Teehee, I just noticed my reading span for this week, and I swear it’s total coincidence. Anyway, I fear that this week’s blog post is going to be fairly short, because my entire week’s worth of notes spans only two thirds of a page in my notebook.
Then again, when I start ranting I usually can’t stop, so let’s see. As always I will refer to The Brick Testament at regular intervals, so you can see these marvellous stories in awesome Lego.
So, after the two books of Samuel, recounting the rise and fall of Saul and David, we’re now onto the rest of the Kings, starting with Solomon. And immediately the rivalry kicks off: David, having had about fifteen wives, has too many sons, and although he has promised Bathsheba (her of the murdered husband) that her son Solomon will become king after him, his other son Adonia decides that he should be king. Adonia begins to get smarmy with the people while David is on his death bed, but then Bathsheba goes to David and once again has him promise that Solomon will be king. Solomon is duly crowned, and in what has to be a first in biblical history, Adonia accepts this and leaves it at that! I nearly died of shock.
The First Book of Kings devotes quite a lot of time to Solomon – the first 11 chapters are all about him. He asked God for wisdom (which I never knew!) rather than riches and fame, which is quite admirable, but he wasn’t wise enough to remain faithful to his God until his death, because when he gets old he starts worshipping false gods. Which is the fault of his thousand wives, because they lured him into it, allegedly. Personally I think it’s bullshit how the Bible constantly blames people’s wives for straying from God, just as it’s bullshit that Eve is the only one to blame for the fall from grace, but then I generally get quite pissed off when people blame someone else for their own weaknesses.
Anyway, Solomon. God granted him wisdom, and he is known all over the world for being wise. We’ll have to take the Bible’s word for it though, because the only proof of his wisdom is the story about the two prostitutes and the baby. Apart from that he is mainly known for building the first temple for God, to put the Ark of the Covenant in. David wanted to do that, but God forbade him to because he had shed too much blood. Never mind that God was the one who commanded him to do so – those are minor details to a deity, of course. Solomon, being a man of peace (probably because Israel had run out of living enemies) is chosen to be the one to build the temple.
Aaaaand…. we’re into Exodus and Numbers all over again, with excruciatingly detailed descriptions of how long and wide and tall the temple is, and what it’s made of, where the materials come from and how much it all weighed, and what each fucking pillar looks like even though they’re all exactly the same and… AAAARGH!
The Bible needs a fucking editor.
By 1 Kings 8 the temple is finally finished and must be sanctified. To do this, Solomon sacrifices 22,000 cows and 120,000 small cattle. Let me repeat that: 142,000 animals were killed to sanctify a bloody temple. I’ve tried Google for a picture of 22,000 cows, but it seems even Google struggles with such numbers. The most I count in one picture is eight cows.
Then Solomon grows old, starts worshipping Baal and Astarte and God gets pissed off, so he decides to split the kingdom in two. David’s descendants will keep one tribe, Juda, and the rest of Israel’s tribes will go to someone else. Except later on it seems that Benjamin is also part of Juda, but I guess Benjamin isn’t a tribe anymore after that gang-rape incident (see Part Six of this blog for details of that).
After Solomon’s death his son Rechabeam becomes king. But God said he’d split the kingdom, so he makes Rechabeam a dick who promises the people that he’ll be even harder on them than his father Solomon was. The people, predictably, don’t like this and all but the tribe of Juda splits off and follows Jerobeam instead, who becomes king of Israel.
Things get a little confusing from here. It appears that both kingdoms from here on have either bad kings, or very bad kings. This is bad in the sense of not worshipping God – no mention is made of their ability to rule a country, because hey, who cares about that? There’s also a lot said about the prophet Elijah and his successor Elisha. Elijah was a prophet during a drought, and he performs the one truly impressive miracle I’ve seen so far. When the drought is at its highest he taunts the priests of Baal (all 450 of them), saying ‘hey, why don’t you prove to me how good your god is?’ They go to the Karmel mountain and set up two altars, both with plenty of wood and a sacrificial bull. The priests of Baal spend the whole day beseeching their God to set the sacrifice alight, but nothing happens. Then Elijah orders the altar to be drenched with twelve buckets of water (in itself quite an achievement in a drought), after which God strikes it with fire and incinerates his sacrifice. And then God makes it rain. But I didn’t get the idea that the people believed in God again after that, presumably because they’re still stupid.
After Elijah comes Elisha, who may be a prophet, but who is also a dick. He is called to follow God while he’s out plowing his parents’ field, and he promptly kills the oxen and sacrifices them using the wood of the plow to burn them. So he leaves his parents without a worker, without a plow and without oxen. Nice move. He also curses a bunch of children who taunt him by calling him a baldy, so that 42 of them are mauled by wild bears. Female bears, according to my Bible. I’m not sure why the gender of the bears is important, but either way it’s a bit of an overreaction to kids being kids.
I’ll leave you this week with an interesting thing I noticed in 2 Kings 1 – Achazja, king of Israel, decides to seek the counsel of the god of Ekron: Baal-Zebub. To me that name is far too similar to Beelzebub for it to be coincidence, so I’m going to call this the second mention of the Devil in the Bible.
Next week: OMG all these kings with the same or almost the same names! Is this Joas the son of Joachaz or Joas the son of Atalja? Are we talking about Jojakim or Jojakin? Do I even care anymore? (Hint: the answer starts with N and ends in O.) Stay tuned!