Hexagram 08, line 3

比之匪人.

Bi 比: see line 1.

Fei 匪: ‘without’:

眾,罔與守邦…
If the sovereign had not the multitude, there would be none to guard the country (for him)…
Shujing 書經 (tr. Legge)

析薪如之何、斧不克。
取妻如之何、媒不得。
How do we proceed in splitting firewood?
Without an axe it cannot be done.
How do we proceed in taking a wife?
Without a go-between it cannot be done.
Shijing 詩經 (tr. Legge)

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Hexagram 08, line 2

比之自內。貞吉。

Bi 比: see line 1.

Zi 自: (starting) from:

天子達於庶人….
From the emperor to the common people…
(Mengzi 孟子, Lun Heng etc.)

Nei 內: its regular meaning is ‘inside, interior’, but in early texts it also refers to the women of the emperor (qiqie 妻妾, wife and concubines), the women’s quarters in the imperial palace, or women in general (漢語大字典 2nd ed., p. 111; 漢語大詞典, p. 995; 王力古漢語字典, p. 57):

齊慶封好田而耆酒,與慶捨政,則以其實遷於盧蒲嫳氏,易而飲酒。
Qing Feng of Qi was fond of hunting and drinking. He gave over the government [to his son] Qing She, and then removed with his harem and valuables to the house of Lu Pubie, with whom he drank, while they exchanged wives at the same time.
Zuozhuan 左傳 (tr. Legge, p. 541)

Even though the grammar and meanings in the sentence 比之自內 are pretty straightforward some translators are struggling to make sense out of it. For example, Lars Bo Christensen translates it as ‘Uniting with what comes from within is correct and good’, adding as a note ‘The question is what “from within” means. I don’t see any way you can connect physically with things from within, whether it be your body or an area.’ He totally misses the point that bi 比 is about people, persons, and that therefore a better translation of nei 內 is one that points to persons. His insertion of the words ‘with what comes’ is totally unnecessary and makes the translation not only wrong (these words are not in the Chinese original) but also more confusing.

In line 2 nei 內 might refer to allies that have a blood relationship with the wife of the king. Zi 自 means that the bond originates there.

Bonding via the empress.
The divination is auspicious.

Hexagram 08, line 1

有孚比之.無咎.有孚盈缶.終來有它.吉.

About you fu 有孚 see here.

Bi 比: ‘assist, support’, ‘join (to support)’, to form a bond to reach a common goal, if necessary in a secondary position, to put yourself 2nd place:

王令吳伯曰乃師左毛父
王令呂伯曰乃師右毛父
(…) the King charged the Elder of Wu saying, “Lead your troops on the left in support of Father Mao.” The King ordered the Elder of Lü saying, “Lead your troops on the right in support of Father Mao.”
Ban gui 班簋 (殷周金文集成 4341; translation from R. Eno, Inscriptional Records of the Western Zhou, p. 30)

Roderick B. Campbell writes in his dissertation Blood, Flesh and Bones: Kinship and Violence in the Social Economy of the Late Shang (p. 117-118):

(…) the Shang king could (…) draw upon the coercive resources of allies, “meeting/joining” (bi 比) them for joint endeavours (Lin Yun 林沄, 《甲骨文中的方国联盟》, in 《古文字研究》第六辑, 1982):

51) 乙卯卜,殼 貞:王比望乘伐下危,受㞢  㞢 . (32)
Cracked on Yimao day, Ke tested: The King (should) join with Wang Cheng (to) attack Xia Wei, (for if he does) he will receive divine aid.

52)貞:叀   象令比倉𥎦. (3291)
Tested: It is Xiang (who the King should) order to join with the lord of Cang.

Campbell adds in a footnote,

There is some controversy over whether in inscriptions like the example above the graph I have transcribed should be read 比 (to join) or 从 (to follow/to cause to follow). The Jiaguwen Heji Shiwen, for instance, transcribes 比 as 从 in examples like (32). I, however, find Lin’s (1982) argument persuasive. Based on my own tabulations of oracle-bone political geography, there does indeed seem to be a real statistical difference between place/actors that the king “orders” as opposed to “joining with” or ordering subordinates to “join with” for military action. As Lin (1982: 78) notes, bi 比 “to join with” is never used for close subordinates of the king like Fu Hao 婦好, Que 雀, Zi Shang 子商 and so on.

About wujiu 無咎 see the third line of hexagram 1.

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Hexagram 08, Judgment

吉.原筮.元永貞.無咎.不寧方來.後夫凶.

Yuan 原: many old commentaries say that yuan should be read as zai 再, ‘again’. But this meaning of yuan is quite rare. The Shanghai Museum Manuscript has 备 (not to be read as the simplified character of bei 備) instead of yuan. It is an abbreviation of the character yuan 邍 which is a known loan character of 原 (see 戰國古文字典, p. 1014; 古文字詁林, vol. 2, p. 454-455 and the Multi-Function Chinese Character Database). This also narrows down the possible meanings of 原. Continue reading

Hexagram 02, surplus text

利永貞.

Yong zhen 永貞: long-term (長久) divination:

戊寅卜Heji-248-10-character貞我永.
Crack-making on day 15, Heji-248-10-character divines for my long-term prognosis.
(Heji 合集 248)

Several oracle bone inscriptions end with a character or phrase denoting the auspiciousness of the received oracle, like ji 吉 or da ji 大吉 (see for examples Heji 合集 27013, 27020, 27041, 27973, 28142, 28663). Sometimes we find the character yong 永 as such an end note, probably denoting an auspicious long-term divination (Heji 合集 6108 臼, 6527 臼, 6855 反, 10199 反, 17555 臼, 21381).

Favourable long-term divination.