Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 445
One in whom god has once taken up his abode he does not forsake, though he remain only as a curse. Seek her out, and you'll surely get an answer to your questions though it may appall you.
Thus spoke the old beggar of Delphi, in his wisdom knowing that the old Pythia had experienced the difficult things of god and that, if anyone could help the Wandering Jew better understand his fate, it was she. God had spoken through her, and she had learned that coming close to god can be harrowing and dangerous for a human. God is not human and not fully knowable to humans. The high priestess had learned that god does not always correspond to what we want him to be. This is foreshadowed in the old man warning him that he may be appalled by what he hears.
If a condemned man, a man so unhappy, leans upon my house he may bring ill-fortune to it. So I told him to move on, and said I didn't want him there.
This is how the Wandering Jew explains his motivations for denying a condemned man from leaning against his wall. Such an unfortunate man could bring bad luck, he thought. Many people would have done the same thing. He was no better or worse than most other men. It wasn't until later that he heard people saying that the criminal was the son of god. How could he have known that, even if that were true? Accordingly, his encounter with the divine seems to have brought upon him a gross injustice. He was angry with god, and in despair.
Thus was my love for god -- and I did not even know who he was. It gave me no security, no assurance, no certainty. I could never rest quietly in his embrace. Heat and rapture I felt, but never stillness and serenity. I prayed for it, but he never gave it me. Can it be so if one is the elect of god?
This quote from the Sybil tells us that, from her perspective, encounters with god are often confusing and dangerous—certainly not what she had hoped for or been led to expect. They often do not conform to our preconceptions, wants, or desires. God does not necessarily give us what we want, or he may give it and take it away. This may make men think god is evil, unconcerned with man, or that he simply toys with or tortures man. The Sybil teaches that there is no point to becoming rebellious against god, as we cannot escape god. The Sybil cannot hate god, despite her difficult life.
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