Many people believe that in his epic “Song of Ice and Fire” series George RR Martin is drawing on historical episodes from the War on the Roses. However, while this may be true for the political machinations in Kings Landing, it seems as if the Nights’ Watch adventures on and around the Wall are a rather overt retelling of the Exodus story. Although the metaphor is inexact, consider the details of the life of Jon Snow.
- Born into royalty but smuggled away from his true origins and raised as a member of a noble house. Forced to witness the systematic oppression of his people. This works whether he is a Targaryan or a Stark progeny.
- Secretly sympathetic to the downtrodden (among the Watch and then the wildings), always an outsider, a man of two spheres
- Jon Snow exhibits an appropriate and neurotic anxiety over sexual intercourse and perhaps even a touch of shame.
- Takes an excursion as an outcast into the wilderness, where he finds love and learns new things about himself. Rose Leslie’s character even serves as a rather ingenious stand-in for an encounter with a “burning bush”.
- We haven’t seen Jon Snow being good with money, or try to dance, or face accusations of putting blood in his matzah…but then again, Moses didn’t have to face these modern stereotypes either. Jon Snow is the uber-Jew, the warrior who leads the nebbish out of the darkness.
This leaves several important unanswered questions:
- Is Jon Snow circumsized? Neither book description nor television depiction answers this definitively. It’s possible, but unlikely, that this is part of taking the vows at the Wall. Winterfell didn’t appear to have a mohel, certainly not one who was kosher certified. But it was possible that it was done in secret, with the help of his adoptive father Ned. This leads to another question, however: where is Jon’s foreskin? Surely the red priestess could have use for such an item, for there is much magic to be wrung from such a specimen.
- What plagues will Jon Snow unleash upon Westeros? Dragons, I would imagine. Lots of dragons. Will the white walkers take the first born sons of every noble in Westeros? That feels a bit contrived. It looks like darkness and winter will descend on Westeros completely independent of Jon’s doing.
- Where is the promised land? Valyria? King’s Landing? Winterfell? It’s all speculation for now.
- Winter is Coming…So Where are the Latkes? Probably not from Sam. That guy can’t cook for shit. Jon is too busy. Perhaps he can conscript some Wildlings into doing kitchen work. Tormund can peel the potatoes, little Ollie can heat the oil. Are the Nights’ Watch allowed to accept gifts? If Jon Snow wants to prove himself as a leader, perhaps he can help the Wildings and the Crows bond over spinning the dreidel.
You Know Bupkes, Jon Snow!
***(SPOILER ALERT- FOR THOSE WHO, LIKE JON, ALSO KNOW BUPKES)***
UPDATE: SEASON FIVE FINALE IMPLICATIONS
Can you believe the chutzpa of the showrunners (and George RR Martin)? To spend (literally) years building up speculation on the origins of this character, to predicate his value to the story on future revelations, only to make him the latest casualty in the shlocky, shocky death toll that mounts every season in the rather nihilistic land of Westeros?
Let’s assume, then, that for story purposes Jon essentially must be resurrected somehow. What does that mean for his Judaism?
Well, one of the most famous Jews in history was famously resurrected.
But that’s not a Moses story at all. It’s also kind of trite. It would be a better tale if Jon Snow was more of a mishmash of various Jewish mythical figures. And that is why I think it is far more appropriate and apropos if Jon Snow is reborn as a kind of GOLEM
The Golem’s role in Judaism is a kind of unkillable savior who is brought to life to defend them against the Goyim. The Golem has unrivaled power but my impression of the mythology is that with great power comes great responsibility…and general danger.
The Golem is like unleashing the kraaken but these are the Jews so instead its more like unleashing this gross Jewish man made out of clay. And while yes, Kit Harrington is very far from ugly, this is the realities of television and besides, we don’t know how he will be changed by his rite of passage through death and back again. Will he be burned and unburned? Will he look like a White Walker? Who is the enemy in this confusing story, exactly? It would be such a Jewish kind of angst if Jon Snow is reborn as an invincible weapon…who is reluctant because he sees good and bad in everyone. How does uber-Jew Jon Snow mete out justice in a complex, convoluted fantasy world? Perhaps he will prove his Judaism once and for all…by giving up and moving to King’s Landing to do bad vaudevillian stand-up.
What reader would see that coming. Me. (except I’m not a reader of the series)