Judaism aka Low-Self Esteem Club (Job 23-24)

The Book of Job is basically a long, protracted rant by Job, a man who God has battered like a 50s housewife. In these particular chapters, Job talks about how terrifying God is. God IS terrifying; his actions have never squared with the supposed loving and compassionate persona later Christians perpetuated. Love and compassion are Jesus’ bag but most definitely not God’s. Here’s what Job has to say about God: “…I am terrified at his presence;/when I consider, I am in dread of him./God has made my heart faint;/the Almighty has terrified me;/for I am hemmed in darkness,/and thick darkness covers my face.” (Job 23:15-17).

None too uplifting. I think it says something about the Israelites collective self-worth that they’re willing to settle for a god who’s so shitty. At the time there was a veritable cornucopia of gods to choose from. Remember Baal? He was so bad-ass. In Carthaginian worship of Baal, people grooved together in orgies, in celebration of reproduction (as far as rituals go, that one was prett literal – not a lot of symbolism there). In another ritual – and this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – people would sacrifice their own children. After taking in “We Need to Talk About Kevin” this past weekend, this seems like a sensible way for society to get rid of bad seeds. I’m for it.

Baal fist-pumping.

Published in: on February 16, 2012 at 11:03 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.


Published in: on July 26, 2011 at 1:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Little Cheesecake Would Have Been Nice (Kings 17-18)

Kings 17 begins to follow a person named Elijah during a period when God has stopped the rain from falling. God commands Elijah to head east without much of a plan or even an inept GAP tour leader to follow (oh, Mirko… you tried). He stumbles upon the house of a widow and asks for a morsel of bread. Unfortunately, the widow has only a handful of meal in a jar and some other crap to offer guests. This surprised me because widows, in my experience, always have the best snacks. The kind that you never buy for yourself. Like Sara Lee layer cake with pink frosting that comes in that compact, rectangular box. Or those shortbread cookies with the chocolate on top that are usually in the middle of an assorted biscuit tin. Fond, fond memories.

Elijah isn’t dismayed by the poor spread and performs a showy little miracle: “The jar of meal shall not be spent, and the cruse of oil shall not fail, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth,” he proclaims (Kin 17:16). Goody. Enough dry meal for everyone! Crispers would have been better. Still, that was nice of Elijah. He also does this cool thing where he brings the widow’s dead son back to life. All in all, he’s not a bad houseguest.

God is pleased that Elijah followed his commands and he sends rain again. Continuing the brown-nosing, Elijah decides to put the wayward Israelites to a test. See, they’ve been worshipping Baal for some time. So he says to them, “Okay, guys. Let’s sacrifice two bulls: one to the true God and the other to Baal. Call upon Baal and see if he answers you”. They do and he doesn’t. Total egg on their faces. So what do they do? What anyone would do to cope in a moment of intense embarassment: start stabbing themselves with swords and bleeding all over the place. “And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them” (Kin 18:28). I did the same thing when I got my first period in social studies. So that no one would notice I was bleeding, of course.


Published in: on July 6, 2011 at 2:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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Dance, Monkey, Dance (Judges 7-8)

Gideon is all set to take his people into battle with the Midianites. But there’s a hitch: there’s just too many people for God to protect with his heavenly hand so he asks Gideon to cull the herd for him. And apparently, it’s table manners that will be the deciding factor.

Gideon directs everyone down to the river for a drink (but really it’s a test). God tells him, “Every one that laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself; likewise every one that kneels down to drink” (Jud 7:5). I expected the opposite. God wants to save the people who lack either the brains or patience to go get a scoop or jug or something that would allow them to imbibe without doing a face-plant in the water. This is basic early hominid tool. We should be well beyond it at this point. It’s not surprising to me that God would choose these people on dance-monkey-dance terms since, looking back at the rest of the Bible up until this point, he really wants unquestioning allegiance.

Out of all the thousands of Israelites, three hundred dumbasses are God’s extra-special chosen people.

Predictably, Gideon puts down the Midianites. His army manages to get a hold of the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb (who are, judging by their names, originally from the Ozarks) and beheads them. Their heads are sent express back to Gideon. Gideon himself tracks down the kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmumna, kills them and nicks “the crescents [rolls] that were on the necks of their camels” (Jud 8:21).

Now that Gideon has supplied the Israelites with delicious crescent rolls, they unequivocally want him to be their leader (I would). He accepts because it’s a better gig than that wheat-shearing he was doing before (plucked out of obscurity – just like a Ford model). Gideon has an impressive seventy sons by a veritable stable of women who all clearly have very basic emotional needs. But when he dies, the Iraelites go back to their wayward ways and beging to worship Baal again because they have the collective memory of a goldfish. 

Published in: on May 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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