Windows can be interesting.
Authors and film directors use windows to mystify, to terrify, to titillate. As I was reading the Scriptures on our deck this afternoon, I thought about how windows figure in some familiar biblical accounts.
In Joshua 2, Rahab–a prostitute in the city of Jericho–hides two Hebrew spies under some stalks of flax on the roof of her house and then, when the local authorities seek to capture them, she lies and sends them on a wild goose chase. After they have left, Rahab lets the spies down by a rope through her window, as her apartment is on the city wall. This is an act of faith, albeit rudimentary, and Rahab confesses, “…the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and in the earth beneath.” (Jos 2.11b, EVS) The New Testament teaches us that God honours her faith (Heb 11.31), and she even leaves some of her bangles hanging on a branch of Jesus’ family tree. (Mat 1.5)
The passage I read this afternoon involves an act of love. Michal, the daughter of King Saul and the smitten young bride of David, the king-to-be, lets him out of her window when her father’s troops come to kill him. She stuffs an image and a pillow in their bed to make it look like David is sleeping there, and this delays the kings’ men enough to allow David to escape. (1 Sam 19.11-17)
Then there is the queen who goes splat. Jezebel, the Wicked Witch of the Middle East, is in fear for her life after her husband, Ahab, dies in a bizarre instance of divine intervention (you can read about it in 2 Chr 18, a very interesting and entertaining text.) Jehu, the aggressive driver, (2 Kin 9.20) is now king and wants to eliminate every vestige of Ahab’s reign of terror. He starts with his widow, Jezebel–one of history’s most evil, manipulative and ruthless women. Their final encounter is under her window. She has primped and preened and put on her make-up, and she teasingly asks Jehu to identify himself. In reply, he demands that the two eunuchs standing next to her throw her out the window. They comply, “and her blood splatter[s] on the wall and on the horses, and they [trample] on her. (2 Kin 9.33) This is an act of vengeance.
In the New Testament, Paul of Tarsus has two significant experiences involving windows. In Acts 9.25 (compare 2 Cor 11.33) he is let down over the wall from a window by his disciples in an act of desperation. He is being sought by the infuriated Jews of Damascus who want to kill him and put an end to what they view as his blasphemous and heretical preaching.
One night, toward the end of Paul’s life, he is in Troas and preaches well past midnight. There are many lamps burning in the upstairs chamber–so it’s both very late and very warm–and a young man named Eutychus is sitting on the wide sill of an open window, probably just to get some air. As Paul goes on and on, poor Eutychus nods off, leans too far to one side, and tumbles out of the window to his death. This is an act of…well, of long-windedness! Horrified, Paul and the others rush downstairs to the sidewalk, and God uses Paul to restore the poor young man to life. (Act 20.7-16)
The Bible is such a fascinating book! It is a sacred, God-breathed text of eternal import, yet it describes the human experience in such an arresting way.
Read the Book! But not too close to the window.
(I took the photo of an old convent window in Zacatecas, Mexico.)