A nonbeliever's SECOND reading of the Bible

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

Friday, December 14, 2012

David asks for his wife, whom he'd originally bought for 200 foreskins


Above: David asks for his wife, whom he had paid 100 Philistine foreskins for.  
Oh wait, that's wrong - he actually paid 200.  From Sparklesdelicious

2 Samuel, Chapter 3 - This chapter is basically about the civil war between the up and coming House of David, and the ever-weakening House of Saul.  David has about seven wives by now, and is pumping out children like no other.  This news of giving birth to more children was probably great news in the Bronze Age; nowadays people wouldn't be nearly as excited.  In any case, I think the news of all these children is a sign that the House of David is gaining power, and is in favor with the big guy upstairs, also know as God or Yahweh.

Finally, Abner (the last of the House of David) asked for a truce between he and David.  David agrees, but with a very odd term.  Abner may not see David's face until he brings Michal, the daughter of Saul.  Michal was David's previous wife, whom he had actually bought for 200 Philistine foreskins (although it says 100 in this particular section), and then later "gave" her to a gentleman named Phaltiel.  So, Abner fetched Michal to give to David, and her husband Phaltiel followed behind crying.  That's just messed up.

Later, Abner is assassinated by the brother of Asahel, whom Abner had killed in the preceding chapter.  King David was pissed at this, and basically cursed the assassins for their deed.  He cursed them and all their descendants to a life of being poor lepers.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Abner kills Asahel.  From Johann Christoff Weigel, 1695

Chapter 2 is basically about the aftermath and all the ensuing drama from the power vacuum left over after King Saul's untimely death on the battlefield against the Philistines.  

David was made King over Judah, but some of Saul's family and followers did not like this.  For instance, a general named Abner went and installed Saul's son Ishbosheth as the king over Jezreel,Gilead, Ephraim, Benjamin, and over the Ashurites.  Abner was the captain of the deceased Saul's army.

Abner then took some men and went down to a place called Gibeon, where some of the newly installed King David's followers sought him out, under a general named Joab.  It seems that Joab and Abner were trying to negotiate some sort of compromise.  The meeting was an odd one, because at some point Abner said, "Let the young men rise, and play before us."  Joab told them to arise, and the "game" they played was something more like the Romans' version of decimation, but instead all died.  Or maybe the King James Bible wasn't written clearly, and this was just meant to be more like a gladiatorial fight.

Anyhow, twelve young men for each side got up, grabbed the head of his opponent and then thrust his sword into his opponent's side, so that all 24 of them fell down in unison.

A battle ensued between the two armies, and after realizing that the battle would be won by Joab, Abner tries to make his escape.  One of Joab's lieutenants, Asahel, sees this escape attempt and pursues Abner.  , Abner winds up having to kill Asahel (pictured above) with the blunt end of his spear.

My personal thoughts on this chapter is just to marvel once again at level of detail offered by the book's authors, and also how interesting it is for us to have this little window into the minds of these Bronze Age people.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

A contradiction on Saul's death, and an unknown book

The death of Saul, by Gustave Dore.  GNU License

2 Samuel, Chapter 1 - Second Samuel begins with David coming out of hiding after learning about the death of King Saul, who had been hounding him since he learned that Yahweh (aka God) favored David more than he.  

Whereas in First Samuel Saul died by falling on his sword (pictured above), in this chapter David happened upon an Amalekite who had a different story.  The Amalekite confessed that he killed Saul after the king fell on his spear.  King Saul, in pain, saw the Amalekite and basically asked him to finish him off.  I know, that's not a big issue, it sounds more like a plot twist if anything.  But there are other accounts of Saul's death, where he is killed by a Philistine or even by God Himself.

Another interesting subject in this first chapter is an introduction to a book that must have existed then, but no longer exists - the Book of Jasher.  Translated, Jasher means "just man", so it is actually titled "Book of the Just Man".  That actually sounds like it would be an interesting read!  

There are books called "Book of Jasher" which have copies that date much later than the dates Second Samuel is thought to have been written (between 640 to 530 BCE), but here is one possible digital copy of the book.  The scrolls which this one may have been translated from dates to about 1613, just a few centuries ago.

I am still issues with the photos, but I think I may have found a workaround.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Who wrote 1st Samuel, Chapter 31?

Saul falls upon his own sword in this book (1st Samuel).  Stay tuned to see how he dies in 2nd Samuel!

(1 Samuel, Chapter 31) In this final chapter of 1st Samuel, the numerically superior Philistines do battle with their old enemies the Israelites, of whom King Saul is their commander.

According to the book, the battle was very one-sided in the favor of the Philistines.  King Saul took numerous arrows and asked his armor bearer to go ahead and kill him, but he would not.  So, Saul took a sword and fell upon it, thereby killing him.  Pay attention to this detail, because the first chapter of the next book (2nd Samuel), we find a different story of Saul's death.

Anyhow, I still think that the authors of the book chose to end it like this.  I'm not sure how historical this story is and how mythical it is.  None the less, I would have to say that it was written very weird.  The redundancies and the seeming inability of characters to act on what happened in previous chapters, give the impression that 1st Samuel had multiple authors, or multiple manuscripts, which were later just cobbled together.

Who wrote 1st Samuel?  Tradition says that Samuel was the one wrote it, but like Moses and the Pentateuch, Samuel's character dies in this book. He dies specifically in Chapter 25.  Another theory is that multiple 'prophets', including Samuel, had a hand in its authorship.  The other two prophets listed as contributors to 1st Samuel are Gad and Nathan.  

More than likely, this book did have numerous authors and also utilized court records and documents from the Israelite nation.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Amalekites - the first zombies? (1 Samuel Chapter 30)

Above: Painting of Joseph vs. the Amalekites by Nicolas Roussin.

For some reason, ALL my photos and images were removed from this and other blogs.  So, I was a bit discouraged for a bit.  But, the show must go on.


1 Samuel, Chapter 30 - This chapter is like the cherry on the cake for 1 Samuel.  The Amalekites, who have been exterminated TWICE in this book (Chapters 15 and 17), show up again and get exterminated completely yet again.

The chapter opens up with an invasion from the Amalekites, who assault the town of Ziklag where David lives, and even make off with David's two wives as prisoners.  Apparently the people in the town also want to stone David because while everyone was distraught because of their sons and daughters, David had steeled himself in his relationship with Yahweh (aka God).  I know what you're thinking; that's not a good reason to stone someone. But remember, this is the Bronze Age, folks!  This is like the Wild West on steroids.

Well, David gets a hold of the priestly vest called an "ephod", dons it, and after encountering a starving Egyptian, commences to slaughter the Amalekites one more time, with only 400 men I might add!

So why, and how, do the Amalekites keep returning?  I haven't a clue.  Simple logic tells me that someone is bullshitting me here.  But let us assume the Bible is accurate and can not be questioned, which seems to be the main reason why religion is so strong in our society in the first place.

If they were killed, but came back a second time, obviously they must not have died.  But if they were killed a second time, and came back - I don't know about you, but you know what I think?

Zombies!!!

Zombies aren't that far-fetched for that era.  The Epic of Gilgamesh, which actually predates much of the Old Testament, and was probably the model for much of its earlier mythology (i.e. the Creation and Flood myths), writes this:



I will knock down the Gates of the Netherworld,
I will smash the door posts, and leave the doors flat down,
and will let the dead go up to eat the living!
And the dead will outnumber the living!



And I don't know about you - but I can't wait until The Walking Dead starts up again this October!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Philistines don't want David to join them in a battle against Israelites

Philistines wage war against the Israelites.  

1 Samuel, Chapter 29 - Apparently, it had escaped me that in Chapter 27 that David had actually joined the Philistines, after reconciling with Saul twice.


Well, in this chapter David and his 600 Israelites want to join the Philistines.  After all, they've been living in their lands for a few years now.


During a pass-in-review of all the lords of Philistine and their armies before their King Achish (Achish might just be a Philistine title for a king, too); David and his 600 Israelites also march past the king.  However, the Philistine lords ask, "Why is this Hebrew among us?  Isn't this David, the man whom they sing of: "Saul has killed his thousands; David his tens of thousands"?


"Don't let him go to battle with us, unless he is an adversary," said the Philistine lords.  By the way, the word "adversary" in Hebrew, which this story was translated from, is "Satan".  The Philistines basically called David "Satan", which in context wasn't that bad of a thing, ironically.  


I guess it's puzzling to see a Hebrew join their nation and so gleefully go to war against his own people.


After all this protest from the lords of Philistines, the King Achish capitulates and informs David that he can't go to battle with them against the Israelites.  


David, disappointed, took his 600 men and left while the Philistines departed to meet the Israelites in battle at a place called Jezreel.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

King Saul Resorts to Summoning Spirits (1 Samuel, Chapter 28)

After God abandons him, King Saul asks a witch to summon 
the spirit of the recently deceased Samuel.

1 Samuel, Chapter 28.  This chapter is actually highly entertaining.  The Philistines have raised a giant army against King Saul and the Israelites, and Saul fears for his life.  He tries to contact Yahweh (aka 'God') but Yahweh is no longer with him, and thus no longer communicated with him.  As the chapter says, "... the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim."

Remember the Urim?  It was a contraption that was set into a magical vest that helped divine messages from God (or revelations).  Well, the Urim wasn't working and Saul was getting desperate.  So, he resorts to witchcraft - which is possibly an even bigger no-no than what Saul did wrong in the first place.  If you remember, the reason why Saul's on Yahweh's shit list is because he failed to kill ALL of the Amelekites.

Saul requests of the which to summon the spirit of the recently deceased Prophet Samuel (whom this book is named after).  Saul's reason for speaking with Samuel is because Samuel was very close to Yahweh.  Well, the witch was able to summon a spirit who answered to the name of Samuel, but the spirit did not give Saul comforting advice.  Also of interest, while she was summoning the spirit of Samuel, she reported to Saul that she saw gods ascending from the earth.


Samuel basically said, "Yea buddy, because of your little stunt sparing the lives of those Amelekites, Yahweh's basically going to hand you and all the Israelites over to the Philistines.  But don't worry, you and all your family will be hanging out with me in the land of the dead by this time tomorrow."


Needless to say, this panicked Saul quite a bit.


While this was a sad chapter for Saul, there are a few interesting things we can take from this chapter.  First, we can delve into the minds of the ancient Israelites and learn about how they divined information from their god(s).  Secondly, the Israelite conception of a god is very different than the modern interpretation.  They didn't believe in one god; they believed in many.  This is evident from the witch's comment, "I saw gods ascending from the earth."


Even though she was a witch, the author and the ancient Israelites believed that though there were many gods; Yahweh was the most important of them.  They were very much like a cult of Yahweh.  It is from this belief of worshiping one god only instead of the others which monotheism would later evolve.

Friday, June 29, 2012

David Kills All the Amalekites - Again (1 Samuel, Chapter 27)

David slaughtering Amalekites.  From Bible Encyclopedia.

In this chapter, David is still worried about King Saul, and is essentially scared that Saul is going to kill him.  That's right.  He's still paranoid about Saul even after sparing Saul's life and Saul admitting that David is favored by their god Yahweh.

So, David fled with his 600 men, went into Philistine and - as usual - embarked on a campaign of slaughtering other tribes.  Among these tribes that were slaughtered were the Amalekites, whom if  you remember were already slaughtered by Saul just a few chapters back.

And that got me to thinking - why all this animosity toward the Amalekites?!? Who were they?  Well, after some research it seems they were from the same ethnic group as the Hebrews, but their tribe was probably much more ancient.  However, the animosity apparently comes from the legends surrounding the Israelites return from slavery under the Egyptians.  While on their Exodus, the Amalekites attacked them, and ever since then the Amalekites have been vilified by the Israelites.

I guess this animosity towards the Amalekites keeps manifesting in Israelite writing in the form of them being utterly annihilated - again and again and again.  I suspect there will be more Amalekite slaughtering in the chapters and books ahead, even though it says quite clearly here "And David smote the land, and left neither man nor woman alive ..."

If you remember from previous chapters, the same thing is always said about the Israelite's massacres and genocides.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

David tricks King Saul again (1 Samuel Chapter 26)

David steals the king's spear and water flask, then climbs a mountain to show everyone.  
From Eternity Matters Blog

This odd relationship between King Saul and David is very odd.  I thought they had made amends a few chapters ago, but I guess Saul just has it in his heart to kill or capture David.  He's kind of like Wile E. Coyote.

This time, Saul takes 3,000 Israelite soldiers with him to look for David in the Wilderness of Zith.  While camping out for the night, David sneaks into their camp and steals Saul's spear and his water flask.  After taking these he flees up a mountain and the next morning he yells out so that everyone below can hear.

Basically, David asks, "Why do you keep following me?"  Saul, who doesn't really have a good answer, eventually relents and decides to let David get away.  David returns the stolen goods, and they both part ways.

So what's up with Saul?  After David spared Saul's life previously, it really seemed he was going to forgive David.  But now he comes back?  It's just one of those bugs that we can't get rid of.  Ever get that way?  Have you ever had a task that if it isn't completed, you're day will be ruined?  Or, have you ever tried to do something but the entire universe seems focused on making you fail?

Maybe Saul's desire to get David is kind of like that.  The whole purpose of capturing David is lost, but it's an incomplete mission that can not be accomplished.  Maybe Saul's real lesson here is to know when to give up.  After all, in this case the Creator of the Universe (according to Judeo-Christians) seems hellbent on preventing the capture of David.

Even though Saul promises that he will not try to harm David anymore, do you think he will keep his promise?  Stay tuned, and we'll find out together.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

David loses one wife, while collecting two more (1 Samuel, Chapter 25)

Abigail meets David and gives him an "assload" of supplies.  Image from Grace Doctrine.

The events of this chapter occur shortly after the prophet Samuel passes away.  It's about how David collects two wives at the same time.

In the town of Maon, a rich man named Nabal and his wife Abigail lived.  Nabal owned 3,000 sheep and 1,000 goats.  David heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep, so he sent some men over to demand that Nabal give to David whatever he has.  Their justification: they never harmed or insulted Nabal's shepherds!

Nabal says no, because he basically never heard of David before; and this pisses off David!  David complained that he and his men guarded Nabal's possessions in the desert and this is how he gets repaid - the nerve of the man.  David then began cursing Nabal and his men.  Apparently, one of the worst curses in the Bronze Age is to accuse the enemy of "pissing against the wall".  As he tells his men to strap on their swords, David says this, which is a puzzling insult to us Homo sapiens living in the 21st century: "May God curse me and worse if I leave alive a single of his men that piss against the wall!"

On the way to wreak havoc on Maon, one of Nabal's servants did confirm to Nabal's wife that David's men were nice to them.  So, she (Abigail) collects 200 loaves of bread, two wine skins, five prepared sheep, five bags of roasted grain, 100 bunches of raisins, and 200 figs and loads them on a donkey.  She meets David with literally an assload of provisions and this satisifies David. She didn't tell Nabal that she would do this.

Later, after a night of partying, Nabal wakes up sober and that's when Abigail breaks the news about what she did.  I guess the news was so heart-breaking that Nabal died of a heart attack, and then ten days later Yahweh finishes the job.

After he dies, David takes Abigail as his own wife, and then another wife named Ahinoam of Jezreel.  Wow!  I don't understand the nuances of this, but I guess Saul takes David's first wife and gives her to another man.  Maybe Saul has some sort of special privilege where he can just take a man's wife and give her to someone else?

In any case, it's a very interesting read and a very weird story.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

A Confrontation Between David and Saul (1 Samuel Chapter 24)


David shows King Saul that he cuts the hem of his cloak.
From outsetministry.org


After chasing down the Philistines, King Saul returns to hunt down David.  While in the wilderness, Saul decides to go inside a cave.  Unbeknownst to him, David and his men were actually hiding out in this very same cave.

So, David basically has Saul by the balls here.  He can easily take him out if he wanted to.  However, David something interesting.  Instead of killing the king, he takes his sword and secretly cuts a piece of his robe off.  King Saul is unaware that this happens, and after some time walks out of the cave.

In the daylight, David follows and calls out to Saul, pointing out that he could have taken his life but instead cut his cloak.  Saul is touched by this show of mercy, and admits that David is the one who has been anointed by God and that he will be king.

Facing this inevitability, Saul asks David to have mercy on his bloodline and to let his descendants live, which David agrees to.

Again, we are faced with the strange mentality of these people.  Rather than put them down for it, it's interesting to see it from their eyes, as there are still people out there today who have similar ideas about how the world is organized.

David's show of mercy is great, and Saul's acceptance of David is even better.  But just the thought that one's descendants are at risk from an up and coming king is a strange artifact of the mentality of monarchies.  Eventually, Saul's descendants may very well have a claim to the throne.

David is young and has not been groomed for royalty, so he's probably naive to this point.  So, David doesn't care about that and agrees to Saul's terms.  After all, David is Yahweh's "anointed one", right?  What's the worse that could happen?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

David Hides from King Saul (1 Samuel Chapter 23)

Wilderness in Judah.  David hid from Saul in a place that probably didn't look too different.  From BiblePlaces.com

David is still hiding from Saul.  While hanging out in the wilderness with his men, David is informed that the Philistines have began an assault on the town of Keilah.

David asks Yahweh (God) about what he should do, and Yahweh says to attack him.  So he informs the men to get ready, but they are apparently scared.  Once again, David asks Yahweh for clarification, and Yahweh basically says, "Yes!  Get up and smite those mofos, you're wasting time!  I got your back, bro.  I'm freakin' Yahweh!"

Once God made it abundantly clear, David and takes his men and sure enough wreak havoc upon the ranks of the Philistines, and they save the town of Keilah.

Well, King Saul heard about David's whereabouts and immediately set upon the town Keilah.  Before Saul's troops can get there, David manages to escape into the Wilderness of Maon.

Within the wilderness David basically evades King Saul until finally those troublesome Philistines mount another attack elsewhere, which prompts King Saul to deal with the new threat rather than find his old rival David.

Reading this chapter, I'm loaded with the questions.  Why doesn't Yahweh just end this drama?  Conventionally, Yahweh is the God of the Universe.  However, I get the sense in this chapter that He was more like a finite, yet still powerful deity, like something from the Greek pantheon.  With His affinity for war, I'm almost tempted to say He's on par with Ares, the Greek god of war.

This fits idea of a finite yet still powerful god best fits with the behavior I'm reading about.  Yahweh doesn't have much control, He seems to be filled with petty emotions, and He even deceives humans.

Contrarily, I would imagine an all-powerful being who cares about His creation wouldn't be obsessed with the death of other tribes, and of course the weird fascination He seems to have with sex.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Meet Doeg the Edomite: The Ancient Terminator (1 Samuel, Chapter 22)

Doeg slays priests in the town of Nob.  Image from Mud Preacher.

In the Terminator movies, Skynet sends a Terminator (a robot assassin) back into time to "TER-muh-NATE" the future leader of the Resistance, John Connor.  In the days of the ancient Israelites, 1 Samuel tells the tale of a jealous King Saul sending "Doeg the Edomite" to assassinate a potential rival for the crown, David.

This guy Doeg doesn't mess around.  Apparently, he was the chief servant of Saul, and very loyal.  After hearing that David had fled to the town of Nob, Saul and his servants traveled to the little town.  Saul gets into a minor dispute with a priest named Ahimelech, and afterward asks his servants to slay the priests.  None of them moved.

So Saul turned to loyal Doeg and asks him to kill the priests.  Without question, Doeg turned on his heals and commenced slayed 85 priests.  He even killed multiple men, women, and children of the town too!

The only person who managed to escape was the son of Ahimelech, Abiathar, who fled and found David, reporting all he had seen.  David felt bad for Abiathar.  David actually felt partially to blame for the death of all Abiathar's family.

David told Abiathar not to worry or be scared, because he is safe with him.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

David Acts Insane to Escape From Saul's Anger (1 Samuel, Chapter 21)

David acts insane, letting drool dribble over his beard and onto the ground, and begins pounding his fists into the floor.  
This image is from the Brick Testament, which is a hilarious source for Biblical material.

Over the time I've been reading the Bible again, I've learned that approaching the Bible strictly as a "moral code" is ridiculous, and that's just the wrong way to look at it.  It's also wrong to take it seriously or literally.  I suspect that's why so many Christians don't want to read the Bible from cover to cover; because shortly after the first two verses of Genesis, it loses credibility as a tale about reality and so we'd rather just hear the preacher's explanation instead.

However, if we look at it as a source of entertainment, where we can read about some really interesting behavior, the Bible is great.  Sure, it's badly written, but once we stop taking it seriously, ironically it becomes easy to read.  The cognitive dissonance goes away.

In this chapter of 1 Samuel, David is afraid of King Saul's wrath.  If we remember, David is seen as something of a war hero because he killed Goliath on the battlefield.  Now, he is seen as being chosen by God Himself.  King Saul recognizes this and basically wants to kill David before he becomes a threat to his power.

David runs away, and in this chapter he even approaches the enemies of Israel (the kingdom of Gath) to escape from Saul.  But some people in Gath recognized David since he was famous by that time, and called him out on it.  He then acted like a madman, scribbling on some gates, drooling, and hitting the ground with his fists, just so they'd think he WASN'T David!

For some reason, he thought that if he acted like a mad man, they'd change their mind and protect him from Saul.

The chapter closes with Achish, who is the king of Gath, asking, "Have I need of madmen, that you brought this guy to me?"

Perhaps madmen were treated as entertainment back then?  Or was he just being sarcastic?  I guess we'll find out next time.


Wednesday, February 01, 2012

David and Jonathan Kiss Each Other Goodbye (1 Samuel, Chapter 20)


Again, this relationship between Jonathan and David seems a lot closer than the standard friendship.  There's nothing with that, of course.  And, it's vague enough and ancient enough in context to forgive their kissing and hugging and standing around naked with each other.

However, I've been hearing from apologists, who always make me roll my eyes, that there's no way that these two are gay.  I'm still on the fence on this, but I can't dismiss it as easily as they can, ESPECIALLY after reading this chapter!  Once again, I personally don't care if they're gay.  The only thing that's wrong about them being gay is the context behind the book (The Bible) which I'm reading it, which seems to readily condemn gays.

King Saul, the father of Jonathan, seems to know what's going on between his son and David.  Whether he suspects his son Jonathan of being gay, or perhaps just being more sympathetic to David instead of his own father's crown is not clear.  But when Saul confronts Jonathan, he says this: "You son of a perverse, rebellious woman!  I know you've chosen [David] to your own confusion, and unto the confusion of your mother's nakedness!"

Wow!

You'd almost think Saul caught the two guys making out.

But no, for the record the Bible doesn't state explicitly the nature of their relationship.  It says they love each other, it says they held hands, hugged, kissed, stood around naked, etc.  But it never says they're gay.

Well, Jonathan gets the hint that his dad (King Saul) wants to kill David.  So, he runs to David and tells him.  They even do a gay little pre-planned ritual where David is waiting in a field, Jonathan shoots three arrows and sends a boy to fetch them.  If the "the arrows are to the side" of the boy, David (who is looking on from a hiding spot), will see it as King Saul being cool with David. If, on the other hand, "the arrows are beyond" the boy, David will see that king intends to kill him.  

Yes, I know.  This isn't "gay" behavior.  They're not doing anything explicitly homosexual.  I mean it's "gay" because it's just over-the-top and a little dramatic.

When the time comes to shoot the arrows, the message is obviously that the arrows are beyond.  Jonathan shoots an arrow beyond the boy.  After seeing this, and after the unknowing participant (the boy) leaves, David comes out of hiding and embraces Jonathan.

This is essentially their final goodbye (I think), because David must flee.  They hug, they cry, and they kiss each other farewell.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Continuing Power Struggle Between David and Saul (1 Samuel Chapter 19)

David and Jonathan chat while chilling on a rock.  Image from LookandLearn.org

King Saul, who still does not know that Yahweh (aka God) doesn't want him to be king anymore, is still squabbling with the young David, who seems to have attracted Yahweh's favor.

In this chapter, Saul reveals some of his nefarious plans to his son Jonathan.  But, as we read in the last chapter, Jonathan seems to have, at the very least, a mancrush on David.  It may even be more, but I won't go there.  He listens to his father's plans, and then defends David, even to the point of making the king swear that he won't kill David because David never did anything against him personally.

This suffices for a while, until war breaks out with the Philistines again and David annihilates them, which just makes Saul look bad again.  Saul is becoming such a dark figure that he's actually portrayed sitting down with a javelin in his hand; possessed by "the evil spirit from the Lord."  He actually tries to kill David himself, but David escapes and a pissed off Saul throws the javelin at a wall.

Saul is really starting to get jealous now, and decides to send assassins.  The Bible calls them "messengers", but they were specifically sent to observe David and then kill him.  So, I think "assassins" is a better word here.  Though, to be exact these were unusually polite assassins.  They actually went to the door of the house and said something to the effect, "Hi, may I see David so we can slay him?"

The people of the house helped David escape, and the assassins were perplexed that David's friends helped him escape.  Well, this hit was getting a little tricky for the friendly assassins.

David escaped to Samuel, whom the book is named after.  Samuel, if you've been following me, is a prophet.  When the assassins saw the prophets prophesying as if they were appointing David, the assassins also realized the err of their ways and also began prophesying, returning to Saul and telling him what transpired.

Two more times Saul sends "messengers" and each time they return prophesying.  All this prophesying seems to get Saul all worked up, because he then takes off all his clothes and lays down all day and night, and prophesies himself.  The chapter ends here, but I smell a resolution to the power struggle coming soon. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Possible Gay Couple in the Old Testament! (1 Samuel, Chapter 18)

Jonathan and David in a loving embrace.  Image from St-Takla.org

There may not have been an Adam and Steve, but there was a Jonathan and Dave.  Chapter 18 opens up with the understandably little known story of Jonathan and David, and it reads like they were gay lovers of the type found in Athenian or Carthaginian soldiers, like the Sacred Band of Thebes.

Now, I'm sure there's plenty of apologetics out there trying to explain this away, so here's the facts, not the spin.  18:1 says that their souls were knit together.18:3 says David loved Jonathan as his own soul.  18:4 says Jonathan took off all his clothes and armor and gave it to David.

It's ambiguous and the point can be argued either way, but it is at least suspicious to the average reader, which I purport myself to be.  I'm just reading the Bible again just to make sure I didn't miss anything.  This second time around is obviously a lot more engaged then previous times.

Also in this chapter, Saul, who I guess has not been told yet that he's not the king that Yahweh (God) wants, is becoming jealous of David.  Apparently, they start a contest on who can kill the most people in the name of God.  This is like the wet dream of the most religious people alive today!

King Saul engages in a little bit of deception.  Saul saw that David was enamored with his daughter, and figured that giving her to David would calm him down.  Saul said David can have his daughter (named Michal), and he didn't need a dowry.  However, he did want 100 Philistine foreskins.

Think about that.

A lot of people give their wife a wedding ring, in some cultures the groom is expected to give the family money or gifts (a dowry), but in this case David is asked to bring 100 FORESKINS!

Well, David wanted Michal so bad that he went and killed 200 Philistines, and brought back 200 foreskins.  Piles of foreskins seems to be a fairly common thing in the Old Testament!   Paying 200 foreskins for a bride is a rather odd price, and it's also very weird.  That's why I find it interesting that this story isn't as well-known as it ought to be.

It almost seems like our own modern morality causes Bible readers to ignore these passages.  Not me.  I find these passages immensely interesting, and at the same time it just cements my personal belief that Bible is not a guide to morality, but "empty bleatings of a barbaric tribe", as Christopher Hitchens might put it.