Saturday, November 21, 2009

77: God is Scared of Horses

Judges 1-2
Israel apparently hasn't destroyed all of the Canaanites yet, because they go to battle again. This time Judah is their leader. They again slaughter everything that lives in the cities they attack. They find and capture a king named Adoni-Bezek and cut off his thumbs and big toes. Wonderful.

The bible lists several other cities they destroy, Jerusalem being the only name I recognize. Interestingly they come up against an opponent that they cannot defeat, even with God's help. What could possibly be more powerful than God? Iron chariots. Yes, God can stop the rotation of the earth, but iron chariots are too much for him to handle. I wonder what God would do if a humvee came at him at 80 miles per hour.

In chapter 2 we move forward another generation. This generation apparently forgets about the God they should be worshiping again, and worships Baal (even they aren't convinced by the crazy stories of their fathers). This is going to be the premise of Judges. The Israelites stop following God's commands, God sends a Judge, the Israelites stop following God's commands again. And so on until the chapter is over. At least we might have some interesting stuff in this book.


Looks good right? That is, until you read Psalm 109:8 - "May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership." Even that doesn't sound so bad until you read the sections surrounding 109:8.
Appoint an evil man to oppose him;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.

When he is tried, let him be found guilty,
and may his prayers condemn him.

May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.

May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow.

May his children be wandering beggars;
may they be driven from their ruined homes.

May a creditor seize all he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.

May no one extend kindness to him
or take pity on his fatherless children.

May his descendants be cut off,
their names blotted out from the next generation.
Well I certainly hope they don't mean that passage to be put in context, because threatening the life of the president is illegal. There is an interesting quote in the Christian Science Monitor's (oxymoron?) article on the matter:
The problem is you don’t know if people who are donning that message in a shirt or on a bumper sticker are fully aware of the quote or what follows. Obviously that message makes the ambiguity disappear. If they’re just referring to him being out of office, that’s one thing. If they’re referring to him being dead, that’s so offensive. It’s protected speech, but it’s clearly offensive.
It's protected speech? Really? This is probably going to put me under the category of "super nerd" but I looked through the US Code and found the statute that forbids threatening the president, it reads:
Whoever knowingly and willfully deposits for conveyance in the mail or for a delivery from any post office or by any letter carrier any letter, paper, writing, print, missive, or document containing any threat to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States, the President-elect, the Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President of the United States, or the Vice President-elect, or knowingly and willfully otherwise makes any such threat against the President, President-elect, Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President, or Vice President-elect, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. - US Code: Title 18; Part 1; Chapter 41; 871 (a)
If these people are knowingly conveying a prayer for the president's death, I'm not sure how that's protected speech. apparently agrees with me, they have pulled the tshirts with this saying on them because they "have determined that these products, in the context of the full text of Psalm 109, may be interpreted in such a way as to suggest physical harm to the President of the United States." Kudos Zazzle.

(via Chicago Tribune)


  1. Judges 1:1-2:5 introduces the pattern of “devolution”/”degeneration” of Israel as they forsake the covenant. Israel is portrayed initially as united and winning. By the end of chapter 1 they are unable to drive out their enemies. This will be the pattern of the book. The angel of the Yahweh (2:1-5) goes physically from Gilgal (where the victorious generation under Joshua had encamped) to Bochim (which means the place of weeping)—metaphorically picturing what was going on spiritually with Israel. Just as the Israelites go from victory to defeat, so spiritually they go from trusting in Yahweh (victory) to idolatry (defeat) which is the occasion of weeping. Chapter 2:11ff describes the cycle as you noted and gives the reason for Israel’s failure—violation of the covenant regarding idolatry.

    This cycle will basically form the repeated outline for chapters 3 – 16. The cycle, however, will spiral out of control. You will see the progressive deterioration in Israel now as you read. The pivotal middle point is Gideon who lacks courage because of His weak faith. The last “hero,” Samson (13-16) will end up physically blind as a metaphor for His spiritual blindness. After chapter 16, civil war ensues. Israel is no longer fighting the enemies, they are fighting one another. They go from tribes united extinguishing the enemies (chapter 1) to tribes divided nearly extinguishing each other (17-21). The refrain you will see at the end of the book is “there was no king in Israel” and “everybody did what was right in his own eyes.” While there was in reality no physical king, they had jettisoned the true King, Yahweh. Thus political, moral, and social chaos started to reign.

  2. Oh, come on Brent. You could've warned us about the plot spoiler in advance.

  3. Sorry Adrian. I will next time. I didn't think about that because there really is no plot to these random collections of fairy tales. Right?! :)

  4. Fairy tales have plots. Nobody is claiming the bible has no plot. Is it a good, or particularly compelling plot? Not so far.

  5. I'm an atheist, but like it when Brent chirps in. It's nice to have someone from the other side talk about their readings of the bible...



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