Didn’t See That One Coming (Kings 2 24-25)

At this point in time, Jehoiakim is king of Judah and Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, is giving him some trouble (if you’re a fan of The Matrix then you’ll remember that Nebuchadnezzar is the name of the vessel – just saying). Nebuchadnezzar (who I imagine is probably called “Buch” by his intimates) takes Judah without much of a fight from Jehoiakim. As a matter of fact, Jehoiakim not only gives himself up but gives up “his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his palace officials” (Kin 2 24:12). Wimp.

When given an inch, Nebuchadnezzar takes a mile and takes almost everyone in Judah for captive, except the poor people (who are left to their own devices: questioning their childrens’ paternity and Big Gulps). He also takes all the treasure that Solomon had put in the house of the Lord. Apparently, all this was foretold so I suppose they should have seen that one coming.

After twenty-seven years of servitude, Evilmerodach becomes king of Babylon. And guess what? He’s actually pretty nice despite his name. He frees Jeroiakim from prison, gives him some sort of special chair, has dinner with him every night and even gives him an allowance. Wow. Didn’t see that one coming.

Published in: on August 16, 2011 at 1:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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Time to Take Out the Trash (Kings 2 21-23)

“Time to take out the trash” is one of my favourite expressions. I used to say it a lot while pretending to pull my pants up like some Chris Farley character. The expression is relevant to these chapters in Kings 2 because once again, the reigning kings revert to doing “what was evil in the sight of the Lord” until Josiah comes along and sets things right.

Manasseh reigns in Jerusalem and consorts with soothsayers, augurs, mediums and wizards, which God says is bad form even though this kind of company would make for a great party. These are the kinds of folks who, if you happen to be planning a wedding, you’d want to spread out amongst the tables in order to facilitate scintillating conversation. Augury, in case you didn’t know, is a practice of divination which involves interpreting the movements of birds as various omens. Augury is also a progressive death metal band from Montreal. They are very good (I don’t really know; I hadn’t heard of them until I searched “augury”).

Manasseh’s son Amon succeeds him and is no better. His reign is shorter, however, because he’s killed by his servants. This reminded me of one of my favourite old BBC series “I, Claudius”. I love John Hurt’s performance as Crazy Caligula, especially when he’s being assassinated by his German guard. He’s indignant: “You can’t kill me; I’m a god…. I’m a god, I’m a god, I’m a god!”. When he comes back as a ghost to visit his uncle Claudius he says, “Uncle Claudius, I wasn’t a god after all! You could have knocked me over with a feather when they told me!”. I found this uproariously funny as a twelve-year old because on the inside, I am an old lady. 

Anyways, Josiah eventually takes over. He gets one of his posse to make a visit to one of the priests and he finds the “book of the law”. Josiah flips through it and is like, “We’re not doing any of this. Shit”. He goes into overdrive. He spends most of his time going around and knocking down altars and trashing statues of other gods. He takes out the male cult prostitutes, too (they’re back…). None of this happens before he “rent[s] his clothes,” of course.

Fitting. Augury has a song called “Becoming God”. Enjoy.

Published in: on August 10, 2011 at 11:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Slide Show (Kings 2 19-20)

Hezekiah, king of Judah, decides to be a bit of a tattletale and tell God about how Sennacherib has been mocking him and doing bad stuff. Hezekiah does this by means of a long-winded, rambling prayer which ends on the following threat: “I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will turn you back on the way by which you came” (Kin 2 19:28). I’m not sure what “bit” means in this particular context. I did my research and most biblical scholars agree that it loosely translates into “dink”.

God hears Hezekiah’s prayer and exacts an appropriately untimely end for Sennacherib: he’s killed by his own sons while he’s worshipping some god named Nisroch. Interesting fact re: Nisroch… he’s the god of agriculture.

In chapter 20, Hezekiah falls ill and receives a visit from Merodachbaldan, son of the king of Babylon (If you want it, come and get it… Babylon). Hezekiah is the worst host to Merodachbaldan. Worse than my own dad, who is at his wit’s end if he has to do anything more than turn on the soccer game. Interesting fact re: my dad… he would probably make no contact with the outside world if it weren’t for my mum. He still occasionally calls me “Spud,” the name of our cat who passed away over ten years ago now. He’s kind of out to lunch. Anyways, Hezekiah subjects poor Merodachbaldan to an exhaustive tour of his house including, but not limited to “his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his armory, all that was found in the storehouses”. In fact, it is stated that “there was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them” (Kin 2 20:13). Bo-ring. 

Interesting fact re: me… I really dislike being shown other people’s photos. I don’t know what it is, exactly. I suppose it’s the trapped feeling I get, like I can’t end it when I want to, as in a conversation when you can switch topics when someone’s boring you out of your skull. Maybe it goes back to this geography teacher I had who used to force the grade nines to sit through epic slide shows of his travels. Let’s call him Mr. Brotherhood (because that’s his name). Mr. Brotherhood’s look could only be described as “pedophile chic”. You know what that is: uncomfortably high slacks, thick glasses and tan windbreaker. Mr. Brotherhood loved to take pictures of things like rocks and then take another picture of an everyday object, like his keys, next to those objects in order to “show scale”.

Here’s the final scene from one of my all-time favourite movies “Strictly Ballroom”. Skip to 3:19 for a partial example of “pedophile chic” and possibly the best slow clap ever.

“Listen to the rhthym”. 

Published in: on August 8, 2011 at 12:51 am  Comments (2)  
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Free Pizza and Pop (Kings 2 17-18)

The Israelites are still doing terrible things like burning incense and worshipping false (teen) idols. As a punishment, God sends the king of Assyria (who might have a hard time getting taken seriously) to war with them. The king, Shalmaneser, takes over Samaria and forces them to live in Assyria, which I’m sure they hate since if I’ve learned anything about the character of the Israelites from my reading, it’s that they’re big-time complainers. Negative Nancys, if you will.

When the Iraelites get to Assyria they find that it’s a mixed bag of other conquered peoples. Rules are lax so there’s a lot of dreaming up of new, exciting gods to worship. Some of these were Nergal (a sun god), Ashima (a goddess of fate), Nibhaz (a dog god), and Succothbenoth (a sexy god). Wikipedia didn’t exactly say that Succothbenoth was a sexy god; admittedly, that was my own description. When I looked him up, there seemed to be some hermeneutical disagreement (hermeneutical! I haven’t had the exquisite joy of using that word since my Ivory Tower days) surrounding whether “Succothbenoth” was a Hebrew term for a “sex tent” where daughters of Babylonians suffering from low self-esteem prostituted themselves in honor of an idol.

That’s the bulk of chapter 17 of Kings 2. Chapter 18 covers an epic argument between the new king of Assyria, Sennacherib, and Hezekiah, king of Judah. Basically, Sennacherib poses the the question of, “If the Lord is so good then why does he let me destroy your homes and rape your women like, all the time?”. This is a fair question. Totally. It’s no surprise that Hezekiah is at a loss for words. In the meantime, Sennacherib’s right-hand man starts working the crowd like it’s campaign season, saying things like, “Do not listen to Hezekiah; for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me; then every one of you will eat of his own vine, and every one of his own fig tree, and every one of you will drink the water of his own cistern” (Kin 2 18:31). This reminded me an awful lot of high school when there would be an offer of pizza to draw people to the unpopular clubs, like the Social Justice club (of which I was voluntarily a part). “Good morning, students. Mr. J. here. Just wanted to let you know that there’ll be free 2-for-1 pizza and pop and the Social Justice/Chess/Shakespeare/Recycling/Oboe/American Sign Language club for everyone. So come on out and make a difference instead of standing out on the hill and smoking and comparing your amateur sketches of Kurt Cobain. He’s dead. Let’s all get over it already”. 

Since I mentioned Babylonians, here’s David Gray’s “Babylon,” which is a song I’ll make out to with anybody. Seriously.

 

Published in: on August 4, 2011 at 11:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Birkenstock-Wearing Granola-Heads (Kings 2 15-16)

Chapters 15 and 16 of Kings 2 talk a lot about which kings were good and which kings were bad. God comes down pretty hard on even the good kings. For example, Azariah, who ruled in Israel “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord,” except for allowing the people to still burn incense (Kin 2 15:3). So God made him a leper. For burning a little patchouli. Must have been hard to rule effectively with the threat of his nose falling off his face at any moment. I think if God was incarnated into human form in modern times, he’d probably be one of those annoying people in your workplace who are “scent sensitive” and get things like perfume and Old Spice deordorant banned.

Menahem, who ruled Israel in Samaria, was worse. When he sacked this city called Tirzah he also “ripped up all the women in it who were with child” (Kin 2 15:16). I’m not sure how exactly he ripped them up but it can’t be worse than the kind of ripping that happens during actual childbirth. So, really – he spared them.

Ahaz, king of Judah, even sacrificed his own son, burning him as an offering. Maybe God would’ve thought this was pretty cool if he was Abraham (a true original) but he’s not so it’s just lame. Ahaz was really into sacrifices in general and there’s a lot of talk at the end of chapter 16 of burnt cereal offerings which make me wonder if this was the accidental invention of granola. I’m no historian but I’m going to say, “Yes. Yes, it was.”

Takes me back to Grade 10 (my Wiccan phase).

Published in: on August 3, 2011 at 1:19 am  Comments (2)  
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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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