Sunday, May 22, 2011

Isaiah, Chapters 21 & 22: The world is still here

Chapter 21

The fate of the desert of the sea (v. 1), or Babylon: the Elamites and Mediaites will attack. This information makes Isaiah's body hurt like a woman in labour. Or a man who wandered around in the fucking desert for 3 years without so much as a sandal-strap.

He tries to warn them, but they just ignore him, like you would anyone who emerged naked from the desert claiming to have been burnt in the face by an angel. He says god told him to tell them to set up a watchman, who should be especially alert for chariots or people arriving on donkeys or camels. Um, what else does one have a lookout for, if not to spot people arriving in chariots or mounted on something?

Finally, the guard does say that he sees something: a couple of guys in a chariot, who declare that Babylon has fallen and all its idols broken.

Isaiah, sensing he's on a roll, turns his attention to Edom now, where, like a toddler on a car trip that refuses to go to sleep, someone keeps asking him if it's morning yet. Isaiah's reply smacks of the irritated parent: The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come (v. 12).

He's STILL not done. A prophesy concerning the Bedouins of Arabia: bring water and food for the (Israelite?) refugees because their civilisation is going to end within the year.

Chapter 22

Isaiah has a vision about the people of Jerusalem running en masse to their rooftops because the streets are full of diseased corpses and the leaders are now prisoners. He must have been such an uplifting dinner guest.

But Isaiah doesn't want your sympathy as he cries for the destruction of his people at the hands of the lord via Elam and Kir! Nope! That's why we're having this conversation! So you won't feel sorry for him! And of course, it's not at all because the priestly class is trying to take credit for defeat as well as victory in war.

Anyway, the Jerusalemites will try to defend themselves, but won't remember that god made all this happen and his instructions for today were to put on sackcloth and ashes and tear out your hair, rather than what they will do, which is make sacrifices and utter one of the most famous lines in the book: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die. (v. 13) And god will never forgive them for it, like a petulant 9 year old.

God also has a message for Shebna, the palace administrator and clearly someone who crossed Isaiah at some point: you're stupidly building your own tomb, because god is going to throw you around like a sack of potatoes into a foreign country where you'll die in disgrace with all your fripperies. I would have loved to have seen Shebna's reaction to all of this. Somehow, I doubt he was shaking in his boots.

Why all these ad hominem attacks on Shebna? Well, so Isaiah's brother-in-law or nephew or cousin or something, Eliakim can have the job, of course! He's going to be the new ruler of the house of David.

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