Exodus, lines 389-476

The digression on Abraham continues, with a more detailed rendering of the story of the Sacrifice of Isaac. The angel, after telling Abraham not to kill his son, continues with the promise of God’s favor for the descendants of Abraham.

At this point in the manuscript there are two blank leaves, which were probably intended to hold illustrations. There is also a break in the narrative, indicating the loss of an additional leaf. The story picks up with the Israelites on the other side of the Red Sea.

The poem then describes the water rushing back on the Egyptians, destroying the army. The poet seems to revel in the scenes of destruction and terror: the sea is filled with blood, and soon the air is, also.

Exodus, lines 299-388

The host arises and begins to sing. Then the fourth tribe begins to travel the path through the sea, following the banner of a golden lion. Then follow the sons of Reuben [who are called “saewikingas”(sea-vikings, i.e., sea-raiders) by the poet]. The people of Simeon follow them while the sun rises, and the rest of the tribes of Israel continue through the sea. Then there is a digression that begins with a brief treatment of the story of Noah and then continues with a more detailed treatment of the story of Abraham.

Exodus, lines 200-298

An angel blocks the view of the pursuing army and the Israelites are able to rest for the night. In the morning Moses commands the warriors to summon the people with their trumpets. The soldiers prepare for battle, putting on their armor. [The poet calls the Israelites “flotan” (seafarers)]. We learn of the members of the army, their numbers and bravery. The army is ready and the standard is raised. The leader then exhorts his men, telling them not to fear because the Lord will kill the Egyptians and protect the Israelites. Moses says that he has brandished a “grene tacen” [a “green token”; Tolkien would emend to “tane.” The Latin in Exodus xiv.16 in the Vulgate uses “virga” here, and the poet may have thought it important to convey the specific meaning of “virga” as a freshly cut branch (hence “green”)] and that the sea is now opening up a wondrous pathway through the waves.

Exodus, 98-199

In the morning the men lift up their voices and march to the shore of the sea, where they make their fourth encampment. But now they begin to hear tidings of fear: the Egyptians are pursuing them.

At this point there is a lacuna, a gap in the sense of the manuscript indicating that something is missing from the poem.
The poem now gives history, telling how Pharoah became the ruler of the Egyptians and how they forgot their promises to the Israelites and set out to put down the rebellion. The Israelites see the Egyptian troops approaching. The “Beasts of Battle” (birds, wolves) make an appearance as the Egyptian army comes closer and the battle is about to be joined.

Exodus, lines 1-97

The poem opens very much like Beowulf, with a proem that sets up the basic outline of the story (not that the proem outline is followed throughout Beowulf). In this case, the poem says it will be about how Moses declared the law to mankind.

The story begins with God speaking to Moses and giving him power for the march from Egypt. God aids Moses’ people as they march through the land, covering them with a protecting cloud by day and leading them with a pillar of fire by night.

Genesis, 2760-2936 [end]

Then God comes to Sara, and Sara conceives from Abraham and the child is named Isaac. He grows up and thrives, and Sara becomes concerned about Ismael, the son of Hagar the slave woman. God tells Abraham to cast them out, but that a nation will arise from Ismael. Abimelch and Abraham settle a dispute and make a covenant at Beersheba. And Abraham travels in the lands of the Philistines.

Then God tells Abraham that he must sacrifice his own son, Isaac. He travels to the place of sacrifice, and then leaves his men behind as he and Isaac climb the hill. Isaac asks where the sheep is that they are to sacrifice. Abraham says that God will find a sheep as is fitting to Him. They build a pyre and Abraham binds Isaac on it. Abraham raises his sword to kill Isaac, but then an angel speaks in a loud voice, stopping him. Abraham finds a ram with its horns entangled in briars, and he sacrifices it in place of Isaac. Then Abraham thanks God for everything God had done for him.

The poem ends here, although there is obviously a great deal more of the book of Genesis that either never was paraphrased in Old English verse (most likely) or was lost.

Genesis, lines 2600-2759

Lot becomes drunk, and his daughters lie with him. From them are born a son named Moab and a son named Ammon. As seems to be the case when discussing particularly weird or unpleasant material, the poet points out that “the writings tell us” this. From Moab come the Moabites and from Ammon the Ammonites.

Abraham and Sara travel into the land where Abimelech is king, and they once again use the trick of saying that Sara is Abraham’s sister.  Abimelech seizes Sara. God comes to Abimelech in a dream and says that Abilmelech shall die because he has taken Sara. But Abimelech pleads with God, pointing out that he did not know Sara was married and that he has done nothing to her. God tells Abimelech to give Sara back to Abraham, and states that Abraham is a prophet. Abimelech asks Abraham why he said Sara was his sister, and Abraham explains himself. Abimelech gives them gifts. God had been angry with Abimelech and afflicted him and his people, but now, at the urging of Abraham, he heals them.

Genesis, lines 2462-2599

Lot quickly comes out and says that he has two pure daughters, and he offers to give these daughters to the crowd if they will leave the strangers alone. But the crowd tries to grab Lot and force their way into his house. Then the angels strike the entire crowd blind. The angels then tell Lot that if he has any kinsmen or friends in the city that he should bring them out, because they (the angels) are going to destroy Sodom and Gomorra with fire. Helped by the angels, Lot and his wife and two daughters flee to hills. Sodom and Gomorra are destroyed, and Lot’s wife, who looks back. is turned into statue of salt. After a somewhat homiletic passage that recapitulates what happened and is sure to attribute it to the power of of God, we learn that Lot went up into the hills and dwelled in a cave with his two daughters.

Genesis, lines 2338-2461

Abraham asks that Ishmael be blessed by God, and God agrees, but He says he will hold His covenant with Isaac, whom Sara will bear. Abraham does what God commands [circumcises the men in his family]. Sara, hearing that she is to bring forth a child, laughs. But God says he speaks that truth and that Abraham will see his own child.

Abraham and God and angels set out go to Soddom. God says to Abraham that he has heard an outcry about the sin of this city. He will go down there and see what men do. [Abraham’s pleading with God to save the city if even ten righteous men can be found is absent from the poem at this point].

Two angels go into Sodom, Lot sees them and asks them to come into his house. The angels say they will stay in the street, but then they agree to go with Lot. Then the young and the old of Sodom come to Lot’s house and command him to bring forth his guests.

Genesis, lines 2234-2337

Abraham conceives a child on Hagar, the maid.  There is strife between Hagar and Sara,  but Abraham reminds Sara that she has power over her maid, and Sara deals harshly with her.   Hagar then departs, and while in the wilderness encounters an angel.  The angel tells her that her son will be named Ishmael and will be violent and rule over other men.  Ishmael is born.  Thirteen years later, God speaks to Abraham and tell him that He will make Abraham the father of a great people if Abraham will listen to Him.  He commands Abraham to have every male child marked with a token (circumcised) on the seventh night after his birth.  And he tells Abraham that he will have a son named Isaac from Sara.

Genesis, lines 2126-2233

The king of Sodom and Abraham divide the booty equally (the famous “not take a thread or a sandal thong” is rendered as “sceat ne scilling” [suggesting that this alliterating OE half-line is commonplace]). God speaks to Abraham and says that He will always protect him with His hands. Abraham worries that he has no son of his own. God says that Abraham will have innumerable descendants and remind Abraham that He is the Lord who has led him out of Chaldea and given all this land to him. Sara, sorrowful that she has not borne children, brings her Egyptian maid to Abraham so that he may beget a child upon her.

Genesis, lines 2018-2125

Abraham is told that this brother has been made captive, so he leads for his hearth-companions.  There is another great battle, described in Anglo-Saxon battle-poetry terms.  Abraham is victorious and the king of Solomia [Salem], Melchisedec (who is described as a “bishop”), blesses Abraham.

Genesis, lines 1890-2017

Abraham and Lot dwell in that place until there is not enough room for all of their possessions. Abraham says to Lot that they should separate and take more land, and they do this. Lot settles near the city of Sodom (this is, we learn, before Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by the dark fire). Then occurs the battle of the four kings against five, which is described using the tropes of Anglo-Saxon battle poetry. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah are defeated and Lot is captured by the victorious powers.

Genesis, lines 1767-1889

Abraham departs into the land of Canaan.  God tells him that this is the land he has promised to Abraham and his descendants.  Abraham settles near Bethlem.  Then a famine occurs, so Abraham goes down into Egypt.  Before he leaves, he says to his wife Sara that he expects the Egyptians to find her beautiful and therefore they will kill Abraham so that they may possess her.  So Abraham suggests that Sara say that she is his sister.  Pharaoh takes Sara into his house and for this reason is generous to Abraham.  But Pharoah is afflicted with suffering because of this; he learns that Sara is Abraham’s wife, returns her to him, and sends them both out of Egypt.  Abraham is now very wealthy, and he and his kin build a strong settlement near where he had previously lived.

Genesis, lines 1649-1766

The families of the sons of Noah spread into the east and came into the land of Sennar, where they settled. There they built a city and raised up a tower towards heaven. Then God came and set all their languages in different forms so that each did not understand what the other said. Abraham and Loth [Lot] are born and eventually Abraham is married to Sarra, but they have no sons or daughters. Abraham’s father takes Abraham, and Loth and leaves Chaldea to seek the land of Caanan. But they end up in the land of Carra [Haran]. Then God spoke to Abraham and told him to depart from Carra and seek a wide, green, blessed land. God says he will raise up a mighty people from Abraham.