DEEDS AND RELATIONSHIPS
Deeds that you perform have life
like living beings. Every action
is virtually the deed’s midwife
whose job is to prevent retraction
of something that may either lead
to benefit or punishment,
the punishment part of the deed,
like an investment, spent
long after it has been performed.
We reap from deeds what we have sown
not as a measure made for measure,
but because the deed has grown,
and finally provides displeasure
if the deed was wrong, and when
correct and virtuous can provide
a benefit like interest men
deserve––and God does not deride.
Relationships are forms of deeds––
we reap what’s sown in them, the joy
or pain that they provide not seeds
but capital that we enjoy.
For what is wrong in them we must
not judge, but must remember they
are built with tendencies to bust,
like people whom God built from clay.
Inspired by Klaus Koch’s explanation of retribution (“Is there a Doctrine of Retribution on the Old Testament?” in James L. Crenshaw, ed. Theodicy in the Old Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983), 57–87, p. 59, cited in Vince Endris, “Yahweh versus Baal: A Narrative-Critical Reading of the Gideon-Abimelech Narrative,” JSOT 33( 2008): 173–95, p. 187. Endris writes:While modern views tend to believe that actions are judged (by Yahweh) either good or bad according to a previously established norm, in the Israelite understanding there was no ‘norm’ and actions were not judged. Rather, there was a built-in and inherent connection between an action and its consequences’. Yahweh’s role, then, is not as a judge who ‘deals out reward and punishment on the basis of an established norm, but rather somewhat like a “mid-wife who assists at birth” by facilitating the completion of something which previous human action had already set into action’.
© 2009 Gershon Hepner 1/21/09