The Old Testament keeps getting worse and worse. At this rate, I may never get to the New Testament. Luckily I have a cat. Cats help.
The Israelites did evil again. I still don’t know what that actually means.
God talks to Gideon. Gideon isn’t sure that he’s actually talking to God (or the angel of God, as he seems to be talking to both). He’s the first person to actually ask God to prove he’s who he says he is, and God actually obliges. This seems like a rational response. Too bad more people don’t do this. Gideon then broke down Baal’s alter at night and built one to Yahweh, the people demanded he be put to death. They are then convinced to leave him alone. For some reason, people who had no reason to worship the Israelite God were okay with their own god being replaced with the Israelite God (it’s apparently okay to say “let Baal defend himself,” but it’s not okay to say the same of Yahweh). This seems highly unlikely. Later on, Gideon is sent to do some conquering. Gideon “punished” people with desert thorns and briars, and he tore down a tower because they wouldn’t help him conquer people. Gideon also had many wives. Polygamy is clearly still okay.
Yahweh says that the Israelites “did not remember the lord their God, who had rescued them from enemies on every side.” Wait…didn’t he also send those enemies because he was mad that the Israelites worshiped other gods? He says this because, once again, they have begun worshiping other gods.
One of Gideon’s sons killed all but one of his 70 brothers. He was made king by the people. Wine apparently sways gods and men (according to the man’s remaining brother). This statement sounds very Greek/Roman to me. God made the people act against Abimelech (the man) because he killed his brothers. Why didn’t God just stop Abimelech from killing his brothers? If he has the power to make people angry at Abimelech, doesn’t he also have the power to make Abimelech unwilling to kill his brothers? This can’t be about free will, since God is clearly willing to take away some people’s free will. Abimelech took his men and attacked people in a field. He killed the people and destroyed the city. They then killed a thousand people in the tower of Shechem by burning it down. Abimelech’s skull was cracked by a woman dropping a stone on him. He told one of his own men to kill him so that nobody could say a woman killed him. How sexist of him. Apparently the whole war between Shechem and Abimelech, which was started by God making people discontent, was God’s punishment to both Abimelech and the people of Shechem for making him king. How is this moral? Everybody died a terrible, bloody death. Many were burned to death, most were slaughtered. The land was made unusable by Abimelech. That is not a punishment fitting of the “crime.”
What was the point of mentioning Tola? He doesn’t do anything. We learn a bit more about Jair: he had 30 sons, they rode 30 donkeys (they each got their own I guess), and they had 30 cities. Jair had a thing for the number 30. But he’s also fairly useless. Why mention him?
The Israelites did more evil. This time we learned that they again worshiped other gods, and, this time, stopped worshiping Yahweh. The Israelites are great at making the same mistake over and over again. You think they’d eventually learn from the past. This pattern doesn’t match any that I have learned from history (it takes more than one generation to make the same mistake a second time, and a mistake may not be amended in the same generation. The people keep making a mistake, learn from it, then they die and their children repeat it).
Jephthah is made king to fight the Ammonites. They want the land that was taken from them (though Jephthah claims that the Israelites never took the land). More burnt offerings ensue. Jephthah’s daughter comes out dancing to her father. She is to be made a sacrifice, which she already knows. For some reason, she is only sad because she will never marry. She and her friends mourn the fact that she won’t marry, but aren’t concerned about the fact that she’s to die. This seems unlikely.
We learn about more meaningless people.
The Israelites did more unnamed evil.
Samson is to be a nazirite, or a devotee of God’s. As such, his hair was to never be cut. So the men who were most devoted to God were to keep from cutting their hair, but, according to the Bible, women were to grow their hair long as a virtue to them, but men were to keep theirs short. This seems to be contradictory to me. The angel tells Samson’s parents that his name is beyond their comprehension. And, again, they don’t really know if he’s an angel until he descends into the air. Samson wants to marry a Philistine woman. His parents wanted him to marry a relative. Clearly incest is still only between close relatives. Samson tears a lion apart with his bare hands. This seems unlikely. Later, he finds a beehive in the carcass and eats it. He’s a jerk to his wife (he speaks to her as if she doesn’t matter to him), and cheats the Philistines with a riddle to win clothes. The riddle is unfair because only he could know the answer. Samson’s father gives his wife to another man. Samson decides to take revenge on the Philistines because his wife was taken. Since the Philistines didn’t take his wife, how does this make sense? Samson is clearly supposed to be the good guy, but he is entitled and mean. He is no good guy, he is clearly the bad guy. I can’t help but feel deceived when I think about how this story was taught to me in Sunday School. It was as if Samson was merely the target of an evil plot for no reason. Samson apparently killed 1000 men. Yeah right. Samson tells a woman he loved the secret of his strength because he got annoyed. She made it very obvious why she wanted to know. Samson was an idiot. Why did God leave Samson simply because his hair was cut off? This makes no sense.
The Danites decided to take over a land that was prosperous.
How is Moses’ grandson still alive? How old is he?
I get it, Israelite has no king.
Ah, tribalism. So prevalent in the Bible.
The Gibeah story sounds familiar. Where have I heard it before? Oh yeah! Lot! This is the Story of Sodom and Gomorrah! Though the names are different. Raping women is okay, but raping men is outrageous. Lovely, more sexism. The man’s response to his raped and tortured concubine who has collapsed outside his host’s house: “come on, let’s go.” This is not okay. Throwing anybody to rapists to be raped and tortured is not okay. Raping and torturing is not okay. Throwing raped and tortured people over donkeys so that you can travel rather than seek help is not okay. This is absolutely appalling and unjustifiable. Who would cut up a woman and send the pieces around to the Israelites? Is this man crazy? Wtf? The Israelites fight among themselves over the concubines rape. They ask God who should fight the Bnjamites first. Why would they fight tribe by tribe against the Benjamites? Why not fight as a group? The Israelites destroyed all the Benjamite towns and killed all their animals. The Benjamites were cut off from Israel. The people at Jabesh Gileah weren’t at Mizpah, so all but the female virgins were murdered. The Benjamites were accepted back into the community and were given the virgins. The Benjamites were instructed to kidnap women from Shiloh so that they could have wives. These were the virgins taken from Jabesh Gilead.
Again, this is pretty much the worst part of the Bible I have read so far (in this project that is). The Gibeah story is sickening, and nobody was in the right. Ever. Everybody acted terribly. Yes, the Bible reiterates the fact that “Israel had no king, the Israelites did as they pleased,” but where was God? Aren’t they his people? Aren’t they supposed to follow his law? Why did they need a king?