Chapter 3- God again says that he left some natives in place to test the Israelites. They fail the test and start worshiping other gods. God causes them to become slaves in Mesopotamia for 8 years. Othniel (they guy who won Caleb’s daughter’s hand in marriage) rises up to rescue the Israelites. They have peace for 40 years. The people fail again, and God sends them to be slaves in Moab for 18 years. Ehud is God’s chosen man to save them this time. He stabs the fat king of Moab in the gut, and then leads the people to freedom. They have peace for 80 years. Shamgar delivers the people from the Philistines.
“Now these are the nations which the Lord left, that He might test Israel by them, that is, all who had not known any of the wars in Canaan (this was only so that the generations of the children of Israel might be taught to know war, at least those who had not formerly known it.)” (1,2) I know I shouldn’t be surprised anymore when the Bible repeats the fact that God is doing this crap on purpose…but…so that they might know war? God’s goal here is to teach people how to make war, like that’s some noble end unto itself? Baffling.
Seriously. I’m baffled. God knows they’re going to fail his test, and what does it matter anyway since it’s all part of his plan to make them into warriors, so why does He get so angry at the people when they play along with His plan? I can not wrap my brain around this.
In other news, Ehud was left-handed. Not sure why that was included…but I guess it goes to show that lefties are people too.
Ehud the lefty fashions himself a dagger, hides it in his pants, then takes a gift to the very fat Eglon, king of the Moabites. (The Bible is fat-shaming. Why am I not surprised?) Somehow, he convinces all of Eglon’s guards to leave the room, then he shanks the king. “Even the hilt went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the dagger out of his belly; and his entrails came out.” Just when I think I’ve read every disgusting thing that could possibly be in the Bible, something like this come along.
Can someone clarify for me how the entrails come out if the blade wasn’t removed? There is enough fat in this guy’s gut to suck the whole dagger in, hilt and all, but not enough fat to hold his intestines inside?
Chapter 4- The people get overtaken by Jabin, king of Canaan, and live under his oppressive rule for 20 years. The priestess/judge Deborah tells Barak to raise an army to fight Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army. Barak’s army prevails, but Sisera flees and hides in the tent of Heber and his wife Jael. Jael pretends to protect Sisera, but then stabs him in the temple in his sleep.
Are you having trouble following all these new characters? I sure am.
I want to take a moment to point out that Barack Obama’s first name is practically biblical. If having the middle name Hussein makes him a Muslim, then that means having the first name Bara(c)k makes him Jewish, right? I hope any birthers reading this take a moment to ponder how stupid it is to make assumptions about a person’s religion based on a name.
Verse 9, “She [Deborah] said, “I will surely go with you [Barak]; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” So, because the commander of the army was ultimately killed by a woman, that removes the glory from waging a successful battle? Oh Bible, your sexism knows no bounds.
Chapter 4- Deborah and Barak sing a song recounting the battle that just happened.
Alright, let’s start with the positives in this chapter. Two women get given a lot of praise and credit, and that’s a nice change of pace. Deborah is described as the mother who arose in Israel to deliver the people. Jael is “most blessed among women” for killing Sisera. So, hooray for women getting some glory.
Now the negative: I dislike this glorification of war. Take for example the description about how Jael killed Sisera:
Most blessed among women is Jael,
The wife of Heber the Kenite;
Blessed is she among women in tents.
He asked for water, she gave milk;
She brought out cream in a lordly bowl.
She stretched her hand to the tent peg,
Her right hand to the workmen’s hammer;
She pounded Sisera, she pierced his head,
She split and struck through his temple.
At her feet he sank, he fell, he lay still;
At her feet he sank, he fell;
Where he sank, there he fell dead.
I have mixed feelings about a woman being remembered for killing someone. On one hand, gender equality in the armed forces is something I support. And at least she’s getting credit for what she did. But did it really have to be murder?
I hate to spoil the suspense for you, but I’ve skimmed ahead in the rest of the book of Judges, and I think we’re in for a whole lot more of the same. Worship other gods, captivity, brutal war, time of peace, lather, rinse, repeat.