Bob Dylan And The Cowboy Jesus (Part VI): Joshua

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by Larry Fyffe

In his personalized mythology, singer/songwriter Bob Dylan dons the mask of a Jewish rabbi; he time-travels travels back to the days of Joshua who replaces Moses who’s not made it across the Jordon River to the Promised Land. Robert ‘Joshua’ Dylan sings the praises of God’s faithful servant, the Jesus of the Jews who is instructed by God:

Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, 
     go over this Jordon, thou
And all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, 
     even to the children of Israel
(Book Of Joshua 1:2)

By way of analogy, we find that Moses stays in Mississippi (Egypt) a little too long.

Apparently equating today’s Americans with the Amorites of Babylon is a temptation too sweet for Bob Dylan to resist:

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord
Choose you this day whom you will serve
Whether the gods which your father served
That were on the other side of the flood
Or the gods of the Amorites in whose land ye dwell
But as for me, and my house, we will serve the Lord
(Book Of Joshua 24:15)

Thus singeth the the Masked Rabbi as he rides into the dark forest on his faithful horse ‘Silva’, looking for trees.

Cowboy Joshua is not without a sense of humour:

You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray
You're gonna have to serve somebody
Yes, you're gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil, and it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody
(Bob Dylan: Gotta Serve Somebody)

In Greek and Roman mythology, chief god Zeus is said to communicate through the rustling leaves of the oak tree, a myth similar thereto that’s found  the Old Testament verse below:

And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God
And took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak
That was by the sanctuary of the Lord
And Joshua said unto all the people
"Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us
For it hath heard all the words of the Lord which He spake unto us
It shall be therefore be a witness unto you, lest you deny your God"
(Book of Joshua 24: 26,27)

In the coded mythology of the masked man, there be doubts that the people pay attention to Joshua anymore; instead they worship the Golden Calf in land of the Americans – modern day Amorites who befoul the Promised Land:

The lights on my native land are glowing
I wonder if they'll know me next time 'round
I wonder if that old oak tree's still standing
That old oak tree, the one we used to climb
(Bob Dylan: Dusquesne Whistle ~ Dylan/ Hunter)

It’s a theme that that the Apollonian singer/songwriter/singer sticks with:

You know darling the kind of life that I live
When my smile meets your smile, something's got to give
I ain't no false prophet, nah, I'm nobody's bride
Can't remember when I was born, and I forgot when I died
(Bob Dylan:False Prophet)

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