Monday 31 December 2018

How I may have inadvertently ruined Jaka's Story for myself... possibly forever. (Spoilers for Jaka's Story, duh.)

Hi, Everybody!

As I mentioned on Saturday:

How I may have inadvertently ruined Jaka's Story for myself... possibly forever:

Spoiler Warning: I'm about to talk about the plot and stuff. If you don't want me to ruin Jaka's Story for you, avert your eyes... ('course it's possible I might ruin Jaka's Story for you by talking about how I ruined Jaka's Story for me...)

Okay, so as I prepare to re-read the entirety of Cerebus in 2019 (the first post of which MAY show up next week, depending on how much of Volume 1 I get through before next Monday (since tomorrow is Cerebus & Hobbs, Thursday is Margaret and Dave's notebooks, Friday is the Weekly Update, Saturday is January's "Please Hold For Dave Sim" (if the frickin' video is uploaded, might be a late post folks!), and Sunday is Genesis Question). We'll see.), I've been thinking about various themes and concepts I want to focus on as I re-read.

One of those is: Unreliable Narrators. And the unreliable-est narrator I can think of is Oscar from Jaka's Story (As I've said...)

So, thinking about Jaka's Story, I thought about it as an object in and of itself. A self contained book. Collecting issues 114 through 136. Now, "Like-A-Looks" isn't included. Which means unless you own the issues, or Cerebus 0, you think Lord Julius shows up outside Jaka's place in a dress. Which is kinda how I like to. The idea that to avoid the Cirinists, Julius dresses in drag and gets away. Makes me laugh, and seems like a Julius thing to do. (Which is kinda how Dave intended it.)

But, Julius ACTUALLY being in Jaka's Story makes Jaka's Story make NO sense.

Because if Julius was ACTUALLY outside Jaka's house, then a core plot point of Jaka's Story falls apart...

To recap: (Alright, to OVERTLY and COMPLICATEDLY recap...) (From memory, so if you think my recap is wrong, you might be right!)  So, the first twenty-five issues of Cerebus were more or less self contained plots that built on each other. Around issue thirteen, Dave went monthly, and built more long term plots (the Palnu Trilogy, as an example.) With issue twenty-five, Dave embarked on his "Russian Novel," High Society. Twenty-five issues after THAT, Dave decided to go back to self contained stories, but quickly figured out that once you "Go Big or Go Home" it's hard to (apologies to Steve Martin:) "get small," and started Church & State (which ran for FIFTY-NINE issues (technically sixty-one, if you count 112-113 as two issues, or sixty if you're a pedantic turd and don't.) (because, I believe, Dave decided to paraphrase Fight Club (which wasn't even published until 1996!) and decide that, storylines "will go on for as long as they have to".).) After THAT Dave faced:
"...a blank canvas for the first time in over five years. The story came to me pretty much as it appears here; a series of broad and vivid brush strokes which neither demanded nor allowed of much embellishment; a result, no doubt, of suppressing for so long a time those instincts which initiate (as opposed to those which develop and finish) a large creative work." --Dave from the Jaka's Story introduction 
The short version of Jaka's Story: Jaka and her husband Rick live on the side of the mountain of demon faces in Iest, in an apartment owned by Jaka's boss, Pud Withers. Pud is the owner/operator of a small grocery/pub. Jaka dances at the pub. Jaka's wages are three copper bits a day. Which is also how much her daily groceries are as well (lucky break that). Pud also rents quarters to Oscar, a parody/pastiche of Oscar Wilde. Into this small set piece comes our "hero," Cerebus the Aardvark. For the majority of the book, Cerebus is a passive observer of the goings on of the other four characters. Interspersed with this are excerpts from Oscar's narrative, also called Jaka's Story, a history of Jaka that Oscar learned (partially) from Rick. (And which was edited by Jaka when she told it to Rick.) Pud spends his days mentally plotting an attempt at hooking up with Jaka. Pud's life savings are almost used up supporting himself, his dancer, and her husband (not to mention her new house guest...) At the end, Cirinists show up, kill Pud and arrest Oscar, Jaka, and Rick (Cerebus having exited the storyline to obtain white paint.) Thereafter, Jaka is confined by the Cirinists, interrogated by a parody/pastiche of Margaret Thatcher, and delivered BACK to Lord Julius in Palnu. Cerebus returns to the grocery/pub and finds Pud dead and assumes Jaka is too, and exits into the next volume: Melmoth.

Okay, now that I've spoiled Jaka's Story, let me SPOIL Jaka's Story.

Now, if the fella in the dress with the painted on mustache IS Jaka's Uncle Julius, then why isn't he supporting his niece? And if it's NOT Julius, but is instead a worm salesman from Parmoc, what's he doing is such close proximity to Julius' niece?

Insane Fan Theory time: So Pud is going broke buying food and clothing for Jaka, but Julius is sending food and supplies at discounted prices to Pud's suppliers to keep Jaka where she is long enough for him to find a way to get her. The worm salesman in the dress is there to make sure she hasn't moved on. I mean it COULD have happened, right?
But wait, it gets worse:

So when Cerebus first enters Pud's place, he tries to buy an ale with the gold coin he found after getting back from the Moon. Pud loses his shit, because gold is so scarce and if Pud were to accept it as payment, he'd end up as Cerebus' indentured servant trying to make change.
All images courtesy of

Pud even gives the coin back to Jaka and she gives it back to Cerebus.

And then everybody forgets about the coin for the rest of the book.

Everybody got that?

Pud is going broke, he's on the verge of destitution. And when he's handed salvation in the form of a gold coin, making him rich beyond his wildest imaginings, he hands the coin back and COMPLETELY FORGETS IT for the rest of his life. Yet he begrudges Jaka taking two paper crowns because he's going broke.

Don't take my word for it, look:
See? (Click for bigger, I didn't make it small cause I want to make sure you can read Pud's rant.)
See, the gold coin RUINS it for me, because if Pud (anybody else think it's weird that two of the main male characters are named PUD and DICK? And the third is queerer than a three dollar bill. Was this an insidious joke on Dave's part?) is broke, how could he forget that Jaka's house guest is the richest aardvark on the side of the mountain. I mean even if Pud talked Jaka and Rick and Cerebus into going into a consortium together (see Dino in Melmoth)
See. Right here.
He'd still have a fourth of a fortune. (And Jaka DOES owe him. Apples don't just grow on trees. Okay, they do. But there ain't no apples on the side of the mountain. SOMEBODY has to pay for them...)

Also, how is it that in the entire book, NOBODY from the top of the mountain goes down, and NOBODY from the bottom goes up? Are there two roads and Pud lives on the one less traveled? There's a whole enclave at the top of the mountain. It's where Cirin is living. You can't tell me NOBODY except an old veteran and a worm salesman in a dress travel past Pud's place... Oh, and the three women who end up killing Pud...

It just doesn't make sense.

And it ruins my suspension of disbelief.


Still a good yarn though.

Tune in next week to see if reading Volume One has driven me mad!

Next Time: Steve, I got some answers about Hot Wacks...

Sunday 30 December 2018

TL:DR: The Genesis Question part thirty-four

Hi, Everybody!

21 September 14

Hi Troy & Mia; David & Marie:

I keep forgetting about the "nuggets" of Truth is the "lesser Prophets" once you get past the major prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekeiel.  In this morning's Torah reading, there's what I read as a reference to the Synoptic Jesus and the Johannine Jesus in Zechariah 4:14

Then said he, These the two [anointed ones/sons of oil] that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.

Ezekiel 35:

Moreover the word of the YHWH came unto me, saying:

Son of man, set thy face against mount Seir, and prophecy against it,

According to my NEW BIBLE DICTIONARY, "Seir:  The word seir defines a mountain, a land and a people in the general area of old Edom.  Esau went to live there and his descendants overcame the original inhabitants, the Horites.  The Simeonites later destroyed some Amalakites  who took refuge there."

This would appear to be the beginning -- or attempted beginning -- of a "deal-breaker" argument between the YHWH and God. Esau was the elder brother whose place was usurped by the younger brother, Jacob -- the perceived relationship between God and YHWH (on the part of the YHWH).  It's technically true only insofar as God is the elder being and the YHWH the younger being.  But, as I read Scripture, God is the creator of the YHWH, not the YHWH's elder brother or father or any kind of relation. 

So, what the YHWH APPEARS to be doing is telling Ezekiel to prophecy against what the YHWH perceives to be God's sanctuary that God retreated to when the YHWH proxy, Joseph, usurped God's proxy's -- Esau's -- birthright and blessing. 

And say unto it, Thus saith the Lord GOD: Behold, O mount Seir I against thee, and I will stretch out my hand against thee and I will make thee desolation and desolation.

Again,  God is attempting to maintain a consensus between the two of them here at the apex of the Judaic Revelation.  Which isn't difficult.  God sets His own Face against Mount Seir, but sets His Face against it AS a mountain: as one of the many physical aspects of the YHWH.  Virtually any part of the earth or physical configuration of the earth IS the YHWH.  The Hebrew phrase, "desolation and desolation" suits this expression: Mount Seir as a geopolitical presence will be "desolation" but so will Mount Seir as an aspect of the YHWH be a "desolation".  With an implied succession: desolation and desolation ETCETERA up to and including the YHWH.

I will lay thy cities waste, and thou shalt be desolate and thou shalt know that I, the YHWH.

The rejoinder, it seems to me, calls to mind the even earlier God/YHWH proxies, Cain and Hebel.  It was Cain, the older brother, who murdered the younger brother, Hebel and was cast out from the face of the earth (i.e. the YHWH) and was therefore forced to found cities as a means of providing for himself and his family since agriculture was out of the question. 

[I hate having to go through all this again, but, in my view, Cain definitely got a raw deal.  He basically got caught in a "womankind" pinch: the YHWH inferring that the relationship between Cain and Hebel was the same as the relationship between Adam and Chauah (the latter in Genesis 3:16 "and thy desire subject to thy husband and he shall rule over thee" and the former in Genesis 4:7 "And unto thee his desire and thou shalt rule over him").  This was the subject of the conversation in Genesis 4:8 "And Cain talked with Hebel is brother: and it came to pass when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Hebel his brother and slew him." Basically Hebel wanted to be Cain's wife so Cain killed him.  This, as I read it, was the idea behind Cain's response to the YHWH's question, "Where is Hebel thy brother?" "I know not. Am I my brother's keeper?"  Basically what he was saying was "My brother turned out to be some kind of weird animal, thinking he was going to be my wife.  I had no interest in being the keeper of an animal like that, let alone his wife." 

It's an example of the he/she/it nature of the YHWH that he/she/it was unable to see that a man -- a REAL man -- doesn't want to marry another man.  That the very concept is loathsome and animalistic and bestial: enough to incite a murderous impulse.  There is nothing lower, conceptually, than a younger brother suggesting to an older brother that they should get married. Which, I'm pretty sure is what Hebel suggested.  That's why, personally, I draw a sharp distinction between "mankind" -- men who are men and women who are women but inclusive of both as a species -- and "womankind" which is that weird "men and women are the same and so are homosexuals and transsexuals and bisexuals and bi-curious, etc. etc. etc."  They WANT that to include men but it doesn't.  Not men as I understand the term.  Just women and "weird animals".  He/she/it.  The YHWH, Baal, Isis, etc.] 

God catches the intricate reference and makes his own intricate reference to it:

Because thou hast had a perpetual hatred and hast poured out the children of Israel by the hands of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the time that iniquity an end:

Basically, God moves the discussion back from Cain and Hebel to the expulsion of Adam from the Garden of Eden by the YHWH -- which was another "womankind" act -- and references Genesis 3:24 "So he [YHWH God] drove out the man: and he placed at the East of the garden of Eden, Cherubims, and flaming sword, which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."  "The hands of the sword", I'm pretty sure, refers to the flaming sword which kept men expelled from the Garden and destroyed any man who attempted to enter but allowed women to live and to pass out and return into the Garden -- and, presumably, "womankind": homosexuals, bisexuals, transgendered, etc. 

Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will prepare thee unto blood, and blood shall pursue thee; since thou hast not hated blood, even blood shall pursue thee.

God, of course, in His omniscience, was fully aware that when the YHWH said "What hast thou done?  The voice of thy brother's bloods cryeth unto me from the ground." in Genesis 4:10 that, while the YHWH was, ostensibly -- and I'm pretty sure ONLY ostensibly -- anguishing about Hebel's bloods, the YHWH, as the physically incarnated earth was drinking that same blood and relishing it.

God is basically reminding the YHWH of this central reality.  "Since thou hast not hated blood" but, rather, relished drinking blood, Cain's avowal of redress stands -- as expressed through his descendant, Lamech in Genesis 4:23-24:

And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice, ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I would slay a man in my wound and a young man in my hurt. If Cain shall be avenged seven fold, truly Lamech seventy and seven fold. 

What he's saying is that, even seven generations later, even seventy-seven generations later, he would do the same thing:  if his younger brother proposed that the two of them mate and marry, he would slay him because of the "wound" and "hurt" that would entail. 

What God is telling the YHWH is that that avowal still stands and the blood of Hebel is going, at some point, to be required of the YHWH since it was the YHWH's fault that Hebel propositioned his brother.  "In the time that iniquity an end".  Of course to the YHWH -- and to "womankind" -- there is no such thing as an end to that, because he/she/it doesn't conceive of it as an iniquity.  As we can see in our own society, things are going to have to get a LOT worse before they start getting remotely better.  We're going in the wrong direction: away from "mankind" and God and toward "womankind" and the YHWH.     

Thus will I make mount Seir desolation and desolation, and cut off from it him that passeth out & him that returneth

"him that passeth out and him that returneth":  that is males who are part of "womankind" and consequently wouldn't be kept out of the Garden of Eden by "the flaming sword which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life." 

The YHWH answers with his/her/its own avowal and threat:

And I will fill his mountains with his slain men: in thy hills and in thy valleys and in all thy rivers shall they fall that are slain with the sword. 

I will make thee perpetual desolations & thy cities shall not return and ye shall know that I the YHWH

That is, the YHWH is returning to the concept of the original Edom as a retreat for the defeated God-proxy, Esau.  The reference to rivers is directed against God's chosen medium, water.  "And thy cities shall not return" -- that is, the cities that Cain was forced to found when he was "cursed from the earth" (4:11) "When thou tillest the ground it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength" (4:12).

Because thou hast said These two nations and these two countries shall be mine and we will possess it, [whereas/though] the YHWH was there:

That is, the YHWH is responding that not only is God claiming dominion over Mount Seir, Edom, to where His proxy retreated, but is also laying claim to Jerusalem, the Promised Land, the Garden of Eden (today called the West Bank) "whereas/though the YHWH was there".  Well, yes, definitely.  Everything is God's.  God created everything:  the Garden of Eden, Jerusalem, the YHWH, Mount Seir, all of it:

Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will even do according to thine anger and according to thine envy, which thou hast used out of thy hatred against them: and I will make My Self known amongst them, when I have judged thee.

A simple statement of inescapable fact:  the YHWH will be judged even as all of God's sentient creations will be judged.

Which compels the YHWH to engage in some futile sabre-rattling:

And thou shalt know that I am the YHWH, I have heard all thy blasphemies which thou hast spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying they are laid desolate, they are given us to devour.

The next verse you can picture God and the YHWH saying in unison:

Thus with your mouth ye have [boasted/magnified] against me, & have multiplied your words against me, I have heard.

To which God adds, definitively:

Thus saith the Lord GOD: when the whole earth rejoyceth I will make thee desolate.

Another simple statement of fact:  even if the YHWH -- as seems very unlikely -- is able at some point to unite all of his/her/its disparate factions and lesser and greater YHWHs so that they are all, simultaneously, rejoicing, God will make them all desolate. It's not an issue of unanimity, it's an issue of Reality.  

The YHWH gets the last word (such as it is) in Chapter 35:

As thou didst rejoice at the inheritance of the house of Israel, because it was desolate, so will I do unto thee: thou shalt be desolate, O mount Seir and all Idumea, all of it, and they shall know that I, the YHWH. 

On to chapter 36 next week, God willing.



Next Time: It's New Year's Eve, so Seiler dressed as Baby New Year? (Last "Past" Matt! of the year!!!)

Saturday 29 December 2018

What I got for Christmas... that's Cerebus related. I mean I got socks too, but I'm not showing you them...


So, what Cerebus or Cerebus-related stuff did you guys get?

I got these:

My niece got me the Spider-Ham figure from Into the Spider-verse. As I said, he looks more like Porky Pig in a Spider-Man suit than Cerebus in a Spider-Man suit. If you press his left ear down his eyes change. Either "Classic Spider-Man eyes," "Cartoon Spider-Man eyes," or "Deadpool eyes."

And my good friend the Comic Book Man, got me Alec: The Years Have Pants by Eddie Campbell. Which I hope to read soon-ish.

Speaking of reading things:
IN 2019, A MOMENT OF CEREBUS INTERIM EDITOR, MATT DOW WILL EMBARK ON AN EPIC(ish) RE-READ OF THE ENTIRE CEREBUS SAGA. ALL 16 VOLUMES, AS MANY OF THE 300 ISSUES AS HE HAS (maybe.) EVERY ONE OF THE 6000+ PAGES (ya ever notice that Dave's wrong when he calls is a 6000 page Graphic Novel? Because the first 13 issues were 22 pages long instead of 20. That started when the book went monthly. Plus there's all the pages of the miscellany (which Matt is gonna read too...)). AND THEN HE'S GONNA FILL THE BLOG WITH HIS THOUGHTS AND NOTIONS AND THEORIES AND STUFF. IT'S GONNA BE GREAT!

Next Time: Dave talks about God and stuff, and then anonymous shows up and says we're all sycophants for not writing long comments where we disagree with Dave... happens every week now. Then on Monday: How I may have inadvertently ruined Jaka's Story for myself... possibly forever. 

Friday 28 December 2018

Christmas present edition (Dave's Weekly Update #267)

Hi, Everybody!

An "Unnamed source" has reported that it's Your pal and Mine, Sean Michael Robinson's birthday. So happy Birthday Sean!
This just goes to show why Sean gets paid to fix the phonebooks, and I get nothing for doing the blog...

Heeeeeere's Dave:

Since I know you guys all love to see how crazy I am, here's the FULL lyrics to "Moire Moire" (sure to be on the Billboard Hot 100 for MOST of 2019!):
Happy Birthday Sean who fixes Cerebus' moire moire
Photoshops Cerebus' books and get rid of Cerebus' moire
Hey he give Cerebus love and Cerebus look all right now
Come on you gotta sharpen and contrast
And look all right, yeah Cerebus looks all right
Cerebus said yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Cause Sean makes Cerebus look
So good, so good, so good
So fine, so fine
Yeah it's alright, well Cerebus looks all right
Cerebus said yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Well Sean gets rid of Cerebus' moire moire
Photoshops Cerebus' head and Cerebus'll look alright yeah
Don't stop Photoshoppin' 'cause Cerebus look all right now
Don't stop now fix Cerebus' moire
Come on yeah, Cerebus said yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Cause you make Cerebus look
So good, so good, so good
So fine, so fine
Yeah it's alright, well Cerebus looks all right
Cerebus said yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Cerebus love no more mo-mo-moire
Cerebus love no more mo-mo-moire sure Cerebus do
Cerebus love no more mo-mo-moire sure Cerebus do
Cerebus love no more mo-mo-moire sure Cerebus do
Cerebus love no more mo-mo-moire sure Cerebus do
Cerebus love no more mo-mo-moire sure Cerebus do
Cerebus love no more mo-mo-moire sure Cerebus do
Cerebus love no more mo-mo-moire
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Come on, come on
Come on, come on
Come on, come on
Come on, come on
Come on, come on
Cerebus look all right, Cerebus said yeah, yeah, yeah,
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Sharpen it, contrast it no more moire
Up, down, turn around, no more moire
Hey Sean give Cerebus love and Cerebus look all right now
Don't stop now come on no more moire
Come on, Cerebus said yeah, yeah, yeah,
Yeah, yeah
Cause Sean make Cerebus look
So good, so good, so good
Look all right, all right
Well Cerebus look all right
Cerebus said yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Fix Cerebus' moire, fix Cerebus' moire
Fix Cerebus' moire come on, come on
No more moire
Look all right, Cerebus said yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
(Well, that's an hour and a half of my life I'm not getting back...)

Next Time: Wanna see what I got for Christmas?

Thursday 27 December 2018


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.

Last week we looked at page 37 of Dave Sim's 11th Cerebus notebook and the tightened page lay-outs for pages 16 and 17 of Cerebus #97. Page 38 wasn't scanned as it was blanked, but page 39 was scanned, and surprise surprise it shows us the tightened layouts for pages 18 and 19 of Cerebus #97:

Notebook #11, page 39
Here is a close-up of the page lay-outs, if you click you can zoom in more and see the pencil under the inks:

Notebook #11, page 39 close up, click to see super huge.
 And the finished page with Gerhard backgrounds:

Church & State II, pages 934 - 935
It looks like originally Astoria's finally 'Shoo' was going to go on page 18, but instead was moved to page 19. I enjoy also seeing Dave's artwork before Gerhard works his magic and puts in the backgrounds. You can see how Gerhard puts in the patterns and the solid colors to contrast the characters so they stand out from the background, and the background is just that: background.

Wednesday 26 December 2018


Benjamin Hobbs:

CANADIAN VARK might very well be ON SALE NOW at your LCS!  Of course, the holidays might have thrown a wrench into things and it might be ON SALE NEXT WEEK! Or if the store reports of a week ago were true, LAST WEEK! So HURRY to your LCS and find out!

Available for pre-order now... SIM CITY: THAT ISSUE AFTER!

Awesome promo strip courtesy of David Birdsong

HA! The jokes on Matt.  He thinks I wrote this post today.... Little does he know it was written WEEKS ago, and is HARDLY EVEN RELEVANT NOW!

Next Week: A look back at the past year and a look at the year ahead! Including the CIH? 2019 checklist!

Tuesday 25 December 2018


Hi, Everybody!

To quote Scrooge: "Merry Christmas!"

Ben Hobbs sent in:
Hey Matt! 

So, I don't know if you have any big plans for AMOC on Christmas, but if you're looking for something to run, here's a Batvark cover parody.  Maybe run it along with Season's Greetings/Happy Holidays/Happy New Years/Merry Christmas/Etc from all of us at AMOC?

Let me know what you think!
I think I don't need to write a post today... Truly it IS a Christmas Miracle!

"Season's Greetings/Happy Holidays/Happy New Years/Merry Christmas/Etc from all of us at AMOC" 
Next Time: Ha! Now Hobbs has to do a post for tomorrow! Me? I'll be out back playing with mofficial Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot-range model air rifle!

Monday 24 December 2018

'Twas the night before Cerebu...uh, Christmas

Hi, Everybody!

It's December 24th, you know what that means:
Courtesy of
Ok, Merry Cerebus Everybod...



Okay, here's what I got:

It's Ben Hobbs Christmas card, David Birdsong's Christmas card, (Which you can get here.) And an 11 by 17 print of the Kickstater Cerebus in Hell? strip Dave wrote for me (signed and personalized.)


Next Time: Christmas!!!

Sunday 23 December 2018

TL:DR: The Genesis Question part thirty-three

Hi, Everybody!

Sundays, am I right?

My printer was on the fritz.  But I've got a new one, so you're getting two weeks' worth of commentaries in one.

14 September 14

Hi Troy & Mia; David & Marie:

Okay, as I read chapter 34 of Ezekiel, as I said last week, it begins with God asserting that the events of chapter 33 WILL come to pass and WHEN they do, the people will know that a prophet -- Ezekiel -- had been among them when it was announced. 

The YHWH is interested in this and so, either prompts God to elaborate on this or -- "off stage" gets the whole thing rehearsed to he/she/it for approval before God announces it to Ezekiel.  Approval, presumably, was forthcoming and it's the YHWH who makes contact with Ezekiel:

And the word of the YHWH came unto me, saying

Son of man, prophecy against the shepherds of Israel, prophecy and say unto them, Thus sayeth the Lord GOD unto the shepherds, Woe to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves:  should not the shepherds feed the flocks?  Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: ye feed not the flock.

Essentially, it's more accurate blame-laying than we saw in Chapter 33 where the blame was being laid at the feet of Israel's "watchman":  you have to warn Pharaoh AND Israel and if you don't, then the buck stops with you and you have to pay the price.  The YHWH is going to require Pharaoh's blood at your hand.  Which is pretty short-sighted as tactics -- let alone strategies -- go.  What if Ezekiel attempts to get to Pharaoh and warn him and is taken captive before he gets there?  Which is presumably what happened. 

The advantage -- as the YHWH would see it -- in this new model is that it recasts human beings as sheep which (I'm guessing) the YHWH would never have seen them as being before but -- as soon as it was presented to he/she/it in that form -- it would have a great deal of appeal. 

The imagination of man's heart isn't necessarily evil from his youth, it's just, well, stupid most of the time.  Like sheep.  They are completely domesticated by the time of Ezekiel and have been for many, many generations.  They need to be cared for every minute of every day or they die because they're so stupid.  So the blame shifts to:  Who is in charge of these sheep?  Who isn't feeding them and isn't caring for them? 

It's a reasonably long list but also a short list:  Israel's political and religious leaders.  Leaders are shepherds and it's their job to make sure that ALL of the sheep are fed.
It's simplistic, of course.  Human beings aren't literally sheep -- human beings are capable of thought and choice though lot of them ARE stupid, a lot of them CHOOSE TO BE stupid and a lot of them CHOOSE TO BE evil (a very different thing from BEING stupid and BEING evil). You will never eliminate that and you will never make sure that everyone is fed to the extent that everyone wants to be fed. But, it's certainly a more fruitful way of looking at the situation than laying all of the blame at Ezekiel's feet because he didn't get to Pharaoh and he didn't warn everyone in Israel and not everyone listened to him.

The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which is broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.

It's interesting, because while it's a more accurate way of viewing Israel as a collective of human beings it's also an indictment of the YHWH's brand of theology which definitely militated against the diseased and the sick which were excluded from the literal flocks as being unsuitable for ritual Temple sacrifice.  And presumably this extended into the collective viewpoint that "diseased" and "sick" were synonymous with "evil".  To say the least, the YHWH is not inculpable in this: if anyone has been an inadequate shepherd to Israel -- ruling the Hebrew people "with force and with cruelty" -- the YHWH is a prime suspect.  But, because the metaphorical construct is new, it allows the YHWH to evade responsibility and lay the blame at the feet of those who are the most "shepherd-like", structurally, in the context of Israel being viewed as a giant sheepfold.  "That which was driven away" prefigures the core of the next Chapter -- the expulsion of man, but not woman or womankind, from the Garden of Eden.  But that's for next week.

And they were scattered because no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. 

My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek.

And as I read it, God stops there.  And leaves it up to the YHWH as to whether or not to continue.  Which the YHWH does:

Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the YHWH.

Another prompt to God:  given that the YHWH concurs in the metaphorical assessment of the sheep/shepherds model that God has suggested, what do the shepherds need to be told? 

As I live saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey and my flock became meat to every beast of the field because no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock:

Basically, the YHWH gives God a big "amen" to that one:

Therefore, O ye shepherds hear the word of the YHWH.

So God continues:

Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I against the shepherds and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock, neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more: for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. 

This is the "adjusted requirement" provision:  instead of requiring the blood of Pharaoh and his people at the hand of the watchman, Ezekiel, God will require the blood of the "flock" -- Israel -- at the hand of the shepherds, the political and religious leaders who have been feathering their own nests and -- strengthening the metaphor -- devouring the flock like beasts of prey.

For thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I, I will both search my sheep and seek them out. 

According to the seeking a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered: so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places, where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. 

And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.

I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold and a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel.

I will feed my flock and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD.

At the time, it must have seemed -- to the YHWH, to Ezekiel, to Israel -- an impossible dream.  They could see the reality of "the cloudy and dark day", but how do you get from HERE to THERE?   

I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong, I will feed them with judgement.

It didn't APPEAR to add up.  "The fat and the strong" ARE the shepherds, aren't they?  Without the "fat and the strong" how can you "seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick"?  God anticipates the question:

And as for you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold I judge between small cattle and lambs and kids between the rams and the great he-goats.

The promised judgement is more wide-ranging than people had been used to to that point.  Wealth and strength are not implicitly good -- you are wealthy and strong because God favours you, being the populist theory.  That isn't the actual basis for belonging to God's flock, to being one of God's lost, driven away, broken or sick sheep.  Having established that He will judge "like" with "like" -- small cattle and lambs and kids will be judged relative to other small cattle and lambs and kids, and rams and great he-goats will be judged relative to to other rams and great he-goats -- God begins with the "downside" of the "fat and the strong" -- addressing them directly -- in his metaphorical "flock" sense:

Seemeth it a small thing unto you, to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures?  And to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet?

And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet.

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them, Behold I, I will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle. 

Because ye have thrust with the side and with shoulder and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad:

Therefore will I save my flock and they shall no more be a prey and I will judge between cattle and cattle.

It's possible that the YHWH, at this point, was beginning to wonder if this was being directed at he/she/it.  Which, as I read it, yes it was.  It came as no surprise to God, I don't think, that the YHWH-directed faith ended up driving away God's flock.  It was just a matter of continuing in that vein until the time of Ezekiel when the results of the implicit brutality of the YHWH were self-evident and even the YHWH could see that something needed to be done.  But God also knows that there is a sure way of keeping the YHWH "on board" -- which, as I read it, is the underlying purpose of the Book of Ezekiel, unanimity between God and the YHWH:  invoking and personalizing the single individual that the YHWH has always regarded as the apex of the otherwise worthless ranks of human beings:

And I will set up one shepherd over them and he shall feed them, my servant David: he shall feed them and he shall be their shepherd. 

It works a charm (as God knew it would):

And I the YHWH will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them, I the YHWH have spoken.

And I will make with them a covenant of peace and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods.

Which rather misses the point:  changing the metaphorical "evil beasts" -- the self-aggrandizing "shepherds" of Israel as constituted -- back into literal "evil beasts", not in the cities, but in the wilderness. 

But, metaphorically, it's still sustainable as far as I can see as a God/YHWH consensus.  The important metaphorical element is the "covenant of peace" with God's "flock".  Even though I'm pretty sure that the YHWH's imperfect understanding has more to do with scapegoating -- "it's all the fault of those fat, strong, evil shepherds" -- than with accurate understanding, God, I think, makes sensible allowances: the "evil beasts", "the land", "the wilderness" and "the woods" and "sleep" can be regarded as metaphors yet to be addressed and clarified: 

And I will make them and the places around my hill a blessing and I will cause the shower to come down in his season:  there shall be showers of blessing.

God's medium:  water.  The absence of which, drought, indicates Divine disfavour. Whether the passage originates with God or the YHWH, it is a consensus view: "showers of blessing" will be a sign that God's flock has been restored.   

And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit and earth shall yield her increase and they shall be safe in their land and shall know that I, the YHWH, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them.

This is typical of the YHWH.  Trees are masculine, metaphors of God.  As it says in Genesis 1:11 "the fruit tree yielding fruit after HIS kind, whose seed in IT self". The tree isn't "of the field" (i.e. "of the YHWH").  The earth is identified as female ("her increase").  Both are attempted provocations, as I read it -- "deal breakers" -- how can God agree with notional female trees?  "Increase" originating with the YHWH?  Crediting the YHWH with breaking "the bands of their yoke"?  when the bands originated with the YHWH in the first place? 

God, significantly, says nothing.  The YHWH has no idea that all of this will be dealt with by the advent of the Shepherd, the Johannine Jesus, the literal incarnation of who David was a prototype for AND that the YHWH will have his/her/its own version:  the Synoptic Jesus, a literal descendant of King David. 

And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beasts of the land devour them: but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make afraid.

And I will raise up for them a plant of renown and they shall be no more taken away with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more.

Thus shall they know that I, the YHWH their god with them

To which God appends only:

and that they, the house of Israel, my people, saith the Lord GOD.

And then adds, by way of correction to the YHWH's gender inversions:

And ye, my flock of my pasture, men, I, your God, saith the Lord GOD.

It's John the Baptist who tells two of his disciples, "Behold the Lamb of God" and points out the Johannine Jesus.  This, to me, is God's Shepherd Construct: sheep are not the sharpest knives in the drawer, they need guidance.  And, obviously, even among sheep, lambs need even more guidance.  A lamb is capable of just wandering off somewhere on its own with no thought or awareness of imminent danger.  That has to be learned through experience and observation.  The younger the lamb, the less experience and observation it has to go on. 

In this, I see God's point as being:  If the Johannine Jesus ISN'T the Jewish meschiach (and God, I think, isn't saying one way or the other) he is the long-promised Shepherd of Ezekiel's prophecies.  This is the Shepherd who will guide, by his teachings, God's flock back from the wilderness where they have been driven and fled and wandered. But while the Johannine Jesus is the Shepherd, he is also God's Lamb.  HE needs to be guided and sheltered and coached and directed every step of the way of his entire life because even he, the Shepherd, has the same limited perceptions and awarenesses that a lamb has -- relative to a sheep and a sheep has relative to a Shepherd -- relative to God.   

Lengthy digression:

As I read it, the fullest hatching out of this Shepherd Construct takes place in John's Gospel chapters 9-10, beginning with the "man blind out of birth". 

And questioned him the disciples of him saying, Rabbi, who sinned, this or the parents of him, in order that blind he should be generated?

There you have the YHWH philosophy extant at that time and which we see being adjusted in Ezekiel 34:  the strong and the wealthy are blessed by God.  Why?  Because they're strong and wealthy. Someone born blind has obviously sinned and is being punished.  Or his parents sinned.  Which is it? The Lamb of God is directed SPECIFICALLY what to say about this:

Neither this sinned nor the parents of him, but in order that might be manifested the works of the God in him.

Realizing that this is just too obscure an observation for observant Jews to take in -- although it's pretty clear, to me, what he's saying: blindness in and of itself isn't necessarily a punishment, everything is an incarnation of God with different means of expressing itself -- he attempts to qualify it. 

To me, this must have been a lot of the experience of being the Lamb of God.  What he was saying/told to say made perfect sense to him.  Of course it did!  It was imparted to him, directly, by God or by some entity delegated to the task by God.  But he could also see when he was telling someone something how it was that they were taking it.  And in this case:

Us it is necessary to be working the works of the ____ having sent me until day is;

This is an "us" work -- this is "of God' s flock".  I wouldn't be doing this if you hadn't asked me about the blind man.  That was your "work" -- posing the question.  I'm an expression of God jut as you are an expression of God.  We are both "works".  Having this discussion with you is one of God's "works". 

But this kind of work that I'm about to do, God's work, but performed at your unwitting behest, can only take place in this historical moment.  These kinds of works are coming to an end.  A new day will dawn soon when I won't be here as I am now. 

Then he looks further out, with God's assistance to His Lamb:

is coming night when no one is able to be working.

I think he would say these things because that was what he was here to do: to enunciate truth.  He would just say what he was told to say and then he, himself, would wonder at it, because he understood it and saw how everything fit together.  And then look at the disciples and see nothing but question marks over their heads.  And he would try to find another way of saying the same thing that they would understand:

Whenever in the world I may be, light I am of the world. 

As I read it, it's an even more profound enunciation of the truth that he has just enunciated as it references "the world" which, of course, is the physical incarnation of the YHWH.  I doubt that it did anything for the question marks over the disciples heads -- either increased them or decreased them -- but it did kick the imminent work into a much higher classification. He was not only there to "illuminate" them, as both the Shepherd and the Lamb of God, he was there to illuminate the YHWH, the earth his/her/itself.

These having said, he spat on the ground and he made clay out of the spittle and he put upon of him the clay and upon the eyes, and he said to him, Be going under, wash yourself into the pool of the Siloam which is, being translated, Having been sent forth.

See, first he invokes the YHWH -- "whenever IN THE WORLD I may be, light I am OF THE WORLD".  IN and OF.  And then spits on the ground, on YHWH -- which must have come as quite a surprise!  Nothing exceptional about the ground that he spat on -- and only the YHWH would have known that -- but mixed with the spittle of the "Having been sent forth" (metaphorically, God's spittle), it makes a miraculous clay.  SO miraculous that it's able to heal the eyes of someone who was born blind. 

That can't be overstated:  specifically, I think, it's intended to contrast with the Synoptic Jesus -- who is credited with healing the blind, but never specifically someone who was BORN blind.  There are all kinds of blindness:  hysterical blindness, feigned blindness, dim vision, etc.  You don't need to be Jesus to be a faith healer.  Most people, properly channeled, can heal themselves of their infirmities because most of them are the ones who have made themselves sick. 

This is one of the Johannine Jesus' few miracles.  His miracles were few but they were monumental.  

But it has its drawbacks, as all miracles tend to:

The therefore neighbours and the beholding him the former that beggar he was were saying, Not this is the ____ sitting and begging?  Others were saying that This is; others were saying No, but like to him he is.  That ___ was saying that I am.

"I am" is the Divine declaration, as we have seen.  The Exodus revelation to Moshe -- "I am that I am" -- allows for the inferred inclusion of the YHWH, both God and YHWH are "I am"s in that context.  So the blind man is, in the context of the work, blaspheming.  He isn't "I am".  But, then, arguably, neither is the Johannine Jesus.  Only God is actually "I am" but this is a "work of God".  The Johannine Jesus is a "work of God", his spittle mingled with the earth is a "work of God" with its miraculous properties.  The pool of Siloam is a "work of God", it's very name meaning "Having been sent forth".  Arguably this was what the pool of Siloam was created for, this "work of God".  It was "sent forth" perhaps thousands of years earlier in God's full awareness of what it was to be used for and by whom it was to be used.  Everyone in the context of the story is "lamb-like" being herded in a direction they don't really understand.

This leads to a lengthy confrontation between the formerly blind man and the religious authorities which prefigures Jesus' own trial before the Sanhedrin.  The upshot of which is that the formerly blind man is expelled from the Temple more for the WAY he answered the authorities than for WHAT it was that he was saying to them. 

And they threw out him outside.  Heard Jesus that they threw him out outside, and having found him, he said You are believing into the son of the man? 

The "son of man" is a Synoptic Jesus self-identifier as the "lamb of God" is a Johannine Jesus self-identifier.  This suggests to me that this is the Synoptic Jesus -- aware of the great miracle that was done by the Johannine Jesus, healing a blind man who had been blind from his birth -- opportunistically (or, more accurately, at the opportunistic behest of the YHWH) seeking to supplant the Johannine Jesus with himself.  And being successful.  The previously blind man didn't really "register" who it was that healed him of his blindness.  He wouldn't recognize him "on sight":

Answered that and he said, And who is he, lord, in order that I should believe into him?  Said to him the ____ (Jesus) And you have seen him and the ___ speaking with you, that ____ is.

The ___ (however ____) said I am believing, lord, and he did obeisance to him. 

See, that's not something that someone "having been sent forth" by God would allow.  You only do obeisance to God if you're a monotheist.  But it's a tactical master stroke by the YHWH, getting the "I am" formerly blind man to bow down to his own proxy, the Synoptic Jesus. 

Chapter 10 verses 1-18  is the Johannine Jesus reacting to the news that his great miracle has been co-opted by the Synoptic Jesus and asserting his own bona fides as the Shepherd of Ezekiel 34 and denouncing the Synoptic Jesus:

Amen amen I am saying to you the ___ not entering through the door into the fold of the sheep but going up from another place that thief is and plunderer. The __ (however ____) entering through the door shepherd is of the sheep.

It shows the difficulty in being "the Lamb of God".  How do you explain what "the door" is?  You experience it and know it because that's who you are, but how do you EXPLAIN the difference? 

To this the doorkeeper is opening and the sheep the voice of him is hearing and the own sheep he is sounding for according to name and he is leading out them.  Whenever the own all he should thrust out, in front of them he is going, and the sheep to him is following, because they have known the voice of him; to stranger however not not they will follow but they will flee from him, because not they have known of the strangers the voice.

John himself says:

This the comparison said to them the ____ (Jesus); those _____s (however, ____s) not knew what was which he was speaking to them.

The Johannine Jesus tries again, opting for personalization (which he often did, self-identifying as, among other things, "the light", "the bread" and "the door").  "The doorkeeper" didn't strike quite the accurate note he had been trying for.  The blind man did obeisance to the Synoptic Jesus, so didn't that make HIM the doorkeeper?

Said therefore again the ____ (Jesus), Amen amen I am saying to you, I am the door of the sheep.

It's more succinct and more specific:   

All as many came before me thieves are and plunderers; but not heard of them the sheep. 

This is, presumably, accurate but dangerous territory since, arguably, it includes all of the Jewish prophets to that point who have been "thieves and plunderers" on behalf of the YHWH.  The Johannine Jesus is, I infer, the first who represents God exclusively.  Sensing the danger in the faces of his listeners, the Johannine Jesus retreats to the earlier assertion:

I am the door; through me if ever anyone should enter he will be saved and he will go in and he will go out and pasturage he will find. 

And then ventures into the same dangerous territory.  It needs to be said:

The thief not is coming if not in order that he might thieve and he might slay and he might destroy;

You would have to have been a devotee and a keenly observant devotee to see and accept what he was saying.  You would have to have known that HE had healed the man blind from birth and the Synoptic Jesus had come later and induced the same fellow to do obeisance to him.  You would have had to have not doubted that knowledge and you would have had to have drawn a profoundly negative inference from what the Synoptic Jesus had done.  That's a very tall order.

 I came in order that life they may have and abundant they may have.  I am the shepherd the fine; the shepherd the fine the soul of him is putting over the sheep;

This would have been reassuring to his long-time listeners.  Less reassuring would have been:

the hireling and not being shepherd of whom not is the sheep own, he is beholding the wolf coming and he is letting go off the sheep and he is fleeing -- and the wolf is snatching them and is scattering -- because hireling he is and not it is mattering to him about the sheep. 

Even if you, as a keenly observant devotee, knew, okay, the Johannine Jesus performed the miracle and the Synoptic Jesus is taking credit for it. The impulse would be "What's the difference?  They're both messengers sent by God, aren't they? Think of all the healing the Synoptic Jesus has done!"  It's a major drawback to being God's first ever "God exclusive" messenger being experienced by people who universally believe God and YHWH to be the same being.

Wisely, the Johannine Jesus limits himself to self-description and avoids discussing the Synoptic Jesus entirely.  Those who instinctively know the difference respond to that simple truth being enunciated in a variety of ways:

I am the shepherd the fine, and I am knowing the mine and are knowing me the mine, according as is knowing me the Father and I am knowing the Father, and the soul of me I am putting over the sheep.  And other sheep I am having which is not out of the fold this; and those it is necessary me to lead, and of the voice of me they will hear, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.  Through this me the Father is loving because I am putting the soul of me, in order that again I should receive it.  No one lifted up it from me, but I am putting it from myself.  Authority I am having to put it and authority I am having again to receive it; this the commandment I received beside of the Father of me.

Not surprisingly:

Split again occurred in the Jews through the words these.  Were saying ___ (however many out of them) Demon he is having and he is mad; why of him you are hearing? 

These would be the YHWHists, characteristically inverting who was demon-possessed and who wasn't.  The genuinely Godly knew exactly what he was saying, that he was speaking specifically to them and they were able to hear him in a way the others couldn't:

Others were saying These the sayings not is of being demonized; not demon is able of blind ____s eyes to open?


Next Time: Merry Christmas, Everybody! (What'd ya get me?)