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Saturday, April 01, 2017

Judges 5 (Song of Deborah)

Well, I messed up my schedule last night.  I stopped at Chapter 5 instead of reading through chapter 5.  Just as well because the Song of Deborah deserves its own space.  First, it is interesting to me because it gives much more detail, despite being in verse, about who did and did not fight against "the kings of Canaan," Judges 5:19.  Here's a visual summary of verses 13 through 18.

So, some folks stayed home while others risked their life.  There is a similar description of the battle and the river Kishon.  Also, more feminist bits.  For one, the period is described as "In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael."  Judges 5:6.  So, not just Deborah as the major Judges, but Jael the general slayer defines the age in some respect. 

NB: The Song of Deborah dates to the twelfth century BCE, according to my NIB commentary.  The commentary notes that the archaic Hebrew makes translation very difficult in several places.

Last remark, the following lament spoken by the enemy's mother has always struck me as so emotionally complex.
28 “Through the window peered Sisera’s mother;
behind the lattice she cried out,
‘Why is his chariot so long in coming?
Why is the clatter of his chariots delayed?’
29 The wisest of her ladies answer her;
indeed, she keeps saying to herself,
30 ‘Are they not finding and dividing the spoils:
a woman or two for each man,
colorful garments as plunder for Sisera,
colorful garments embroidered,
highly embroidered garments for my neck—
all this as plunder?’

Friday, March 31, 2017

Judges 3:7-4

First up is Othniel from Judah.  He's related to earlier great guy Caleb.  He delivered the Israelites out of 8 years of bondage and into 40 years of piece.

Next Ehud from Benjamin.  He delivered the Israelites from 18 years of bondage at the hands of the Moabite king aided by Amorites and Amelekites.  This stories contains lots of yucks about  this super fatty of a Moabite king.  After Ehud killed him and subjugated the Moabites, there were 80 years of piece.

Shamgar kills 600 Philistines, which is pretty good, but no more details than that.

Then we get to some seriously cold hearted shit.  The Israelites were oppressed for 20 years by Jabin, a king of Canaan and his General Sisera.  ao, Deborah, who hold court in Ephraim under the Palms of Deborah.  She enlists Barak who is Nephtali to raise a 10,000 men between his crew and the Zebulun folks to rid themselves of these 900-iron-chariot having mother fuckers.  Thing is, Deborah figures out theses chariots are for shit in the mud, so she tells Barak to lure them into the Wadi Kishon.  They beat the army, but the general escapes.  He runs to his girl Jael, who is a Kenite--but what he doesn't know is that these Kenites go all the way back to the father-in-law of Moses.  So, while he's sleeping she drives a fricking tent stake into his temple.  She find Barak and basically says, "Hey baby, I left you a present inside of my tent."

Tomorrow we do the musical version of Deborah.

Here's where today's warlords are from (PS, can "Barack's Army" become a thing?):

click to enlarge.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Judges 1-3:6 (Intro)

The book of Judges opens up with a little intro about precisely what work was left undone by the Joshua Generation.  It specifically lists all of the indigenous people who were left within the Promised Land after the Israelite's campaign. 

In fact, after explaining that YHWH let the other people stay in the Promise Land as punishment for their disobedience, Jueces 2:1-4 (which I have to tell you feels suspicious to me because God's angel doesn't list any specific unpunished disobedience, but you know), we get this transition passage that alerts us to a new era:
After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the Lord’s anger
Jueces 2:10-12.  The introduction closes noting the God did not abandon the people but instead would raise up judges from time to time to bring the people back to him.  Those judges, spoiler alert, were only ever temporarily successful.

Interesting note:  The NVI uses the term "caudillos" to describe the heroes described in this book in the intro, although notes that they are traditionally referred to a "jueces" and will use the term from here on out.  According to google, caudillos = warlords.  Jueces, of course, is judges.  The NIV on the other hand points out that "leaders" may be a better translation, or at least an alternate. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Josh. 22-24 (the end)

The book of Joshua wraps up, naturally enough, with the death of Joshua.  Joshua is laid to rest in the land of Ephraim, his ancestral connection.  Joshua dies at the age of 110.  Josh. 24:29.  Compare with Moses who died at 120.  Deut. 34:7.  Interestingly, 120 was given as the max age of humans after God stepped in to break up the whole Sons of God-Daughters of Humans intermarrying thing.  Gen. 6:1-3.  I mean, it says that, but then Abraham lives to be 175, Gen. 25:7.  So, who are you going to believe?

There is some other business in this passage providing evidence that we don't get every story that the readers/hearers of this story had.  At Josh. 24:9-10 we hear this about our good friend Balaam:
When Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. 10 But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.
That is not the story that we have in our Bible.  In our story, he never curses the Israelites and tell Balak that he ain't gonna do it.  There is nothing earthshattering about this.  There were different versions of these stories that circulated.

Also, interrupting the nice bring this storying to a close vibe, there was a big conflict over the altar built by the Transjordan tribes.  Interestingly enough, it was Phineas, son of Eleazar, grandson of Aaron, who lead the other 10 tribes against them.  Which means Manasseh was against itself, btw.  Anyway, the Transjordan tribes convinced the other 10 that this was devotion to YHWH and not rebellion. So, it was all cool.  Point: God didn't lead the action against the Transjordan tribes.  Point: The other 10 lead by Phineas changed their minds.

Finally, chapter 24 serves as neat litany of where we've been.  There is even a call and response where Joshua is like, "Nah, you don't love the Lord," and the people are all like, "We so love the Lord!"  They do this three times for you fans of upcoming Easter pageants.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Josh. 19-21 (LOTR ending)

This selection is the penultimate reading for the book of Joshua.  However, Chapter 21 closes with this:
43 So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.
43 Así fue como el Señor les entregó a los israelitas todo el territorio que había prometido darles a sus antepasados; y el pueblo de Israel se estableció allí. 44 El Señor les dio descanso en todo el territorio, cumpliendo así la promesa hecha años atrás a sus antepasados. Ninguno de sus enemigos pudo hacer frente a los israelitas, pues el Señor entregó en sus manos a cada uno de los que se les oponían. 45 Y ni una sola de las buenas promesas del Señor a favor de Israel dejó de cumplirse, sino que cada una se cumplió al pie de la letra.

Then, the book goes on for three more chapters, which reminded me of the ending to the LOTR movies.

This image seems pretty close to me.  Notice Simeon is inside of Judah.  Reminds me of the Hopi and Navajo land.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Josh. 16-18 (governing is not conquering)

Although not as detailed, the separation and description of territory for the Israelites serves the same literary function (challenge?) as the description of ritual served during the exodus.  It is interesting how quickly the story details cracks in the idea of absolute war in which the enemy was absolutely destroyed. 

Already, there was the story of the wood workers and water carriers who were evidently not Israelite.  Then, in the cities of Mennaseh and Ephraim there are still Canaanites.  Sure, they're enslaved by the power Israelites, but they are still there.  When they complain to Joshua about not enough territory, his response is for them to man up and take the territory in the forest still held by the enemy.  Recall, that is exactly what Caleb did.

We are seeing the divisions that will be featured in the book of Judges. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Josh. 12-15 (retrun of the Israelites)

So, Joshua's time in the spotlight seems remarkably short.  We are already to essentially his epilogue.  This selection includes a listing of the kings they conquered, including Og, uno de los últimos refaítas (the Rephaites may be giants descended from the Nephilim).  The author is careful to give Moses credit for the east of Jordan conquests--respect.  Then there is a bit of listing: the 31 kings they conquered and the splitting up of territory.

This selection also sets up what is to come identifying particularly the Philistines as a people yet to conquer.  And there is a bit of action when 85-year-old Caleb goes to see his long-time brother in arms Joshua, and gets permission to kick the Anakites--the giants that Caleb & Joshua, unlike the other spies, were not afraid of--out of the Promised Land.

He does so, employing the time honored technique of promising his daughter in marriage to the man who conquers the last city.  His nephew does it and so he sends his daughter to marry her first cousin which everyone is perfectly cool with.  He even gives them some land in Negev and the upper and lower spring.  So . . .