Monday, March 7, 2011

Proverbs, Chapters 2-3: Hansel and Gretel and the bible

Chapter 2

The key to wisdom is still fearing god. Remember, the person who said this is most famous for having 700 wives and 300 concubines and for trying to cut a baby in half. Fortunately, us modern folk have Wikipedia and don't have to rely on him.

The secondary key is to avoid strange women, especially going into their houses, because as fairy tales have taught us well, no one ever comes out.

Chapter 3

This one starts off promisingly, with verse 3: Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart, but then immediately dissembles in verse 5, advising us to Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In other words, don't think for yourself, trust in your religious leaders. It does not say what to do if your religious leaders seem bent on holy war or inquisition or are just plain batshit crazy.

Of course, if you're rich and lazy, another path to wisdom is to buy it. If you donate money and make sacrifices, you'll get a tenfold return on your investment in the form of flowing wine cellars and full barns.

Solomon, wise advocate for abusive deities everywhere, gives the typical wife/husband/child-beaters explanation for god's poor self-control in verse 12: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

Then of course, we get a good verse in 13: Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. Yes, as long as he goes to the library and finds it, not if he looks in Jerry Falwell's annotated stupidity.

A treatise on the wonders of wisdom: it's better than silver, gold or rubies, assuming you don't have to eat. God is wise, and if you follow his commandments, you'll end up in paradise. Assuming you don't, you know, hit a rock the wrong way like Moses and end up sentenced to wandering around the desert for 40 years.

Solomon closes out the chapter with a few more good verses about justice, being kind to your neighbour, not picking stupid fights, and only oppressing people when it's strictly necessary.

I want to like this book, especially since it isn't Psalms, but like so much of the bible, it's a mixed bag: a good verse or two about wisdom and justice, followed by entreaties xenophobia and enriching Solomon's treasury.

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