Monday, December 05, 2011

LAW OF MOSES

To finish a series of posts on Blake's pictures related to Moses, we look at an image not of Moses but of the result of enforcing the law which Moses received from Jehovah. The son of the Israelitish woman is being stoned to death by the righteous men executing punishment for the commission of blasphemy.

Image from Wikipedia commons
Original in Tate Collection

Leviticus 24
[10] And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp;
[11] And the Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the name of the LORD, and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:)

[ 23] And Moses spake to the children of Israel, that they should bring forth him that had cursed out of the camp, and stone him with stones. And the children of Israel did as the LORD commanded Moses.

Feelings of a need for vengeance arise from the need for self protection. In fear and insecurity an individual may desire to eradicate the threat before one is attacked. The desire for personal vengeance is projected onto one's God whose image reflects the levels of psychic development one has attained. One's personal need for vengeance is reinforced by the idea that this behavior is approved and encouraged by God.

The stoning of the blasphemer is an example of the religion of Moses. The forgiveness of the woman taken in adultery who under the law deserved stoning, is the contrary example of the religion of Jesus. The practice of the religion of Jesus leaves no room for vengeance. Anything short of forgiveness, brotherhood and love is the religion of Satan because it involves becoming '
Satans' holy Trinity The Accuser The Judge & The Executioner.'

Jerusalem, Plate 52, (E 201)
"Man must & will have Some Religion; if he has not the Religion
of Jesus, he will have the Religion of Satan, & will erect the
Synagogue of Satan. calling the Prince of this World, God; and
destroying all who do not worship Satan under the Name of God.
Will any one say: Where are those who worship Satan under the
Name of God! Where are they? Listen! Every Religion that Preaches
Vengeance for Sins the Religion of the Enemy & Avenger; and not
the Forgiver of Sin, and their God is Satan, Named by the Divine
Name Your Religion O Deists: Deism, is the Worship of the God
of this World by the means of what you call Natural Religion and
Natural Philosophy, and of Natural Morality or
Self-Righteousness, the Selfish Virtues of the Natural Heart."

Jerusalem
, Plate 25, (E 170)
"Why did you take Vengeance O ye Sons of the mighty Albion?
Planting these Oaken Groves: Erecting these Dragon Temples
Injury the Lord heals but Vengeance cannot be healed:
As the Sons of Albion have done to Luvah: so they have in him
Done to the Divine Lord & Saviour, who suffers with those that suffer:
For not one sparrow can suffer, & the whole Universe not suffer also,
In all its Regions, & its Father & Saviour not pity and weep.
But Vengeance is the destroyer of Grace & Repentance in the bosom

Of the Injurer: in which the Divine Lamb is cruelly slain:"

Ghost of Abel, (E 272)
"Abel-- Are these the Sacrifices of Eternity O Jehovah, a Broken Spirit
And a Contrite Heart. O I cannot Forgive! the Accuser hath
Enterd into Me as into his House & I loathe thy Tabernacles
As thou hast said so is it come to pass: My desire is unto Cain
And He doth rule over Me: therefore My Soul in fumes of Blood
Cries for Vengeance: Sacrifice on Sacrifice Blood on Blood"

Ghost of Abel, (E 272)
"The Elohim of the Heathen Swore Vengeance for Sin! Then Thou stoodst
Forth O Elohim Jehovah! in the midst of the darkness of the Oath! All Clothed
In Thy Covenant of the Forgiveness of Sins: Death O Holy! Is this Brotherhood
The Elohim saw their Oath Eternal Fire; they rolled apart trembling over The
Mercy Seat: each in his station fixt in the Firmament by Peace Brotherhood and Love."

3 comments:

Susan J. said...

interesting. we heard a sermon yesterday on the book of Galatians, which is all about the law and "what changed" with Jesus...

not so sure I accept this often-expressed analysis of the nature of "vengeance" -- but that's a post for another day :-)

Susan J. said...

the whole idea of "enforcing the law" is interesting too... someone pointed out that, while the OT has many "legalistic" texts that talk about restitution for various transgressions (e.g. if you steal your neighbor's ox and kill it, you have to give back 5-fold), there's nothing anywhere about either "police" or prisons (Israelite prisons, that is). There are judges, but one must assume that both the identification of wrong-doers and the "enforcement" of the judges' decision was carried out by the community-in-general. "Righteous men" maybe...

Stoning someone is one thing, but what about the guy who stole the ox? What if he fails to make restitution? Surely there can be consequences without "feelings of vengeance"?

ellie said...

Perhaps Blake started out with the worst example of punishment: a man who was put to death by the community because he spoke insultingly about their God. Our society wouldn't react so dramatically to that offense nor would we all participate in the killing of the offender.

I think Blake focused on the extreme case because he believed that each failure to forgive makes it easier to justify our own Selfhood which feeds on our efforts to hinder others. If we see the error in what was done to the son of the Israelite woman we may see the error in some of our own failures to forgive.

Only through Christ can we forgive. How could we forgive if we have invited the accuser to enter into us and make his home with us?
"I cannot Forgive! the Accuser hath
Enterd into Me as into his House"

To Blake the stage called "Elohim of the Heathen" was followed by the consciousness called "Jehovah". Within this consciousness could develop the consciousness called Jesus who is the "Forgiveness of Sin." The Holy Death which is Brotherhood is the Little Death ( the dying daily) through which we annihilate the Selfhood through forgiveness.

"The Elohim of the Heathen Swore Vengeance for Sin! Then Thou stoodst
Forth O Elohim Jehovah! in the midst of the darkness of the Oath! All Clothed
In Thy Covenant of the Forgiveness of Sins: Death O Holy! Is this Brotherhood