The more I read the Bible, the more I realise that it is basically a badly written, repetitive novel full of abuse, bad sex and characters I hate. In essence, it feels like reading Fifty Shades of Grey all over again. Still, this is the book that several major religions have based their faith on, so I shall persevere! (I believe there is one reason for doing this project which I may not have mentioned before, which is my firm belief that you cannot condemn something if you have not tried it. I loathe baked beans and custard, but I have reached this conclusion after first having eaten them. I think Fifty Shades of Grey is possibly the worst book/trilogy I have ever read, but I have read it. Any opinion is only valid if it is informed, so I am informing myself.)
Anyway, on to this week’s reading, in which I have finished the tail end of Deuteronomy, read the entire book of Joshua and have made good headway into Judges. These last two chapters in Dutch are respectively Jozua and Richteren. Richteren is the old-fashioned name, as the more modern Bibles translate it as Rechters. Both mean the same as the English – Judges. Joshua is of course named after Joshua, the successor of Moses. Joshua is the one who leads the Israelites into the promised land and into grand deeds of mass genocide of the locals. The Book of Judges deals with the subsequent idiocy of the Israelites, who start worshipping other gods the moment God turns his back, and the Judges who bring them back to the path of the righteous.
At this point I also feel I must point people to an awesome site called The Brick Testament, which is a site on which the entire Bible is illustrated by means of Lego. I cannot stress how awesome this is, especially with titles such as ‘God wants part of penis cut off‘ and ‘Rape, treachery and slaughter‘. I have my wonderful friend Hillary to thank for this, praise be to her.
Anyway, the butt end of Deuteronomy wasn’t very interesting but for the fact that apparently God did not just destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, he also destroyed Adma and Seboim. Which is yet another example of something being mentioned which wasn’t mentioned before, and will never be mentioned again (probably). The book ends in chapter 34, with Moses’ death. Oh, but this is after him predicting that the Israelites are going to be stupid again.
It starts off fairly tame, with more inept spies who are discovered the moment they enter Jericho, except they are saved by a local whore. And then the genocide begins, because God specifically commands the Israelites to kill everyone and everything they come across – man, woman, child, animal, everything. They’re not even allowed to keep any loot. So when in Joshua 7 a man called Acham secretly keeps some stuff anyway, God immediately gets angry and makes them lose a fight. They identify the culprit, then take him and his entire family and cattle and belongings to some valley somewhere and kill the lot. Even though somewhere earlier it was said that children would not be held responsible for their parents’ sin. Check here for the Lego version of this tale. I really don’t have much more to say about Joshua except that it’s a continuing tale of massacre, cruelty to animals and the boring bit of dividing all the land between the tribes.
Next up is the Book of Judges, which covers a recurring theme. It roughly goes like this:
– The Israelites abandon God and start worshipping false gods.
– God gets angry and delivers them into the hands of one of the other peoples in the vicinity, such as the Philistines or the Ammonites. (Who clearly hadn’t been killed as thoroughly as Joshua would have us believe.)
– Someone stands up from among the Israelites and ‘judges’ the people, bringing them back onto the path of righteousness and following God.
– The Israelites, under the guiding hand of God, free themselves from the yoke of whoever oppresses them at that time and everyone lives happily ever after. Except that as soon as their particular Judge dies, they go back to abandoning God again.
This whole cycle teaches us two important things: the Israelites really are complete idiots, and God is a schmuck. There’s not much more to be said about the Judges, except to touch on one of them who is an even bigger schmuck than God: Samson. I’m sure most people have heard of Samson and Delilah, but let me outline the story here for you.
Samson was marked by God from birth to be a nazirene (special Godfollower), and as a sign of his pact with God he was commanded never to cut his hair. He soon makes a name for himself with mighty deeds of killing, and the Philistines (who are the fashionable oppressors of the day) quite rightly fear him. Samson then falls for a girl called Delilah. I’m not actually sure whether she’s a Philistine or not, but she’s clearly in league with them, because she asks Samson where his strength comes from. First he tells her that he must be bound with seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried out. She promptly binds him with seven fresh bowstrings, calls the Philistines over, and he breaks free and kills them all. Any normal man at this point would have said ‘traitor woman, I’m out of here!’ but no, Samson happily keeps coming back to her, and she even has the gall to accuse him of betraying her, because he lied to her. So she keeps nagging and next he tells her that he has to be bound with new rope, never before used. Yep, you guessed it, Delilah binds him with new ropes and calls over the Philistines, but again Samson breaks free and kills them all. Repeat previous scene where Delilah nags at him for betraying her, so this time Samson tells her that his hair has to be woven into a loom. Except no, that doesn’t work either. And then Delilah nags and nags and nags and nags, and Samson finally gives in and tells her that he’ll lose his strength if his hair is shaven off. Which she then does, and he’s captured by the Philistines. And he never saw that coming??? Sheesh….
That’s it for this week, next week we’ll discuss using women as cattle or commodity.