Wednesday, May 23, 2007

LOST and the Bible: some notes

I've pointed out quite a lot of Biblical subtext in the Ben/Locke/Jacob relationship on Geoff Klock's blog (linked to your right) and at the Lost message board hosted by, but given that the finale airs tonight, it feels appropriate to record some of those thoughts here. (I mean, in all likelihood the finale will prove that they're wrong-headed anyway, so I'm running out of time, right?)

There's a certain bit of obviousness to the Ben/Jacob end of it. Benjamin, one of Jacob's 12 sons and one of only two children born of his favorite wife, Rachel, was a founder of one of the 12 tribes of Israel and one of the two tribes that would eventually break off to form the Kingdom of Judah after the exodus. More subtly, the Bible/Torah's Benjamin was also one of his father's favorites, often placed only behind Jacob's most favored son, Joseph - not coincidently, Rachel's other son. (One other commonality is obvious but obscure, and while it reveals little about the character, it reinforces the textual connection - the mother of both Lost's Benjamin and the Biblical Benjamin died after giving birth.)

Here's where it gets interesting: Joseph was attacked by his 10 other brothers, all of them jealous that he was their father's favorite, and dumped in a pit, left for dead until some Midianites wandered by and eventually bought him as a slave. John Locke was shot by Benjamin, who was similarly jealous of Locke's connection to the island and his ability to hear Jacob in the cabin, and likewise left for dead in a pit. An important difference, though, is that the Biblical Benjamin was the only brother that did not participate in the attack on Joseph.

So what does this mean for Lost? Well, one of the things that Joseph did to anger his brothers was tell them of his prophetic dreams, which suggested that he would rule over them. This eventually came true when, after a famine lasting seven years decimated Canaan, the brothers relocated to Egypt, which was now administered by Joseph. If I were to guess, Ben is being set up for a fall - just as the brothers unintentionally aided the prophecy when they sold Joseph into slavery, Ben will hasten his own destruction by trying to kill Locke. Given the eerily apologetic tone of Ben's voice-over in the promo for the season finale - 'everything i did, i did for the island' - I suspect that his famine is about to arrive.

The real question, though, is whether Locke is Joseph - will he re-emerge as Joseph did, unrecognizable and with great power? As a villain? (Joseph pretended to be a villain in order to test his brothers - but, importantly, he did reveal himself to Benjamin first, who was subsequently in on the ruse.) And what of the dreams? Prophetic visions are Desmond's deal, not Locke's, and Desmond's future seems ominous and potentially short. But while we're playing with names, why not ask whether Joseph's place could be taken by the only 'Joe' on the island - Kelvin 'Joe' Inman, the officer that conscripted Sayid into serving the American military and was living in the hatch when Desmond arrived several years ago? Sure, Desmond seemed to think that he killed him when they fought for control of the sailboat, but can we be certain?

More likely, of course, this is a red herring. If Lost has done anything well, it's done a great job of forcing us to shift our analytic lens, juggling its ancestor texts and influences so as to avoid ever seeming to favor one over the others for more than a short period of time. The Bible has been prominent this season, but that only leads me to suspect that it's usefulness must be coming to an end - and soon.


Lisa said...

Jacob is the great grandfather of Aaron.

And i think Locke is Jacob.

Anonymous said...

Hey look up the story of Josaiah. Lots to do with lost. Its also my favorite story.