Bible Project Part 15 – Jeremiah 20 to Ezekiel 9

I’m nudging ever closer to the end of the Old Testament, and have by now ventured into unknown territory (previously I’d never made it past Job). And oh, happiest of happiness, I have finally reached a book which promises to be interesting!

But before that I need to finish off the incessant borefest of Jeremiah. As before I can’t really make this a coherent whole, so let’s just go through my notes again.

Jeremiah 27 – How are people supposed to distinguish the false prophets from the true ones? They pretty much preach the opposite thing (Jerusalem will fall – no it won’t – yes it will – no it won’t – etc.) but neither has happened yet, so what are you supposed to do?

Jeremiah 37-38 – Jeremiah is captured and held, then dumped into a well and left to die. The only reason he survives is because some dude feels guilty, not because God stretched out his hand to protect his faithful servant or something. God’s still a dick.

Jeremiah 41 – So Jismael, the son of Netanja, kills Gedalja, who has been appointed by the king of Babel to look after the Israelites. Jismael, the son of Netanja, then also kills everyone who is with Gedalja. To finish it off, Jismael, the son of Netanja, kills some 80 self-harming visitors who have come to visit Gedalja for no discernible reason. Which is okay, because Jismael, the son of Netanja, doesn’t appear to have a reason for killing Gedalja either. (Did you catch that Jismael is the son of Netanja? The Bible seems to think I’ll forget if it’s not repeated every second sentence.)

Jeremiah 42 – I think I lost it here. This is exactly what I wrote down (but with colour-coding to help you distinguish between God and the Israelites): Argh! Endless fucking repetition! Listen to me because I’ll protect you because I regret being a dick to you. Yes, we’ll listen, save us!* Don’t go to Egypt, stay here. If you go to Egypt, I’m going to be a dick again because you didn’t listen. But that’s not what we wanted to hear! We’ll go to Egypt.

* From the Babylonians. This is all around the time the Israelites were captured and taken into exile.

Jeremiah 44 – Oh, so it’s all the fault of women again?

The rest of Jeremiah are all prophesies about various countries and peoples, but it’s all ‘you’re all going to die’. And then I finally reached the end at Jeremiah 52. God knows why the Bible needed 52 books (and all of Isaiah) to essentially say that Israel is screwed and will be conquered by the Babylonians, until such time as God is bored with them being oppressed and will punish Babel for doing the oppressing. And then punishing the entire rest of the world for no apparent reason, other than possibly not being Israel. Oh, and there’s a lot of whining on God’s part about people worshiping other Gods.

I had to briefly work my way through the Lamentations (Klaagliederen in Dutch, which means more or less the same thing), but they were blissfully short, even if they were also pretty boring. I literally have no notes on the Lamentations – it was just five chapters of bad poetry along the lines of ‘woe is us, woe is Jerusalem/Zion, oh, if only we’d listened to God’.

And then I got to Ezekiel (Ezechiël in Dutch). Ooh, boy. I’d already seen some note somewhere saying that Ezekiel feels like its author was on LSD, and I must say that it finally makes things more interesting.

It starts in chapter one, where the first person pov (presumably Ezekiel himself) describes the vision he sees upon his calling. It is a heavy cloud with flickering fire, surrounded by a glow, and within that fire something like shining metal. Within that were four beings with the shape of a human but with four faces and four wings each. Their feet were like those of a calf and shining like polished copper. They had human hands on their four sides (!) and their wings were tied to each other. Their faces were those of a human, a lion, a cow and an eagle. Their gazes were like burning coals and torches. Before each of them was a wheel, their rims full of eyes. Above them was a vault, and above it a throne, and on the throne a shape like a human. From his loins upwards he looked like fire, surrounded with a cover, and from his loins down he looked like fire, surrounded with a glow. And the glow looked like a rainbow. And that was the magnificence of the Lord.

Seriously, how awesome is that? Why can’t he appear to everyone like that? Then he wouldn’t have so much trouble with being believed in!

And the weirdness doesn’t stop there. In Ezekiel 3, God gives Ezekiel a scroll of lamentations to eat, though he’s nice enough to make it sweet like honey. Apparently this will make Ezekiel speak the words of the Lord. Then in Ezekiel 4 he has to lie on his left side for 390 days, to carry the injustices of Israel, then he has to turn over onto his right side for another 40 days to carry the injustices of Judah. And while he does that he has to eat food which he’s cooked on a fire made of human shit. Except he protests against that, saying that he has never been unclean in his entire life, so God is magnanimous enough to let him cook it on cow dung instead.

And then we go back to old themes, because in Ezekiel 7 he is preaching that the end is nigh, and everyone will be carried away to Babylon soon. Except wait, right at the start of this Bible book it says that Ezekiel was called ‘in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth of the month, while I was amongst the exiles at the Kebar river’. If he’s among the exiles, hasn’t the whole carrying away to Babylon thing happened already? I’m so confused…

Still, Ezekiel so far seems promising. I didn’t get very far into it, but let’s hope it stays this weirdly awesome.

<– Back to Part Fourteen                                                                           On to Part Sixteen –>

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