Darryl (Kings 2 13-14)

I can’t imagine that the Bible would be published as is had it been written in modern times. I’m sure the editor would have wanted it “punched up” or the major love story to be “fleshed out”.

I thought it might be a good idea to get by bearings in terms of who’s who before moving forward since not much is bloody happening. 

Here we go:

Recent kings of Israel: Jehu then Jehoahaz then Jehoash

Recent kings of Judah: Ahaziah then Joash then Amaziah

Actually, that wasn’t so bad.

Anyways, in the meantime, Elisha, self-proclaimed “man of God”, kicks it. At his funeral, a “marauding band” passes by (Vikings?) and “the man was cast into the grave of Elisha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet” (Kin 2 13:21). Here’s an example of truly bad writing in the Bible (oh, how it sticks in my craw). What exactly is going on here? I guess we can assume “the man” was one of the marauders but was either already dead or punished to death by the Israelites (in a hasty fashion, apparently, since they were in the process of trying to enjoy a funeral). We can also assume that it took them a while to organize the funeral (“Who said they would bring Dixie cups again?”) since Elisha’s corpse had been reduced to bones. Poor form. I’m sure Elisha expected more of a production and a really great turn-out as well. This is what we all want in the end, isn’t it? A really great turn-out at our funerals? There’s a scene in Strangers with Candy with my favourite character, Geoffrey Jellineck, is talking to a student who’s contemplating suicide after the suicide of another suicide. Mr. Jellineck goes on and on about how great the turn-out was at that other student’s funeral and how bad everyone must have felt for mistreating him. I wish I could find that clip. Instead I found the best of Geoffrey Jellineck (Paul Dinello). Enjoy:

“I’ve gotta run; but as soon as you’re ready to talk about your family problems to an art teacher, you can call me.” (1:36 into the clip)

Published in: on July 30, 2011 at 1:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Fifty Cents Off Shake n’ Bake (Kings 2 11-12)

Truthfully, I’m losing track of what’s going on here in Kings 2. Kings come and go, and some are good and some are bad. It would be a little more interesting for the reader if the Bible supplied some detail to go with statements like, “He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord”. What was it? Was it… salacious? Let’s spice it up here.

Anyways, Jehoash takes over and begins to reign in Jerusalem, which pisses of a woman named Athaliah since her family, the former royal family, had been slain. She she makes like, a scene, and “rent[s] her clothes,” (Kin 2 11:14) which never fails to make me laugh since I think ripping your clothes off your body is possibly the worst coping mechanism, and one that is surely regrettable moments later as you stand there with half a boob exposed (like a coked-out Tara Reid on the red carpet… remember that?).

Jehoash is a good king, apparently, since he tears down the house of Baal and make sure the resident priest there, Mattan (who, for some reason, I imagine to look like that mute dude with the long hair from the Black-Eyed Peas), is killed.

In chapter 12 of Kings 2, Jehoiada (the priest in charge of the other priests), invents a very familiar object if you are or were a churchgoer: the collection basket. In the churches I went to (before I saw the light or, rather, absence of light), they always used a flat basket attatched to a long handle that they would jab into your pew in a probing manner (it doubled as the skimmer for the rooftop pool… no, that’s a lie). It always felt a little rude to me. “Then Jehoiada the priest took a chest, and bored a hole in the lid of it, and set it beside the altar on the right side as one entered the house of the Lord; and the priests who guarded the threshold put in it all the money that was brought into the house of the Lord” (Kin 2 12:9). They used this money for practical things and not fancy-schmancy accoutrements like, “basins of silver, snufflers, bowls, trumpets, or any vessels of gold, or of silver” (Kin 2 12:13). Hmm. Take note, Vatican.

Published in: on July 28, 2011 at 2:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Drive-By Anointing (Kings 2 9-10)

In chapter 9, Elisha comes to the conclusion that one of his sons should randomly drop in on Jehu, son of Jehoshaphat, and anoint him with oil and announce him as king. His instructions are as follows: “Then take the flash of oil and pour it on his head, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord, I anoint you king over Israel’. Then open the door and flee; do not tarry” (Kin 2 9:3). Apparently, there’s no reception with drinks or dancing of any kind.

Elisha’s son does exactly that and in doing so, stirs the proverbial pot. Obviously, this doesn’t sit well with Joram who, up until this point, had been king. He challenges Jehu who counters by pointing out what a shitty job he’s been doing as king. There are an awful lot of “harlotries” (yes, this is a word) and sorceries operating thanks to him and his mother Jezebel. Jehu has got a real hate-on for Jezebel, probably because he was the one guy she refused to have sex with.

It’s worth mentioning that in my reading of the Bible, there is a lot more anti-sorcery content than anti-gay content. And, from what I can tell, all the anti-gay content refers only to gay men, not lesbians. It’s always been funny to me when fervent fundamentalists argue that AIDS is God’s punishment for being gay. In actuality, lesbians have a lower incidence of HIV and AIDS than heterosexual women which would make one think that dykes, and not Jews, are God’s chosen people.

Moving on, Jehu decides to bring his argument with Joram to an abrupt end by shooting him with an arrow. Done and done. Next, he pays a visit to Jezebel, who he beats and leaves for dead. This probably gives him a real hard-on but what makes it even better is later she is eaten by dogs. They make fast work of her, leaving no flesh, only bone. If it wasn’t dogs then my next guess would be cartoon pirhanas.

In chapter 10, Jehu goes on a killing spree and wipes out the house of Ahab, for their general debauchery and wheelings and dealings with other gods. Then he tricks a bunch of people into revealing themselves as worshippers of Baal (him again?). Basically, he says, “Hey, everybody! Let’s get our groove on and have a really fun party for Baal! You’re all invited but let’s still aim for even numbers of boys and girls. Hope you like Baked Tostitos”. All the people that show up are killed and the house of Baal is turned into a latrine. That’s a statement, for sure.

Woof.

Published in: on July 26, 2011 at 1:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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What to Get the Man of God Who Has Everything (Kings 2 8)

In chapter 8 of Kings 2 Elisha, the man of god about town (godabout as opposed to gadabout?), has got his work cut out for him. The king of the Philistines is afflicted with some sort of sickness (likely syphilis) and wants Elisha to tell him whether he’ll live or die. To butter him up, he sends a little gift. Or, rather, forty camel loads of goods from Damascus (this is something I write on my Christmas list every year hoping to encourage my family members to get me something other the plethora of bath products I usually receive). Smooth.

Elisha relays his prophecy to Hazael, the king’s servant. He says, “Go say to him, ‘You shall certainly recover’; but the Lord has shown me that you shall certainly die” (Kin 2 8:10). Does he mean the king is going to die soon or in the way in which we all do, that is, eventually, at some point so far in the future that it’s not worth thinking about right now lest we all descend into an intractable existential paroxysm?

At a recent wedding (at which I was flying solo) a gentleman approached me and asked if I was alone. My reply? It was: “Aren’t we all alone? I mean, like, really”. That was the end of that conversation. Existential buzzkill. Bad move, KG.

Turns out, what Elisha was prophesizing was that the king would indeed recover from his sickness but Hazael would kill him and take over as king. It’s kind of funny: Hazael kills the king in the only way a trained servant could – murdering him but also trying to make him comfortable, oddly enough. “But on the morrow he took the coverlet and dipped it in water and spread it over his face, till he died” (Kin 2 8:15). That sounds nice. It was probably a hot, steamy day and the cool water would have been much appreciated, despite the circumstances.

Two gadabouts.

Published in: on July 24, 2011 at 1:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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That Old Trick (Kings 2 6-7)

I knew before attempting to read the Bible from cover to cover (which typically, I only do with John Grisham novels) that “turn the other cheek” was decidedly New Testament. What I didn’t realize was that “let’s wish blindness upon our enemies” was decidedly Old Testament. Rough.

The Syrians are fighting again with the Israelites so Elisha, a person who is constantly and annoyingly referred to as a “man of God,” prays to God, “Strike these people, I pray thee, with blindness” (Kin 2 6:18). And he does. God makes these people blind. So the Israelites win that one… obviously.

But the Syrians rebound quickly (with new, sighted recuits, I imagine) and take Samaria seige, where there’s a famine. In the midst of this seige-slash-famine, a woman calls out to the king of Israel (who is it at this point? I’ve lost track). She’s got a major beef with another gal. It’s a pretty big one, admittedly. Here’s what she says: “This woman said to me, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ So we boiled my son, and ate him. And on the next day I said to her, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him’; but she has hidden her son” (Kin 2 6:28-29). Duh. That’s the oldest trick in the book. Could’ve seen that one coming. She should have asked to boil both sons at once and then dry and salt any leftovers for later. I can’t blame her for not thinking straight, however. Hunger is incredibly distracting. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before but my personal hell would be having Prader-Willi syndrome whereby your body loses its capacity to recognize signals of satiety. I already feel like I operate like this on a low level most of the day anyways but I literally can’t imagine being positively ravenous all the time. In all seriousness, I would probably kill myself. Back in my vegan days, when this was more of an issue for me, I used to try and bloat myself on multiple cans of Diet Coke a day. Now I employ other methods to distract myself from hunger like… blogging.

Published in: on July 22, 2011 at 2:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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Air-Born Leprosy (Kings 2 4-5)

Elisha has come to be regarded as “a man of God,” whatever that means. One of the perks of being a man of God (other than red-hot shame at one’s boners, of course) is that you can travel around and people will accomodate you in their homes. A barren women (who we can suppose is empty inside) and her husband even set up a private room for Elisha when he passes through, complete with walls (purely luxury items), a bed, a chair and a lamp. Elisha repays her for these sweet digs by getting God to allow her to conceive a son. However, when he’s still but a boy, her son gets a massive headache, falls asleep in her lap and dies. Some son.

This reminds me of my Nana’s dog Susie, a Pomeranian. My Nana was a touch dotty and used to promptly sit down to tea and shortbread biscuits at three o’clock everyday with Susie. Predictably, Susie grew into an almost perfectly spherical shape, like a basketball with fur on four sticks. When Susie’s heart could no longer deal with all that butter being siphoned into her delicate system, she waddled onto my Nana’s lap while she was watching Three’s Company (my Nana loved gay jokes), fell asleep and died.

But the formerly barren women in Kings 4 didn’t have anything to worry about, really. Elisha is no indian giver (can I still say that?). He goes to the boy’s freshly dead body and does the following: “Then he went up and lay upon the child, putting his mouth upon his mouth, his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands; as he stretched himself upon him, the flesh of the child became warm” (Kin 2 4:34). My certification in First Aid and CPR has lapsed but I’m quite sure that this is not standard procedure. His eyes upon his eyes? Imagine that kid coming back to life. How super-creepy would that be?

The fifth chapter in Kings 2 turns to one of my favourite minorities (no, not male stand-ups with high self-esteem) – lepers. Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria has a bad case of leprosy. Doesn’t do too well with the ladies. He catches wind that Elisha is a man of God and goes to him seeking a cure. Elisha instructs him to go bathe in the river and he’s like, “Duh. I’ve already tried washing. It doesn’t work“. But he tries it despite his doubts and the result is “his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child and he was clean” (Kin 2 5:14). Naaman is overjoyed, naturally, and offers Elisha’s servant Gehazi some gifts while Elisha is fucking off somewhere. Gehazie accepts said gifts, which pisses of Elisha. So he gives Gehazi leprosy as a punishment instead of just taking away his Christmas bonus. Bam!

Published in: on July 20, 2011 at 12:18 am  Leave a Comment  
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If You Want to Destroy My Sweater… (Kings 2 3)

Mesha, the king of Moab, is supposed to deliver to the king of Israel one hundred thousand lambs and the wool of one hundred thousand rams annually. But when a new king comes into power, Mesha is like, “Forget it”. So they go to war over… sweaters.

The new king, Jehoram implores Jehoshaphat, king of Israel in Samaria to help him out. Jehoshaphat has a really great line here, one that I’ll attempt to use in conversation in order to create an epic atmosphere in my life: “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses” (Kin 2 3:7). Maybe I’ll just say, “My horses as your horses”. Short and sweet. I feel that uttering this line is something I have to do at least once in my life. That and make a citizen’s arrest.

The two Js call upon Elisha because he’s regarded as kind of a prophet. Before he can do any prophesizing though, he calls for a minstrel. Thinking music, I guess. Then he tells them of their rosy future: “…and you shall conquer every fortified city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop up all springs of water, and ruin every good piece of land with stones” (Kin 2 3:19). Sounds positively American. God bless.

Predictably, the Israelites defeat the Moabites. In desperation, the king of Moab offers up his son for a burnt sacrifice at the bottom of the ninth (“Dad! You’re ruining my life! Literally. Stomp. Stomp. Stomp.”)

Citizen's Arrest: Not Just for Squares Anymore.

Published in: on July 19, 2011 at 2:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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Another Day in the Life of Elisha (Kings 2 1-2)

Lo and behold, there’s another chapter called Kings. Looks like Kings 2 is a sequel to Kings but still leaves those same canyon-sized narrative gaps (the ones that go something along the lines of “Now the rest of the acts of Ahaziah which he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?” Personally, I think it’s a bit much to ask a reader to cross-reference a book that’s eight hundred pages, single-spaced, double-columned, in print tiny enough for a cheat sheet. 

I haven’t posted in a while (my bathroom was being renovated and I was out of my apartment) and I feel like I’ve lost track of things. Kings 1 and 2 jump around quite a bit, following this guy and then that guy. The first two chapters in Kings 2 follow a guy named Elisha who doesn’t seem to get ruffled when a bunch of weird stuff happens to him. Here’s what happens:

1. He goes for a stroll with his friend (and likely lover) Elijah. Introductions must get confusing for this pair: “No, I’m Elijah and he’s Elisha. I’m the one with the striking blue eyes and he’s the one with fabulous taste in hairshirts. You guys, this happens all the time!”

2. God threatens to take Elijah up to heaven in a literal, not metaphorical, whirlwind (whirlwind doesn’t indicate “montage” here).

3. Elisha refuses to leave Elijah despite the impending danger and is pretty dramatic about it. Gay, gay, gay.

4. Elijah parts water so they can cross a river but then “a chariot of fire and horses separated the two of them” (Kin 2 2:11). So a pair of flaming stallions are separated by another pair of flaming stallions.

5. Elijah disappears into the sky.

6. Elisha performs one of my favourite biblical gestures: he “took hold of his own clothes and rent them in two pieces” (Kin 2 2:12). People are always ripping their clothes off in a misguided coping strategy.

7. Elisha picks up the mantle Elijah left behind (still warm) and smacks it againts the water, demanding that God show his ugly mug.

8. He doesn’t.

9. A bunch of prophets bow down to him (supposedly to stop him from spazzing out?) and ask him to help them fix a water problem the city is having. What? 

10. Elisha throws some salt in the water and – presto – the water is better.

11. Elisha goes to Bethlehem and “some small boys came out of the city and jeered and him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!”. Ouch. Not one to adhere to the “sticks and stones” school of thought, Elisha curses the boys “in the name of the Lord” (Kin 2 2:23-24). Male pattern baldness was a sensitive an issue then as it is now, apparently.

12. Then two she-bears run out of the woods and kill forty-two of the boys. Out of how many? I don’t know. But, yes – this is in the Bible.

Published in: on July 17, 2011 at 6:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Gettin’ Shit Done (Kings 20-22)

In Kings 20, Israel goes to war with Syria, led by a guy named Benhadad. Despite the fact that they’re scarce in numbers (down to about seven thousand after the last plague), the Israelites trounce the Syrians, killing one hundred thousand of them in a single day. The Syrians are embarassed – rightfully so – and demonstrate this by surrendering themselves wearing “sackcloths on their loins and… ropes on their heads” (Kin 20:32). This cries “I’ll hang myself naked in front of you if this surrender doesn’t go smoothly”.

Kings 21 is an interesting episode. Ahab, king of Israel, decides that he wants a vineyard owned by this guy named Naboth. He wants to turn it into a vegetable garden. Very domestic. Very “I’ve just been through a rough divorce and need something to focus my energies on”. Naboth, naturally, protests. Furthermore, he says that God doesn’t want him to give up his vineyard. That’s tough to argue with. Ahab takes this issue back home, to his wife Jezebel, who we discovered had a healthy amount of sass in the last post. Jezebel is not having it. She takes the issue straight to the elders and convinces them to call upon Naboth under false pretenses (cursing God) and stone him to death, which they do. Vineyard? You’re welcome.

Israel continues to war with Syria and Ahab gets killed in battle. As predicted by a spooky prophet, dogs licked up his blood and then “harlots washed themselves in it” because apparently, there was puh-lenty to go around (Kin 22:38). Gross.

Published in: on July 9, 2011 at 10:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Recipe for Angel Food Cake (Kings 19)

When you single-handedly slay a bunch of prophets, word gets around. Jezebel (one biblical name that, oddly enough, hasn’t regained popularity) is pissed that Elijah did this and threatens to kill him herself (this lady’s sassy – watch out) so he flees into the wilderness, which is where all the kids are fleeing these days.

Elijah parks himself under a broom tree, an inviting bit of nature that looks like this:

No hammock?

While he’s sleeping under a broom tree, an angel shows up (who – let’s face it – probably watched him sleep for a while) and wakes him by saying, “Arise and eat” (Kin 19:5). Elijah opens his eyes to find a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water waiting for him. I imagine this cake to be like the flourless chocolate cake at Terroni, which is spectacular. I thought it was clever to title this post referencing angel food cake but in actuality, I loathe angel food cake. It takes me back to the late 80s when I was a pudgy pony-tailed child on my first self-imposed diet who kept seeing angel food cake touted as a “sensible dessert” in Chateleine, a magazine I read by the pool after doing the calisthenics along with a morning exercise show. Who the fuck likes angel food cake? It is not delicious. And what’s worse, it’s boring. You might as well put blueberries on a Saltine.

Anyways, Elijah is struggling with what he did and he calls upon the Lord. He doesn’t get the Lord but he is treated to a variety of impressive meteorological events: crazy winds sweep by him, an earthquake comes, and then a huge fire. It says in the Bible that God wasn’t present in any of these events so I guess their significance is to show how alone and puny Elijah is. Eventually, God starts speaking to him and tells him, “Go, return on your way to the wildnerness of Damascus; and when you arrive, you shall annoint Hazael to be king over Syria; and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall annoint to be king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shapat of Abelmeholah you shall annoint to be prophet in your place. And him who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay; and him who escapes the sword of Jehu shall Elish slay. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, and all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him” (Kin 19:15-18). Okay – I get it. God is pitting his people against each other as punishment for – guess what – worshipping another god. I guess this is more fun for him to watch than a regular, old plague. I’m not sure how everyone’s going to take to Elijah going around annointing everyone different things. I suspect that the current king of Syria will be especially put out.

Published in: on July 8, 2011 at 2:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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