Friday, April 30, 2010

1 Samuel, Chapters 4-7

According to David Plotz, this section roughly follows the plot of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, a film I have seen, but not since childhood.

Chapter 4

The Philistines attack and the Israelites are defeated, losing 4000 men. They lament to god and decide the key to victory is to bring the ark of the covenant to them. Eli's sons receive the ark, and the Israelites cheer so loudly the ground shakes. The Philistines hear it, and are afraid, but resolve to fight rather than become slaves.

They fight again, and this time 30 000 Israelite foot soldiers are killed, the ark of the covenant is taken, and Eli's two sons die.

A Benjaminite comes out of the battle. Eli is sitting by the side of the road, 98 years old, blind and in ill health. He asks for an update. The Benjaminite informs him of his sons' deaths and he falls off his seat and breaks his neck. Phineas' pregnant wife also hears the story and goes into labour, then dies, but not before naming her son Ichabod, which means 'the glory of Israel is departed.' How.. auspicious.

Chapter 5

The Philistines put the captured ark in a temple of their god Dagon. In the morning, the statue of Dagon has fallen over. They right it, and the following morning, the statue has fallen over, and the head and arms have snapped off. After that, the Philistines refuse to enter the temple. Nevertheless, god isn't finished smiting them and sends along a nasty case of hemorrhoids. They decide the ark is the cause, but don't know what to do with it. While they're carrying it around, the hemorrhoid epidemic spreads.

Chapter 6

The Philistines hold onto the ark for seven months. They ask their priests what to do about the damned thing, and they recommend returning it, along with a trespass offering of five golden hemorrhoids and five golden mice.

They decide to send the offerings in an ox cart, and decide that whatever happens will be a sign: they'll let the cows go free, and if they go towards Bethshemesh, god is responsible for the piles, if they go another direction, it was chance. Of course the cows go for Bethshemeth, where the people are harvesting. They see the ark and run out to meet it, and use the wood from the cart to build a sacrificial fire for the cows.

Of course, all does not end happily for the Bethsehmites, because they look inside the ark, and 50 070 of them are killed for their sin. They immediately start looking for another town to fob it off onto.

Chapter 7

The people of Kirjathjearim keep the ark for 20 years. The people of Shiloh kinda start to miss the crazy old box that killed 50 070 of them. Samuel tells them they can have it back if they open their hearts to god, so they throw away all their idols. Samuel then says he'll pray for them. The Philistines hear about this and attack. The Israelites ask Samuel to stop that too, so he sacrifices a lamb, which causes god to thunder, which scares the Philistines and allows the Israelites to smite them. The Philistines retreat, and the Israelites chase them to a place between Mizpeh and Shen, where Samuel erects a monument.

God continues to protect the Israelites from the Philistines, and restores all their cities to them, and Samuel is made judge.

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