Last Night I Dreamt I Went to Manderley Again (Ezra 10)

Well, if Ezra 9 didn’t clinch it, Ezra 10 did. Interracial marriages are not approved of in the Bible. Interracial is a modern term but I think it’s fair to interpret marriages with “foreign wives” as such. In Ezra 10, Ezra is losing his shit over all the marriages Jewish men have made with dirty, foreign bitches. He says, “Therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law” (Ezr 10:3). He’s serious: a covenant is being made about this after all.

What is unclear to me is what happens to these foreign wives. They’ve got to go – we know that. But there’s all this talk about “put[ting] them away”. What does that mean? Are they being killed? Or does being “put away” mean that they’ll be committed to a low-securty sanitorium-style facility that is actually quite relaxing and offers fun (and oddly pacifying) arts and crafts?

Don't be a hater.

Published in: on November 2, 2011 at 1:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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Jungle Fever (Ezra 7-9)

Ezra, a scribe and a prophet, is tasked by King Artaxerxes of Persia to go to Babylon and collect some goods in the forms of gold and silver mainly. Artaxerxes sends Ezra along with a little note that basically says, “Listen to this guy. He’s for real.” Sort of like when your Mom sent you to Beckers for cigarettes with a note. Ah, Beckers. You could really stretch your dollar there as a kid.

Ezra takes a big team with him to Babylon. As a leader, he’s a real buzzkill because he keeps making everyone go on fasts, which is impractical for a bunch of guys who hauling around precious metals. Maybe he wasn’t aware of the atomic weight of gold. It doesn’t say but I assume that these guys aren’t getting paid much so they at least deserve a hot lunch.

When Ezra gets back into town an interesting issue pops up: mixed marriages. Hmm. Ezra hears that there has been some intermingling of such VASTLY DIFFERENT groups as the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites. SCANDAL. Upon receiving this new, he says he “rent [his] garments and [his] mantle, and pulled hair from [his] head and beard, and sat appalled” (Ezr 9:3). UNNECESSARY. Sitting appalled is particularly funny to me since it’s the exact same reaction of my roommates cat whenever we dress him up in costumes.

Maybe it’s just Ezra’s bias, but it would seem that the Bible comes down heavily on mixed marriages. “Therefore, give not your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters for your sons, and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong, and eat the good of the land and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever.” (Ezr 9:12) Hmm. I don’t quite know what to say. Chalk it up to the time period the Bible was written in and ignore it? If yes, why not the rest of its prescriptions?

I have nothing else to add here.

Published in: on October 31, 2011 at 1:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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IHOL, International House of the Lord (Ezra 4-6)

The house of the Lord seems to be the focal point in much of the Bible. How many times can it be rebuilt? And – to get philosophical – is it still the same temple if it’s been so frequently reconstructed that none of its orginal material is present? Is the house of the Lord Neurath’s ship? If you’re unfamiliar, Neurath’s ship is a metaphor that asks that if a mariner has to rebuilt his ship, plank by plank, while at sea, will he still be aboard the same vessel once the last of the original planks is gone. Many modern-day epistemologists say yes. Of course, the metaphor is used in reference to what we know, which is without foundation (original planks) because it’s historically conditioned (new planks). They’re not talking about actual, physical things like temples, ships, wigs, flower arragements or decks of card.

Yes. I’m aware of the fact that it’s Friday night and I’m reading the Bible and talking epistemology. Drag.

Anyways, the Jews want to rebuild the house of the Lord (again) and various kings of Persia thwart them for whatever reason (or no reason at all; I can’t really tell). When Darius ascends to Persia’s throne he gives them the thumbs-up. As a matter of fact, once construction is underway, things get serious. For example, a decree is enacted that states that if anyone interferes with this house of the Lord business then “a beam shall be pulled out of his house, and he shall be pulled out of his house, and he shall be impaled upon it, and his house shall be made a dunghill” (Ezr 6:11). Harsh. I’m no Antoni Gaudi but in my experience, beams from houses are pretty thick, making impalement one hell of a way to die.

Keep 'em coming.

Published in: on October 29, 2011 at 1:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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Keep it Together (Ezra 1-3)

I always get mildly excited when I start a new chapter of the Bible, in the hopes that it will be less boring and crammed with names and details than the previous one. The excitment is on par with what I feel when I see that I can get fifty times the Optimum points if I spend over fifty dollars at Shoppers Drug Mart on a Saturday. I often take advantage of these points days and walk out with my arms full of toilet paper which makes me uncomfortable since I don’t like people perceiving me as the kind of person who spends a lot of time in the washroom.

No such luck. The first few chapters of the Book of Ezra are dull, dull, DU-HULL.

These chapters concern Cyrus, king of Persia, who turns out to be kind of a patron of the Jews. I guess he feels bad for them and he helps them rebuild the house of the Lord (again?) and escape from captivity in Babylon. There are no interesting descriptions of how the Jew break free of the chains that Nebuchadnezzar put them in and, in any case, he doesn’t put up much of a protest when they leave. Maybe he’s softened in his old age. But the Bible does list all the families who manage to return to Jerusalem. And it is a long list. LA-ONG.

Anyways, once the house of the Lord is all shined up (again), everybody celebrates big time and “many shouted aloud for joy; so that the people could not distinguish the sound of joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for people shouted with a great shout” (Ezr 3:13). I don’t know. That doesn’t sound good to me. I want joyful shouting to sound like joyful shouting and weeping to sound like weeping and, by extension, screaming to sound like screaming and laughing to sound like laughing. It’s usually not a good thing when any of these get mixed up.

Acceptable – joyful shouting + laughing

Not Acceptable – joyful shouting + screaming OR weeping + screaming OR joyful shouting + screaming

Weeping and screaming together is especially bad. When I cry – and I don’t that often in my waking life (that’s another story) – I always hope to look like Jackie Kennedy at JFK’s funeral: poised, with a single tear streaking my face. Clearly emotional but keeping it together.

Break-ups are the worst.

Published in: on October 26, 2011 at 2:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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