Tom Bombadil = Eru?

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SigilMor 24/Dec/2006 at 02:18 PM
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I heard a theory that Tom Bombadil is really Eru, like, in disguise. It would make sense in some way because Tom Bombadil is the oldest being in Middle Earth, or something of the like. Plus, the one ring has no power over him. He didn’t do much to help Frodo and them in their quest, and i’ve read that Eru didn’t want to get too involved in the Middle Earth conflicts. Is their any support for this theory? I’ve also heard one that he was the Witchking in disguise or something. Thanks.
Alcarináro 24/Dec/2006 at 02:25 PM
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If you see a theory that says ’Tom Bombadil is’ and then a name of a person or a name of a race or group, it is wrong.

As to the argument about him being the oldest, and therefore Eru, the problem is that age involves Time. Time involves Ea, and the oldest would therefore be the first in Ea. Now, when the Ainur entered Ea, Eru stayed outside. If, and this is an if that we know is not the case, Eru ever entered Ea, he would have entered after the Ainur. Therefore they would have been older than him in Time.
As to the argument about the Ring, I really don’t see why people assume that in order to be free from the power of the Ring one must be Eru. It doesn’t logically follow.
As to Eru not wanting to get too involved, he caused the destruction of the Numenorean armada, he destroyed Numenor, he caused Gollum to fall into Mt. Doom. He’s not that unwilling, when the need arises.
halfir 24/Dec/2006 at 02:29 PM
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Sigilmor: Letter # 181:

’There is no embodiment of the One, of God, who remains remote, outside of the world...’ {my bold emphasis}

Therefore Tom cannot be Eru.

As for Tom Being the Witch King this is nothing more than a Website spoof which is quite fun to read:

If you want to learn about Tom - go here:

Tom Bombadil: Peeling the Onion

Darth Angelus 27/Dec/2006 at 02:47 AM
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Quote: Originally posted by Elenhir on Sunday, December 24, 2006
As to Eru not wanting to get too involved, he caused the destruction of the Numenorean armada, he destroyed Numenor, he caused Gollum to fall into Mt. Doom. He’s not that unwilling, when the need arises.
Has it been confirmed that Eru caused Gollum to fall into Mt. Doom? Just wondering. I can see why one would think that, and I am not questioning it or anything (in fact I think it is a fairly good idea). I just wonder if there is any source that confirms it.
halfir 27/Dec/2006 at 06:11 AM
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There are two letters of direct relevance to the point you raise as far as Eru’s intervention is concerned- the first Letter # 181 includes Tolkien’s comment that while there was no embodiment of the One, Eru, in ME, the ’finger of God’ did intervene on certain occasions. The second, Letter # 192 which tells us at the moment that Frodo - having:

’spent every drop of  his power of will and body’

sucumbs to the power of the One, Eru intervened:

’The Other Power then took over:the Writer of the Story (by which I do not mean myself), ’that one ever-present Person who is never absent and never named ’(as one ciritc has said).

BUT, and it is a critical BUT, in various other letters Tolkien makes it very clear that the  timely intervention of Eru in this instance occurred because Frodo had shown , of his own free will, mercy and pity towards Gollum , earlier.

To talk of  an Eruian intervention without that context is to totally  misrepresent the situation.


Wilibald Bumble 27/Dec/2006 at 08:37 AM
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Tom Bombadil is not really emphasized on in the books. He is indeed old than the "Firstborn came" as he suggests in the Fellowship of the Ring in the chapter In the House of Tom Bombadil.

I should mention here that halfir’s Peeling the Onion forum thread is extremely interesting as it gives a wide variety of what Tom could be. Some of it is very amusing though!

Tom might be J.R.R. Tolkien himself in his book and therefore not really mentioned upon.

Again read Halfir’s forum!

outtafitz836 28/Dec/2006 at 06:29 PM
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I’m not quite sure if this is right...*my mum has confiscated all of my LOTR stuff for the moment*, but doesn’t it say in the books that it isn’t Bombadil, but the Ents who are the oldest of all the beings in Middle Earth? I’m not sure remember, but I think the Ents are oldest. Can anyone back me up or prove me wrong?? And would the Ents know who Eru really was?? Just wondering.
Meril Green 29/Dec/2006 at 06:30 AM
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outtafitz- Last time I checked up on this subject, it was sort of controversial as to whom was older. Don’t the books say in one spot that Tom Bombadil was the eldest, yet in another spot say that the ents are?
As to your second question- I don’t think so- they were from Yavanna, and inhabited the lands of Middle Earth, eek, someone please correct me if I’m wrong.
halfir 29/Dec/2006 at 02:15 PM
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In an unpublished Letter Tolkien makes it clear that the term ’eldest’ when applied to Treebeard, is a courtesy title- thus making it a ’no -contest’ between him and Tom B. cf:

Eldest: Treebeard’’s Courtesy Title


*Celebdil* 29/Dec/2006 at 05:10 PM
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Tom Bombadil could be some sort of god-like figure. History or at least religious doctrine has shown that divine creatures send something to aid humanity. Christians believe Jesus was sent, Muslims believe Mohammed. The Jewish are still waiting. Although Tolkien has denied that religion played a major role in his books ,unlike C.S. Lewis, it would be hard to say that any religion influenced him at all. I don’t know if Tolkien was religious but how can anything not be influenced religion. Also, though Tom did not majorly help humanity he could be there to admire his work. I think that Wilibald Bumble’s statement is interesting, that he could be J.R.R. Tolkien himself. Artists have put themselves in their work. A theory of the Mona Lisa is that it is a female Da Vinci. I wouldn’t be suprised if it is Tolkien.

Telmar 30/Dec/2006 at 05:14 AM
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Another great debate personally I feel that Tom was of the Maia, and just distanced himself from the others. As to being the eldest ,in The Fellowship, chap11  The Council of Elrond,  Elrond says "But I had forgotten Bombadil, if indeed this is still the same that walked the woods and hills long ago, and even then he was older than old. That was not then his name . Iarwain Ben-adar we called him, oldest and fatherless."



Endril 30/Dec/2006 at 09:53 AM
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Telmar:welcome to the Plaza and yes, I have the same ideea and thought that before, that Tom is a maya.

I don’t think that he is Eru. Eru never came to EA as he was outside it, looking over all what happened. And why would Eru prove his strength by placing the ring on his finger? That’s wasn’t quite a thing to be made by the creator. He could have destroyed it while he had it if Tom would really have been Eru.
Togo Baggins 30/Dec/2006 at 11:06 AM
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I heard something of the likes of him being sort of like an elf... that would be the closest  he is i reckon.

geordie 30/Dec/2006 at 11:19 AM
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All good stuff - it’s all been said before, of course, but it’s good to see folk coming up with ideas and opinions, without being corrected too much, too soon. There’s been a lot written about Tom, and I don’t suppose we’ll ever get the answer; not really. I’m not convinced Tolkien had a fixed idea.

I recommend a thread by halfir in Advance Lore called. Tom Bombadil; Peeling the Onion. A stupendous piece of scholarship, which has left me [almost] speechless.

In the meantime, the general feeling is that Tom is not Eru; nor a maia [for various reasons]. Tom Shippey reckons he’s a _sui generis_ [spelling?] - which I think means a one-off. That’s the way my feelings on the matter go. Mind you, Tolkien himself once wrote ’in all stories there should be some enigmas. Tom is one, intentionally’.

As for him being Tolkien - I like that idea. One wag on a different forum once said he’d solved the Bombadil enigma - as we know, Tom is known by different names to different peoples. To the Elves Iarwain ben-adar. But to others, he has two other names: Forn, and also Orald. This clever clogs from another site reckons that, what with Ronald Tolkien being a cross-word fan, the names must form an anagram:

Forn + Orald = ’For Ronald’.

Telmar 30/Dec/2006 at 11:49 AM
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Mmmm.. I like the idea of him being a one off, a wildcard if you please. I checked the Halfir thread (briefly!), an amazing amount of effort put into that. Can you give me the main reason he’s not thought to be Maia please
halfir 30/Dec/2006 at 06:23 PM
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Can you give me the main reason he’s not thought to be Maia please

There are a number of cogent reasons:

1.Tom is the product of a diffeernt Legendarium- he existed before Tolkien conceived of LOTR and also sits outside The Silmarillion legendarium. He first appears in a fragment of a story about King Bonhedig, then again in an early 1930’s ’fragment poem’ where he is traveling down river , throughout England, and latterly in 1934 in The Oxford Magazine as the poem we know (slightly amende) from 1962. So,Tolkien imports him to the world of ME, for his own reasons, which I am exxploring in the thread that geordie so kindly referred to.Tom is thus in ME but not of it. He thus cannot be fittedinto any standard hierarchy either of LOTR of The Silmarillion, or indeed the ME legendarium.

2. In a letter to Chrsitopher Fettes in 1961 (which didn’t see the light of day until  2002 as it remained in privtae hands) Tolkien wrote of Tom:

’So Bombadil is ’fatherless’ , he has no historical origin in the world desribed  in The Lord of the Rings

The world desribed  in The Lord of the Rings is ME, thus Tom’s provenance is outside of ME and its Legendarium.{for further expansiion of this see my thread in AL)

3. We know from UT-The Istari that after the disaster of Beleriand the Valar had barred themselves from interfering in ME and sent the maiarian Istari as their messengers. There were no other maiar sent to ME.

4. Gandalf is a maia -albeit in incarnate form- the One would affect him- it does not affect Tom.

5. Internal literary evidence and the non-ME original provenance of Tom make him very much sui generis -one of a kind.

All these points, as well as others, are dealt with in my AL thread and I will be posting an FAQ on Tom within the context of that thread at a later dtae, in which I will dealy exhaustively with the question you ask.

Ultimately Tom is unknowable- as Goldberry observes:"He is".

In an unpublished letter in 1968 Tolkien wrote:

’I do not know his origin though I might make guesses. He is best left as he is, a mystery. There are many mysteries  in any closed/organized system of history/mythology.’{Hammond & Scull LOTR Companion p. 134}

Telmar 31/Dec/2006 at 12:52 AM
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Thanks halfir that clears it up for me
WyteWolf 01/Jan/2007 at 04:46 PM
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I wont dare to argue points about who or what Tom is however if looked at from a diffeent angle the ring had no power over Tom much as gold had no real value to Tom...hence if looked at form a different point of view Tom has ALL that he wants so  what could the ring give Him...and if reading the books Some might note that it is the Ents themselves who say they are the eldest and its the Ents who came up with the song of races.. So I believe that Tom is just that Literary enigma people have already mentioned


Bombadil=Aule 01/Jan/2007 at 08:51 PM
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Is anyone able to disprove the Aule and Yavanna theory?
KingODuckingham 01/Jan/2007 at 08:53 PM
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Look at halfir’s last post, where he gives reasons why Bombadil is not a Maiar.
Bombadil=Aule 01/Jan/2007 at 09:11 PM
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Aule is not a Maiar.
halfir 02/Jan/2007 at 02:37 AM
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Gene Hargrove’s theory has virtually no rational textual substanttiaton. Indeed, so weak is it, that in a later article he actually put forward an argument that those textual statements in The Council Of Elrond that conflicted with his absurd theory of Aule-Yavanna = Tom and Goldberry, were given by people who were lying!

Any scholar worth his/her salt can see that from the substantial corpus of comment made by Tolkien, both within and without LOTR that there is absoutely no way that Tom is Aule or Goldberry, Yavanna.

Hargove is old hat and a complete waste of space when it comes to analyzing Tom, and his lack of textual comprehension  is apalling.

Tom has no fit whatsoever with any of the hierarchy that exist in Tolkien’s ME legendarium.

If you want to learn anything credible about Tom, go here:

Tom Bombadil: Peeling the Onion

Bombadil=Aule 02/Jan/2007 at 06:57 AM
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I’ve been following your analysis of Tom for a long time, and have already read all your posts.

Just out of curiosity, do you agree that there are many flaws in Steuard Jensen’s essay as well?

Can you give the reason why Tom is not Aule? Steuard Jensen does not have any evidence that rules out Aule.
Reikon Suchi-ru 02/Jan/2007 at 07:07 AM
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When will people accept that Tom Bombadil is just Tom Bombadil?
Bombadil=Aule 02/Jan/2007 at 07:29 AM
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Never, because he is not.
geordie 02/Jan/2007 at 10:58 AM
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Actually, Tom Bombadil began life as a Dutch doll which belonged to the Tolkien children. The eldest, John, took a dislike to poor old Tom, and stuffed him down the lavatory. [this is true, by the way.]

Poor old Tom; bedraggled hat and coat and feather. Maybe Tolkien decided the poor old chap needed a break.