Leftovers (Chronicles 2 34-36)

After a cavalcade of crappy kings, Josiah takes over Judah when he’s eight years old. Child pageants had given him the confidence required to rule effectively.

During renos on the house of the Lord (renos: do they ever end?), Hilkiah, the high priest, stumbles across the book of laws that God had gifted to Moses. He passes it on to Shaphan, the king’s secretary, to read to the king who “rent[s] his clothes” when he realizes that his people aren’t abiding by the laws. Renting one’s clothes seems to be the only available reaction to disturbing news. No one has fainted or peed their pants, not even once. Too bad.

Josiah decides to make a new convenant with God, like hippies who force all their friends and family over to watch them reaffirm their marriage vows and eat weird salads after. He throws a big shin-dig for passover with way too much food (i.e., he orders the sacrifice of thirty thousand lambs). No doubt there were countless of repetitions of the following rigmarole:

“You have to take some leftovers home with you”

“No, no, no. We couldn’t”

“You have to. Here. Just take a little something”

“What about the tupperware?”

“Forget the tupperware. It’s old. Keep it”

“Really. I don’t want your gross food. It’s going to sit in the fridge for 4-5 days and then when I remember it’s still there, I’m going to throw it out”

“I’m forcing this food upon you because I’m an emotional over-eater and I can’t be surrounded by it. Take the fucking food”

Some of that dialogue was internal. Anyways, Josiah is an okay king but his undoing is he doesn’t know how to mind his own business. For no reason, he decides to interfere with a battle between Neco, king of Egypt and an unnamed opponent. He’s so intent on participating in the battle that he even disguises himself. What an idiot. He gets shot with lots of arrows and dies.

Here is the next string o’ kings: Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah. To keep this short and sweet, all I’ll mention is that they’re all crappy and they all run into trouble with the Babylonian king who conquers them, takes their fancy things and makes a lot of their subjects slaves. Now, on to the Book of Ezra because I’m so done with Chronicles.

Look good? It IS!

Published in: on October 24, 2011 at 2:58 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Can’t See the Lord for the Trees (Chronicles 2 31-33)

In Chapter 31 Hezekiah goes on a rampage. He was due for one. He tears down all places of worship devoted to other gods, including the Asherim, which are just circles of trees. Seems a tad unnecessary since you could probably repurpose those trees for fun stuff like treehouses and hanging laundry to dry.

After that episode, Hezekiah divides up all the priests according to the jobs they do (and won’t do – get it?). He also contributes a bunch of his own stuff for a variety of burnt offerings, some of which are for the new moons. New moons? Sounds vaguely pagan. I know this because I used to consider my religion to be Wicca when I was sixteen. What I liked about Wicca – what I still like about Wicca – is that it has this real bitch-slap of a karmic rule: whatever you do comes back to you times three. In Hinduism, it just comes back to you but in Wicca, it comes back to you times three. Makes you think about all the times you were too lazy to recycle.

Anyways, Senneacherib, king of Assyria invades Judah next. Hezekiah tells his forces not to worry about those huge, hulking, hoarding Assyrians because the Lord is on their side. Whatever. That wouldn’t calm my nerves. In all honesty, every single time I go to Wonderland I bring an extra pair of underwear because I’m convinced that it will be too much and I’ll wet myself. Hezekiah’s eventual victory has more to do with the fact that he’s smart enough to cut off the Assyrians’ water supply, not God.

After Hezekiah kicks it, his son Mannaseh, who is twelve years old, takes over. That’s a great idea. Of course, it’s a hot mess, with Mannaseh bringing back all the idolatrous worship of other gods and cavorting about with mediums and wizards. Plus, he does a little soothsaying of his own on the side. Scandalous. A soothsayer has always been one of my backup costume ideas for Halloween since all it involves is a billowy robe and a bad attitude. What’s more, if you’re bloated from eating too much dairy or something then you can hide your bloat and NOT hide the fact that you feel badly about yourself by expressing general negativity. Win-win.

Beware the aisles of dairy.

Published in: on October 21, 2011 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Hope You Like Lamb (Chronicles 2 30)

Hezekiah decides to throw a big party for Passover and invite all of Israel and Judah to celebrate in the house of the Lord. He sends out a lengthy proclamation that is essentially a threat. In it, he implores the invitees: “Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the Lord… that his fierce anger may turn away from you” (Chr 2 30:8). Not exactly straight out of Emily Post’s Etiquette. Well, can I bring anything? How about a fruit platter?  

Lamb, apparently, is the only thing on the menu next to gross, tasteless unleavened bread. I wouldn’t mind that, personally, since lamb falls under the category of “Meats I Never Cook Myself and Shall Always Order if on the Menu”. What’s more problematic is that many of the guests did not sanctify themselves and therefore special arrangements have to be made. Showing up unsanctified to a feast is the biblical equivalent of being that annoying vegan in a restaurant who makes the server go back to the kitchen seventeen times to check on the ingredients in the mayonnaise in their wrap. If it’s real mayonnaise then I can’t have it because it probably has egg but if it’s second-rate mayonnaise then it’s probably canola-oil based and I can have it… can you check with the kitchen to see if your restaurant uses second-rate vegan mayonnaise? Thanks so much! I can make fun of vegans in this way because I used to be one (for eleven [wasted] years).

Because some of the guests are unsanctified upon arrival the Levites (also known as slaves) have to kill extra lambs. What a pain. Surpisingly, the Passover party is a big hit despite the limited menu and Hezekiah keeps it going for an extra seven days. Seven DAYS! This amazes me since I always give myself a little pat on the back everytime I make it past midnight at a party. That’s why I could never live in Montreal. I went to visit my friend Kelly there and couldn’t get over the fact that people only started rolling in at eleven o’clock. But that time I was nearly done. Heavens – I had already had ONE FULL GLASS OF RED WINE.

The only thing silencing this lamb is its own deliciousness.

Published in: on October 19, 2011 at 9:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

Don’t Fill Up on Breadsticks (Chronicles 2 28-29)

I seem to have detected a pattern in Chronicles. One king does not do “what is right in the eyes of the Lord” and then another does. One good. One bad. It’s very predictable but not in a satisfying, Olive Garden kind of way.

Ahaz is bad. Among his transgressions is making molten images of Baal. So God sicks the Syrians upon Judah and tons of people get killed or captured. Ahaz has to go running to the king of Assyria and pay tribute to him in order to get his help, which he doesn’t because his tribute wasn’t showy enough or something.

Hezekiah is next in line. He’s good. He pretties up the house of the Lord (although he outsources much of the grunt work to the Levites). Since the house of the Lord is not only physically dirty but metaphorically and morally dirty, numerous cleansing rituals have to take place: “They gathered their bretheren, and sanctified themselves, and went in as the king had commanded, by the words of the Lord, to cleanse the house of the Lord. The priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord to cleanse it, and they brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the Lord into the court of the house of the Lord; and the Levites took it and carried it out to the brook Kidron” (Chr 2 29:15-16).

As someone who enjoys cleaning, I have to say there is something very rewarding about actually seeing the dirt that you’ve nabbed. This is the main reason why the Swiffer is such a successful product. And those Biore strips that you put across the bridge of your nose and then peel off to reveal all the blackheads they’ve ripped out of your face. Unlike the priests in the passage above, I usually don’t clean myself before cleaning although I can understand the reasoning behind this. Usually I like to clean post-workout. I feel that this is maximally efficient. One – I won’t get any sweatier than I already am and Two – I’ll need to shower anyways and I think this is an especially good thing after touching my toilet.

TGIF.

Published in: on October 14, 2011 at 2:33 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Is It Because I Have Leprosy? (Chronicles 2 24-27)

Joash decides it’s time to spruce up the house of the Lord. Frankly, when isn’t it time to spruce up the house of the Lord? The rulers of Judah are like my mother, who cyclically redecorates: when all the rooms have been decorated then it’s time to start the process over again with the first room (so long peach bathroom!). Constant redecortating requires funds so Joash gets some of his cronies to do his dirty work and go out and collect some money in a big wooden chest. All this is under the supervision of his main priest, Jehoiada.

Anyways, the house of the Lord is in tip-top shape for a few years and then Jehoiada dies and everything goes to pot. Jehoiada’s son Zechariah gets pissy about this and tells everybody off. He is promptly stoned. To make matters worse, the Syrians invade and kill Joash by conspiring with some of his servants. When his son Amaziah comes to power, he dispatches with those servants but not, notably, the children of those servants. This marks a huge step forward in moral reasoning. It’s like this: “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, or the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall die for his own sin” (Chr 2 24:4). Not exactly turn-the-other-cheek but progressive nonetheless.

Amaziah goes to war a lot. The biggest battle is one with Joah, king of Israel (not the one mentioned above), who creams him (haven’t heard that expression in a while, have you?). After Amaziah dies an ignoble death, his son Uzziah becomes king of Judah. He makes a major faux pas by burning incense in the house of the Lord. Apparently, only priests – the sons of Aaron – are supposed to do that. Uh-oh. Some priest reproaches him for it and he’s like, “whatever,” so God gives him leprosy on his forehead on the spot. BLAMMO! His son Jotham takes over for him because lepers have a difficult time being accepted as authority figures. Just like those chubby trainers you see in Goodlife. I’m not buying a package of ten – are you?

It's serious.

 

 

Published in: on October 11, 2011 at 2:10 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

The First Case of IBS (Chronicles 2 21-23)

When Jehoshaphat dies, Judah falls into the hands of his eldest son, Jehoram, who starts off on the wrong foot by murdering all his brothers and a few princes of Israel to boot. As expected, “he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” (Chr 2 21:6). That’s encouraging the worship of other gods in the main.

Elijah, a prophet, warns Jehoram of what’s to come: “…the Lord will bring a great plague on your people, your children, your wives, and all your possessions, and you yourself will have a severe sickness with a disease of your bowels, until your bowels come out because of the disease, day by day” (Chr 2 21:14-15). This passage inspired the popular church hymn “Day By Day”.

Elijah wasn’t kidding. Jehoram loses all that he has and suffers what I assume to be a frustrating combination of constipation and the runs for two years before his intestines fall out. It’s an ignoble death, to say the least.

I noticed a strange contradiction in the Bible. It says that all of Jehoram’s son die save his youngest, Jehoahaz. But a couple of paragraphs later it says that another son of his, Ahaziah, takes over for him when he dies. I guess there wasn’t too much fact-checking going on when the Bible was being written.

Ahaziah dies an untimely death by the hand of someone named Jehu and his infant son, Joash, has to be hidden for a while. In the meantime, Ahaziah’s mother – a WOMAN – reigns over Judah. This is new. Not much is said about what kind of job she did but it couldn’t have been a stellar one since a priest orders that she be mowed down with a sword just outside of the house of the Lord. Not inside. That would be gauche.

Damn glass ceiling.

Sometimes there's nothing casual about "business casual".

Published in: on October 5, 2011 at 12:47 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

You’re Using the Secret, Marge! (Chronicles 2 19-20)

Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, has safely returned to Jerusalem only to be blind-sided with a trick question by Jehu: “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord?” (Chr 2 19:2). Hmm. Let me think about that one. “No?” Jehoshaphat – 1. Jehu – 0. Jehu, a sore loser, spends the subsquent two paragraphs chewing Jehoshaphat out and telling him what a bad leader he is (jealous?).

In Chapter 19 of Chronicles 2, Jehoshaphat has to deal with enemy forces trying to invade. The Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites all unite against him. He decides to ready himself by going on a fast that all his people must also do. This is a bad idea, from a sports performance perspective. He gathers all his people together on the eve of the battle and the Spirit of the Lord enters a guy named Jahaziel who tells him, “Fear not, and be not dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s… You will not need to fight in this battle; take your position, stand still and see the victory of the Lord on your behalf” (Chr 2 19:15-17). Oh – okay. Basically, the Spirit’s advice is this: “Show up deconditioned and woozy from lack of protein and just stand there and let it all happen”.

This sort of reminds me of the Secret, which is like praying in modern garb. As in praying, using the Secret involves wishing for something (if you’re using the Secret are you… secreting?). If you get the thing you wished for then the Secret works; if you don’t then it wasn’t meant to be and the Secret still works. Genius.

Anyway, there isn’t much of a battle at all. Jehoshaphat’s men move toward the invaders and find them all dead so it’s all pretty anti-climatic. It would have been cool if the Spirt of the Lord did something like make all the invaders attack themselves like when your older brother would take your hand and make you hit your own face (“Stop hitting yourself!”). I don’t have any siblings but this is immediately what comes to mind for me when I hear “older/big brother”.  At the end of the day, Jehoshaphat’s men pick over their bodies for valuables. There’s a passage that details all the goodies that they find which leads me to think that the Bible approves of grave robbing in certain contexts.

I'm using the Secret to lose 3lbs.

Published in: on October 3, 2011 at 1:08 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

God’s Ghost Friends (Chronicles 2 16-18)

Chronicles 2 is a recap and I should probably remember what went down. But I don’t. What I’ve gathered this second time round is that Asa is king over Judah and during his reign he makes a pact with the king of Syria and gives his some gifts directly from the house of the Lord, which basically is regifting. I’ve regifted once – someone gave me one of those word magnet sets that you put on your fridge and make sentences with. People who have been identified as having a large vocabulary often get gifts of this nature. But we don’t have time to stand in front of our fridges and play with magnets because we’re too busy reading, people.

Jehoshaphat is next in line to rule over Judah and up until this point, he has done no jumping whatsoever. But he keeps things interesting by picking a fight with Ramothgilead. Ahab, king of Israel, joins him in this conquest. But in a weird way. Here’s what goes down, according to some guy named Micaiah, who tells Jehoshaphat: “I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left; and the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab the king of Israel, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord saying, ‘I will entice him.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go forth, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go forth and do so.'” (Chr 2 18:18-21).

Two questions arise: one – where did this ghost come from and why is he keen to do God’s dirty work? and two – why is lying – one of the Ten Commandments – okay here? Now that I think of it, God has lied a few times. Most notably when he lied to Abraham about having to sacrifice his son in order to prove his faith (gotcha!). That was a whopper.

Published in: on September 30, 2011 at 1:45 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Tired of Getting Sand Kicked in Your Face? (Chronicles 2 13-15)

A guy named Abijah begins to reign over Judah and comes up against Jeroboam who, next to Satan, seems to be one the Bible’s antagonists. Jeroboam is so bad that Abijah feels inclined to stand on a mountain and shout into the wind, “Hear me, O Jeroboam and all Israel! Ought you not to know that the Lord God over Israel gave the kinship to Israel for ever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt?” (Chr 2 13:4-5). This is a very indirect way of communicating. I’ve tried many-a-time to resolve my issues with others via the wind and it doesn’t work, people. It doesn’t work. You need face time.

And… what’s a covenant of salt? Is it that thing people do when they toss spilled salt over their left shoulders? Because that’s wishing. I know this because my Nana was a fanatic for it. That and Three’s Company. We used to watch it on full volume when I visited on account of her poor hearing.

Abijah and Jeroboam eventually go to war and it’s pretty clear whose side God is on. Abijah’s forces smush (technical military terminology) those of Jeroboam. Then it’s time for another round of cleaning house. All the false idols get chucked and all the trees standing in a circle get chopped down (take that Lillith Fair… I don’t know – the association here is pretty clear in my mind).

Next, this Ethiopian leader named Zerah gets up in Asa’s (Abijah’s successor) business. Now, I could have told you this would be an easy win. Those guys are pretty skinny and they only eat lentils and squishy bread (such is my impression). The Ethiopians get sand kicked in their faces, so to speak. I used to love those old Charles Atlas ads in the back of Archie comics (which were built on the assumptions that a real man stands up for himself by throwing punches and that women like it).

Asa and his gang are pretty hardcore: “And they entered into a covenant to seek  the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and with all their soul; and that whoever would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, should be put to death, whether young or old, man or woman” [italics added] (Chr 2 15:13). Hmm. Is that a good thing?

Skinny?! Why, thank you!

Published in: on September 28, 2011 at 2:08 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Chill Your Boner (Chronicles 2 11-12)

At this stage in the game, Rehoboam is now in power in Jerusalem. Wanting to throw his weight around, he assembles one hundred and eighty thousand stout-hearted men to battle against Israel. Just as everyone’s getting all excited, the word of God descends upon him like a Debbie Downer upon a casual dinner party. “There will be no fighting,” says God, “You’re all brethren here so just chill your boner” (Chr 2 11:4). I might have paraphrased that in my preferred idiom.

Rehoboam’s lifestyle is polygamous: he has eighteen wives total, three of which are worth mentioning (Mahalath, Abihail, Maacah). The other fifteen remain unnamed. He also has sixty concubines. Busy guy. But after say, the fifth wife, aren’t they all just concubines? What differentiates them? Probably housing. Whenever I picture a group of concubines, I picture a writhing mass of veiled bodies in a pit of silken pillows. Kind of like the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese but… pillows.

After reigning for a few years, Rehoboam figures that his probation period is up and starts acting like an asshole, which pisses off God. He sends Shishak (terrible name to enunciate) the king of Egypt to attack Rehoboam’s kingdom and take all his treasures away. This is a classic parenting technique – negative reinforcement. Very Old Testament. Rehoboam is particularly put out when his gold shields get taken away and he can only afford to replace them with bronze ones. How embarrassing. The only people that are happy with bronze are Canadian athletes. Sorry, but it’s true.

Now THAT'S a concubine.

 

Published in: on September 24, 2011 at 12:51 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,