Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Captain Peleg

Peleg is my husband. It's an uncommon name even in Israel, where he was born, and I've never met another Peleg. The name appears in the Bible, but only in genealogical lists (Genesis 10 and Matthew 1 and Luke 3), with no story attached so the name isn't memorable. The word Peleg means a branching stream, or anything that divides, and in Genesis we're told that Peleg lived when the earth was divided. Some Creationists think that refers to when the techtonic plates moved apart to create the continents. Most biblical scholars think it refers to the story of Babel, when human languages and cultures were divided.

Last night I discovered the name Peleg in an unexpected place, Moby Dick. Moby Dick is one of my favorite books but I had only read it once, about 25 years ago, long before I met Peleg. So yesterday I decided it was time to read it again. And there on page 71 in my edition, halfway through chapter 16, I see my husband's name. Captain Peleg is one of the two owners of the Pequod, the ship Ishmael will sail on under the command of Ahab. Peleg is a significant character for the next several chapters until the ship leaves Nantucket.

So 25 years ago I read that name with no special meaning, and promptly forgot about it. And then 12 years ago I met my Peleg and thought I'd never heard the name before. Now to find my husband in Moby Dick gives me one more reason to love the book.

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