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JUDGES CHAPTER 1 ~ 8

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JUDGES CHAPTER 1 ~ 8

Post  Jude on Sun 05 May 2013, 15:11

THE BOOK OF JUDGES


The book of Judges continues the major theme of Joshua, that is, the role of the divine guide to make war for the saving of the faithful. It is structured around the lives of twelve such judges or divinely appointed leaders. The books of revelation contain a number of series made up of the numbers three and four. The sum of these is seven and the product twelve. The twelve series always represent the experience of the human soul in its sacrificial spiral as a spark rising from the altar towards God. The twelve begins with the sons of Ishmael and ends with the Twelve Imams beginning with Imam Ali and ending with Imam Mahdi, may peace be upon them. There are parallels between the twelve judges in this book with the twelves that follow, that is, the twelve righteous kings of Judah, the twelve minor prophets, the twelve disciples of Jesus, and the twelve divine guides. This is only to be expected, since the cycle has its basic characteristics in every case. The names of the sons of Ishmael are the defining features of the cycle of twelve through which the human soul arises.

In order, the names mean as follows: Ishmael = God hears; Nebajoth = brought forth, fruitfulness; Kedar = ash¬ coloured, dark; Adbeel = disciplined of God; Mibsam = fragrant; Mishma = hearing; Dumah = silence; Massa = burden, tribute; Hadar = majesty; Tema = sunburnt; Jetur = encircled, enclosed; Naphish = breathed, refreshed; Kedema precedence, help.

God's hearing our call results in a twelve-step spiritual development. The first step is fruitfulness, the immediate stimulation of the spiritual practice. This soon subsides into the real work of dhikr. The first symbol of this is darkness, then discipline. After this trial the soul is rewarded with more substantial progress in fragrance. Fragrance is followed by the experiences of hearing and silence, tribute and majesty. The second cycle of discipline finds a symbol in the sunburnt arid seclusion. This is followed by the second reward in refreshment and help. These four alternating cycles of discipline and reward correspond to the mystical four gates and the four elements, air, fire, water and earth. The twelve judges follow this same cycle of development, the story of each illuminating some aspect of it.

The author of the book is traditionally known as Samuel, whose name is a variant of Ishmael. Although the sema’ is noted in the first chapters of Genesis, it is through Samuel that it comes to its full development. It was so shunted aside by animal sacrifice at one point that the priest did not recognize it as a valid form of prayer when Samuel’s mother engaged in it, thinking that she was drunken. Samuel heard the voice of God even as a small child. The book of Judges appears to be his treatise on hearing the voice of God as the central feature of divine worship. This is evident also in the fact that the judges are all appointed directly by [the voice of] God rather than by their predecessors.

The final two episodes of the book of Judges are a warning of the results of neglecting the twelve-step cycle of spirituality. In sum, all religious systems that dispense with divinely appointed leadership, divine guidance, result in horrible acts of violence as well as idolatry. History has proven Samuel correct in that assessment.

INTRODUCTION: GOD HEARS

WEEK 44 JUDGES 1


1 Now after Joshua died, it came
To pass the children of the name
Of Israel asked YHWH, saying “Who
Shall go up for our fighting crew
Against the Canaanites in view,
As prince to fight against them too?”
2 And YHWH said “Judah shall go up,
Behold, I’ve delivered the cup
Of the land into Judah’s hand.
3 And Judah said to Simeon’s band
His brother, “Come up in my lot
With me, that we may strike the spot
Of Canaanites, and I likewise
Will go with you before your eyes
Into your lot. So Simeon
Went up with him as he was drawn.
4 And so Judah went up, and YHWH
Delivered the Canaanite crew
And the Perizzites in their hand,
And they killed ten thousand in band
At Bezek. 5 And they found the lord
Of Bezek in Bezek adored,
And fought against him, and they slew
Canaanites and Perizzites’ crew.
6 Then the lord of Bezek fled out,
And they pursued him, caught in rout,
And cut off his thumbs and big toes.
7 And the lord of Bezek in throes
Said “Seventy kings with their thumbs and
Big toes cut off gathered the sand
Under my table, as I’ve done,
So Ælohim repays who won.”
They brought him to Jerusalem,
And there he died no diadem.

Bezek, a lightning flash, is where they came
To find a lord in king of that same name
To cut off thumbs and big toes to his shame.
So many have died in the holy city,
That when I was there, although I was witty,
I did not remember lord of Bezek
Who died there with his thumbs and feet wreck.
The lightning flash could not grasp and was lame.
Beloved, I take the cruel flash that shines
Across my heart and action from the lines
Of wrath and cut of its lord’s thumbs and toes
So it cannot grasp sword, and where it goes
It limps and at least bleeds, and bleeds to death.
So I renew my righteousness and breath.

8 And the children of Judah fought
Against Jerusalem and caught
It, they smote it with mouth of sword
And set fire to the city stored.
9 And after that Judah’s folk went
Down to fight Canaanites who spent
Their time in the mountains, and in
The south, and in the lowland bin.
10 And Judah went against the folk
Of Canaan set by Hebron’s oak.
And the name of Hebron before now known

Was Kirjath Arba on that score.
And they killed Sheshai, Ahiman,
And Talmai all and to a man.
11 From there they went against the folk
Of Debir. Debir’s name awoke
Before as Kirjath Sepher. 12 Then
Caleb said “Who attacks the men
Of Kirjath Sepher and takes it,
To him I’ll give my daughter fit
Achsah as wife.” 13 And Othniel
The son of Kenaz, so to tell,
Caleb’s younger brother, took it,
So he gave him his daughter fit
Achsah as wife. 14 It came to pass,
When she came to him, that she moved
Him to ask her father for grass.
And she got down from off her ass,
And Caleb asked her unreproved,
“What do you want?” 15 So she told him,
“Give me a blessing on my whim,
Since you have given me the south land,
Give me also water springs’ stand.”
And Caleb gave her upper springs
And lower springs where water rings.

Beloved, I ask You as loving father
To give me what my dry lands must incur.
Give me the springs, both lower and above
And I shall bathe my face in Your cool love.
The alabaster fountains glowing green
Seduce my steps toward Your great unseen,
And draw me closer to the pool unkept,
The bottomless abyss and the wind-swept.
Your spirit hovers on the surface calm
To break the waters and to split the palm.
Beloved, I reach out to the shining cup
And take it to my lips and turn it up.
Beyond the meadow grass, beyond the sun,
Give me the high and lower springs when done.

16 Now the children of the Kenite,
Moses’ father-in-law in sight,
Went up from the city of palms
With Judah’s folk and without qualms
Into the desert of Judah,
Which lies in the south near Arad,
And they went and lived with the folk.
17 Judah went with his brother bloke
Simeon, and they laid a stroke
On the Canaanites who dwelt in
Zephath, and utterly for sin
Destroyed it. So that city’s name
Was called Hormah as if in blame.
18 Also Judah took Gaza and
Its outlands, Ashkelon with land
Around it, and Ekron in band.
19 So YHWH was with Judah. And they
Drove out the mountain-dwellers’ sway,
But they could not drive out the ones
Who lived in the lowland in tonnes,
Because they had chariots of iron.
20 They gave Caleb Hebron to fire on,
As Moses had said. And he drove
Out from there the three sons in grove
Of Anak, out from where they strove.

Three sons of Anak Caleb could disperse
And show them to a grave and something worse.
But lowland dwellers, fat and on the fawn
He could not move, no not from glowing dawn
To sunset by the sea. Such giants lay
An iron yoke and chariot on the way.
The mountains where the groves and Baals sway
He cleared, but not the valleys fertile drawn.
The sons of giants in their way of troll
I drive out from my heart and land and soul.
I break the necklace of their faith and song
And go free in the mountains from their wrong.
Beloved, I come to slay Anak’s sons where
They would creep in beneath my fire and air.

21 But the children of Benjamin
Did not drive out with wing or fin
The Jebusites, ones living in
Jerusalem, so Jebusites
Live there in Benjamin’s folk’s sights
In Jerusalem to this day.
22 And the house of Joseph took way
Against Bethel, and YHWH with them.
23 So Joseph’s house by stratagem
Sent men to spy out Bethel, which
Was once called Luz when at its pitch.
24 And when the spies saw a man coming
Out of the city, they said humming
To him, “Please show us city gate
And we’ll show you mercy for fate.”
25 So he showed them the entrance way
Into the city, and they’d slay
The city with the mouth of sword,
But they let the man go ungored
And all his family too restored.
26 The man went to the Hittites’ land,
And built a city there to stand,
And called its name Luz, which is its
Name to this day there where it sits.
27 But Manasseh did not drive out
Beth Shean and its suburbs stout,
Or Taanach and its lands about,
The inhabitants of Dor and
Its suburbs, or dwellers in land
Of Ibleam and its suburbs,
Or Megiddo’s people and herbs,
But Canaanites would take those curbs.
28 It happened when Israel was strong,
They put Canaanites under thong
Of tribute, but did not completely
Drive them out, but treated them sweetly.

Megiddo’s excellent and that is why
No one could treat it on the cunning sly
With armies sent and bent on crushing it.
The smiling coriander seed is fit
And sweet to taste upon the wet tongue’s slit.
Better to put Megiddo to tribute
And enjoy on long summer days its fruit.
It might last generations on the fly.
Beloved, put me to tribute, do not take
My life as long as I by my tent stake
Remember to cantillate Your sweet names
Like coriander seed parched in the flames
Of love. See I go whirling from the gate
Of Taanach, and so I shall not be late.

29 Nor did Ephraim drive out the folk
Of Canaan who lived in the poke
Of Gezer, so the Canaanites
Lived in Gezer with them by rights.
30 Neither did Zebulon drive out
The dwellers of Kitron in rout
Or the dwellers of Nahalol,
So the Canaanites on the dole
Lived among them, and were put out
Under a tribute not to flout.
31 Neither did Asher drive out those
Inhabitants that Acco shows
Nor the dwellers where Sidon grows,
Nor from Ahlab, Achzib, Helbah,
Aphik, or Rehob in the raw.
32 So the Asherites lived among
The Canaanites, the dwellers sung
In the land, for they did not drive
Them out of home or hearth or hive.
33 Neither did Naphtali drive out
The dwellers of Beth Shemesh stout
Or the inhabitants of Beth
Anath, but they died natural death,
The Canaanites set in the land.
Nevertheless the dwellers of
Beth Shemesh and Beth Anath’s glove
Were put under tribute to them.
34 And the Amorites forced the stem
Of Dan into the mountains fast,
For they would not let them avast
Come down to the valley to cast,
35 And the Amorites would live there
In Mount Heres, in Aijalon,
And in Shaalbim without a care,
Yet when the strength of the house drawn
Of Joseph became greater, they
Were put under the tribute’s sway.
36 Now the border of Amorites
Was from slopes of Akrabbim’s heights,
From Sela, and upward by rights.

I wait upon the mountains like a judge
And see the sunset turn the sea to smudge
Of purple and of gold and fire about
The cloudy remnants of good and devout.
I wait upon the mountains through the night
And see the morning cast about its light
And then rush on the foe and lay them all
To tribute to my harvest bin and stall.
Beloved, I secretly watch from my place
To see if You indeed will show Your face,
And when You do, I’ll throw my trapping lines
About You, You shall not escape my vines,
But I shall take Your heart and store for mine
And You will have Your servant in to dine.

JUDGES 2


1 The Angel of YHWH came up from
Gilgal to Bochim, said when come,
“I led you up from Egypt and
Brought you again into the land
I swore to your fathers, and said
‘I'll never break covenant spread
With you. 2 ‘And you no covenant
Make with any inhabitant
Of this land, but you shall tear down
Their altars all around the town.’
But you have not obeyed My voice.
Why have you made this fatal choice?

The altars of the rich and blind appear
On every fine horizon and with cheer.
Should any come to tear them down, I fear,
A brew and cry of terrorism would
Rise on the island where the towers stood.
Ask me not now to break the idols down
Nor burn their churches with a righteous frown.
There's wrath enough within the loving creed
When Rome dictates Geneva's time of need.
There's din enough where rollicking prayers roll
Above the thrashing sea and rock atoll,
Above gyrations of Pentecost's shoal.
Do not, Beloved, send out the enemy
Because I fail in violent degree.

3 “Therefore I also said ‘I
Not drive them out over the hill
Before you, but they shall be thorn
In your side, and their gods of scorn
Shall be a snare to you and yourn.’”
4 So it was, when Angel of YHWH
Spoke these words to Israel's folk true,
That the folk lifted up their voices
And wept where Canaanite rejoices.
5 Then they called the name of that place
Bochim, and there before the face
Of YHWH they sacrificed for grace.

As weeping is an act of worship so
The people wept to hear, to fear and know
That idol toleration would bear fruit
In thorny sides and many ills to boot.
I come upon a day to Bochim where
I weep to say that generations there
Go on the same, and idol resurrects
On idol when it’s such the heart expects.
In Bochim weeping there the people came
To sacrifice to You, Beloved, for blame.
I come with tears and with a sacrifice
That is my living self, may it suffice
To set aside all hopes and all desires
But Your will in eternal, loving fires.

6 And when Joshua had dismissed
The folk, Israel's folk from the tryst,
Each went to his inheritance
To possess a land where to dance.
7 So the folk served YHWH all the days
Of Joshua, and all the days
Of the elders who outlived him,
Who'd seen all the great works of YHWH
Which He had done for Israel's crew.
8 Now Joshua the son of Nun,
The servant of YHWH who is One,
Died aged one hundred and ten years.
9 They buried him within the fence
Of his plotted inheritance
At Timnath Heres, in the hills
Of Ephraim, on the north rills
Of Mount Gaash, left him to his fears.
10 When all that generation had
Been gathered to their fathers' pad,
Another generation rose
After them as one might suppose
Who did not know YHWH nor the work
Which He had done for Israel's kirk.
11 Then the children of Israel did
Evil in YHWH's sight, though they hid,
And served the Baals, 12 and they forsook
YHWH the God that their fathers took,
Who had brought them out of the land
Of Egypt to Canaanite strand,
And they followed other gods from
Among the folk's gods where they’d come,
Who were all around them, and they
Bowed down to them, and they provoked
YHWH to anger red hot and stoked.
13 They forsook YHWH and served Baal and
The Ashtoreths upon the land.
14 And the anger of YHWH was hot
Against Israel. So He made plot
To deliver them in the hands
Of plunderers despoiling lands,
And He sold them into the hands
Of their foes all around in band,
So that they could no longer stand
Before their enemies. 15 Where they
Went out, the hand of YHWH that day
Was raised against them in the way
For harm, as YHWH had said and just
As YHWH had sworn to them at first.
And so they were greatly distressed.
16 Nevertheless, YHWH always blessed
Raised up judges who saved them from
The hand of plunderers to come.

Beloved, I thank You for the judges set
In centuries past for salvation well met.
But in my day salvation is alone
Forgiveness it would seem from every groan
Of sin I find within my hand and heart.
The preacher of today will have no part
Of saving me from muggers in the park
Or from the stalker hiding in the dark.
Who intervene, even with only word,
Are said to be betrayers of the stirred
And lovely faith of Islam or of Christ.
Salvation of oppressed's a loaf unsliced.
Beloved, I thank You for the judges twelve
Who mind me where to take haven and delve.

17 But they'd not listen to their judges,
But they played the harlot in smudges
With other gods, and bowed to them.
They quickly rejected the gem,
The way in which their fathers walked,
Obeying the statutes YHWH chalked,
They did not do so. 18 And when YHWH
Raised up judges for them, and YHWH
Was with the judge and saved them out
Of their foes' hands and with a shout
All the days of the judge, for YHWH
Was moved to pity by their sighs
Because of those in wrathful cries
Who oppressed and harassed their sties.

19 And it came to pass, when the judge
Was dead, they turned back to their grudge
To walk more corruptly than their
Fathers, by following the fair
Of other gods, to serve them and
Bow down to them. They did not stand
From their own doings nor from their
Stubborn way. 20 Then the wrath of YHWH
Was hot against Israel's whole crew,
And He said “Since this nation has
Transgressed My covenant whereas
I'd commanded their fathers so,
And has not heeded My voice' show,
21 “I also will no longer drive
Out before them the hornet hive
Of the nations which Joshua
Left when he died as a last straw,
22 “So that through them I may make test
Of Israel, whether they are blessed
To keep the ways of YHWH, to walk
In them as their fathers in flock,
Or not.” 23 Therefore YHWH left those nations,
Without driving them from their stations
Straight away, nor did He give them
Into Joshua's hand and hem.
You always have provided guidance for
The people in their mountains and their shore,
But soon as divine guide is hidden from
The sight of run and mill, they take their sum
And seek idolatry. That dark result
Is always when men seek a sacred cult.
Beloved, deliver me from churchly song,
Mosque raising arm against the other's wrong,
And synagogue of Satan. Let my path
Find altars in the woodlands far from wrath,
And chapter house beneath the blushing pine,
A clear brook instead of communion wine,
Where my baptisms daily shake from me
In flashing diamonds falling fast and free.

JUDGES 3


1 Now these are the nations YHWH left,
That He might test Israel uncleft
By them, that is, all who'd not known
Any wars Canaanite had shown,
2 Only so that the generations
Of Israel's folk might be taught rations
Of war, those who'd not known before,
3 Five lords of the Philistines, all
The Canaanites, Sidonians' thrall,
And the Hivites who lived in Mount
Lebanon, and from the account
Of Mount Baal Hermon to the way
To enter Hamath on a day.
4 And they were left, that He might test
Israel by them, to know at best
Whether they would obey or not
All the commandments that YHWH taught,
Which He had commanded to their
Fathers by Moses' hand and care.
5 Thus Israel's folk lived there among
The Canaanites, Hittites unstrung,
The Amorites, the Perizzites,
The Hivites, and the Jebusites.
6 And they took their daughters to be
Their wives, and gave their daughters free
To their sons, and they served their gods.
7 So Israel's folk did evil pods
In the sight of YHWH. They forgot
YHWH their Ælohim, and were taught
To serve Baals' and Asherahs' plot.

The second generation is well known
To leave what their fathers wrote down on stone
And find another way, and a way worse
Than what they had before to bless or curse.
There's only one exception to be found
In any faith that's served a kindly round,
And that's when Ali washed the prophet dead
And so missed out on the apostasy
That other leaders had in hand and head.
Let me stick to the business given me,
The lowly washings of the brave and free,
And leave the reared and foiled establishment
Of faith to the turbaned and the unsent
And look to fathers, mothers, and their bread.

8 Therefore the wrath of YHWH was hot
Against Israel, and He made plot
To sell them into the hand of
Cushan-Rishathaim the king of
Mesopotamia, and the folk
Of Israel served under the stroke
Of Cushan-Rishathaim eight years.

THE FIRST JUDGE: FRUITFULNESS


9 When Israel's folk cried out in tears
To YHWH, YHWH raised up in arrears
A saviour for Israel's folk, who
Delivered them, Othniel the true
Son of Kenaz, the younger brother
Of Caleb. 10 The Spirit of YHWH
Came on him, he judged Israel true.
He went out to wage war, and YHWH
Gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of
Mesopotamia in his glove,
And his hand prevailed over him,
Over Cushan-Rishathaim.
11 So the land had rest forty years.
Then Othniel Kenaz' son met tears.

The king between the rivers is one said
To have hands full of cruelty, not bread
And in double cruelty he is fed.
When plague at hand of humankind is spread
Across the land, the people’s hearts return
To seek rest from the sent one and to learn
Peace at the feet of one well-taught in war.
Peace always has the smell of fading gore.
Beloved, I enter in the forty years
Of rest before my demise from my fears
And touch the wealth of silence that was bought
With striving with both untaught and with taught.
The days of Othniel under the son
Speak of a task well sought and well begun.

When Othniel son of Kenaz came before
He paved the way for Ali on the shore,
The son of Abu Taleb for his fate,
A saviour true, but one that did not wait
Forty years peace after his warring late,
But saw the foul apostasy arise
Among his own and dear before his eyes.
Who complicate their critical estate
Against the fickleness of Israel's time
Forget the ebb and flow of Muslim crime
That battered Ali's heart and for that grime
Sent him to silence waiting for the day
When You should give an hour of divine sway.
Beloved, Othniel's prophecy is great.

THE SECOND JUDGE: DARKNESS


12 And Israel's folk again did wrong
In the sight of YHWH for a song.
So YHWH strengthened Eglon the king
Of Moab against Israel's ring,
Because they'd done the evil thing
In the sight of YHWH. 13 Then he brought
The people of Ammon he sought
And Amalek, went to defeat
Israel, and took possession's seat
In the City of Palms. 14 So then
The children of Israel like men
Served Eglon king of Moab for
The space of eighteen years in store.
15 But when Israel's children cried out
To YHWH, YHWH raised up without doubt
A saviour for them: Ehud son
Of Gera, who was Benjamite,
One left-handed instead of right.
By him Israel's folk sent tribute
To Eglon king of Moab's chute.
16 Now Ehud made himself a dagger
Double-edged with a cubit's swagger,
And fastened it under his clothes
On his right thigh not to expose.
17 So he brought the tribute to King
Eglon of Moab with a sting.
Now Eglon was a great fat man.
18 And when he'd finished by his plan
Giving the tribute to the man,
He sent away the people who
Had carried in the tribute due.
19 But he himself turned back away
From the stone images that day
That were at Gilgal, and he said
“I've got a secret message spread
For you, O king.” He said “Keep silence!”
And all who attended in violence
Went out from him. 20 And Ehud came
To him sitting upstairs in aim
To keep cool in his private room.
Then Ehud said to Eglon's doom,
“I've got a message for you from
Ælohim.” He got up to come
From his seat. 21 Then Ehud reached out
With his left hand, and he took out
The dagger from his right thigh, and
Thrust it into that belly grand.
22 Even the hilt after the blade
Went in, and the fat on the blade
Closed over on the wound he made.
He did not draw the dagger out
Of his pot, and his guts spilled out.

Who knows what heinous wrong Israel had done
To give King Eglon place under the sun,
Beside failure to cut the idol down
That graced the high place of Canaanite crown?
But so it was, and so Moab rejoiced
To take the tribute Israel unvoiced.
Ehud, like me, used left instead of right,
And so was able to join in the fight
Before the other knew what hand's about,
And died before he had the time to doubt.
Beloved, I pleasure in the tale of old,
The blood and mess, the heart right stout and bold,
Assured that by Your blessed command was sent
The divine message in the gut and spent.

23 Then Ehud went out through the porch
And shut the doors so's not to scorch
The upper room behind him and
Locked them. 24 When he'd gone out unfanned,
Eglon’s servants came there to look,
Surprise, the high room doors they took
For locked. So they said “He no doubt
Attends his needs to cool as stout.”
25 They waited till they were ashamed,
And he still did not open famed
Doors of the upper room. Therefore
They took the key out of the drawer,
And opened them. And there behold
Their master on the floor and cold.
26 But Ehud had escaped while they
Delayed, and passed beyond the way
Of stone images and escaped
To Seirah with the deed still draped.
27 And it happened, when he arrived,
He blew the trumpet of deprived
In the mountains of Ephraim,
And Israel's folk went down with him
From the hills, and he led them trim.
28 Then he said to them, “Follow me,
For YHWH's delivered enemy,
The Moabites into your hand.”
So they went down with him to stand,
And seized the fords of Jordan's strand
Leading to Moab, did not let
A soul cross over for a debt.
29 And at that time they killed about
Ten thousand men of Moab, stout,
All men of valour, not a man
Escaped. 30 So Moab under ban
Subdued that day under the hand
Of Israel. And so the land
Had rest for eighty years until
Another story fit the bill.

Beloved, I shut the doors on my good deeds
In hope the on-lookers with awful creeds
Will fail to see that I have had the grace
To bring a message from before Your face.
Beloved, I shut the doors against the crowd
Of evidence of what You have allowed,
And pray I may pass quietly, unbowed,
Beyond the images at Gilgal's gate.
I hurry on my whirling, do not wait
For sign nor protest, but rise to the state
To hear Your inner voice pronounce well done
Before the setting of the churning sun.
Beloved, I shut the doors and steal away
To wait with You the breaking of the day.

THE THIRD JUDGE: DISCIPLINED OF GOD


31 After him was Shamgar the son
Of Anath, who killed on the run
Six hundred men of Philistines
With an ox goad upon the tines,
And he too saved Israel's combines.

Hasan's secret diplomacy bore fruit
Reflected in the prophecy and root
Of Ehud, while the third slot brings to mind
The sacrifice Husseyn gave to the kind.
But here the slot of sacrifice and thirst,
That might in other places rise and burst
In flames of glory on the desert waste,
Comes with one single sentence and ox goad
That killed six hundred Philistines that rode
Against the folk of Israel and load.
This book is too uplifting to make clear
The pains of future generations' fear.
Until then I bask in the victory
That graced Shamgar's ox goad and made it see.

THE FOURTH JUDGE: FRAGRANCE
WEEK 45 JUDGES 4


1 When Ehud was dead, Israel's folk
Again did evil at a stroke
In the sight of YHWH. 2 So YHWH sold
Them into the hand of the bold
Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned
In Hazor. The commander feigned
Of his army was Sisera,
Who lived in Harosheth by law
Of the peoples. 3 And Israel's folk
Cried out to YHWH, cried out and spoke,
For Jabin had nine hundred yoke
In iron chariots, and for
Twenty years he oppressed and tore
The children of Israel to gore.

What evil did Your people do that You
Sent Jaban out against rebellious crew?
You do not say, and yet I think the word
Is that they failed to secure idol stirred
To its destruction, failed in being just
As tolerant as in this world one must.
In those times iron cars were what determined
Who ruled and who was counted among vermined.
So it is now, they rule whose cars are plate
Of steel laced with depleted uraniate.
It matters not if one rant or one cry
Beneath the cannon, acid rain in sky.
Beloved, speak up for once even if You
Must speak to Jabin the king in his due.

4 Now Deborah, a prophetess,
The wife of Lapidoth, in dress
Was judging Israel at that time.
5 And she would sit there in her prime
Under palm tree of Deborah
Between Ramah and Bethel's draw
In the mountains of Ephraim.
And the children of Israel trim
Came up to her for judgement hymn.
6 Then she sent and summoned Barak
Son of Abinoam, though slack,
From Kedesh and in Naphtali,
And said to him, “Is not YHWH nigh,
Israel's Ælohim to command,
‘Go and deploy at Mount Tabor
Ten thousand men and troops and more
Of Naphtali's sons and the sons
Of Zebulon, 7 ‘and by their tonnes
I'll send against you Sisera,
The commander of Jabin’s maw,
With chariots and multitude
At the River Kishon for brood,
And I'll give him into your hand’?”
8 Barak told her to make a stand,
“If you will go with me, then I
Will go, but if you will sit by,
I will not go!” 9 So she said “I
Will surely go with you, but yet
There'll be no glory for you met
In the journey you undertake,
For YHWH will sell Sisera's cake
Into a woman's hand.” Then rose
Deborah and went on her toes
With Barak to where Kedesh flows.

No doubt Barak thought Deborah's words rose
From feminist retort against her foes
And in remark on how cowardice grows
Among her men. So prophecy goes down
As female chatter all around the town.
The future would show that her heart was stirred
By the divine and the prophetic word.
Your world today, Beloved, is still inured
Against the many glories that appear
Like shining prophecies against the clear
Of lake and sky. Your many silences
Are truly veiled predictions of what is
And what is unknown to the blind and great
Whose veils prevent Your speaking to their state.

10 And Barak called Zebulon and
Naphtali to Kedesh's land,
He went up with ten thousand men
Under command, and Deborah then
Went up with him. 11 Heber Kenite,
Of Hobab's folk, Hobab who was
Father-in-law of Moses, draws
Himself from the Kenites and pitched
His tent near terebinth enriched,
A tree at Zaanaim, that's by
Kedesh. 12 And they reported sly
To Sisera that Barak son
Of Abinoam on the run
Had gone up Mount Tabor with gun.
13 So Sisera gathered about
Him all his chariots in rout,
Nine hundred iron cars, and all
The people who were in his thrall,
From Harosheth Hagoyim to
The River Kishon running through.
14 Then Deborah said to Barak,
“Up! For this is the day not slack
In which YHWH has delivered in
Your hand Sisera for his sin. Has not
YHWH gone out before you?”
So Barak went down from the view
Of Mount Tabor with ten thousand
Men following him in a band.
15 And YHWH routed Sisera and
All his chariots, all his band
With the mouth of the sword in hand
Before Barak, and Sisera
Got down from his chariot in awe
And fled away on foot and sand.
16 But Barak pursued chariots
And the army running in ruts
As far as Harosheth of folk.
And all the army at the stroke,
The band of Sisera fell by
The mouth of the sword from the sky,
And not a man escaped to die.

You fought with Barak so that hand and sword
That killed the enemy was army of the Lord,
And though they chased oppressor and with arm,
Not one of the righteous men struck for harm.
But You did not raise the salvation there
Until they themselves climbed the heavy stair
With sword in hand against the iron cars.
In wonder, my Beloved, I gaze at stars
To see if any lead an army here.
They all look down in peace and without fear.
What woman's voice today proclaims Your hand
So that the armies with their stone slings stand
Against the cannons? Let none rise too soon,
But wait the Mahdi's coming and his noon.

17 But Sisera had fled away
On foot to tent of Jael's sway,
The wife of Heber the Kenite,
For there was peace between the right
King Jabin of Hazor and house
Of Heber the Kenite and spouse.
18 And Jael went out to meet the man
Sisera, and told him by plan,
“Turn aside, my lord, turn aside
To me, do not fear to abide.”
And when he had once turned aside
With her into the tent, then she
Covered him with a blanket free.
19 Then he said to her, “Please give me
A little water to drink, see,
For I am thirsty.” And so she
Opened a jug of milk, gave him
A drink, and then she covered him.
20 And he said to her, “Stand beside
The door of the tent, and if ride
Any men here to ask of you
And say ‘Is there any man here?’
You shall say, ‘No,’ and thus be true.”
21 Then Jael, Heber’s wife, did not fear
To take a tent peg and a club
In her hand, and went with the stub
Softly to him and drove the peg
Into his temple and not leg,
And it went down into the ground,
For he was weary and slept sound.
And so he died where he was found.
22 And then, as Barak ran along
After Sisera, Jael as strong
Came out to meet him, and she said
To him, “Come, I will show you spread
The man whom you seek.” And when he
Went in, there lay Sisera, dead
With the tent peg struck through his head.
23 So on that day Ælohim put
Jabin Canaan's king under foot
In the presence of Israel's folk.
24 And the hand of Israel's folk woke
To grow stronger and stronger toward
Jabin king of Canaan by sword,
Until they had destroyed the king
Jabin of Canaan's everything.

The pure rejoicing in the gore and blood
Strikes me with wonder that the world in bud
With innocence, such innocence takes sword
Against craven enemies of the Lord.
Methinks the Christian duty is to do
The bloody deed with distaste and on cue
Instead of with such pleasure written wild.
Is not the Master loving, meek and mild?
It seems my living here in the obscene
Has made me more civilized than the queen.
I repent of pacific view and trim
And set my pseudo-mercy to be grim,
And thank You that You set in human heart
Emotions fit for every duty's part.

JUDGES 5


1 Then Deborah and Barak the son
Of Abinoam sang when done
On that day, saying 2 “When the chiefs
Lead in Israel, and without griefs
The people offer themselves up,
Bless YHWH! And bless His mercy's cup!
3 “Hear, O kings! Give ear, princes! I,
I will sing to YHWH, I'll sing high
Praise to YHWH God of Israel.
4 “YHWH, when You go out from Seir's well,
And when You march from Edom's field,
The earth trembles, the heavens yield,
The clouds also pour water out,
5 “The mountains gush before YHWH's shout,
This Sinai, before YHWH the God
Of Israel beneath His rod.

The fourth of judges is the judge of song,
Mother and queen who knows to do no wrong.
Her prophecy falls full and swells up high,
And rings with grateful joy against the sky.
She feels the trembling of the earth when men
Mutter and turn their backs to sleep again.
She sees the heavens yield and clouds rebound
Against the mountainside and gushing sound
Of Sinai, where Your word fails not to ring
Out in all words that men and nature sing.
It takes both Deborah and Barak to
Reflect Zeynul 'Abideen's sparkling dew,
And show above the dry and scorching earth
The raining clouds and Sinai's rushing worth.

6 “In the days of Shamgar, the son
Of Anath, in the days Jael won,
The highways were deserted, and
The travellers walked on the sand.
7 “Village life ceased, ceased in Israel,
Until I, Deborah, and Jael,
Arose a mother in Israel.
8 “They chose new gods, then there was war
In the gates, and not a shield nor
Spear was seen among forty more
Thousand in Israel. 9 “My heart's score
Is with the rulers of Israel
Who offered themselves without guile
With the people. Bless YHWH! 10 “Speak, you
Who ride on white donkeys, and who
Sit in the judges’ clothing cast,
And who walk along the road fast.
11 “Far from the archers' noise, among
The watering holes, there they'll have sung
The righteous acts of YHWH, the acts
Of righteous deeds and righteous pacts
For His villagers in Israel,
Then the folk of YHWH shall go well
Down to the gates and rest a spell.

I have no donkey pure and white that sings
Along the road down to the watering springs,
But take my grizzled mule in hand to go
Along the archers' road to meet the show.
But if some day the mule I ride should die,
I pray You, my Beloved, who reign on high,
That You remember what I covet best,
The white ass dressed in bells and stripy vest,
A frisking beast with upraised ears and crest.
With mule or donkey one thing is the same,
Who choose new gods, they are the ones to blame
That war creeps unawares upon the land
And strikes the innocent and the wild band.
Beloved, strike idols down upon the sand.

12 “Awake, awake, Deborah! Awake,
Awake, sing a song at the stake!
Arise, Barak, and lead away
Your captives, O son of the day,
And son of Abinoam's stay!
13 “Then all the survivors came down,
The folk against nobles and crown,
YHWH came down for me and to fight
Against their oppression and might.
14 “From Ephraim were those whose roots
Were in Amalek near his boots.
After you, Benjamin, with folk,
From Machir rulers came down broke,
And from Zebulon those who bear
Recruiter’s staff and things to wear.
15 “And the princes of Issachar
Were with Deborah, as Issachar,
So was Barak sent to the vale
Under his command to prevail
Among divisions of Reuben
Great resolves in the hearts of men.
16 “Why did you sit in the sheepfold,
To hear flocked pipings for the bold?
The bands of Reuben have great search
Of heart. 17 “Gilead stayed in lurch
Beyond the Jordan, while why did
Dan remain on the ships to skid?
Asher stayed camping on seashore,
Dwelling by his inlets to roar.
18 “Zebulon is a folk who risked
Their lives to the point of death frisked,
Naphtali also, on the heights
Of the battlefield set his sights.
19 “The kings came out and came to fight,
The kings of Canaan out to smite
In Taanach, by Megiddo's stream,
They took no spoils of silver seam.
20 “They fought from the skies' canopies,
The stars in their courses to seize
Sisera. 21 “The flood of Kishon
Swept them away when they had done,
That ancient torrent, Kishon's stream.
O my soul, march on in the team
Of strength! 22 “Then horses’ hooves shall pound,
The galloping, galloping sound
Of his steeds. 23 “‘Curse Meroz around,’
Said the angel of YHWH, ‘And curse
Bitterly its dwellers for worse,
Because they did not come to help
YHWH, To help YHWH against the whelp
Of the mighty upon the ground.’

Even the blessed Qur'an of holy fame
Deigns to quote Deborah some if not her name
In the great Sura of the running steeds
That give rejoicing memory to Your deeds,
Beloved, who trample on the earth such kings
As come to muddy shepherdess's springs.
I hear the rushing manes and tails for wind,
I hear the pounding hooves where kings have sinned,
And rise to sing a song in praise to You
For all salvation's acts in what You do.
Beloved, send out the chargers on the plain,
And cover scorching sun with freshing rain,
Give every woman tent pin and the hand
To liberate from care the oppressed land.

24 “Most blessed among women is Jael,
The wife of Heber, Kenite pale,
Blessed is she among women's tents.
25 “He asks for water, she relents
To give him milk, she brought out cream
Poured in a lordly bowl to gleam.
26 “She stretched her hand to the tent peg,
Her right hand to the workmen’s hammer,
She pounded Sisera to beg
Piercing his head, she split with clamour
And struck his temple through and through.
27 “He sank at her feet where she drew,
He fell, he lay still, at her feet
He sank, he fell at his retreat,
Where he sank down, there he fell dead.
28 “The mother of Sisera fled
Looked through the window, and cried out
Through the lattice, ‘Why is his stout
Car long in coming? Why the stay
Of clattering chariots in the way?’
29 “Her wisest ladies answered her,
Yes, she herself answered to purr,
30 ‘Are they not finding out the coil,
Killing the foe, dividing spoil:
To every man a girl or two,
For Sisera, plundered dyed hue,
Plunder of garments broidered, dyed,
Two pieces of dyed broidery
For the neck on the looter's side?’
31 “Thus let all Your enemies see
Destruction, O YHWH! But let those
Who love Him be like the sun's clothes
When it comes out in its full strength.”
The land had rest forty years' length.

The mother of Sisera, cow and witch,
Who would give in his hand the virgin's stitch,
May she burn in the grave and in its hell
As long as there is place and time to tell.
But every hand of mother bearing bowls
Of milk sweeter than Kauthar to our souls
Be blessed with cherished deeds and with the throw
Of awful acts when tyrants must lay low.
The hand that makes embroidery and fine
May also stir dissimulation's wine
And touch the hammer that gives fatal blow
To every despot who would rise to show
That life and love in Europe's commonwealth
Deserts true faith and justice in its stealth.

THE FIFTH JUDGE: HEARING

WEEK 46 JUDGES 6


1 Israel's folk did evil in sight
Of YHWH. So YHWH delivered right
Into the hand of Midian
For seven years for all their sin.
2 And the hand of Midian prevailed
Against Israel, naked, unveiled.
Because of the Midianites' press,
Israel's folk made themselves address
In dens, in caves, and the stronghold
Which are upon the mountains cold.
3 And it was, when Israel had sown,
Midianites would come up full-blown,
Also Amalekites and folk
Of the east would come up in stroke.
4 Then they would camp against them and
Destroy the produce of the land
As far as Gaza, leaving none
Of substance for Israel in sun,
Neither sheep nor oxen nor ass.
5 For they would come up on the grass
With their livestock and with their tents,
Coming like locust crowd prevents,
Both they and their camels without
Number to enter land with rout.
6 So Israel was greatly made poor
Because the Midianites ran sure,
And Israel's folk cried out to YHWH
To see what He might come and do.

Reciting Your names was the way back when
The judges saved the folk from evil men
That You required before You raised a hand
To destroy injustice out of the land.
The injustice I see today may come
From the evil that every bloke and bum
That has wealth in oil and gold wants to share
With those he brings under his loving care.
But the spread of that evil meets the wall
That rises from the fury of the squall
That my reciting of Your name brings down.
If I were less gadding about the town
And more faithful in whirling to the sound
Of Your name, more justice might then be found.

7 And it came to pass, when the folk
Of Israel cried out in provoke
To YHWH because of Midianites,
8 That YHWH sent a prophet of lights
To the children of Israel, who
Said to them, “Now then thus says YHWH
The Ælohim of Israel,
’I brought you up from Egypt land
And brought you out with a high hand
Of the house of bondage, 9 ‘and I
Delivered you out of the hand
Of the Egyptians coming nigh
And out of the hand of all who
Oppressed you, and drove them out too
Before you and gave you their land.
10 ‘Also I said to you, “I'm YHWH
Your Ælohim, don't fear the gods
Of the Amorites, which are clods,
In whose land you live.” But you've not
Obeyed My voice as you were taught.’”

Beloved, You do not know how scientific
The local gods sound, they’re really terrific.
It seems a fool’s errand to stand and dance
About to Your name, a mere turn and prance.
There is no scientific evidence
That song or dance any evil prevents.
It seems a fool’s errand to say that God
Sends rain upon the dry and fruitless clod,
When all know how Baal works upon the sea
To bring the vapours up and cyclically
Blows down the clouds the Baal sun vaporized
In rains upon the fields so solemnized.
Since sense and science tell me that is true,
A fool’s errand it seems to obey You.

11 The Angel of YHWH came and sat
Under the terebinth tree at
Ophrah, which belonged to Joash
The Abiezrite, while his rash
Son Gideon threshed wheat in winepress,
In order to hide it's address
From the Midianites who oppress.
12 And the Angel of YHWH appeared
To him, and said to him who feared,
“YHWH is with you, you mighty man
Of valour!” 13 And then Gideon ran
To say to him, “O my lord, if
YHWH is with us, why is the skiff
Of ours foundering? And where are
All His miracles which our far
Fathers told us about, and said
‘Did not YHWH bring us up and led
From Egypt?’ But now YHWH's forsaken
Us and delivered us who're taken
By the hands of the Midianites.”
14 Then YHWH turned to him in his sights
And said “Go in this might of yours,
And you shall save Israelites' shores
From the hand of the Midianites.
Have I not sent you in your rights?”
15 So he said to Him, “O my Lord,
How can I save Israel from sword?
Indeed my kin's the weakest in
Manasseh, and I am the gin
Least in my father’s house and bin.”
16 And YHWH said to him, “Surely I
Will be with you, and will be nigh,
And you'll defeat the Midianites
As one man fallen from their heights.”
17 Then he said to Him, “If now I
Have found favour before Your eye,
Then show me a sign that it's You
Who talk with me and tell me true.
18 “Do not depart from here, I pray,
Until I come to You and slay
My offering and set before You.”
And He said “I will wait until
You come back with your basket fill.”

As I complain that You showed face alone
To the Egyptian Pharaoh on his throne
And cast oppressor in the Red Sea’s wave
To find in Egypt an unsunken grave,
But never stir to save the oppressed now
Who sit on the Euphrates for a bow,
So Gideon had the nerve to speak up to
Your angel and submit a thing or two
Complaining of the lack of cry and hue
From heaven upon the weakest and the true,
Beloved, You spoke to him and then You did
A thing without the din of the unbid,
And so I pray You knock down hall of
State
With power and rout and down who agitate.
19 So Gideon went in and prepared
A young goat, and as much as dared
Unleavened bread from an ephah
Of flour. The meat he put in straw
Basket, and he put broth in pot,
And he brought them out to the spot
Where he was underneath the tree,
The terebinth present to see.
20 The Angel of Ælohim said
To him, “Take the meat and the bread
Unleavened and lay them upon
This rock, and pour the broth out on.”
And he did so. 21 Angel of YHWH
Put out the end of the staff new
That was in his hand, touched the meat
And the unleavened cakes for treat,
And there rose up fire from the rock
And consumed the meat and the stock
Of yeastless. And Angel of YHWH
Departed from his sight and view.
22 Now Gideon perceived that he
Was the Angel of YHWH. So he,
Gideon said “Alas, O Lord YHWH!
For I have seen Angel of YHWH
And face to face.” 23 Then YHWH told him,
“Peace be with you, do not fear grim,
You shall not die.” 24 So Gideon
Built an altar there to YHWH drawn,
And called its name there YHWH is Peace.
To this day it still does not cease
In Ophrah of Abiezrites’ piece.

I protest, my Beloved, Your angel’s task
In burning up good food and there to ask.
Did You not know that many had no taste
Of bread at all, and there it goes to waste.
Another thing, remember Gideon
Was in the winepress for a thing he’d done
To hide what bread he had from Midianite,
And Your angel blew up a cloud in spite
Of smoke before the wind such as betrays
The hideout of our hero and his ways.
Send no such angel to my plot, I plead,
Let me at least save of last season’s seed.
Keep angel to Yourself, or else till now
Let such be invisible where I bow.

25 And so it came to pass the same
Night that YHWH said to him by name,
“Take your father’s young bull, another
Bull of seven years old to its brother,
And break down the altar of Baal
That your father has, and impale
The wooden image that’s beside it,
26 “And build an altar to deride it
To YHWH your God upon this rock
In the right arrangement and stock,
And take the second bull and make
Burnt sacrifice with wood and stake
Of the image which you’ll cut down.”

When gross idolatry’s send from the land,
Your instruments in holy flesh demand
That what of Your creation was purloined
In dedication to the false enjoined
Should be returned to You in love and right.
That’s why in ancient Mecca the moon’s light
That once was worshiped was restored to be,
Not candle on the altar, but in fee,
Hung outside every mosque, so all should know
What is created in the world below
Must not be worshiped in prostration’s glow.
The Kaaba itself and the darkened stone
Were taken in the clutch of idols’ drone,
But now are given back to You alone.

27 So Gideon took ten men from town
Among his servants, did as YHWH
Had said to him. But because true
It was he feared his father’s house
And the men of the city’s spouse
Too much to do the thing by day,
He did it in gloom of night’s sway.
28 And when that place’s men arose
Early in the morning to pose,
There was the altar of Baal, thrown
Down, and the wooden image prone
Beside it cut down, and the second
Bull was being offered as reckoned
On the altar which had been built.
29 And they told one another wilt,
“Who has done this thing?” And when they
Had inquired and asked, then said they
“Gideon the son of Joash did
This thing, and then he ran and hid.”
30 Then the men of the city said
To Joash, “Bring out your son fled,
That he may die, because he’s thrown
Down the altar of Baal in stone,
And because he’s cut down the stake
And wooden image for its sake.”
31 But Joash said to all who stood
Against him, “Would you plead for wood
And Baal? Would you save him? Let who
Would plead for him be put to due
Death by the morning! If he’s god,
Let him plead for himself in prod,
Because his altar’s been thrown down!”
32 Therefore on that day of renown
He called him Jerubbaal, saying
“Let Baal plead against him a thing,
Because he broke his altar’s wing.”

Beloved, I see the cunning laws abound
That call to Baal with scientific sound,
And laugh at love for You, and pound for pound,
Because You are invisible to me.
I do not ask that You come out to see,
Nor that Your face look on Reality,
Nor that the crowd of sages by decree
Admit that You create immensity,
But that my heart may be unswerving from
The way of Your renown and not to come
To worship Baal in church or parliament
Along with those chosen but never sent.
Beloved, pull down the altars with a rent
And list the lost for law of justice bent.

33 Midianites and Amalekites,
The children of the east by rights,
Gathered together, and they crossed
Over and camped in the Vale lost
Of Jezreel. 34 But Spirit of YHWH
Came on Gideon, and then he blew
The trumpet, and the Abiezrites
Gathered behind him for the fights.
35 And he sent messengers throughout
All Manasseh, who also stout
Came behind him. He also sent
Messengers to Asher, and went
To Zebulon, and Naphtali,
And they came up too by and by.
36 So Gideon said to Ælohim,
“If You will save Israel by scheme
Of my hand as You have told me,
37 “Look, I shall make a wool fleece be
On the threshing floor, if there is
Dew on the fleece only, and is
Dry on all the ground, then I’ll know
That You’ll save Israel by my show,
As You have said.” 38 And it was so.
When he got up the next morning
And squeezed the fleece about to wring
The dew out of the fleece, he got
A bowlful of the water sought.
39 Then Gideon said to Ælohim,
“Do not be angry with my dream,
But let me speak just once more time:
Let me test, I pray, with the prime
Fleece just once more, let it now be
Dry only on the fleece, but see
On all the ground let there be dew.”
40 And Ælohim did so that night.
It was dry on the fleece as due,
But dew on all the ground in sight.

Though I may invent signs and signs again
Through which You may speak to the crass of men,
The fact is if a man comes out of hiding
And casts a doubt upon the customs biding
And throws down Baal and all opinion public,
He must find enemy rise in the rubric.
As soon as idol of majority
Was broken and burnt up without decree,
The armies of the Midianites appeared.
And that is just what Gideon had feared.
Beloved, I keep my sacred, secret frame
Of winepress where I cantillate Your name,
So let the armies rest and not come up
To break my gilded plate and milky cup.

JUDGES 7


1 Then Jerubbaal, that’s Gideon,
And all the folk who rose at dawn
With him encamped beside the well
Of Harod, so the camp as well
Of Midianites was on the side
Toward the north of them to bide
By the hill of Moreh in vale.
2 And YHWH said to Gideon to hail,
“The folk with you are too abundant
For Me to put the Midianites
Into their hands as folk redundant,
Lest Israel claim glory for fights
Against Me, saying ‘My own hand
Has saved me from the Midian band.’
3 “Now therefore, proclaim in the hearing
Of the people, saying endearing,
‘Whoever is scared and afraid,
Let him turn around in the glade
And go at once from Mount Gilead.’”
And twenty-two thousand men left,
And ten thousand remained bereft.
4 And YHWH said to Gideon, “The folk
Are still too many for the stroke,
Bring them down to the water edge,
And I’ll test them for you by hedge.
Then it will be, that of whom I
Say to you, ‘This one shall go by
You,’ the same shall go with you, and
Of whomever I give command,
‘This one shall not go with your band,’
That one shall not go, but shall stand.”
5 So he brought down the people to
The water. To Gideon said YHWH,
“Everyone who laps from the stream
With his tongue, like a dog laps cream,
You shall set apart by himself,
Likewise everyone who like elf
Gets down on his knees to drink, deem.”
6 And the number of those who lapped,
Putting hand to their mouth unclapped,
Was three hundred men, but the rest
Of the people had done their best
To get down on their knees to drink.
7 Then YHWH told Gideon to think,
“By the three hundred men who lapped
I will save you, deliver wrapped
The Midianites into your hand.
Let all the people in that band
Go to their own place in the land.”

Now that I know that You will save the race
With hardly more than three hundred apace,
And without sword, but only shouting out
Your name and breaking pitchers all about
And carrying of lamps to frighten all
The senators and civil servants’ gall,
Then I too shall put fear off from the wall
And eagerly join forces with the few
Who lap the water up and drink the dew.
But if You mean to use atomic bombs
Along with wheat and oats and without qualms,
Then count me out of Your army and stand.
I take peace in my hand from Your command.

8 So the folk took provisions and
Their trumpets each in his own hand.
And he sent away all the folk
Of Israel, every man and bloke
To his tent, and retained those three
Hundred men for the mutiny.
And the host of Midian was down
Below him in the valley town.
9 It came to pass that very night
That YHWH said to him, “Rise, go right
Down in the camp, for I’ve delivered
It into your hand lily-livered.
10 “But if you are afraid to go,
Go down to the camp with the show
Of Purah your servant below,
11 “And you shall hear what they will say,
And afterward your hands’ purvey
Shall be strengthened to go down to
The host of Midian and crew.”
Then he went down with Purah his
Servant to the guard post that is
Of the armed men who were in host.
12 Now the Midianites and boast
Of Amalekites, all the folk
Of the east, were lying in vale
As numerous as locusts’ trail,
And their camels were without number,
As the sand by the seashore’s slumber
In multitude. 13 When Gideon
Had come, there was a man begun
Telling dream to his companion.
He said “Now I have had a dream:
A sudden loaf of barley beam
Tumbled into Midianite camp,
It came to a tent and the scamp
Struck it so that it fell down flat,
And the tent lay where it was at.”
14 Then his companion answering
Said “This is nothing but the sting
Of the sword of Gideon the son
Of Joash, man of Israel’s run!
Into his hand gives Ælohim
Midian, the whole host in regime.”

Ah, look! This man called Gideon is not
Unafraid of the Midianite in plot.
He took along his servant Purah to
Hold his hand in the darkness and the dew.
He was to take companion only if
His fear was making him shake and too stiff
To find his way to camp there in the dark.
And so he took a servant for a spark.
See here, Beloved, the sinews of man’s heart.
While I like Gideon trust You and Your planned,
I still crave a weak mortal to hold hand,
Despite the fact I know the two of us
Are no match for the bomb and blunderbuss.
That’s just the way we humans rise and stand.

15 And it was so, when Gideon heard
The telling of the dream and word
Of meaning, that he fell prostrate.
He returned to Israel’s estate,
And said “Get up, for YHWH has given
The host of Midian for to live in.”
16 Then he divided in three camps
The three hundred men with their lamps,
And put a trumpet in each hand,
With empty pitchers, and to stand
The lamps inside the pitchers’ brand.
17 And he said to them, “Look at me
And do as I do, watch, and see
When I come to the edge of camp
You shall do as I do and stamp:
18 “When I blow the trumpet, I and
All who are with me there to stand,
Then you also blow on the horns
On every side of all their bourns,
And say, ‘YHWH and of Gideon!’”
19 So Gideon and the hundred men
Who were with him came to the edge
Of the host at beginning pledge
Of the middle watch, just as they
Had posted the watch for the fray,
And they blew the trumpets and broke
The pitchers in each hand of bloke.

You put no sword in my hand, no, nor gun,
But only pitcher, lamp, and trumpet won.
The trumpet gives its certain sound of YHWH,
The lamp lightens the enemy to view,
The pitcher that contains the light returns
Taking nectar from alabaster urns.
The three weapons I have can kill no soul,
And so I find in license the clear goal.
Beloved, work Your will on the enemy
That hides within the chambered soul and me,
Work out Your hate and burning fire of love
Upon the outside foe from bush to shove,
And I shall be faithful to run in dark
And rejoice at Your coming to the park.

20 Then the three companies blew horns
And broke the pitchers to their scorns,
And held the torches in left hand
And the trumpets in right to stand
And blow, and they cried, “Sword of YHWH
And of Gideon and his crew!”
21 And every man stood in his place
All around the camp at a trace,
And the whole army ran and cried
And ran and fled before the tide.
22 When the three hundred blew their horns,
YHWH set every man’s sword on corns
Of his companion through the whole
Host, and the army fled the toll
To Beth Acacia, toward Zererah,
As far and fast as flying arrow
To border of Abel Meholah,
By Tabbath without coat or bowler.
23 And the men of Israel came from
Naphtali, Asher, and the sum
Of Manasseh, and pursued them,
The Midianites by stratagem.
24 Then Gideon sent messengers through
All the mountains of Ephraim too,
Saying “Come down against the crew
Of Midianites, and take from them
The waters as far as the hem
Of Beth Barah and the Jordan.”
Then all the men of Ephraim
Came together and they began
To take the waters as far as
Beth Barah and what Jordan has.
25 They captured of the Midianite
Two princes, Oreb and the wight
Zeeb. They killed Oreb at the rock
Of Oreb, and Zeeb with a stock
They killed at the winepress of Zeeb.
They followed Midian like grebe
And brought heads of Oreb and Zeeb
To Gideon on the other side
Of the Jordan and to confide.

I bide my time, Beloved, with burning bright
Lamp hidden in the alabaster night
Of pitcher dry and waiting for the time
When all things shall fly out and rote and rhyme
Shall sound aloud and break on further shore
To open every window, every door.
I bide my time, Beloved, with trumpet set
To lip ready to sound my first regret
That You are hidden from the sight of men
Who live as though You should never again
Speak in the hearing, in the cloud and fire
To melt as one all human love’s desire
In hate and apathy in one great pyre.
I break the pitcher now and wind the wire.


AUTHOR: THOMAS G. MCELWAIN


Copyright © 2007 Adams & McElwain Publishers and Thomas McElwain First Published in two volumes, The Beloved and I 2005, and Led of the Beloved, 2006. Second Edition, 2010 Third and revised edition, 2012 All rights reserved. No part of this verse commentary on the sacred Scriptures may be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in a retrieval system, in any form or by any means, without permission in writing from publisher.

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