prefix "ba". The most common meaning is actually "in". However, it can also mean “through” or “at” or “by”.

Because "baAdam" as "in a man" can also be understood in such a way that when someone sheds a person's blood, he kills something in himself, "in a man". "... haAdam, baAdam .... - Whoever sheds the blood of man, his blood is shed in man".

A comparison. This is probably what Martin Buber had in mind when he called the death penalty partial suicide:  Whoever kills someone else kills someone in himself.


- Regardless of this, the argument in favor of the death penalty is often justified by the proponents of certain biblical passages from the Mosaic laws, which, according to their interpretation, refer to the killing of the perpetrator for some offenses



-The argumentation in support of the death penalty is occasionally justified by its representatives with certain biblical passages from the Mosaic laws. 

According to their interpretation, there are some passages, which speak of killing an offender


- Indeed. That is undeniable.


– It must be taken into account that the various texts of the Holy Scripture should be weighted differently - in terms of their importance and in relation to each other.

Thus, according to the orthodox tradition, the content of the Torah is revelation given directly by God, while the rest of the authors are considered to be inspired with God, and their writings are accordingly regarded as inspired revelations. 


- Well, the font is not a homogeneous block. But you yourself say that the Mosaic instructions have an exalted position, since they are regarded as immediate revelation.


- Here there are also different points of view. Within the laws of the Torah, in turn, the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments, which Moses received from God on Sinai, takes a prominent position. They stand above all other instructions.

These Ten Commandments can be considered the essential instruction of biblical ethics, given by God to Moses, and superior to all the other commandments and rules of the Torah. 


- Now, with regard to the Mosaic Laws on Deadly Crimes, these would be relativized by the fifth commandment of the Decalogue, usually translated as Thou Shalt Not Kill. Ist it that, what you mean?


Thou shalt not kill is not a perfect translation of the Hebrew lo tirtsakh. As a more correct transfer of the fifth commandment of the Decalogue is considered another verb: Thow shalt not murder.


- Can one call the execution of a death sentence murder? Only in polemics the word is used in this context.


- How one takes it. Supporters of death penalty like to emphasize this distinction, since the state-run execution would be affected by a ban on killing, but in the linguistic consensus it will not called a murder.

But it remains: the verb killing as an act of one person against another person means a specific act. 

Killing a person on purpose means to do a murder!


- You mean, this concerns any intentional killing? Also when it is the action of a government or a court?


- Due to the declared institutionalized purpose and the associated cruelty even more.


- Understanding what is the proper interpretation of the original Hebrew text, should be found in the handling of the jurisdiction of Judaism. How did they deal with the proscription of killing in the Ten Commandments?


- A look at the relationship of late antiquity Judaism to the imposition of the death penalty reveals a hardly comparable reluctance towards the death penalty, which ultimately resulted in general avoidance in the fourth century.  

Thus one needed seventy judges in order to be able to sentence a person to death. It required two witnesses of his crime. The Gemara says: A court that sentences only one person to death in seventy years is called a bloodthirsty court.

Although one admitted in principle the possibility of a divine judge's verdict, one did not trust any human judge infallibility.


- But theoretically the death penalty was seen as  justificated.


 - Since one could never be sure of this justification, it was practically abolished. But essential is that there was also a rabbinical interpretation which understood the wording by no means as a directive for the judiciary, but as a passive divinum, as a matter of divine providence. 

For the Hebrew verb asseh in the sentence, as he has done, so it shall be done to him, can be read also as so it will happen to him.


- In other societies, people took a different view.


- As far as the interpretation of a Hebrew commandment from the Decalogue is concerned, there are good reasons, that one should conced Judaism a certain competence for grasping the linguistic meaning.

Thou shalt not kill / murder.

And the fact that the death penalty was already outlawed in Jewish ethics in the fourth century testifies to itself. 





Camokha and Categorical imperative

you shall love your neighbor as yourself 

ואהבת לﬧﬠך כמוך -v'ahavta l'reakha camokha -

you shall love your neighbor - he is like you.

The Hebrew word ahava, which became the Greek Agape ,

is translated as Love.

כ מ ו ך - camokha – like you,

is the literal meaning of the Hebrew phrase,

conventionally ranslated as  …  as yourself

3 Moses 19:18, caligraphy by Shai Kazav 




Camokha and Categorical imperative


The Commandment Love your neighbor and

the difference to the Golden Rule


The Golden Rule is defined as the obligation to treat one's fellow human beings as one wishes to be treated by them.

The rule is found in the ethical teachings of many cultures and religions.

In the Bible it appears in the Book of Tobit. Here, Tobit admonishes his son Tobijah before embarking on a journey: Do to no one what you yourself hate ...Tob.4: 15


Also, in the Gospels the Rule is mentioned a few times, there actively formulated: 

So, whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, it is said in Matthew 7:12.


The validity of the equation seems immediately obvious. The Christian philosopher Origen regarded it as a natural, God-given commandment, accessible to every human being.


The most common form of the golden rule is: What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.

Here, too, the instruction is formulated negatively, whereas in Matthew 7:12 it is said that one should do good to the other, just as one would wishes it for oneself.


Theoreticians of the modern market economy see this as the basic principle of self-regulation of the market and the economic process.

The mechanical inevitability of the assumed self-regulation formed the basis of political and economic science in the run-up to the industrial age.


Adam Smith had stated that egoism was the engine of social interaction. 

Accordingly, Immanuel Kant proclaimed the complete detachment of the social process from the mutual benevolence of individuals and declared rational selfishness to be the very motive of community building:

The problem of the establishment of the state, as hard as it sounds, even for a people of devils (if they only have reason), is solvable and so reads: 'An amount of rational beings who demand general laws for their preservation, but each of whom is inclined in secret to exclude themselves from it, to order and establish in their constitution in such a way that, even though they are against each other in their private attitudes, they nevertheless hold each other back in such a way that in their public conduct the success is the same as if they had no such evil attitudes. Perpetual peace


In his political doctrine, Thomas Hobbes, who one and a half centuries before had declared, that a man is a wolf to man, he comes to the view that only one absolute authority, recognized by all, can guarantee social peace: The Leviathan.


With Immanuel Kant and Adam Smith a seemingly mechanical self-regulation is supposed to guarantee the order.

The phrase of the devils, whose evil attitudes become the motive of the establishment of the state, articulated a fundamental ideological pre-condition of the dawning industrial age.

However, this is already hinted at by Hobbes, who calls the state the great machine.


A short form of the negative formulation can be found in the ethical maxim of the Google Group: Do not be evil. 


This form can already be found in the rhyme of the German humorist Wilhelm Busch: Das Gute, dieser Satz steht fest, ist stets das Böse, das man lässt – which approximately translates as: The good, this sentence fits, is always the evil, that one omits. from: Die fromme Helene

In the two biblical quotations relating to the Golden Rule from the Book of Tobit and the Gospel of Matthew it can be noticed that they refer to the behavior of the individual towards the people. Consequently, it is about the behavior towards the community.

The instruction to charity, on the other hand, refers to the individual: Love your neighbor as yourself.


This is the conventional translation, which seems to correspond to the reflective pragmatism of the Golden Rule, to treat one's neighbor well because one would like to be treated well oneself.

But the wording and also the background of the sentence are different than in the case of the reminders in which the Golden Rule is embedded.


The instruction to charity in the gospel is preceded by a question. A scribe addresses Jesus and asks him about the essence of the Torah: Master, what is the greatest commandment in the law?

Jesus mentions two instructions from the Torah as equally important: the love of God and the love of one's fellowman.

"Love the Eternal your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your strength and with all your mind". Deuteronomy 6: 5

That's the first and biggest bid. But another is like him: "Thou shall love your neighbor as yourself." Lev. 19:18  The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments. Mathew. 22, 36-40


Jesus equates the relationship to God with the relationship to fellow human beings.

A translation based on the Golden Rule -  ... as yourself – does, in its reflective sense, not really do justice to this relation.


On the basis of comparisons with other corresponding passages the Hebraist Naphtali Herz Wessely proposes a more meaningful translation of the phrase: כ מ ו ך - camokha: love your neighbor - he is like you.

Wessely explains: The reason for the commandment "Thou shall love your neighbor" is: For he is like you, he is similar to you, is equal to you; for he too was created in the image of God, and thus he is a human like you. And this includes all the children of men, for they were all made in the image of God.


Thus, the statement goes beyond the reflective nature of conventional translation and provides an essential instruction to be in relationship. Namely, to recognize the other as a person like you

In the German translation of Buber and Rosenzweig, this content is made clear by the specific inclusion of the following tetragram in the statement:

Halte lieb deinen Genossen. Dir gleich. ICH BIN‘s. (Tetragramm) - Love your comrade. Like you. followed by the Tetragramm as: I AM it. ( or It is me) - English translation by the author


They translated camokha to German as Dir gleich- like you.

Buber explains: Das vierte Wort des ersten Satzes … ist keineswegs zu verstehen: »Wie dich selbst«, sondern »dir gleich«, »als dir gleich - The fourth word of the first sentence ... is by no means to be understood as: "Like yourself", but "like you", "as equal to you" Briefwechsel aus sieben Jahrzehnten II: 27. 1. 1937 to Hans Kosma, English translation by the author


The content is further clarified by the specific inclusion of the following tetragram in the statement. The tetragram, transferred as I AM it, is understood by Martin Buber in the sense of the principle of identity and relationship as the basic word of the person, as the I-Thou.


The Judeo-Christian directive to charity is different from the Golden Rule. It does not represent a maxim of action.

It is neither a code of social behavioral economics nor a practicable rule. It does not refer to a behavior but to a beingness. A Being-in-relationship. The recognition of the other, independent of one's own needs.

Kant's categorical imperative is considered to be the philosophically stringent version of the Golden Rule: 

Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law  Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals


In its possible consequence Kant’s imperative actually goes further.

Kant generalized the demand to treat the other as one would like to be treated oneself, to a collective norm: Everyone should always act in such a way that the maxim of their will can count as a moral stipulation for all others - as a principle of general legislation.

The Golden Rule, taken by itself, without the commandment of charity, can be followed without affection, only moved by the purely socio-economic reasons of an anticipatory egoism.

The categorical imperative, however, goes beyond this and excludes even the motive of affection for the other - in favor of the duty that is directed at the collective

Consequently, with Kant acting out of duty appears to be the highest virtue, while the motive of love is not seen as virtue.

To that Schiller wrote the mocking verse: I like to serve the friends, but unfortunately, I do it with inclination, and so it often rankles me that I'm not virtuous. Schiller, Xenie, scruple of conscience.




- Nicolai Hartmann, born on 19 February 1882, with a position of sun at the beginning of Pisces, characterized the neutralization of the individual by the collective, that Kant's ethics contains. He called Kant's Categorical Imperative something that man, as a personality, cannot want in principle. Rather, he must at the same time want something beyond his general validity to have something of his own in his behavior, which no other should or may do in his place. If he renounces this, he is a mere number in the crowd, replaceable by every other; his personal existence is in vain, meaningless. N. Hartmann, Ethics.


To want … something of his own in his behavior is a contradiction that already implies the neutralization.


- The remark lacks clarity. It cannot be a question of wanting that beyond all general validity something of one’s own should be in one’s behavior. That would be constructed.

And defining it by using a comparison namely, to want... to have something of his own in his behavior, which no other should or may do in his place, articulates only another, reactive form of an external determinism.


- The own is beyond behavior. Since everyone is an own by himself, or at least created as an own, it can only be a matter of allowing one's own identity and, consequently, one's own behavior.

Man does not have to want an own, his existence is already an own, otherwise he would not exist. It can only emerge by let it be.

Being means identity, another beingness is unthinkable.




Thomas Hobbes, born April 5 in the sign Aries, Immanuel Kant, in the sign Taurus on April 22, and Adam Smith, in the sign Gemini on June 5, articulate the concept of collective, in which the community becomes an end in itself. Aries, Taurus and Gemini are the three phases of the first quadrant of the zodiac, the causa materialis, realm of Leviathan. 

Here, the individual is viewed only as a function of the collective and will be used up by it.

The destiny of the individual becomes a set of rules. Wolfgang Döbereiner


Nicolai Hartmann, born February 19 in the sign of Pisces, Martin Buber, Aquarius on February 8, and Franz Rosenzweig, Capricorn on December 25, are concerned with the freedom of the individual and recognizing Heaven in the fellow human being. They are representatives of the three phases of the fourth quadrant of the zodiac, the Causa finalis, which appears in the Revelation of John as the one of the four angels with a human face.












With the development of perspectival depiction in the Renaissance, events and things of painting were determined by the constructed space. Space was no longer formed by the meaning of the contents.

A painting did not have its own beginning any more.

The venture of beginning out of nothingness could be calculated and regulated with perspectival construction. This was connected with the unfolding world view, that things and events are placed in an already existing space and in a presupposed time and are determined by the laws of space and time.



This ideology was the precondition of scientific thinking which conceived of events as deterministic events of preceding causal events in a presumed time. The world as what Descartes later called Ideal machine.



In painting, one could now create on the pictorial surface an illusionistic, three-dimensional plane with first one, then two or three vanishing points, into which, as determined by the laws of perspective, the objects to be painted were placed.

Colors and shapes became filling material.

Either they faded, as with Masaccio, or they appeared in the sterile arbitrariness of calculated harmony, as with Dürer. The Italians called Dürer a palliator.


In the course of this development in 1425 it comes to a hitherto unprecedented depiction of the Trinity by Masaccio, in which God appears to be determined by space and time and is depicted as a phenomenon: God the Father, the hitherto unfathomable primal foundation of being, as a bearded old man.

With the perspectival construction as well as with the anatomical representation of the human body, the painters of the Renaissance took up the ancient Greek and Roman art, which were rediscovered at that time.

Once, in pre-Christian times, an early form of the perspectively illusionistic representation had been developed, yet without vanishing points and calculation, e.g. in the murals in the Casa dei Vetti in Pompeii.




In late antiquity and in the Middle Ages, however, this was abandoned in favour of anti-perspectival representations.

From a modern point of view, this change is often seen as a loss of a once-existing knowledge and in this sense as a technical step backwards.

Regarding the continuity with which the technical achievements of Greco-Roman culture were maintained and continued in later Christianized East-Roman Constantinople (such as the sewerage or the Greek fire, the weapon whose composition nobody elsewhere understood and which secured the supremacy of the Byzantine fleet for centuries, the view that the maintenance of the arts would have had a regression only in the technical mastery of perspective seems absurd.


Rather, in the Byzantine renunciation of perspectival illusionism in painting, a spiritual development becomes visible which, due to the spread of Christianity and the associated conception of the individual, is accompanied by a new understanding of the person and the Gestalt.


Three outline drawings of Russian icons. The first, on the previous, shows Christ, who frees the deceased from the Limbo. The second depicts the Evangelist Marc writing. The third shows the angel and the two women at the empty tomb after the resurrection. The table and footstool of Marc are shown in reverse perspective. Also the coffin and coffin lid of the thumb


Here the figures and events in painting begin to form the space. Through them, the space is created.

Significant persons do not only appear greater according to their meaning, represented objects are often in a reverse perspective; they become bigger instead of smaller as is the rule with the perspectival construction.


In contrast to central perspective, the vanishing lines do not collapse in a center but strive to the periphery. This would be the view of the angels, was an explanation in the later Russian icon painting.

Not only had late-antique illusionistic perspectival attempts not been further pursued – despite other technical innovations – but a counter-perspective developed: the centrifugal vanishing lines that enlarged toward the background.

In reversal perspective the vanishing point, i.e. the spatial orientation, is not located in an illusionistic space within the picture, but in front of the picture, in the viewer.


The image addresses the person of the beholder and turns him into a counterpart.

The renunciation of the illusion of a three-dimensional space at the plane creates a space of sensation between image and viewer.


This way of painting does not trick the plane, but creates the things within the plane. It unfolds them there. Thus they acquire a spatial simultaneity and find a presence that is possible only in the pictorial plane.

With the reversal perspective, an impulsation arises: ebb and flow, what is peripheral becomes close, what is close becomes peripheral: the rhythm of the periphery and the middle.

The word time comes from tide, which names the rhythm of ebb and flow.

This is the event, the Ereignis.


The constructed perspective with collapsing (centripedal) vanishing lines corresponds to the mapping / measuring of the space in the sign Gemini.

It is in the service of the sign Taurus, which is pulled toward the centre. (Wolfgang Döbereiner, Astrologisch definierbare Verhaltensweisen in der Malerei, Delacroix)


What in the sign of Taurus appears like the pull to the centre, becomes in the Sign of Gemini a mirroring, spatial illusion which creates a suction.


Central perspective and the illusionistic depiction are opposed to the concern of painters of the sign Aquarius. They aspire to the periphery.


The image of the reverse perspective leads to the periphery. The periphery becomes close.


When, in the representations of things, vanishing lines became larger towards the background, the obtaining causa, the causa finalis was seen behind everything: The background is of greater significance, and in the magnifying lines the experience of the presence of heaven as effecting causa behind all phenomena is expressed.


In the depiction of persons this agent became presence, got close.

But in spatial representation it is the background which is familiar and more important. This is the effecting causa, the real closeness.

The earlier, ancient form of perspectival representation, as it appears in the Pompeian murals, was not oriented towards a vanishing point, but on a vertical axis in the centre of the picture. The vanishing lines to the right and left of this central axis remained parallel in their inclination and ran without further tapering.

The development of a constructible perspective with one, later two and finally three vanishing points, corresponding to the three spatial dimensions, occurred more than a thousand years later with Bruneleschi and Masaccio.

To this, the influence of the Arab scholar Al Haitham, who had manifested the rules of optics around the turn of millennium, and whose Book of optics was available in Latin translation since 1240, had contributed significantly.


One of the philosophical preconditions is the work of Ibn Ruschd, or Averroes, which was more appreciated in Europe than in the Islamic world. In the 12th century, in his interpretation of Aristotle's works, he concluded that time had no beginning.

The concept of an a priori time in which events occur – the basis of the scientific world view as it developed in the course of perspectival construction – implies that time itself is not an event, and thus has no beginning.

Here, time is not understood as an evolving of the Gestalt but as a function of space, as causality circling in itself, like in the image of Leviathan.


The contemporary agreement regarding the nature of time is, for example in the German Wikipedia:

"The word time in philosophy describes the form of changes or the sequence of events perceived by human consciousness."

The English version is similar: “Furthermore, it may be that there is a subjective component to time...”



This definition is based on Aristotle, who linked the experience of time with change:

for that is time: the number of changes regarding the before and after.

Time and change are not the same, but are interrelated, and time reveals the movement.


But change is: the final "to-the-reality-coming" of that, what only as possibility is available - that is change.

Physics, Book IV, chap. 11 and 12


It is noticeable that in Aristotle the concept of time is not reduced to a “form of change perceived by human consciousness” or is consider as a “subjective component” .


Regarding the encyclopedic formulations the question arises as to how a form of change not perceived by consciousness would be different and how it should be experienced at all.


In fact, such statements about time reveal traits similar to those contained in the scientific definition of color: there color is defined as a certain wavelength range of light that is perceived as color by the human eye.


This attempt to separate the object of perception from the subject-object relation and thereby abstracting it from perception is based in a division made in nominalism, later by Kant and the natural sciences: the realm of subjectivity, encompassing sensation, perception and denomination, and the realm of what is outside of direct human perception, accessible only through calculation, measurement and instruments and assigned to the concept of objectivity (a conception that leads to an obvious epistemological dilemma.)


To this Hannah Arendt states: The modern astrophysical world view, which began with Galileo, and its challenge to the adequacy of the senses to reveal reality, have left us a universe of whose qualities we know no more than the way they affect our measuring instruments, and-in the words of Eddington-"the former have as much resemblance to the latter as a telephone number has to a subscriber."" Instead of objective qualities, in other words, we find instruments, and instead of nature or the universe - in the words of Heisenberg – man encounters only himself.

Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, Page 261.



Specifying time as perceived by human consciousness as form of change negates itself conceptually, since time is part of our encounter with the object, which manifests itself in the fact that we do not experience any change that our perception is not directed to.

This tempted Kant to set time a priori.

Newton had already established the idea of a presupposed time as the container of events, so to speak.

This has determined the worldview of classical physics.


Although the idea of an absolute time was abandoned in the course of the development of relativity, quantum physics and thermodynamics, it still represents the attitude of modern science, e.g. when the beginning of space and time is understood as a big bang, as a sudden expansion the Urknall. The concept of the “sudden” as well as of the “expansion” are nullified when neither time nor space can be assumed, but are supposed to be the result. Trying to justify such concepts by means of illustrative clearness leads astray because they suggest a sensual perception that presupposes time and space.


The question of the beginning of time and the ensuing question of the beginning of movement are interrelated according to Aristotle occupied his interpreters in the course of centuries.

It was a crucial part of the debate between Thomas Aquinas and Islamic philosophy, represented by Ibn Ruschd.


In contrast to Ibn Ruschd, Aquin argued that the beginning did not happen in time, but that through the beginning, which he equated with theWord, time became - that the Event thus puts forth time and does not happen in a presumed time.‬‬


Therefore, according to Aquin, in the first verse of Genesis we read: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth ... and not At the beginning ..., for that would mean that time had already existed before.

If the time would precede the event, it would negate itself terminologically, since time without an event is unthinkable.


Ibn Ruschd had tried to do this justice by starting assuming an infinite time and an infinite movement without beginning.


An infinite time without beginning, however, would negate the experience of the flow of time, since there could be no development from something to something else.


Cultures that hold the conception of an eternal time, e.g. those influenced by Vedanta or Buddhism do not comprehend time as a flow: Here, on the one hand, time is understood/perceived as a an ocean of possibilities, the continuity of events, and on the other hand as a circle or a wheel.

Change is seen as a mandala, as an ever-recurring cycle, that must be left behind.

The experience of time, the presence, is regarded as an illusion - and consequently one's own identity.

But the Jewish philosopher Saadja ben Josseph argued:

When the time would be infinite, the past would be infinite. In this case the past could not be limited by the present.

So if time has no beginning, there would be no present.

But as we all are experiencing the present, Saadja concludes, the time has a beginning.


Similarly, in citing human experience, Ilya Prigogine contradicts Richard Feynman.

Feynman fosters the physical view according to which every temporal sequence is fundamentally reversible. Whereas Prigogine argues that this would contradict the human experience of life, of becoming and passing away.


The idea of a time-flow and a temporal development first appears in Greek philosophy and is connected to the emerging comprehension of personal identity as a realization his or her presence as an individual.


Everything is in flow. into the same floods we step and we do not step; we are it and we are not it, says Heraclit


The statement of Heraclit captures the identical of identity (from idem - the same), just that what makes it possible to experience change: only those who are same can tell that today other waters are flowing than yesterday.

Henceforth time was understood as a flow, in contrast to a history of ideas a circle or a sea.

Stepping into the river means the experience of the present: the Now is and yet cannot be ascertained.

From this paradox the identity of the experiencer emerges as a continuous one, as the same.


In this sense, Heraclits picture of the flow seems comparable to that of the burning bush, which was on fire it did not burn up.


Identity as the essencing but not ascertainable, not graspable being of the individual.









(C) Herbert Antonius Weiler