Friday, July 1, 2011

Jeremiah, Chapters 2 & 3: The sex lives of camels

Chapter 2

God harkens back to the honeymoon phase of his relationship with the Israelites, when they were prepared to follow him anywhere, even on pointless 40-year treks through the wilderness. But now, oh now, they've been cheating on him with other gods and nobody, not the priests, the civil servants or the prophets, even thinks about him anymore, preferring Baal. But fear not! He's got a punishment brewing.

But first, some insults. The Israelites have become harlots, chasing Baal like female camels in heat, a slutty donkey who will mate with anyone. God has tried everything to get their attention, including killing children, but they've just killed his prophets.

Then we find out that even in biblical times, women were obsessed with jewellery and bridal gowns and finding 'the one.' You can call this misogyny, but as a keen observer, if not participant in, the wedding-industrial complex that swallows up to 18 months' of North American women's free time in their 20s and 30s, it's actually totally true. But god is trying to make a broader point that if things as ephemeral as shiny baubles are unforgettable, why isn't he?

Chapter 3

Yay, double standards! If a man divorces his wife and she remarries, he won't take her back because she's damaged goods, so why should god take the Israelites back? Also, what kind of fucked-up family values did the Israelites practice? Not even Liz Taylor managed to pull that one off. He also compares them to street hookers and says that's why he hasn't sent any rain.

Then he starts calling the Israelites adulterers and then he sort of runs out of steam and tells them if they come back quietly and apologise, he'll forgive them and give them good, honest priests. He'll also give them lots of babies and convert all the other nations to Judaism. Don't hold your breath.

But no, he was just gathering his second wind, because now he's comparing the Israelites to women who leave their husbands, then promising forgiveness, then telling them how ashamed of themselves they should be. Textbook bipolar disorder.

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