Saturday, January 31, 2015

1 Maccabees, Chapter 6: Rupturing the space-time continuum

Antiochus hears about a temple in Elymias in Persia that is filled with treasure, including some relics from his grandfather Alexander the Great. Rather than just ask for the stuff back, or offer to buy it, he of course decides to attack, but the city heard he was coming and has prepared itself. They rebuff the attack and he goes back to Babylon, where he also hears about the defeats in Judea. He goes to bed to grieve and stays there for several days, until people think he's going to die. He calls all his friends together to go over all his regrets in life, chief among them being raiding Jerusalem. He appoints his friend Philip as his heir and regent to his son Antiochus Jr. Then he dies aged 149.

Lysias - who may or may not be Philip, and who may or may not have his own son named Antiochus, sets up someone named Antiochus as the new ruler and changes his name to Eupator. Together they start locking up all the Jews they find near the temple, which causes Judas to decide to besiege Babylon. Or possibly some other place. The bible really underscores the importance of pronouns by its vagueness.

Anyway, there is a siege and some people manage to get to the king and ask him when he's going to avenge the deaths of his citizens and also advise him to give up, given how persistent and murderous these Jews have proven to be. The king gets angry at this and gathers an army of 120 000 men and 32 battle elephants. They head for Bethsura, but the locals fight back and set fire to them. Then Judas shows up, which causes the king to also come in person with even more men. And to the end they might provoke the elephants to fight, they showed them the blood of gapes and mulberries (v. 34). Then they divide the elephants up amongst the armies so that each elephant has 1000 armoured men and 500 horsemen as bodyguards. Each elephant is decked out with a wooden tower containing 32 men, not counting its trainer. Clearly whoever wrote this knew nothing about elephants. When the elephants meet Judas' army, they handily kill 600 of them.

Someone named Eleazar Savaran notices that one of the elephants is bigger than the others and better kitted out, so he surmises that it must be the king's elephant and decides to attack it. He runs towards it in the heat of battle, killing people left and right, until he kills his way to under the elephant, which he stabs in the stomach until it dies and falls on him. Somehow this scares the Jewish army into retreat, so they go back to Jerusalem with Antiochus' forces in hot pursuit. Unfortunately, they have to surrender rather quickly, because they forgot to stock up before they left. For good measure, the king also takes Bethsura and builds a fort.

Somehow, despite Judas surrendering, Antiochus still has to besiege the temple for another seven years. Eventually the food runs out there until only a few starving priests are left.

Around this time, Lysias hears that Philip is back. Another thing the bible could use: structuring words, because I never knew Philip was gone. But apparently Lysias sent him off to Persia and Media on an errand, and now he's back to reclaim the throne. He wants to make peace with the Israelites by letting them live under their own laws. This satisfies the king, and why no one just sat down and had a conversation and worked out their differences years ago is not explained. Antiochus, possibly the son of the other Antiochus, possibly Lysias' son, then goes back to Antiochia, where he finds Philip ruling, even though he was just in Israel.

Friday, January 30, 2015

1 Maccabees, Chapter 5: Bite, bite, bite, fight, fight, fight, the Maccabee show!

The surrounding countries hear about the new altar and aren't happy about it. They invade and Judas handily defeats them. One of them is called Bean, which I'm confident is the result of foresight on the part of the translators. Judas, for his part, is done with taking prisoners and has just started burning his enemies once he defeats them. I can totally see why this guy is a hero.

After awhile, he returns to Israel, much to the discomfit of its occupants. One group, some heathens in a town called Galaad, attack the local Israelites, who shut themselves into a fort and write to Judas for help. While that letter is being read, a contingent arrives from Galilee to complain about similar attacks from their neighbours. But this time, rather than riding out with an army and burning the enemy to death, Judas decides to hold a conference to decide what to do. Eventually he tells his brother Simon to save the Galileans and rides off to Galaad with another brother called Jonathan. They leave someone named Joseph in charge of Judea, instructing him not to start any new wars until they get back.

Simon goes off to Galilee with 3000 men and somehow manages to kill 3000 heathens, whose houses he raids and whose wives and children he enslaves. Judas rides off into the wilderness for three days, where he meets with a group called the Nabathites, who tell them about the situation in Galaad, which is that the enemies are planning to attack the fort. So Judas goes into the city and kills all the men and takes all their stuff, then burns the city because he's a pyromaniac now.

That night he goes to the fort and finds more enemies in the process of attacking it. He kills another 8000 people and then goes off to kill, burn and rob all the enemy cities in celebration. He gets word that yet another army has gathered to attack and goes to meet them. He leaves the scribes behind, then goes off to fight. The enemy is afraid and runs into a temple, so Judas burns the city and the temple. Judas asks all the Israelites living nearby to come back to Judea with him. On the way, they arrive at Ephron, which they can't go over, can't go under, and can't go around, they have to go through it. He promises to do so in peace, but they won't open the gates. So Judas orders his army to pitch their tents and then they attack the city until it falls, then do their usual routine of killing, robbing and burning, which seems a lot more complicated than say, building a ring road.

When his cabal gets to Mount Sion, they have a feast and barbecue, and Simon also comes back. They sit down to discuss their exploits. A couple of army captains are listening in and decide to wage their own battle against the heathens so as to make a name for themselves. They go out and find our old friend Gorgias, then kill 2000 of his men. This sets off a whole trend of Israeites going out and attacking random foreigners. Even a group of priests attacks a city and gets its ass handed to it.  This leads to Judas having to go out and do even more valiant acts to stop the other Israelites from showing off

Thursday, January 29, 2015

1 Maccabees, Chapter 4: They fight, they bite, they bite and fight and bite

Someone named Gorgias sneaks out of camp with 6000 of the best soldiers, intending to attack the Jews under cover of night. Of course Judas hears about it and sneaks away with his army. Gorgias goes looking for them in the mountain, but they aren't there, either. In the morning, Judas shows up with 3000 men. The men are nervous on seeing the heathen camp, but Judas reminds them about the Red Sea and asks them to pray. Then they go to fight and chase the heathens into the field and a bunch of other places, killing 3000 in the process.

Judas returns to the camp with some spoils, but reminds the people not to be greedy and asks them to come with him for the rest. While he's speaking a bunch of Gorgias' men peek around the corner and see the Jews preparing to leave and wastefully burning their tents and realise they aren't afraid to fight. So they flee to a neutral country. Judas robs their tents.

The escaped soldiers go to Lysias and tell him what's happening, and Lysias is distressed at how poorly things are going. So he raises an army of 65 000 men, which Judas meets with his rabble of 10 000. So he prays to god to turn the army into cowards. When they fight, he kills about 5000 enemy soldiers while Lysias looks down.

Lysias is impressed by the manliness (v. 35) of the Israelite soldiers and how they're prepared to die for their cause. He goes to Antiochia and gathers an army of foreign conscripts and returns to Judea. While he's away, Judas proposes cleaning up the cemetery, but when they arrive on top of Mount Sion, the only thing they can do is weep and rend their clothing and throw ashes on their heads. So Judas appoints a company to actually do the cleaning while he goes back with the rest to fight some more.

The priests on top of the mountain get to work burying the defiled artifacts, but aren't sure of the new temple's design, so they put some stones aside until a prophet can come along and tell them what to do. They do manage to build a new altar and sanctuary as well as some new pots and candlesticks. Once they have everything in place, they decorate the building, burn some incense and sacrifice some bread and sing some songs for eight days. They like it so much they make it an annual tradition, which I think is Hanukkah, but I no longer have an annotated bible. They also build a fort in the hills.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

1 Maccabees, Chapter 3: History is written by the winners

Judas and his brothers and their father's followers happily fight a battle in Israel. Judas himself carries a great big sword that he uses to fight sinners, which makes lots of kings nervous.

Someone named Apollonius, presumably one of those kings, gathers an army to fight Judas, who meets him on the battlefield and kills him along with some of his followers. The rest run away. And now, just like the hated Alexander and his progeny, you know, the guys who took all the riches out of the temple, Judas robs his enemies.

Next a certain Seron, a Syrian general, decides to make his name by fighting Judas. Judas meets him with a small army, who immediately start bitching that they can't win since they've been fasting all day. Judas reassures them that god is on their side. So they ride out to meet Seron, who gets his ass handed to him. His army ends up going to the land of the Philistines.

Now all the neighbouring countries are afraid of Judas and even Antiochus hears about him, and he's pissed. He sends out all his armies and bribes the soldiers with a year's pay. Unfortunately, when he opens up the treasury to get the money out, he discovers there isn't much there because god has sent rebellions and plague as punishment for breaking the laws. So he decides to invade Persia to restock and leaves a nobleman named Lysias in charge. He leaves behind his son, also called Antiochus, and some elephants and asks him to take care of the Jewish problem.

Lysias sends a general called Ptolomee with 47 000 people to conquer Judas once and for all. The army camps in Emmaus, where they are promptly set upon by silver and gold merchants and people wanting to buy the Israelites as slaves. A couple of companies from Syria and Philistine also join in. Judas and his army are not intimidated, but they do pray.

All this time, Jerusalem is a ghost town and the temple is destroyed. The Israelites are forced to pray in another place called Maspha, wearing sackcloth and ashes. When they finish, Judas appoints new captains and dismisses the people who are building houses, engaged, busy with the planting, or just shit-scared. He moves the rest south of Emmaus, where they prepare to attack int he morning.

Monday, January 26, 2015

1 Maccabees, Chapter 2: Sacriligious sacrificing

Matthias is a priest in Jerusalem and he has 5 sons. The middle one is called Judas, and nicknamed Maccabeus, which leads me to believe he might become important later. Anyway, Matthias laments all the sinning going on in Jerusalem and he and his sons put on sackcloth.

At the same time, the king's men arrive in a city called Modin and try to make the people there sacrifice. The people go to Matthias for help. The soldiers praise Matthias and co. and ask them to make the fist sacrifice. They promise if they do, the king will like them. But Matthias refuses. As he's speaking, a Jew comes up to the altar to make a sacrilegious sacrifice, which makes Matthias' kidneys tremble, so he kills the guy right there on the sanctuary, along with the king's commissioner. For good measure, he breaks the altar. Then he shouts so all can hear Whosoever is zealous of the law, and maintaineth the covenant, let him follow me. (v. 27).  Then he and his sons flee into the mountains, and some of their followers head for the wilderness.

When the king's garrison in the city finds out what happened, they go looking for Matthias' party and surround them on the sabbath day. They promise that those who agree to come back and obey the king will be pardoned, but they won't come out because it's the sabbath. So the king's men attack, but the Jews refuse to fight back, and a thousand of them die.

Matthias' group hears about this and mourns, and they all agree that if they don't fight, they'll all die. So they decide to fight, even if it's the sabbath.

Now a group of Assideans, a sort of fighting yeshiva student, shows up, along with a bunch of other refugees. They slay the sinners and the wicked, but some get away and join the heathens. So Matthias and his new army go around pulling down the altars and circumcising children and avenging themselves on sinners.

They do this for awhile, long enough for Matthias to get old. As he's dying, he passes his crusade on to his sons and tells them the story of the Old Testament again. He appoints Judas Maccabeus as the leader, then dies at age 146.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

1 Maccabees, Chapter 1: Choking on my ham sandwich

Alexander the Great, king of Macedonia and eventually Greece, killed Darius, king of the Persians, among others, and started a lot of wars and stole a lot of stuff and conquered a lot of territory. Then he gets sick and it looks like he's gonna die. So he calls up his slaves and divides his holdings up among them. Each of them puts a crown on his head and tries to pass it along to his son. You can imagine how well this works out. The very worst of them is called Antiochus Epiphanes, whose father was a hostage in Rome and then the king. One of them ruled in the year 137 of the Greek calendar.

At the same time, there are a lot of wicked people in Israel who want to make a treaty with the heathens surrounding them. Some of them go to their king, who grants them leave to make a treaty. So they build a palace of exercise (v. 14) in Jerusalem and uncircumcise themselves, which is somehow supposed to please the Greeks.

When Antiochus has occupied Israel, he decides his next conquest will be Egypt. The current Ptolemee flees, which makes victory easy. Six years later, Antiochus returns to Israel and steals all the stuff out of the temple. There's a list, even. Then he goes back to Greece and brags about all the killing he did.

This has a terrible effect on Israel, it makes the virgins feeble and turns the women ugly, which turns the grooms right off. The king lets things rest for a couple of years, but then sends his tax collectors to Jerusalem, but actually they sack the city and burn it and take all the women and children hostage, as well as the cows. Then they rebuild the city with new walls.

Antiochus writes to all of his conquered territories to say they should be one big happy family, and most of the nations sign up, including some Israelites, who stop sacrificing and start eating delicious, delicious bacon. They also fail to circumcise their kids. It helps that Antiochus sends another letter telling people that if they don't become Greek, they'll be executed.

Some of the Israelites flee into the mountains, but most of them set up idolatrous altars and start worshiping. They even burn their Torahs and make it illegal to have one. Eventually they get around to killing more people, this time including women who had their sons circumcised. The remaining Isrealites decide to give up the unclean food, thinking it's better to die than to eat a ham sandwich.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Prayer of Manasses

One chapter, one verse, half a page. This I can get behind. Manasses was the king of Juda and was taken to Babylon. Where he prays to god for forgiveness for all the things he did to end up kidnapped in another country. None of it is interesting enough to write about.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The History of the Destruction of Bel and the Dragon

I have always said the bible lacks enough good dragon stories. This one was also cut off from the end of Daniel, though it doesn't specify whether that was for not being in Hebrew or some other reason.

Anyway, we start off with Daniel and King Astyages of Persia having a conversation. We also learn that the Babylonians have a god named Bel, to whom they sacrifice 12 heaping portions of flour, 40 sheep, and 6 wine casks. The king also worships Bel, but Daniel has his own god. The main thrust of this conversation then is, why doesn't Daniel worship Bel? And of course Daniel has to be as obnoxious as possible and answer Because I may not worship idols made with hands, but the living god, who hath created the heaven and the earth, and hath sovereignty over all flesh (v. 5). Which of course immediately riles up the king, who asks if Daniel doesn't believe Bel is a living god, given how much he eats?

Somehow, Daniel manages to get even more obnoxious by smiling and replying that his host's god is just brass and clay and doesn't really eat. The king calls his chief priests over and tells them to figure out where all the flour, wheat and wine is going on pain of death, either theirs or Daniel's. I mean, I'm not in favour of the death penalty for blasphemy or anything, but I'm not sure how I feel about the death penalty for rude houseguests named Daniel. Of course, Daniel is not fazed by the idea of death.

We find out that there are seventy priests to Bel and they all have wives and children. They all go to the temple with the king and Daniel. The priests explain that they're going to go out, and the king should set out the holy meal, then leave and seal the door. In the morning, they'll know who is going to die. And of course the priests are confident because they have a door in the floor that they use to go in and eat every night.

So they king sets out the meal. While he's doing that, Daniel covers the floor in ashes. Then they leave. The priests come in with their families and eat their meal.

In the morning, Daniel and the king go back to the temple. Daniel agrees that the doors are still sealed. The king opens the door and shouts praise to Bel. But Daniel, continuing his campaign to be the worst guest in recorded history, laughs and asks whose footprints are in the ashes. The king notes that they are the prints of men, women and children, which proves nothing, but anyway, he goes to his priests, who confess to eating all the nightly food. And of course Astyages puts them and their wives and children to death. Then he gives the temple to Daniel, who destroys it.

The Babylonians also worship a dragon, because smart people will hedge their bets. The king asks Daniel if the dragon is also made of brass. Daniel says no again and offers to slay the dragon without any weapons. So Daniel makes an incendiary device (a weapon, no?) and puts it in the dragon's mouth. The dragon explodes and Daniel makes fun of the Babylonians and their false gods.

Now, needless to say the people start hearing about this indecorous foreigner who is apparently turning the king into a Jew and start feeling rebellious. They go to the king and demand Daniel or they'll overthrow him. And the king, being more of a politician than a theologian, hands him over. He's thrown into a den with seven hungry lions.

There is a certain prophet named Habbacuc who has made some soup and bread and is carrying it to the field to feed the threshers, but an angel visits him and tells him to take the food to Daniel instead. Habbacuc replies that he doesn't know where that particular lions' den is, so the angel picks him up by the hair and carries him there. He offers the dinner to Daniel, who eats it. A week later, the king comes down and finds Daniel safe and sound, so he throws the people in the den instead. Charming. I can see why people are so taken with this book.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The History of Susanna and threesomes

Another story that was rejected from the book of Daniel for not being in Hebrew. A rich Babylonian man named Joacim marries a pretty woman named Susanna whose parents had raised her as Jewish. The Jews like this Joacim because he deals fairly with them.

The same year as the wedding, two men are appointed as judges. They spend a lot of time hanging at Joacim's place with the rest of the court. One day, everyone but the judges leaves around noon, and Susanna takes a turn around the garden. The judges are inflamed by lust for this hot young Jewess, and they feel so ashamed they can't even admit it to each other. Still, they come back day after day for the show. Finally, one says to the other that they should go home for lunch, and the other agrees, but they both circle around and try to sneak back in. When they meet again at the gate, they both admit to being in love with Susanna. They agree on a time to tell her how much they love her together.

On the appointed day, Susanna comes out to the garden as usual, but this time it's hot and she wants to take a bath. The men hide and watch. She sends her maids out on some errand and the two horndogs approach and ask her for a threesome. They point out that there are no witnesses and if she doesn't agree, they'll tell everyone she has a lover. Susanna sighs that she's damned if she does and damned if she doesn't, but she'd really rather not have sex with a couple of olds, so she refuses. Everybody starts screaming and the slaves come running out and the old farts blab their false story about Susanna's fake lover.

The next day, some people are hanging out at Joacim's and the two troublemakers show up. They send for Susanna, who shows up with her entire clan, wearing a demure veil. They demand that she take off the veil, so she does, and she's so hot that everyone starts crying. The two old coots put their hands on her head and tell the baldfaced lie that they saw her with a lover the day before. No one asks why two perverts were hanging around in someone else's garden spying on his hot wife and her lover. Rather, they buy the story hook, line and sinker and condemn Susanna to death.

Susanna cries out to god, who actually listens, and sends down Daniel, who calls the crowd a bunch of assholes and points out the two codgers were lying. He separates them and asks them which tree the alleged assignation took place. And of course they say two different things, so the crowd cuts them in half. And Susanna's husband forgives her and they all lived happily ever after the servants cleaned the blood up.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Song of the Three Holy Children: No dragons

Apparently this was a part of the book of Daniel, but got left out because it wasn't in Hebrew, which is too bad, because it opens with children walking through fire. This causes someone called Azarius, who is also in the middle of this fire, to stand up and start praying for forgiveness. That goes on for 20-odd verses we've heard before.

Then we get a bit more story:

A wicked king put 'them' (I assume the 3 kids, but who knows?) into an oven. Then he stoked the fire so high, it streamed forth above the furnace forty and nine cubits (v. 24). On its way up, it kills some Chaldeans. Alas, we do not hear the story of how Chaldeans came to be in the air above a furnace.

Anyway, an angel and Azarius arrive on the scene and cool down the centre of the fire. And do the three children use this space to make dragons? No, they do not. They immediately drop to their knees to say a prayer of thanks. And that's all we can say about this book, really.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Baruch, Chapters 3-6: How to tell if your god is false

Chapter 3

The continuation of the prayer to god to release the Israelites from Babylon, as it's been a couple of generations now. We are told that there used to be giants, but they refused to receive any wisdom (read: preaching) and they all died. We also find out that farmers who practice animal husbandry have it.

Chapter 4

Jacob was given a book and told it contained the laws, and if people obeyed them, they would live forever, but if they ignored it, they'd all die. But then everyone started to ignore it and sacrifice to the devil, so they ended up enslaved in Babylon. And now the city of Jerusalem weeps for them and wears sackcloth. But no worries! God will free them and all the nations that laughed at the Israelites will be burnt and inhabited by devils.

Chapter 5

Eventually god will let the Israelites go back to Jerusalem, so Jerusalem should get ready to welcome them.

Chapter 6

Now we change tack and get a letter from someone called Jeremy. I can only hope it's less boring than the last 5 chapters, but this is the bible we're talking about.

Anyway, Jeremy sent the letter to the Israelites before they were taken hostage to warn and rebuke them. He also wanted to warn them that the Babylonians had their own gods, and they shouldn't join them in worship or be afraid of them. Rather, they should pray silently to this god.

They also shouldn't listen to the Babylonians, for all their pretty words, because they lie all the time. Other funny things the Babylonians do: make crowns for their gods and have corrupt priests who steal temple gold to pay for prostitutes. However, their idols get rusty and moth-eaten in their finery. Furthermore, their gods have weapons, but can't fight off death or war or thieves. Bit rich coming from the god that sold his people into slavery.

Anyway, the Babylonian gods are useless and the priests are so greedy even their wives won't give out salted bread to the poor. Even worse, menstruating women and those in labour eat the sacrifices. In fact, women are allowed to make offerings directly to these gods! In fact, even the Chaldeans dishonour them.

No, better to be a king or a jar or a door or a pillar of wood  or a scarecrow  or a dead body than to be a Babylonian god

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Baruch, Chapters 1 & 2: Don't piss off the bride

Chapter 1

This book does not start off strong. We learn too much about Baruch's genealogy, and that he's writing this in Babylon at the same time as the Chaldeans sacked Jerusalem. This book is a transcription of a sermon he gave to someone called Jechonias, the son of Joachim, the king of Juda, and a bunch of nobles and commoners. When they heard the sermon, and we're up to verse 6 with nary a word, they wept and collected money to send to Joachim for rebuilding. Apparently Joachim was left behind while everyone else was carried off to Babylon, where they were allowed to continue to write letters and send money and temple decor. Anyway, in their letter, they instruct Joachim to make sacrifices on their behalf and pray for the life of king Nabuchodonosor of Babylon and crown prince Balthasar. They also want Joachim to read the book aloud. They admit to sinning and disobeying god ever since they left Egypt, which is why they're now in Babylon.

Chapter 2

So they don't really blame god for making their lives miserable by sending plagues and causing them to eat their own children or selling them into slavery. Not so different to these guys today.

And have they learned from all this? Why, no. They continue to sin. But now they want forgiveness. They know they've been told they need to stay in Babylon or god will cause to cease out of the cities of Juda, and from without Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of joy, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride (v. 23) And you know what happens when you piss off a bride! But it seems something has happened to the bones of their ancestors: they've been cast out onto the ground, because this book is basically a zombie saga, and the temple ruined.

Anyway, they want god to listen to them so they don't end up assimilating into Babylonian society and disappearing as a people. And also, god promised to send them back to Israel at some point and they'd like that to be now, please.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Ecclesiasticus, Chapters 47-51: 'Wisdomed' out

Chapter 47

Now we hear more about David, who played with lions and bears, which is why he was able to kill Goliath. And of course he never passed up an opportunity to literally sing god's praises. Funnily enough, even though this book was supposedly written by Solomon, he now writes about himself in the third person. He does not forget to praise himself for being wise. He credits god with creating peace so he could build the temple. But of course the good times didn't last and Solomon somehow begat an idiot son called Roboam, who was the first of three bad kings who were all punished.

Chapter 48

All was saved by Elias, who raised the dead and traveled on a whirlwind of fire. His successor was Eliseus, who was unimpressed by princes and whose body kept talking after he died, which is not surprising, considering he never shut up while he as alive. Also, this book has a zombie fixation. Then there were some decent kings and god rewarded them by smiting the Assyrians.

Chapter 49

The next really good king was Josias. All the others were defective somehow, mostly by burning down the temple or the city around it. Then there were a bunch of other kings, the most notable of whom was Neemias, who built the temple again and was honoured for it.

Chapter 50

Next we hear about Simon, a priest in the temple. We get the odd detail that he covered the cistern with brass, but not why that's significant. Further, he was good at sacrifices and preaching.

Chapter 51

The last chapter of this godforsaken book is a prayer by yet another Jesus. He thanks god for giving him wisdom for free.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Ecclesiasticus, Chapters 43-46: Shoe theives

Chapter 43

The sun is awesome, even when it parches the country. Also awesome: the moon, because it tells us when it's feasting time. In fact, Solomon likes everything in the sky: stars, rainbows, snow, clouds, hail, wind, thunder, tornadoes, mist. Solly also likes the sea, especially whales. So we should all worship god.

Chapter 44

Let us now praise famous men, (v. 1) Hey, I read that book! And it isn't very good. See the photos, definitely, but you can skip the book. Anyway, Solomon thinks we should listen to famous men because god gave them their smarts. He also gave them potent sperm that will continue forever. Sol`s most-admired famous men: Enoch, Noah, who was apparently promised that no one else would die in floods, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Chapter 45

Yawn. Now we`re just going though Genesis and Exodus again. Moses goes up the mountain, blah, blah, blah. Aaron, whom god loved despite the whole golden calf bit. Apparently god gave Aaron pomegranates and lots of fancy clothing. People who insulted Aaron for his frankly gaudy blue and purple silk, were burned to death, because god is nothing if not thin-skinned. Then we hear again about Phineas who I've frankly forgotten, and David.

Chapter 46

Jesus, but probably not the one you`re thinking of, was good in some wars, because he made the sun go back. Oh, is this Joshua? I think that's the guy who stopped the sun in one of the early books. Then we hear about the judges. Apparently we all remember the names of the ones who didn't go whoring and sinning, because we're supposed to bless the rest without being reminded of who they are. Oh, and let their bones flourish out of their place (v. 12). And finally Samuel, who was so honest he never took so much as a shoe (v. 19)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Ecclesiasticus, Chapters 40-42: Elbows out of the meat!

Chapter 40

Here's a cheery thought: your whole life will be filled with sorry and work. Any time you don't spend doing that will be spent imagining and fearing death, being angry or fighting. Everyone, from king to pauper, lives like this. But it's seven times worse for sinners, because they have to deal with death, and bloodshed, strife, and sword, calamities, famine, tribulation, and the scourge; (v. 9) That those things happen to everyone is just a sign of how loose the definition is of 'sinner.'

Anyway, eventually everything dies except good deeds. Also, ungodly people won't have grandchildren and they'll be the first to die. Learning to love your work, and by this I'm pretty sure they mean labour, not graphic design, and to be content with what you have is sweet, but striking it rich is even better. Having kids is also great, but having a virtuous wife is the bestest. Wine and music may be great, but wisdom is even better. Too bad there's so little of it in this book. Pleasant conversation beats them all. Who else thinks the writer never gets drunk and shoots the breeze with his friends?

Wives are better than friends, alms are better than brothers, good advice is better than gold. And of course, love of god is the very greatest. Oh, and death is better than begging.

Chapter 41

Rich people fear death the most because it means losing their stuff. It's fine for the poor or sick or old or depressed. But nobody should fear death unless their parents were sinners, because that's the end of the road for them. What makes one not a sinner? A good name.

Don't hide your wisdom or your treasure. But don't be a whore, and don't lie to the king and for goodness' sake, don't put your elbow in the meat. Also, don't look at harlots or other men's wives or slave girls. And don't tell secrets.

Chapter 42

Don't accept other people's sins. Be fair to travelers and business partners and use correct weights and measures. Tolerate poor customer service, child abuse, and people who hit their slaves so hard they bleed. Keep your wife in check if she's evil. Get contracts in writing. If people are being dumb, call them on it, and everyone will respect you for it.

Fathers care for their daughters, especially their virginity, because without that, everyone will hate them. They can't stop when their daughters get married though, they have to remain vigilant lest they cheat on their husbands and become barren. If your daughter has slut-like tendencies, keep her in or people will laugh at you. Never sit amongst women because they're wicked. It's better to be a churlish man than a courteous woman.

Some things god has given us: the sun, the past, the future, and the steps needed to make discoveries. Also god is perfect and doesn't need advice. We can't see how perfect, because we don't understand. Problem of evil right there, folks.