Hamlet Biblical References

Genesis chapter 4:Verse 7: if thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door, And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule oer him8: and cain talked with abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that cain rose up afainst abel his brother, and slew him12: when thou tilest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.13: and cain said unto the lord, my punishment is greater than I can bear (no forgiveness) The death of fathers is inevitable. The first corpse was the body of abel. Killed by his angry and jealous brother. In that little scene in act I scene ii caludius wants to show how one generation succeeds the next to shake hamlet from his state, but Shakespeare shows us the context of the first corpse. It is a rhetorically lazy thing to say for Claudius. We learn later on that Claudius murdered hamlet’s father. It is intriguing and in character for Claudius to bring this in from his own guilty conscience. But we know already from foreshadowing about cain and abel with the hint of the first corpse.KING. Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet, To give these mourning duties to your father; But, you must know, your father lost a father, That father lost, lost his…to persever In obstinate condolement is a course Of impious stubbornness; ’tis unmanly grief; It shows a will most incorrect to heaven…From the first corse till he that died today, ‘This must be so.’ (act 1)In the praying scene: There are only two characters on stage at the time and hamlet cant hear Claudius who thinks he is alone. Oh my offense is rank and smells to heaven- has the primal brother’s curse about it- the eldest murder. As in the biblical context, Claudius like cain finds that god rejects his prayer offering because he is not worthy.KING. O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven. It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t, A brother’s murder…What if this cursed hand Were thicker than itself with brother’s blood, Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens To wash it white as snow?
psalm 51 verse 7: ‘purge me with hyssop and I shall be whiter than snow’ he is trying to pray, but he is not willing to give up the throne and he can’t pray because he’s not really sorry. He has guilt though. The context makes Claudius identify himself with the sinner against the snowy penitent. Not rain enough in the heavens to wash it white as snow- a penitential psalm. Hisop used metaphorically to purge the psalmist of sins. So it shows how rank his sin is. Claudius: ‘Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens To wash it white as snow?
Colossians 1:20-22 ESV / 172 helpful votes Helpful Not HelpfulAnd through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,Romans 10:10 ESV / 119 helpful votes Helpful Not HelpfulFor with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.John 5:24 ESV / 119 helpful votes Helpful Not HelpfulTruly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.Matthew 7:21-23 ESV / 103 helpful votes Helpful Not Helpful”Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’Revelation 21:8 ESV / 89 helpful votes Helpful Not HelpfulBut as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” KING: Whereto serves mercy But to confront the visage of offence? And what’s in prayer but this twofold force, To be forestalled ere we come to fall, Or pardon’d being down? Then I’ll look up. My fault is past. But O, what form of prayer Can serve my turn? ‘Forgive me my foul murder?’ That cannot be, since I am still possess’d Of those effects for which I did the murder— My crown, mine own ambition and my queen. May one be pardon’d and retain the offence?HAM.Now might I do it pat, now he is praying. And now I’ll do’t. And so he goes to heaven; And so am I revenged. That would be scann’d: A villain kills my father, and for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send To heaven. O, this is hire and salary, not revengePolonius: My words fly up, my thoughts remain below. Words without thoughts never to heaven go. (act 3)
Isaiah, ch.1 verse 18: ‘come now and let us reason together, saith the lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow’ (forgiveness) Claudius: ‘Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens To wash it white as snow?
Final reference to Cain Act 5 scene 1 5:1- gravedigger’s sceneCain’s jawbone (76). Hamlet unconsciously echoes the allusions Claudius gave to cain. When there the gravedigger takes a skull and throws it down- like finding the skull of Cain- a horror. It could have been a politician, or anyone, as if it was cain’s jawbone. A gratuitous simile, but for the audience, we securely attached the biblical context to Claudius at the beginning, middle and end HAM.That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once. How the knave jowls it to the ground, as if it were Cain’s jawbone, that did the first murder. (act 5)
Judges chapter 11:30-934: and jephtah came to mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to met him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child: beside her he had neither son nore daughter35: and it came to pass when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said alas my daughter! Thou hast brought me ver low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the lord, and i cannot go back…she went and bewailed her virginity for two months. HAM.O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure hadst thou! POL.What a treasure had he, my lord? HAM.Why, One fair daughter, and no more, The which he loved passing well. POL.[ Aside] Still on my daughter. HAM.Am I not i’ the right, old Jephthah? POL.If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a daughter that I love passing well. HAM.Nay, that follows not. POL.What follows, then, my lord? HAM.Why, As by lot God wot, and then, you know, It came to pass, as most like it was— The first row of the pious chanson will show you more; for look where my abridgement comes. (act 2) hamlet and polonius about Jephtah’s daughter: 3:2 Polonius thinks that hamlet is mad because of love for Ophelia. Hamlet acts like he is mad talking about jephtah from the bible. It causes her daughter to be sacrificed. He vowed to the lord that if God delivers the battle in his hand, then the first daughter to leave the house will be offered up for a burned offering to god. So then he has to sacrifice his daughter. like jephtah’s daughter, and she will die after bewailing her virginitiy, which we know happens. The sequence of tragic events is analogous with what will happen in the play. So Shakespeare foreshadows the death of Ophelia through jephtah’s unnamed daughter, while no one knows this yet at the state. Also, he vows to prove hamlet’s madness, which will make the cause of ophelia’s death. So now we are prepared for gertrude’s sudden announcement in act 4 scne 7 of ophelia’s death.
Genesis ch41- pharoah’s dream of the 7 cows who were fat and 7 who were sick and then 7 ears of corn and then 7 weak ones and it meant 7 years of plenty and 7 of famine. Hamlet to Gertrude: This was your husband. Look you now, what follows: Here is your husband; like a mildew’d ear, Blasting his wholesome brother. (3:4)
While the grass grows, the horses starve. HAM.Sir, I lack advancement. ROS.How can that be, when you have the voice of the King himself for your succession in Denmark? HAM.Ay, sir, but ‘while the grass grows’— the proverb is something musty. (act 3)
Matthew 5: 27 You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not commit adultery.28 But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.29 And if thy right eye scandalize thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee. For it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body be cast into hell.30 And if thy right hand scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is expedient for thee that one of thy members should perish, rather than that thy whole body be cast into hell. Hamlet: Confess yourself to heaven, Repent what’s past, avoid what is to come, And do not spread the compost on the weeds, To make them ranker…QUEEN.O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain. HAM.O, throw away the worser part of it And live the purer with the other half. Good night. But go not to my uncle’s bed. (the sermon on the mount) (act 3)
[This may br a reference to a religious story in which a baker’s daughter, who refuses to give bread to Jesus, gets turned into an owl. Why does it pop into Ophelia’s mind? As Claudius suggests in his next line, she must be thinking about her father and herself, but why in the context of the owl story? The audience can answer, “Because she’s nuts,” but it will help the actress to have a more meaningful reason. Claudius: How do you pretty lady?Ophelia: Well, God ‘ild you [a form of “thank you”]! They say the owl was a baker’s daughter*. Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be. God be at your table!
Violets are symbolic of innocence. There are no verses in the bible actually condemning suicide. LAER.Must there no more be done? PRIEST.No more be done. We should profane the service of the dead To sing a requiem and such rest to her As to peace-parted souls. LAER.Lay her i’ the earth, And from her fair and unpolluted flesh May violets spring. I tell thee, churlish priest, A ministering angel shall my sister be When thou liest howling. (act 5)

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