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.