Sunday, 18 November 2018

TL:DR: The Genesis Question part twenty-eight

Hi, Everybody!

These things:


10 August 14

Hi Troy & Mia; David & Marie

I seem to be getting bogged down in endless digressions lately. Matthew 11:

The question posed -- what came you out into the wilderness to observe? in reference to John the Baptist only comes after the Synoptic Jesus has been asked -- through intermediaries by John who is in prison -- You are the ___ coming, or different ____ are we expecting?  A question the Synoptic Jesus avoids by citing the various miracles he has performed and concluding: and happy is who likely not might have been stumbled in me.  As I read it, he knows that John will draw the proper inference: the Synoptic Jesus, by not answering I am is admitting that he isn't.  But only to someone like John who will see the evasiveness of the answer. And (I would also infer) by any Sanhedrin member or theological authority listening.

So the follow-up question is really an example of artful misdirection on the part of the Synoptic Jesus, shifting the issue from Who is the Synoptic Jesus? to Who is John the Baptist?  And shifting it further to Who do you, the crowds, think that he is?  The Synoptic Jesus offers three options:  reed by wind being shaken? is the first, upon which he doesn't elaborate (and which is all I'm going to talk about here: I need to get past these digressions!). 

The only theological application -- again, to someone or someones well-versed in the Torah -- would be Egypt as an unreliable ally.  Only in this case, John isn't a broken reed, he's merely a reed by wind being shaken.  The reference could, in that case, be to John the Baptist being an unreliable ally of the Synoptic Jesus because he's asking the question. He's not necessarily an unreliable ally, but he's an ally whose alliance is being shaken.

The average listener, I don't think, would have caught the reference or have known what to make of it if they had. 

The, to me, obvious inference is that the Synoptic Jesus is taking advantage of the fact that the question has been relayed to him from John in prison.  John has been shaken sufficiently by the wind of public opinion -- the Synoptic Jesus might be the Meshiach, because the people are thronging to him -- to think the question worth asking.  The Synoptic Jesus knows that he isn't the Meschiach, but he does know he's a miracle worker and so do the crowds.  He poses his questions to the crowd to shore up his populist bona fides. It doesn't matter to him that he isn't the Meschiach as long as enough people are persuaded that he is.

So that adds another level to the misdirection. The Synoptic Jesus can formally answer No to the question -- which he has done by not answering Yes -- and even suggest that John the Baptist will be happy if he isn't stumbled in the Synoptic Jesus and at the same time maintain and reinforce the popular belief -- the crowds' belief -- that he is the Meshiach because

blind are seeing again and lame are walking about, lepers are being cleansed and deaf are hearing and dead are being raised up and poor are being given good news. 

The references are to Isaiah 35:4-6… (following on from the reference in 35:2 "they shall see the glory of the YHWH and the excellency of our god")

Say to them that are of a hasty heart: Be strong, fear not: behold your god will come vengeance, god a recompense, he will come and save you.Then the eyes  of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.  Then shall the lame man leap as a hart and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness waters break out and streams in the desert

John would, I gather, have gotten the reference to "them that are of a hasty heart" (the KJV 1611 translates it as "fearful heart" but, fortunately, retains the original Hebraic meaning in the margin) and would have seen that this is what the intent of the miracles was: to seduce those of a "hasty heart".  And that would have ended his meditations on the Synoptic Jesus.

[It's ironic that the KJV 1611 includes Isaiah 61:1 as a citation, which is a combination Lord GOD (God) and LORD (YHWH) reference:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD upon me, because the YHWH hath anointed me, to preach good tidings unto the meek, he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them are bound: to proclaim  the acceptable year of the YHWH and the day of vengeance of our god, to comfort all that mourn

since there was no liberty to John the Baptist as captive or "the opening of the prison" for him!]

But -- the larger theological point at stake, as I read it -- the fulfillment of Isaiah 35:4-6 isn't what's in doubt.  As Matthew 11:2 asserts

The ____ (however, John) having heard in the jail the works of the Christ having sent through the disciples of him

He had already heard of the works.  What he was looking for was confirmation of the reason behind the works. Are you just a miracle worker or are you the one we've been waiting for?

I'm pretty sure John wasn't fooled.

 That was why he posed the question as simply and directly as possible in Matthew 11:3: You are the ___ coming or different ____ are we expecting? He would have said to his disciples, This is exactly how you are to phrase the question. Then come back and tell me EXACTLY what he said.

The only verifiable answer would be equally simple and direct:  I am.  That's what John would have been looking for.  And which the Johannine Jesus uses on several occasions -- translated as "I am he", I gather, because the Christian Church fathers didn't "get" the reference to "I am That I am" -- which God uses in identifying himself to Moshe as a means for Moshe to convey who has sent him in Exodus 3:14 (I would guess that Moshe was curious about the God/YHWH dichotomy):

And God said unto Moshe, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." 

There is God and there is YHWH.  Only God -- or someone directly delegated by God to do so -- self-identifies as "I am".

The account only appears in Matthew and Luke.  The Luke version (Luke 7:18-23)
varies in some ways.  The question posed by John in Luke 7:19 is

You are the ___ coming, or different ____ we are expecting.

"We are" in Luke as opposed to "are we" in Matthew.  But when the disciples pose the question in Luke 7:20 it's posed as

You are the ___ coming or another we are expecting? 

Two completely different Greek terms for "different ____" and "another".  This is the sort of things that make Orthodox Jew rend their garments (metaphorically) when they contemplate Christianity.  "They're theoretically disciples and they can't even get the phrasing of the question right? And you entrench these three different versions and call it SCRIPTURE?"   

Anyway, back to Ezekiel 29 and the references to Egypt as a broken reed.

When they took hold of thee by thy hand, thou didst break, and rent all their shoulder and when they leaned upon thee, thou breakest and made all their loins to be at a stand.

Again, as I read it, this constitutes inadvertent self-indictment on the part of the YHWH, identifying clearly the results of relying upon Not God in any form -- which is what Israel was doing in relying on Egypt AND in relying upon the YHWH.

God then prompts with:

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will bring a sword upon thee, and cut off man and beast out of thee. 

The YHWH is then left to either second the indictment -- it's the YHWH's metaphorical sword to use or not use -- or to refute it. 

And the land of Egypt shall be desolate and waste, and they shall know that I the YHWH: because he hath said, The river mine, and I have made.  [self-indictment again: water is God's medium, the rivers of Egypt weren't made by and are not the possessions of "Not God" either pagan Egypt or the YHWH] Behold therefore, I against thee and against thy rivers and I will make the land of Egypt wastes of waste from the tower of [Syene/Succoth] even unto the border of Ethiopia.  No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years.  And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities among the cities that are laid waste, shall be desolate forty years: and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and will disperse them through the countries.

Which is a pretty thorough indictment which God then sees the need to qualify with another prompt. 

Yet, thus saith the Lord GOD, at the end of forty years will I gather the Egyptians from the people wither they were scattered.

Which leaves the YHWH with the choice of ameliorating the verdict, maintaining the verdict or worsening the verdict after the forty years have elapsed.  The YHWH definitely chooses the latter option:

And I will bring again the captivity of Egypt and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros, into the land of their habitation and they shall be there a low kingdom.  It shall be the basest of the kingdoms, neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations: for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations.

Which allows God to conclude:

And it shall be no more the confidence of the house of Israel, which bringeth iniquity to remembrance, when they shall look after them: but they shall know that I, the Lord GOD.

Which stands as the final verdict upon Egypt for a good seventeen years -- when God pronounces judgement, there's not much that you can add to it, even if you're the YHWH and you're only following the narrative on one level, not realizing that on another level you, YHWH, ARE Egypt.  What Egypt IS becomes "front of mind" in Israel because of the verdict.  it is "iniquity" that comes to "remembrance" when Israel looks at Egypt: not size, wealth and power.

This is distinctly unsatisfying for the YHWH even though the YHWH has reiterated God's judgement upon Egypt.  Everything is simple and straightforward.  For the YHWH (as Bob Burden famously remarked), "This calls for an emergency!" which it takes the YHWH literally years to come up with: 

And it came to pass in the seven and twentieth year, in the first, in the first of the month, the word of the YHWH came unto me, saying, Son of man, Nebuchad-rezzar king of Babylon caused his army to serve a great service against Tyrus: every head was made bald and every shoulder was peeled: yet had he no wages, nor his army, for Tyrus, for the service that he had served against it.

It's an artful assertion on the part of the YHWH, directed to Ezekiel:  Tyrus is evil -- definitely Not God -- and Babylon is evil -- definitely Not God -- but Babylon did a great service to God in attacking and subduing Tyrus.  Shouldn't Babylon have a reward for that service?

Of course, God, being omniscient, has anticipated and anticipates this.   

Therefore, thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold I will give the land of Egypt unto Nebuchad-rezzar king of Babylon and he shall take her multitude and spoil her spoil and prey her prey and it shall be the wages for his army.  I have given him the land of Egypt for his labour wherewith he served against it, because they wrought for me, saith the Lord GOD.

As it says in the Koran, of those who plot, God is the best at plotting.  God rewards Not God Babylon for his service against Not God Tyrus by giving Not God Babylon Not God Egypt for a spoil and a prey to his army.  The YHWH has already made Egypt a low kingdom by pronouncing it to be such and has now engineered its being devoured by Babylon by posing the artful question.  

The YHWH appends to chapter 29:

In that day will I cause the horn of the house of Israel to bud forth and I will give thee the opening of the mouth in the midst of them and they shall know that I, the YHWH.

Basically the YHWH is saying, If Babylon has devoured Tyrus and is being given Egypt to devour as a reward for doing so, that still leaves a devouring mouth in the midst of Israel, Babylon, Tyrus and Egypt. 

The scenario is still hatching out in the present day.  When the Muslim Brotherhood was in control of Egypt through President Morsi, Egypt was potentially an Israel- devouring presence.

Potentially.

Muslim Brotherhood Egypt supporting Muslim Brotherhood Gaza supporting Muslim Brotherhood Hamas.  Borders wide open, tunnels being dug, munitions freely passing from Egypt into Gaza.  However, when General Sisi overthrew Morsi, that changed.  Now the devouring presence is Israel supported by Egypt -- the "opening of the mouth in the midst of them" is on either side of Hamas:  the Egyptian mouth and the Israeli mouth.  The question is always the same for the Israelis: is Egypt a broken reed that we shouldn't lean on?  The answer is always yes -- "bringing iniquity to remembrance" -- Egypt is always unstable.  You lean on Anwar Sadat and he proves to be the broken reed -- he's assassinated by his own troops for allying himself with you. 

But, it's a qualified "yes".  If General Sisi proves to be temporarily reliable -- a reed not broken YET -- until he breaks or is broken, you have the nutcracker you need to root out Hamas in the Gaza Strip.  But the act of rooting out Hamas in itself is definitely going to weaken -- and probably break -- the reed.  You have to get in at the right time and get out at the right time before the "opening of the mouth in the midst of them" starts opening under you.

Oy vey!

Best,

Dave


Next Time: Winning Lottery numbers? I'm "Past" Matt!

Saturday, 17 November 2018

NEW FEATURE: Please Hold For Dave Sim

Hi, Everybody!

So on Monday, I got a call from a 519 Ontario, Canada phone number. And there's only one (maybe two) people I know in Ontario, Canada. So I said, "Hi Dave!"

And it was Dave.

We talked for about ten minutes (including how the wrist is (next week's update.) and what's up with Ethan Van Scriver and the ComicsGate, (I'll get to THAT on Tuesday...)). He had heard that Stan Lee had passed away, and wants to save using the hand for Strange Death of Alex Raymond, so instead of typing out things like his remembrance of Stan, he'll call me, and I'll record the conversation and post a video.

Which we did on Wednesday. And then I uploaded it to the Youtubes, and now I'm sharing it here.

The plan is to have a conversation once a month. So Please Hold for Dave Sim:



(I came up with the title.) (And the logo. It'll get changed every time.)

That's my wife at the beginning. Dave wants her (or my seven year old,) to do the intro.

I apologize for the crappy audio, and video. This is the first one, and we're still figuring out what the hell I'm doing (Dave just has to talk on the phone...) (So Dave's quiet, and I'm loud. I'm working on it...) I'm also gonna work on transcribing these so you can read it if that's how you prefer it. (Unless some future "AMOC Special Friend Of The Day" wants to take a crack at it...)

If you got a burning question, email me at momentofcerebus@gmail.com and I'll forward it up to Dave and he'll call me.

And Comicslink is here!

Here's the Kickstarter for the birthday card.

And if you wanna get in on the Vark Wars, I ain't gonna stop ya. All submissions to thevarkwars@gmail.com

Next Time: Sunday, Religious-post Day!

Friday, 16 November 2018

Comic Link & Kickstarter updates (Dave's Weekly Update #261)

Hi, Everybody!

Heeeeeere's Dave:



And Comicslink is here!

Here's the Kickstarter for the birthday card.

And if you wanna get in on the Vark Wars, I ain't gonna stop ya. All submissions to thevarkwars@gmail.com

Next Time: My Cerebus/Dave Sim cup runneth over. Seriously, I got so much stuff On Deck for the next few days... First up is a new feature for the New Year: "Please Hold For Dave Sim"! Here's the logo:

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Friend of Cerebus: Fred Patten

As reported by Jonathan Clements at All The Anime Fred Patten recently passed away:
Fred Patten, who died yesterday aged 77, was one of the foundational pillars not only of anime fandom in America, but of American anime fandom’s sense of its own history. Graduating with a Masters in Library Science in 1963, Fred was already active in American science fiction fandom when he entered the job market. For much of his career, he led a double life, writing for professional and amateur fanzines and running a comics shop, while also working as a technical manual archivist in El Segundo for the Hughes Aircraft Company.
Among all of the accomplishments listed by Jonathan, add to that Fred started the Cerebus Fanclub and with it the fanzine, Cerebus the Newsletter. The start of the fanclub and newsletter was reported in Cerebus #17, and the first issue was dated Jan / March 1981:

Cerebus the Newsletter #1
Fred didn't start the newsletter for money, as he had to give it up due to financial issues, and issue #5 was his last. During his tenure he would write back to the other Cerebus fans who sent him material for the newsletter. From his letters that I've seen, they've all been typed on scrap paper that has the letter on one side and some copy of something else, typically items for a fanzine he'd be working on. Like this letter he wrote to Steve about the Cerebus the Newsletter items and questions:

Click to make bigger
When Jeff Tundis and myself decided to start up the newsletter again, I got in contact with Fred and asked him if it were okay if we took it over. At this point in his life, he was in an assisted living, but still wrote back to me and gave us his blessing. He didn't have to do it, answer some random question about a fanzine he did over 20 years previously from some random people, but he did. And for that I'll forever be thankful.

So here is to Cerebus Fanclub member #1, Fred Patten:




Crossing Over Part Two

A few years ago I scanned all of Dave Sim's notebooks. He had filled 36 notebooks during the years he created the monthly Cerebus series, covering issues #20 to 300, plus the other side items -- like the Epic stories, posters and prints, convention speeches etc. A total of 3,281 notebook pages detailing his creative process. I never really got the time to study the notebooks when I had them. Just did a quick look, scanned them in and sent them back to Dave as soon as possible. So this regular column is a chance for me to look through those scans and highlight some of the more interesting pages.

We've already looked at a couple pages of Dave Sim's 21st notebook which contains pieces of his work on Spawn #10 back in October of 2014 in Crossing Over. The notebook had 260 pages scanned and was used not only for Cerebus #164 through 187, but for Spawn #10.

We've seen pages 25 and 26 which contained some dialogue. The next page also contains dialogue, but for a different part of the issue.

Notebook #21, page 27
The crossed out text on the far left says "It's a great house. . .satellite TV receptions great. . .should be able to get four different hockey games on a good night." For those of us into hockey, there is more hockey talk in the bottom right corner. Talking about the Leafs of course - Toronto's NHL team - how they have a home and home series against the Red Wings on the weekend (play in Toronto one night, Detriot the following night), and how Gilmour, a Toronto player - Doug Gilmour played forward for Toronto from 1991 to 1997, right during the writing of Spawn #10. Fuhr was their goalie (Grant Fuhr) and Clark was another forward (Wendel Clark).

The page also has a funny Cerebus line: "Babies all look like Winston Churchill to Cerebus."

The next page has some dialogue between Spawn and his wife. And what appears to be a sketch of the hands reaching through the jail cell bars.

Notebook #21, page 28


Wednesday, 14 November 2018

The Evolution of a CIH? cover PART ONE


Benjamin Hobbs:

Welcome to the first installment of THE EVOLUTION OF A CIH? COVER! In this new intermittent series, I'll chronicle the creation of a CIH? cover from start to finish.

I sent a fax to Dave concerning a new idea for a CIH? cover.  He sent the fax back with his notes:




Then, 19 minutes later, he sent the fax AGAIN, with a couple corrections to his notes:
Next time: The cover mock up!

Aw geez... (The Anniversary.)

Hi, Everybody!

Has it been a year already?




Next Time: Anybody got anything for an upset stomach?

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Patty Cake: "In Good Company" (from Cerebus #200)

Hi, Everybody!

Comiclink is go! (Or will be shortly.)

We're still Vark Wars -ing.

And, Everybody's Friend (and Superman's Frenemy), David Birdsong sent in better copies of the exclusive Patty Cake strip from Cerebus #200:
Click for the biggering
We're still looking for high quality scans of It's A Whole New Look And Sound For The Weasels from Patty Cake #3.

Next Time: Come and listen to the story about a man named Hobbs,
A poor photoshopper, barely kept himself a job, 
And then one day he was shootin in the dark, 
And up from the ground come a angry aardvark.


Cerebus that is, black vest, surly attitude. 

Well the first thing you know ol Ben's a millionaire, 
The kinfolk said "Ben move away from there" 
Said "Hades is the place ya ought to dwell" 
So he loaded up the truck and they moved to Hell 

Cerebus in Hell?, that is. Lakes o' fire, Renaissance poets. 

Cerebus and Hobbs [Banjo solo]

Monday, 12 November 2018

The Face on the Bar-Room Floor

Hi, Everybody!

In regards to Saturday's post, we have the fourth AMOC Special Friend Of The Day (and the SECOND in November!): Paul Slade
Suitable for framing
How did Paul receive this "PRESTIGIOUS AWARD"?

By sending into momentofcerebus@gmail.com:
Dear AMOC,

Here it is.

Paul




The Face On The Bar-Room Floor (Bacchus #1, May 1995)
Art by Dave Sim & Eddie Campbell

As Tim W. noted back in the day,
EDDIE CAMPBELL:
(from Bacchus #1, May 1995)

First up is the Bacchus & Cerebus crossover, created by myself and the eminent Dave Sim. He was over here for the convention in Sydney and flew up to Brisbane afterwards. We holed up in a hotel suite for five days and improvised a five-pager around an old song from the 1890s (approximately) which was previously done in comics form by Kurtzmanand Davis in MAD with the face in the final panel dropped in by the one and only Basil Wolverton. We booked adjoining rooms. We'd work in one and he'd smoke in the other. I'd sleep in among the debris and he'd sleep in the fog. But while we discussed the piece we were to create we walked in and out and the smoke was everywhere and I was trying helplessly to open a window thirteen storeys up. I have stipulated in my agreements with the accommodating Mr Sim that I get to pick the brand of cigarette next time as I had to process the smoke from each one after he was finished with it. The fire hose reel was situated outside our doors and became in our heads a traditional Scottish dance to be performed after completing each evening with a trip to the pub across the road. As for the work itself, we just passed the pages back and forth until it was done. Diana Schutz correctly recognised who did what but was miffed that we didn't cast her in the role of the barmaid. Steve Bissette was miffed that we did give him the role of the artist. He threatened to get even, and judging from his brilliant new comic, Tyrant, he knows how to go about it. It fairly oozes with primal danger.

But Mr. Slade didn't stop there, he also sent in:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Face_upon_the_Barroom_Floor

… and here’s some info on the original song. Quite interesting, as it turns out.

Paul 
And:
 Mad's version: http://jeffoverturf.blogspot.com/2011/09/face-upon-floor-jack-davis-basil.html
Paul Slade’s latest book, Unprepared To Die, is out now from Soundcheck Books.

So here you gJohn Pannozzi, The Face on the Bar-room Floor

Next Time: Patty Cake?

Sunday, 11 November 2018

TL:DR: The Genesis Question part twenty-seven

Hi, Everybody!



3 August 14

Dear Troy & Mia; David & Marie:

Last week, I forgot to address THE LEGS as metaphysical expression of the creation of our planet.  The most relevant passage about legs that I ever read was in the MAKING BABIES book that I cited in THE LAST DAY's prologue, having to do with the XY chromosome or the XX chromosome (I forget which) where -- if the balance disproportionately favoured the female, -- you ended up with very long legs, legs which occupied a more than usual proportion of the body's mass.  So it seems to me that, while men and women both have legs, legs are a female-natured metaphysical expression.  Which doesn't contain the "God particle".  I say that because the thumb -- the ultimate expression of the "God particle" -- "ends" the expression that leads from body to arm to hand, whereas there is no comparable expression which completes the leg.  A big toe is not a a thumb, metaphysically speaking. 

Okay, back to the Book of Ezekiel. I'm not going to get very far this week. Chapter 29 is pretty straightforward but difficult to explain, so I'm only going to be able to address a few verses:

EZEKIEL 29

Chapter 29, as I read it, continues the motif of God having given YHWH enough rope, the YHWH now finds the need to hang his/her/its self inescapable, continuing on to Egypt and directly Ezekiel to prophecy against Egypt in verses 1 and 2. 

If I'm correct in my theories about YHWH, Egypt is a profoundly YHWHistic expression, both "not God" and "anti-God" and dating back prior to our own epoch. 

That is, at the time that A Dam and Chauah were created, there was already the Egyptian monarchy/nation, ruled by Pharaohs, an expression of the as-yet-then unnamed YHWH.  So, YHWH turning against Egypt -- not knowing that the YHWH in many ways, IS Egypt -- is a remarkable opportunity for God.  Of which God attempts to take full advantage.  Although in a way that's a little complicated to explain.  When God says in verse 3:

Speak and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold I against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river mine own, and I have made for my self

He's addressing the YHWHistic usurpation.  God's medium is water and the YHWH's medium is the earth.  So what God is saying -- as a a prompt in the hopes of getting the YHWH to reiterate the judgement -- is that God (and YHWH? YHWH, what do you say to this?) is opposed to Pharaoh, the great dragon…

(dragons don't exist, except metaphorically.  When God refers to a dragon in our epoch, as I read it, what he is referring to is the "serpent in the garden" which also didn't exist. Serpents don't talk.  Chauah seduced herself into eating the fruit as a proxy of YHWH.  There may have been a snake nearby, but voice she heard was the voice of the earth, YHWH.  Once entrenched in Scripture, however, there are only two choices: admit that serpents can't talk and find another more accurate model of creation -- Genesis 1, as opposed to Genesis 2 and 3 -- or face the peril of the fictitious talking snake, over the course of thousands of years, evolving into a fictitious metaphysical dragon. It's  "O what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive" but on a much higher level of expression and metaphysics)

…that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river my own and I have made for my self.

The Egyptian YHWH -- the portion of the earth which underlies the nation-state of Egypt -- does indeed "lie in the midst" of several rivers.  Using "midst" God allows for two different interpretations: 

The accurate one is that Egypt exists directly adjacent to and in direct proximity to the rivers of Egypt.  God is in the rivers and YHWH is in the land. The inaccurate one -- which the YHWH favours and then chooses -- is that Egypt exists INSIDE the rivers.  "Midst" covers both meanings. The latter is the usurpation construct of the YHWH.  What God is saying is that the YHWH is saying, "I am the river and I made the river".  That is, you don't see accurately. You aren't the river, you aren't IN the river and you didn't make the river.

In answer to the prompt, the YHWH says

But I will put my hooks in thy jaws and I will cause the fish of thy rivers to stick unto thy scales and I will bring thee up out of the midst of thy rivers and all the fish of thy rivers shall stick unto thy scales

The "putting my hooks in thy jaws" recurs in the Book of Job.  It's the point where the "talking snake" not only evolves over time into a dragon, it also evolves into an aquatic dragon, Leviathan.  It's both literally inaccurate (there are no literal aquatic dragons) and metaphysically accurate (by entrenching the talking snake in YHWHistic scripture, the YHWH makes it inevitable that the fundamental lie will enlarge itself into a metaphysical dragon and by attempting to usurp God's place, makes it inevitable that there will need to be an invented aquatic dragon of similarly grandiose proportions to keep the construct going).

This becomes, variously, the red dragon of John's Apocalypse, Moby Dick, the whale that swallows Jonah, Giganto (I think he was called) in Pinocchio, etc. 

The YHWH -- as the would-be usurper "God" -- definitely has a strong -- and reasonably accurate -- mental image of Leviathan as very difficult to extract from the "midst of his rivers".  It's certainly one of the problems faced by God:  how to extract YHWH from God's context and get YHWH to perceive his/her/its nature accurately.  "You aren't IN the rivers, and you didn't MAKE the rivers. You're in the earth and the earth is one of My, God's creations."     

And I will leave thee into the wilderness

The KJV interpolates "thrown" into the text:  "And I will leave thee THROWN into the wilderness" but I'm pretty sure that isn't what the YHWH said in response to God's prompt.  It expresses the YHWH's confusion here at the apex of "Our Biblical Story Thus Far". 

Phonetically it sounds like "And I will LEAD thee into the wilderness" which reads one way:

But how do you "lead" an aquatic dragon into the wilderness?  The YHWH's visualization breaks down at the malapropism.  The "hooks in the jaws" the YHWH can "see" mentally.  It's like a combination bridle and fish hook.  Immense!  Big enough to steer Leviathan!  But how do you steer an immense aquatic beast ONTO land and INTO the wilderness from "his rivers"? 

With only a slight variation it also reads:

And I will leave thee in the wilderness….

(Which, it seems to me, brings it into closer proximity to God's intention for the YHWH.  At a deep, subconscious level, the YHWH understands that he/she/it isn't God and that the whole idea -- talking snake, Leviathan and all -- needs to be abandoned, left in the wilderness and not retained where Egypt's monarchy/nation has actually hatched out, incarnated as a political structure and expression of humanity.)

…thee and all the fish of thy rivers.  Thou shalt fall upon the face of the field, thou shalt not be brought together nor gathered: I have given thee for meat to the beasts of the field and to the fouls of the heaven.  

 As I read it, the YHWH's confusion persists.  There is an urge simultaneously metaphysical, conscious, unconscious and real towards "casting out".  An urge to be rid of Leviathan.  Of course, to the YHWH, in many ways, God is Leviathan.  An immense presence that can't be dispensed with nor gotten around. God is the usurper as the YHWH sees it.  But, at one level or another, the YHWH must be aware that there is no form or degree of leverage that makes "casting out" God possible.  And, in fact, the actual job facing the YHWH is only slightly less daunting.  The YHWH can visualize SELF-control only to the extent of the means -- his hook in his jaws for steering (leverage) -- and the ultimate end of seeing the YHWH's own base nature "fall upon the face of the field" nevermore to be "brought together nor gathered".  It's the "in between" that's problematic. 

[Or, more accurately, only SEEMS problematic. Parenthetically, I think the Synoptic Jesus addresses this very thing at a mid-point between God and YHWH -- dealing with the perceived impossible immensity -- in Matthew 17:17-20 when the disciples are complaining about their inability to cast out an unclean spirit from a young boy with the same potency which the Synoptic Jesus brings to the task.  The Synoptic Jesus says (and it doesn't explicitly exclude his disciples):

O generation faithless and having been twisted, till when with you will I be? Till when will I put up with you? Be bringing to me him here.  And he gave rebuke to it the Jesus and came out from him the demon; and was cured the boy from the hour that.  Then having come toward the disciples to the Jesus according to private, Through what we not were able to expel it?  The ___ (however ____) is saying to them Through the little faith of you; truly for I am saying to you, if ever you may have faith as grain of mustard, you will say to the mountain this, Transfer from here there, and it will transfer, and nothing will be impossible to you.

It's basically the same narrative: with the Synoptic Jesus taking the role of God, the disciples facing the same problematic "casting out" of self that the YHWH is facing only in this case, the insurmountable weight isn't YHWH-as-Leviathan, it's YHWH-as-mountain.  Leviathan and the mountain are both metaphysical, representational constructs.  Immense, yes, but only in the human imagination.  Nothing physical actually exists in the sense that we think it does.  It isn't an engineering job. You don't have to visualize the MEANS by which you move the entrenched aquatic behemoth from its domain to "the face of the field" in the wilderness and then build the machinery with which you accomplish it.  The MEANS and the END are the same: faith. Whether you're YHWH or a human being, if you Increase your faith in God sufficiently the thing is already accomplished.  Get your mind OFF the imaginary thing that appears real: the mountain or Leviathin…and ONTO the real thing you aren't adequately and realistically imagining: your own faith.]

And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I, the YHWH, because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel.

It was worth a try to get the YHWH to go along with the "Leviathan construct" but -- whether consciously or unconsciously (my guess would be both) -- the YHWH switches metaphorical constructs abruptly.

The inhabitants of Egypt -- as opposed to Egypt itself -- are now the "broken reed" and are only being  dealt with relative to those inhabitants' own -- then current -- relationship to Israel as an unreliable Israeli ally.  The "broken reed" refers to Egypt's inadequacy as a staff.  You can't lean on it because it will break and is -- in fact -- already broken. 

It's actually a suitable metaphor for the YHWH, as well.

 The YHWH is an inadequate ally of Israel, Judah, God, human beings -- you name it.  A broken reed.  And plants are a creation of the YHWH so by switching to a reed as the metaphor for Egypt, the YHWH, to a degree, escapes self-indictment.  The reed is in the midst of the waters and, in fact, is endemic to the transition area between earth and water: the shoreline. But the reed doesn't pretend it IS the rivers or that it MADE the rivers.

(The Synoptic Jesus ventures near this as well when he addresses the crowds, asking them what they expected to see when they went out into the wilderness looking for John the Baptist as John's fame spread. Basically, what did you expect to see? A broken reed? It's a good metaphorical point.  John was baptizing in the wilderness of Bethany where the water meets the earth.  He wasn't accepted by Israel.  He certainly wasn't seen -- as Egypt in Ezekiel's time wasn't seen -- as a reliable ally of the Jewish authorities. But did that make him -- a great prophet -- a broken reed?)

I told you this chapter gets complicated.

I'll pick it up from there next week.

Best,

Dave  


Next Time: Cerebus in Matt's Life? ("past" Matt Rocks!)