Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Paragraph 58

And now ponder in thy heart the commotion which God stirreth up. Reflect upon the strange and manifold trials with which He doth test His servants. Consider how He hath suddenly chosen from among His servants, and entrusted with the exalted mission of divine guidance Him Who was known as guilty of homicide, Who, Himself, had acknowledged His cruelty, and Who for well-nigh thirty years had, in the eyes of the world, been reared in the home of Pharaoh and been nourished at his table. Was not God, the omnipotent King, able to withhold the hand of Moses from murder, so that manslaughter should not be attributed unto Him, causing bewilderment and aversion among the people?

This is the second of two paragraphs here talking about Moses. As we know from the previous paragraph, Pharaoh is not sitting atop the throne of certitude and peace; God is. In the previous one we were given the story. Here we are asked questions about it, and told to ponder about it in our heart.

Specifically, we are asked to note the commotion. What commotion was this? The reaction to the murder? Probably. And the commotion could refer to refer to the populace calling for the trial of a murderer, and it could also refer to Moses' fleeing. That was also a commotion, mostly in His heart. There was also the commotion within Pharaoh. Remember, they were raised as brothers, so for Pharaoh to ask Moses, "Are thou not he..." is showing a distance that has arisen between them. Of course he would recognize Moses. How could he not? So this seems to show that there was some commotion within his own heart.

Then we are told to reflect. And what is it we are to reflect upon? The "strange and manifold trials". What does that mean? Well, it means that they are not your typical tests. They are odd, unusual, weird. They are also manifold, which means many and diverse. Here Baha'u'llah lists three. Moses was "guilty of homicide". Moses "acknowledged His cruelty". He was also "reared in the home of Pharaoh", which, for many who are suffering under the yoke of poverty, can also be a big test. They would presume that anyone raised in such luxury could never relate to them. All of these are tests for the people, and you have to admit, they are a bit odd.

Now comes the question: Couldn't God have stopped this? Of course He could have. But why would He? These are tests, veils if you will, to ensure sincerity upon the part of the believers. A teacher in school could avoid giving a test at the end of the term, but then they would never really know who learned the material.

In some ways, tests can be seen like tilling the soil. We have often heard reference to the "earth of men's hearts", so let's go with that. Why do farmers till the soil? For many reasons. It helps aerate the soil, which makes it easier for the farmer to plant the seeds deeper. It also makes it easier for the plants to grow their roots further down. It helps mix up the various nutrients, moving the compost deeper while bringing other nutrients closer to the surface. It also exposes pests that live deeper down, allowing birds to eat them or the weather to kill them. All of this can be seen within the metaphor of tests and the human heart. When someone is under a test, those "pests" within their character show more clearly. They are, perhaps, more likely to be irritable if that is their tendency, or maybe more cruel if that is their bent.

Here, in this example, Moses did kill someone. And this was a test for many people. it caused, as Baha'u'llah said, "bewilderment and aversion". Not only did it make things confusing, but it also caused an intense dislike towards Moses for many people. They did not necessarily want to follow someone who professed to have been cruel and even went so far as to kill someone, either intentionally or not.

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