Moby Dick and the Bible
by Bill Federer, The Moral Liberal, American Minute for August 1st
"There she blows!" cried the lookout, sighting Moby Dick.
Captain Ahab, driven by revenge, sailed the seas to capture this great white whale who had bitten off his leg in a previous encounter.
The crew of the ship Pequod included:
-Quaker Chief Mate Starbuck,
-Second Mate Stubb,
-tattooed Polynesian harpooner Queequeg, and
-Ishmael, the teller of the tale.
Ahab finally caught up with Moby Dick in the Pacific Ocean.
As fate would have it, when the harpoon struck Moby Dick, the rope flew out so fast it snagged Ahab, pulling him out of the boat to his death, entangled on the side of the whale.
This classic was written by Herman Melville, born AUGUST 1, 1819.
The grandson of a Boston Tea Party 'Indian', Herman Melville was 12 years old when his father died.
His mother raised him, inspiring his imagination with biblical stories.
Whales were the main source of oil and were being hunted to the verge of extinction.
This suddenly changed when "Colonel" Edwin Drake drilled "The Drake Well" on his Pennsylvania farm in 1859.
Soon an industry developed which extracted oil from the earth, thus "saving the whale."
In 1840, young Herman Melville joined the crew of the Acushnet on his first whaling voyage.
After a year and a half at sea, the Acushnet visited the Marquesas Islands in the Southern Pacific.
The Marquesas Islands are considered by some as the remotest place in the world. They were first visited by American Maritime Fur Trader Joseph Ingraham in 1791, who named them Washington Islands.
In 1813, Commodore David Porter claimed the islands for the United States, but since Congress never ratified it, France began claiming the islands in 1842.
At the Marquesas Islands, Herman Melville and his friend jumped ship and deserted.
They climbed up high into the island mountains to avoid being arrested and carried back to the ship.
They unfortunately fell among cannibals, where Melville's friend suspiciously disappeared prior to a native feast.
Herman Melville barely escaped and was rescued. He wrote of the experience in his first book, Typee (1846), concluding:
"These disclosures will...lead to...ultimate benefit to the cause of Christianity in the Sandwich Islands."
In 1853, native Hawaiian Christian missionary Samuel Kauwealoha sailed to the Marquesas Islands and planted churches and schools.
Titus Coan, the son-in-law of missionary to Hawaii Hiram Bingham, wrote in his 1882 account Life in Hawaii, (ch. 13, The Marquesas Islands...Hawaiians Send a Mission to Them):
"The missionary at this station was the Rev. Samuel Kauwealoha, a native of Hilo... Pupils recited the Lord's prayer and the Ten Commandments, with some other lessons, in tones and inflections of voice which were soft and melodious."
Another missionary from Hawaii to the Marquesas Islands was James Kekela. In 1864, James Kekela rescued an American seaman from death at the hands of angry cannibals in the Marquesas Islands. In gratitude, Abraham Lincoln sent James Kekela an inscribed gold watch.
Robert Louis Stevenson related the story in his book, In The South Seas when he visited the Marquesas Islands in 1888-89:
"During my stay at Tai-o-hae...a whole fleet of whale-boats came from Ua-pu... On board of these was Samuel Kauwealoha, one of the pastors, a fine, rugged old gentleman, of that leonine type so common in Hawaii.
He...entertained me with a tale of one of his colleagues, James Kekela, a missionary in the great cannibal isle of Hiva-oa.
It appears that shortly after a kidnapping visit from a Peruvian slaver, the boats of an American whaler put into a bay upon that island, were attacked, and made their escape with difficulty, leaving their mate, a Mr. Whalon, in the hands of the natives.
The captive, with his arms bound behind his back, was cast into a house; and the chief announced the capture to James Kekela..."
Robert Louis Stevenson continued, relating the story of Mr. Whalon's rescue from the cannibals:
"In return for his act of gallant charity, James Kekela was presented by the American Government with a sum of money, and by President Lincoln personally with a gold watch.
From his letter of thanks, written in his own tongue, I give the following extract. I do not envy the man who can read it without emotion.
'When I saw one of your countrymen, a citizen of your great nation, ill-treated, and about to be baked and eaten, as a pig is eaten, I ran to save him, full of pity and grief at the evil deed of these benighted people.
I gave my boat for the stranger's life...
It became the ransom of this countryman of yours, that he might not be eaten by the savages who knew not Jehovah..."
Robert Louis Stevenson continued quoting James Kekela:
"(The Gospel) was planted in Hawaii, and I brought it to plant in this land and in these dark regions, that they might receive the root of all that is good and true, which is love...
...Great is my debt to Americans, who have taught me all things pertaining to this life and to that which is to come. How shall I repay your great kindness to me? Thus David asked of Jehovah, and thus I ask of you, the President of the United States. This is my only payment-that which I have received of the Lord, love-(aloha).'"
In his classic novel, Moby Dick (1851), Herman Melville opened with a reference to a Bible story:
"With this sin of disobedience...Jonah flouts at God...
He thinks that a ship made by men will carry him into countries where God does not reign."
In 1983, The U.S. District Court stated in Crockett v. Sorenson:
"Better known works which rely on allusions from the Bible include Milton's Paradise Lost...Shakespeare...and Melville's Moby Dick...
...Secular education...demands that the student have a good knowledge of the Bible."
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