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Mary don't you weep--meaning

Brad Sondahl 02 Dec 98 - 12:12 PM
evan 02 Dec 98 - 06:46 PM
gargoyle 02 Dec 98 - 11:31 PM
BSeed 02 Dec 98 - 11:34 PM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 03 Dec 98 - 07:28 AM
FIDDLER MIKE 03 Dec 98 - 12:07 PM
Nathan 03 Dec 98 - 03:55 PM
BSeed 03 Dec 98 - 04:09 PM
03 Dec 98 - 04:25 PM
gargoyle 03 Dec 98 - 10:21 PM
gargoyle 03 Dec 98 - 10:27 PM
BSeed 04 Dec 98 - 03:09 AM
BSeed 04 Dec 98 - 03:12 AM
Roger in Baltimore 04 Dec 98 - 06:13 AM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 04 Dec 98 - 08:15 AM
FIDDLER MIKE 04 Dec 98 - 08:36 AM
BSeed 04 Dec 98 - 06:19 PM
gargoyle 04 Dec 98 - 11:43 PM
gargoyle 04 Dec 98 - 11:54 PM
gargoyle 05 Dec 98 - 12:17 AM
BSeed 05 Dec 98 - 03:24 AM
bassen 05 Dec 98 - 08:37 AM
anna 05 Dec 98 - 10:07 PM
BSeed 06 Dec 98 - 12:46 AM
Pete M 06 Dec 98 - 02:56 PM
wysiwyg 02 Jul 02 - 02:22 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 02 Jul 02 - 03:27 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 02 Jul 02 - 04:34 PM
Nigel Parsons 03 Jul 02 - 05:33 AM
Anon 03 Jul 02 - 12:38 PM
toadfrog 03 Jul 02 - 01:28 PM
wysiwyg 03 Jul 02 - 01:40 PM
euclid 03 Jul 02 - 05:06 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 03 Jul 02 - 05:38 PM
greg stephens 04 Jul 02 - 08:53 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 04 Jul 02 - 09:58 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 04 Jul 02 - 01:35 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 04 Jul 02 - 01:51 PM
Dave'sWife 28 Aug 06 - 07:33 AM
Azizi 07 Feb 07 - 12:02 PM
Azizi 07 Feb 07 - 12:21 PM
Cluin 07 Feb 07 - 12:56 PM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Feb 07 - 01:34 PM
Cluin 07 Feb 07 - 01:42 PM
Azizi 07 Feb 07 - 02:10 PM
Azizi 07 Feb 07 - 02:43 PM
Azizi 07 Feb 07 - 03:01 PM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 07 Feb 07 - 06:53 PM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Feb 07 - 07:58 PM
Azizi 07 Feb 07 - 08:32 PM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Feb 07 - 08:56 PM
GUEST,passin thru 08 Feb 07 - 01:50 AM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 08 Feb 07 - 12:30 PM
Azizi 08 Feb 07 - 01:10 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 Feb 07 - 01:24 PM
Azizi 08 Feb 07 - 01:39 PM
GUEST,Pete Peterson 08 Feb 07 - 02:38 PM
wysiwyg 08 Feb 07 - 02:38 PM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 08 Feb 07 - 06:26 PM
Azizi 08 Feb 07 - 06:35 PM
GUEST,smahathey 01 Apr 10 - 08:59 AM
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Mr Red 17 Aug 17 - 01:55 PM
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Subject: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Brad Sondahl
Date: 02 Dec 98 - 12:12 PM

Thinking about the song Mary don't you weep (Leadbelly?):

Oh Mary, don't you weep, don't you mourn,
Oh Mary, don't you weep, don't you mourn,
Pharoah's army got drownded, Oh Mary don't you weep.

The verses are Old Testament but Mary is probably the mother of Jesus. In black tradition Moses was the symbol of liberation... I can't quite figure why the song connected the two images.
I imagine the song predated Leadbelly, but I'd like to hear other's speculation on why Mary and the Moses story got mixed up here.
Brad http://www.camasnet.com/~asondahl/bradindex.html


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: evan
Date: 02 Dec 98 - 06:46 PM

It is interesting to find contrasting images from the old and new testaments linked. One possible explanation is that the God of the old testament is the same God in the new testament: Jesus. When he says, "Don't you mourn....Pharoah's army got drowned" perhaps what he is really saying is that Jesus (God) is not dead, look how he triumphed over Pharoah. Remember, he's the same God in both old and new testaments. It is also interesting what you said about Moses being the symbol of liberation. In the old testament God liberated the Jewish people when Pharoah's army was drowned. In the new testament God liberated many more people from their oppressor, in this case sin, when Jesus 'died' on the cross. Both were acts of liberation and may be the reason the two are linked.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: gargoyle
Date: 02 Dec 98 - 11:31 PM

It is a song of salvation, redemption, resurrection, and comfort.

The reference is double: The grieving Mary on Easter morning and meeting the resurrected Christ whom she mistakes for the gardener....

Also, Mary Magdeline, the prostitute, who wept in repentance and washed the feet of Christ with her tears.

The message is: Don't dispare....Our GOD is a GOD of miracles and awsome power.....He is the same GOD ....both "old" and "new." As he did in the past...he can do today.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: BSeed
Date: 02 Dec 98 - 11:34 PM

I don't know that Mary has to be Virgin Mary--thers have borne the name. The speaker in the song may be telling a slave named Mary that, like Pharaoh's army, her oppressors will be overcome. The parallel references are many: the spiritual "Go Down Moses" and Harriet Tubman's appelation as "the Moses of her people" being among them. --seed


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 03 Dec 98 - 07:28 AM

Seed has a point. Isn't there another verse "Mary wept and Martha moaned (or mourned)"? It could be refering to local people.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: FIDDLER MIKE
Date: 03 Dec 98 - 12:07 PM

You "all" hit the nail on the head. The song says to
Mary (and all of us) that our GOD will liberate us from our oppressors, just as he did for Moses and his people. It seems to say "Don't wory I am for all ages."

It's interesting how we can't become good performers if we don't believe in ourselves, and God can't liberate us if we refuse to believe in Jesus.

Good thread Brad
Keep singin' Mike T.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Nathan
Date: 03 Dec 98 - 03:55 PM

I've also wondered about the line "If I could, I surely would, stand on the rock where Moses stood." It shows up in "Mary Don't You Weep" and various other places. I think the Carter Family did a version (don't know if it was before or after Leadbelly. Ialso seem to remember it in an early song by The Band" ("Jemima Surrender"?). Which rock?
Nice to see a thread with a theological bent.
Nathan Sarvis Denton, Texas


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: BSeed
Date: 03 Dec 98 - 04:09 PM

Through history, God and Jesus have been used by oppressors to justify their oppression at least as much as belief in them has inspired the oppressed to struggle to break free of their oppressors. I think a strong sense of the brotherhood of man, whether that sense be Christian or Islamic or Buddhist or Hindu or Confucianist or Secular Humanist or whatever, is what gives passion to the singer's message. --seed


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From:
Date: 03 Dec 98 - 04:25 PM

Likewise, oppressors have used music to facilitate their oppression. Doesn't detract from the reality of the inspiration of music to inspire the oppressed to break free.

- Nathan


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: gargoyle
Date: 03 Dec 98 - 10:21 PM

B.S.

As usual, you have overstepped the bounds of your knowlege.

Ignorance, is bliss, only to the ignorant....to all others it is an insult.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: gargoyle
Date: 03 Dec 98 - 10:27 PM

The line, "stand on the Rock where Moses stood" also has both and OT and NT meanings.

It reflects the desire to "Know GOD" in the sense that Moses did....in a working, face to face, personal experience.....that is life transforming. Moses was not the same man when he came down from the mountain....and neither were the people of Israel, shortly afterward.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: BSeed
Date: 04 Dec 98 - 03:09 AM

Nathan, far be it from me to deny the power of music. I was merely stating that one does not have to be "born again" to create it. Nor did I intend to deny the power of religion as inspiration. I was merely bothered by your apparent claiming that your religion is the sole source of inspiration.

And as for that other vessel for the direct voice of God, phhhhhhhhhht! --seed


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: BSeed
Date: 04 Dec 98 - 03:12 AM

Forgive me, Nathan--I didn't mean to imply that think you are a "vessel for the direct word of God." --seed


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 04 Dec 98 - 06:13 AM

Bseed and Gargoyle,

What is going on? Both of you are capable of wonderful, informing, and stimulating posts. But occasionally it gets personal.

When you encounter something you don't like or with which you don't agree in this forum, you are most welcome to post your own thoughts and/or opinions. No need to cast aspersions in addition.

Opinions and thoughts are like elbows, most people have more than one and they are usually a little different from those of their fellow human beings. To paraphrase other wise people, "Take what you need (from this forum) and leave the rest." 'Tis a civil approach I recommend to all.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 04 Dec 98 - 08:15 AM

"If I could I surely would stand on the rock where Moses stood" probably means I would free my people just as Moses freed his. I think the originator of the phrase visualized Moses as standing on a rock when he raised his staff and caused the waters to part. The next phrase "Pharo's army got drowned" is to reinforce the allusion.

This reminds me of a story:

Moses is standing at the shore of the Red Sea with his PR man.

"Abe," he says, "have you ever seen such incompetence? Here we are standing at the edge of the water, the Egyptian army is right behind us, and those idiots forget the boats! What do they expect me to do raise my staff and command the water to part?"

"Do that Moses, baby," says the PR man, "and I'll get you four pages in the old testament.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: FIDDLER MIKE
Date: 04 Dec 98 - 08:36 AM

Roger

Well said, but back here in Appalacia we translate that to mean
"NO FUSSIN' on the FORUM FELLERS".

Keep Singin'
Mike T.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: BSeed
Date: 04 Dec 98 - 06:19 PM

I'd be happy to drop it. But Gargoyle somehow finds it necessary to jump on about everything I write since Barbara and I had an exchange about Stranger in a Strange Land a couple of months ago. His responses to my writing rarely present reasoned arguments counter to what I have said but attack me personally as stupid, irrelevant, etc. I ignored it for the first month, welcomed him back when he seemed to be missing for a couple of weeks, but he was soon at it again, always beginning his postings with what--in another context--might have seemed innocent, the first two letters of my nickname, but now lower case, followed by periods, now not a salutation but clearly an expression of contempt, given the nature and tone of the message which followed.

At first I continued to ignore it, but it began to sour my experience here and I began responding to his taunts (he usually had no other message) sarcastically, then angrily. After such a posting, I'd feel a momentary relief from the ache in my gut, but I was not proud of my part in it. I apologize to everyone else who has been subjected to this. I'll go back to ignoring him as well as I can. --seed


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: gargoyle
Date: 04 Dec 98 - 11:43 PM

My Dear Mr. Seed,

Please accept my most humble apologizes.

Anyone that places themselves upon a "pedestal" as an "educator" and then proceeds to post....Non-Truths, (and attempts to excuse them as a 'falty-memory...when the facts are readily at hand, for an "educated person" to check) is a very tempting target for "deflation."

"Pride Comes Before the Fall"

Mr. B.S......We appear to share a kindred spirit.

[PLEASE --- "Mr. Joe Offer" (aka - Mr. Omnipotent of this universe) whip this awful diatribe out of existance at the end of the weekend}


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: gargoyle
Date: 04 Dec 98 - 11:54 PM

The previous posting reminds me of the classic TAG-LINE to the song "Paper of Pins" between two singers:

And I won't let you have the last word, (she)
And I won't let you have the last word, (he)
So I guess I have to marry, (she)
So I guess I have to marry, (he)
So I guess I have to marry, you....(he-she)

There is NO doubt that you 'B.Seed' and I 'gargoyle' are together on this forum.....(for better, for worse, for richer, or poorer, and poorer still).....(and even the Clintonian Economics that lies in our miserable future)

IF>>>Ya don't go a goin' postin' them things>>> ya know NOTHIN' BOUT>>>> then I won't go a itchin' after yer skin.

Pax, gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: gargoyle
Date: 05 Dec 98 - 12:17 AM

Back to the Thread

There are several immediate allusions in the connotation of "ROCK" (most of the world, and especially the legal world, draw their "reality" from the shallow realm of dennotation - fortunately, the world of song and of poetry draws its "multi-foleat-realm-of meaning" from connotation.)

One allusion is to the immediate, literal, rock of the mountain on which Mose's stood.

Another is to, Pietra, aka Peter... "The Rock, on which the church was built...."

And still another, (and most likely the closest interpretation) is to the proverbial "rock" (aka..."the building block that was rejected, became the cornerstone of a whole new world." ...Jesus Christ.

Poetry and Song and Scriptures have universal truths...you can clearly hear when they ring "TRUE."


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: BSeed
Date: 05 Dec 98 - 03:24 AM

Lord, I'm trying, but it's hard. --seed


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: bassen
Date: 05 Dec 98 - 08:37 AM

Oh boy, with all these cans o' worms we could probably open the Mudcat Digital Baitshop... As to finding deeper meaning, I find comfort in Leadbelly's comment that can be heard on the Last Sessions recordings when asked if the song he had just sung wasn't a "mountain pregnancy song": "Yeah --- somethin' like that..." Lighten up guys!

bassen


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: anna
Date: 05 Dec 98 - 10:07 PM

Mary and Martha are the sisters of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead (John 11:1-44). The lesson in that passage, as in the story of the Israelites' escape from Egypt, is about faith in the power of Jesus, or God, to perform miracles. The point seems to be that no matter how insurmountable your problem seems to be, God can handle it.

I agree with Murray that, although the rock could be the mountain Moses climbed, it's probably a reference to the parting of the Red Sea. "Linin' Track" includes that reference to Moses ("If I could, I surely would...") as well as "Moses stood on the Red Sea shore/And smote that water with a two-by-four." Obviously a popular image.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: BSeed
Date: 06 Dec 98 - 12:46 AM

Gargoyle, I am going to continue to post, and, I am certain, am going to continue to make mistakes: I consider this forum to be conversational, not academic. I welcome your pointing out my mistakes; I do not welcome the insulting tone you have taken from the beginning. --seed


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Pete M
Date: 06 Dec 98 - 02:56 PM

The last thing I wan't to do is to prolong or encourage acrimony on the forum, but I think I must have missed something.

Gargoyle, would you mind explaining the first sentence of your 1021 of 03-Dec-98? I have re-read the previous posts, including Bseed's and can't see anything where Bseed has said anything which demonstrates that he has "overstepped the bounds of ..(his). knowlegde.". It may not have been your intention, but the post certainly reads as if you are attacking him for expressing a view which does not admit the primacy of a Judaic god, in whatever form. It would help my understanding, and presumably Bseed's, if you could explain.

Thanks

Pete M

PS heard on radio at the weekend. Conversation in Northern Ireland:

"What foot do youse dig with?" (Trans "Are you RC or Protestant") "Actually I'm an atheist." Pause for thought - "Ah - But are youse a Catholic atheist or a Protestant atheist?"


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Subject: ADD: Oh, Mary Don't You Weep, II
From: wysiwyg
Date: 02 Jul 02 - 02:22 PM

My goodness! All this fuss, and no more lyrics posted! It's a regular feature with zipper and/or floating verses often seen in other spirituals.

The spirituals often contained verses or phrases that might or might not have been related to one another story-wise. The idea was to keep adding verses and sing it all day in the fields, so you'd throw in whatever you recalled or could make up-- like rap, today-- often going from person to person, spontaneously. So these were often created or re-created on the spot from whatever was on the singer's mind on any given day. You'd "zip" in a verse from another song, if it fit, and that's a zipper verse, or you'd grab one floating in the air, remembered or made up new, and that's a floating verse.

It was often the case that the first part of each verse was "called" by a leader (just one, or several in rotation), and then the people would sing back the set "response." This would give the leader a moment to frame the next verse before calling it.

There would also often be two distinct themes going on, sort of a tension between the verse and the chorus, or the call and response. It might be that they would contrast with one another. Or the response might resolve a question or issue in the call. Or the two themes might be bookends, two pieces of a theological truth or puzzle where you would need both to make sense of reality.

~S~

========================================================

First, as already in DT (I corrected typos):

OH, MARY DON'T YOU WEEP, I
Traditional


CHO:
Oh, Mary, don't you weep, don't mourn;
Oh, Mary, don't you weep, don't mourn;
Pharaoh's army got drowned,
Oh, Mary, don't you weep.

If I could I surely would,
Stand on the rock where Moses stood.
Pharaoh's army got drowned,
Oh, Mary, don't you weep.

Wonder what Satan's a-grumblin' 'bout,
Chained in Hell an' he can't git out.
Pharaoh's army got drowned,...

Ol' Satan's mad an' I am glad,
Missed that soul he thought he had.
Pharaoh's army got drowned,...

I went down in the valley to pray,
My soul got happy and stayed all day.
Pharaoh's army got drowned,...

@gospel
filename[ OHMARY
JK
apr97

======================================================

OH, MARY DON'T YOU WEEP, II
Traditional Negro Spiritual


REFRAIN:
Oh, Mary, don't you weep, don't you mourn;
Oh, Mary, don't you weep, don't you mourn.
Pharaoh's army got drownded,
Oh, Mary, don't you weep.

If I could I surely would,
Stand on the rock where Moses stood.
Pharaoh's army got drownded,
Oh, Mary, don't you weep.

Moses stood on the Red Sea shore,
Smitin' that water with a two-by-four.
Pharaoh's army got drownded,
Oh, Mary, don't you weep.

God gave Noah the rainbow sign,
"No more water, but fire next time!"
Pharaoh's army got drownded,
Oh, Mary, don't you weep.

One of these nights, about twelve o'clock,
This old world's gonna reel and rock.
Pharaoh's army got drownded,
Oh, Mary, don't you weep.

I may be right and I may be wrong,
I know you're gonna miss me when I'm gone!
Pharaoh's army got drownded,
Oh, Mary, don't you weep.


@gospel
@spiritual
@religious

SH







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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Jul 02 - 03:27 PM

Another example of "Oh, Mary Doan' Yer Weep," in Fisher's "Seventy Negro Spirituals," also illustrates WYSIWYG's argument. The verses have no relation to eash other; the singers just sang what came to mind from other spirituals.

Lyr. Add: OH, MARY, DOAN' YER WEEP

Oh, Mary, doan' yer weep, doan yer moan (twice)
Pharaoh's army got drownded,
Oh, Mary, doan' yer weep.

Ain't been to heaven, but I' been told,
Streets is pearl an' de houses is gol',
Pharaoh's army got drownded,
Oh, Mary, doan' yer weep.

Don't know what my mother stays here fer,
Dis worl' ain' verey good to her,
Pharaoh's etc.

Jesus done jes' as He said,
He heal de sick an' he rais' a dead,
Pharaoh's etc.

This adds three more floating verses to those in the two versions posted by WYSIWYG. Fisher, W. A., 1926, Seventy Negro Spirituals, Edited by William Arms Fisher for Low Voice, pp. 127-129 with full sheet music.

Other spirituals in this book include "Do Doan' Yer Weep Fer De Baby," which may be used to console for the loss of a baby or to allude to the death of Jesus, and "Weepin' Mary," more specifically referring to the mother of Jesus. All of the verses of "Mary and Martha" get mixed into the stew as well.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 02 Jul 02 - 04:34 PM

The Swan Silvertones do what I think is the ultimate version of this song and in it they refer to Mary as Martha's sister. I didn't see this thread when it first started but I find it interesting that there sure is a lot of moanin' in it... :-)BR>

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 03 Jul 02 - 05:33 AM

Gargoyle: I don't wish to become embroiled in any on-going argument, but you quote "Pride comes before the fall".
Is this a comment on lions in the approach to Autumn ? or is it a misquote of a popular misquote ?
Usually quoted as "Pride goeth before a fall" is a contraction of the original.
Proverbs 16:18
"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." (King James Version)

Cheers

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Anon
Date: 03 Jul 02 - 12:38 PM

In the begginingg...Evan said this: "One possible explanation is that the God of the old testament is the same God in the new testament: Jesus." Maybe this is a Christian only thread and I shouldn't be butting in, but perhaps the author should have stated this to be the belief of a certain religious group. Anyway I always thought that Jesus was supposed to be His son. Sorry about the drift.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: toadfrog
Date: 03 Jul 02 - 01:28 PM

This thread is definitely a BS thread. Malcom is usually the one to say, "It's a mistake to read too much into these songs." And he is usually right. That goes for this stuff, with knobs on! "Mary weeping" is a pretty clear reference. We know which Mary "wept," and why. There is no reason to think Magadaline is meant. The rest of the theories here appear to be based on nothing but speculation. Folk songs are not necessarily composed. They trade verses around. They do not necessarily reflect the sentiments you want to find in them. It is disrespectful of a people and a tradition to read meanings into their songs to fit your own ideological bent.

One understands songs intuitively, on the basis of the words, tune and feeling of the song. This kind of verbalizing, unless it is supported by facts, adds exactly nothing.

Hey, Susan, I thought we were not supposed to paste in lyricts that are already in DT!


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: wysiwyg
Date: 03 Jul 02 - 01:40 PM

1. It's not a BS: thread when it's about song origins or meaning.

2. It's not a BS: thread when lyrics are posted and discussed.

3. If people prefer to argue rather than enjoy music, whatever!

~S~


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: euclid
Date: 03 Jul 02 - 05:06 PM

Is anybody going to be in Nova Scotia in August? If so, where and when?


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Jul 02 - 05:38 PM

It is handy to have multiple versions in a thread if the object is discussion. Saves juggling screens to the DT or link.
Martha gets a mention in this thread. There are a number of Mary and Martha spirituals. Thread 30625: Ring Them Golden Bells
In the DT, "Lazarus" mentions Mary and Marthy.
"Tone the Bell Easy" in the DT also mentions Mary and Martha.
I will start a thread on Mary and Martha spirituals. I think this is the best way to handle them. None including both names in the title are in the DT as yet.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: greg stephens
Date: 04 Jul 02 - 08:53 AM

Well without wishing to participate in some religious row, this rock that Moses stood on. We've had suggestions it was the mountain he went up to get the ten commandments, or then again where he stood when he parted the Red Sea.I'd like to add two more. Didnt he strike a rock to get water? (My bible reading is a little in the past, I'm afraid, so I'm willing to be corrected). But surely the best candidate, the definitive rock he stood "on" as opposed to " beside", was Pisgah. He stood on it to look down onthe Promised Land, and was told his people would get there, but that he would die before crossing the river. That's the rock I'd expect Leadbelly and co to be singing about, the point from which you could see the Promised Land.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 04 Jul 02 - 09:58 AM

I think you're right, Greg. When Moses was "smotin' that water with a two by four" I don't think it was particularly mountainous, there. And yes, Moses did strike a rock to find water. From what I've read, it was not necessarily a miracle, but a knowledge of the countryside where much of the water is not visible.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Jul 02 - 01:35 PM

From the sense of some of the spirituals, you are right, Greg. But the "rock" is applied in other senses. "I Got a Home in the Rock" seems to stem from psalms where God is called "the rock of my salvation." Another that seems to fit here is "Can't Hide, Sinner, You Can't Hide" with the verse:
I went to de rock, can't hide
Fer to hide my face, can't hide
Well the rock cried out, can't hide
No hidin' place, can't hide.

In "Move de Member" the singer says "Got on my rockin' shoes, Dan-u-el." Just an item of heavenly clothing since the spiritual goes on to mention the long white robe and the starry crown.
"Rock Mount Zion" from "Job, oh Job" seems obvious.
One sung at night meetings started with "Rocky, chillun, rocky, Jesus comin'" applies to a reeling and rocking dance.
Then there is the spiritual "Rock Er My Soul in de Bosom of Abraham" which ends each verse "O, de Rock Er My Soul" (Again, applies to God).
I seem to remember that the mound of Calveree is called a rock in one spiritual.

Just a few at random from the first book I happened to pick up.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Jul 02 - 01:51 PM

Another Mary weep spiritual, this time in "All the Friend I Had Dead and Gone":

Lyr. Add: ALL DE FRIEND I HAD DEAD EN GONE

All the friend I had, (3 times)
Dead en gone.

Gone to the graveyard (twice)
All de friend I had,
Dead en gone.

Weepin' Mary, weep no longer,
All de friend I had,
Dead en gone.

My poor mother died er shoutin',
All de friend I had,
Dead en gone.

From Olivia and Jack Solomon, 1991, "Honey in the Rock," p. 41.
Weepin' Mary is equated with Mary Magdalene weeping at the tomb of Christ by the authors.
@religion @spiritual @Negro


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 28 Aug 06 - 07:33 AM

My husband and I watched the season finale of Deadwood on HBO and they closed the show with Springsteen's recording of this song. It was quite fitting given the story line which i don't want to spoil for those that haven't seen it yet. Let's just say Pharoah was analagous to George Hearst who doesn't drown mind you - just finsihes up his fictional storyline to go on and do his other real life accomplishments.


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Subject: Add: Video: Mary don't you weep
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Feb 07 - 12:02 PM

MARY DON'T YOU WEEP

YouTube clip
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0miMP3EYnA&mode=related&search=
sung by the Caravans

Here's information about this African American gospel group:


"Oct 9th
*The 1952 founding of the Caravans Black Gospel singing group is celebrated on this date.
Started by Albertina Walker, the Caravans were a home and spawning ground for producing brilliant spiritual vocal talent. Based in Chicago, the Caravans produced more gospel vocal stars than any organization at the time. James Cleveland, Bessie Griffin, Shirley Ceasar, Dorothy Norwood, Inez Andrews, Casietta George, and Loleatta Holloway all passed through their ensemble's ranks during the 1950's and 60's. All of them became important solo gospel artists, except Loleatta Holloway, who became well-known in dance music.

Walker, a Chicago native, founded The Caravans with other former members of the Robert Anderson Singers. Until 1956, The Caravans with Griffin, Norwood, and Cleveland as members recorded for the States label. In 1958, The Caravans switched to the Gospel label of Savoy Records, with a line-up that included Ceasar and Andrews. They took the gospel world by storm, and set up themselves up as the (then) most popular female group in gospel. Hard work, talent and a special bond and teamwork were the difference in their success. Ceasar, was one of the most intense performers of all time. George, from Memphis, had a down-home, yet elegant style.

In 1966, Ceasar left The Caravans to pursue evangelism and a solo recording career. After the loss of their main soloist, all the other members of The Caravans left the group within a matter of months. Walker organized another edition of the group that featured Loleatta Holloway, but this arrangement lasted only a few years."

http://www.aaregistry.com/african_american_history/1946/The_Caravans_an_orgin_of_spiritual_voice


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Subject: Add: Video Link: Oh Mary don't you weep
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Feb 07 - 12:21 PM

Take 6 -Accapella rendition of "Oh Mary Don't You Weep"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_7yBFovdtE&mode=related&search=


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Cluin
Date: 07 Feb 07 - 12:56 PM

A bit of lyrics & chords as well as recording info on this song and a downloadable MP3 file of Roger McGuinn singing it on his Folk Den site here.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Feb 07 - 01:34 PM

Some interesting speculations here, but clearly some people dont know their Bible too well.

To horse! cried Pharao, and swept the chariots and horsemen on into the sea; and the Lord brought the waters of the sea back over them, while the sons of Israel went through the midst of it dry-shod.

Hereupon Mary the prophetess, Aaron's sister, went out with a tambour in her hand, and all the women-folk followed her, with tambour and with dances, and took up her refrain, A psalm for the Lord, so great and so glorious; horse and rider hurled into the sea.
(Exodus 15, 19-21)

That's from the Knox translation. Most versions seem to call her Miriam - which is the same name.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Cluin
Date: 07 Feb 07 - 01:42 PM

That's it! No more Glenmorangie for breakfast anymore. I'm seeing double.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Feb 07 - 02:10 PM

I think that too often people don't think about the pyschological impact of spirituals. I think that people may forget that these 'sorrow songs' were used to build up the morale and will of people living in horrific conditions. Songs like "trouble don't last always" reinforce in people the belief that there can and will be a a better tomorrow on earth, as it is in heaven.

In addition, these spirituals reinforce the believe that there will be consequences-in this life-as well as in the next life {heaven} for those who treat people unjustly. In my opinion, the main message of the "Oh, Mary Don't You Weep" spiritual is that no matter how powerful people or systems are, God is more powerful. In a flash of an eye, these people and these systems who thought they were powerful can be brought down and will face God's justice.

In the "Oh, Mary Don't You Weep" spiritual, a third person tells Mary and Martha not to weep or moan because "a change gonna come". It's important to note that Mary was weeping and her sister Martha was moaning for their own suffering [or, if you use the Biblical story-these sisters were grieving for the death of the brother] and not because the soldiers in Pharoah's army "got drownded". The song seems to imply that they got what they deserved.

And that may have been as far oppressed people could speak truth to power in those days and times. Or maybe its as far as some people can go nowadays for that matter.


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Subject: Add: Lyr: Two Secular Slave Songs
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Feb 07 - 02:43 PM

Just about all of the discussion about coded language in 19th century or earlier African American songs refers to escaping freedom.
I've written before my sense that this theme is overworked, and probably not applicable to every time songs like "Steal Away" and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" were song.

However, though this is a discussion about spirituals, I want to share my sense that some 19th century African American secular songs did speak indirectly, if not in coded language, about these peoples' ridicule of and dislike for their masters and mistresses, and the fact that they would not shed a tear when these people died. The most widely known of these songs is "The Blue Tail Fly/Jimmy Crack Corn". Of course, there are those who may think that this is not an authentic African American song which ridicules White folks so I'll also add the somewhat less familiar song "Master Is Six Feet One Way" which clearly ridicules "massa":

Mosser is six foot one way, an' free foot tudder;
Am' he weigh five hunderd pound.
Britches cut so big dat dey don't suit de tailor.
An' dey don't meet half way 'round

Mosser's coat come bacl to a claw-hammer p'int.
{Speak so' or his Bloodhound 'll bite us.}
His long white stockin's mighty clean an' nice,
But a liddle mo' holier than righteous.

{Source: Thomas W. Talley's 1922 "Negro Folk Rhymes", Kennikat Press Edition, 1968, p, 40}

Nowadays, people would call that a rip and say something like "Oh, snap! in appreciation of the put down. The important line to note is {Speak so'[softly] or his Bloodhound 'll bite us.} These people weren't foolish enough to go singing this song when "mosser" could hear it. {And btw, Talley emphasized in his preface, these were songs and not prose.} There were grave consequences for being that foolish. So "coded" songs, in this respect means singing obliquely about a subject, and being careful where and when you sang it.

In addition to including examples of secular African American songs that ridiculed White folks, Talley also included some songs that I think reveal the composer's discontent with slavery and his determination to fight to be free, even if it led to his death. Here's one example of such a song written in what I believe is coded language:

DIE IN THE PIG PEN FIGHTING
Dat ole sow sad to de barrer:
"I'll tell you w'at let's do":
:et's go an' git dat broad-axe
And die in the pig-pen too"

"Due in de pig -pen fightin'!
Yes, die, die in die wah!
Die in de pig-pen fightin'
Yes, die wid a gitin' jaw!"

{Talley, Negro Folk Rhymes, pg. 39}


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Feb 07 - 03:01 PM

Sorry, here's a couple of corrections I now see need to be made to sentences in my last post.. I do read these post before submitting them-well sometimes anyway ;o)

"I've written before my sense that this theme is overworked, and probably not applicable to every time songs like "Steal Away" and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" were sung."

**
"Mosser's coat come back to a claw-hammer p'int."

Now as to what that last sentence means, I haven't got a clue, but I figure it was a rip, or a diss, or an insult, or a put down-you get what I'm sayin...


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 07 Feb 07 - 06:53 PM

No Mary isn't the Catholic Mother Virgin. She is Mary of Bethany known for her association with her sister Martha.

"Mary and Martha just gone long to ring them charmin' bells"

"Free Grace and Undying Love"....chorus to that song.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Feb 07 - 07:58 PM

It does seem pretty evident that in this particular song the Mary originally referred to is Mary aka Miriam, sister of Moses and Aaron, rejoicing at the downfall of Pharoah's army - see my post above.

Of course it's quite possible that people singing it might have got their Maries amalgamated or transposed. That's the kind of thing that happens in folksongs.

Plus, of course, the exhortation to "Mary" not to weep and mourn is in real terms directed at the congregation singing the song.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Azizi
Date: 07 Feb 07 - 08:32 PM

While I'm not a proponent of coded messages to flee slavery being meant every time enslaved African Americans sung spirituals, I am a 'believer' in the notion that more often than not for the 19th century African Americans who composed and sang these songs, the Biblical characters and events were symbolical of real life conditions, if not characters.

My sense is that the meaning of these songs can be multi-layered. Therefore a person can be singing "Let My People Go" and be thinking about the Biblical Isrealites as well as yearning for freedom for himself {herself} and his or her family and other people who are enslaved. "Pharoah's army" can refer to both the Egyptian army in Biblical times, and the US slavery system that kept them in bondage.
Imo, a person could sing "Oh Mary Don't You Weep" and be thinking of his or her own sorrows and at the same time be wanting justice to be meted out to the oppressors he or she faces. In that sense, some spirituals, sometimes, can be considered as the first African American protest songs. It is therefore fitting that quite a number of these traditional spirituals were sung with somewhat revised words during the 1960s African American civil rights movement.

This is not to discount the spiritual and emotional benefit that comes from singing these songs. Though my troubles are trivial compared to those of enslaved people, I often sing these songs privately when I'm sad and need to be comforted, and re-energized.

And as you wrote McGrath, I wouldn't be surprised if the "Maries" in the "Mary Don't You Weep"song were "amalgamated or transposed". I've always thought of the song referred to the Mary who is sister of Martha and Lazarus, but I can see how you could think that Mary referred to Miriam, Moses' and Aaron's sister.

In my opinion, part of the power and beauty of these songs is that they can mean different things to different people.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Feb 07 - 08:56 PM

In my opinion, part of the power and beauty of these songs is that they can mean different things to different people.

I wholly agree, and it applies to other songs and poems as well. I often think that when people try to pin down a song to a particular meaning they can miss the point entirely. Images and incidents in songs and poems may well have a specific origin, but that doesn't tie them down. And that applies also to the intention of the writer - that's interesting, but songs and poems can grow to take on other meanings.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: GUEST,passin thru
Date: 08 Feb 07 - 01:50 AM

Mary don't you weep, Martha don't you moan

From one of Aretha Franklin's old gospel albums. Dynamite stuff.

Some of those lyrcs above surely do sound like Linin' Track. Taj Mahal's version of it, at least.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 08 Feb 07 - 12:30 PM

Azizi-
The first rhyme you quote is clearly a slighly garbled version of Henry Clay Work's great song "Kingdom Coming", second verse

He's six foot one way two foot t'other
And he weighs three hundred pound
His cloak so big, dat he couldn't pay de tailor
And it won't go halfway round
He drill so much dat day call him "Cap'n"
And he get so dreadful tan
I 'spect he try to fool dem Yankess
For to t'ink he's contraband

(a great song. We introduce it by saying "After the Fugitive Slave Act of 1852, there were lots of advertisements for runaway slaves, giving a description of the slave and what he was wearing when last seen. Here's a song about a runaway master." )

I totally agree with you about a song speaking on several levels at the same time


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Azizi
Date: 08 Feb 07 - 01:10 PM

Thanks for that information,Pete Peterson.

With regards to the verse:

"And he get so dreadful tan
I 'spect he try to fool dem Yankess
For to t'ink he's contraband"

it took me a while to realize that "contraband" in this context means 'a Black man'.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Feb 07 - 01:24 PM

Surely not just 'a Black man' but a slave smuggled in from Africa, after that had been made illegal.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Azizi
Date: 08 Feb 07 - 01:39 PM

McGrath, see #4 of http://www.answers.com/topic/contraband definition for this word:

con·tra·band (kŏn'trə-bãnd')
n.
Goods prohibited by law or treaty from being imported or exported.

1.Illegal traffic in contraband; smuggling.

2.Smuggled goods.

3.Goods that may be seized and confiscated by a belligerent if shipped to another belligerent by a neutral.

4.An escaped slave during the Civil War who fled to or was taken behind Union lines.
adj.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 08 Feb 07 - 02:38 PM

May 1861. War just starting and Gen'l Ben Butler in command down near Fortress Monroe in southeastern VA. Three escaped slaves made it into Union lines. Their owner, under flag of truce, asked for the return of his property. Butler told him that the property in question (remember this is a year and a half before the Emancipation Proclamation) was helping the Cofederate cause, and therefore was being seized as contraband of war. Word spread quickly and escaped slaves were then, thenceforward (but not quite forever) known as "contrabands"


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: wysiwyg
Date: 08 Feb 07 - 02:38 PM

Songs of the Contrabands: see also Q's contribution in the Permathread, HERE.

Additional discussion about Codes, and codes: see also HERE.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 08 Feb 07 - 06:26 PM

Anyway, we know it wasn't "The Virgin".

Frank


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Azizi
Date: 08 Feb 07 - 06:35 PM

The Virgin contraband?

Oh, you mean the Virgin Mary.

Okay. Righto.

Maybe the person singing is talking to a woman named Mary, and relating all the ways that those who were oppressed received help from God...Pharoah's army got drown-ded, and there is a promised land that Moses saw when he stood on that rock...So that person tells the woman Mary to hold on, have faith that a better day is coming.

Somehow I always thought of the singer as a "he". When I think about it, that's rather sexist of me...that a man must be the one to comforts a woman.

Anyway, that's the way I always thought about it. That is, when I didn't think that the Mary mentioned in the song was the sister of Martha and Lazarus.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: GUEST,smahathey
Date: 01 Apr 10 - 08:59 AM

Mary and Martha are the brothers of Lazarus who died and whom Jesus raised from the dead. That's why they are encouraged not to weep or moan. In the same dramatic way that Moses led the Children of Isarael away from destruction, Jesus is going to raise Lazarus!


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: GUEST,messejproduction
Date: 15 Jul 10 - 09:34 PM

I just chanced upon this blog. Years ago someone inquired to me what the song "Oh Mary don't you weep" meant and that it made no sense simply because the verses bounced from unrelated, biblical historical times. I'm a musician so they assumed I would automatically know. It took the bloggers here from December 1998 to April 2010 [about 12 years] to concur on the VERY SAME conclusion it took me about a week to come up with, when posed this question. Someone "named" Gargoyle and w.y.s.i.w.y.g. [what you see is what you get] argued about it until 2002....lol


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 17 Aug 17 - 12:54 PM

Or:

Mary - Mary Lincoln
Martha - Martha Washington
Pharaoh's Army - Robert E. Lee et al.


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Subject: RE: Mary don't you weep--meaning
From: Mr Red
Date: 17 Aug 17 - 01:55 PM

A recent BBC programme on tsunamis postulated that the best explanantion for Pharaoh's army getting drownded was a tsunami.

The sea was most likely the Reed Sea - a freshwater estuary. And the translation misread reed and red (in Hebrew?). Moses was said to come down from Mount Sinai sporting beams of light from his head, or horns in some translations - the same confusion with similar words.
And if there were (say) as little as an hour between the Israelites and Pharaoh's Army and they picked an unfortunate hour or so. Let's assume the parting bit is somewhat artistic licence, maybe days wating for the right conditions.

It makes the story plausible.


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