God Gives You Cancer (Samuel 5-7)

Now we know it’s got nothing to do with cigarettes or drinking out of plastic bottles.

God is pissed about his ark being stolen by the Philistines and he lashes out in a weird, weird way.

The Philistines take the ark to Ashdod, to the house of Dagon where, appropriately, a guy named Dagon lives. They set it down in front of him and immediately, he falls down, doing an unexpected faceplant. Interestingly, there are a lot of faceplants in the Bible – I take them to be indications of either awe or extreme drunkeness (too much Shiraz – oh, hello – what have I got here on a Thursday night? My writing partner, Mr. Jackson Triggs). Um, anyways, the next morning Dagon is found decapitated and “only the trunk of Dagon was left to him” (Sam 5:4). Gross. The Bible doesn’t mention any foul play amongst the humans in the house of Dagon so one can only conclude that God is the guilty party here. After all, he is a vengeful God.

Well, if that doesn’t prove it, God decides to give everyone cancer. That’s right: “The hand of the Lord was heavy upon the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and afflicted them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory” (Sam 5:6). It’s pretty crazy how God covers his bases here by nailing not just Ashdod but the Mississauga and Etobicoke of Ashdod. You know, just in case. Better everyone gets cancer than to miss a few.

The Philistines are panicky and rightly so. They want to appease God so they fashion a “guilt offering”. You know what that is? Five golden tumors and five golden mice. What? I know. I had to re-read this passage a few times to make out where the mice figured in. It’s mentioned (in a kind of ad hoc way) that mice are also ravaging the land so I guess that makes sense. But what does a golden tumor look like? Like a slightly misshapen ball, I imagine. Whatever. The Philistines should probably just be quick about returning the ark. Eventually, they get it together and cart the ark to some place called Kiriathjearim. Twenty years pass and the Philistines and Israelites go to war again. This time, however, God is squarely on the side of the Israelites and helps them beat the Philistines at Mizpah. Then Samuel says some special speech about how great God is, which is ironic since he gave a lot of people cancer. 




Published in: on June 3, 2011 at 2:36 am  Comments (1)  
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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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An Orgy of Egos (Numbers 15-17)

God can’t be accused of being unclear; he expressly forbade doing absolutely anything on the sabbath. So when his people come across a stranger harmlessly picking up sticks on the sabbath, it’s reasonable that God commands them to stone him to death: “The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp” (Num 15:35). Stone him with stones? Not rubber erasers? That makes sense.

In Numbers 16, the congregation gets ticked off that Moses and his brother Aaron have all the power. They cry, “You have gone too far! For all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them; why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” (Num 16:3). Apparently, this comes right out of left field for Moses because he “[falls] on his face” (Num16:4). Faceplant! Moses, ever the sycophant, turns to God and asks what he should do. God says, “Separate yourselves from among the congregation, that I may consume them in a moment” (Num 16:21). I hope that this refers to some sort of rapture and not cannibalism (although I don’t think it counts as cannibalism technically if a deity eats a human).

As it turns out, God doesn’t eat the whiners. Instead – and this is much more spectacular in my opinion – he opens up the ground beneath their feet and the earth swallows them up in one big gulp. Tricky. That’s what God meant by “consume them in a moment”. Bet they didn’t see that one coming. Then God sends a plague along to finish off all the ones who got away. Between the trap-door trick and the plague God kills about fifteen thousand of his people. I can’t imagine that their rates of procreation can keep pace with this nonsense.




Published in: on February 25, 2011 at 10:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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