Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Ingrid Betancourt, a Columbian politician, was kidnapped by FARC guerillas and held captive for six years. She and other hostages were finally freed by Columbian army forces.

Ms. Betancourt has written a book about her experiences, Even Silence Has An End , which I haven’t read and won’t discuss. What I want to call to your attention is a statement from an interview in which Ms. Betancourt talks about her captivity. She said that one of the few books she had access to was the Bible, and she read it over and over again. She described a passage that stuck out:

“It says that when you cross the valley of tears, and you arrive to the oasis, the reward of God is not success, it’s not money, it’s not admiration or fame, it’s not power. His reward is rest. So that’s what I want for me now.”

I think that’s very powerful, particularly given the circumstances in which she read it. But I can’t figure out what Bible passage she’s referring to.

Can you? Please comment.


  1. After looking up the Psalm in my copy of Dios habla hoy (which seems to be the Spanish equivalent of the Good News Bible), I'm pretty sure that she must be talking about it. Dios habla hoy translates what in the NRSV is "valley of Baca" and in the '79 BCP is "desolate valley" as "el valle de Lágrimas" - the valley of Tears."

  2. The 23rd psalm seems rather close to what she describes: "He makes me lie down in green pastures" (rest) "and leads me beside still waters." (the oasis) "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." (the valley of tears)

  3. It's hard to put all the referants she makes into a single verse. Inasmuch as she may provide her own synonym for an oasis (is the word oasis even in any translation, or for that matter "valley of tears"?), she could be referring to Isaiah 35:1, or perhaps even earlier on in references to Kadesh-Barnea. Even Isaiah 17, or sections of Jeremiah could work.
    It doesn't spell it out in the article, and we might presume as much, but it doesn't specify that the bible she read was in spanish.