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10,000 Rivers of Olive Oil

10,000 Rivers ©Jennifer Neal 2017

10,000 Rivers ©Jennifer Neal 2017

10,000 Rivers ©Jennifer Neal 2017

10,000 Rivers ©Jennifer Neal 2017

The exasperated people of Israel sarcastically ask God "What do you want from us? A burnt offering? 10,000 rivers of olive oil? Our firstborns?"

And Micah answers that God wants his people to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with him.

I've been fascinated, amused, and perplexed by this interchange in the Old Testament book of Micah. So I made an accordion fold art book inspired by the impossible spectacle of 10,000 rivers of olive oil and what that reveals about how Israel framed their responsibilities and relationship with God. As I worked on each page I thought about olive oil: its colors, how it's made, how its used, how much work and attention it would take to make 10,000 rivers. Olive oil is slippery, fluid, takes labor to cultivate and produce, and is used for sacred and common purposes.

What are the connections between the qualities of olive oil, the impossible quantities of it, what that reveals about how Israel approached God, and how that all relates to us today? Are there any connections? Art helps me explore those questions. I think there are lots of connections here that could be laid out and explained in words, but that is feeling like it would take an essay or a novel at this point. I do hope at least this post has shown you one example of how scripture can be approached creatively and artistically, and played with, and turned over to see its richness and complexity.