Tuesday, August 3, 2010

1 Kings, Chapters 15 & 16

Chapter 15

Jeroboam's son Abijam is a bad king, repeating all his father's sins, but god goes easy on his son because of his great love for David. We don't hear much about Abijam, except that a civil war is going on between his house and that of Rehoboam.

Abijam rules for 3 years, then his son Asa takes over for 41 years. Asa is a better sycophant to god, expelling the homosexuals and tearing down his father's false idols. He even removes his mother's royal title because she once set up an altar to another god. The only thing he doesn't do is remove the temples on the mountains, but god overlooks that.

Asa is continually at war with Baasha, current scion of the Rehoboamites. Asa takes all his gold and silver and bribes the king of Syria to form an alliance with him. Together they stage some raids into Baasha's territory and do some vandalism. Baasha is scared and flees his city of Ramah. Asa eventually dies of foot disease. Can you have a fatal case of athlete's foot? Bunions? Corns?

Asa is succeeded by Jehosephat, then Nadab. Neither is distinguished by anything, except that Nadab is as sinful as his father Jeroboam. Baasha (the same one? Another? Who knows? Who cares?) eventually kills him and all his family members, as god promised, and takes over the throne. Baasha is also a sinner, even though he did what god told him to do.

Chapter 16

God talks to Jehu, telling him to destroy Baasha and become king. Then the corpses will be eaten by dogs and fowls. Lovely imagery there, god. Why? Because he killed Jeroboam! After god told him to! God is such a wild and crazy guy.

Anyway, Baasha dies a normal death and his son Elah takes over. The captain of his guards immediately starts conspiring against him, eventually killing him and all his family and friends. Wait, friends now? Who was even left alive after all this mayhem?

Zimri manages to reign for seven days until, like the small African kleptocracy this is, he's overthrown by the captain of his guard, Omri. Zimri is beseiged for a few days in his city, then, oddly, burns himself to death, which we are told is punishment for his sins. Gotta love a god that comes up with ever-more cruel and unusual punishments!

The end result of this bloodbath is that there are still two kings: Tibni and Omri. Omri's army triumphs and Tibni dies. Omri manages to hold onto his crown for 12 years andexpands Israel's territory, but he's an even worse sinner than his predecessors.

When Omri dies, his son Ahab takes over. Somehow, Ahab manages to top his father in the sinning game. He marries a woman called Jezebel and worships Baal with her and sets up shrines and tempels. The humanity!

The final verse is particularly gruesome, telling us the story of Hiel who rebuilds the city of Jericho, at the expense of his two sons' lives, which is on god's orders.

Yes, these chapters are a confusing succession of coups and insurgencies. I'm not reading this to become a biblical scholar, so forgive me for not taking the time to untangle all the confusing successions and overthrows. I've tried to tell it as straightforwardly as possible, but haven't invested a whole lot of time in the matter.

No comments:

Post a Comment