Tuesday, August 31, 2010
The Destruction of Ai and the Lynching of a King (Joshua 8): What started out as an intriguing spy story is becoming a tale of genocide, written by its perpetrators. Chapter 8 is about how the Israelites ambushed the Ai army; slaughtered them; slaughtered the inhabitants of the city; hung their king on a tree; and then killed a bunch of livestock as an animal sacrifice.
I remember seeing a Facebook page, now long deleted by FB, of a Hispanic group of teens and young adults that mutilated dogs and cats just for the heck of it. They'd pose with the dismembered carcasses of dogs and cats in the background. The Book of Joshua reminds me of that. Except, I don't think the Israelites were responsible for the demise of Ai.
Most archaeologists would say that Ai was a pile of ruins even before the Israelites existed. So, that would make this horrific tale only the yarns spun from the imaginations of a group desert barbarians in the Bronze Age, which makes sense. When the Israelites did arise as an actual distinguishable society, they were using stories like this one, the Exodus, and Genesis to make sense of the world around them. It was the science of the day. Of course, it was bad science but it did serve the same function - an explanation of phenomena.
"Why is there an abandoned city over there?"
The desert priests did not know the answer, so they made it up. After all, to them and to the Israelites the ruins had to have something to do with the great mythic heroes of their own past.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Joshua Ch. 7: Entire Family Executed Because Dad Looted Jericho - After taking Jericho, Yahweh gets pissed off. Achan, son of Zerah, apparently did a little looting after Jericho. Shortly thereafter, Israelites lose a battle against the men of Ai.
So, Joshua gets paranoid and asks Yahweh, "What's the big deal?" Yahweh says that Achan, son of Zerah, took "the accursed thing" and that he should be killed. Joshua investigates the matter and questions Achan; who confesses. He apparently stole some clothing and some money.
For this crime, Joshua rounds Achan, his sons and daughters, his livestock, and the loot together. When they were all huddled together, the Israelites threw large stones at them, effectively killing them all because old Achan decided to partake of the spoils of war.
So, what do you think? Do you think Achan and his entire family deserved to die because of his actions?
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Yahweh's Strategy for Taking Down Jericho - Jericho was allegedly a city that was surrounded by great walls. Back in the Bronze Age, the usual method of taking down walled cities was a long and drawn out siege. Fortunately, the Israelites had the Creator of the Universe to help them take out the town of Jericho.
His strategy? Seven Israelite priests will blow into ram's horns seven times a day and march around Jericho carrying the Ark of the Covenant, for seven days. During the entire seven days, the Israelites are instructed to remain silent. On the seventh day, after the last ram's horn was blown into, and the final lap around the city was made, every Israelite was to shout. The walls would fall, and the Israelite army was instructed to descend upon the town and kill everyone.
Everyone except for Rahab, of course. Remember her? The hooker who hid the Israelite scouts?
How did the strategy work? Well, according to the Book of Joshua, after seven days they sounded the horn, shouted, and sure enough, the walls fell and the Israelite army "utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword." (Joshua 6:21)
But hey. That's politics, right? It's about who you know, and Rahab had the hookups.
One interesting thing about Jericho is that it is a living contradiction. Joshua said that anyone who tries to rebuild Jericho (Why? What did they do that was so bad that they killed innocent people, too?) would pay for it with their eldest and youngest child and their descendents will be considered to be cursed by God. But, Jericho is still around today, and considered to be the longest continuously occupied city.
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Yahweh Demands that Israelites be Circumcised a SECOND Time!!! Ouch! (Joshua, Chapter 5) - Imagine that you're a soldier in Iraq a few years ago. You're lined up with a few hundred other men, crouched down behind a ditch and ready to move into Fallujah. It's expected to be a vicious firefight. And, for the sake of argument let's pretend that you've already been circumcised at birth.
Then word comes down the line that you're commanding officer requires that all soldiers, even those already circumcised, must get a second circumcision before the battle. This is basically what happens to the Israelites before they mount their assault on Jericho. And, I'd imagine that's when some young Israelite soldier coined the term, "WTF?!?"
What's worse is that the Israelites were so numerous that they actually created a "hill of foreskins". I tried to find an image of a "hill of foreskins", and unfortunately the only image I came up with was the one pictured above, and a bunch of homosexual photos and some weird reference to "docking", which I won't get into here. Let's just say that some people have way too much time on their hands!
After the men healed, the Captain of Yahweh's angelic host came down to visit Joshua, with a message from the Big Man Himself. "Take off your shoes, Bub, for you are on Holy Ground."
And that's where Joshua, Chapter 5 ends. The Book of Joshua is turning into a rather odd tale, with tales of intrigue, spies, supernatural beings, and a hill of foreskins.