A nonbeliever's SECOND reading of the Bible

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

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A golden nugget found in a Las Vegas casino.  Does it look like a hemorrhoid?
Photo by Ken Lund, Creative Commons

Give unto God ... um ... golden images of your hemorrhoids? (1 Samuel, Chapter 6) - As I read through the Bible, I am continuously struck by the things that I missed the first time around!  This chapter did not disappoint me in weirdness.

The Philistines, in shock because so many died at the hands of the Israelite god Yahweh, wanted to get rid of the Ark of the Covenant.  They had also suffered mice and a particularly nasty case of hemorrhoids because of their capture of the Ark.  Sure, Yahweh helped them capture it, and oddly enough is punishing the ones He just helped out, but I never said the story was supposed to make sense.

Now, the Philistines just want to return the cursed thing, and so ask the terms in which to return it.  The Israelite representative suggests that the Philistines DO NOT return it empty!  Rather, they must cast five golden mice and five golden hemorrhoids.

Yes, that's right!  Part of the return policy is to cast images of the hemorrhoids that just afflicted them!  Wow, that's really rubbing their nose in their afflictions, isn't it!?!

Well, they do it!

Finally, to prove that it was indeed the Israelite god that is responsible for the deaths and the afflictions, the Philistines do one last investigative technique.  After putting the golden hemorrhoids and mice into the Ark, and having the Ark towed by two cows, the Philistines let the cows go.  If the cows go straight to a place called Bethshemeth, then indeed it was Yahweh's doing.  The cows do go to Bethshemeth.  Therefore, it was Yahweh's doing.  There's something fishy about that line of reasoning, and I'll leave that to you the reader to figure out.

When some farmers in Bethshemeth happen upon the Ark, they look inside and find the five hemorrhoids and five mice, and they send each piece of gold to surrounding cities.  However, because they looked into the Ark, Yahweh kills 50,000 people from Bethshemeth!  As the proverb goes, "Curiosity killed the cat."

So now, the men of Bethshemeth want to get rid of the Ark, and plot to give it to the nearby town of Kirjathjearim.

To be continued ...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Semitic fertility god Dagon.  Public Domain.

Bad luck follows those who house the Ark of the Covenant (Chapter 5) - A series of unfortunate events followed the captors of the Israelites' Ark of the Covenant, first to the city of Ashdod. 

First, the Philistines lay the Ark next to a statue of Dagon, the Philistine fertility god.  The next morning, Dagon was facedown on the ground.  Thinking it was a coincidence, they set Dagon upright again and the next morning the statue was fallen again, only this time with its head and hands removed. 

Later, Yahweh (the Israelite god) became angry of the Philistines, "destroyed" many of them, and then smote the rest of them with hemorrhoids!!! 

The people of Ashdod then suggest that the statue be moved to the nearby city of Gath, and upon hearing this the people of Gath say, "Hell no, we don't want hemorrhoids!" 

This is a funny story, albeit a little disturbing.  Why would Yahweh be so upset about the Ark being in Philistine hands?  These days, He's always portrayed as being all powerful (and all-knowing), yet He seems unable to do much more than regional punishments.  On top of that, His punishments seem odd and unjust.  If a god is angry that some people stole the Ark that represents His covenant to some other Bronze Age tribe, why doesn't He just kill those responsible? Why kill and cause hemorrhoids to people who had absolutely nothing to do with it?  

More importantly, how did this happen in the first place?  We're talking about the Almighty, right?  I guess not yet.  Yahweh isn't Almighty yet.  That comes much later.