|Resurrection of the Word: Book of Jacob|
THE BOOK OF JACOB
JACOB SETS forth. He leaves Beerscheba and goes to Charon. On the way the meaning of his life is revealed to him. At Charon he meets Rachel the daughter of Laban. His uncle Laban receives him. Alas, Laban is only an exploiter. He makes him work seven years for Rachel's hand, and on his wedding night Leah, her sister, is in the bed! He makes him work another seven years for Rachel, and at last gives her to him. Laban alters his wages ten times. Jacob is clever, he enriches Laban, but Laban cheats him ten times. Lo, for twenty, for thirty years, Jacob works for nothing. Life with Laban is impossible. Jacob wants to return to his own country with his wives and his children. He then tricks Laban. As wages he asks for the marked and spotted goats and lambs in the flocks. Then he arranges for the healthy ewes, but not the puny ones, to give birth to marked and spotted lambs. Jacob becomes rich. Laban and his sons are furious. Jacob and his wives, children and flocks have to flee. Laban and his brothers pursue and trap them, but after much quarrelling finally let them go. Hardly free from Laban, Jacob has to encounter Esau! He sends him messages and gives him presents. Esau is marching towards him with four hundred men! Jacob is frightened and anxious. How are his wives and children to be protected? There is only one night in which to save them. He screens them behind a stream, and remains alone to wait for Esau. For this meeting he sends separate groups of servants with presents that ruin him but which will, perhaps, sooth Esau: two hundred she-goats and twenty he-goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty female camels and the little ones they are suckling, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty she-asses and ten donkeys. Jacob is alone. He is on the watch. Elohim has promised him everything and given him nothing.
Ten times YHWH blessed him, his posterity and his land; and behold, Jacob is more alone than solitude! Jacob must, with difficulty, obtain all by artfulness: nothing is ceded to him! And behold, while he is meditating during the night, lysch, as if there were not trouble enough, wrestles with him until daybreak. And not prevailing against him, touches the hollow of his thigh, and forthwith blesses him: it was Elohim! And he tells him: "Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but you will be called Israel, because you have struggled with Elohim and mankind, and you have conquered". Then comes Esau and his four hundred men. Jacob sets his wives and children apart and then bows to the ground seven times before Esau, calling him lord. Esau runs to meet him and embraces him, weeping.
ESAU: Who are these with thee (prostrated at my feet)?
ISRAEL: The children that Elohim has given thy servant, my wives and my servants.
Esau: What meanest thou by all this drove that I met?
ISRAEL: These are to find grace in the sight of my lord.
ESAU: I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.
ISRAEL: Nay, I pray thee, if now 1 have found grace in thy sight, then receive my Present at my hand. *
He insists. Esau finally accepts the presents.
ESAU: You are greatly changed, Jacob.
ISRAEL: I am no longer Jacob, I am Israel. That is why I am lame. He who said to me "Now you are Israel" gave me such a blow in the hollow of the thigh that I can no longer walk like everyone else. He wanted to kill me.
ESAU: Yes, I see. I don't understand this name, Israel. Has it meaning in a language I don't know?
ISRAEL: Yes. Rather difficult. I don't know how to explain. In this language white becomes black, and black white. The high becomes low for the low to beget the high.... Difficult.. The fact is the Intemporal wounded me. It's because I carry it within me that I am lame in the Temporal.
*Genesis xxxlll, 2-11.
ESAU: Ah! . Israel? I'll agree . . . I see that you haven't changed all that much. Always anxious, nervous, odd. I see by your eyes that your brain never ceases to respond and turn somersaults. But tell me, Israel, who was it who made you lame because he couldn't kill you?
ESAU: Elohim is your God? Ah-hah! But you have such a sombre manner. Come now, may your heart be comforted. Perhaps Elohim wished only to punish you a little? You are always so untamed. You arc there and not there. You have and you haven't a shape. You're like a flame: it is and it isn't. . . . Be like me, see; these things don't happen to me. I am solid, I have enough.
ISRAEL: I don't have to comfort myself, Esau. I am wonderfully happy. I somber? No. I am in the midst of a miracle. A flame did you say? Yes.. .. I am to the Breath of Explosion what flame is to fire!
ESAU: Let us talk together in all sincerity, Israel. I hated you. I believed you had dispossessed me of everything. Then you flew before my hatred. You fled the country and took away nothing. You left me land, house and earthly goods. I continued to hate you, for I told myself: "He wanted to dispossess me, but hasn't been able to". I said to myself: "This petty usurper is stranded and now he flees". I said: "He will certainly return armed to the teeth to take possession of what he wrung from me and took from my father by a trick". Let us be frank. You have not succeeded, you ask me to pardon you. I do pardon you. You come back, having worn yourself out as an exploiter's drudge. You are wan and emaciated. You are limping. You have struggled against the winds. You come, you and yours, and prostrate yourselves before me. You load me with presents, of which you have a greater need than I who have abundance. I accept them to ease your conscience. You tell me that God, this God whose blessing you assured by a theft, threw himself on you. For my part I certainly own myself satisfied with my destiny. Admit, Israel, that God is with me;
admit your mistake. There you are, like one possessed. Everything is collapsing around you: God and men have changed your wages ten times . . . and you say that Explosion is the fire of your flame!
ISRAEL: I am a tornado whose axis is the Explosion. . The axis is nothing without the tornado. . . . The Intemporal is within me, Esau. The tornado is nothing without its empty interior. Esau, have you ever seen a cyclone? Do you know what it is? A mighty wind that revolves round itself and which at the same time moves at a mad speed. And do you know what drives it? In the interior of the tornado is a vacuum, you see, and this vacuum seems stirred up by a demon. It moves, moves. Nothing stops it. And around the nothingness the tornado unwinds its course, as if to strangle it.... This vacuum, Esau, is the living Intemporal in me. And I, mad as a fool, am whirling round .... Ah, am I movement because of the vacuum, or is the vacuum because of me? Removal because of my rotation? Or are all together one life, one life . . . all and nothing.. . .
ESAU: Mad as a fool . . . just as you said, Israel. Is it due to this tornado that you are always seen coming out on one side and returning on the other? . . . Yes, my view is calmer today than in the past. I see you better, it seems to me. You are, at the same time, strange and as if I have always seen you, and Israel, it appears to me that as if it were for the first time. . . . you have always had the feelings of catastrophe... . What you say and what you do are always so dramatic . . . and nothing happens afterwards. Do you remember the story of the pottage called Adam? . . . Truly, in the present day it seems to me to help wreck the world! I still see you, you were in front of me, and . and . No, let's forget it!
ISRAEL: And, and? ... Speak, go on, Esau, speak! What happened? What have you proved? Recall what was in you. In the flesh; as if your feelings were torn to pieces.. Call it up. What was it? What was it? Speak.
Esau: I saw Adam in you, I who am only ... Edom ...
ISRAEL: And then?
ESAU: I had a presentiment of death. . .
ISRAEL: And this nourishment, you remember ... If I had refused to give it to you?
Esau: Israel, truly believe me, it was not caprice. I swear now, I would have fallen dead that very moment!
ISRAEL: So what? Get on with it now! What have you done in order not to fall down dead? You conferred upon me, in me . . . what? . . . Speak . . . the benefit of your life, didn't you? The rights, all the rights, that had been granted to your life. In granting me this benefit, therefore, you recognised that I possessed it? What did I possess? Your fulfilment? ... Have you, then, recognised me as your fulfilment, Esau?
ESAU: I don't understand.
ISRAEL: If you were to understand you would indeed be me, and all would be only a monologue . .. You unconsciously felt your self to be dead before receiving this material food I consciously prepared for your sake. Previously, whatever opposed your life made you feel the effects of dying, and this death for the sake of dying forced this food on you, and you call that being dispossessed! Dispossessed by whom? By the conscious you, myself! Unconscious you had no choice! And dispossessed you are fulfilled in me!
Esau: I understand nothing.
ISRAEL: You understand nothing! You will never understand! Do you know why? Because each part of you that begins to understand becomes myself! You are, you will always be, what remains to be absorbed . . . You are trembling?
ESAU: I'm trembling? Yes, I'm cold. Not really. Why should I be frightened? It's all far off, Israel. On that day, yes, I was frightened. You frightened me, though I don't know why. I felt menaced by you, then ousted, and lo, Israel, all the catastrophes have fallen on you! You fled before my hatred and now everything belongs to me. O insane Israel! We have the same God; nevertheless yours is even madder than you. Mine is peaceable. At each step he never ceases to promise you
everything, goods and land --your land, Israel! Is there a God in the world who would so much as promise land? Well, I mean to say, what! Without too much fuss, each man is born on his land. He is born there, lives there and what is underfoot is his. It's simple and natural, without too many notes of hand. Israel, I am like all these people. I am these people. I am established. I've always had the feel of the earth. I lived on the earth while you conspired in tents. You see, Israel, the world is not a cyclone. Above all, it consists of honest men on the land. O Israel! God is with them all. Why do you doubt it? What are you looking for far off, Israel, that is not everywhere around us? What, in these endless dramas, are you looking for that is not in every peaceful home? See how the rhythms of seasons and labours conduct its joys and sorrows, good days and bad days. All that adds up to life. Isn't it enough to live each day? Isn't it completely full if onc knows how to live? Isn't the universe present here as much as anywhere? O Israel, drop your torments. Come. Come back to us, be one of us. Come back, we will share as brothers. You'll see. Your ravaged face will gradually relax. Let yourself live. Come, come, Israel, be one of us!
ISRAEL: Esau, I heard it said that at the moment of my flight you were very surprised by the order that our father gave me: "Don't marry a daughter of Canaan, but one from the house of Bethuel, thy mother's father". Thus you understood that the daughters of Canaan were displeasing to Isaac our father. Nevertheless you married three: three daughters of Canaan.* That's quite true, isn't it?
ESAU: . Yes, certainly. I did not intentionally displease Isaac my father, but I had to make good in Canaan, because we could not live together. I had too many possessions.
ISRAEL: Yes, that's how it is. You'll reign over all lands. As for me, my rights as the elder brother give me the privilege of reigning over nothing.
ESAU: I don't understand you, Israel.
*Genesis xxvlll, 6-9.
ISRAEL: Never mind; don't bother. I am mad, Esau. Incurably. Mad according to the Earth, I realise that ... Esau, are you aware that peoples and nations, the whole universe, rush on like a meteor, no one knows whither? I am aware of this movement, 1 am this movement, I can do nothing. . . . Yes . . . You are all established within it, where the movement is not felt. I certainly understand that one can settle in lt . . . I can tell you nothing, nothing you could accept . . . O Esau, I have told you before and I repeat it . . as soon as Inertia accepts movement it is movement, and is ousted ... disturbed, inertia compromises with movement, approximately, settles itself and says: "Behold, I am Earth and YHWH simultaneously. Poor Israel is mad . . . yes, wretched Israel has gone, fled away. He ousted you and has nothing. He has everything and nothing. He is hungry. He moves on. When he arrives he slaves. He exhausts himself for those who take advantage of him. Ten times his wages are altered". O Esau, Israel has learned one thing; he has learned how to get out of difficulties. But immediately he is pursued. Immediately he is caught again. Immediately he is surrounded. He is frisked. Esau do you know that Laban, shame on him, pried into every one of my tents to assure himself that I had stolen nothing from him? I, a thief! For seven years I worked for him for a disgraceful wage. Then seven years more for what he owed me. To rob him! He pried into everything. He and his brothers were mad with rage. Do you know why? Because the greatest offence that the exploited can perpetrate is to get out of difficulties . . . Well, do you want me to tell you? Laban was right. Yes, he was right to pursue me and pry into everything. Because he was robbed. And do you know who had stolen from him? His daughter, who had become my wife and had stolen his gods and sat on them! Such is the story of Israel . . Ah, they will never persecute me enough! What did I know about the theft of his gods? Am I responsible for a theft of which I knew nothing? I am told that I am, because, but for me, the theft would not have occurred. Very well, let YHWH
be accused.... Let him be accused of stealing the false because he is the true. . . . I will sing the story of Israel.
Impassive, he endures under tents.
Touch him, he's a cyclone,
Too swift for movement.
Comes his brother, come his brother countryman,
He comes, he smells of earth and of sweat,
Hungry, but for what comes he?
Lo, he has all earthly goods,
Wine cellars, granaries, victuals.
No, he lacks nothing,
What he has he does not want.
He hunts, he has game in abundance,
He knows how to cook appetising stews.
No, he lacks nothing.
What he has he does not want.
No he is not hungry for food.
Israel is there at his ease,
He's finished cooking a handful of lentils.
His brother countryman comes before him,
And forthwith faints:
See, this is what he wants,
At once, or he dies!
A handful of Jews, a handful of lentils,
And a hundred million, five hundred million
Men and empires, earthly riches,
Confronted by this handful believe themselves to be dying!
This handful, this alarming handful!
"Give us what you have", they say, "1'm dying"
But what is the mystery of this unreasonableness?
And what is the mystery that is awaiting Israel?
What is this nourishment that saves but deprives?
And what is this contrary deprivation
Of Israel stripped, denuded, on the highways
Out of breath, harassed, hunted, stricken, in agony,
And all of them, having eaten their full,
Shouting at him, in hysterics, malicious,
Crying for his death: "Death to Israel,
Let his dog's blood run,
Let the world be purged of this virus,
Israel, the obstructer of life!"
A hundred million, five hundred million,
Men, empires, earthly riches
Confronted by this handful believe themselves to be dying!
They have sensed death, they have been frightened,
Hence the hatred and the terror.
The flocks become exhausted,
The great female animal becomes putrified . . .
And for what reason? Why, with this food before them,
Have the dead been struck dead?
Why, if this handful is not subsistence,
The distress and the depression?
Darkness and gloom in the unexpected sunshine,
In the cry of the sun, in the cry of the Word,
In the Word erect, suddenly erect,
Vivid, implacable .. .
Eat. Eat, drink, digest.
Here is bread, soup, stew.
Come. Come all you females,
I am ready, lying in wait, disguised,
Disguised as cook to apprehend you.
O flesh, I shall give you your desserts in the flesh.
Corruption, I shall wrest you from yourself.
Choose: death or abdication.
Repeat: the Son of Adam is the elder!
Adam, Son of Adam, is last and first.
He, from the beginning, is whole!
"Ah, well, was it for him?
Was it not for you, Israel?"
Wretched one, who are you if not him?
"Ah, well, was it for us?
Was it not for you, Israel?"
But who are you, then, if you are not me?
And who am I if I am not Man,
Man, complete, absolute. . . .
You half-human, half female you,
Each of you, onc by one,
Each of your cattle drovers,
Pretending to be individuals,
Wandering afflictions of the Word,
Butchers of light:
You, one by one, on my human threshold
Fade away and fall, die or resign!
Ah, everything is too late for you,
Nothing has any purpose! Jews and Goim,
Celebrate your martial songs,
The funeral songs of Israel!
May your barren hearts
Become drums in your breasts
May you, insect-like, come to life again,
Honour, national awakening, and the rest!
None of these foods will suppress in your mouths
The corpse-like odour exhaled by your entrails.
Female, transfigure yourself or die!
Such is the Voice of the Word in Israel.
Behold, the female stands up shrieking,
And curses the conqueror of Elohim,
Chasing him as he wanders on the high roads.
Assuredly, the blessing of YHWH is on him,
Implacable robe of fire,
Necer pleased, never appeased,
Blessing man, cursing Israel,
As long as man is not perfected.
ESAU: Israel, I do not understand your words. It is true that your song evokes a certain remorse in me, but I don't know what it is. . . . I am not to blame, Israel. Believing you mad I sought to protect myself.
ISRAEL: You raised four hundred men against me. . . . Four. Always four. I would have wagered a bet on it, Esau. The solid power in whose train follow the herd's ciphers. Four hundred, four hundred thousand, forty millions, according to circumstances and availability . . . I hear their songs afar off; new songs with a stamp of originality: "Qu'un sang impur abreuve nos egouts". And next: "Israel has taken the lot, we no longer have anything, he has sold us our own grub at an exorbitant price". O Esau. These martial songs, this formidable war-machine, this flourishing of trumpets, musicians, deadly appliances. All the lusty, swaggering youths met some women and children bowing in obeisance, and a limping man. The four and all their ciphers were worn out by the unprecedented shouting, Esau, and for my part I don't understand why your army hasn't buried itself, squashed by ridicule.
ESAU: How could I know your intention and strength?
ISRAEL: You arc right. And how could you know even now? I have deprived you of everything, carrying away nothing. You feel frustrated and, taking your possessions into account, it's you who had everything; the whole earth. Then you became still angrier. What was this all that I took, this invisible nothing, terrifying because it was imperceptible, more terrifying, much more essential? Your soul? Your life? Yes, all that. Your whole equilibrium. That's it. I stole your equilibrium. I, the eternal dynamic, total equilibrium of moving light, undermined you. The Earth's static call, the functional organisation that nabs the Word on its unprotected side -- all that and the premature birth I removed. I broke the chain that bound you to the eldest. The Son of Adam has neither time nor place, Esau. He treads the void of the abyss. Go round the world and tell me if an arbitrary vertical, a height and a depth exist. Tell me where heaven is if it is not in the heart of each thing. But
you, your two feet on a planet animated by at least three stupendous movements, a fantastic spinning top, established yourself. You, in spite of light having no duration, settled in duration that kills light. It is all this security that I took away, Esau, when in my presence you savoured death. Verily, I shattered the fabric of your soul. Suddenly this fabric was cracked, in your terror YHWH entered through the fissure to destroy you. Terror such as that is not forgiven, Esau. It turns into hatred. And hatred's calm is only a plaster covering: yes, this patched-up plaster covering around the very light that caused terror -- this captured, imprisoned, thoroughly smothered light that is so calming. Against the Word, the Word digested; against its destructive power, a life domesticated. Always the same thing. Against Israel, the deformation of Israel, one of the religions that rises beneath it steps, as an approximate woman, an approximate human body, the semblance of truth, fixed truth, established truth, coagulated movement. Yes, it's always the same. And Israel vanishes. He moves on. He is much travelled. He comes back to his source. He reaches his prime. He is defeated. He is denuded. He gets out of difficulties as best he may, as onc who has received onc of the most superb gifts from God and man: the necessity of relying on himself alone. He returns. He prostrates himself at his brother's feet. He's plundered again. Now it's all the same to him. He's used to it. He will go to Canaan knowing beforehand all the catastrophies that are awaiting him. The land is a sanctuary for all except for him. He will go and be tossed about from right to left. YHWH will always make him whirl again. "Hasten, hasten", says Infinity to Number, "hasten to overtake me". Israel goes quickly. This Number -- isn't this mad Number already YHWH? Isn't it that already?
(Israel, facing his brother Esau, is now motionless. He is in a trance. He gazes at the invisible. His body seems to whirl around his soul. Esau looks at him. He pities him. Yes, suddenly he has pity on him. This suffering is too much. Israel trembles. The whole of him vibrates. It is clear that he lives only because
he cannot die. It's as simple as that. It's strange. . . . Esau is no longer apprehensive. He's well established on his land. He's arranged all for the best; he is at peace: God is God, men are men, life is not complicated.)
Esau: Come, Israel, come, let us return home. Come, you'll see. One can live simply. It's a simple life. Come, brother, I have ample, I will help you. Come to Seir where I live.
ISRAEL: Lord, your servant can only thank you. Yes, Lord, I am coming. I will come with you to Seir.
ESAU. Let us take our journey: I will go before you. *
ISRAEL: My lord knows that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me, and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die. Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant; and I will lead on Softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir.
Esau: Let me now leave with thee some of the folk that are with me.
ISRAEL: What needeth it? Let me find grace in the sight of my lord.
So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir. Jacob journeyed to Succoth.
Mahoyael tells me: Nothing in this poem of childbirth will be new, except through an infinite combination of recognised patterns, intertwined in a complex and harmonious manner. Jacob now born human will be met again at grips with "two wives", two aspects of the feminine; Leah the sensual woman incarnate, Rachel, the embodiment of the ideal woman. Metaphysically similar to Lermekh, Jacob the perfect has to "labour" seven years, and then for another seven years. Such is the dividing into two of the symbol of perfection: shall I repeat Jacob's story, O scribe?
Each of his wives has one servant. That makes four. The theme becomes complicated because one of Israel's favourite occupations is to devise cryptograms written in cipher. He will
*Genesis xxxlll, 12-16.
have twelve sons and one daughter, Dina, who will cause a massacre in Canaan, for even if she is truly far more than "Sister" she understands nothing, she falls in love in Canaan. Yes, if it is true that Jacob's wives are sublime, his sons, like sons of the dead parent-stock of lsrael, are ordinary men and women, and like all men, fail continually: all except Joseph, the eleventh (ten the complete surpasses itself).
(Yes, I know that in Israel they often like to give meaning to numbers and tell stories in that language.)
I have said that Jacob's children are absolutely ordinary. Thus, Ruben the elder is seen "to take his father's place". In love with his mother he next sleeps with his father's concubine.
Now if it is remembered that the dialectical triangle 1, 2, 3 must be rooted.in Canaan to make duality fertile, what happens when the 1 is lacking? Movement, instead of constructing, destroys, or gets itself destroyed. Such is the meaning of the Canaanite massacres committed by Simon and Levi, the 2 and the 3. (Here the numbers are a condensed language.) The failure of the three, Ruben, Simon and Levi, is shown here. Jacob, lucid until his death, blesses and curses his sons according to their worth. As for the 4, Judah, he is of course the royal number. He also goes bankrupt and does what kings do: he sells the Word. It's he who sells Joseph. It's what kings and pontiffs call "realising" the Word.
Next follows the extraordinary story of Judah who desires to excel in spite of his royal deformation. He understands the idea of Israel very clearly: Israel refuses to be Oedipus. But Judah wants to do things his own way. In Canaan he fights desperately against destructive duality. But he fights armed, not with the Word, but with the money "realised" from it. Wishing to oppose Oedipus, he simply takes the opposite stance: Oedipus married the wife of his father: Judah, driven by implacable destiny, ends by marrying his son's wife! But Tamar gives birth to twins, and from the very clear symbolism it will be understood that the 4 in Israel has to transmute
itself, has to be cancelled dialectically in its opposite. Being well aware of this the Nazarenes gamble on the symbol of the ousted King.
Those who understand this book will have no trouble in following the logical development of the myth to its dramatic and allegorical explosion, played, represented and copied by the Nazarenes.
Thus, Rachel dies on the way to Bethlehem; Mary, the mother of Jesus, plays the role of Rachel restored to life. Now Joseph is the son of Rachel, the best-loved son of Jacob, the son who has not taken "the father's place". The myth requires that the woman transfigured recovers the son, that she may be his wife, but in a manner other than jocasta, diametri- cally the reverse. We know all that now. The myth required that Mary, the mother of Jesus, should marry Joseph, her son from when she was Rachel -- Joseph who did not take his father's place.
Still other symbols are met in this book: in the play of feminine competition the nuances of multiple and complex transfigurations are followed. Then on reading the legend of Joseph the myth is seen to bite into history, to fasten its teeth into flesh . . .
The Chorus of Women
RACHEL: Everything happens too soon. . . . Lo, I died on the way to Bethlehem, was dead and buried on the way to Bethlehem, died in Canaan for the sake of Canaan . . . gave birth prematurely to Benjamin, the last-born who, of the twelve, killed me.
VOICES OF ISRAEL: Cursed be Canaan! Blessed be Canaan! Death and resurrection . . . . the stupendous suffering of Israel in labour! Canaan does not wish to be made fertile; Canaan will be made fertile.
WOMEN: Leah and Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah, four wives: and the four are submissive. Four wives and the four have
multiplied the three, and there are twelve sons. Twelve sons and one mystery. Twelve sons and Dinah.
Four wives, two and two, two sisters and two servants, two free and two enslaved, two lights and two shadows, and all were submissive, for the Son of Adam was born!
Behold, the Son is born,
Behold, Jacob grasped the heel of Esau,
Behold, he beset him for centuries . . .
Behold, he overtook him . . .
Ah, look, look, he seized him by force,
Look, he brought him to the ground,
Behold, he wrested his life and his rights from him,
And the father's blessing!
Behold, the processes of expansion followed,
Like worlds, in manifestation,
Crackling like a fire,
The Elohim, the Elohim!
Behold, movement won,
Man rosc like a light,
He ravaged the abyss of our wombs,
The Elohim, the Elohim!
We are vanquished!
Ah, my sisters, Ict us withdraw
Into the wombs of insects,
Let us invoke the queen bee,
Her nuptial flight slays the male.
Drowned expansion, the ant heap,
The functional mutilation, the static order . . .
Alas, man is born,
We died in him.
Judah, the 4 or Temporal Power
Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, symbol of 4, whose posterity will be royal, is everything in Israel that can be temporal power. All that this power can be is an adaptation, at a late hour, of Israel's cosmic movement: a challenge to the Intemporal, an incitement to the will to power, and finally a defeat that works out in detail some strange, roundabout ways of destiny. For sometimes destiny delights in inventing most subtle and unexpected snares to abash the impudent. Judah sells his brother Joseph, because Joseph is the bearer of the two poles of Cosmic Energy. So he imagines that he can keep them for himself. Subsequently he begats 3 sons, symbolising the trinity, Israel's driving force. He chooses Tamar as wife for his eldest son. This son, Ez dies. Judah commands his second son, Onan, to marry Tamar. Onan scorns her and dies. Judah persists. His third son, Shelah, marries her and, in turn, dies. Thrice a widow Tamar masquerades as a prostitute. Judah, Oedipus in reverse, falls in love with her. She has two sons by him. Tradition requires that Jesus descends from one of them: "the King of the Jews", as he is called in derision. Yes, the King who has no realm in this world: the antithesis of Judah who persists against the Intemporal.
Put on your widow's veil,
O woman of Canaan,
For YHWH has not been able to impregnate you,
But water has been covered with sand,
And in your desert the well-spring is exhausted.
Ah, what am I to do in this barrenness?
YHWH gave it me, it is my land.
He said: "GO and perish there,
Go and depart this life, expire again,
You will never be dead long enough".
And I cried: "Why such emphasis on death, Lord?
Can One not live without losing One's life?"
Behold, I strengthened my four
So that my four should not die,
And everything failed!
One is dead, two is dead, three is dead,
No more have I three alive.
O three who cannot be defigured, what shall I do
Ben-Yamin, the twelfth, son of the right hand, the accomplisher
Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf:
In the morning he shall devour the prey,
And at night he shall divide the spoil. *
He has long fangs, he is hungry,
Approach bearing gifts,
But what is given is vain hope.
Say to him: Your hour has come,
But nothing has been prepared for its coming.
The source in Benjamin is slayn,
Recurrence is no longer possible,
Retreat is cut off,
There is yet no way ahead.
Call him, say to him: "Come,
You are what will be".
Say to him: "You are the mid-day sun".
He comes, and in his presence everyone is dismayed,
Fleeing pell-mell, in great confusion,
To the breast of their wet-nurse.
All are in early infancy,
The biggest offer him a bowl of milk.
No, Benjamin will be a wolf
For as long as they are not men.
For millenia has he becn famished,
Scouring the forests, the while, all alone.
He ravins and devours his prey.
Every morning he goes out to ravin,
Every evening he returns to share,
Genesis XLIX, 27.
To share between these children
This food that is too strong.
The terrified children see his shadow,
They shut their houses against him,
They close their eyes in bed,
They implore someone to hold their hand.
Such is the twelfth hour,
The twelfth hour of night
Hours of a thousand years each.
Verily it tolls twice;
Twelve times for bodies
Twelve times for conscience,
Making twelve for death
And twelve for birth.
Happy the Aquarians
Who are alive to die!
PAUL: Israel's parentage is a mystery. For it prepares the
twelfth hour. And has not Mahoyael revealed this mystery
in its entirety?
JOHN: Indeed, the hour of the Nazarenes was only the ninth.
JOSEPH (with Pharaoh): Enough of symbols! When Israel relates his own story his imagination is without limit. My story means that at every moment Israel surpasses his own progress. For the barbarians of the female nations height is above, depth is below, white is white, black is black. For them the opposites are statistically contrary, but Israel is the progress of contraries and, in this progress, surpasses them. Israel will never identify himself with one of the opposites, but simultaneously with both, producing one from the other and destroying one with the other. He will devote and not devote himself; he will die and he will not die. Such is the story of everything that makes Israel: such is the exact meaning of my book. That is why I let these symbols of my concrete actions speak. Woe to him who does not recognise the Word in everything Israel does.
Let us abandon these dreams. Moreover, the Nazarenes did not dream all that much. They did not conceive these symbols without at once applying them concretely: All that believed were together, and had all things in common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. *
Yes, Israel does not allow himself to be carried away adrift by these symbols, Israel does not escape. Israel knows the concrete meaning of the myths. His most stupid dreams become economic facts. Always.
Woe to those who seize upon one aspect of Israel by itself! They say: "1 am a Christian, I am a Jew", but they don't sell their goods, they don't share between all according to each man's need. On the contrary, they are wolves who steal from and hate the deprived. Woe to them who are satisfied with symbols. They have transformed Israel's fire into entreaties and hypocrisy. Look at these priests of the great female taking their places around the dead body of the Word; they cut it up like pork-butchers, probing for the joints with their knives; their claws seize on naked flesh and I hear them grinding their jaws. They are eating and vomiting. They don't want to digest it. They don't want to produce it. They want death. It's the corpse they want.
Ah, run them through, chase them, them and their bellies and their unctuousness, their interminable prayers in synagogues, temples and churches! May Israel, in the name of Israel, shame these empty devotees. And woe to those who fasten on to another aspect of Israel, one all by itself. They say: "1 am a Marxist", but kill the dialectic in themselves. They define humanity according to functional status, murderously abominating the Word.
A MAN: Joseph, you speak truly; it was you who instituted slavery and tithes. After warehousing all the corn of Egypt for Pharaoh you resold it, stripping the population of all its goods. You began by seizing all the money in the country; after that you sold bread in exchange for flocks, horses and
Acts II, 44.
asses. And when there was no more than one head of cattle you sold corn for people's bodies and land. The country thus became the property of Pharaoh, and everyone was his slave.
JOSEPH: Believe you me, everyone remained on the land with his cattle. Not only did everyone eat his fill, but I distributed seeds to sow the fields and everyone was released from this business deal by means Of a simple tax Of twenty per cent Of his annual revenue, which, you will admit, is not too heavy a fiscal charge. They all came to prostrate themselves at my feet, saying: "You have saved our lives". I had done still more. I had saved the country by well-planned economy. But all that is nothing. I did something far more: I transformed the static, closely woven, unchangeable power of Pharaoh into a simple pole of economic dialectic. I had therefore animated it. To some extent I de-rooted it. Further, in according him by law a fifth of the revenue I denied him the other four-fifths. By means of a fine I granted rights to people. It was my most striking innovation. From that day on the people had grounds for a claim. It constituted a contract. On one side each person learned to consider property as a simple, social function, as each, in fact, was deprived: on the other side, the power of the throne was drawn into a current that, sooner or later, would destroy it.
And that is not all. I rejoiced only after installing Israel in the country. Pharaoh did not like these shepherds. By the way, once again I will answer the people who raise the question. The crowd which unconsciously killed the shepherd, Abel, was itself pastoral. It descended from Seth who superseded Abel, murdered by Cain, from Seth made fruitful by Cain. Such is Israel; he carries his dialectical death in himself. Haven't I said a thousand times that he lives only in his resurrections? And if rational men among established nations come to say that what is really alive does not bear its death within itself, I shall say that these rational men are more truly dead than stones. Indeed, a stone does not bear its death and resurrection within itself, but the seed in good earth is aware
of its death, and demands it for the sake of the infinite harvests from which it has swelled. The barbarian nations assert their right to life. They shout: 'Let the others perish so that I may be powerful!" Israel asserts his right to death and resurrection. He cries: "Let Israel perish so that the Word may be born in everyone". He cries: "Take and eat".
That is why I was happy only after establishing Israel in the land. I will give the reason and it will at once be obvious.
It has been said: "0 Israel, crying out for the right to justice you hoarded all the corn". Indeed, and I would do it again at the first opportunity. I was asked: "1f you opposed the closely-woven powers of thrones why didn't you rouse the people against Pharaoh instead of enrichening him?" I did what was necessary and would certainly do it again at the first opportunity. Have I said bomb the shepherds and kill them? That would be mad and fruitless. But I did say: be flexible, in everything be what attracts its opposite. Then what did Elohim do to Jacob? He tried to kill him. What did YHIVH do to Moses? He tried to kill him. And what have I done to the nation? I have overwhelmed it but given it a weapon: its rights. And what did I do to Pharaoh? I increased his power but unbalanced him.
Could I stir up an unconscious, political discontent in people? Truly, I would have disturbed only shadows! Realise that the symbol of the Word is silver. Realise that in the social order the Word is money.
Behold, I strengthen the opposites so that the struggle may surpass itself, that the Earth may be conquered and the Flesh may engender the Word. Elohim gave Jacob everything he needed to prevail; then he threw himself on him and triumphed in his own defeat. I pondcrcd on it, for Israel meditates a great deal. I was Israel's power and I went to thc foot of the most powerful throne on earth, and there I created a machinery which linked the exploiter to the exploited in an invincible motion. Yes, I went and connected it. Indeed, the exploited revolt only when the measure is overflowing, not before.
Moreover, he revolts only if the machinery is in motion. Up to then Pharaoh hadn't thought about it. He was established, he underwent the vicissitudes of the seasons. He was solid, amorphous, and should have been able to endure for several more centuries.
When I had got the machinery going well, I went away to reflect again, for Israel meditates much. In my opinion the power of Pharaoh would increase and he would never want to limit it: he would not keep to the agreement respecting twenty for one hundred, but will want eighty, then all, because his power will be self-reproductive and his weapons increase in proportion to his desires. The nation will revolt, I thought. But will it really revolt? I greatly doubted this, for these people were not circumcised: they felt perfectly secure in their sheaths. Then I insisted that Israel establish himself in the country. Now, in my opinion, the rebellion was sure.
In speaking of Exodus I encroach a little on these books, but everything occurred in this manner. Pharaoh was unrestrained in his exploitation. He was particularly infuriated against those who would never agree to being the slave of anyone. They were only a handful but very alarming. A handful amid a great nation, and yet Pharaoh seemed to believe that they were becoming stronger than he. Actually they threw him out, as Jacob had ousted Esau in leaving everything to him: they had unbalanced him. And it was against those who did not fight that Pharaoh was infuriated.
He who fights with the sword will die by the sword. But Israel fought with the Word, and that is why he will never cease to die by the Word, and be restored to life. The weapons are not alike. Pharaoh and his powerful army dashes on Israel. Israel withdraws, the waters withdraw. Pharaoh is engulfed in the waters.
Such is Israel. He arrives in Egypt, blesses Pharaoh and the blessing has the action of a swift movement. It is a vibration of life that masters the throne. The Word gives itself, it gives its life to recover it. The weapons are not equal.
The Word is more powerful than anything.
Such is Israel. He arrives in Egypt, blesses Pharaoh and by this causes the terrible sport of opposites. Pharaoh is infuriated with the life that kills him, he, who is dead, killed aforetimes. Israel comes and little by little Pharaoh cannot release himself. Israel comes and blesses him. This blessing falls back on Israel: the power conferred becomes colossal and crushes Israel, persecuting him beyond the point of endurance. Then, inevitably, Israel is banished, driven from the nourishing earth, hunted in the desert, persecuted by the tremendous curse of the female in her wrath against her conqueror. Israel will go . . . behold, he has gone, the martyr of the unending cxodus! Israel is alone in the grievous desert. The fire invigor- ates him. Alone, alone, in the unfathomablc depths of silence. Alone . . . Behind him a king is destroyed.
Such is Israel. He comes to Egypt, he blesses Pharaoh, but when he goes Pharaoh is engulfed. Israel is overthrown like winds abating. Tomorrow it will blow, from whence one knows not.
MAHOYAEL: Joseph, you have spoken well: you have connected and joined everything together. Each nation has its own mythology. Your myths, Israel, are the only ones that might have affected reality, blessed be you, for Israel is life. Each nation has its dreams, but dreams are only escapes. That is why nations pass away. But Israel seeks eagerly after the dream, following it up. It takes all human symbols as their opposites in order to extract their meaning. That is why Israel does not pass away. Peoples and their myths pass away, civilisations succeed one another, and Israel always goes against the current, right to its source. Alone does he fight against the torrent of female waters. What unbelievable obstinacy! One by one thrones perish, one by one more powerful civilisations perish, and Israel, on the move, clinging by his hands, his teeth and his feet, with his heart torn to pieces, his unruly mind, Israel dies and lives. . ..
|Carlo Suares, Resurrection of the Word, Shambhala, 1974, pp. 126-147|