Sunday, July 20, 2014

From Out of the Thicket and Into the Fire

This is the tale of a rather precarious and unlucky ram.

One day Khnum the curious ram was strolling off the beaten path. His father had warned him about the roaming pagans in the desert who, upon seeing live animals felt the insatiable need to sacrifice them. Khnum had also heard of many of his kin being slaughtered by pagans and used to appease their gods. Yet, Khnum was a curious young ram and he was not going to let fear chain him to the herd.

So, Khnum was off by himself, wandering the pastures, seeking the most delicious grass patches the rocky Middle-Eastern wasteland has to offer. He found himself strolling through the land of Moriah, upon one of the mountains there. When Khnum reached the top of the mountain he raised his eyes and saw: Behold! An old man was tying a younger man down to a pile of stones and wood.

This was an amusing sight for Khnum. He was pleased to see that the humans had begun sacrificing each other. Perhaps his kind would finally be able to roam the desert lands in peace without the fear of being grabbed, tied up, and burned, all the while having to endure the terrible hymns and psalms the human worshipers would recite. He had always dreamed of such a day. Khnum watched curiously as the spectacle played out before him, when he noticed, out of the corner of his eye, some delicious berries buried in an unsuspecting thicket.

Feeling confident that the humans were too busy with their religious ritual; he decided he would really like to extract some of those berries. It should be stated here, that it is considered common sense by all rams, goats, bison, deer, bulls, moose and any other animal blessed with horns (no antisemites, that does not include Jews), that one does not attempt to extract berries from a thicket horns first. Sadly for our young Khnum, he was never a very sensible when there were berries involved.

As soon as Khnum placed his face in the thicket he knew something was wrong. He tried to pull his head out and realized, to his horror, that his horns were tangled in the thicket. He was stuck. He began to jerk his head around violently trying to yank his horns free, when a thought occurred to him. He hadn't heard any screams, nor does he smell any smoke. Now, he may not have had the sharpest horns in the herd, but Khnum knew that where there's sacrifice, there's smoke.

Not wanting to, but knowing he must, Khnum raised his eyes and saw that the old man was untying the younger man. Khnum watched in terror as the old man lifted his eyes and locked upon Khnum's. Khnum stared ahead, paralyzed by fear (and of course the thicket) as the old man smiled and began approaching.

It was only moments after that Khnum found himself being pulled free of the thicket and placed on the make-shift alter. In his final moments, Khnum's heart was filled with false hope. "Okay, he's stretching forth his hand...okay, he's taking up the knife... But maybe, he'll reconsider like he did for that other..." The poor Khnum did not even finish his thought.

Needless to say, Khnum's family mourned his loss and swore to avenge him. As it turned out,  many more of Khnum's family would meet the same fate until man, almost four thousand years later, would create the very first animal rights law: "No man or woman may take any animal from any thicket or pit to replace it for your son or daughter whom you may have originally tried sacrificing to a god or gods." The law, though it upset countless "freedom of religion" activists, was accepted internationally and a transgressor may receive up to, but not exceeding 39 lashes.

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