June 28, 2009

Quote 38

The Bible says Sennacherib's campaign was foiled
By an angel: but Herodotus declares, by mice -
Innumerably nibbling all one night they toiled
To eat away his bow-strings as warm wind eats ice.

But muscular archangels, I suggest, employed
Six little jaws to labour at each slender string
And by their aid (weak masters though they be) destroyed
The smiling-lipped Assyrian, cruel-bearded king.

No stranger that Omnipotence should choose to need
Small helps than great! Not strange, then, if His action lingers
Till men have prayed, and suffers our weak prayers indeed
To move as very muscles His delaying fingers,

Who, in His longanimity and love for our
Small dignities, holds back awhile His eager power.

C.S. Lewis, Yours, Jack, p. 146

Note: This story was unfamiliar to me so I did a little bit of research. Sennacherib was the King of Assyria from 705-681 BC. You can read about him in 2 Kings 18-19, 2 Chronicles 32 or Isaiah 36-37. Below is the reference of the Greek historian Herodotus' (ca. 450 BC) account of God's intervention (through the mice) in the destruction of Sennacherib's army (2:141):

"When Sanacharib, king of the Arabians and Assyrians, marched his vast army into Egypt, the warriors one and all refused to come to his (i.e., the Pharaoh Sethos) aid. On this the monarch, greatly distressed, entered into the inner sanctuary, and, before the image of the god, bewailed the fate which impended over him. As he wept he fell asleep, and dreamed that the god came and stood at his side, bidding him be of good cheer, and go boldly forth to meet the Arabian host, which would do him no hurt, as he himself would send those who should help him. Sethos, then, relying on the dream, collected such of the Egyptians as were willing to follow him, who were none of them warriors, but traders, artisans, and market people; and with these marched to Pelusium, which commands the entrance into Egypt, and there pitched his camp. As the two armies lay here opposite one another, there came in the night, a multitude of field-mice, which devoured all the quivers and bowstrings of the enemy, and ate the thongs by which they managed their shields. Next morning they commenced their fight, and great multitudes fell, as they had no arms with which to defend themselves. There stands to this day in the temple of Vulcan, a stone statue of Sethos, with a mouse in his hand, and an inscription to this effect - 'Look on me, and learn to reverence the gods.'"