Monday, December 28, 2015

Abel Iseyen Ancientman writes

Who dried our river's source
That many households are now
Dying of thirst?
Who caused this drought that
Many farmlands are now clothed
With life-less garments?
Who caused this famine that
Tombs now take over our land? 
They're the rapacious opportunists,
Devoid of wisdom and reason;
The temeranous myopias who
Mistake nightfall for daylight;
Hamate rhetorics, possessors of
Milky lips -
Whose words melt the hearts in thousands,
Even in tens of thousands; 
They're the enemies of the state,
Whose pens kill faster than nuclear weapons;
Delilahs of our time, betraying
Trust for pieces of silver...
They're the power-drunks,
The descendants of Judas, the Iscariot.
Men of no virtue,
Slaves to greed and coins
Whose footprints are a malediction
To those who follow them. 
They're the wind of sorrow
Ravaging all households beyond repair;
They're the bad omens in disguise -
Drying our purse to nadir point... 
But where do we start from
When we are already out of crops?
 Samson and Delilah - Image 2


  1. In Judges 13–16 Delilah was the "woman in the valley of Sorek" who betrayed Samson (Shimshon, "man of the sun" [shemesh]). Her name comes from the Hebrew word meaning "[She who] weakened" but may also be related to the Hebrew word for night, "layla," which consumes the day.] In Zorah, an angel appeared to Manoah from the tribe of Dan and to his wife, who had been unable to conceive and told them that the couple would soon have a son who would begin to deliver the Israelites from the Philistines. However, Samson, the son, was to be a nazirite for life (one who was "consecrated" or "separated" and took a series of vows, described in Numbers 6:1–21, including refraining from cutting one's hair or shaving), and avoiding grapes, raisins, intoxicating liquors, vinegar made from such substances, and anything that contains any trace of grapes. After Manoah prepared a sacrifice, the angel touched it with his staff, engulfing it in flames, and ascended into the sky in the fire, thus reveling his true identity as God in angelic form. According to legend, Samson was lame in both legs, but when the spirit of God came upon him he could step with one stride from Zorah to Eshtaol, while the hairs of his head arose and clashed against one another so that they could be heard for a like distance; he so strong that he could lift two mountains and rub them together like clods of earth, and that his shoulders were sixty cubits broad. [A cubit was one forearm length from the middle finger tip to the elbow bottom, or about 45.7 cm (18.0 in).] After using his superhuman strength to destroy his Philistine foes (including using the jawbone of an ass to slay 1,000 of them), he fell in love with Delilah at the brook of Sorek, one of the largest drainage basins in the Judean hills, the border between the Philistines and the tribe of Dan, but "soreq" is the grapevine itself in Genesis 49:11, Isaiah 5:2, and Jeremiah 2:21. The Philistine leaders instructed Delilah to learn the secret of Samson's strength "and we will give thee, every one of us, eleven hundred pieces of silver." Samson lied to her three times about it, but on her fourth try revealed that he did not cut his hair in fulfillment of his vow; Delilah realized that Samson would never take God's name in vain and that therefore he had finally told her the truth. When Samson was asleep on her knees, Delilah ordered her servant to shave off the seven locks from Samson's head. Then the "Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house." To celebrate their victory the Philistines assembled their people on the roof of a temple to Dagon (meaning "grain"), a major fertility god. Unfortunately, Samson's hair had regrown; he grabbed the two middle pillars on which the temple rested, braced himself against them, and "he bent with all his might so that the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life."

  2. Today this poem hits home to me. I read it, wondering where the soul of my people has gone and why we worship mammon and violence. Yesterday, two children 8 and 7 years old were gunned down nearby my house. I don't know if they survived...

    This poem says to me, "where did our virtue go and how can we restore it once we have none left".

    Something that has been on my mind since last night...but has haunted my thoughts for decades.

    Thank you, Ancientman, for your relevant words.

  3. Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve original disciples of Jesus and acted as their treasurer. "Ioudas" was the Greek form of the common Hebrew name Judah, Yehûdâh, "God is praised"), underlying the way the New Testament often differentiated between people whose names were identical in Hebrew, such as Judah and Jude or Jesus and Joshua. The significance of "Iscariot," jowever, is uncertain. It may derive from Κ-Qrîyôth, or "man of Kerioth," the name of two known Jewish towns. (John refers to Judas as "son of Simon Iscariot," although some translations only refer to him as "the son of Simon.") Perhaps the appellation identified Judas as a member of the sicarii, a cadre of assassins among Jewish rebels intent on driving the Romans out; the suggestion is that Judas expected Jesus to lead a political revolution and betrayed him due to patriotic disillusionment. Other speculations derive it from Aramaic words for "the liar" or "the false one", or from "red," or from "to deliver." The epithet could also be associated with the manner of his death, as a sort of Greek-Aramaic hybrid, iskarioutha, which would mean "chokiness" or "constriction." In the earliest account of the betrayal, in the Gospel of Mark, the chief priests in Jerusalem sought the removal of Jesus, who threatened their religious authority, but were afraid of a popular riot if he were arrested during Passover. So they plotted to have him seized the night before the feast. (Another interpretation of the event is that Jesus was thought to be causing unrest which would likely increase tensions with the Romans, and the Sanhedrin thought he should be restrained until the commotion died down after everyone had gone back home after Passover.) Judas agreed to kiss Jesus in order to identify him to the men of the high priest Caiaphas, who then turned Jesus over to the soldiers of Pontius Pilate, the fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, who sentenced him to crucifixion, a particularly painful form of execution in which the victim is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang, usually for several days, until death from exhaustion and asphyxiation. When Judas went to the priests to betray Jesus, he was offered a reward, but it is not clear in Mark's account that money was his motivation; Matthew, however, claimed that Judas asked the priests what they would pay him for handing Jesus over. (According to Luke and John, Satan entered Judas at this time. However, John also recounted that many of Jesus' followers had abandoned him earlier because of the difficulty of accepting his teachings, and Jesus had asked the apostles if they would do likewise; despite the assurances of Peter that they would not, Jesus observed that Judas was "a devil."] John described Judas' complaints that money spent on expensive perfumes to anoint Jesus could have been spent on the poor instead but also maintained that Judas himself stole from the funds at his disposal.

  4. Matthew 27:3-27:8 claims that Judas, "seeing that he was condemned, repenting himself, brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and ancients, saying: 'I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.' But they said: 'What is that to us? Look thou to it.' And casting down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed, and went and hanged himself with a halter. But the chief priests, having taken the pieces of silver, said: 'It is not lawful to put them into the corbona [the treasure chambery of the Jerusalem Temple where money offerings were placed], because it is the price of blood.' And after they had consulted together, they bought with them the potter's field, to be a burying place for strangers. For this the field was called Haceldama, that is, the field of blood, even to this day." (Land used for the extraction of potter's clay would be useless for agriculture.) However, the later Acts of the Apostles (originally part of the Book of Luke) has a different account: "Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood" [Acts 1:18-19]. Yet another account (from the late 1st or early 2nd century, not long after the Gospels were written, is by Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis (modern Pamukkale, Turkey), who was described by Irenaeus as "an ancient man who was a hearer of John and a companion of Polycarp" (whom John had installed as bishop of Smyrna). Most of his writings have not survived, but according to a scholium attributed to Apollinaris of Laodicea, Papias insisted "Judas was a terrible, walking example of ungodliness in this world, his flesh so bloated that he was not able to pass through a place where a wagon passes easily, not even his bloated head by itself. For his eyelids, they say, were so swollen that he could not see the light at all, and his eyes could not be seen, even by a doctor using an optical instrument, so far had they sunk below the outer surface. His genitals appeared more loathsome and larger than anyone else's, and when he relieved himself there passed through it pus and worms from every part of his body, much to his shame. After much agony and punishment, they say, he finally died in his own place, and because of the stench the area is deserted and uninhabitable even now; in fact, to this day one cannot pass that place without holding one's nose, so great was the discharge from his body, and so far did it spread over the ground." (Or, in a different fragment: "Judas walked about in this world a sad example of impiety; for his body having swollen to such an extent that he could not pass where a chariot could pass easily, he was crushed by the chariot, so that his bowels gushed out.") The non-canonical Gospel of Judas says Judas had a vision of the disciples stoning and persecuting him; the Coptic-language text that dates to ca. 280 (but may be a translation from an earlier Greek source)also suggests that Jesus told Judas to betray him; and other Gnostic texts praise his role in triggering humanity's salvation and view Judas as the best of the apostles. In the Gospel of Barnabas (the oldest copy of which dates from medieval times) Judas was transformed to look like Jesus at the time of the betrayal, as Jesus had already ascended to heaven, and was the one who was actually crucified; three days after his burial, his body was stolen from the grave, and rumors began to spread that Jesus had risen from the dead; thereupon, Jesus prayed to be sent back to Earth, where he informed his followers of the true situation before re-ascending.

  5. My deepest gratitude for the comments and candid elaboration of the poem, milords


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