Wednesday, December 29, 2010
A Duet Before an Assassination (Judges, Chapter 5) - Okay, five chapters into Judges and I've concluded that it is just a horribly written book. Chapter 5 seems like a slightly different version then Chapter 4.
First, Deborah and Barak (not the President, of course) sing a praise to Yahweh. They totally hype him up, talking about He marched on the fields of Edom, and about how mountains melted before Him. It's holds true to the expectations that we might have toward Bronze Age desert tribesman singing about their favorite war god. In fact, I urge you, please check it out. It's like a bad musical, and with Deborah's heartfelt support for the governors of Israel, you'd even think that she was inspired by the Soviets' own propaganda machine.
Then this musical starts to contradict the story. Well, it contradicts reality when it says that the stars were against Sisera (if you remember, Sisera was just assassinated by a woman named Jael). This seems to indicate that astrology was predominant back then. Of course it was! This is before science and astronomy and astrophysics.
Anyways, the contradiction is in the account of Sisera's death. In the previous chapter, Jael hammered a tent stake through Sisera's skull while he was sleeping. In Chapter 5, it says Sisera was standing up while she hammered the tent stake through his temples, and then "smote off his head." After doing this, Sisera bowed and then fell at Jael's feet.
And for this behavior, Jael is exalted as being "blessed above all women in the tent." For killing a man in his sleep, or who was at the very least exhausted from running away from battle.
In a very fitting manner, the chapter ends with a taunting thought of Sisera's poor mother, crying for her lost son.
After reading this song of Deborah, I can only say this. THESE PEOPLE ARE NUTS!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
God's Kryptonite - An Iron Chariot!
God Can't Stop Iron Chariots! (Judges, Chapter 4) - These early chapters seem to be more about deception then judges. When last we left off, Yahweh (aka God) had allowed the Israelites to be sold as slaves, and in chapter 1:19 God apparently was unable to stop iron chariots.
The story changes though and Yahweh is now able to cope with these iron chariots, with an army under the command of a man named Barak (not to be confused with Barack!). The Almighty Himself wields a sword and whips the Israelites' Canaanite captors and sends them running away on foot, including their general, a man named Sisera. That would be a cool sight, wouldn't it? The Creator of the Universe wielding a sword against 900 iron chariots. Sisera manages to escape, but God slays everyone else.
There's also another intriguing assassination story in here, too. A young woman named Jael came up on the beaten Sisera, who begged her for help. She tucks him into a nice cozy bed, gives him something to drink, and then, when he falls asleep, DRIVES A TENT STAKE THROUGH HIS HEAD!!!
Wow! This is some sadistic stuff. I can't find "morality" in it anywhere, but it's pretty cool. At best, these are just glorified war stories chronicling Israelite battles.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Baal, one of many gods and goddesses that the Israelites "struggled" with.
God Uses His Own Failure to Set Up the Israelites (Judges, Chapter 3) - Just finished Chapter 3, and it was nothing more than a repeat of Chapter 2. If we remember Chapter 2, the Israelite's God fails to drive out all the inhabitants of the area, and instead chooses to let the Israelites dwell among the people and have them be tempted by their gods. And then, when people DO get tempted, God (aka Yahweh) gets pissed.
So, in Chapter 3 people start worshiping various gods, in particular Baalim (or Baal) and this prompts more anger from the Lordy. God even strengthens the neighboring Moabites to go against Israel, because God is pissed that the Israelites fell for His own trick and started worshiping other gods!!! It gets so bad for the Israelites that they actually wind up in the service of the Moabite king.
And so now, with their own god literally against them, the Israelites begin to weep. Finally, crazy ol' Yahweh starts to feel sorry for them and brings them "a messenger". This "messenger" is actually just an assassin - a very flashy, action hero type of assassin named Ehub.
He goes to the Moabite's King Eglon, who apparently is very fat, and drops one of those action hero one-liners. "I have a message for you - from God."
With that, Ehub quickly unsheaths a dagger from its hiding place on his thigh, and then stabs the king so deep into Eglon's fat - to the hilt - that Ehub is unable to retrieve the knife.
After that, it's just a repeat of previous books and chapters. The Israelites basically annihilate (for now) the Moabites and kill about 10,000 of them!
Finally, the chapter ends on an unrelated point. Some other hotshot Israelite named Shamgar apparently kills 600 Philistines with an ox goad. An ox goad is basically a cattle prod, a long stick with a point at the end. Presumably, he used it as a spear. But still, SIX HUNDRED!?! Spartans, beware.
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Admiring a golden calf idol, Image from www.gerardnedal.com
Why Most People Can't Read the Bible (Judges, Chapter 2) - As soon as I opened up Chapter 2, I was hit by an rather interesting story about Yahweh (aka God) purposely tricking Israelites to not believe in Him, so that He wouldn't have to live up to His promises.
Yahweh is such a trickster, isn't He? Basically, He sent an angel down to deliver a message, which was essentially, "You Israelites are too tolerant of other religions. As punishment, I will not drive them away as promised, I will instead leave them there so that some of you will believe in their false gods."
Isn't that a summavabitch? And of course, everyone cried after hearing the message. I probably would too, knowing that the god I'm worshiping has some sick vendetta against me.
Even though at this time, no one believed in hell, the punishments from "on high" were still severe. Yahweh would vent His holy rage on the people just as He did as they were on their way out of Egypt (supposedly).
And then, Chapter 2 refers to the death of Joshua - AGAIN! Only one chapter later!!!
Have any of you started reading the Bible and for some reason couldn't read it? When I was Christian, my church told me its the devil trying to make me not read it.
But that's not the reason. It's because the Bible is horribly written. It repeats itself, contradicts itself, and talks about subjects that leave you scratching your head. I've mentioned it before, but this phenomena is best explained by the 'documentary hypotheses', which says that the Old Testament is largely written by four different authors, each of which expounded on the last, or wrote simultaneously, and some future editor combined them.
Now that I don't believe in the Bible and understand its history, well - it's actually enjoyable to read this little piece of history. It's frustrating that there are people out there that believe it word for word (and vote on their beliefs), but I'm convinced now that their beliefs are not as much based on the Bible, as they are based off of their pastors or favorite Christian authors, pundits, etc.
And of course, Chapter 2 continues with the Israelites falling for Yahweh's trap and worshiping other gods. Yahweh then gets pissed because they fell for His trick, and causes them to lose a bunch of battles, and some of them even become slaves.
I don't remember Judges much from my first reading, but I'm going to guess that they somehow redeem themselves later.