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

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Monster Slaying: Bible Comment on Ezekiel 32 with poem by Lewis Carroll, Jabberwocky

Daily Readings
Psalm 96 I Samuel 2 Ezekiel 32 John 11

Daily Text: Ezekiel 32

Monster Slaying
Leaders who muck about fouling their own nations as they preen themselves before a world-court are like the monster of Ezekiel 32. Such an allegory for the Pharoah has an uncanny application in the present. The source for the monster slaying is the ancient Babylonian tale of Marduk netting the chaos purveyor, the monster, in his hunting net and then killing him and cutting him in pieces [503:432]. Pharoah Hophra did not see himself as a monster, but as a noble lion, and presumably many of his people did too. But God saw through him to what he actually was and prophecied through Ezekiel his end. Here Israel, through Ezekiel, begins to harmonize their understanding of God as the One universal God and bespeak the way he deals with the nations. All nations will ultimately fear how God deals with the Pharoah, seeing in him their own untimely end.

But the reading goes further for God commands Ezekiel to send the Pharoah to Sheol and there we find new ground, for what may not have occurred historically will happen in Sheol. There is a high view of the sacrament of circumcision here. It is linked with having a good life, an honorable burial and a consequent position of respect in Sheol. Not so with Pharaoh and his men. They have been ‘executed’ by the sword and they go into outer darkness in Sheol sans respect, sans burial, sans place of honor. Verse 19 should probably be read following verse 20. The chief men in Sheol receive the Pharoah and sarcastically ask him ”Whom do you surpass in beauty?” Obviously, “No one” is the answer and he is consigned to lie without notice in the outer limits of the place. Here may be the beginnings of the concept of Hell as distinct from Sheol.

Ironically, when Pharoah sees the princes and hordes of other nations, Assyria, Elam, Meshech and Tubal, Edom, etcetera, he is consoled that he is not the only one to fail so utterly on earth as to be consigned to an unmentionable destiny in Sheol.

from Through the Looking-Glass, ch. 1
Lewis Carroll

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

‘Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!’

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

‘And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.

Collect for the Day
We worship you, God of glory, in the beauty of holiness, and we joyfully proclaim your just and righteous rule, established for all, through your Son Jesus Christ the Lord.
[476:834:96 Psalm prayer]


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