Tuesday, June 29, 2010

2 Samuel, Chapters 22-24

Chapter 22

David, apparently on his deathbed, although he'll be around for several more books, sings a song. Sadly, the bible does not give the tune. Among the highlights: god flies around on cherubs, which are not the winged babies we think of, but winged creatures with the face of a lion, ox, griffon vulture or man. David thinks pretty highly of himself, it seems, for he claims god has rewarded him according to his righteousness and the cleanliness of his hands. He's also full of self-praise for his battle victories and his ability to stamp his enemies as the mire of the street (v. 43). As depicted in Lego, click here.

Chapter 23

David is tired of deathbed songs, and is now making his deathbed speech. He urges the next ruler to be just, and must fight the men of Belial (a rival god) with iron spears. We then get a listing of David's strong men and their feats. Some of the most impressive: Adino the Enzite, who slew 800 men with his spear and Shammah, who killed a bunch of Philistines in a bean field.

Another curious incident is recounted: one time, David was super thirsty and three of his men broke through the enemy's lines to draw water from a well for him, but then he didn't even drink it! He just poured it on the ground for god.

More strong men: Benaiah killed two lionlike men of Moab (v. 20) and an actual lion in a pit. Oddly, the strongest of his strong men, the man David Plotz likens to David's own Donald Rumsfeld, Joab, is only mentioned as being the brother of some of David's other generals. So much for being a vicious infighter.

Chapter 24

Apparently we're time-travelling. At some point in his reign, god gets angry and commands David to take a census. No, that is not what normal gods do when they get angry. I wonder if this is what Michelle Bachman uses to justify her own irrational hatred of the census? Joab protests, but is overridden and goes out to count the people. Nine months later, he comes back to report that there are 800 000 battle-ready men in Israel, of whom 500 000 are Judahites.

David sees the error of his ways, even if the rest of us don't, and begs the lord for forgiveness. Gad the prophet approaches and tells him he can choose his punishment: seven years of famine, 3 months of losing battles to his enemies or three days of pestilence. David opts for the pestilence, which kills 70 000 people in 3 days. That must have been... smelly.

But wait! Just as the angel is about to destroy Jerusalem, god forgives the Israelites. David pleads for their lives and gets his answer again from Gad. Gad tells him to go make an altar on a threshing floor. So David goes, and when the farmer sees him he asks what he's doing. The farmer offers his own oxen as sacrifice and his threshing instruments for kindling. David insists on buying it all, then has a nice little barbecue which somehow ends the plague.

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