By Paul Traeger
The next time you see the traditional Indigenous man on the Australian two-dollar coin, ponder the meaning of his beard. Then, remembering Psalm 133, pray for the Spirit’s blessing to trickle down, via the leaders, onto many Indigenous communities.
Psalm 133 in Aboriginal Context
‘How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.’ Psalm 133
This psalm now translated into Pitjantjatjara, had a big impact on people when it was preached some time ago. Following H C Leupold’s insights, the Pintupi–Luritja listeners were taught that the image of Aaron’s long, oily beard showed how God’s blessing can flow to a whole community.
As in traditional Aboriginal society, the elders among God’s Old Testament people were discouraged from trimming their beards (Lev 19:7). The high priests, descendants of Aaron, were forbidden from cutting their beards under any circumstances (Lev 21:5).
So when the olive oil flowed down from the anointed high priest’s long beard it would touch his clothes. These clothes included the twelve jewels representing God’s people. In the Old Testament, the hair symbolised life. And the oil indicated God’s Holy Spirit.
This seems to suggest that a parallel blessing is unity, when head and body are of one mind. The blessing of unity seems to drip down from the leading spirits in the nation to the members of less importance in the official and social scale. The blessing drops down on all and infuses itself into them. The Spirit’s blessings thrive so much more richly when brotherly unity prevails … (See H C Leupold Exposition of the Psalms. Columbus, Ohio: Wartburg Press, 1959)
At the present time, two Pintupi–Luritja elders are worth mentioning in this regard….
Paul Traeger is the Ministry Support Worker for the Pintupi–Luritja language area.