"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Women of the Bible No. 15 Susanna

When I came to write my blog tonight I couldn't understand why the Bible story of Susannah was not up there for yesterday, when I posted it. Then I realised I had written it in draft on 4th August - and that is where the post appeared - yesterday - if you see what I mean. Since it is such a good story I have copied and pasted again for tonight - in case no one goes back to August 4th - indeed why should they. So here goes - again:

"Susanna went in as aforetime with two maids only, and she was desirous to wash herself in the garden; for it was hot. And there was nobody there save for two elders, who had hidden themselves, and watched her."

This flower arrangement for our church flower festival was so beautifully arranged around the edge of the font, with a lake for bathing in the centre. And I cannot believe that I didn't take a photo to include those two elders hidden in the undergrowth! They were certainly there! (made from those miniature bottles of shampoo etc you get in hotels - the ones with spherical caps - like heads!)

The story continues... the two elders lust after Susanna - and they have been both watching for their opportunity to "lie" with her. (I love the quaint and coy language - so much nicer than our blunt references to sex). On this day Susanna sends the maids away to fetch oil and ointments for her so that she may bathe. As soon as the maids are gone, the two elders set upon Susanna, and blackmail her. Let us have our wicked way with you, they say, or we will tell everyone that we saw you here with a young man. This of course would be a serious crime, for which Susanna would surely die. She refused the unwelcome attention of the elders, and was accordingly called by them to answer to her family for her alleged behaviour with the young man in the garden.

But the young Daniel is called by the Holy Spirit to come to her rescue. Interviewing the two elders separately, he tricks them. One says on cross examination that Susanna was seen under a mastic tree, the other under a an evergreen oak. They were clearly both lying. Susanna was cleared of any impropriety and Daniel enhanced his public reputation for showing up the elders for what they really were.

In its simplest interpretation, this story shows that virtue, in this case conjugal chastity, triumphs, with God's help, over vice, in this case in the in form of lust and deceit.

This story is from The History of Susanna I vv. 15-16, in the Apocrypha, and is an addition to the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament.

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