|Resurrection of the Word: The Scribe: Book Two|
THERE WAS a little Jew who had obtained a passport and even a residence, although he had been hunted out of his own house. He was still wandering about, here and there, before dying. One day Mahoyail said to him: "Tell them I shall give them the Book of Books". Then the little Jew exclaimed: "It is very painful for me to inform you: here is the Book of Books".
To this day Mahoyael is the manifested Existence -- may it be blessed. "Utter the word YHWH," he says. The little Jew sighs. He says "YHWH." "Say it again." He repeats it. Shout it". He shouts it. "Proclaim it throughout the world". He shouted and felt his bones crack. His veins burst one by one and he was immersed in the great noise of his blood. Mahoyail lashed him without respite: "Go on, again! Louder!" The storm Of shouting carried him away. He was centrelcss and lost his position: the spot that Ivad been reserved for his body up till now had evaporated. He heard Mahoyail say: "Are you dead?" And he heard himself answer: "Yes" "Then make haste and write before coming to life again", he was ordered.
About that time a man happened to come. He was called The One who Hears only from Outside, because his ears heard but he was deaf within himself. He was a rationalist.
"The original Bible," he told me, "is a compilation of narratives revised a thousand times, belonging to at least four traditions. The J or yahvist tradition goes back to the viiith century (B.C. of course); the E or Elohist tradition is nearly contemporary; the Books of Genesis are a mixture of these two. You have no doubt noticed that the editors of the first account of Genesis belong to the Eiohist tradition, and
that the yahvist tradition takes up the same account afterwards, but in a different style. As to the Deuteronomist and Sacer- dotal schools, designated by the letters D and P respectively, they are more recent than the first two. The former goes back to the viith century and the latter to the vi-vth. They are therefore subsequent to the great prophets. You know they ... "
"1 know nothing," I said.
. . that Josiah, influenced by Jeremy, reformed the creed about 626. He had found an old book full of curses and threats which frightened him. That is why he purged the temples Of the cult of Baal: the high places from Beer-Scheba to Bethel ,.. "
"Spare me the history and geography," I said. "Tell me why this Bible is sacred."
"Don't interrupt me. At that time the figure of Moses was literally invented and all the explicit directions were ascribed to him. ...
"Why, why is this book holy? I want to know the beginning, the pith, the motive, the progress of everything ... why why this book is holy?"
"You want the beginning. Let us go back to Genesis. The patriarchs are supposed to have lived at the commencement of the second millenary. About fifteen centuries later the editors of these texts drew on their memory of the oral tradition. You imagine what the story of the Crusades would have been if written nowadays from verbal accounts by biased and divergent schools."
"But why these accounts," I asked. "First distinct, then mixed, then intermingled, then agreeing, then disagreeing? Why are they one Book, onc only, a Book full of terror and joy, a holy Book? You speak of Elohist and Yahvist. I don't know these words. What is this book you are talking about? I have one, a mysterious volume and it is this mystery that I demand to know. I have a book, bound in black, written in the vulgate as you would expect: no matter in what language it is spoken and no matter on which continent, it is inflexible, mournful, insistent. Two words in gilded letters are conspicuous on its
spine always bearing the title 'Holy Bible', no matter in which language or on which continent they are spoken. I wish these Testaments, by goodness-know-who of the living dead, would be pulped. I would like to see all these Testa- mcnts whose first words are 'in the beginning' and whose last words are 'with you all' expunged, annihilated. Do you know why? Because," I said, "1 want the essential nature of this substance, its vcry marrow."
"Yahvist, Elohist, you said? I imagine that the two names, the one unutterable. the other of Elohim, are those I read here totally mistranslated."
"Just so. The Elohim, or demi-urgic powers, have become 'God', and YHWH, the unutterable, is 'The Eternal'. The two cxpresslons . . . "
"Stop! Don't talk about these two expressions! One day I believed I would die of anguish. Listen. Mahoyael spoke to me. Mahoyail is the manifested existence to this day, blessed be it. As always he spoke in the solitude of my heart, and my heart has bccn sown with seed, but it was necessary for my brain, in its turn, to understand, quite alone, without the help of anyone else. Then I told myself: I Irave understood, the word YHWH must not be written even once in the first book of Genesis'. (For I had never read these books and did not know their contents.) This certainty that the word should not be there suddenly grabbed me by the throat and I sweated in agony. I opened the book, O Listener to the Outside, and, believe me, my whole life was at stake at this moment ... and the word was not there. My heart had germinated. Tell me, tell me why was my body transparent. Tell me why I was able to read through the flesh ... "
"Because this book is holy and Israel is the Word", a voice said; and it was Mahoyail who answered.
"And that's not all," I cried. "Thc Elohim, the demiurgic powers of expansion had created the world in making it, but YHWH-Elohim made man. If these words YHWH and Elohim are synonymous why are they coupled together just
there, why arc these words from two editors put together?"
"Because the book is holy, man is the word and Israel is man," answered Mahoyael again.
"And why," I shouted again --shouting louder and louder but the man was making himself even deafer -- "why is this third person, Elohim, on the side of the man and the woman up to the fall, why did he vanish afterwards, and why did Eve say at thc birth of Cain: 'I have borne a man with the help of YHWH'? And why does Elohim, after the death of Abel, give her Seth to replace him? Why is it Elohim who transfers the curse of the earth to Cain, but YHWH who confers on him the formidable sign of immortality?"
I heard the voice of Mahoyael saying: "Because the book is Israel and Israel is a mystery. Because Israel is immortal and immortality is a mystery. That is why God has conquered".
But I did not properly understand these words. As for the deaf man, he went on talking and it was my turn to stop listening. Snatches of phrases which I could scarcely coordinate, struck me:
... "Hebrew was the language of the Canaans; Israel has not even devised a language of its own".
I broke in: 'The Canaanites and Babylonians have gone, together with all their tongues, from the Aramaic to the Hittite, from the Egyptian to the Phoenician. Tell me why there are today, in New York alone, twenty daily papers in Hebrew, and everywhere, everywhere there are Jews ...
Mahoyail said: "Israel is eternal and eternal is its epic". He went on: "1 will give you thc Book of Books. The Bible is Israel, but Israel is not the Bible. I will give you the complete Book of Israel, First Genesis, then Moses, then the Prophets, then Judges and Kings. Then the Book of Trials. Yes, the trial of Jesus before Israel and the trial of nations before YHWH. And I will give you the trial of Israel before Israel, and the trial of the dead parent-stock, that is to say, of the Jews and the doctors of the law, and the trial of the Torah before the Shekinah. And my own terrible, ineffable trial:
that of manifested Existence before the mess that man has made of his world".
"1 don't understand," I said.
"The trial of magical charms. Proclaim it aloud that Israel has cast a spell on the world and that Israel refuses to enchant it. For I tell you that Israel goes on and each step imprints on humanity an indelible symbol that puts it under a magical charm. Actuated by these charms the enchanted arise: God, the cross, the proletariat, one after the other. Revolutions arise in the wake of Israel and then become corrupted and curse Israel .... but Israel has already gone further on and become entangled in new disputes."
I asked him: "The upstarts against Ezechiel? The Church against Jesus? The Synagogue against Spinoza? The Kremlin against Marx? The State of Israel against the world?"
Meanwhile the listener-to-the-outside went on with his speech. Once and for all he had confined his mental abilities within the sheath of geography and chronology.
"I have heard you speak of the vanquished God," he said. "No doubt you were alluding to Jacob's contest with a god throughout the night. At dawn this god who had been unable to overcome him and who is supposed to have given him a blow on the hip, said: 'You shall be called Israel for you have fought with God and with men, and you have conquered'. I would have you note that Jacob is not the only mythological person to have been struck on the hip joint: besides, and above all, this God was, in all likelihood, only the god of the stream behind which Jacob had sheltered his wives and children. Mythology is full of these ... "
I interrupted: ... Why has this petty local divinity become nothing less than God, the Very God, and not some other one? Why is this story, this name Israel, and this constant victory of Israel over God more real and living today than ever before? Why are all the other myths dead?"
Mahoyail sang, and his chant in answer to my distress was an exaltation of Israel:
Israel is magnified seventy times seven,
Seven times for the Temple, seven times for Jesus,
Seven times for the doctors, seven times for Maimonides,
Seven times for the halt, seven times for the advance,
Seven times for the dead, seven times for the living,
Seven times for the land, seven times for the dispersion ...
While I was listening and trying to understand, the professorial voice invaded me and carried me away: "When this nomadic nation wrote its recollections it had been settled for a long time. An historic law impels nomads living on the verge Of a cultivated country to seize this country if thcy can. YHWH's innumerable promises to give Canaan to his people only expressed and justified this law. In Canaan Israel adapted her religion to the religion of the country. The holy places became Israel's. One of the principle aims of the editors, in this matter, was to justify these consecrations. They were attributed to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Very naively monotheism was also attributed to the patriarchs. Monotheism is a recent and, moreover, a fragile conception. Indeed, these primitive nomads sufffered from a nostalgia for the Illimitable ... "
"This nostalgia swept away, and will sweep away, empires ... . . Why is it stronger than them? Why is it stronger than the world? And why, among the hundreds of nomadic nations has there been none like them?
"This nation has the gift of praising itself exorbitantly. Undoubtedly their meeting a volcano, Sinai or Horeb, in the desert had impressed them far beyond what one can imagine. Was not this mountain that spat forth fire the obvious manifestation of their god?"
"0 casual listener, there are so many volcanos, so many volcanos in the world, and YHWH is unique. . . .
"Moreover, the origin of most biblical anecdotes is easy to trace. Were not the Canaanites enslaved by Schem, by the Hebrews and by Yaphet, the Goims? Hence Noah's curse on the Canaan, their eponymous ancestor, to explain this fact ...
"Why did Noah, who is called Noahh, curse Hham's fourth son, and not Hham who saw him? Could not a more explicable curse have been devised? Neither Hham nor his three elder sons was cursed, but only the fourth, Canaan: why?
"In order to justify the Canaanite origin of their religion behold the character of Melchizidek, Canaanite king of Salem, before whom Abraham bowed down. . . .
"Why do the Catholics, spellbound by the land of Israel, today attribute a cosmic significance to the high priest Melchizidek? Why the gigantic development of everything that Israel has touched?
'Take another example: are the inhabitants of Gilead, a confined and rich region, beset by bands of plunderers? That explained Jacob's blessing Of Gad: Gad Will be assaulted by armed bands but he will assail and pursue them. All these texts, far from being prophetic, are mythical interpretations of geographical and historical circumstances. The affinities between Israelites and Canaanites are described in numerous instances: the permissive customs of the Canaanites shocked the austere nomads, from whencc arose the condemnation of the moral order, as everyone knows ... Their folklore is full of incidents analogous to all mythology. Thus the victory of Jacob over Esau is simply that of guile over force. This kind of story abounds in ancient Greece. Take Ulysses. . . .
"The story of Ulysses is interesting. Why is the story of Jacob holy, I ask? Why do those who are spellbound by the land of Israel tell it to their children to save their souls? And why do these under the spell of it give themselves the mission of propagating this book the world over, cutting throats and getting themselves killed for it? What is at stake in this story? Why is this story holy?'
But the man went on. I heard words, more words ... "between the Egyptian empire and the Assyrio-Babylonian empire, as between a hammer and an anvil, it is not surprising that . . . in his little country furrowed by highways, only a period of exceptional calm allowed it to constitute itself as a
nation ... . the struggle against Rome ... besides, had Jesus ever existed ... the Torah ... the Talmud ... the Zohar the Cabbalists ... "
These words intruded on me and disquieted me; soon they preyed on my mind and wrung my bowels, making me vomit. It was villainously painful. I saw my waxen face with its prim nostrils reflected in the sky. Around me the water was rising and tossing about so much that I expired from sea-sickness. Amidst the madness of this universe whirling in bizarre rubbish I called to Mahoyael in my distress, and my soul clung, as to a life-buoy, to this invocation.
Then the curses, the anger and vengeance of Mahoyael fell upon me. "You were dead and you did not wish to die", this voice declared. "You entered the abyss, and the abyss frightened you! Coward! It should be written in your hand writing, but your hand is dead, closing itself like a large iron cage around your sterile heart whose wings cannot open! Coward and traitor!"
Coward and traitor. . . .
The shame bore me down as if I were under lead and stone and shovelfuls of earth. It was dark in the tomb, a shock, a swift suffocation.. .
Void, nothingness. Suddenly a force arose and penetrated the heaviness and the darkness. It rose upright: the slab was shattered. The force drove on, excavating a way for itself, and lo, it broke through a mound of earth, emerged and sallied forth. Behold, the force was an Olive tree, one of the olives on that very mountain. See, it turns and twists, it shivers and its silvery leaves carry the song of Mahoyail far and wide. This is the song of the strained and twisted olive tree:
It is daylight when the sun rises,
My Book comes with the Messiah's coming,
The journal of my dawn arises,
Little by little its light comes.
Who can say: "this moment, one can see,
It was night a moment before?"
Who can predict the moment of vision?
The sun rises at the appointed time,
But what does the time matter, it was already light.
It is already daylight when the sun rises,
My book will be there when the Messiah comes.
"Tell your eighth of a listener," said Mahoyael, "that as man is not fully born everything he says about himself is still only a dream. Now, what is this sixteenth of a listener doing? He imagines that a dream can be explained by recalling to mind its visual pictures: you dream of a mountain because you have seen a mountain. It's easy, isn't it? But billions of people have scen what Israel saw. Which irresistible, moving, underground force has chosen, from infinite choice, all the elements that are there? And who has co-ordinated them, consolidated them, guided them, exalted them beyond measure, imposcd them on the world? ...
"What is this miracle of Israel? ... What is the miracle of this persistent miracle?"
Israel's essential being is too precious, too multiplex, too contradictory to be understood from without. He can be understood only from within. Israel gives himself only to his own, one at a time; to him who realises him in himseif, to him who is consumed by his being, which says, when dying, "1 do not efface man, I liberate the Intemporal in him". "What, what's that?" say the Jews, "who is this man? We shall recognise him only if his sayings are the same as those that wc have repeated for centuries."
To him who has taken Israel into himself, and been taken by Israel, there is nothing else to do but to offer himself, his being. "Takc and eat, take and drink", he bids.
COMMUNICANTS: "We eat this bread which is the flesh of a Jew, wc drink this wine which is the blood of a Jew."
MAIIOYAEL: "If they would be satisfied with this symbol and understand it! ... "
This Book that is not understood is prominent everywhere: among stupid crowds, amid the screams of the Earth in frustrated childbirth -- the Book that tells the story of Israel, related by Israel.
It is Israel in action. It succours the tree of life, and Empires, like dead leaves, are scattered over the Israeli earth, and still Israel endures.
Where are the four kings conquered by Abram the Hebrew? What has happened to the memory of Melchizidek, King of Salem, who blessed him? How many thousands of hundreds of thousands of kings and realms have there been since those first kings? And still Israel endures.
Where are the proud legions, their monuments and deeds ruins for tourist mobs, innumerable multitudes? Where are those who held the Hebrews captive, and the great cities Of Nineveh and Babylon, and those who destroyed Jerusalem? Souvenirs in museums. Israel still endures.
And what do the people of the West say? "We are the sons of sons of ancient Greeks, Romans, Teutons, Gauls, Whitcs, Blacks, Reds, and we read how they saluted in a certain manner, marched, cried out, leaped thus, and we imitate them." Imitate the childhood of nations? Israel imitates nothing ... Israel is here and now.
These empires with their gods and their glory and hierarchies, what they have, what they are, and men herded together ... and Israel ... always Israel ... what about it? What Israel? What is it?
A race? The race is a myth. See the Spanish Jews, Slavonic Jews, Negro Jews, Chinese Jews ... a nation, one people? This Scattered multitude living in all countries, living under the laws of others and whose interests oppose or are at the mercy of other peoples' politics ... a nation? A religion? Still less;
least of all. Burn their temples called synagogues and let the laity and rabbis be dragged by their beards everywhere over the face of the earth and the waters, in search of the Eternal which, not being with them, they invoke! ... . A tradition? A dead tradition murdered by the literal mind, dotting the i's and crossing the t's, a tradition that neither wavers nor dances, nor flowers. Dead stock of Israel! O Israel ... What is to become of you? How can the State that has your name contain you? How can it be anything but the negation of Israel?
Dead stock with fantastic, wild, delirious shoots from the intoxicating influence of the Word. . . . Stock dead from time past, foliage whose sap rises from the future . .. Israel, totally, absolutely, above all, contradictory . . . Israel, the essence of the human species, progress, beginning and end without origin or finality. Israel whose prospects were stamped on humanity ... Jews, Israelians, Israelites and from the beginning of time . . converts, dead, because Israel is a way of life. Obstinate, rigid, crystallised Jews; Israel, dialectical influence, inspired word, more volatile than all. How could the State which bears your name be anything but an empty shell?
Israel ... human identity, the nerve-spring of consciousness, a fact in course of becoming actual; the deed accomplished; more than that: planetary necessity; solution offered and accepted by life; vital progress of beings; expansion; eternal renewal of humanity: resurrection of all the moments when the Jews wrongly resisted. By the quality of resistance to the inspiration which they brought about. For if they did not resist how would it arise?
Grass will grow on their tombs
Day will dawn on their ruins
The ghosts of their dead bodies covered in blood
Will wander throughout the world
Blessing, yea, ever blessing and it would be so useless!
Where, and until when, shall they go, those for whom the future is past? May time be transposed for them. May the myths and legends dreamed to avoid birth while sleep-walking explode in their psyches.
Haven't they delayed this birth long enough? Until when and where will they go on saying "the time has not yet come"?
Wound Israel, and may Israel strike again! In unending contests may this people who wants to hang on to a very small piece of land, much too small, too specific, too paltry for Israel, break out again. O Israel, you do not recognise your size!
One day the history of Mahoyael will be undestood. Those who are aware of him recognise him in his transformations. Often when it is believed that it is a question of ten or a thousand people, it concerns Mahoyail alone, and there are indications that certain people understand this.
All that is said of him is this: "Cain knew his wife; she conceived and bare Enoch ... Enoch begat Irad, Irad begat Mahoyael ... "
Mahoyael means manifestation of life.
One day Mahoyael thought very deeply. He carefully examined some photos in an illustrated paper and was heard to say to himself: "They were quite right to kill me". Abruptly he stopped thinking.
"They were quite right to kill me," Mahoyael repeated, looking at the photographs again. "They killed me but I shall bequeath these photographs to posterity, together with some brief comments . .. as long as one remains ignorant one can still possibly find some beauty in human decadence and standardised pride. Flags, 'La Gloire', monuments glorifying the successful killing of millions! I won't say more for fear of saying too much -- and it would be so useless!
"It seems that a few words should suffice to break the enchantment hypnotising this pre-human species. I will tell you the story of the thousand-years-old spell, but I am aware that my clumsy words will dwindle into dreams and settle there,
assuming strange forms. The dreams will weave these forms into disjoined images, but then I shall tell you to exercise doubt, and the fire of boundless desire. Uncertainty is the eternal fire of life. To doubt does not dispel images but pierces through them. To reject them would be an act of faith. With or without images, with or without falsehoods, faith is a wall placed by fear between us and ourselves: fear of waking ourselves, fear of excessive desire. . . . "
Mahoyael had shared these musings with me for thirty- five years -- thirty-five years too soon -- because he knew what was going to happen. Since that time, as is known, Israel would have been destroyed if it were not the indestructible residue of all the Jew's frustrations and defeats.
It is risen up again: once negated in the land of Canaan, clothed in martial array, but which loosed itself in vain against Yahweh, as if it were possible to conquer by force him who has never been suppressed by the weakness of force; and once asserted in the silence of a man by himself imperceptible, even here, in these Books.
And when these giant conflicts are past History these books will be surviving and, in them, Israel.
I will now set down Mahoyael's warning. "You are to present," he told me, '"the Book of Books which contains the most ancient tradition in its mysterious depths. You are to cause its darkness, which is its light, to be manifested: you are to say 'YHWH exalts Cain because the Messiah is the Jews' death, but woe to those who believe that this death by resurrection must be for the dead'.
"You are to relate the outward forms of Genesis and restore the psychological contents to its myths. Its personages -- Elohim, YHWH, Adam, Esha, the Serpent called Nahhash, Noah and his sons, Abram the Caldean and Abraham the Hebrew -- will all re-enter you to give your book meaning. "You are to cover the universe, the kingdom of nature,
man, his rivalries and deeds, and the extent of the end that is in the extent of the beginning. Your reasoning from analogies will gather the most minute and down to earth details, for the Intemporal is in the smallest grain of dust. Don't neglect the dust.
"Don't say: 'Is it worth it Mahoyael? A prophetic, Messianic writing in Aramaic, Chaldean, Assyrio-Babylonian, or in the obscure language of so-called modern Hebrew.
"You are to make this book Israel's answer to the world, a challenge taken up, a fight welcomed: that is to say, lay bare the Source of Life.
"Your attention shall always be on the invisible Intemporal which is in and of this world. Perhaps its presence will be apprehended through the veil of your words, since you have taken the trouble to die. You, Scribe, are not the cause of it.
"Your report will waver over two words: The Word, inconsistent, contrary animation in the Intemporal: Dialectic, inconsistent, contrary animation in the Temporal: two projections put in opposition, one proclaiming Spirit, the other, Matter; one Jesus, the other Marx. To unravel them you are to tie one to the other.
"You shall proclaim everything sacred because everything is a Mystery, Breath with the dust. Do not neglect the dust.
"You are to proclaim in Israel the three transfigurations of Earth, Flesh and Woman.
"You are to make my admonitions known to the Multitudes, the Nations, the States, the Churches, the Institutions, the Schools. This extreme plan being incommensurable vast hosts of people won't know how to take the responsibility of it, but it may be enough if one man alone in the desert of the night understands it.
"You are to state that there is no such thing as collective thought, only the bleating of sheep: that long ago I killed the shepherd Hevel, vanity of vanities. Tell the Churches that I am not against them, but the world has not stopped at the time of Moses, nor at the time Of Pontius Pilate, nor at the time
of Karl Marx. If they are the Essence of Truth what are they doing in these vestures? May they perish who do not strip themselves! Let this be the Judgcment of God. "Finally, tell the most powerful States first, and then Israel, that the notion of secure frontiers comes from a dream. Inquire if the psychosis of security is determined on involving the psychosis of insecurity to such an extent as to destroy the world. "One last word: Be aware (although it does not affect you) that nothing will stop this book because, in the void, nothing stops."
|Carlo Suares, Resurrection of the Word, Shambhala, 1974, pp.27-44|