A nonbeliever's SECOND reading of the Bible

A nonbeliever's SECOND reading of the Bible
Hunc tu caveto.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Israelites cut off the thumbs and big toes of Adoni Bezek.  
Image from boomerinthepew.com

Book of Judges Opens Up With Some Intense Bloodshed, Torture (Judges Chapter 1) - With the Book of Joshua behind me, I thought I'd have a fresh new outlook.  But who am I kidding?  This is the Old Testament.

As soon as Joshua dies, the people of Israel ask "How are we going to get the Canaanites we DIDN'T already kill!?! (not verbatim)."  And so Yahweh, aka God Almighty, nominates the young warlord Judah. So right off the bat, Chapter 1 mentions the transition of power from Joshua to Judah. And Judah is one crazy mofo.  

In Bezek, they slaughter 10,000 Perizzites and Canaanites - they find Adoni Bezek (above image) and cut off his big toes and thumbs.  Adoni says something odd.  He says, "After having their toes and thumbs cut off, I fed 70 kings from under my table."
I'm not sure what that means, and the picture in my head is ridiculous, but that's what it says (Judges 1:7).

The Israelites then attacked Jerusalem (remember, this is before Jerusalem was their's) and killed everyone in the city and set the city ablaze.  And the list grows.  The Israelites slay people "in the mountain", "in the valley", "in the south", a town called Kirjaphsepher (which was taken on a dare), another town called Zephath, the Gaza coast, the Askelon coast, the Ekron coast, the city of Bethel, and on an on.  You get the idea.  There's lots of carnage.

But remember, this carnage is because Yahweh (aka God) promised to drive everyone out for the Israelites.  But wait, even God is having a bit of problem with the people "in the valley".  Not even Yahweh could drive them out because they have "iron chariots".  In fact, the rest of the chapter from 1:26 on, is just a list of towns that couldn't be taken. 

I like a good war story every once and a while, but this is ridiculous.  And, that was just Chapter 1!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The ancient god Molech was a contemporary of Yahweh.

Joshua's Final Message (Joshua 23 & 24) - Reading the Old Testament is kind of cool, because we can really get a picture of the mindset of the people who founded a religion that would eventually evolve into Christianity, Islam, and even Mormonism.

In this story, Joshua is about 110 years old and he knows he's about to kick the bucket.  Oddly enough, it doesn't seem like he thinks he's going anywhere except into the ground.  To Joshua, it seems, there is no afterlife.  And the only purpose in worshipping Yahweh is so that He doesn't smite you in this life.

His final message is for the Israelites to not worship any other gods, nor to mention their names.  And this really illuminates the thoughts that were going through the minds of the people who actually wrote these stories down.  Today, we live in a society that is tolerant toward different religions and even tolerant to those with no religion.  But back then, these people were trying to establish a new religion and so they had to deal rather harshly with any competition.

So, no wonder they were so worried about people worshipping other gods.  The way the writers wrote about the subject made it seem like it was one of the greatest problems of their age.

Another subject that is brought up is the question of free will.  Joshua, speaking for Yahweh, says to "Choose who you will serve ..."  Choose one of these other gods and Yahweh will smite you, but choose Yahweh and you will be blessed.  Isn't that kind of like saying to your child (to steal an example from nonstampcollector), "You can choose whatever ice cream you want, but if you don't choose vanilla I'm going to take away all your toys, you can't watch cartoons, and you're going to be grounded for a week."

Is that what free will has come to?

At the end of the book, Joshua dies and there's a contradiction too.  Joshua 24:32 says that Joshua bought a parcel of land in which to lay to rest the bones of Joseph.  But in Acts 7:16, it says Abraham bought the parcel of land.  So, we have ourselves a nice little contradiction between the Old and New Testaments.

Next time we start reading the Book of Judges.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Yet Even MORE Bickering On How to Divide the Spoils!!!  Joshua Ch. 21 and 22 - Alright, I've read two more chapters and the Israelite tribes are still trying divide the spoils. 

Chapter 21, especially is all about that.

So, rather than get into the specifics about Chapter 21, it would be more useful (and fun) to point out the contradictions, false prophecies, and fun stuff within it. 

In Joshua 21:23-24, it reads that Aijalon (which means "the place of gazelles, hence the picture) is for the tribe of Dans.  However, in I Chronicles 6:66 (uh oh!) and 69 (yay!), the Bible says that Aijalon is for the tribe of Ephraim.

In 21:43-45, the Bible says that Yahweh delivered on His promise to secure all the land which He promised to the Israelite patriarchs.  However, as we just read last week and the week before, and in numerous locations throughout the Bible, it's just not the case.

In Chapter 22 however, we return to the plague of the ancient Israelites - their tendency to worship many gods and the desperate need to expunge this inconvenience.

The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manassah (two and a half tribes!), after accepting their spoils, go back to their land and build an altar.  Apparently, it was a really cool alter, too.  The only problem is that when the other tribes heard about this altar, they went apeshit!

Apparently, this whole ordeal was a misunderstanding, and after some explanation that I'm not sure I completely understand, the priests of the 2.5 tribes convinced the other tribes that this altar was really just a monument between the tribes that Yahweh is their god.

That's cool, I guess.  It's just so weird that the other tribes made such a big deal about it in the first place.