Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ecclesiasticus, Chapters 38 & 39: Mourn like your dictator just died

Chapter 38

Pay your doctor, because god made him. God certainly didn't give him antibiotics or vaccines, at least not for another 2000 years or so, but oh well. Anyway, kings and great men are supposed to praise their essentially worthless healers and thank god for whatever 'medicines' they were using back then, like water made sweet with wood (v. 5). Apparently, god also gave physicians the skills to take away pain without anesthesia, and the apothecary the tools to make medications.

Of course, if you get sick, you can always just pray and god will help. Even better would be to avoid getting ill in the first place, which is perfectly possible so long as you don't sin, purge evil thoughts from your heart, do your sacrifices, and pay your doctor.

Suddenly in verse 15, the chapter does a complete turn around. It goes from praising doctors as tools of god to saying only sinners need to visit them.

Then just as abruptly, we get mourning instructions. First, you have to cry like a North Korean whose dictator has just died, and for exactly the same reason: lest thou be evil spoken of (v. 17). After a day or two you can bury the body. After that, though, you have to suck it up and get back to living, because excessive mourning is bad for your health.

Then Solomon has some advice for working class people, namely: suck it up. You'll never have social, political or judicial power, but the city can't run without you, so you should work hard so you can get into heaven.

Chapter 39

Now onto the useless gits who sit around all day making prophecies. Well, those people will get to hobknob with princes and travel abroad to tell the rest of us how to live. When they die, we'll remember their names.

Next we're reminded not to question god, because everything happens for a reason and holy people can understand them, but wicked people never will. Also, god has given us everything we need, a list that consists entirely of: water, fire, iron, and salt, flour of wheat, honey, milk, and the blood of grape and oil, and clothing (v. 26). Note that this list does not include proper ventilation, street lighting or shower gel, all of which I personally need and make me so glad I live in the 21st century and not 200 BCE.

And now on to the smiting, because there are evil people out there who can't appreciate all the wonderful things god has provided to believers. Those people will be killed with the same boring, repetitive list of evils they're always being threatened with. And the believers will watch it all and rejoice because people are awful.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ecclesiasticus, Chapters 35-37: I hate vaguebooking

Chapter 35

Following the law means making offerings. For example, if you follow the commandments, you've made a peace offering. If you do a good turn, you can save your flour. If you donate to charity, you can skip praise sacrifices. Forsaking unrighteousness allows you to skip atonements. Of course, you still need to make sacrifices, and cheerfully, in proportion to your income.

There's more about not giving corrupted gifts and how god will enrich you seven times over if you sacrifice a goat or whatever, and also about how god loves poor people, widows and bastards in equal proportion to how much he loves rich people. Except of course that in any cult, the richest member is also always the most favoured. And of course bad people will be punished. Unless they're rich.

Chapter 36

Solomon challenges god to let the strange nations (v. 3) see his power. He wants some signs that god is actually up there, preferably in the form of smiting. He'd also like his rival kings' heads chopped off. He also praises righteous women, but urges men to grow hedges around their property, lest said virtuous women forget for a second. Finally, he tells us not to trust homeless people.

Chapter 37

Don't you hate it when a friend turns into an enemy? Also, be wary of consellors, because they're all after something. And don't advise people who are jealous of you, or take advice from a woman who is jealous of your wife. Don't consult with cowards on war. Actually, the ONLY person I'd want consulting me on a war is a coward. The list goes on for much longer, but the basic message is: avoid talking to people with agendas. Which is everybody.  Stop vaguebooking, Solomon, and just spill on whoever betrayed you.

So who should you trust? Yourself, and other godly people. Finally, don't eat too much meat or you might get cholera.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ecclesiasticus Chapters 33 & 34: Would your brother run away?

Chapter 33

No bad things will happen to true believers. Wise men love the law, and trust it, and it loves them back, but it will make hypocrites feel like ships in a storm. Foolish people's minds are like cart wheels.

Stallions are terrible friends that complain whenever you ride them. The very next verse asks why some days are awesome even though all the light comes from the sun? What? Oh, because god made seasons and feasts, and holidays are naturally better than other days, especially when you get to get drunk.

Next we are reminded that men come from dirt and god made them very diverse. He likes some, but not others, because he's a potter, just not a very good one, because he isn't very consistent.

Solomon is not a morning person, but by getting up late, he gleaned the fields after the grape pickers. God liked that for whatever reason, so people bought his wine. He doesn't do this for himself, mind, he wants to help the intellectually curious. Not by giving them clear instructions, of course. So now, even though he just told us a couple of chapters ago to lend people money if they asked for it in the full knowledge that you won't get it back, he now instructs us not to give our stuff away in case we need it again in the future. Also, if you give your stuff to your kids too early, you end up a King Lear.

Now he moves on to the care and feeding of property. See, there are a lot of similarities between donkeys and slaves: both need food, whipping and work. And you really need to work your slave, otherwise he'll start thinking about liberty. If he's disobedient, give him more work. But not excessive work. You did pay for him. And of course you're supposed to explain all of this in terms of brotherhood: you need your slave like you need your brother. Though if your brother runs away, you wouldn't normally seek him with the police.

Chapter 34

Fools take their dreams literally. Unclean things can't be cleansed. No truth can come from falsehood. Divination is stupid. Only receive visitors from god. The law, which in its current form allows men to 'study' on state welfare for 20 years (conveniently, until exactly the age one is considered too old for military service) while their wives have 8 or more children and have to spend a week each month in a separate 'menstruation hut', is perfect. Traveling makes you wise.

Solomon understands better than he speaks. He traveled a lot, and faced death many times. Alas, not before he wrote this book. He didn't die because he's a true believer and god protects true believers.

Don't sacrifice fenced animals. That's fenced as in 'stolen property' not as in 'was behind a fence.' God doesn't like offerings made by wicked people, repeat sinners or those who have fleeced the poor, which is the same as killing a son in front of his father. Even though we've just heard that god made all shades of humanity, including the poor, and one presumes he could make their lives less precarious by say, giving them more money or just not inventing scoundrels.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ecclesiasticus, Chapters 31 & 32: Biblical table manners

Chapter 31

Trying to get rich will wear you out and staying rich will keep you awake at night, mostly because you're full of rich food. Poors, on the other hand, go to bed hungry. Nonetheless, loving gold is unjustifiable and will ruin your life. Rich people who don't chase gold are blessed. Oh, I see. They're talking metaphorical riches. The kind that doesn't pay its rent.

If you happen to be rich, don't forget to host dinner parties, but also don't brag about how you can afford fancy meat. People will love you if you have them over for dinner, but resent you if you don't invite them. Also, eyes are the most wicked body part and you shouldn't reach for everything you can see.

Eat what is put in front of you, but don't be greedy about it. Be the first to finish, it's just good manners. If there are lots of people at the table, don't reach for the food first. You only actually need a little bit of food if you're well-fed. Furthermore, you'll sleep better and wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed if you eat in moderation, but gluttons will have all kinds of health problems.

If you've somehow been forced to eat, go out and vomit before you sleep and you'll rest better. Wine makes people stupid brave, though it is fine in moderation. Still, don't criticise your neighbour if he indulges a little too much.

Chapter 32

When you host, be a good host: don't sit at a head table and make sure your guests are having fun. Speeches have their place, but so does music. Always include music at your dinner parties. Don't try to be the equal of great men. Never be the last to go home from a party.

Always seek advice, and never repent your mistakes. Don't take risks. Be confident. Be wary of your own kids.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Ecclesiasticus, Chapters 28 - 30 : No dinner parties!

Chapter 28

Don't seek vengeance. Rather, forgive and let god take care of it. Also, being angry leads to a lot of fights, so learn to count to ten. Rich and strong people tend to be the angriest, so avoid investment bankers and muscle gyms. Fighting in haste leads to hasty killing. Rumours spark wars and get women kicked out of their houses. In fact, they're more harmful than swords.

Chapter 29

The bible recommends lending money to your neighbours. That's how you know it's a very stupid book you should not pay attention to unless you're like me, a literary nerd. It is aware that there are people out there who are your best friend until you lend them money, but then suddenly have appointments any time you try to collect. It also acknowledges that the most you'll see is half of your money and often all you'll get is ill-will. It even admits that a lot of people refuse to give out loans because of these exact problems. Nonetheless, it advises you to loan the money and be patient and let it not rust under a stone to be lost (v. 10).

It also thinks you should act as a guarantor for other people's loans, even though people have ended up homeless as a result. All you really need is water, bread, clothing and a house, and it's better to be a pauper in a cottage than to eat nice food at someone else's house. So, no accepting invitations to supper, then? Anyway, try to be happy with what you have

Chapter 30

Loving your child means beating him occasionally. Also, when you die he'll kill your enemies, because living in  Papua New Guinea sounds so awesome. Spoiling your son means his bowels will be troubled at every cry (v. 7) and your kid will be wilful. It also means you'll eventually fear him. If you play with your kids, you'll regret it. In fact, don't even laugh with your kids or you'll end up in tears. Give him no liberty and don't give him breaks when he screws up. Keep him busy in the fields so he doesn't have time for fornication.

Health: better to be healthy and poor than rich and sick. Even though chances are, if you're poor, you're also sick. Better dead than bitter or chronically ill. Giving good food to ingrates is the same as putting meat on a grave, because it doesn't do any good to anyone. Keep sweet.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ecclesiasticus, Chapter 26 & 27: How to put a wicked wife to good use

Chapter 26

After 26 verses about all the harm a wicked wife will unleash on the world, we get three on how awesome a virtuous wife is. Apparently, you'll double your life span if you get one. How do you know if you have a good wife? A silent and loving woman is a gift of the lord (v. 14). Also she'll keep the house clean and stay hot even when she's old. Only godly men will get godly wives.

More lists: first, three things Solomon is afraid of: slandering of cities, mobs and false accusations. All these things are worse than death. Even worse than those things is a woman who is jealous of another woman.

Now we're back on the evils of wicked women because the bible is nothing if not consistent in its misogyny. Bad wives are like scorpions. Drunk women, those who insist on going out on their own, and those who refuse to cover her own shame (v. 8) all piss people off. You can tell if a woman is a whore or not by the way she looks at you and her eyelids. If your daughter is a teenager, keep her inside. Don't be surprised if she resents this. Especially don't let her near fountains, where travelers often stop, because she'll open her quiver against every arrow (v. 11). Also, an harlot shall be accounted as spittle (v. 22) and a shameless woman shall be counted as a dog (v. 25). There is one good use for loud women who scold their husbands: they drive enemies away.

Once you do finally find a good wife, have lots of children so you can outbreed the heathens. 

Two things that upset Solomon: poor veterans and smart people who get ignored. One thing that pisses him off: apostates. He wants to kill them all with a sword. It is nearly impossible for a merchant to avoid sin, and completely impossible for a huckster.

Chapter 27

Solomon elaborates on his disdain for commerce: there is a lot of sin in buying and selling, mostly because of all the bullshitting that goes on during haggling.

Anyone can be holy if they believe, just not the long list of people outlined in this book. And of course as long as you don't succumb to temptation.

Spend all the time you like with wise men, but leave early when in the company of fools. People who swear a lot make Solomon's hair stand on end. The ensuing fighting makes him cover his ears.

Be good to your friends and don't tell their secrets. Should you spill one by accident, just end the friendship. Winking is evil, because it's a sign of smarminess, and if there's anything Solomon hates, it's smarm. Of course those who cast stones hit themselves and malice and wrath are sins.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ecclesiasticus, Chapters 23- 25: Sex Crimes and Misdemeanours

Chapter 23

Solomon turns away from extolling the virtues of wisdom for a bit to pray to god to keep him holy. Holiness includes not eating and refraining from sex. Remember this guy has 1000 wives. And not gossiping or swearing. Or dishonouring your parents. Or fornicating or whoremongering. Cheating on your wife is bad, but  thinking god will forget about your sins is worse. The very worst, of course, is a woman who leaves her husband and has a child with another man, because she has betrayed both god and her family. The punishment for her is public humiliation and infertility for herself and her children. Even after she dies, we should curse her name.

Chapter 24

Wisdom is now bragging about how awesome she is and how favoured by god. She's worshiped everywhere. She smells like cinnamon, rooibos, myrrh, galbanum, onyx, balsa wood and frankincense. I'm surprised no vintners market their wines this way. She makes a bunch of promises to those who seek her, but also warns us that complete understanding isn't possible.

Chapter 25

Now we're back to relationships. And lists. But at least the lists aren't genealogy. The three most beautiful things are: family unity, loving your neighbours, and a couple that gets along. Likewise, there are three things Solomon hates: people who are proud but poor, rich liars and old adulterers who doateth (v. 2). 

The next thing he wants to talk about is old age. To prepare for old age, you need to learn stuff in your youth, so you'll be a good judge later on. You know, the Morgan Freeman old people, not the Grandpa Simpson types.

Now, completely on-topic: the nine things that make Solomon happy: children, living to see your enemy die (fuck yeah!) smart wives, not gossiping, being a slave to someone who's better than you , prudence, talking to people that listen, wisdom, fearing god. The worst thing you could do to Sol is be a wicked woman. He'd rather live with a lion AND a dragon. Also it makes you ugly. Other people will lose their courage, frown a lot and have wounded hearts. So if you have a wicked wife, for god's sake lock her in the house. If she won't stay inside, divorce her. He also can't stand affliction if his enemies do the afflicting or revenge if his enemies are getting it. He pities quiet men who live with chatty women. He warns us against pretty women, which his thousand wives must LOVE him for. He also says that women who outearn their husbands are full of anger, imputdence and much reproach (v. 22). Women who won't coddle their husbands' man colds cause weak knees and hands.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ecclesiasticus, Chapters 21-22: How to challenge a friend to a swordfight

Chapter 21

If you've sinned, ask forgiveness. Stay away from sin as it's like a snake with lion's teeth. Rich people's prayers don't reach god's ears. Eloquent men become famous, but smart men know when the eloquent ones are bullshitting. Buying a house with borrowed money is like gathering the stones for your tomb. Congregations of evil people will be set on fire. You will understand the law if you keep it. Stupid people cannot learn and wisdom can make you bitter, but always listen to wise men. There are a lot of  'stupid is as stupid does' versus. Methinks Solly isn't very self-reflective. Skilled men can learn from the wisdom they hear. Fools laugh but wise men only smile. Fools look in your windows but wise men don't. Neither of those things would make you look smarter in my books.

Chapter 22

Finally! We move from stupid people to lazy ones. Lazy people are also dirty. And their sons bring them shame and their daughters are unprofitable. Smart daughters will have dowries.Bold women are a source of shame for their fathers and their husbands and will end up despised and alone.

Pick your moment to tell stories, but know that wisdom is always appreciated. Then we go back to fools. Apparently there is some hope: virtuous children can make up for their shitty parents. In this verse, at least. See, oh, the entire Old Testament for the contradictory claim that sinning great-great-great grandparents can fuck up your life a hundred years later.

You get one week to mourn people, but fools and atheists will always be in mourning. Solomon, the smartest man on the planet, mind, asks what is heavier than lead. Now, just one chapter after we were told that it's better to let your anger out, we're told that telling a friend off will ruin the friendship. As will drawing a sword if you intend to fight him. You may make up with your friend in future, unless you've upbraided him, acted pridefully, told his secrets, or injured him physically. Then the friendship is gone.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ecclesiasticus, Chapters 18-20: Hookers make you impudent

Chapter 18

God created everything and rules over it and everything obeys him. At the same time, he needs to separate the holy and profane things. All his works are perfect.

Next, Solomon ruminates on the subject of humans. What is a man? Who does he serve? What are his good and bad qualities? Well, men live to be 100 at most, which is nothing compared to eternity. As a result, god is patient and merciful. He knows we're inherently evil and so he's extra-compassionate with us. Men are nice to their neighbours, but god is nice to everyone that believes in him.

So what is the takeaway from this? Well, be nice when you give stuff to people, but remember that words are as good as gifts, especially if the giver is churlish or jealous. Only speak on subjects you're knowledgeable about and take medicine if you're sick. Before passing judgement, examine yourself first. Repent. Keep your promises. Prepare before you pray. Always keep hell in mind. When times are good for you, remember the bad and give back. Don't indulge your appetites or people will laugh at you. Don't spent all your money on pleasure. Don't invite yourself to dinner parties.

Chapter 19

Drunkards are seldom rich and people who scorn small things will fall bit by bit. Wine and women are your enemies and people who visit prostitutes will become impudent. Yes, I wrote that correctly. Don't extend credit freely. Abstemiousness is a virtue. Don't gossip. Tell your friends when they fuck up. Warn your neighbour about things he does that piss you off, then threaten him. Fear god. The commandments are the doctrine of life (v. 19) and will get you into heaven. Slaves shouldn't lie to their masters. Knowledge of wickedness is not wisdom. It's better to be a stupid believer than a smart sinner. People are devious bastards, but show their true colours through their clothing, laughter and gait.

Chapter 20

It's better to express your anger than to hold it inside, and confession will stop you getting hurt. Repentance feels good. I rarely find any of these things to be true. As it is the lust of an eunuch to deflower a virgin; so is he that executeth judgement with violence (v. 4). Stoics are wise, gossips are hateful, as are dictators.

Gifts given by fools do not benefit you, nor do those of envious people, because they expect a lot in return. People who don't give but rebuke a lot are annoying. Falling on pavement is better than accidentally gossiping. Even when fools say smart things, it's at the wrong time and so people don't respect it.

Some people can't sin because they're too poor, and so they sleep easy. Other people destroy their souls through shyness because they can't say no. Lies are the worst thing you can do, but are often in the mouths of ignorant people. It's better to be a thief than a liar. Remember to till your fields. Don't hide your wisdom or your treasure, because they're no good that way.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ecclesiasticus, Chapters 16 & 17: How profitable are your children?

Chapter 16

Don't hope for a bunch of unprofitable children, and if your sons turn out to be non-believers, don't take any delight in them or your grandchildren. In fact, if you're worried your kids might turn out to be atheists, just don't have them. Solomon has seen all these things and heard worse, like a time when god set fire to a country that didn't believe in him, or another time when he killed 600 000 soldiers. Nonbelievers might sometimes escape unharmed, but it's a miracle if it happens. God rewards as well as punishes, though.

At some point, god is going to visit, and when he does, there will be earthquakes, because we can't understand how god thinks, because most of his works are hidden.

Chapter 17

God made man out of clay and gave him power over the earth, but also made all the animals afraid of us. God also divided something into seven operations (v. 5). He gave five to all animals, then gave men the sixth and seventh, which would be understanding and speech. I'm so glad I don't have to use this book to understand science, because it is literally that specific about what god gave to living creatures.

In a nice bit of revisionism, now god always intended us to understand good and evil and he showed it to us on purpose. He opened our hearts so we might see his works and praise him for it, because god is nothing if not a gloryhound. Then he told us all to spy on our neighbours, because we're all evil inside.

God also appointed all the rulers of nations, but Israel is his special baby, which means they get watched closer than anyone.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ecclesiasticus, Chapters 14 & 15: Stalking is wise

Chapter 14

Solomon starts off with a list of people who are blessed in his eyes. It's two verses long, because talking about people with clear consciences is boring. Then he starts in on thieves and psychopaths and jealous lovers and people who only pretend to do good and how they secretly hate people and don't sacrifice properly. Lesson: remember to make your sacrifices, because death will come faster than you think.

Always seek out wisdom, even if you have to pry open her windows or tack things to her walls or camp out in her garden with your kids like some terrifying stalker, because she'll eventually open the door.

Chapter 15

This chapter starts with a tortured metaphor about how the law is like a woman who greets you at the door like a mother but is a virgin in the bedroom. That does not sound like a fun marriage. Even more fun: her cooking consists of bread and water, which supposedly represent understanding and wisdom. Further wifely duties involve exalting the husband to everyone she meets so he gets famous. The husband, for his part, will rely on the wife to not confuse him.

The foolish and the sinful will not understand the law which goes against every law movie or TV show ever. Also, liars can't remember the law, which seems counter intuitive.

Sinners should not utter praise, because it comes from god. I'm going to take it the book is using the definition of praise that means 'expressing thanks or love for god,' in which case it sounds like god is using us to masturbate. Despite this, you shouldn't blame god if you leave the church because you no longer feel like getting god off, because that decision was yours alone.

The last part of the chapter invites us to keep the commandments and explore the fire and water we received from god, but not too far, because the lord is watching lest you sin.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ecclesiasticus, Chapters 12 & 13: Avoid pine trees

Chapter 12

Only do good for people you know, so you can get the credit afterwards. Even better is if you can help the godly, because they'll either pay you or god will reward you in heaven. No good can come to evil people if they're evil all the time. No word on what happens if they're only evil on a part-time basis. Don't even give bread to non-believers because they'll then seek to conquer you.

If you're rich, know that you can't make real friends but you can screw your enemies over. On the other hand, if you're poor, you won't have friends, but neither will you have enemies. Don't trust enemies. That's deep, Sol. Also, don't sit next to them, because they want your seat.

Don't pity charming people that get bitten by snakes or attacked by wild beasts.

Chapter 13

Don't touch pitch or you'll be dirty. As in the sticky stuff you sometimes find on pine trees. Actually, that's good advice for life, because that stuff is a motherfucker to get off your clothes, but I don't see the connection with getting into heaven. Other life advice: don't try to be more powerful than you are, or make friends with rich people because you'll break each other. You can totally tell this was commissioned by a king who was trying to hold onto absolute power can't you?

Rich people are inherently evil and use people if they can or ignore them if they can't. Other accusations against rich people: they're thieves, liars and give false hope. They cook you excellent dinners and so you're forced to compete with equally nice food until you're broke. Then they'll laugh at you for spending all your money on dinner parties.

If a rich person invites you to dinner and don't go, he'll just keep inviting you. Don't get too close, but also don't get so far away that you're forgotten. Don't try to hold a conversation with a rich person, because he's only out to manipulate your secrets out of you so he can put you in prison.

In other words, only mix with your own social class. As it is today, when you're rich, it's because of your own talents, and if you're poor, it's your own fault. Finally, be cheerful and don't think too hard about the meaning of parables.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Ecclesiasticus, Chapters 10 & 11: Keep hold of your bowels

Chapter 10

Should you become a judge against Solomon's advice, that's cool, but not as cool as being a believer. Still, if you must, make sure your government is well-ordered. Even if your king isn't great, though, just be patient because god will eventually give you good rulers. God's favourite people are scribes.

Now some general life advice: don't be jealous or prideful or another people will steal your kingdom. Also, there is not a more wicked thing than a covetous man: for such a one setteth his own soul to sale; because while he liveth he casteth away his bowels (v. 9) The beginning of pride, and thus auto-disembowelment, is turning away from god. Then you'll immediately start sinning, which will cause god to make your life calamitous. He's been known to do this to arrogant kings and princes and put meek commoners on the throne. Just, you know, no one you've ever heard of, because he erased their names from the history books.  Further life advice includes an admonition to no be angry and to obey the laws.

Don't hate people who are smart but poor or elevate sinners. If the smart person is a slave, treat him like he's free, because then when he's actually free, he won't resent you. Don't brag, especially if you're actually broke. It's much better to be poor, because then people will honour you for your skills, whereas rich people are honoured for their wealth. But only by other people. God will reverse the situation.

Everyone dies, even kings, and when they die, they inherit creepy things like beasts and worms.

Chapter 11

Wisdom will elevate you. So will social connections and family money. Don't compliment handsome men or shun ugly ones, because... bees are cute and flies are ugly? There is a comparison there, but it's weird. Don't tell people who made your clothes because god hides his works rather than putting it on his head like a damned shoe hat. Also, many kings have been deposed and honourable men enslaved. Especially on Game of Thrones.

Don't blame people until you know the whole truth. Don't interrupt. Don't get involved in other people's disputes. Haste makes waste. All discrepancies in income or success are because of god. Believing in him will make you rich. Don't bitch about your situation. Remember that one unpleasant hour can make you forget what pleasure is, but god is ever-vigilant.

Don't invite everyone you meet into your house, because soon it won't be your house anymore. Children are the future.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ecclesiasticus, Chapters 7-9: Avoid the psychopaths and hot chicks

Chapter 7

This chapter starts Do no evil, so shall no harm come unto thee (v. 1) which is great if it's life advice, but victim-blaming if it's a promise from god, who has done or allowed plenty of terrible things to happen to good people. Then it tells us to stay away from unjust people or to seek glory from god or the king, and not to boast or offer sacrifices that are clearly better than others'. Furthermore, don't offend all the people in a city, lest you end up like poor Matthias, son of Deuteronomy of Gath. Don't offer to be a judge, be brave when you pray, and remember to donate to charity. Don't be bitter or tell lies about your brother or friend. In fact, not lying is the best practice. Listen to your elders and don't babble when you pray. Enjoy manual labour and don't betray your friends for gold. If you find a wise and good woman, keep her. The definition of wise and good apparently doesn't encompass witty. Also tell your slaves and tradesmen about how awesome good is. If your slave is a good one, feel free to let him go. The criteria for what makes a slave worth of liberation are not enumerated. If you have cows, don't sell them unless it's for a profit. If you have kids, bow donw their neck from their youth (v. 23), not sure if that means you should beat them or encourage them to study. Marrying your daughter off is one of your most important tasks, but try to make a good match. Be nice to your parents, since they brought you into this world. Also be nice to priests, namely by giving them meat that you've barbecued. Poor people, too, and people who are sad or mourning or sick. Finish what you start.

Chapter 8

 Only pick fights with weaker men, whether that's in brute strength, wealth, temper, rudeness, or willingness to commit sins. Also, don't lend those people money, because you'll never see it again, or act as their guarantor, because you'll end up paying. Be nice to old people. Don't enjoy schadenfreude. Don't yawn with smart people are talking, rather, try to learn from them. Don't encourage sin. Don't argue the law with judges. Don't travel with brave people, that's a good way to get killed. Also, don't fight with angry people or go into solitary places with them as that's a good way to make sure you never come back. Don't take advice from fools. Don't tell your secrets to strangers.

Chapter 9

Advice about women: don't be jealous of your wife, don't visit prostitutes as they'll take all your money and don't spend much time in the company of singers. Avoid virgins. When in the city, don't make eye contact and don't go into solitary places. I was seriously sitting on a train going to Toronto, one of the safest places in North America, and a woman was talking about how she was taking these exact precautions on her shopping trip that day. Anyway, don't stare at beautiful women, not because it's rude, but because hot chicks are devious. Never ever sit with another man's wife, especially not with her in your lap or in a bar. Old friends are better than new ones. Don't be envious of others' ill-gotten gains. Keep away from men who have killed before, and if you do have to interact with them, be on your best behaviour. Only talk fancy, but socialise.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ecclesiasticus, Chapters 4-6 : How to act on Facebook

Chapter 4

Be nice to people in direr straits than you, because if they curse you, god will punish you. Why god can't see your shitty behaviour for himself is not explained. When you get to judge other people, don't be afraid to bang the gavel hard. Do not, however, bang single mothers. Rather, be a father to their kids without benefits. The reward will be wisdom, but not orgasms. Don't worship false gods, even human ones. Admit your sins. Don't enslave yourself to fools. Repay your debts.

Chapter 5

Don't fall in love with materials goods, especially if they're fenced. Just because you got away with sinning once, it's now okay to sin, because god will catch you every time. Make sure you tell god you love him every day, or he wont' let you into heaven. Keep your promises. Listen, and only speak if you really know the answer. Don't spread gossip. Don't be ignorant of anything. Good luck with that.

Chapter 6

Don't be anyone's enemy. Don't brag about yourself or your soul will get torn to pieces. Only take advice from one friend in a thousand. Test your friends first and don't be afraid to unfriend them, which will make it much harder to get to that 1000, but never mind. Be wary of people who only like you in good times. Faithful friends are the best. Only people who believe in god make faithful friends. Always be learning. Wisdom is unkind to people who haven't studied. If you meet a wise man, stalk him until he agrees to teach you.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Ecclesiasticus, Chapters 2 & 3: The kids aren't all right

Chapter 2

First there are a bunch of verses for would-be priests: you'll lose all your material wealth, but be cheerful because it's coming back to you in the afterlife. Then there is some advice for believers, namely be patient because all that stuff that sucks in the now will go away after you die. Then it instructs us to look back through the bible and find someone who trusted in god and were fooled by him. Um, Job? Also, Moses isn't allowed into the holy land for hitting a rock wrong. God's definition of 'trust me' is pretty strict.

Chapter 3

Solomon has some advice for us on how to run our families, and he should know, since he has a thousand wives. Dads are in charge of the kids' 'honour,' i.e. making sure the daughters stay virgins. Mothers have authority over their sons. Kids who honour their father by staying virgins until marriage absolve their dads of sin, like the time he slept with their mother while they were just engaged. Sons who honour their mothers are good at saving money. Good kids will have good kids and live long lives. Faith will make your parents and owners happy, if you're a slave.

Never talk shit about your parents and you'll have a happy life. Fail to follow this precept and your dad won't give you  a house and your mother will make your marriage hell. Your own glory depends on your parents', which makes me so happy I live in a time of state-provided services like education and housing. Be nice to your parents when they get old, especially if they get dementia. God will remember that.

What happens to people who aren't good children? Glad you asked! Solomon has a lot to say about them: they're blasphemers, and cursed. They do evil and take unnecessary risks, and they lie. Of course all this makes them sad.

Further advice: be meek and humble and you'll find out the answers to the mysteries of life, supposedly including parables. Don't do things that are too hard or that you aren't strong enough to do. Don't try to figure stuff out if someone tells you they're secret. Remember that curiosity killed the cat.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Ecclesiasticus, Chapter 1: Somehow dumber than Solomon

Anonymous Prologue

This book was written by Jesus. Not THE Jesus, but another Jesus who lived while the Israelites were enslaved by the Babylonians. Anyway, Jesus wrote a lot of stuff down, but wasn't very organised, a trait shared by his son Sirach. Sirach gave the notes to his own son, Jesus, who finally compiled them into a book. It's a book of wisdom, supposedly and it can't possibly be stupider than what Solomon sought to share with us, can it?

Prologue by Jesus

Turns out Disney's new annoying movie credits have a precedent! Jesus humble-brags that all the credit for this book goes to his grandpappy, he's just the editor. He also informs us he had some translation problems, as there were some words in Hebrew that simply cannot be expressed properly in a different tongue. He also apparently mixed his granddad's notes with a book he found in Egypt once.

Chapter 1

All wisdom comes from god, who is the only person who can count the grains of sand, raindrops, or days. I'm not sure Jesus understands the difference between can and bored enough to want to. Also, since Jesus doesn't know about geometry or telescopes, he has no way of figuring out how big the earth is.Too bad he didn't just ask Eratosthenes when he was over there in Egypt looking in used book stores, since according to Wikipedia, he lived around the time this book was supposedly writtn.

So who knows the things god has revealed to the goddess Wisdom? God. Okay, we're 7 verses in and so far Jesus has committed two logical fallacies and proved he doesn't know basic math.

Anyway, Wisdom is a kind of female holy spirit, in all things and present with all believers. Fearing god is an honour and will make you happy and long-lived. It is the beginning of wisdom, but alas it can only happen while you're in your mother's uterus. As long as you fit that criterion, you will be healthy and rich and skilled

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Wisdom of Solomon, Chapters 18 & 19: The madness of king Solomon

Chapter 18

God gives the Egyptians a burning column of fire to light their way, even though they should be shut up in a dark hole for kidnapping the Israelites. Next on the list of Egyptian atrocities is the decision to kill all the Israelite children. God saved the first victim and killed a bunch of Egyptian kids in response, which doesn't seem like justice, really.

Anyway, seeing all those Egyptian kids killed by god heartened the Israelites, because they knew they would get to heaven while their enemies would be destroyed. Meanwhile, they kept sacrificing in secret. Eventually, there are so many dead Egyptians there's no one left to bury them. Only then do they acknowledge that the Israelites' god is the one true god.

God leaves them alone for awhile, then starts visiting bad dreams on them. He also kills a bunch of Israelites in the desert, but not for long, and eventually they make it to Israel again.

Chapter 19

Back to the Egyptians, who quickly forget that the Israelites are the righteous and go out to enslave them again. So god drowns them in the Red Sea. Then there are frogs and flies and sea quails. Then suddenly there are Sodomites again, even though that city was destroyed in Genesis and this book is currently recounting the events in Exodus. Anyway, the Sodomites are inhospitable so god makes them blind. Then sea animals and land animals switch environments and fire and water switch physical properties.

Yeah, that whole book pretty much made no sense. Maybe by the time he wrote it, Solomon was suffering from dementia?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Wisdom of Solomon, Chapter 17: Ghost Stories

God's wisdom is so great it cannot be expressed, which is why people do dumb shit like taking the Israelites into bondage, which led to the infidel Babylonians being shut up in their newly-haunted houses. Really? This is the best the Apocrypha can do? The Babylonians started hearing water falling down sounded about them, and sad visions appeared unto them with heavy countenances (v. 4)? Also, the stars and light bulbs stopped working for them. Boy do I hear them. I would never say it to her face, but the one and only thing I agree with Michele Bachmann on is that these new CFC light bulbs are a scam.

Anyway, after months of non-functioning illumination and regret at their failure to hoard incandescents, suddenly a fire kindles itself and scares the crap out of the Babylonians, because it turns out the things they can see are much worse than the things they couldn't. Only if the story is being told by someone with no imagination. I once stayed up past 3 in the morning in my incredibly safe suburban house in Canada reading Stephen King's The Shining because I was too scared to go to sleep.

This stops all the Babylonians' bragging about how smart they are, because even in the second century BCE, psychics were a crock. Also, dangerous things like snakes and wild animals were no longer afraid of them. Don't feed the bears people!

Also they couldn't sleep, which may explain why they were seeing things, fainting, hearing the wind or birds or rocks falling or people running past that weren't there or echoes. Their solution was remarkably 21st century: putting the crazy people in jail.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Wisdom of Solomon, Chapters 14-16: God hates potters

Chapter 14

Solomon tells us a story about a group of idiots who can't sail but who go out on a crappy boat anyway, then get into trouble. They pray to god to save them and he does. Don't try this at home. Also, don't make things by hand or god will punish both you and your handiwork. Did they have Wal-Mart in the 3rd century BCE? Or is this some weird plug for Moses' extended family?

Gentiles are spiritual fornicators, which does not sound nearly as fun as regular fornication. And don't make pictures of your children, even if they die, because then you might start to worship them as gods. Some people did that once with a painting of a far-off king, but pretty soon they were worshiping the portrait instead of god, and then they started murdering they children, committing adultery, and perjuring themselves in court.

Chapter 15

If you sin, it's okay, because you're still one of god's children. But Solomon promises not to commit the sin of worshiping false idols. He accuses the potters of shaping clay for clean uses one day and maketh a vain god of the same clay the next (v. 7-8). Our fictitious potter is only trying to outdo all the metalsmiths, but in the end his life will be worth less than his clay. Why do I suspect that one of his thousand wives has a nephew who's a potter and needs work?

The enemies of the Israelites are stupider and unhappier than babies for believing in false idols and worshiping beasts, and all their tchotchkes are ugly.

Chapter 16

To punish the idol-worshipers, god made a fine stew of mystery meat and quail to tempt the heathens. It just so happens that they were hungry, suffering a temporary spell of poverty. But when they arrived for the feast, they were set upon by wild animals and serpents which stung and tortured them to death. Luckily for these sinners, they've wandered into Mormon heaven, where they get a second chance to accept god into their hearts after enduring torture and death.

God is a little less merciful to his own people, sending venomous dragons (v. 10) to torture them if they get out of line, but in the end he'll forgive them too. Of course, he can also send them to hell, especially murderers.

All those terrible things that keep happening to you? Rain, hail, fire that won't quit, beasts attacking you in the form of Guy Fieri? That's god scourging the heretics. No explanation as to why true believers all experience the same things, and if there was one it would just be, 'Well, you weren't doing it right.' But if god does like you, the reward is free bread.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Wisdom of Solomon, Chapters 11-13: Stupidity talks, vanity acts

Chapter 11

Solomon recaps the book of Exodus for us, except in his version, the Israelites worshipped some stupid serpents and god sent wild animals to kill them. These particular beasts have sparkle eyes. Best line of the chapter: For thou lovest all the things that are, and abhorrest nothing which thou hast made: fo never wouldest thou have made anyt hing, if thou hadst hated it (v. 24). It's quite clear Solomon has never actually read Exodus, in which god kills the first-born children of the Egyptians, which I believe he created in Genesis.

Chapter 12

Things heathens do: witchcraft, wicked sacrifices (v. 2), child murde, cannibalism, feasts of blood (v. 3), killing souls. And god's punishment: wasps. It didn't work, at least not at first, because it was a naughty generation (v. 10). But in the end, they'll get what they deserve.

Chapter 13

People are vain and don't know that god exists. They think the things around them were caused by fire, wind, the stars or water, and think those things are the real god. They're closer, at least.

Other people go looking for god in things of beauty, like gold, silver, jewels, art or antiques. A carpenter cuts down a tree, carves it into a jug, which he then sells, and uses the proceeds to buy himself a nice meal. Then he takes the bits of wood that he rejected for the jug and carves a sculpture of a man, or some vile beast (v. 14), whatever. Then he paints it red. Then he sets up a shrine in a room and nails his figurine to the wall. Then he prays to it. That's about right.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Wisdom of Solomon, Chapters 7-10: A clever wife often sleeps with a stupid husband

Chapter 7

Solly was born a baby, but at some point he discovered wisdom and made it his bitch. He swears he shares all of his knowledge with anyone who wants to know, though he is failing to prove that claim so far in this book and in his other book he tried to cut a baby in half. He claims to know how the world was made and how its elements work, like how the sun and seasons turn and astronomy and animal behaviourism and anemology (the study of wind) and botany. Of course he only makes claims, he doesn't back any of them up.

Chapter 8

Solomon is so smart he once tried to marry wisdom, then just to live with her when she said no. He claims he's respected and honoured by his people even though he's young. They listen when he talks  and it's nothing to do with his being the king.

He thinks wisdom will make him immortal, and not the baby-slicing incident. It's also going to make him a good solider, probably because armies will get tired of his jabbering and surrender. Alas for the rest of us, wisdom is something god has to give you, along with your crown.

Chapter 9

Solomon thanks god some more for making him so wise he can't share one interesting tidbit of information he's gleaned.

Chapter 10

Solomon reminds us of all the times wisdom helped people in the Old Testament. Noah, Lot, Jacob, Joseph, Moses. Of course, he doesn't mention how god set up all those scenarios.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Wisdom of Solomon, Chapters 4-6: Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish

Chapter 4

It's better to be virtuous and not have children, because virtuous people will live on in heaven. Okay, now I want this to be a part of the regular bible. Ungodly people's children don't thrive because they don't have roots, even though they may reproduce for a few generations. Bastard children are even worse: a symbol of their parents' wickedness.

A man who gets old has pleased god and only dies quickly so god can get him away from the sinners. Righteous dead people can condemn sinners and god will throw them headfirst into something. It's not specific about what, exactly.

Chapter 5

When sinners die, they have to face their righteous neighbours, who will remain annoying until the end gloating at them from the front gates of heaven. At that point, they'll realise that being rich didn't buy immortality. Then there are a bunch of metaphors for ephemerality involving birds and smoke.

Righteous people will also be able to instruct go to attack the unrighteous with lightening bolts, hail, floods and gale force winds.

Chapter 6

Kings should know that god put them on their thrones and he can also take them off. No man is greater than god and to paraphrase Tywin Lannister, any god who has to say that is no god. Anyway, the way to be a good king is to stick to the feasting schedule, follow the laws, and become wise, though this book will be of no help to you in achieving that.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Wisdom of Solomon, Chapters 1-3: There is no sin except stupidity

Well, there certainly isn't any 'wisdom' in the first book, so let's not get our hopes up that we'll find any here.

Chapter 1

Love righteousness and only seek the lord with a simple heart, because he doesn't like people who test him. I wonder why? No one evil or sinful or blasphemous will ever be wise, because God is witness of his reins (v. 6) which is Jacobean English for kidneys. So far, this book is not convincing me. Also, unrighteous people will be avenged through inquisitions. Don't gossip, because it's unprofitable, and seek not death in the error of your life (v. 12), which possibly means don't commit suicide? I don't know. Also, don't do things that will cause you own destruction.

Chapter 2

Unrighteous people are those who have figured out, incorrectly, according to a book that is not considered correct enough to be part of the bible proper, that life is nasty, brutish, short and fatal. When we die, it's like we never existed within a few years. So the unrighteous say, correctly, it turns out, that we ought to party it up while we can, drinking wine and not letting any flower of the spring pass us by (v. 7) which I'm just going to interpret as sex. Also, they oppress religious people, a refrain you still hear in the 21st century, and ignore widows and old people. They do this because righteous people are always rebuking them and acting morally superior, which is also my experience. And of course, unrighteous people are responsible for bringing death into this world through the devil.

Chapter 3

Righteous people only look dead, even if the death appeared agonising. In reality, they're just resting. If it looked like they were punished in life, that's only because you're stupid: in reality, they were on their way to better places. Ungodly people will be punished severely in the afterlife, though they are tormented in this life by stupid wives and disobedient children. Barren virgins (?) who believe in god will have lots of babies and eunuch's will inherit temples. Bastard children, however, will not be allowed in. The unrighteous will have long lives so they feel the sting of death acutely.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Esther Redux, Chapters 13-16: Stupid is as stupid does

Chapter 13

The king sends a letter to his governors saying he wants peace and free movement in his kingdom, but doesn't have it. He asked his counsellors how to get it and they told him that there are these people, see, who are everywhere and have their own laws and won't follow regular laws, and they are preventing peace. The only solution is to kill them all on the fourteenth day of the twelfth month of this year. Then there will be peace.

Mardocheus hears all this and prays to god to explain that he couldn't bow down to Aman. H ecould have kissed his feet, but he can only bow to god, even if it meant his entire people would be massacred. So now he wants god to spare the people.

Chapter 14

Queen Esther puts on mourning clothes and covers herself in ashes and dung, then prays to god to ask why enslaving the Jews and destroying their idols wasn't enough for the Babylonians and now they want to kill them all. She also wants god to make her eloquent when she goes to speak to the king so she can turn him against Aman. We also find out that she hates non-Jews and doesn't like having sex with uncircumcised men. Wait, is her husband circumcised? She also hates her fancy clothes and crown as much as she hates menstrual pads and I am so there with you sister. She confesses that she never wears her crown in private because that would just be pretentious. She refuses to eat at Aman's table and barely eats at her husband's table, let alone drinking. She's a miserable queen. I do not feel sorry for her.

Chapter 15

After 3 days of being covered in dung, Esther finally takes a bath. Outwardly, she's a typical hot chick, but inside she's quaking with fear. She goes in to see the king, who is dressed in his finest and looking fierce. She faints. While she's passed out, god changes the king's mood and he goes to comfort his wife. He promises not to kill her and puts his sceptre on her neck, which I so hope is a sexual metaphor. She says that he looked like an angel on the throne and he's so awesome and I really hope he's circumcised because otherwise she's an asshole. Then she faints again.

Chapter 16

Back to the letter? Speaking in general? Who knows? Anyway, King Artaxerxes appears to be writing a new letter, or possibly continuing the same letter to his governors. He confesses that Aman pulled the wool over his eyes, but that Esther has made him see the light and now he loves the Jews. He decrees that they can live under their own laws and that now everyone in his kingdom has to celebrate Purim every year or risk being destroyed, demonstrating that he has learned nothing from this whole incident.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Esther Continued, Chapters 11 & 12

Way back in the Old Testament, there was a story about a very stupid Babylonian king named Ashureus who tried to get his wife to take off her clothes in front of some of his important guests. When she refused, he had her killed and found her replacement through a beauty pageant. The winner was Esther, one of the enslaved Israelites. Esther happens to have an idiotic uncle named Mordecai who refuses to bow down to some bigwig, which nearly starts a genocide of all the Israelites, but luckily Esther is nearly as hot as Judith and is able to intervene and save her people, then asks for an order to exterminate all their would-be genocidaires, which ends in 75 000 deaths and a Jewish holiday. Now the book bizarrely picks back up with some extra verses at the end of chapter 10 about a guy named Mardocheus who has a dream about a river that represents Esther. There are two dragons in the dream that stand for the countries that tried to destroy Israel. He also remembers the dice, or pur that were cast in the first part of the book that were supposed to determine which Israelites would die first, but god saved the people and the holiday became Purim.

Chapter 11

We get a blessedly brief genealogy of Mardocheus that tells us absolutely nothing. It turns out he's a slave at the king's court. We get another account of his dream about dragons and war and a fountain that floods and the sun and some weak people who rise up and defeat the strong. When he wakes up, he tries to remember the dream but doesn't write it in his dream journal.

Chapter 12

Mardocheus usually hangs out with two eunuchs named Gabatha and Tharra, plus some other slaves. He mostly saves up gossip so he can use it against people in the future. One day the eunuchs tell him about their plot to kill the king to avenge their balls and he notifies the king about the plot. The eunuchs are strangled and Mardocheus earns himself a promotion to court slave. He promptly gains an enemy in Aman, who was friends with the two dead eunuchs.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Judith, Chapters 15 & 16: Judith is the Thomas Jefferson of the bible

Chapter 15

When the army hears that its leader is lying in his tent without his head, they flee. The Israelites come out and shoot them in the back. They send word to all the other cities, including a place called Cola, to similarly destroy the rest of the Assyrian forces. Then they loot the camps. They bring all the booty to Judith, and she ends up keeping Holofernes' tent and its contents. She loads them up onto a mule. The Israelite women come and dance around her and she gives them branches. She puts on a garland of olive leaves and leads the party.

Chapter 16

Judith sings a song about what just happened. She makes sure to mention how hot she is, especially when she dresses up and puts on some makeup. Apparently while they were singing they were also heading for Jerusalem, because when they arrive, Judith gives all of Holofernes' stuff to the temple. This causes a three month celebration. After that, she goes home. Plenty of men offer to marry her, but she's a hot, rich widow living sometime between the tenth century BCE and the eighth century CE, and she has no interest in tying herself to the endless work that is a husband and children. She lives to 105 and only then does she let her slave girl go free. She's buried next to her husband. Her death warrants a seven day funeral.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Judith, Chapters 13 and 14: All the most disgusting things in one chapter

Chapter 13

Bagoas shuts the party down, leaving Judith and Holofernes alone inside. Holofernes is passed out drunk. Judith asks her slave girl to stand outside her room and wait for her so she can go and pray. On the way out, she stops in on Holofernes. As she looks at him, she prays silently to god to take advantage of this situation. She finds a big knife hanging from one of his bedposts, grabs his hair, begs god for strength, and cuts of his head with two grisly blows. She hands it to her maid, who puts it into the sack of meat she's already holding. Somehow they pass through the camp as though they're going to prayer, and no one notices that they're presumably covered in blood, because cutting off heads is messy. Anyway, no one disturbs them and they go back to Bethulia.

As she approaches the gates, she calls out to the gatekeeper to open up. The men of the city hear her and come running. She brags to them that god used her hands to destroy their enemies and holds up the head in triumph, adding that as a hot chick, no one was expecting her. This would still be the case today. Far from being disgusted, the elders praise her.

Chapter 14

Judith wants the head on a spike. Then she wants the Israelites to suit of armor up and head down to the Assyrian camp. The Assyrians will be shocked and will go to find Holofernes. Finding him sans tĂȘte, they will flee. The Israelites will then pursue them to the sea coast, killing them on the way.

Before any of that, though, she wants to see Achior the Ammonite to show him her prize. He's shocked, but also praises Judith and wants to hear the story in gory detail. She tells him, and the people start shouting for joy. Right then and there, Achior circumcises himself, and is accepted as a new Jew.

In the morning, they put Holofernes' head on a spike and go down to confront the Assyrians. Somehow, Bagoas is able to knock on Holofernes' door, even though he's in a tent. He's also able to open said door, only to find Holofernes, but not his head. He goes to Judith's tent and discovers it devoid of any heads. He jumps up to explain to the soldiers that they got played by a hot chick, and they're all completely shocked.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Judith, Chapters 11 & 12: I'm like a hot chick that you can't even touch

Chapter 11

Holofernes reassures Judith that he never kills people who want to serve Nabuchondoosor the god-king, and he's only attacking the Bethulians because they haven't agreed to his terms yet. He asks why she's run away, and promises before she answers not to kill her, which seems stupidly premature. She in turn promises not to lie and to show him how to defeat Bethulia. She butters him up a bit about how smart he is and how excellent his policies are, which is how you know this book was written by a disgruntled civil servant. She also tells him that no one can hurt anyone who believes in the Jewish god and tells him the people are prepared to break their dietary laws and eat their intended sacrificial offerings to defeat him, that's how committed they are. They're just waiting for permission from the senate to do so, at which point Holofernes can invade and defeat them. She has been sent by god to make a treaty with him before that happens. But right now she needs to go and pray. She promises to come back when the Belulians start sinning. Then she'll lead him to Bethulia and Jerusalem.

Somehow, Holofernes is so dazzled by her hotness that he converts to Judaism right there on the spot and asks her to move with him to Nabuchondoosor's palace. But first he wants to make her dinner.

Chapter 12

Holofernes has dinner brought in, but Judith refuses to eat any of it for fear it isn't kosher. He asks her what she can eat, and she replies that she won't be hungry until god has brought her food. She does, however, want a nap, and she goes to sleep until midnight, at which point she asks leave to go and pray. They repeat this ritual for three days, and at some point she starts eating again.

On the fourth day, Holofernes has a feast for his slaves and doesn't invite his officers. He instructs his chief eunuch to go find Judith and invite her. Apparently the other Assyrians have been snickering behind his back that his hot religious zealot girlfriend walks all over him.

The eunuch finds her praying and invites her for dinner and she readily agrees. She gussies herself up. When she arrives, Holofernes is speechless at her hotness, and promptly gets drunk trying to impress her.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Judith Chapters 8-10: Wow, a hot chick gets what she wants

Chapter 8

Finally, we meet Judith. We get a long genealogy, which includes the fact that one of her great-something grandfathers was called Ox. We also learned that she was married to Manasses, who died in the barley harvest, of heat stroke.

Judith has been a widow for 3 years and 4 months and then one day she puts a tent on her roof and a sackcloth under her mourning clothes and she sits up there and prays except on sabbath, new moons, and feasts. Despite this, she's very beautiful and rich, but everyone still likes her because she's pious. On what must be an off day for praying, she hears about the lack of water in Belulia and she calls the city leaders to her villa. She rebukes them for playing god and testing him with this whole siege thing. She advises them to pray, as they have been doing. The mayor, Ozias, praises her for being smart for a girl, and asks her to pray for rain. Judith has a counter-proposal: they should guard the gate, and she'll go out with her slave, and she'll bring god back in the next 5 days. Ozias agrees.

Chapter 9

Judith pours ashes on herself and takes off her mourning clothes to reveal the sackcloth, then heads down to the temple and shouts at god about all the evil shit he's allowed to happen, but still asks him to save them from the Assyrians.

Chapter 10

Judith goes home, takes a bath, puts on perfume, does her hair and puts on her old, non-mourning clothes and accessories. She hands her maid a bag of food and wine, and they head to the city gate. The council is waiting there and they all pop boners when they remember how hot she used to be before her husband died and she went nuts. She asks them to open the gate and they stare at her ass as she walks down the road to bring peace to the city.

When she gets to the first Assyrian guards, they manage to remember to ask her who she is and why she's on the road. She says she's from Belulia and is escaping the coming conquest. She promises them that if they take her to Holofernes, she'll tell him how to win the war. At this point, the men are overwhelmed by her hotness and agree to do as she bids. A hundred of them escort her to the tent. On the way, all the men hang out of their tent doors to check her out and speculate as to why their leaders hate the Israelites, given the hotness of their women.

Holofernes is in his tent on a bed meant for a twelve year old girl with terrible taste: purple and gold linens and covered in emeralds and hung with silver lamps. He's also taken in by Judith's hotness and is fooled when she throws herself on the ground and pretends to worship him.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Judith Chapters 5-7: Where's Judith?

Chapter 5

Word reaches Holofernes that the Israelites have locked their doors and thrown away the key. Rather than bashing them over the head with a rock, he asks his generals about these crazy people who won't let him take over their lands and burn all their stuff down.

So one of the generals, Achior tells him about the old testament and says they should only invade if they can find the Israelites have been sinning, because otherwise god with smite them. The other generals do not like this, and want to kill Achior right away, then invade.

Chapter 6

Holofernes scoffs that the Israelites' god is nothing against King Nab (who, you will remember, has also declared himself god), and if Alchior likes the Israelite god so much, he might as well give him to the enemy. He assigns two of his slaves to escort Alchior to Bethulia.

The men of Bethulia see Alchior approaching and take out their weapons while the men with slingshots hold the approaching trio off. The slaves tie Alchior up and go home. The Israelites pick him up and take him back to the city, where they present him to the mayor, who calls all the citizens together to try Alchior. Alchior tells them what happened in Holofernes' tent, and the people fall all over the place to worship god. Then they have a feast for Alchior, then they pray some more.

Chapter 7

Holofernes declares war and sets up camp in the valley under Bethulia. The Israelites see this and arm themselves. As he and his scouts try to determine the best way of attacking the city, one of his generals rides up and points out how hard it is to attack a fortified city on top of the hill. The smarter move, he points out, would be to simply cut off the city's water supply. Holofernes sees the merit of this plan and tells the army to encircle the city and wait.

The siege lasts 34 days, during which the Israelites use up every drop of water in the city, and everybody gets super thirsty. They go to the mayor and ask him to sue for peace, because it only takes them 34 days to lose all faith in god. Now they want to give Holofernes the whole city and become slaves. Then they cry, with what tears is unclear, and the mayor asks them for five more days in hopes god will remember them. They agree to wait.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Judith, Chapters 1-4: Where is the main character?

Chapter 1

King Arphaxad built a wall around Ecbatane. The Apocrypha goes into great detail about the thickness of the walls and the height of the towers, which I will spare you. Lucky for him he did that, because soon King Nabuchodonosor invades. The city is flooded with refugees. King Nab tries to draft a bunch of tribes under his auspices into his army, but it's kind of like that scene in Braveheart where the Irish refuse to attack the Scots: they all laugh at him and send his recruiters home. Nab is understandably pissed at this and vows to kill all their children. Someday. When he manages to recruit a bigger army. For now, though, he contents himself with besieging Ecbatane. Eventually he prevails and he kills Arphaxad in the mountains with darts. Then he goes back and has a feast for 120 days, during which, understandably, the city gets wrecked.

Chapter 2

The following year, Nab decides to exact his revenge on all the people who laughed at him. He calls all of his officers together and tells them to destroy the belligerents. The promise to do it, then don't. He calls his best 5-star general, Holofernes in and orders him to go west and kill anything that stands in his way. He can take prisoners if they surrender. So he gathers 120 000 men, horses and provisions and heads out to Nineve, then up into the mountains, killing and burning all the while. Word spreads of this early General Sherman, and people are very afraid.

Chapter 3

The coastal cities try to bribe Holofernes with everything they own, and he accepts, but he does insist on destroying all their shrines, because King Nab has declared himself a god and only wants people to worship him. Then he leaves for a place called Scythopolis, right on the border with Judea, where he camps for a month as his army regroups.

Chapter 4

The people of Judea are well aware of Holofernes, and afraid. Not for their own silly lives, no, they're afraid he'll destroy their shiny new temple. So they prepare all their fortified towns for a siege. The high priest in Jerusalem writes to all of them and says they really need to keep Holofernes out. Fortunately, the mountain passes are so narrow the men will have to walk two abreast. Meanwhile, the people in Jerusalem pray, rather than doing anything useful like making weapons or going out to the mountains to help with the defense. God looks down and sees all these silly people and their cows worshiping in their sackcloth and decides to spare them this time.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tobit, Chapters 11-14: Here's fish gall in your eye

Chapter 11

Raphael the angel proposes running ahead of Sara and preparing her new bridal home with fish gall. Anna is sitting outside the house and spots them. She calls out to Tobit that their son is home. Raphael instructs Tobias to rub the fish gall in his father's eyes so he'll be able to see again, but he can't because his mother throws herself on his neck and sobs that she can die happy now. Tobit comes out of the house, but trips on the step. Tobias goes to him and pokes fish gall in his eyes, which hurts, but when Tobit rubs his eyes, the cataracts fall away and he can see again. Tobias tells him all about the wife he left sitting at the gate to Nineve, because she wouldn't want a shower or dinner or food or anything. They go and pick her up and have another wedding feast.

Chapter 12

Tobit remembers the tip he promised Raphael if he brought Tobias back in one piece and mentions it to his son, who wants to give him half of his wedding bounty. They call Raphael in, and he finally reveals his angelness to them. The two mortals fall to the ground, but he tells them to get up, then leaves to write a book.

Chapter 13

Tobit writes a prayer that is heavy on what happens to sinners and light on what happens to the righteous, save that someday Jerusalem will have walls of sapphires and emeralds, gold towers, and streets of beryl and carbuncle stones.

Chapter 14

At the end of his life, Tobit calls Tobias and his six sons (it doesn't specify, but I'm betting their names are all variations on the theme) and tells them to go to Media because of a prophecy by Jonah of whale fame. Before they go, they're supposed to bury their grandparents. Then he dies at age 158, along with his wife. Instead of going to Media, however, Tobias and his family pay that long-promised visit to Raguel. They end up living there until its time to bury the in-laws as well. As for Tobias, he lives to be 120 and to hear about the sack of Nineve.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Tobit, Chapters 8-10: Wait, is Sara a necrophiliac?

Chapter 8

After dinner, Tobias goes to his bride. On the way, he sets fire to the fish liver and heart, which scares the spirit into darkest Egypt, where Raphael binds him. Tobias and his wife do the nasty and afterwards he says the words every bride longs to hear: Sister, arise, and let us pray that God would have pity on us (v. 4). Ever the ladies' man, this is a line from his prayer: I take not this my sister for lust, but uprightly (v. 5), so therefore they should be allowed to grow old together. How very convenient that lust and childbearing are so closely linked, especially in a society that lacks reliable birth control. Sara chimes in on the amen and they go to sleep.

In the morning, Raguel digs a grave, thinking his latest son in law is dead and his daughter has just been hanging out with a corpse all night. He tells his wife to send a slave girl up to their room to see if they're alive, like, why didn't you do that before you dug a stupid hole in your stupid yard. The maid returns with the news that Tobias is still alive, and Raguel praises god, even though god sent the demon that killed his first seven sons in law. Then he tells his servants to fill in the stupid grave. Then, I guess to make it look like the earth was supposed to be messed up, they have a 14 day wedding feast, after which he gives Tobias half of his stuff and promises the other half when he and his wife die.

Chapter 9

Tobias sends Raphael, a slave and two camels along for Gabael to invite him for the wedding. He reminds him (and me) about the money that was the original reason for this journey, and tells him to bring it back.

Chapter 10

Tobit is anxiously awaiting his son, who, despite sending him off with a disguised angel and his dog, he isn't convinced is smart enough to make his way back home. His wife certainly thinks her son is dead and she starts wailing that her life is over. Tobit tells her to shut up, Tobias might be stupid, but he isn't dead. His wife insists that he is and goes to sit in front of the house. She won't eat by day and she spends all night howling because apparently she's a dog.

Anyway, Tobias knows that his parents are insane and so as soon as the feast is over, he asks Raguel to let him go home. Raguel doesn't see what the big deal is and offers to send a letter, but Tobias insists he needs to go back in person or no one in their entire town will ever sleep again. So Raguel packs up half his belongings and sends them off. He reminds Sara to behave and does that annoying parent thing where he's all grant that I may see the children of my daughter Sara before I might die (v. 17) that not nearly enough people get clocked for saying.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Tobit, Chapter 7: Worst. Wedding. EVER.

Tobias and the angel finally arrive at Raguel's house. Sara opens the door and she and Tobias check each other out but for all this book is about the importance of kinship, he doesn't introduce himself. Sara's father comments to his wife Edna that Tobias looks a lot like his cousin, and asks him where he's from. Tobias is evasive, only giving his tribal affiliation and current address. Raguel asks if they know Tobit and if he's in good health, which is when Tobias finally introduces himself. This makes Raguel cry. When Tobias explains about the blindness, Edna and Sara also start to cry. Then the five of them barbecue and eat an entire sheep, at which point Tobias is ready to get married, so he asks the angel to explain about how he owns his cousin and therefore gets to marry her.

Of course, Raguel doesn't bat an eye, but fortunately there's an entire gif montage that was just made for this book:

No, Raguel's concern is not about a random weirdo showing up and claiming the right to marry his daughter. He's totally on board with that, it's just that the last seven dudes all died the minute they tried to have sex with her. He encourages Tobias to drink up, but Tobias is no longer interested in being a good guest and says that until they come to an agreement, he's not eating or drinking anything.

At that, Raguel relents and tells Sara she's marrying this guy she met 5 seconds ago and moving to a new country with him. Then they have supper. Next, he instructs his wife to bring in some paper so he can make up a marriage contract, and also to prepare a bridal suite in one of the spare bedrooms. Edna takes her poor daughter into the room to get ready and tells her to close her eyes and think of England.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Tobit, Chapter 6: I don't know which is worse, the medical advice or the marital advice.

Tobias and the angel start out on their journey. The first night, they take lodgings near the Tigris river. Since indoor plumbing hasn't been invented yet, Tobias goes down to the river for a bath. While he's washing himself, a fish leaps out of the water and tries to eat him. Raphael, mindful of the tip Tobit promised him if he returns Tobias in one piece, instructs him to get hold of the fish, remove its heart, liver and gallbladder and put them somewhere safe. Then they have a nice fish fry for dinner.

The next day, they head for a place called Ecbatane. To make conversation, Tobias asks what the angel intends to do with the fish organs. Raphael explains that if they smoke the heart and liver near someone who is possessed by a devil, it will drive the evil spirit away. The gall cures white eyes. Perfectly good alternatives to psychotropic drugs and cataract surgery, which is why you see biblical literalists using them all the time.

At some later point, they arrive in Rages and Raphael drops the bombshell on Tobias that they're going to his cousin Raguel's house, where Tobias is going to exercise his right to claim her as his wife. Sure, Raphael tries to spin it as she's pretty and smart and she can't marry anyone else because according to Mosaic law, her father has to marry her to Tobias because he doesn't have any sons and so Tobias is now his heir, but it still earns this reaction from Alison Brie:

Tobias, demonstrating that he's possibly not the idiot his parents think he is, asks about Sara's other seven husbands who all died in bed with her. He doesn't want to be Henry the Eighth. Raphael reminds him of how he promised his father he'd marry one of his kinswomen and promises to take care of the evil spirit. Oh, also this is where the fish stuff will come in handy: he's supposed to smoke the heart and liver of the fish and lie down on a bed of ashes of perfume (v. 16). The devil will smell all of this and run away, as would any sane bride. But then Sara has already been married to seven guys who all died when they tried to have sex with her, which does not speak well of her mental state. Anyway, as further assurance against premature death, but not premature ejaculation, Tobias and Sara are also supposed to pray to god when they first go into the honeymoon suite, following which Sara will be able to go home with him and start on the continual pregnancies. This causes Tobias to fall in love.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tobit, Chapters 4 & 5: Biblical Helicopter Parents

Chapter 4

Tobit suddenly remembers some money that he has buried, or owes or is owed by or quite possibly promised to donate to someone or something or someplace called Gabael. He also remembers that he wants to die, and now his dilemma is whether to tell his son Tobias about the money. He calls his son to his deathbed and tells him not to hate his mother, which does seem like the least he could do, and makes him promise to bury her. He also asks him to be mindful of god and most importantly not to marry a foreign bride or it will lead to famine. Also, pay his workers, stay sober, don't be jealous, and listen to wise people. Then he tells him he owes Gabael, but not to worry, it won't make them broke.

Chapter 5

Tobias promises to do everything his father asks, then immediately tries to weasel out of paying Gabael back, saying he doesn't know who he is. Rather than give him a description or an address, Tobit gives him a sample of the guy's handwriting, which I suppose might work, considering the literacy rate back then was something like 1%. He also recommends hiring a guide. Tobias unwittingly hires the angel Raphael. He asks him if he knows Rages, the city he's supposed to go to, and Raphael says he once lived with Gabael in a strictly platonic way. Tobias goes to tell his father that he's found a guide, and because he's apparently an idiot, Tobit demands to meet the guide before they leave. Raphael goes into Tobit's sick room, and Tobit demands to know his tribal affiliation. Raphael asks if he's hiring a tribe or a guide, and Tobit says he needs to know who's taking his son to the city. Raphael lies and says his name is Azarias and explains his connection to Tobit's tribe. Tobit likes Azarias' people and approves of him as his son's babysitter. Then he asks how much money Raphael wants, and if he requires a per diem, and promises a tip if he returns Tobias alive. At this point I'm starting to wonder if sending Tobias at all is a good idea, considering the amount of hand-holding he apparently needs.

Finally, Tobias and his dog and Raphael are ready to go. Tobit blesses them and stands in the driveway waving them off. Anna is in tears, because she also realises how stupid her kid is, and asks why this ten talents is so frigging important to Tobit. Tobit, after all that drama with the guide thing, assures his wife that their son will come back safe

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tobit, Chapter 3: Psst! Your slaves hate you

Tobit starts crying and praying to god for forgiveness and asking to be killed.

At the same time, a woman named Sara is reproaches by one of her father's slave girls. The slave retorts that Sara has had seven husbands, each of whom has been killed by a devil named Asmodeus right after having sex with her, but apparently people say Sara strangled them. Then she says she hopes Sara dies and never has kids. Rather than just saying

Sara runs upstairs to sulk. But seriously, how un-self-aware do you have to be to think your SLAVES don't talk smack about you behind your back? She contemplates killing herself but ultimately decides against it, as she's her father's only daughter. So she prays to god to kill her. She claims that despite her seven husbands, she's pure from all sin with man (v. 14) which earns her an eyeroll from Frank Underwood:

And begs that if she must live, could god at least stop people from saying nasty things about her. God sends the angel Raphael down to kill three birds with one stone: first, he removes the scales from Tobit's eyes, then he gives Sara to Tobit, because she belonged to Tobias by right of inheritance (v. 17) thus earning them one last GIF from Marty McFly:

Monday, March 17, 2014

Tobit, Chapters 1 & 2: There's a body in your duck pond, there, Anna

Chapter 1

Tobit was taken captive by the Assyrians, but remained pious and gave all he had to his family. At some point when he's a kid, everyone goes to see King Jeroboam's golden calves, but he runs off to Jerusalem to make sacrifices at the temple for the next 3 years.

When he grows up, he marries Anna and has a son, Tobit Jr., who he indoctrinates from infancy. Then they're taken captive and enslaved by the Ninivians, who don't follow Jewish dietary practices, but he insists on keeping kosher. This somehow endears him to King Salamansar, who gives him free reign, which of course he uses to harangue his fellow enslaved Israelites.

One day he's in the city of Rages and he happens to have 10 talents of silver burning a hole in his pocket. He sees one of his tribesmen is in need and gives him the money.

Some later year, which is exactly how vague the bible is about dates, Salamansar dies and his son Sennacherib takes over. Sennacherib is a raging anti-Semite, but he does not reign in Tobit, who continues to go around distributing clothes and food to the needy and burying the dead. In fact, Sennacherib is too busy conquering Judea, until god gets pissed off at him and he flees. When he arrives back in Ninive, where, to assuage his humiliation, he kills a bunch of Israelites. Tobit buries them, which further enrages Sennacherib, who orders him dead and takes away everything, including his clothing, so that Tobit, Anna, and Tobit Jr. end up running away naked and hiding in a ditch. 45 days later, Sennacherib's sons kill him, at which point Tobit comes back and is able to reclaim his house and his pants. Fascinating. I can see why the Apocrypha were left out.

Chapter 2

At some point, Tobit is having a dinner prepared in his house. The fact he's not doing it himself leads me to believe that the dude who has already been enslaved twice has not learned a thing from his experience. Anyway, he tells his son to go round up some guests for the feast, but his son comes back right quick to report that an Israelite has been killed in the street. Tobit leaped up from his place at the table, and left his dinner, and came fasting to the body (v. 3). Like, dude, you do NOT get to stop eating for an hour and call it a fast like you're some kind of champion saint, okay? Anyway, he collects the body and hides it, intending to bury it after dark and the fact that this is emphasised so much is making me wonder if it's a fetish, especially when the book describes him just sitting there with a dead body, eating bread. At sunset, he buries the body.

This irritates his neighbours, not for the reason you might expect, namely that the guy is turning his house into an amateur morgue and unlicensed graveyard, but because he's already been sentenced to death once. Honestly, if my neighbour was doing that and he was killed as a result... I wouldn't be too broken up about it, especially in summer.

But no, Tobit fears god more than the king and at this particular point god is super concerned with what happens to dead bodies, something only occasionally mentioned in the Old Testament, which lends further credence to my fetish theory, and he keeps hiding them in his house and burying them at night. One day he gets tired of burying people and sits down by the wall to take a nap. While he's sleeping, a bird shits on his face and somehow blinds him, even though his eyes were presumably closed. But no, this is a test from god in a similar vein to what happened to poor Job, except that Job had 10 kids and was rich and happy and ended up naked on a dungheap scratching himself with a pottery shard and Tobit has a bunch of dead bodies lying around his house and yard in a hot climate before embalming was invented. In other words, the loss ought not to be as meaningful.

Much like Job, Tobit refuses to curse god, though thankfully we don't have 42 chapters of him bitching, either. Nope, he just sits there patiently and ignores people who make fun of his necrophilia. His wife continues at her weaving job, no doubt grateful that she no longer comes home and finds corpses littering the floors she JUST washed. One day, someone gives her a young kid goat and she takes it home. Tobit hears it bleating, and tells her to take it back, because they can't eat or touch something that was stolen. Poor Anna can only roll her eyes at this apparent new fetish and argues that all his piety has left him blind and sitting in a fucking graveyard that she no doubt imagined with a nice gazebo and maybe a fish pond, not a bunch of cadavers. The scene ends with her continuing to upbraid him.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

2 Esdras, Chapter 16: Can we go to Paradise Island?

God's, or possibly Esdras' hate list today includes Babylon, Egypt and Syria. He urges the residents to dress in hair shirts and sackcloth and prepare for swords, fire, plagues, lions, arrows, thunderstorms, earthquakes and tidal waves. Esdras can't wait.

We're told that food will be cheap, but people will still starve and no one will be around to bury them, nor will there be anyone to till the fields. In fact, cities will be reduced to 10 residents and you know it will be the most annoying ones, the people who go out onto their balconies and shout insults down the phone at 2am or who play club music all. afternoon.

The virgins will 'mourn' at the lack of bridegrooms, as will the women and the daughters, because the mans will die in the wars and famines. Which is how you know whoever wrote this was a man, because Paradise Island sounds awesome. Pregnant women will give birth and immediately have pain in their uteruses, which seems both prurient and gratuitous.

Esdras tells us all to quit our jobs, since the world is ending and god apparently hates employment more than anything. He also warns that a bunch of infidels will invade and kill the believers, but not to worry, god's still on your side. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

2 Esdras, Chapter 15, Widowhood is a sign of the apocalypse

The angel tells Esdras to go and heckle people and don't worry if they ignore him like they did all the other prophets, because the sinners are going to hell, after god does a bunch of nasty shit to the world. He promises to bring his people back from Egypt, even though we're supposed to be just getting back from Babylon.

Anyway, there will be sedition and people will no longer follow the secular leaders, i.e. the kings and princes. People will want to go to cities, but will be mysteriously unable to. The cities themselves will become Detroit-style hellholes, and god will foment rebellion between them and between kingdoms.

God already knows who the sinners are, which begs the question as to why he isn't acting. For now it's plagues and visions of Arabian dragons and Carmanian wild boars attacking Assyria. It's not clear why this is supposed to intimidate the Israelites, but okay. Oh, eventually the Arabian dragons that conquer Arabia will also attack Israel. For now, there are thunder clouds and a layer of shit as high as a camel's shin, which is what you get when there isn't a Sulabh around.

Other ways to tell the end times are near: wind, clouds, stars, fire, hail, flying swords, rain, destruction of everything, and the invasion of Babylon. Note that only some of those are notable. Eventually the Babylonians will be enslaved, and so will the rest of Asia because... hast decked thy daughters in whoredom, that they might please and glory in thy loves, which have always desired to commit whoredom with thee! (v. 47) Other signs: plagues, widowhood, poverty, famine, sword, pestilence, to waste thy houses with destruction and death (v. 49) and thy children shall die of hunger, and thou shalt fall through the sword: thy cities shall be broken down, and all thine shall perish with the sword in the field. They that be int he mountains shall die of hunger, and eat their own flesh, and drink their own blood, for very hunger of bread and thirst of water. (v. 57-58). Also, their children will be enslaved and all the hot people will get scars.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

2 Esdras, Chapter 14: Candleheart

A few days later, Esdras is sitting under a tree, which starts talking to him. God reminds us that he also spoke to Moses from a bush, and reminds Esdras to take notes on what he's seen and heard, because soon he's going to join Jesus' entourage and then the wold is going to end, because it isn't the spring chicken it once was.

At some point, god divided the world into 12 parts. Ten and a half of those parts have gone and died. So he tells Esdras to get his affairs in order and hector people to repent before that part and a half is used up. Esdras agrees, but is concerned about who will harangue the future people, since at some point apparently the law got burnt. He wants god to send down the holy ghost so he can write all this down.

God tells him to gather the people together so he can tell them to leave him alone for 40 days. In that time, he's supposed to take box trees to Sarea, Dabria, Selemia, Ecanus and Asiel. When he gets back, god will light a candle of understanding in his heart until he finishes writing. God will specify which of the writing is public and which is for the priests.

Esdras gathers the people so he can berate them and offer them 40 days of respite. He takes five men to the field with him. In the morning, the angel tells him to open his mouth and drink. The cup is full of fire-coloured liquid that makes him understand and remember. He starts yapping constantly, and the other dudes write it down, but only during the day. At night they eat bread, but Esdras prattles on. At the end of 40 days, they've produced 204 books, which are probably of the excellent quality you'd expect when someone writes a book a day for nearly six weeks. God tells him he can put the first book in the library, but the last 70 books are only for the priests.

Monday, March 3, 2014

2 Esdras, Chapter 13: Fire Jesus

After 7 more days of no protein, Esdras starts hallucinating again. A wind comes off the sea, and he sees a man whose gaze causes earthquakes and whose voice burns people alive. An army comes to attack the guy, and he creates a mountain, then flies to the top of it. Esdras doesn't know where the mountain is, because he's too stoned. The army fights even though the men are afraid. Rightly so, since the dude on the mountain breathes fire and hurricanes, which he turns on the army, reducing them to dust.

The man comes down the mountain and calls out to another, more peaceable group. Some are happy, but others not so much. At this point, Esdras wakes up in fear and asks the angel what the hell just happened. He starts answering his own question, that the dream was about the end of days. He feels sorry for the people left on earth.

The angel agrees but clarifies that the people on earth are lucky, because the dude in the sea is some version of Jesus, and he'll give order to the chaos of the apocalypse, first by burning the sinners, then by rewarding the righteous. At first, there will be a lot of fighting, and the bad guys will want to fight Jesus as well, hence the mountain, which is Zion. From there, he'll punish the sinners with fire.

The good guys in the dream were 10 tribes who were first enslaved by a king Osea, then by Salmansar of Assyria, who took them overseas. The tribesmen agreed to escape and find a new, uninhabited country, where they put up their statues, which were forbidden in the other places they lived. So they go down the Euphrates and at some point god stops the water so they can cross. They travel for a year and a half until they get to someplace called Asareth, where they've lived up until now.

But now they're coming back to Israel, and god will again stop the rivers so they can cross. He will also burn their enemies. Esdras wants to know why Jesus came out of the sea. The angel replies that scuba gear hasn't been invented yet, so people can't see what's in the ocean. Somehow this also means we can't see Jesus except in daylight. The angel praises Esdras for devoting his life to the law and tells him to wait another 3 days in the field.