A nonbeliever's SECOND reading of the Bible

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

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.