St. Holbytla’s Monastery

Reading Tolkien in the Light of Faith

Posts Tagged ‘Eldest of Trees

The line of Nimloth the Fair and the Shoot of Jesse

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The finding of the sapling of the Eldest of the Trees in the barren slopes is a metaphor for the finding the race of Elendil in the barren wilderness outside of Gondor:

Then Aragorn turned, and there was a stony slope behind him running down from the skirts of the snow; and as he looked he was aware that alone there in the waste a growing thing stood.  And he climbed to it, and saw that out of the very edge of the snow there sprang a sapling tee no more than three foot high.  Already it had put forth young leaves long and shapely, dark above and silver beneath, and upon its slender crown it bore one small cluster of flowers whose white petals shone like the sunlit snow.

Then Aragorn crid: ‘Ye! Utuvienyes!  I have found it!  Lo!  here is a scion of the Eldest of Trees!  But how comes it here?  For it is not itself yet seven years old.’

And Gandalf coming looked at it, and said: ‘Verily this is a sapling of the line of Nimloth the fair; and that was a seedling of Galathilion, and that a fruit of Telperion of many names, Eldest of Trees.  Who shall say how it comes here in the appointed hour?  But this is an ancient hallow, and ere the kings failed or the Tree withered in the court, a fruit must have been set here.  For it is said that, though the fruit of the Tree comes seldom to ripeness, yet the life within may then lie sleeping through many long years, and none can foretell the time in which it will awake.  remember this.  For if ever a fruit ripens, it should be planted, lest the line die out of the world.  Here it has lain hidden on the mountain, even as the rade of Elendil lay hidden in the wastes of the North.  Yet the line of Nimloth is older far than your line, King Elessar.’ (Return of the King, p. 270)

In a similar way, Prophet Isaiah foretold the coming of the Messiah, the heir of the throne of David, as a shoot from the stump of Jesse:

But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.  The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,  and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, But he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips. (Is 11:1-5)

The Shoot of Jesse is Christ.  It is on him that the Holy Spirt rested on the River Jordan.  Just as Aragorn traces his kingship to the line of Elendil, so does Christ trace his kingship in the line of David:

Obed became the father of Jesse, Jesse the father of David the king. David became the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon became the father of Rehoboam, ….. Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.

Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah, fourteen generations. (Mt 1:1-17)

But unlike Aragorn, Jesus’s true father is not his foster father Joseph, but God the Father Himself.  Before Abraham was, Jesus is.  “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God” (Jn 1:1).  Indeed, Jesus posed the following question to the Pharisees:

“What is your opinion about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They replied, “David’s.” He said to them, “How, then, does David, inspired by the Spirit, call him ‘lord,’ saying: ‘The Lord said to my lord, “Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies under your feet”‘? If David calls him ‘lord,’ how can he be his son?” No one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare to ask him any more questions. (Mt 22:42-46)

Written by Quirino M. Sugon Jr

November 30, 2009 at 2:39 am