Generally, on those occasions when I read something from the Bible my reaction is either, “Hmm, hmm . . . sage words,” or, “What kind of crack were these writers smoking and where can I get some?”

But I stumbled across the following yesterday while leafing through an old copy of The Magnificat given me a few years back, and was pretty impressed with the writing.

Whoever Qoheleth was he sure could paint a picture.

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth,
Before the evil days come
And the years approach of which you will say,
“I have no pleasure in them”;

Before the sun is darkened,
And the light, and the moon, and the stars,
While clouds return after the rain;

When the guardians of the house tremble,
And the strong men are bent,
And the grinders are idle because they are few,
And they who look to the windows grow blind;

When the doors to the street are shut,
And the sound of the mill is low;
When one waits for the chirp of a bird,
But all the daughters of song are suppressed;

And one fears heights,
And perils in the street;
When the almond tree blooms,
And the locust grows sluggish
And the caper berry is without effect,
Because man goes to his lasting home,
And mourners go about the streets;

Before the silver cord is snapped
And the golden bowl is broken,
And the pitcher is shattered at the spring,

And the broken pulley falls into the well,
And the dust returns to the earth as it once was,

And the life breath returns to the God who gave it.

“Vanity of vanities,” says Qoheleth,
“All things are vanity!”

Ecclesiastes 12:1-8

Apparently this is also the origin of the “silvery cord” image adopted by occult literature and popular role-playing games. Who knew?

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3 thoughts on “Qoheleth

  1. @Tim:

    Yup. Astral travelers remain attached to their physical body via a silver cord.

    If I remember right anyone using the Astral Travel spell has a silvery cord that extends from the center of their back a few feet out and seems to gradually fade as it crosses between planes to connect to their physical body on a material plane.

    Apparently these cords are pretty tough and can only be snapped by a few things. I think there’s some kind of psychic wind that can sever them. But generally the more popular threat to silvery cord integrity is the equally silver swords of the Githyanki, who apparently hang out in the astral plane (when they’re not cruising around on souped up red dragons or feudin’ an’ a fightin’ with their uptight Githzerai cousins) just itching to waylay mortal travellers.

    @Mike: Indeed grim. But what gets me is the colorful way the images are painted. I mean some doom-saying passages are pretty blatant: Death will come upon you! Suffering and pain like festering snake bites!

    But by contrast the writer of this part of Ecclesiastes seems to have been a bit more metaphorical and poetic in his choice of imagery. Footnotes I’ve read suggest that these images may be intended as metaphors for parts of the body in old age and death. But even taken on their own I found they captivated my imagination.

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