Saturday, September 17, 2011

Daniel, Chapters 3 & 4: Goldmember

Chapter 3

King Neb commissions a giant gold penis substitute statue and orders the people to worship it. Anyone who doesn't will be thrown into a fiery furnace. So of course Daniel's friends refuse.

Neb hears about this and orders them brought to his castle. They confirm it, and he orders the furnace heated to seven times the normal temperature and throws them in. It's so hot it kills the executioners, but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego get up and walk around. A fourth guy who is like the Son of God (v. 25) even joins them. King Neb stupidly approaches the grate to speak to them, then orders them released. He issues a new decree: now anyone who refuses to worship the Jewish god shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill (v. 27). Seriously? A guy with religious beliefs this flexible is supposed to be an example to us?

Chapter 4

Suddenly Neb takes over the narration so he can tell us his personal testimony. But he's not very good at it and immediately loses half the audience by telling us all about his dream and how Daniel interpreted it for him. Then he loses the other half by telling us about another dream he had about a very tall tree. While Neb is gawping at the tree, a man comes down from heaven and starts shrieking at him to cut it down, no doubt because it's blocking his view and he's a nimbyist. He even wants Neb to put an iron band around the stump so it can't grow higher.

But then! Another weird miracle: the tree will grow a man's heart, which will then be replaced by a beast's heart. Neb challenges Daniel to find meaning in that muddle of gibberish. It takes Danny an entire hour, but then he comes back with this: the tree is Neb himself, and the litigious neighbour is his enemies. Eventually he'll be driven out of society and forced to live amongst the animals, eating grass like a cow. This will go on for 7 years, at which point he'll accept god into his heart and be restored to his rightful throne. Danny Boy advises him to start acting like a good person now and avoid all the hassle of living in fields drinking rainwater, but Neb ignores him and everything comes to pass. The way he frames it, it actually sounds more like a schizophrenic episode, but he comes out of it later and becomes a good Jew.

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