Bob Dylan And The Two Riders (Part V and VI)

by Larry Fyffe

Part V

The prophet Isaiah tells the authorities of Northern Israel and Judah that God is not at all pleased with them for how they are running matters; rulers and priests become figuratively and literally intoxicated by power; they stumble and fall; they follow not the discretion of the farmer who knows when to plough and when to stop and plant:

(T)he priest and the prophet have erred
through strong drink
They are swallowed up by wine ....
"Doth the plowman plow all day to sow?"
(Isaiah 28: 7, 24)

In the song lyrics below a modern-day prophet, a servant of the Almighty, casts his net of condemnation even wider.

Intrinsic value gone, over-production rampant, greed instilled by the development of corporate capitalism affects all classes in the hoped-for-new-found Promised Land; a potential peaceful Eden lost in the New Babylon of America:

Businessmen, they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line
Know what any of it is worth
(Bob Dylan: All Along The Watchtower)

The other rider approaching the walls of modern Babylon also references the Holy Bible ~ Moloch be a bull-like icon of the Baalists to whose “fire” children are symbolically “sacrificed”.

Raged against by a number of Jewish biblical prophets:

And thou shalt not let any of thy seed
Pass through the fire to Molech
Neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God
I am the Lord
(Leviticus 18: 21)

In the poem beneath, Moloch (or Meloch) is transformed into a symbol of the ruler of the New Babylon:

Moloch whose mind is pure machinery
Moloch whose blood is running money
Moloch whose fingers are ten armies
(Allen Ginsberg: Howl)

In the following song lyrics, so-called Christians who hypocritically worship Moloch are condemned.

No shoeless servants be they:

Politician got on his jogging shoes
He must be running for office, got no time to lose
He's sucking the blood out of the genius of generosity
You been rolling your eyes, you been teasing me
(Bob Dylan: Summer Days)


Bob Dylan And The Two Riders (Part VI)

Singer/songwriter/musician Bob Dylan often references biblical passages – adding an innovative twist of his own:

And the governor said
Why, what evil hath he done
But they cried out the more
Saying, "Let him be crucified"
(Matthew 27: 23)

In the song lyrics following, a drifter, a Christ-like figure, escapes from his questionable trial by pure luck, or is it because the God of Thunder intervenes?:

Inside, the judge was stepping down
While the jury cried for more
(Bob Dylan: Drifter's Escape)

From an updated New Testament perspective, the two riders are approaching the gates of  American Babylon wherein three men are being hoisted up to die; Christ between two others.

At least, the two riders think one of the men be Jesus, and not a Libyan substitute:

And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene

Simon by name
Him they compelled to bear his cross
(Matthew 27: 32)

In any event, they’re selling postcards of the hanging.

Depending on the source referenced, one of the thieves, Dismas, repents; he confesses to Jesus his wayward ways; the other, Gestas, laughs at the bad day they are all having.

Or maybe it’s Festus, Matt Dillon’s deputy?

Anyway, before the other three are nailed, Barabbas, a really notorious thief is relieved, and receives a pardon:

There must be some way out of here
Said the joker to the thief
There's too much confusion
I can't get no relief
(Bob Dylan: All Along The Watchtower)

Not to mention – do all these events take place before, during, or after the Jewish Passover meal?

Little wonder some analysts think the above song makes no sense.

Nevertheless, says reader to writer – unravelled in these littered Post Modern literary  days, it does.


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