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Topic: The Mystery of Tom Bombadil

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Tom Bombadil
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Posts: 1886
Date: Aug 31, 2011
The Mystery of Tom Bombadil

Here is a thread in which we can explore the mystery of Tom Bombadil. I would ask all of you who want to participate not to get links from somewhere else, but go and search the books, draw your own conclusions, search the web etc. But please, don't go to the Plaza, which has a vast compendium on the old fellow. I would like to encoruage everyone to find things for themselves, not somebody elses labors.

Lets start with the FOTR, wehre the hoobits meet Tom and get help escaping Old Man Willow



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Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, Jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

Tower Guard of Minas Tirith - Rank 4
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Date: Sep 1, 2011
Well Arwen, I was very excited about this topic so I wanted to take the time to research it properly. Sorry for the delay. But here we go!
We first see Tom when he saves Merry and Pip from the old man willow. When Frodo tells Tom what happened to his friend Tom says '"What'? shouted Tom Bombadil, leaping up in the air. 'Old Man Willow? Naught worse than that, eh? That can soon be mended. I know the tune for him. Old grey Willow-man! I'll freeze his marrow cold, if he don't behave himself. I'll sing his roots off. I'll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away. Old Man Willow!'"
The part that I find most interesting is how much of this is about singing. "I know the tune for him" and such. Remind anyone of the songs in the begining of the silmarillion from the Ainur?

And later in FotR chapter 'in the house of Tom Bombadil' Frodo bluntly asks Toms wife, Goldberry "'Fair lady!' Said Frodo again after a while. 'Tell me, if my asking does not seem foolish, wo is Tom Bombadil?'
'He is,' said Goldberry, staying her swift movements and smiling.
Frodo looked at her questioningly. 'He is, as you have seen him.' She said in answer to his look. 'He is the master of wood, water, and hill.'"
That seems like quite a bit of mastery. Wood, water, and hill? What the meaning of these three things is I do not know.
Later in the chapter is this conversation;
"'Who are you, Master?' He (Frodo) asked.
'Eh, what?' Said Tom sitting up, and his eyes glinting in the gloom. 'Dont you know my name yet? That's the only answer. Tell me, who are you, alone yourself and nameless? But you are young and I am old. Eldest, that's what I am. Mark my words, my friends: Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn. He made paths before the Big People, and saw the little People arriving. He was here before the Kings and the graves and the Barrow-wights. When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent. He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless-before the Dark Lord came from Oustside'"
Now, there are a few very important details about this. Obviously we see that Tom is very very old. And ageless it seems. The last part "before the Dark Lord came from Outside." I take it the Dark Lord mentioned is Morgoth not Sauron who was also refered to as the Dark Lord I believe. And also when he said he came from "Outside" you'll have to notice that Outside is capitalized. As in a place that was being refered to as Outside and not just saying from outside of this place, if that makes sense. Also skipping ahead to TTT, the chapter is the white rider. The quote is Gandalf saying this of Treebeard;
"' Treebeard is Fangorn, the guardian of the forest; he is the oldest of the Ents the oldest living thing that still walks beneath the Sun upon this Middle-earth'" so we see that unless Gandalf is mistaken, unlikely, Tom Bombadil is not the oldest living thing in Middle-earth, that title belongs to Treebeard. And that's all I have right now, I'll post more if and when I find it :)

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But no wizardry nor spell, neither fang nor venom,nor devil's art nor beast-strength, could overthrow Huan of Valinor;
Guard of Armenelos - Rank 4
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To further my opinion I have to pose a question beforehand (any help with this would be appreciated) Is Tom locked into his land? I mean Arnor of old. It seems that all the hints within the quote provided by Huan points to him always being in the land of the Old Forest?

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Tower Guard of Minas Tirith - Rank 4
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Date: Sep 1, 2011
In the FotR the chapter the council of Elrond they discuss if Tom could help them in their task and this follows
" 'Could we not still send messages to him and obtain his help?' Asked Erestor. 'It seems that he has a power even over the Ring.' 'No, I should not put it so.' Said Gandalf. 'Say rather that the Ring has no power over him. He is his own master. But he cannot alter the Ring itself, nor break its power over others. And now he is withdrawn into a little land, within bounds that he has set, though none can see them, waiting perhaps for a change of days, and he will not step beyond them.' "
So clearly we see that A) Tom set his bounderies, no one else. And B) he WILL not step beyond them. Not that he can't simply he will not. Does that clear that matter up?

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But no wizardry nor spell, neither fang nor venom,nor devil's art nor beast-strength, could overthrow Huan of Valinor;
Tom Bombadil
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Date: Sep 1, 2011

We know that Sauron was cast "Into the Void" by the Valar. That was definitely something I would consider "Outside"
I don't know if any of you have studied the bible, but G-D's name out of the Hebrew is related to that of Tom. Moses asked at the burning bush "Who should I say send me?" he WAS THEN TOLD "Tell the children of Israel I AM send me" which basically also can be interpreted as "He is"

There is the Elvish name of Tom Iarwain - Ben - Adar, which means "old-without-father. "
The professor probably knew Hebrew being a linguist because Ben mean Son and Adar is the "Beginning and Spring" of the year according to agriculture. So you can also say if in a different language means, "Son of the Spring" or "Son of the Beginning."

G-D also does not have a father or a beginning. G-D also rules over nature, as it says in psalms. So does Tom.

And I think you have something there Huan, with the Ainulindalë reference. Maybe HE is the Physical Essence of Eru Iluvatar on Arda. Like the Deity in the Flesh as to where on the other side Eru is in Spirit form. Do not forget that the Ainur are SPIRITS and can take up bodies, but they are a race of spirits, who have chosen to give themselves bodies.

I am not a Christian, but Jewish, but I learned in School in Germany where you have mandatory religious instruction in public school, that Jesus is supposed to be G-D in the Flesh, and is also called "The Word" which implies action and power.

I like you guys to mull this through and see what you think or can come up with.



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Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, Jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

Guard of Armenelos - Rank 4
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Date: Sep 1, 2011

Huan and Arwen, that clears things up! Thank you both.


Now! This also solidifies a theory of mine that I shall reveal at the end of this post.

     But first:  Tom is definitely older than Treebeard because the Spring of Arda happens about 2000 years after the Valar descend into Arda in the first couple of years in recorded times called the Valian years. In the second tier of recorded time called the Years of the Lamps; all plant life grows for the first time (Spring of Arda). Before the years of the Sun. It's easy after that to deduce that Treebeard couldn't be older than Tom. Besides I remember reading that the Dwarves and Ents were awakened by Eru about the same time, then the elves taught them to speak.

In short I think Tolkien reversed alot of things in his creation such as:
Most civilizations considered the Sun to be Masculine and in Tolkien's books the Sun is a She, the Moon is a He...Perhaps he took Mother Nature and made him a Father Nature instead. The Master of Wood, Water and Hill? Sounds like Father Nature to me.

Very interesting about Tom Bombadil setting his own boundaries. I had forgotten that part of the Council of Elrond. Thank you Huan. Now that makes more sense for my idea...I think Lady Goldberry is Niniel, Turin Turambar's sister/wife. Stay with me now...She throws herself into the river Tieglan thinking Turin dead and is never seen again. I think Tom finds her washed up in the river before the world is changed by the War of Wrath. Far fetched I know, but wouldn't that be something?



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Tower Guard of Minas Tirith - Rank 4
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J7 that is quite the theory to say the least! I somehow remember the FotR chapeter the house of Tom Bombadil discribing Goldberry as and elf-maiden or something along those lines. I also find your theory on Tom being Father Time surprisingly rational.
And Arwen, the idea of Tom being Eru is not so farfetched as people might think. I don't think Tom is a Maia because of the lack of power the ring has over hime. Sauron is one of the greatest maiar ever and his/the Ring's power is more then anyone else in middle-earth could ignore so easily. Now, it seems just as likely that when the Valar sang for Eru before the creation of Arda that perhaps Tom was another one of these spirits. To be compared to the Valar in my mind not the maiar. Maybe he came to Arda as well but stayed out of the drama of the ages. That's my theory anyway :)

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But no wizardry nor spell, neither fang nor venom,nor devil's art nor beast-strength, could overthrow Huan of Valinor;
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What if Tom was in Eru's song as a part of creation, just like trees or water or mountains, stones, dirt, etc.    

      I think the reason the ring has no power over him is because he simply didn't care about it. His cares were for natural things and not bobbles or trinkets. It would never enter his mind to possess it. Like Gandalf says in the Council of Elrond: "And if he were given the Ring, he would soon forget it, or most likely throw it away. Such things have no hold on his mind. He would be a most unsafe guardian; and that alone is answer enough."

Then later Galdor says: "I know little of Iarwain save the name," said Galdor, "but Glorfinel, I think, is right. Power to defy our Enemy is not in him, unless such power is in the earth itself." I found that quote to be closer to the mark when it comes to declaring the notion of Father Earth or Nature himself.

And Huan, don't be surprised when I finally say something rational. It stings a little when you do that! Lol! Just bustin' your stones buddy! Cheers

P.S. I said Father Nature, not Father Time.



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Tower Guard of Minas Tirith - Rank 4
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Oh wow! I'm so sorry Jaidoprism7. I most definatly did not mean you were not rational. Though looking at my post I see how it comes off that way. Truelly sorry. And I see that I said Father Time too, obviously that's not what you said and I don't know how I confused it. But I am sorry for the confusion good sir!

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But no wizardry nor spell, neither fang nor venom,nor devil's art nor beast-strength, could overthrow Huan of Valinor;
Guard of Armenelos - Rank 4
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No problem. I kinda took your wording and scrambled it to serve my joke. No harm done. You're a good soul. Carry on!

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Tom Bombadil
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Jaidoprism7, you sound like a drill sergeant:" Carry on" Are you or have you been in the Military?

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Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, Jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

Guard of Armenelos - Rank 4
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No. Got assessed for Pilot training in the Air Force but was denied because I had asthma past the age of eight. I do, however, come from a family of rich military history. Maybe some rubbed offsmile



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Tom Bombadil
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Always appreciate people with a history of Duty to our country. I am the Chaplain and the Adjutant of our Local Jewish War Veterans Post. My husband was in the Army During Nam and my son did a 4 year hike in the Army. I am also working on getting my weight below 200 to get back into the TXSG

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Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, Jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

Guard of Armenelos - Rank 4
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Date: Sep 5, 2011
That is amazing ArwenLegolas! You have tradition of service just withing your own ranks. Sounds like a proud unit you have there and to know that your a Tolkien enthusiast to boot? I am in great company here.

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Tom Bombadil
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Date: Sep 5, 2011
:) Thanks Jaidoprism7

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Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, Jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

Tom Bombadil
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Date: Sep 7, 2011
Huan, but Tom called his lady "River-woman's Daughter" So how could she have been an Elleth?

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Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, Jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

Tower Guard of Minas Tirith - Rank 4
Status: Offline
Posts: 377
Date: Sep 7, 2011
Elleth?

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But no wizardry nor spell, neither fang nor venom,nor devil's art nor beast-strength, could overthrow Huan of Valinor;
Tom Bombadil
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Posts: 1886
Date: Sep 7, 2011
Sindarin for Female Elf. You mean you do not know Sindarin Huan?

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Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, Jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

Tower Guard of Minas Tirith - Rank 4
Status: Offline
Posts: 377
Date: Sep 7, 2011
I'm afaid not Arwen. What made you think I did?

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But no wizardry nor spell, neither fang nor venom,nor devil's art nor beast-strength, could overthrow Huan of Valinor;
Tom Bombadil
Status: Offline
Posts: 1886
Date: Sep 8, 2011
I figured everybody who is a serious student of Tolkien would learn at least some of the Elven language(s)
( Which does not mean that you are not a serious Tolkien Scholar) I guess I am a little ambitious when it comes to studying.
But if you are happy the way you are who am I to tell that you should learn Elvish, because it is by no means easy. Although, I have started a Sindarin course on the Forums several times.

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Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, Jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Date: January 11th
Sindarin course? Where? I really want to speak it but I can't find a place to learn it.

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All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Date: January 11th
I don't think that Niniel and Goldberry are the same person because Niniel would have died when she hit the water. Tom Bombadil also can't be Eru because then he would just kill Sauron without letting so many people die. If he is, and Niniel is Goldberry, that doesn't make sense because why would a god marry a mortal?

__________________
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
Status: Offline
Posts: 10
Date: January 12th

I don't know excactly what this means, but when Tom is scaring off the Barrow-Wight, this is what he says:
"Get out you old Wight! Vanish into the sunlight! / Shrivel like the cold mist, like the winds go wailing, / Out into the barren lands far beyond the mountains!" 

These mountains can't be the Misty Mountains, because the lands beyond them are the same as the lands in front of them. That leaves Mordor - but that isn't where they are from. But remember, Smeagol tells Frodo and Sam about lands beyond Mordor where the yellow face of the sun always shines, and there are dark people there - those people are probably the Barrow-Wights, and that is beyond Mordor, which is surrounded by mountains. This implies that he has been there before and knows what's there, but doesn't he stay near where he lives? Yes. Answer: he once lived there.



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All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
 
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