Thoughts for Friday 12th June 2020

Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19; Genesis 24:1-9; Acts 7:35-43

 Friday 12 June - Rev Jerry Eve

 As I look to our readings for today, I’m immediately drawn to the word Molech. And the reason for this is it’s a word that is used numerous times in Allen Ginsberg’s great poem of 1955 titled Howl. Howl is about a generation of young people who, due to the Second World War, had grown up largely without fathers in their lives, and had suffered the consequences. It begins,

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night.”

 In the second of three sections, Moloch is mentioned 39 times. And the reason for that (Ginsberg, whose dates were 1926–1997, was Jewish) is that in the Old Testament, Moloch is a god to whom people sacrifice their children.

 There may be some confusion regarding the spelling, and whether it’s Molech with an e or Moloch with an o. Whichever it is, there is only one reference in the New Testament, and that’s at Acts 7. In the GNT it’s spelt with an e, whereas in the KJV it’s with an o. My suspicion is that what has happened here is that this is one of a number of instances where Stephen’s Biblical knowledge in his speech, for whatever reason, is found wanting, and he seems to make a mistake. This may have been deliberate, or not.

 He is quoting from Amos, and while the KJV does him a favour by rendering the name of the god in both Amos and Acts as Moloch, the GNT highlights the ‘error’ (if that’s what it was) by having Sakkuth in Amos instead, all other references, including that in Acts, being to Molech.

 The important thing for our purpose (and maybe for Stephen’s too) is that Moloch or Molech was a particularly nasty god of Ammon who the Israelites kept returning to time after time. According to the Bible, this was to their great detriment. Leviticus prohibits the worship of Molech at 18:21 and then sets an extremely severe punishment for doing so at 20:2-5. When he is an old man, King Solomon turns to worship Molech and this, we’re told in 1 Kings 11:5-33, leads to the division of the one Kingdom into two, North and South.

 In King Josiah’s day, he’s a great reformer, and puts a stop to the sacrifice of sons and daughters at different sites to Molech in 2 Kings 23:10-13. But there are enough other references to the pernicious practice to make us believe that the cult kept springing back to life – and one theory is that Stephen’s ‘mistake’ may even have been a reference to it having done so again in New Testament times as well.

 Of course, Ginsberg’s famous poem sadly couldn’t prevent yet another generation of American male youth perishing at the time of the Vietnam war which began a month after Howl‘s first public recitation at the Six Gallery in San Francisco.

 Let us pray:

Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on the little hands little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.

God bless Mummy. I know that's right.
Wasn't it fun in the bath to-night?
The cold's so cold, and the hot's so hot.
Oh! God bless Daddy - I quite forgot.

If I open my fingers a little bit more,
I can see Nanny's dressing-gown on the door.
It's a beautiful blue, but it hasn't a hood.
Oh! God bless Nanny and make her good.

Mine has a hood, and I lie in bed,
And pull the hood right over my head,
And I shut my eyes, and I curl up small,
And nobody knows that I'm there at all.

Oh! Thank you, God, for a lovely day.
And what was the other I had to say?
I said "Bless Daddy," so what can it be?
Oh! Now I remember it. God bless Me.

Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on the little hands little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers,

 

Amen.


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