Dusting Off The Arab Hero of The Bible

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BEFORE MOSES DELIVERED the Ten Commandments to the tribes of Israel, before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and before Muhammad founded Islam, there was a mighty son of the East who lost everything and wanted to enter God’s court with boldness (“like a prince”).

Jews, Christians and Muslims honor him. Scholars are puzzled by him. Even in his own lifetime, he was a legend and a riddle. He was truly his brother’s keeper, and yet his name means “hated”–he suffered because he was hated, and then he was hated because he suffered. His name has become linked with persecution and perseverance, immortalized in what is possibly the oldest and most ironic book in the Bible (a book that is revolutionary, exotic, and often misunderstood). But while a crude and irreverent imitation like The Shack gains a cult following, his ancient story gathers dust…

Who is he? He’s Job, of course; and in the next several posts, I’m going to dust him off.

When and how did an Arab sheikh get written into the Hebrew scriptures? No one really knows. But Jews love a survivor, they love someone who wrestles with God, and so it was only natural for them to adopt him as one of their own.

What would Job say to us if he were alive today? He might have some choice words, like “Don’t shoot the wounded,” or “Better keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open your mouth and prove it.” Or, on second thought, he might bite his tongue and not say anything at all. Continue reading “Dusting Off The Arab Hero of The Bible”

Revenge of The Broken Horse

Animals in World War I (1)

I KNOW WHERE WILD HORSES roam free as the wind. It’s a peaceful place, high in the hills, where there are no fences. I’ve taken a few friends there, when the sun was sinking behind the white peak of the volcano.

I’m not a cowgirl by any stretch of the imagination, but I do love horses in my own way. I always have. I think I’d hardly be human if I didn’t love horses. And horses in the wild are especially beautiful. They’re shy and curious at the same time, and violent and playful, and their thundering hooves drum the anthem of the free.

The Bible contains a famous eulogy to the horse–a poetic tribute that almost jumps off the page (remember that awesome scene in Secretariat, with the Edwin Hawkins Singers belting “Oh Happy Day”?)

Do you give the horse its strength, or clothe its neck with a flowing mane? Do you make it leap like a locust, striking terror with its proud snorting? It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength, and charges into the fray. It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; it does not shy away from the sword. The quiver rattles agains its side, along with the flashing spear and lance. In frenzied excitement it eats up the ground; it cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds. At the blast of the trumpet it snorts, ‘Aha!’ It catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry.–Job 39:19-25 NIV

One day I realized that, although a circus of wild animals are described in this chapter, these verses are a picture of a warhorse, and warhorses are not wild.

I have to imagine a warrior on this horse’s back, even though a warrior is not mentioned, because he is implied by the horse’s disciplined and extraordinary behavior.

Wild horses, as beautiful as they are, don’t gallop into the clash of arms, “devouring the distance.” They don’t tremble with excitement at the signal of the trumpet, and they would almost certainly spook at the first glimpse of any shiny weapon. A horse without a master would perform badly in this context, but when a horse and rider function as one they become something truly amazing.

An unbroken horse, free as the wind, is beautiful to behold. But an unbroken horse never plowed a field, or won a race, or carried a king into battle…