HAVE YOUR SAY: THE APOCRYPHAL GREEK ESTHER

eshter banner.jpg

There is an alternative version of The Book of Esther which is later and includes a few extra sections. Including Mordecai having a prophetic dream (with two dragons fighting) and later interpreting it, Mordecai and Esther's prayers and an extended version of the Throne room scene where the king is initially angry and Esther faints. My uses of Deuterocanonical sources for the comic are to inform the canonical text if possible where no conflict exists, but I won’t add the verses to the book as it is th e canon version which is being presented.

A good example of this would be that it states in the "Greek Esther" that the king’s sceptre is touched to Esther's neck, a detail missing in the standard text but a useful visual clarification.

People often make a point of the fact the name of God is not in the text of Esther, but with the extra prayers, this is no longer the case, which is interesting. Also, In the Eastern Orthodox church they use this alternative version as their primary apparently so it is well regarded.

A list of the major differences (From Wikipedia)

  • an opening prologue that describes a dream had by Mordecai

  • the contents of the decree against the Jews

  • prayers for God's intervention offered by Mordecai and by Esther

  • an expansion of the scene in which Esther appears before the king, with a mention of God's intervention

  • a copy of the decree in favour of the Jews

  • a passage in which Mordecai interprets his dream (from the prologue) in terms of the events that followed

  • a colophon appended to the end, which reads: In the fourth year of the reign of Ptolemy and Cleopatra, Dositheus, who said he was a priest and Levite, and his son Ptolemy brought the present letter of Purim, saying that it was genuine and that Lysimachus, son of Ptolemy, of the community of Jerusalem, had translated it.



So the question is, should I include the text at the end of the comic in the notes pages and if so, do I even go so far as to illustrate the bits like the dream and the prayers?

Let me know your thoughts and about this or if you feel strongly that it should not be included, below

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Here are some articles about it…

Designing the cover of The Book of Ruth

In the video below, I discuss the cover design of The Book of Ruth. 

This book, along with The Book of Judges, launches this month, on September 9th. 

You can buy the book here on the website now. 
https://wordforwordbiblecomic.squarespace.com/

Blog asking for opinions on the Cover Design
https://wordforwordbiblecomic.squarespace.com/blog/cover-for-ruth

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Use of colour in the Word for Word Bible Comic

This is a selection of facts and information about how and why the comic is coloured the way that it is.

Natural and dirty.

As much as possible I try to make the colours of clothing, skin, hair, pots, pans, animals etc. look natural. It is in line with the comic's principle of being as historically accurate as possible. So coloured clothes are still quite drab by today's standards. But in contrast to this there are things that throughout time have been bright and colourful like jewels and gold and certain dyes. We will see the allure of these things against the natural back drop and why they were so prized. For example, the royal purple from murex shells that kings and emperors have worn for centuries was even more striking a purple then against such a natural hued backdrop than it is to us now. The Canaanites were, in fact, known as the “Purple People” due to their trade in purple cloth.

Also to add to the realistic feel of the pictures, things will often be worn and grubby, again to show the contrast of the rich and the poor and what life was like in ancient times.

Samsons dirty feet

Ethnicity

The ethnicity, including skin, hair and eye colour will try to be as accurate as possible. Generally speaking, most of the people in the Bible are middle eastern, especially in the Old Testament. The Philistines are one of the exceptions to this rule. They originate from Crete and during this time period therefore have Greek/European complexions with a range of hair and eye colours. Egyptians are the other main exception, and will be of darker skin than the Israelites and may include black Africans in their number (Nubian, Ethiopians, Cushites etc) as they were a part of every echelon of Egyptian society at one time or another.

People who are poor and therefore generally spend a lot of time outdoors in the sun will be of darker complexion than the nobles and ladies whose lifestyles preserve their pale skin.

crying bride.jpg

Clans Colours of Israel and their Enemies

Conveniently, the 13 tribes of Israel are each associated with a different colour. This is based on the gem stones that represents them on the Breastplate of the High Priest. In the table below I've collected together information on the tribes, the order they were born in, their gem stone, their Emblem and the colour I have therefore chosen to use to represent each one in the comic. I believe my colour selections are as true to history as they can possibly be.

Table of the Tribes of Isreal and their colour and stones

These clan colours and emblems make us a basic heraldry for Israel, which is not only very useful in the comic but also really interesting as the Biblical narrative goes on. While reading the comic the clan associations are very interesting. For example, in the book of Judges the clan of Ephraim repeatedly throw their weight around and act arrogantly towards the other clans. The roots of this makes sense when we realise that Joshua, who obviously headed up the whole conquest of Canaan, was an Ephraimite. The use of clan colours helps you link things like the disgraceful acts of the Benjamites in the Book of Judges and then the choice of a Benjamite King in Saul. It also helps break down wrong stereotypes of clans. For example, people might think of the tribe of Levi as “the priestly ones”, but the visual consistency helps link events like Phinehas with his spear or their patriarch's actions in Genesis 34 after the rape of his sister.

I have tried to also remain consistent with the enemies of Israel. For example, I have given each of the five lords of the Philistines a colour that is associated with them and their city. This colour features alongside the general Philistine colours, (terracotta, red and aqua).

philistine lords.jpg

This helps to link the events to the geography. For example, the Philistines at Samson's wedding and subsequent retribution at Timnah are wearing orange plumes in their helms as Timnah is on the doorstep of Ekron which has orange as its colour; but the commander of the thousand or more Philistines that come to arrest Samson at Lehi have blue plumes as they are from Ashkelon where he slew the thirty Philistines for their garments.

philistine groups.jpg

Walking with God or walking away

With regards to the Israelites, I have also earmarked times when God's people are falling away from him by their acceptance of another culture's dress. When they are walking with God they wear natural colours (browns, tans, greys, blacks, whites, some pale colours) that have simple or no patterns. When they are embracing other gods and customs, they dress in patterns and colours and wear jewellery and the men cut their beards etc. There is an example of this in the sample story, where we see the head man in Lehi of the tribe of Judah. His beard is cut at the corners, and he wears a lion's mane and claws, which are 'unclean' for Jews. His dress is a mixture of Philistine and Hebrew, in bright colours and patterns, and he even speaks their language. This is based on a tile picture from Egypt which some people think shows a Philistine, while others think it depicts an Israelite.

Comparing my picture of leader of Judah and an Egyptian tile of the day.

Supernatural and Spirit

One of the most important colour elements is the use of the Spirit colour. This is a bright Cyan/ turquoise and it means there is something of the Spirit or something of God in the story. The idea is to show things that are very real in the spiritual realm but not necessarily the physical. The best example of this is with Balaam's Donkey. When I draw that story the angel that stands invisible to Balaam but that the donkey can sense will be shown in the Cyan colour. When it manifests in a way that Balaam can see it will be in the standard black lines. This colour is also used when Samson is empowered by the Spirit, with a power acting in the spiritual realm depicted as Cyan lightning. Lastly, it is used when God speaks, and for the speech of angels.

There is a corrupted version of this colour that is a pure putrid yellower green. This demarcates possible demonic activity.

Use if the "Spirit colour"

Flashbacks

There are times that the pictures in the comic will show things that happened before the events being described in the story. These may be a memory of one of the characters or just events that proceed the current narrative. These are shown in a brown “greyscale” with a hazy red border.

Samson thinks back to when he was tied up

Parables and Prophecy

When there is a parable or a prophecy a unique colour scheme is used. This has not been finalised but it is currently planned to be a dreamy blend of pinks and the spiritual cyan.

Dreams

Dreams will likely have a unifying colour scheme but this has yet to be decided.

So there you have it...

So there you have it, the many aspects that make up the colour choices for the comic - and you thought it was all just slapped in there! :-) I hope this blog has highlighted not just the comic's colours but also their  specific use to deepen scriptural understanding in an easy way.


Why did the lion attack Samson? #biblestudy #bgbg2

Why did the lion attack Samson?

In this article we look at the lion that attacked Samson in Judges 14, as the Word for WORD Bible Comic is of a high view of scripture not only do we believe in inerrancy but also that all scripture is for our learning, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16). So what does the story of the lion tell us? There are a few options as to why the lion attacked Samson, namely Natural, Holy and Demonic...

Picture from the Word for WORD Bible Comic

Picture from the Word for WORD Bible Comic

Natural- The type of lion found in ancient Canaan was the Asiatic lion. Normally lions do not attack people but there are still plenty of cases were they will. If a lion gets desperate, unwell or has an issue with its teeth they will take down any prey they can. Once a lion has started eating people it is likely to continue to do so. In biblical times it seems that man eating lions were a real danger even outside of the Samson story (Proverbs 26:13, 1 Samuel 17:37, 1 Kings 13:24) and it is clear from archaeological evidence of lion hunts and depictions that unlike today, lions were a presence in the Levant at that time.

The idea that the incident was purely an unlucky encounter is of course a possibility, but many Jewish rabbis would say “coincidence is not a Kosher word”. If we believe in an omniscient God that is sovereign we know that, at the very least, this encounter was not a surprise to God who then employed the Holy Spirit to bail Samson out. While it is speculation, I think it's reasonable to say that if God knew this natural danger and didn't want Samson to be harmed he could have averted the situation in a number of mundane or less dramatic miraculous ways. See conclusion for more on this.

Holy – I have read one commentary that suggested God sent the lion to keep Samson from the vineyards (Judges 14:5b) due to his Nazerite vow. This is based, I believe, on the idea that God enlists lions in 2 Kings 17:25, 1 Kings 20.36 and 1 Kings 13:24 for his purposes or judgement. But this point of view while linked with other biblical instances doesn't make any sense. Why send a lion to threaten Samson only to empower him to kills it. Also, if Samson had chosen a path of sin and disobedience, or one that teeters on the edge, it is not like God to intervene in such a dramatic fashion, as we are allowed free will to choose whether we live righteously or otherwise.

Demonic- I'm not one to hyper-spiritualise everything and say there are demons behind every misfortune but in this case I think it is a possibility. We look at this story with the benefit of hindsight, but to people involved didn't know the future and that includes Satan and other demonic entities. Satan knew from the judgement in the garden of Eden that a messiah would come to crush him and would be a son of Eve (Genesis 3:15). Up until the day of Samson God had revealed that the messiah would come from Abraham's line, (Genesis 18:18) then narrowed it to Issac's line (Genesis 17:19) then narrowed it down to Jacob's line, (Numbers 24:17) he did not know who the messiah would be and so concentrated his effort on destroying any potential threats within the bracket he knew about. All Satan knew at this point was that he would be from the people of Israel. He did not know when this would be, so when 'the' Angel of the Lord appears to a baron woman and tell her that her miraculous son will be special, a dedicated as a Nazarite from born and “He will take the lead in delivering Israel” (Judges 13:3-5) I'm sure that Samson became his number one priority. Which brings us to the conclusion.

Conclusion

I dismiss the possibility that God sent the lion to judge or ward off Samson as illogical, but the other two options are both possibilities. Due to my high view of scripture, that all things are there by design and there are no accidents in God's plans, I lean to the interpretation that Satan (or his agent) was trying to thwart God's plans by slaying his messiah before he could get started on his mission and probably at a young age 13-18. In addition it fits with the 'whole council of scripture' (old and new as one whole) that this motif of Satan as a lion is “in the New Testament revealed” by Peter's words “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). It seems to me that Satan took the opportunity to attack Samson when he was in a position of compromise (“approached the vineyards”, Judges 14:5b). It could even be that the Enemy sought to throw Samson into the grapes of the vineyard to break his vow or to touch him with a lion's flesh to make him ceremonially unclean and thus shatter his power and kill him while his was an unclean oath-breaker. If we understand that, we can perhaps understand not only why “the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands”(Judges 14:6) in order to protect him but also why God let this attempt go ahead to then take it down so violently.

In the comic I try to leave both logical interpretations open. The lion that attacks Samson has a broken tooth and its ribs protrude from starvation, but also the colour of its eyes have an unnatural sickly green which hints at the demonic possession of the creature, the lion is further demonised by portraying it with a bloody maw.

Application

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:8-10

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The lion with demonic eyes and bloody maw. Also, highlighting the unabridged aspect of the comic.

The lion with demonic eyes and bloody maw. Also, highlighting the unabridged aspect of the comic.

Philistine Buildings in History

All things in the comic are as close to the real history as possible. In this example the buildings of the philistines are drawn from archaeological examples of the Iron I era.

My drawing (below) is alongside an example on a Philistine building featured on the Biblical Archaeological Review website.

building example.jpg
philistine building.gif

Animal Accuracy

In this image you can see my illustration with a goat and hornet as “supporting characters”, along side is the photo reference. It is important in this project that every detail is correct, so thanks to the power of the internet these things can be easily researched and drawn from photo references.

This is the breed of wild goat that would have been found in ancient Canaan, they do not look like the goats we are used to in the west. The same applies to the hornet, this brown hornet with two yellow stripes, called the Oriental Hornet, is the type found in that region.

Animals Goat and Hornet.jpg

Maps Integrated

Maps interspersed into the story help pinpoint the action and also highlight the times that significant events happen on the same turf or nearby to other significant events. In this example Samson goes down the Gaza.

In the image we can also see a silhouette of the city of Gaza, this is based on the image or neighbouring Ashkelon from the time of Seti I, between 1290–1279 BC. Also there is a model of a Philistine ship created from the many pictures of the sea battle with the Philistines (sea people) on the walls of Medinet Habu from about 1185-52 BC, during the reign of Rameses III.

Lastly, the sun is setting in the correct direction based on the geography.

samson-goes-to-Gaza.jpg