Not My Words: Love is the Battery for Charging Our Heart’s Power (Nehemiah 9-13)

On the twenty-fourth day of the month, the Israelites get together and throw a small party. Or, at least, their version of a party: fasting, wearing “sackcloths,” sitting around with “earth on their heads,” and confessing their sins (Neh 9:1). Bring chips.

The confessing of sins takes centre stage and they talk for a long time about how great God is and how shitty they’ve been to him (“I only hit you because I love you, baby”). I’ve been reading the Bible for just over a year now, which is amazing to me, and I think God’s been pretty shitty to them, too. So it’s kind of a two-way street. The Israelites wrap up their protracted apology by promising to “not neglect the house of [the] Lord,” (Neh 10:39) which seems like something they should be doing anyway. Basic chores.

I guess Jerusalem is overcrowded so the Israelites cast lots so that one out of every ten people can live in the holy city. It’s not that bad for whoever doesn’t get in because there are loads of villages surrounding it. Besides, the holy city’s not really that special; it’s just easy to live there because of the Starbucks, TD, Metro, faux Irish pub and Walking on a Cloud.

Now – racism. I can’t read the Bible for very long without bumping up against some overt, historically-situated, unfiltered racism. Nehemiah, who’s narrating, makes some choice remarks about how Jewish men are marrying women of “Ashdod, Ammon and Moab” and – horror of horrors – the women are actually teaching their half-blood children some of their own language. This is disgusting to him. Admittedly, I might find it disgusting if the dudes are gross and the women are really hot, like when you see a tiny, attractive, fit Asian lady with a pudgy, red-faced, weak-chinned, middle-aged white guy. You might think me judgmental but take a look at THIS:

Barf.

You agree with me.

 

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Published in: on December 28, 2011 at 2:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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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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Inanimate Objects Can’t Hear (Joshua 23-24)

The final two chapters of Joshua consist of God making a big show about how he finally delivered on all the land he promised the Israelites. This is kind of like a deadbeat dad who was absent from ages six to eleven showing up on a kid’s twelfth birthday with an Xbox and acting like a hero for remembering to bring a gift. Lame.

Of course, God goes on and on about the importance of ┬ákeeping his covenant. I think it’s important to point out that God does not want the Iraelites to marry outside themselves: “Take good heed to yourselves, therefore, to love the Lord your God. For if you turn back, and join the remnant of these nations left here among you, and make marriages with them, so that you marry their women and they yours, know assuredly that the Lord your God will not continue to drive out these nations before you: but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a scrourge on your sides, and thorns in your eyes, till you perish from off this good land which the Lord your God has given you” (Jos 23:12-13). So much for beautiful interracial babies. Were would I have been without David Usher and the music of Moist in the mid-nineties. How would I have processed my grade eight angst?

Following protocol, Joshua passes the hundred year mark (thanks primarily to miso soup) and decides to die. Good for him. Before he kicks it, he reaffirms his people’s covenant with God and employs a stone as a witness. This is a good indication that he’s on his last leg; stones can’t see because they’re inanimate objects. This is even worse than crazy old ladies who talk to their Pomeranians like they’re people (such as my Nana, who took hers to basketball-like dimensions by feeding it tea and shortbread biscuits on a daily basis – R.I.P Nana and Susie). The Israelites buried Joshua just north of the mountain of Gaash. Gaash is a better name for a valley.

A reasonable likeness to Susie.

Published in: on May 3, 2011 at 12:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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