And he found a new jawbone of an ass and put forth his hand and took it and slew a thousand men therewith
What someone can do
with something new
your eyes open wide
here by your side
you find what’s required
to tackle the task
no need to ask
for much help
just put out your hand
seize the moment and
nothing can stop you
armed with a jawbone
you slew on your own
a thousand men.
Who’d have thought that the jaw
of one herbivore
had such power?
Well, it wasn’t any old jaw bone – it was a new one. I’m not sure how important it was that it happened to be one of an ass, but the narrated story – minimal as it is in other respects – provides us with that particular detail.
‘Found’ is interesting too. Was he looking – searching for a weapon – or did he just come across that fresh mandible lying in the grass?
And the putting forth of his hand, with its suggestion of a conscious and determined action, after a moment – perhaps even a longer time – of reflection, raises many a question. Almost thousands.
In short, this short Old Testament sentence is packed with drama while punctuated by absent essentials, not to mention details, exaggerated assertions – along with questions.
So here we find ourselves, now well into a new year, a new month, indeed a new era, with a new jawbone. I find it hard to believe (to coin a phrase) that, until recently at least, people – most people, everybody? – believed all that was written in the bible. What an incredible story!
My poem had to conclude with a question.
As for the underlying question as to what this whole crazy episode means, I can’t help but feel that notwithstanding the massive carnage about which nobody seems much bothered there are some wonderful messages. For a start, you may surprise yourself as to what you can achieve on your own. And what’s needed may be close at hand, in unexpected form and far more effective than you might have predicted.
With that ultra-succinct description from the bible, my poem had to be short, straight forward and attempt to emulate the curiously matter of fact tone (even if the facts strain credulity). Of course, there were consequences – but that, as they say, is another story. I hint at one of these as I see Samson’s wide-open eyes…
But returning to where we started, with the notorious jaw bone, I’m reminded of Churchill (that master of words) and his famous rhyme about jaw and war. Might it just be that the true power of the jaw is in what it enables: words are our most powerful weapon – even if this one was from an ass?