Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Old Testament Words & Rhetoric: Ehud, Elisha, & Jonah (Additions to "The Apology Box")

           Ehud’s Solid Rhetoric
     (Left-handed judge who killed Fat King Eglon)

Somehow it seems we have reversed our roles.
I was to speak for you in judgment, Lord,
In Eglon’s case, yet now must plead my own

Which I presume cannot be severed from
The former.  I shall, therefore, make my case
By how I made your own where you required

More rhetoric than mortals could possess.
With words more flawed and limited than yours,
My noises, meanings, grammars would blaspheme

Should they pretend to speak as you would do.
With proper language absent for the task,
I would but mock ineffability

Were I to mouth in any way the scope
Or purpose of such sacred agency.
Instead I thus used your own elements.

My iron blade made your point. Although his fat
Made heavy armor, it did not deflect
But swallowed up the knife.  His fatty folds

Released a stench that summarized him well,
That underscored your judgment as he fell,
And yet misled his guards by such a smell.*

Although the spectacle was horrid, it
Avoided sacrilege of words not fit
For godhead or good agents serving it.

*They thought Eglon was relieving himself thereby giving Ehud more time to escape.

            Elisha’s Apology

I watched Elijah leave in fiery flight.
The sound of nothingness roared in my ears.
I was alone.  I trembled, was in tears.
I only had his cloak to calm my fears
As I stepped in to bear bare heaven's light.

Persuasion's manifold.  Elijah thought
The fastest and the surest lesson taught
Was by the rod.  I tried another way:
Example of good deeds can also sway.
I salted down the spring of Jericho
And caused pure waters once again to flow.
I turned the poison gourds into a soup
That safely fed a desperate, hungry group.
I made the axe-head float back to the top
Of that deep Jordan where they’d let it drop.
I took a little bit of barley bread
And made a feast where many mouths were fed.
I filled a widow's empty jars so she
Could pay her debts and set her children free.
I cured the awful curse of leprosy,
And moved men with my skills of prophecy.

Example and good deeds were rhetoric
That served me better than Elijah's stick,
And though no fiery chariot brings me
I trust the light I carry shines on me.

            Jonah’s Defense

With just eight words* I brought a city round.
In rhetoric’s annals nowhere else is found
A rival.  I will move the heavens, too,
And once again will keep my phrases few.
I erred once I admit--although I should
Feel gross aversion handling pagan things.
Aversion keeps good order.  God would not
Condemn disgust toward anything unclean.
Instead he counseled that sometimes one should
Endure the filth he'd have one remedy.
Thus, for two reasons he unleashed the whale:
To right my course and in its belly train
Me for the stench ahead.  (I spent three days
Within its filthy gut till I was heaved
A chunk of living vomit on the shore.)
I made my way to Nineveh and gave
The famous speech.  I then withdrew to watch
The consequence. Beyond doubt I'm devout
To take a journey here, too, past the bounds
Of any maps or terms I’ve known.  I've come

(Although in fear) because God called.  I would
Give that as further proof of Jonah’s good.

*"Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!"  
© Harold Anthony Lloyd 2016
The current contents of "The Apology Box" can be found here

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