Towers Floating in the Air

Several days ago my friend Claire Wolfe posted excerpts on an excellent speech prepared by the firebrand, Mike Vanderboegh. In this speech he drew parallels to the biblical scholar, and murderous traitor, Doeg the Edomite, with secular players we encounter today. If you will indulge me, I would like to expand briefly on this.

As many will recall, the Jews had been fighting against the vastly more numerous and powerful Philistine forces for years, and with mixed results. The Tribal elders wanted to emulate the Philistines, and all the other “great” nations in their midst, by crowning a king.

The Prophet Samuel, conveying the word of G-d, had given them stark warning about the stupidity of such a course. The Jewish People had been given a unique role in G-d’s creation and instead the sought to push that aside to be like those they were tasked to inspire.

Like any good father, G-d allowed their folly, in what might be seen as an act of “tough love”. Still, the Prophet Samuel, softening the inevitable blow, sought out someone who could both lead against great enemies, and yet, seemed reluctant to power. He found Saul, and anointed him King.

But power corrupts. After several stunning victories, King Saul began to believe his own press. Ascribing these victories more to his own prowess than the sanction of G-d, he became consumed with power. Yet some of that core personal insecurity remained.

At a critical juncture, the Jews now settled in their land, G-d gave a very specific instruction to King Saul. Through Samuel, King Saul was told that this was the time to utterly destroy the perpetual foe of the Jews; the Amalakites. Though many were killed, and the Amalakites were weakened for a time, King Saul (possibly at the urging of Doeg) refused to complete the task.

Samuel informed King Saul that this defiance had cost him his divine mandate. He may remain a physical King for a time; the “Spirit of the Lord” had departed his reign. Saul was overtaken by an “evil spirit”, which governed the rest of his days.

Consumed with power-lust “King” Saul became paranoid, devious, and vengeful. He sought out willing henchmen, and found them. Ultimately, his corrupted gaze fell upon the Slayer of Goliath, a young shepherd named David.

As Mr. Vanderboegh relates, Doeg, was a great scholar, a member of the Sanhedrin. Perhaps even once the High Priest. But Doeg was mostly adept in manipulating Torah in service of his own ends… and that of his patron, “King” Saul.  Achitophel was his increasingly willing, and equally skilled, dupe.

Doeg’s “Three Hundred Confounding Questions” challenging David’s lineage (the Arizal leans towards the parallel reference citing FOUR HUNDRED) were never intended in any way to bring us closer to G-d, but merely to harness the great power of Torah to base, and often evil ends.

But G-d wants service of the heart.

And what of those questions? According to the Zohar, David’s son, the wisest of men; King Solomon answered each and every one.

Doeg’s skills have been described as flowing from the surface, outward. Doeg never internalized the Torah. For all his academic and rhetorical brilliance, he missed the entire point. No… Rather, he used his clever mind to simply ignore it.

Doeg’s story peaks with the vicious and traitorous slaughter at Nob.

In the end, Doeg’s choices catch up with him. G-d took back all of Doeg’s great gifts, and finally, in relative youth, he died away. His legacy is one of great potential and skill turned in the service of evil.

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One thought on “Towers Floating in the Air”

  1. Excellent column Y.B. thank you! As someone who from time to time has a tendency to use the law as a club over my own head, I need to remember it’s my heart that G-d is after. And when it’s seeing clearly, then I see the correct paths clearly. Thank you!

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