By Talemoh Wycliffe Dah
To be fair, the bramble has good things to its name. It is good for making fences and even has fruits, the search for which has turned its name to a verb, as in ‘let us bramble’. However, the bramble is famous (indeed, infamous) for its thorny characteristics.
In Genesis chapter three, Adam, having succumbed to nagging from Eve, ate the forbidden fruit and incurred God’s punishment. He, among other things, would see his greatest resource, land, bring forth thorns and thistles (brambles). It was also the bramble that lent its rough, tangled and prickly branch for the construction of the mockery crown of thorns for Jesus Christ before He was led away to be crucified.
Another character of the bramble is its resilience to pruning; if this was a human being that will mean he won’t take advice from people to be more efficient. Neither will he agree he is ever wrong. The bramble also sends strong horizontal roots among hedges or other plants in its territory, holding the plants hostage and making it impossible to weed. This behavioral impropriety makes botanical sociology impossible to sanitise. A human bramble will hold hostage the land by his actions or inactions, making it impossible for the society to make progress. He will stealthily, through his deadly roots underground, hold the society hostage. You will either pledge allegiance or bear the suffocation underground (call it hidden agenda) or grow upwards through his canopy and be shredded by his thorns (his enforcement agents who have readymade trumped-up charges to incarcerate you).
Jotham Ibn Jerubbaal Joash de Benjamin, in Judges 9, likened the bramble to a certain mean human. In his metaphorical account, a situation of power vacuum occurred in a certain botanical garden. One after the other, they approached the olive, the fig and the vine but all declined, citing their usefulness to God and mankind. They had no choice but to approach the basest, hurtful and most unprofitable of trees, the bramble, to rule over them. He gave them his condition and put a curse should they fail. They should come and put their faith under his shadow, failing which fire should emanate from him and devour the cedars of Lebanon. This thorny and diminutive shrub insisted that tall trees bend to come under it or else it will destroy them. Like a most unworthy, unschooled human insisting things must be his way or else he will let loose mayhem on others.
The bramble is tough, and succulent plants succumb before they are approached. The bramble is actually useless, for even for fences it has been replaced by walls, barbed or other wire and electric fence.
There are many other better fruits and nobody will today approach the bramble for its fruits. And Christ will never be crucified a second time.
Back to the story. A judge in Isreal, Gideon (alias Jerubbaal), second only to King Solomon in polygamy, had at least seventy one sons and a son of a concubine. Gideon had refused to be king because he understood that theocracy was the practice of the kingdom. But in the minds of the people, a power vacuum existed after his death. This gave his concubine’s son (the basest and most unqualified of his sons), Abimelech, ideas about being king. But how does he surmount seventy obstacles? He went to his mother’s people who not only gave him support but got money dedicated to their idol and gave him to hire assassins who killed all the sons of Gideon except the youngest, Jotham, who gave us the metaphor. Abimelech, now the only sire (so he thought) was then made king by his maternal uncles. He ruled for three years during which fire from him did consume the cedars of Lebanon. And, of course, fire from them also consumed Abimelech.
When brambles force themselves to rule, the people will surely suffer but at the end, fire from the people will enjoy the fuel provided by the oily core of the bramble.
Or when a people force brambles on others, they will reap fire from the bramble who in turn will be consumed by the fire, itself being in the midst. Drawing from Jotham’s metaphor, the bramble will not only expire but will not be listed as a Judge, or, at best, his memory will be ignoble.
▪ Dah, a medical consultant, contributed this parable of Bramble from Abuja