Thursday, February 24, 2011
More Senseless Violence in Judges (Judges Chapter 12) - This chapter is thankfully very short, but in its few words is chronicled the alleged deaths of 42,000 people.
Why were these people killed? Because they failed to say "Shibboleth" correctly. Seriously. Apparently, the victims accent led them to say "Sibboleth" instead.
Here's what happened: some of Ephraim's men were pissed that the Jephthah slaughtered the Ammonites without them. Jephthah replied that he tried to call them, but they never answered. After some further taunting, they wind up finding and Jephthah's Gileadites fought and killed many of Ephraim's men. In the ensuing rout, the Gileadites had to sort through the refugees to see who was an Ephraimite and who was not. Their test was to ask each person to pronounce "Shibboleth". Those who said "Sibboleth" were killed outright.
After this brief segment, the book speaks briefly about Jephthah's death, and some of the other judges who came after him.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Jephtha's Daughter (Judges, Chapter 11) - History repeats itself. You know what else repeats itself? The Bible.
Judges, Chapter 11 is basically the same struggle to control land that has been spoken of in almost every chapter of the Old Testament so far. The Israelites get screwed, a new holy man rises up and leads them to conquer, the new guy dies, the Israelites fall back into their pagan ways, and then they get screwed. It's a vicious cycle.
This time the holy warrior is Jephthah, a family man with a wife and a daughter. He conquers, with the help of Yahweh, a number of nations (i.e. Sihon), and people (i.e. the children of Ammon). It's with the Ammonites that probably one of the most tragic stories appear in the Bible.
Jephthah makes an oath to God: "Whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering."
Remember, he's a family man. He's got a wife and a daughter. There's not much else that would come out to greet him, unless he was hoping for Fido. Or maybe he was hoping it was his wife?!?
So after he massacres the Ammonites, he returns home and not surprisingly, his DAUGHTER comes out to greet him. Any family man knows what it's like, right? You come home from work, your daughter sees you, and runs toward you yelling, "Daddy! Daddy!" and then she leaps on you and you pick her up. That's my experience, at least, because my daughter's still young.
I'm not sure how hold Jephthah's daughter is, but she's probably a teenager because though she agreed to what her father promised to do, she asked first that she go up to the mountains for two months to mourn her virginity. That's right. She was more concerned about her virginity. She came back two months later, and though apologists try to say that was all there was to it, the Bible says, "And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man."
Any honest person can plainly see that Jephthah sacrificed his daughter to Yahweh, as payment for the victory over the Ammonites. Some apologists do some crazy mental gymnastics and spin doctoring to get out of the mess that this story wreaks upon their "worldview", but the Bible is plain. Jephthah made a vow to offer a burnt offering to Yahweh, and "he did with her according to his vow which he vowed."
Thursday, February 03, 2011
God sells the Israelites into slavery, Judges Chapter 10 - Aside from the mention of thirty "ass colts", there's not much to say about Chapter 10 except that Yahweh gets angry because the Israelites start worshiping other gods (yet again!). In response to this travesty, He sells them to the Philistines.
Here's a weird thought - why would God sell an entire population of people into slavery just because He is failing at making Himself a believable deity? And more importantly, why would God even need the money?
Maybe Yahweh might be a little miffed about His own people not believing in Him, but isn't it His problem really? Wouldn't the reason that the Israelites continuously fail to believe in Him be that life without Yahweh is conceivable? This portion of the Bible is probably all myths and legends, but it deals with a universal problem for religious people - doubt. It also shows the hybridization that often happens when people who worshiped another god(s) are introduced to a new god.
And seriously, if the Philistines bought the Israelites off Yahweh - what would He spend the money on?