A nonbeliever's SECOND reading of the Bible

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hannah pleads to God.  Image from 'My Year of Jubilee'

The Birth of Samuel (1 Samuel, Chapter 1) - Samuel is born into a turbulent, polygamist family; and Chapter 1 focuses largely on his mother Hannah.

Hannah is the true love of Elkanah, though he had another wife.  Hannah was barren (it says God 'shut her womb'), but the other wife did.  The other wife's name was Peninnah.  Peninnah was essentially Hannah's archnemesis.  Hannah and Elkanah were in love, but Peninnah bore sons for Elkanah.  This was essentially the life of women in the Bronze Age, by the way.

Anyways, every year Hannah went to the temple and pleaded to God so that she could have a child.  A priest named Eli notices this, and asks her what's wrong.  She explains, and then he tells her to go home, because God has answered her request.

So, she goes home, finally free of her depression, gets 'jiggy' with her husband Elkanah and lo and behold she has a child, which she names Samuel!

One year later, she takes the child to the temple with Elkanah with three bulls, sacrifice one of them, and then she presents the child to the priest Eli.  She then dedicates Samuel to the service of God.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Boaz purchases Ruth as a wife (Ruth, Chapter 4) - I remember when I first got married, and my wife's father gave her to me.  Though the ritual is largely symbolic these days, we shouldn't remember the tradition from which it came.  In the past, wives truly were the property of the husband.

Ruth, the Moabitess, was a widow.  However, and if I'm wrong someone please correct me, it seems she was still technically the property of her dead husband.  But, since he was dead Ruth was under the care of her dead husband's mother (Naomi).  In order for Boaz to marry her, because he did love her, he basically had to purchase her from Naomi, and to sweeten the deal he purchased Naomi's crops and basically all the belongings of both Naomi and Ruth's dead husbands (who were the true owners).

What happens next is utterly ridiculous.  Ruth and Boaz get married, and they have a son named Obed, who will later be the father of King David.  Naomi, who is too old to conceive, assists in the raising of her "grandson" by nursing him.  Naomi's not really a grandmother, of course.  Because Ruth got married to a new man, Naomi has no claim to the child.

She's just an old friend - a really old friend who happens to be able to produce milk at an advanced age!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When Boaz Met Ruth (Ruth, Chapter 3) - Up until now, the story was something that might parallel Thelma & Louise. But it now it has made a twist from the modern story of feminine friendship, to an ancient desert tribeswoman's attempt to get a well-to-do Israelite in the sack.

Ruth's former mother-in-law (Ruth's husband died, remember?), Naomi, comes up with an idea for Ruth to hook up with Boaz, the rich guy whom she works for.  She says for her to wait until he's finished eating and drinking, and then go into his room, expose his penis, and basically wait at his feet until he wakes up.

Ruth, following her mother-in-law's advice, waits patiently for the well-fed and drunk Boaz to stumble to the "end of the heap of corn (again with the corn!)".  She then quietly approaches him, uncovers his genitals, and then waits at his feet. 

If you remember in Thelma & Louise, by this time Louise had already murdered a man who almost raped Thelma.  Now, in the Book of Ruth, we're talking about something entirely different - seduction.

Boaz wakes up, startled that his junk is exposed in the night air, and then notices Ruth at his feet.  Lucky him!

He says, "Who are you?"

And she replies, "I am your handmaid.  Would you want to make love with me, though I'm just a handmaid?  We are near kin."  Sorry, I'm trying to translate the King James version, here.  But that's basically what she is saying.

Naturally, Boaz says, "You are so kind.  I thought you'd be out chasing the young studs, but you've chosen me.  OF COURSE we can make love!"

The next day, he tells Ruth not to tell anyone what happened, and gave her six bales of barley to bring to her mother-in-law. 

Naomi, the mother-in-law, said that be still, my daughter, until you know how this matter will fall.  Boaz will not be at ease "until he has finished the thing this day."

Nice, a cliffhanger!  What is "the thing" that Boaz must finish?  I guess we'll find out next time!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Ruth meets Boaz (Ruth, Chapter 2) - When she got to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law Naomi, Ruth began working.  In particular, she was harvesting "corn" when the local landowner (or lord) approached her.  His name was Boaz.

So right there we have a problem.  Corn is something that was only known in the Americas, and the Americas were not known to the people of the Middle East at that time.  Whoever translated the King James Bible must have confused "corn" with some other crop - perhaps wheat?

Anyways, Boaz basically just told Ruth that he's welcome in his field, that she should feel free to drink water and eat, and that he generally admires her for leaving her homeland to be with them.

Basically, it was just a nice gesture of hospitality to the young woman.

Now, if we could just figure out how they got corn in the field 3,000 years before they knew it existed!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Photo by Robert Bejil Photography, Creative Commons

The ancient story of Thelma and Louise (Ruth, Chapter 1) - Who are the two hotties shown above, and why did I choose their photo?  Because I can't put photos from the movie Thelma and Louise, for copyright reasons.  But the two women pictured tell the story, a story about an intense friendship between two women.  That is the story that is being told in the Book of Ruth.

Ruth is a Moabite; a tribe of people disdained by the Israelites.  Deuteronomy 23:3 even says, "That no Moabite shall enter the congregation of the Lord."  Her husband was the son of another widow named Naomi, who is an Israelite hailing originally from Bethlehemjudah.

After Ruth's husband died, she chose to stay with her mother-in-law Naomi, while the other sister-in-law decided to separate from them.

Ruth's vow to Naomi was this (Ruth 1:16 -17):  "Do not ask me to leave you, or to return.  For where you go, I will go; and you lodge, I will lodge.  Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.  Where you die, I will die and there will I be buried.  The LORD do so to me, and more also, only death will part you and I."

With this oath, Naomi saw that Ruth was now her lifelong companion.  I know there's a few people out there who think these two are lesbians, but I don't see any reason to go down that route.  They're B.F.F.'s.  Obviously, Ruth loved her mother-in-law a lot, and enjoyed her companionship.

Together, they set out for Bethlehem.