The Power of the Poetry of the Old Testament

A reading from
the Book of the Prophet Amos6:1a, 4-7

Those who sprawl and those who bawl will be exiled

The almighty Lord says this:

“Woe to those ensconced so snugly in Zion and to those who feel so safe on the mountain of Samaria.

Lying on ivory beds and sprawling on their divans,

they dine on lambs from the flock, and stall-fattened veal;

they bawl to the sound of the harp,

they invent new instruments of music like David,

they drink wine by the bowlful,

and use the finest oil for anointing themselves,

but about the ruin of Joseph they do not care at all.

That is why they will be the first to be exiled; the sprawlers’ revelry is over.”

I was asked to read at Mass today, and it’s been many years -over fifty- since I read the whole of the Old Testament. I remember then, when I was 18, being bowled over by the language – even in the Revised Standard Version it can be very powerful- can’t imagine about the King James Version – but today, as I read out loud, slowly, meaningfully, my mind one line ahead of the words so that it would make sense, the images nearly blew my mind. All those sprawlers and bawlers ( though predictive text changed this to brawlers a second ago – maybe it has a point! ) thousands of years ago. And sad to say I am probably one of them now.

In fact not probably but definitely, as I am sprawled postprandially on my sofa, and getting ready to bawl (still unlikely to brawl, though!) at the state of the world, and my own lack of will power.

My bed is not ivory and I drink wine in a glass. But you get the picture!

So, no photos today. Just the images in your mind’s eye.

2 comments on “The Power of the Poetry of the Old Testament

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