The Lost King of Israel

On the king’s gate the moss grew gray; the king came not.


The words of the Hebrew prophets speak to us of a lost kingship, a Once and Future king. It is a story that has come down to us from the elder days, the stuff of legend come unalterably true.

We can pull two themes from the excerpts below: the one is the concept of a king’s touch having the power to heal, the other is that of a king returning from the deeps of time, as it were, to reclaim a throne.

“Dreams and legends!” we may say. “Do we walk in those legends or on the green earth in the daylight?”

And Aragorn answers us: “A man may do both.”

These words were spoken of that lost king three thousand years ago in a desolate land, before Israel existed as a country or a kingdom:

I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel…

From The Fellowship of the Ring:

The hobbits did not understand his words, but as he spoke they had a vision as it were of a great expanse of years behind them, like a vast shadowy plain over which there strode shapes of Men, tall and grim with bright swords, and last came one with a star on his brow.

And from the movie version of the same:

"The line of kings is broken. There is no strength left in the world of men. They’re scattered, divided, leaderless."

"There is one who could unite them, one who could reclaim the throne of Gondor."

The breaking of the line of kings of Israel happened over 2,500 years ago, with the sack of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzer. The king is taken to Babylon a prisoner, and his sons executed, but the prophet Ezekiel speaks of a future king:

Remove the diadem, and take off the crown, this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is…

Let us turn aside here for a moment to the idea that the true king will be known by his ability to heal. Here is one of the more spectacular events from the book of John regarding Christ:

Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, “Weep not.” And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.” And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak.

And he delivered him to his mother. And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, “That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.” And this rumor of him went forth throughout all Judea, and throughout all the region round about.

And back to the “second sacred text”:

Then Gandalf said: “Let us not stay at the door, for the time is urgent. Let us enter! For it is only in the coming of Aragorn that any hope remains for the sick that lie in the House. Thus spake Ioreth, wise-woman of Gondor: ‘The hands of the king are the hands of a healer, and so shall the rightful king be known…”

…Suddenly Faramir stirred, and he opened his eyes and he looked on Aragorn who bent over him; and a light of knowledge and love was kindled in his eyes, and he spoke softly. “My lord, you called me. I come. What does the king command?”

”Walk no more in the shadows, but awake!” said Aragorn. “You are weary. Rest a while and take food and be ready when I return…”

…Pippin heard Ioreth exclaim: “King! Did you hear that? What did I say? The hands of a healer, I said.” And soon the word had gone out from the House that the king was indeed coming among them, and after war, he brought healing…

From the Revelation of St. John:

…the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Back to the throne itself:

The Christ is to restore the line of kings begun and broken thousands of years before.

From the book of Isaiah, and well familiar to Messiah aficionados:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever.

From the book of John:

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight…but now is my kingdom not from hence.”

Pilate therefore said unto him, “Art thou a king then?”

Jesus answered, “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth…”

And from the book of Daniel:

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

One passage from The Return of the King suffices here, I think, to make the point:

”I will, lord,” said Faramir. “For who would lie idle when the king has returned?”


C. Baillie / '03



Christianity and Middle-Earth