Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ezekiel, Chapters 41-44: Nerds on speed

Chapter 41

Zeke and the tanning victim are on their geeks' neuro-stimulant binge and still measuring stuff. It's almost as scintillating as a genealogy chapter or the various sacrifices in Leviticus. Almost.

Chapter 42

In a thrilling episode, Zeke and Pauly D finish measuring the inner dimensions of the temple and go outside to measure the outer ones.

Chapter 43

God appears and tells Zeke to build the temple, which he thinks will impress the Israelites so much they'll stop worshipping other gods and he'll be able to stop smiting them. Dude! This neurotic neediness is what causes people to not like you. If you'd just relax and be yourself and stop worrying about how many Facebook friends the other god has, people would flock to you and ignore him.

But then god's Ritalin kicks in and he starts giving measurements, too, followed by an outline of the sacrificial schedule.

Chapter 44

God takes Zeke over to the east gate, then says that only the prince can use it, mostly to eat bread. Then he starts giving the rules for who can and can't be present when sacrifices are being made. Namely, people who are uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh (v. 7) are not allowed. Also out: all the Levites except the children of Zadok. The others are only fit to clean the temple and kill the sacrifices. They can only wear linen, absolutely no wool. And even though this is the desert and they have to wear linen caps and breeches, sweating is not allowed.

Other priestly rules: they can't wear their temple garments outside the temple, no wine drinking, hair must be neatly trimmed, they can only eat meat that has been slaughtered, they can only marry virgins or the widows of other priests. We can also tell with this list who was paying kickbacks to Zeke (linen weavers, beer brewers, hairdressers, butchers) and who wasn't (wool spinners, vintners, Gillette, freegans). They can be teachers and judges, but not undertakers unless they're immediate family.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ezekiel, Chapters 38-40: Who are Gog and Magog?

Chapter 38

A series of threats against Gog and Magog. Possibly that's a king and a country, or maybe two countries, or maybe a country with two names. Personally I've always liked to imagine them as the dogs who flank the fireplace in Anne of the Island. Anyway, they're going to attack Israel, which will piss god off and cause earthquakes, hailstones, fire and brimstone. Why? So we'll know he's god.

Chapter 39

Gog and Magog are going to be fed to the birds, then set fire to them, then set fire to their weapons. He even tells Zeke to call the birds and prophesy to them, because they're just about the only beings around to listen anymore. Everybody else saw the bread baked over a shit fire and the hair-burning and the wall-crashing and tuned out. He's supposed to tell them they'll get drunk on blood. How delightful.

Chapter 40

God transports Zeke to a mountain top and I rub my hands gleefully, expecting another hallucinogenic episode. And it is one, but it's what would happen if you gave an engineer Adderall. Waiting for him at the top of the mountain is a man who is either made of brass or has discovered tanning beds early. He has a ruler and damn, does he intend to use it. Now there's a house in this psychotic episode, and our bronzer victim leads Zeke around measuring stuff: walls, entryways, rooms, porches, courtyards, windows, arches. And Zeke, Rain Man-like makes careful note of every dimension.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ezekiel, Chapter 37: God's zombie army

Yes! Another PCP episode! This time, god takes Zeke out to a field of dry bones and asks him if he knows 'Dem Dry Bones,' which I always thought was a blues song, but it turns out is the 'Toe bone's connected to the foot bone' song. Zeke does not, so god teaches it to him in the creepiest possible way, animating the skeletons, then covering them with flesh, not because he's trying to steal the Golden Fleece but to prove that he's really serious about restoring the Israelites to their birthright. As zombies! No, seriously, he really says Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel / And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,
/ And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD. (v. 12-14)

For his next trick, god tells Zeke to pick up two sticks. Then he fuses them, because the reanimated skeletons weren't impressive enough, and says they're the tribes of Israel. These fused sticks will somehow cause them to also stop sinning. Also, David will be king. Maybe he means the house of David, as Evangelicals claim, meaning Jesus, but it pretty clearly says dear old Dave himself.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ezekiel, Chapters 34-36

Chapter 34

Zeke compares the Israelite leaders to neglectful shepherds who gradually weaken, then lose their flock. So now god is going to take over and restore it to health and make sure it gets food and medical attention. This would all sound very good if it hadn't been preceded by 1300-odd pages of smiting and plaguing and natural disasters punctuated by the occasional munificence during god's rare manic phases.

He decides to appoint David as his new shepherd, even though David should be long dead by now, and promises eternal peace on earth.

Chapter 35

Oh, will you look at that. A new chapter starts and god's magnanimity has dissipated, to be replaced by anger at the Edomites for blaspheming. He makes his usual threats, but we can take some comfort in knowing the chapter is only 15 verses.

Chapter 36

Fancy that, our benevolent shepherd of just two chapters ago is feeling pissy, this time with the ground that Israel just happens to sit on. It has let heathens tread on it, and god isn't pleased. He vows to kick them out and let the Israelites back in. He actually admits why the Israelites are not currently there: they behaved like menstruating women (?) so he scattered them to the winds. Even abroad, though, they continued to behave like the cast of Jersey Shore, so he decided to bring them home so they'd at least stop sullying his reputation. Once they're back, he'll give them new hearts and spirits and all will be well. Uh-oh, I think I sense a manic phase coming on.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ezekiel, Chapters 30-33: Killing Egypt Dead

Chapter 30

Like every movie villain ever, god prefers talking over action. In this case, it's 25 verses of threats against Egypt, all of which will come to fruition one cloudy day.

Chapter 31

At one point, the king of Assyria got too big for his britches, so god sent him to hell, along with the Lebanese people who mourned him. Now he's going to send Egypt there, too. As soon as he finishes talking about it.

Chapter 32

You know god is serious when he threatens to block the sun with clouds and cause a lunar eclipse! Also, he's going to make the rivers run like oil (v. 14).

Chapter 33

I guess god is planning to take the form of a hurricane?, because he instructs Zeke to tell the coastal peoples to set up early warning systems for when he attacks. People who don't heed the trumpets are on their own. If the watchman fails in his duty, he'll be responsible. Then he makes Zeke the watchman.

This is followed by a bunch of threats against otherwise righteous people who do one bad thing. The Israelites complain that god isn't just, but god takes the Neener neener neener! stance of 'Well, you don't treat people equally either, so there!' The Israelites, flummoxed by this flawless schoolyard logic, cannot come up with a response.

Moving on, god unbinds Zeke's tongue. Wait, hasn't he been talking this whole time? And of course the first thing he's supposed to say is that everybody, even cave-dwellers, is going to die, first in war, then from plague.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ezekiel, Chapters 27-29: East of Eden

Chapter 27

Tyrus was like an ancient New York or London, with people and goods coming from all over the world. And then god god pissed off and decided to destroy it for all time. Oddly, Republican politicians never seem to mention this passage when they talk about god as the original free marketeer.

Chapter 28

Like many a powerful mayor before him, the mayor of Tyrus thinks of himself as a god. So the real god decides to cast him down into the pit (v. 8), where they will die the deaths of the uncircumcised (v. 10) whatever that means.

And now a very confusing episode in verse 13, which informs us that the mayor of Tyrus spent some time in Eden? Apparently this is meant to be ironic, a quality the bible is not exactly strong on. Smiting, yes. Speaking of which, god then gets around to detailing all the ways he's going to punish the city for its arrogance. Show, god, don't tell.

Chapter 29

God is going to make the Egyptian Pharaoh choke to death on a fish bone, which I've always been terrified of. Then he's going to feed him to the beasts and birds. Then he'll do lots of other bad stuff and give the country over to the Babylonians.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ezekiel, Chapters 24-26: Pulp Fiction

Chapter 24

God finally tires of barbecue and orders Zeke to cook him up some stew using the best meat from the flock. But it's not really soup! It's Jerusalem and he's going to... boil it in a pot. Which at least is a change from the usual plague, war, famine and natural disasters that are unleashed when god has a temper tantrum.

Then god kills Zeke's wife as an example of what he plans to do to the Israelites. He also orders Zeke not to mourn so as to set the standard for when he kills all the children. Man, god is a dick sometimes.

Chapter 25

All bible passages sound better when read by Samuel L. Jackson even if his quotations are a little muddled.

Anyway, the whole point of this chapter is that god is going to send the Ammonites and the Moabites and a bunch of other tribes over to Judah as punishment for some illicit hand-clapping and foot-stomping.

Chapter 26

God has vented his spleen on the Israelites and turns his wrath on the Phoenician port of Tyre. He makes a special point of saying how he's going to kill the women, namely running them through with swords while they work the fields, because why have rules of war when you're an insane, weather-based tyrant?

After he has killed the innocent farm labourers, god will then besiege the city and destroy it, just for shits and giggles.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ezekiel, Chapter 23: Donkey penises and horse jizz

Oh, dear. I'm already having flashbacks to Judges 19.

So this is the story of two sisters who became prostitutes because of their love of breast fondling. Of course these sisters aren't real, they're awkward metaphors for Jerusalem and Samaria, now a part of the West Bank. Anyway, Aholah (Samaria) had a fondness for powerful men and defiling herself with their idols, which I like to think means she used them as dildos, because you might as well, right? She keeps it up even after she marries god and moves to Israel, and he stops tolerating it after her looks fade a bit and sends her to Assyria, where she is stripped, her children taken, and she is run through with a sword.

The other sister, Aholibah (Jerusalem) is a bigger slut than Aholah. Seeing her sister's fate turns into a kinky fetish and suddenly she can't get off without porn the image of a Chaldean idol in front of her. The Babylonians come to her one night and rape her, and she stops accepting them as clients. Then god rejects her, which causes her to redouble screwing the Egyptians, who have donkey-sized dicks and come like horses. Still, she longs for the days when a simple tit stroking got her off.

God eventually gets tired of Aholibah, too, and commands her old lovers to come along in chariots and cut off her nose and ears, then run her body through with a sword, then burn it. Her kids will be taken in by Child Protective Services and will require enormous amounts of therapy.

Then god is either going to reanimate her body or lose control of this metaphor, because next he's going to strip her naked then get her drunk, then make her chop off her own breasts. Finally, they'll be stoned and burned at the stake.

All of this will cause prostitution to cease. BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA! That god sure is a joker.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ezekiel, Chapters 20-22

Chapter 20

It would seem that whatever hallucinogenic drugs were causing Zeke to imagine see space aliens that told him to chop up his hair with a knife, burn his clothes and dig a hole in the wall rather than leave by the gate have worn off for good and now he's just a run of the mill 'We're all gonna die!' type boring-ass prophet with an over-long book.

This particular chapter is a long list of petty grievances dating back to Exodus that god simply CANNOT let go of. He tells us he considered killing all the Israelites several times, but never did. This time, though, he REALLY means it, he's going to set fire to them!

Chapter 21

First, god is going to stabby stab stab us all with a sword. Then he's going to burn us. Just like all the other times.

Chapter 22

Among the sins that god is going to stab and burn the Israelites for: dishonouring their parents, mountain picnics, lewdness (v. 9), sex with menstruating women, adultery with the neighbour's wife, a daughter in law, and a sister, usury. Punishment: melting!.

Ezekiel, Chapters 17-19: Stick to your day job, god

Chapter 17

God instructs Zeke to tell a riddle about an eagle who decides to become a farmer, so he takes a cedar branch and some seeds and sets them up in a field. The seeds sprout and the vines grow towards him. Then another eagle comes along and the vines grow towards him instead. God wants to know if this slutty vine can prosper. Then, for those of you who have not been following along for the past oh, 8 books or so, he explains that the vine is Israel and the eagles are god and another, fake god and as punishment for cozying up to the fake eagle god, the king of Babylon is going to enslave the vine. Seriously, it's not like these people had important, pressing episodes of Jersey Shore to watch on TV at night. All that free time, and this is the best metaphor they could come up with?

Anyway, god is still pissed that the king of Babylon offered the Jerusalemites a truce and they didn't take it and instead went off to make agreements with Egypt and it's like relearning all those treaties that set off WWI way back in 9th grade history and it's making my head hurt. But god does promise to restore the Israelites again when he's vented his spleen.

Chapter 18

God bans another proverb, specifically the one that goes The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge (v. 2). So no using either of those, mkay?

Then he says that sinners will die, but people who behave and don't do things like have mountain picnics, sleep with their neighbours' wives or associate with menstruating women, oppress debtors and who give food and clothing to the poor, will live forever. Well, doing or not doing all those things, plus a healthy dose of clean water, vaccinations, nitrogen fixation and pasteurised dairy products, none of which god mentions here.

In an odd twist, god informs us that if your son is a thief, you'll be punished. Up until now, the kids have been responsible for the sins of their parents. Then in one of those crazy-making verses that literalists tie themselves up in knots trying to explain, god gives everybody a blank slate. From now on you're responsible for your own sins. Because we haven't heard that before, only to have it contradicted in 200 other places.

Chapter 19

The New Yorker magazine has a regular feature called Block that Metaphor! which really should be used more about this book. First, god is a lioness and the princes of Israel are her cubs. One becomes a man-eater and is imprisoned in a pit in Egypt. Another becomes and even fiercer man-eater who also destroys entire cities and keeps everybody up all night with his roaring until the people enact a noise ordnance and take him to the king of Babylon to shut him up.

Then suddenly Israel is a vine with exalted branches that gets set on fire and cast out into the wilderness.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ezekiel, Chapters 16: The problem with extended metaphors

Chapter 16

Did you know that the Israelites used to salt their babies? They thought it made the skin firm. How do I know this? Because god is now comparing Jerusalem to an unwanted baby left to die in a field. Anti-abortion activists everywhere cover their ears and sing 'Lalala, I can't hear you!'

So god takes the abandoned infant and raises it into a little hottie with pert breasts and shiny hair. Look it up, it really says that. And it gets better, because then thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness (v. 8) and this is getting as creepy as The Time Traveler's Wife. Anyway, after god married a city, he started buying it all kinds of expensive badger's skins and jewellery and taking her out to the finest honey and oil restaurants and everybody complemented him on his hot young bride.

But like many a hot young wife, Jerusalem's eye quickly starts to wander and she starts fornicating with other deities, especially the well-hung Egyptians. When she can't find a god to fuck, she melts her expensive jewellery into false idol dildoes and 'worships' them instead.

As punishment, god beat and starved them and let the Philistines have their way with them, but they started turning tricks with the Assyrians, Canaanites and Babylonians, and even perfect strangers. And not only that, rather than accept payment for services rendered, they were the clients!

God is so pissed now that he's going to uncover the city's nakedness and punish it like an adulterous wife, which apparently means people can take her clothes and jewels, then stone her into a bloody pulp, then burn her like her sister, Sodom. Oh, and all those of you who claim that the problem in Sodom was homosexual angel rape? Uh-uh this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy (v. 49)

But! If Jerusalem mends her ways and becomes an obedient daughter-wife, she can get back into god's good graces and be restored. I feel dirty now.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ezekiel, Chapters 13-15: God hates pillows

Chapter 13

God tells Zeke to prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy (v. 2) as if he hasn't been doing so for the past 12 chapters. There's a speech about walls that aren't up to code and how god is going to knock it down like a zealous city bylaw officer. Then he gets really mad at the women prophets, saying Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! (v. 18). Pillows apparently means charms. So some women were making charm bracelets and god is so petty and micro-managing and explosively over-reactionary that he's going to destroy them in revenge. I think god's still angry that back in grade 2 nobody would show him how to make gimp bracelets.

Chapter 14

Zeke is sitting around with his friends drinking tea in that way men in the Middle East do when suddenly god tells him to tell them that they're all sinners and unless they repent they'll all be destroyed. Then god confesses that sometimes, just for the hell of it, he'll send a false prophecy to a prophet just so he can punish him for it, because he's just an asshole like that sometimes. And it's not just prophets! Basically, anytime anything bad happens to you or yours, including your kids, it's god, and he's doing it because you sinned.

Chapter 15

Ever the environmentalist, god starts talking about vine trees and their many uses: you can build a house, hang stuff from it or burn it. But if it's just sitting there, doing its tree thing, it's useless, just like the ashes left over if you make a fire with it. And now he's going to set Jerusalem on fire.