A nonbeliever's SECOND reading of the Bible

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

Thursday, January 27, 2011

This tree looks like he's got something interesting to say. - Image from Gabriel Millos, Creative Commons

Lord of the Israelites: A Tale of Talking Trees, mass fratricide, and Divine vengeance (Judges Chapter 9) - Abimelech was one of the 70 or so sons of Gideon.  He gained power by killing all of the other brothers, "on one stone" no less.  Seventy brothers killed on one stone - perhaps he was going for a world record (a joke I'm borrowing The Scripture Project).

Only the youngest son, Jotham, lived because he hid from his sadistic brother.

After this slaying come a strange conversation between trees, which in my head sound like the Entmeet in Lord of the Rings.  The conversation goes something like this: the trees (in general) ask the olive tree, the fig tree, and the grape vine (separately) if they'll rule over them.  Each one gives a reason, which is basically that they provide things that are good for God and man (i.e. wine, fruits, olives, etc.) and if they spent all their time ruling over the trees they wouldn't be able to provide God and man their goods.

Finally, the trees ask a bunch of brambles (that's right - brambles) if he'd rule over them, and since brambles have hardly any use for men (or God, for that matter), he volunteers.  However, he warns them, "If in truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon."

While I'm not sure what that means, I think it has something to do with brambles being a poor source of shade and an excellent source of fuel for fire.  
Meanwhile, God (aka the Creator of Universe) sends an evil spirit among Abimelech and his men.  Let me repeat that - GOD sends an evil spirit.  There might be some sort of translation problem here, as I'm familiar with the Greek notion of spirit, which isn't really an entity but a kind of mode of being.  None the less, God still causes Abimelech and his men of Shechem to be treacherous toward one another, scheming and lying to each other.  But a man named Gaal of Ebed goes to the men of Shechem, and they put their trust in Gaal instead.

They wind up fortifying themselves in a tower  in opposition to Abimelech.  Abimelech lays siege and kills approximately 1,000 men and women by burning the tower down.  Apparently, there were some gigantic towers back then.  

Abimelech then attacks another tower at Thebez, but during the assault a woman casts a millstone and cracks open his skull.  In his shame, Abimelech asks one of his soldiers to slay him so that no one would say that "a woman killed him."  Oh, the shame!  

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