Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Magnificent Tree: Bible Comment on Ezekiel 31 with poem by John Milton, Paradise Lost

Daily Readings
Psalm 94 I Samuel 1 Ezekiel 31 John 10

Daily Text: Ezekiel 31

A Magnificent Tree
Ezekiel 31 reminds us of the allegory of the ship of Tyre (chapter 27), for here a magificent tree is an allegory for the Pharoah of Egypt. This tree, greater than the trees of Eden, might well have begun its religious life in the mists of the Edenic shore. Eichrodt suggests this it is the great world tree of Babylonian religion known as the Kishkanu tree in Eridu [503:425]. It also has counterparts in the world ash-tree in the Edda of Teutonic origins and again has roots with the Vedas and Upanishads in India and elsewhere [503:425]. Three strophes make up the poem:1-9 Origens, 10-14 Error, and 15-18, Judgment. In the end God says, “This is Pharoah and all his horde” (vs. 18).

A fascinating idea introduced here, is that the trees go down into Sheol as do humans—similar fate. Granted we are dealing with allegory, but in many places in the Psalms the plants and the animals share the scene before God. Perhaps it is simply poetic license, but it is fascinating. Could it be that as other living beings share created life so they will share life in the presence of God, as well?

from Paradise Lost
bk. iv, l. 192
John Milton
So clomb this first grand thief into God’s fold:
So since into his church lewd hirelings climb.
Thence up he flew, and on the tree of life,
The middle tree and highest there that grew,
Sat like a cormorant.

Collect for the Day
O just Judge of all the world, when the dark power of evil threatens your creation, may we, through your strength within us, maintain the sure knowledge of your love and mercy, which we see in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. [476:832:94 Psalm prayer]


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