Thursday, March 3, 2011

Psalms 136-140: Bash babies' heads against rocks for god!

Psalm 136

Every verse of this psalm ends in for his mercy endureth forever. It's mesmerising. So what are some examples of god's enduring mercy? Well, there's the earth and the sea and the heavens... and the time he killed all those Egyptian children, drowned the soldiers and killed a bunch of kings so the Israelites could have their property.

Psalm 137

If you think Russian baby yoga is child abuse, this is not the psalm for you. It starts off as a lament for the Israelite exile in Babylon, which is fine, but then the last two verses are addressed to Babylonian mothers O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones. (v. 8-9). I haven't talked about Jerry Falwell's bible for a long time, but this is his commentary on this Psalm: 'The vividness of the final verse is justified if one remembers a simple fact: baby Babylonians grow up to be big Babylonians. The hope that their babies will die is the prayer that no new Babylonian generation will arise seeking the worldwide dominion through cruel oppression.' Proof yet again that supposedly 'pro life' Christians only care about babies so long as they're inside their mothers' bodies, but don't give a hoot once they're out in the world.

Psalm 138

Immediately after killing babies with stones, the psalms go back to praising god for being a source of comfort in hard times. Except when somebody kills your child.

Psalm 139

God is your Facebook stalker, the one who catalogues your every word and gesture, even, apparently if you go to hell. There are some more scary-stalker verses about how god watches us when we sleep, followed by an imprecation to please, please, please kill the wicked.

Psalm 140

Another listing of the sins of the wicked. This time the psalmist would like god to please drop burning coals on their heads and/or throw them into the fire.

11 comments:

  1. Concerning the 137th Psalm, the writer's intent was to 'pay back' the Babylonians for what they had done to the Hebrew children during the siege of Jerusalem in 597BCE. This type of 'eye for an eye' revenge was forbidden by Jesus in Matthew 5: 38-39.

    Falwell's alleged comments are quite off base.

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    1. But isn't there a saying, "Revenge is mine, sayeth the Lord?"

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  2. It's right there on page 953 of the hardcover edition of his King James Study Bible. Most of his annotations are off-base or incoherent, hence this blog. If there was an annotated KJV that took an ecumenical or, preferably, humanist perspective, trust me, the world would be spared my opinions. But as it is, they all seem to have an evangelical protestant bent. Fine if you are an evangelical protestant, but if you aren't you're stuck with the Oxford or Cambridge annotations, both of which use the NSRV. Since I'm reading the bible as background for my other reading, and since the KJV has had the most influence on the English language, that was the one I wanted to read, but I needed to do something to help clarify my thoughts and yes, occasionally point out and mock the horrific things that are in it.

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  3. Considering Babylon is often used as a metaphor for the oppression of sin/the Evil One, I'm not sure the psalmist was speaking fully literal. He may have had in mind Genesis 2:14-15, where God promises that the seed of woman would crush the head of the seed of the serpent. This ultimately is seen in Christ's victory over sin and the grave.

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    1. Of course, it's also possible that the psalmist was wishing that god did exist.

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    2. There is evidence that supports the people of Israel being taken to Babylon, & held in slavery, unlike with the people of Israel being slaves in Egypt, which has been dis-proven.

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  4. And does this edict to interpret the bible 'metaphorically' apply to those verses in Leviticus and Paul about homosexuality as well, or only in this particular case?

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  5. Thorough historical study reveals many things that add to the reading of the bible. For instance the babies who had their heads bashed were in fact eviscerated from their mothers unborn by the soldiers of Nineveh, it was a particularly cruel form of torture to encourage foes in an early surrender. The Book of Jonah is the story of a man who ran from God calling him to bring this particularly barbaric group to repentance.

    Jim from CA.

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  6. Right. Not sure what your sources for 'thorough historical study' are, but a thorough reading of the bible from Genesis to Revelations reveals that it's just about the furthest thing from a 'pro-life' treatise there is.

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    1. Much of the bible has been dis-proven through the use of historical records & archeology.

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    2. The bible is an etiology and I think you will find very few people arguing for its historical or scientific accuracy outside of a handful of conservative seminaries. But that is for another blog. This one is about how tedious it is to read the whole thing except for a few parts that make you sit up and go, 'Holy shit! Does the bible really say that or have I been nodding off again?'

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