Monday, July 19, 2010

A Towla Worm and Chill Bumps

I've said it before.

The Bible often leaves me breathless.

Gasping for air.

With major chill bumps.

Like now.

I'm more than halfway through Stone Crossings by L.L. Barkat, but I often go back to re-read what came before. And I'm hung up on the crimson (scarlet) worm, the towla worm, that she describes.

"How then can a man be righteous before God? 
How can one born of woman be pure?
If even the moon is not bright
and the stars are not pure in his eyes,
how much less man, who is but a maggot--
a son of man, who is only a worm!"
Job 25:4-6 (NIV)

Maggot--rimmah. A sign of decay. Of death.

Worm--towla. A sign of sacrifice. Of life.

The crimson "worm" is really an insect, a grub. About the size of a little berry. When the time is ripe, the wingless female climbs up a tree and attaches herself to it. There she lays her eggs, births a family. She excretes a crimson juice that covers her "children" and leaves a red stain on the wood. She dies so they can live.

"But I am a worm and not a man,
Scorned by men and despised by the people."
Psalm 22:6 (NIV)


Back in the day, folks harvested the bodies and crushed them to make a scarlet dye. L.L. puts it this way:

"Such colorful artistry was not lost on the ancients. They gathered this scarlet creature and crushed her to produce a crimson dye. And crimson, right up there with blue and purple, was used to dye wildly expensive clothing and tapestries. So it seems that Jesus, crushed in shame, offers to cover my nakedness--not only with the linen of his life, but also with an exotic color reserved for the rich and royal.

Just picturing this wine-crimson grace, I feel my soul tingle, as if it's growing wings. And the shame of my past, though real, cannot keep me earthbound." 

This reminds me again of the Hebrew word tiqvah, translated "hope" in Ruth 1:12 when Naomi says, "If I had hope . . . "

Tiqvah is first used in Joshua 2:18 and translated "cord." David's other great-great grandmother, Rahab, the Gentile harlot, tied a cord in her window, and her family was saved when the walls of Jericho fell.

A scarlet cord. Likely stained with the crushed body of a towla worm.

Sacrifice. Hope.

The Bible gives me chill bumps.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King


Sharon Cohen said...

I will never read that passage the same again. I am so glad to be a follower of your blog and that you can expound on hidden meanings so well! You have blessed my life today. Thank You!

L.L. Barkat said...

I love that about the crimson cord. I hadn't pushed it that far. This is what I love about the art of reading. In other words, the reader brings her own art.

Sandra Heska King said...

@Sharon: I am so glad you're a follower, too!

@L.L.: I love your art of writing.

Kathleen Overby said...

Gorgeous sybolism. "Painterly words" :)

S. Etole said...

How very good this is ... powerful imagery.

Lorna G. Poston said...

Interesting. Thanks for posting this.

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