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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Ps. 7, 27, 31

Psalms.  These psalms like all of them are weird for me because I feel like there is something amazing about them.  They seem to capture emotion and intimacy.  Nonetheless, I don't find room for  a lot of commentary.

I will say that it is interesting to read these psalms about refuge while the reading story about the civil war / David's flight from Saul.

Friday, April 14, 2017

1 Sam 21-23

This selection returns to that feel from reading the Canterbury Tales.  It really feels medieval to me, which I recognize is silly.  Saul and David are engaged in what has become a civil war.  David saves a city from the Philistines, which brings Saul his way since Saul figures David is finally pinned down to a particular place.  God tells David--and God is still talk directly to people in words, but does seem to appear to them any more--that, yeah, the people in the city he just liberated would in fact deliver him to Saul if Saul arrives.  The selection ends with Saul giving up the hunt for David because the Philistines have invaded again.

What strikes me here is that the author records Saul's continued desire to win YHWH's affection and approval.  Saul really is a tragic character.

Interesting note: a 1 Sam. 22:3-4 we have the following:
From there David went to Mizpah in Moab and said to the king of Moab, “Would you let my father and mother come and stay with you until I learn what God will do for me?” So he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him as long as David was in the stronghold.
 Recall that the Book of Ruth was likely written to explain David's Moabite roots.  This may have been another attempt.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

1 Sam 18-20; Ps. 11, 59

Were Jonathan and David in love?  Were they a couple?  From Genesis 2:22-24 & 1 Sam. 18:1-3.
Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
* * *
After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. 2 From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. 3 And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.
Also, when Saul plots to kill David, because Jonathan "had taken a great liking to David," he tips him off.  1 Sam 19:1. Also, from this reading, after Jonathan confirms that Pops is definitely interested in killing David (including a cool signal with arrows scene), we get this:
David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most. Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.
1 Sam 20:41-42.  I had not remembered these passages.  I did remember David's eulogy for Jonathan which is usually pointed to for this point.  I'm not sure what I think.

For the record, I have zero doubt that gay people lived during time of the House of David.  I am unsure if people had an understanding of two men being in love, and am even more unsure that the Biblical authors would have recorded it.  As for an unintentional capturing of a gay romance, well?  It's hard to believe that the data was transmitted with sufficient "signal fidelity" to reveal something unintentional.  Nonetheless, we are reaching the part of the story where there is reason to believe that these are real people.  There was a House of David, and quite likely a King David.  So, who knows.

Interesting Note: It was evidently controversial as to whether Saul was among the Prophets.  1 Sam 19:23-24 has a story about Saul falling into a trance and prophesying while looking for David, and there is a similar story about him joining Samuel's prophets shortly after being chosen to be kind, again, falling into a trance. 1 Sam 10: 9-11.  In both cases the question "Is Saul also among the prophets?" is presented with the implied answer, "Uh, no."

Translational note: When David prays to God in the Psalms, Psalm 59 was specifically for this part of the story, btw, the Spanish has David use the informal "eres" and "tu" rather than the form "es" and "Ud."

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

1 Sam 15-17

This is an amazingly dense selection.  Both from narrative points and for meaningful reflection.

Saul again fails to kill someone and this time really upsets God.  Plus we have three origin stories for David.  One his is anointed by Samuel; two he is the musician who calms Saul's late onset madness; three he slays Goliath.  (P.S. he will slay Goliath again.)

Of course, some of David's origin stories can be reconciled.  Samuel could have anointed him and then he just happened to be the kid who plays the harp.  Or maybe Samuel anoints him, everyone forgets that, and then he happens to show up at camp with his brothers, and no one says, "Actually, aren't you the anointed king of Israel?  Maybe it does make sense for you to fight Goliath."  But, the thing is the authors didn't do that.  They gave us three sides of who David was.

It is interesting to think about these stories as what is required of the ideal leader. 

On a theological note, when Saul is caught having allowed King Agag to live and some of the animals from the city, he tries to rationalize saying that he left the animals for a sacrifice.  Samuel is having none of it, and in some crazy baller scene kills the king himself.  Then we have this: "And the LORD regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel."  1 Sam. 15:35.

God, regretted.  Interesting.

Translational note: the words translated in the NVI as siervos y cortesanos are both translated as servants in the NIV.  1 Sam. 16:18.  Courtesan or courtier has a different connotation to me than servant. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

1 Sam 13-14 (rule breaker)

Saul does alright.  He rules over Israel for forty-two years, which is record breaking.  1 Sam 13:1.  He wins victories against the Philistines.  But so does his boy, Jonathan.  See, e.g. 1 Sam 14:1-14. 

The Bible talks a lot about armies being confused and killing each other.  It is a major component in Saul's big victory over the armies of the Philistines.  1 Sam 14:14-23. 

Here's something interesting, Saul makes a dumb vow about no one eating.  His boy is off killing Philistines and doesn't hear it, so he eats too soon.  AND Saul does not kill him.  And the reason he doesn't kill him is the soldiers are like, "Hey, c'mon, he saved us from all those dirty Philistines."  Seems like a big deal, but recall, Saul also didn't kill the dudes who were talking shit about him when he took over as king.  Saul also tries to do a sacrifice, himself.  That makes Samuel pretty upset. 

He's tall and good looking. He's from humble roots.  He's a hot head that gets Israel into unending war.  He doesn't really care about the rules.

Monday, April 10, 2017

1 Sam 9-12

You know what's great about Saul?  He's tall.  It's mentioned more than once in the description of him.  Oh yeah, and he comes from the humblest of families in the smallest of tribes, Benjamin.  Seriously, I guess this "born in a log cabin" stuff has a long history.

He is also painted as quite moody.  How does he get Israel to unite and liberate the city?  He cuts up a couple of oxen and says, "This is what happens to those that don't follow us into battle."  When he is flying high on his first military victory and the end of questions about his legitimacy, he spares the doubters, even though some suggest they should be put to death. 

The we get Samuel's farewell speech, which is much more of a bummer than even Obama's.  He does call down thunder and rain before reminding the people what a bunch of screw ups they are.  Also, he lists the important heroes who delivered the sinful Israelites: Gideon, Barak, Jephthah and Samuel (or Samson depending on the manuscript).  More evidence of complex tradition.  I'm not sure at all that Jephthah was a good guy. 

Interesting note: When describing the army that follows Saul, it is 300,000 from Israel and 30,000 from Judah.  1 Sam 11:8.  That's an interesting division since the kingdoms have not yet been divided. 

Sunday, April 09, 2017

1 Sam 4-8

Again, just racing through the narrative portions.  This really is a just the facts man style story telling.

This passage includes the loss of the arc and the death of Eli's kids and Eli.  As foretold, the boys die on the same day, the day they lost the arc to the Philistines.  Eli dies falling back in his chair--I just watch the movie Logan last night and am seeing Patrick Stewart as Eli, btw--and the wife of one of the boys gives birth to a boy and names him Icabod.  If you didn't think it was a weird name before, it mean "No Glory." 

Anyway, Samuel gets them straightened out, and then we have this argument about a king.  It's really interesting.  The people want a king, literally because everyone else has one.  Samuel basically says, "Seriously, here's all of the crap a king will do to you." The people don't care.  Then God tells Samuel, "Look, it's really a burn on me, not you.  You did your best." 

So, the Deuteronomists are really conflicted on this whole monarchy thing.  I mean, the tale of the Levites Concubine is unbelievably horrible and is blamed 100% on not have a king.  But then you have Samuel, who is unquestionably a man of God, is beside himself that these dummies want a king.

It's hard not to see connections with America's role with local and federal power.  Although it oscillates with the party in power, the party in power represents ideology.  Like everything from Joshua forward, we have lots of fodder for conversation.