One Thousand Very Unsatisfied Women (Kings 11-13)

King Solomon is a wayward man; he just loves women too much. And not just the acceptable Israelite kind. All different kinds. Benetton women. The Bible numbers his wives at seven hundred and his concubines at three hundred (although I don’t see much difference between the two, especially when you’re in the triple digits). It’s not that having a bevy of babes is an issue; it’s that they seduce him into worshipping other gods. Here are some of them:

– Ashtoreth (goddess [goddess!] of the Sidonians) was associated with fertility, sexuality and war. She is depicted as a massively pregnant woman launching a spear into the air while her water breaks.

– Milcom (called in the Bible “the abomination of the Ammonites”) liked to have children burnt alive in sacrifice. He also started a small internet company named after him that handled with very general, mundane operations.

– Chemosh (called in the Bible “the abomination of Moab”) was kind of a poor man’s Baal. He is to Baal what Rachel Weisz is to Kate Winslet.

Since Solomon has been pussy-whipped into worshipping other gods, God decides that the kingdom will eventually be lost. Not during his lifetime but during his son’s. Doesn’t seem like much of a punishment to me. Who cares what happens after you die? I don’t. But then again, I’m an atheist. When Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, takes over the Israelites start getting uppity again and complain that they’re working too hard: “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke upon us, and we will serve you” (Kin 12:4). This is bad idea. Reverse psychology would have worked better. They should have said something like, “Let us work more overtime. We don’t have families or outside interests”. Instead of lightening their proverbial yoke, Rehoboam says he’s going to make it heavier. He’s kind of a jerk that way. On top of that, he says, “My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions” (Kin 12:11). Seems a tad harsh. He is also advised by the elders to use the following argument, which sounds vaguely sexual: “My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins” (Kin 12:10). Either that means that he’s very manly with big, sausage-sized fingers (hello) or his father had seriously atrophied adductor muscles.

In Kings 13, a few weird things happen. Some “man of God” shows up to the temple that Solomon built and starts sounding off on how much God hates the Israelites now. Jeroboam tries to make the equivalent of a citizen’s arrest and his hand shrivels up (cool!). No one is going near the man of God now. He tries to establish some deal in which he gets some portion of the kingdom if he goes on a fast. God apparently told him to do this. Whatever moral instruction there is to be gleaned from this is lost on me completely. Of all people, a prophet tricks him into eating and drinking at his house. Not only does the deal go south, the man of God ends up getting killed by a lion since he didn’t do what God told him. Let this be a lesson to us all. 

"I'm ashamed."

Published in: on July 1, 2011 at 4:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sale at Bloomingdale’s (Samuel 19-20)

King David is moping about his dead son Absalom and his people are feeling a little neglected. It’s time to be a man already, and shove all his feelings deep down inside where they can’t openly contradict established gender norms. One of his people, a real keener named Mephibosheth, pulled a Bobby Sands by refusing to wash his feet, his clothes or trim his beard while David was away at war, thereby keeping a bizarre, unhygienic vigil. I’ve never been to a vigil before but I’ve been to my share of funerals. I’m always pleasantly surprised by how good the food is at a funeral. It’s not like a wedding, in which case my expectations for the food are high because I’ve forked over a couple hundred bucks as a gift (there better be a beef tenderloin coming my way). I’m always happy with what I’m eating at a funeral, even if there’s just a nice platter of sandwiches. I guess it’s a matter of perspective. Here are my top five funeral foods:

1. deli sandwiches on rye

2. nanaimo bars

3. deviled eggs

4. meat lasagna from M & Ms

5. cabbage rolls

Anyways, David decides that, as part of the mourning process, he’s going to lock up ten of his concubines. It reads, “…and the king took the ten concubines whom he had left to care for the house, and put them in a house under guard, and provided for them, but did not go into them. So they were shut up until the day of their death, living as if in widowhood” (Sam 20:3). Well, it’s probably better for them; less time spent having sex with some gross old man and more time for themselves to start book clubs and wine-tasting clubs.

In Samuel 20, a nasty fellow named Sheba emerges and tries to start a mutiny against David. Joab, David’s buddy, pursues Sheba and follows him into some little town. There he meets a wise woman who is sick and tired of all this war (what is it good for? absolutely nothing). He tells her that she can put an end to it if she gives up Sheba. Not only does she do that but she rallies up some other wise women and they tear his head off and chuck it to Joab over the town wall. Nice, ladies.


Published in: on June 16, 2011 at 6:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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An Outstanding Moral Lesson (Judges 19)

Judges 19 diverges again into a moral lesson which I think I already learned from a shitty movie with Jeremy Piven called “Very Bad Things”.

For whatever reason, the chapter picks up with the story of a man who is never named, who happens to have a concubine, who is also never named. The man is travelling about with his concubine (great travel buddies – very agreeable, those concubines) and he has a hard time finding a place to crash. He happens upon this old guy who offers him a place to stay. Him and his concubine hunker down for the night until a bunch of party animals start banging on the door, wanting to “know him”. If you remember the story of Sodom and Gomorrah then you know what that means. They’re not looking for a tete-a-tete.

Here’s what the old guys suggests: “No, my brethren, do not act so wickedly; seeing that this man has come into my house, do not do this vile thing. Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine; let me bring them out now. Ravish them and do with them what seems good to you; but against this man do not do so vile a thing” (Jud 19: 23-24). What a great problem-solver; must have been in gifted class.

So the party animals descend upon the concubine who is raped, literally, to death. In the morning, the man finds her dead outside the house and – in an effort to tie up loose ends – he takes a knife and cuts her into twelve pieces and spreads those pieces “throughout all the territory of Israel” (Jud 19: 29).

These passages are described in such an incredibly neutral tone that I don’t know what anybody is supposed to learn from this. 

When I was thirteen, I read a lot of Amy Tan books and wanted to be Asian. I remember renting this movie and thinking I was really sophisticated for doing so because it’s foreign.

Published in: on May 27, 2011 at 2:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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