Tuesday, December 1, 2009

87: God Gets Captured

1 Samuel 4-8
When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man and heavy. He had led Israel forty years. - 1 Samuel 4:18

The Israelites start fighting the Philistines again. This time they fail miserably. They are doing so terribly in battle that they decide to bring the ark of the covenant to the front lines so God will help them. When the ark came into the town the Philistines were afraid:
"A god has come into the camp," they said. "We're in trouble! Nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the desert.
Gods? How many gods to the Philistines think there are? It's interesting that God has become a genie. If you rub the ark does he give you three wishes? God doesn't seem very all powerful when he's stuck in the immediate vicinity of the ark of the covenant.

I guess God was taking a nap in the ark because 30,000 Israelites die in the next battle with the Philistines, and the ark is captured. My opinion of God's power is dwindling. Someone make a gold box so we can catch God. When Eli hears that the ark is captured he falls off the back of his chair, breaking his neck.

The Philistines take the ark to the temple of Dagon, and place it beside Dagon. Several websites say that this is a statue of Dagon, but that's not what the bible says. The next day Dagon is face down beside the ark. His attendants pick him up and put him back in his place. So Dagon is either a statue or really, really lazy. Why so ambiguous bible? The next day Dagon's head and hands are broken off, and he is lying face down on the floor again. A statue falls over and the Philistines immediately attribute it to the ark of the covenant?

Dagon was a Philistine fish-god.


Fun fact: One of H.P. Lovecraft's first stories is titled "Dagon". The main character discovers a human-like species that worships a giant monolith. The main character later wonders if the legends of Dagon could have originated from the species he discovered, hence the name of the story.

After God defeats Dagon (you beat up a statue, congratulations) he starts inflicting tumors on the Philistines. They somehow realize that God is doing this and decide to return the ark to the Israelites. They think they need to give a guilt offering to the Israelites for stealing their God. In their infinite wisdom, they carve their tumors out of gold and put it with the ark. Why would the Israelites want gold carvings of their tumors? Not only that, they carve rats out of gold and send it with the ark also. I think those are officially the worst guilt offerings ever.

In the ensuing years, Samuel takes back the land that the Philistines took from Israel. He then becomes a judge over the Israelites. The people of Israel ask for a king and Samuel asks God about it. God goes on to list all of the nasty things that the king will do if Samuel does appoint a king. The Israelites don't care, they really want a king. God and Samuel finally agree to appoint someone.

Stay tuned to figure out who the new king is, I'm sure you're on the edge of your seat.

Can "turn the other cheek" be taken too far? Mike Huckabee is sure trying. In 2000, Maurice Clemmons sent a letter to Huckabee (who was then Governor of Arkansas) saying:
I'm still ashamed to this day for the shame my stupid involvement in these crimes brought upon my family's name ... I have never done anything good for God, but I've prayed for him to grant me in his compassion the grace to make a start. Now, I'm humbly appealing to you for a brand new start.
Clemmons was granted that pardon. Fast forward to Sunday, Clemmons is suspected (he's the only suspect) of an unprovoked attack on the police, killing four. I wonder if Huckabee would have so readily released an Atheist with a similar message of redemption.

Maybe we should turn the other cheek and forgive Huckabee for this one occasion where he let his religion get the best of the law. Unfortunately this isn't Huckabee's first slip. In 1999 Huckabee was instrumental in setting free a convicted child rapist (Wayne DuMond) who in 2000 and 2001 raped and murdered two women in Missouri.

Maybe it's time that Huckabee kept his religion out of the judicial system.

[I just found out while I was editing this that Maurice Clemmons has been shot and killed by police officers.]

(via Examiner)

1 comment:

  1. Hi, just found your blog. Love it! I find the Old Testament to be much more interesting than the NT. Have you read Prof. Elliott Freidman's "Who Wrote The Bible?" It's regarding the OT. Anyways, looking forward to your next installment of this story.



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