terça-feira, fevereiro 14, 2006

Elihu - Kingfisher continued

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Wednesday, March 8, 2006

"If you believe anybody can actually completely know the truth and turn it into a political program that is completely true, then what do you need God for?"
Bill Clinton, on a speaking tour in Ottawa, March 6.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I posted Righteous Anger - Kingfisher quite a while ago. When I happened to re-read it this morning I saw that I had not followed the thread of Elihu. So I went to the book of Job this morning - Blue Letter Bible: Job. It is a long book, 42 chapters - fans of Douglas Adams will have to read no further, 6 times 7 being the question and 42 the answer.

A long book, but yes, Elihu is in there.

Job: 1. Job is a good and succesful man. One day, Satan, saying he comes, "From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.", says to God, take away his toys and we will see how good he is. He takes not only his toys but his sons and daughters; but Job does not fade and says: "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." 2. So Satan says, yeah but what about his body? Job gets bodily affliction to the point where his wife says, "Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die." But he does not. Three friends show up to comfort him; Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. 3. Job curses, "Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived." 4. Eliphaz says, it must have been something you did; "they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same." And anyway, that's the way things go. 5. Eliphaz goes on.
6. Job says, wait a minute now, "Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred.", and then, "Is there iniquity in my tongue? cannot my taste discern perverse things?" 7. Why, why why, says Job. 8. Bildad pipes up - you must have done something. 9. Job says, if He would just speak to me; "Then would I speak, and not fear him; but it is not so with me." 10. Job keeps complaining. 11. Zophar has a go - get over it! 12. Job sticks to it - "Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this?" 13. "Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy?" 14. Is there no hope, says Job? 15. Eliphaz tries again. 16. Job goes on, "I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all." 17. "But as for you all, do ye return, and come now: for I cannot find one wise man among you." 18. Bildad - words will not do you any good. 19. You guys are just part of the problem says Job, "Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard: I cry aloud, but there is no judgment." 20. Zophar - more of the same, must'a beein something you did. 21. "Suffer me that I may speak; and after that I have spoken, mock on.", says Job, and, "How then comfort ye me in vain, seeing in your answers there remaineth falsehood?"
22. Eliphaz - what ever!
23. Job - nevermind all that, I want an answer from God, even though I am afraid of what it might be. 24. Job - "And if it be not so now, who will make me a liar, and make my speech nothing worth?" 25. Bildad sums up the bourgeois argumenst with, "How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?" 26. Not so, says Job. 27. Job insists on his righteousness and integrity. 28. And insists. 29. And insists. 30. And (eloquently) insists, "Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? was not my soul grieved for the poor? When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness. 31. Job wants justice, and finally says "Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley. The words of Job are ended."
32. The three old guys give up, then Elihu, a younger man comes on the scene; "Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment." 33. He starts up impetuously; "Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I will speak. If thou hast any thing to say, answer me: speak, for I desire to justify thee. If not, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I shall teach thee wisdom.
34. But really, he just recapitulates what the other three have already said. 35. The message is - stop whining! He says, "Surely God will not hear vanity, neither will the Almighty regard it." 36. Elihu goes on. 37. And on.

38. "Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?" Not clear to me if he is referring to Elihu or Job. He says, "Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding." He stays with the physical, but moves it out into the heavens, "Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?" 39. And back to biology. 40. And God sums it up, "Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct Him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it." Job is surely plucky enough, he actually answers God, "Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth." - oops, sorry. God says, Behold now behemoth ... 41. ... and leviathan.

42. Job says, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Then God deals with Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar (and we presume Elihu) saying that he will spare them their folly if Job prays for them. Job does, and God gives him back all of his stuff, and his friends and family, and more and more and more. Good for Job. "After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, even four generations. So Job died, being old and full of days." Not only that but, "in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job".

Years and years ago, I sat for a few evenings with a gouty old Ottawa priest (who kept his foot on a chair to ease the pain but who still had a glint in his eye and a laugh), while he went through the story of Job with a few others and myself. In those days I felt afflicted - the very democratic courts of Canada had forced me to give up my children to their mother for no reason and away they went, far from me, and I was heartbroken. I have not re-read it since.

Quite understandable that among the good burghers of the United Church of Canada they do not often preach on Job eh? Not the end at least, not Chapter 42, no.

Thank you Lord for this word, I am renewed - and, does this mean I may still have a few daughters coming?

I put two copies of Chagall's 'Job Praying' to remind myself that what you see on the internet has very little to do with what is really there. I have seen some up-close and personal Chagall green, I think it was in a piece called 'Moses receiving the Law' at the Montréal Musée de Beaux Arts (nope, or maybe not, anyway I cannot find anything corresponding to my memory of it on the web, maybe it really was the one I have posted of Job), and it does so knock off your socks if you let it. The great difference between these two jpg images shows how little you can depend on the web.

Here are a few images of Leviathan and Behemoth (surprising that there were no really convincing ones):

The images GENERALLY have their provenance included as properties of the .jpg file.

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