Yesteday I took a drive to reconnoiter the brush fires near our house and heard an interview of Quentin Tarrantino by Terry Gross of the NPR program Fresh Air. It was mainly about Quentin's new movie, but at one point she asked him about the scene in Pulp Fiction where Samuel L. Jackson's character, Jules, recites a Bible verse, specifically Ezekiel 25:17. I have long thought that this scene is one of the most brilliantly written scenes in movie history, and it also contains, apparently, one of the best kept secrets. This is what Jules says:
"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you."
But Ezekiel 25:17 simply says:
"And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them."
And here are a few of the preceding verses:
"Unto the men of the east with the Ammonites, and will give them in possession, that the Ammonites may not be remembered among the nations. And I will execute judgments upon Moab; and they shall know that I am the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because that Edom hath dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and hath greatly offended, and revenged himself upon them; Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will also stretch out mine hand upon Edom, and will cut off man and beast from it; and I will make it desolate from Teman; and they of Dedan shall fall by the sword. And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel: and they shall do in Edom according to mine anger and according to my fury; and they shall know my vengeance, saith the Lord GOD. Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because the Philistines have dealt by revenge, and have taken vengeance with a despiteful heart, to destroy it for the old hatred; Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will stretch out mine hand upon the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethims, and destroy the remnant of the sea coast."
All that stuff about shepherds and the path of the righteous man, which is integral to Jules's incongruous (because he is a hit man after all) philosophical analysis in the climactic scene, isn't there. I had always thought that Tarrantino composed those lines, and I was expecting him to reveal this when Terry Gross (who apparently hadn't done her homework) asked, not about this wonderful hoax, but simply how Tarantino came to choose that particular verse.
The answer shocked me: he said that he stole it from another movie! (I forget which one.) So not only had Gross apparently not bothered to look that verse up, Tarantino hadn't either!
This still ranks in my book as one of the great inside jokes in all of moviedom. But I am disappointed to learn that, apparently, it was played on Quentin Tarantino and not by him.