Sunday, January 19, 2014

1 Esdras, Chapter 1: It's so hard to find a decent king

So I recently discovered that one of my copies of the KJV also contains the Apocrypha. Yes, I have multiple copies of the bible in my home. No I don't know how that happened. At least this one doesn't have the taint of Jerry Falwell on it, and since the bible is still relatively fresh in my mind, I decided I might as well read it.

Josias decides to have a Passover feast, because no one has had one since Samuel was king. Of course this can't be a quiet Passover feast at home with the family, this has to be a great honking feast that gets maximum newspaper coverage so god will know how much Josias cares. First he tells the priests to put on their Sunday best robes. Then he instructs the Levites to pray, put the Ark of the Covenant in the temple that Solomon built, and prepare 30 000 lambs and kid goats, plus 3000 calves for the people's barbecue and a further 2600 sheep and 300 calves for the priests'. Oh, and bake a bunch of bread. A bunch of wealthy landowners with exclusive government contracts sell lots of animals to the priests at a no doubt inflated price.

So they have the feast and then they burn the fat for god, which must have smelled terrible, and there's singing to burn off the calories, and it's all so awesome that they have to put guards on the door to stop people going home, because it goes on for seven days.

So Josias manages to ingratiate himself with god, but his people still go down in the books as a bunch of unrepentant sinners and it gets so bad that god has to send Pharaoh in to attack a place called Carchamis upon Euphrates. Josias meets him on the field, and Pharaoh is confused, because his beef is with the river. Also, god is on his side, so Josias coming out to fight is not going to end well.

But Josias persists, because Jeremy predicted this, and the princes come and attack him, and eventually he leaves with his servants, but in this case he actually dies when he gets home, and people actually mourn him.

Next comes his son Joachaz, who is 23 and he only lasts 3 months before the Egyptians depose him. Either he imposed a property tax before he was deposed, or the Egyptians impose a property tax after they depose him, the text isn't clear. And they put someone called Joacim on the throne and try to bond him and the other nobles to them to keep them under control. Joacim is 25, but appears to be as stupid as Joachaz, because he's evil. This time the Babylonians step in and arrest him, along with the holy vessels of the lord.

Then another Joacim, who is somehow the 18 year old son of the first one, becomes king, but he's also evil, so he only lasts 3 months before the Babylonians arrest him as well.

The Babylonians install one Zedechias on the throne, who is 21. He somehow lasts 11 years despite being evil and ignoring Jeremy, who, to be fair, mostly talks about how god is going to kill us all if we don't circumcise our ears. The Babylonian king makes him swear fealty, but he rebels. He's not the only bad guy, the priests and government are also bad and defile the temple. But god wants them back and refrains from killing them all as a sign of his mercy. All they do in response is make fun of the prophets. Eventually god's patience wears thin and he sends the king of the Chaldees along to attack the Israelites, and they kill basically everyone everywhere, even in the temple, and they steal even more of the treasures and burn down the temple as well as Jerusalem. They take the survivors to Babylon and make them slaves for 70 years until the Persians come along.

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