Sunday, November 6, 2011

Judges 3-5: God hires an assassin

Chapter 2 was like an overview of the many years after the conquest of the promised land. It said basically that God kept giving them leaders, and while the leader lived things were more or less OK, but as soon as they died the Israelites were right back into their "evil" ways...I guess until God picks out the next leader (which you'd think he could have done more quickly, without such a big gap for "evilness" inbetween, but whatever). Starting in chapter 3, we get some details.

We get some detail about the assassination of Eglod, which is at least a story. At some point, the Israelites let some foreigner (gasp!), Eglod, be their king. They didn't like him apparently, because they "cried out" to God, and he sent an assassin, Ehud. He went to see the king with a short sword hidden under his clothing, and told him that he had a "secret message" for him. So the king sent all this people away (idiot). When they're alone, Ehud says he has a message from God, and stabs him in the stomach. BAM!

Next time someone says they have a message from God, look out, they may be about to stab you. You never know.

And now for the clever escape...he closes the door when he leaves, and all his servants assume the king is going to the bathroom, so they wait "to the point of embarrassment." Meanwhile, Ehud gets away. How exciting. They should make that into a movie! Anyway, then he convinces the Israelites that they should attack Moab, and they kill everyone there, just like the old days.

Ehud is leader for a while, and things are good while he's alive. After he dies, the Israelites start being all "evil" again. God gets pissed, again, and gets some people with chariots (oh god no, chariots!) to "cruelly oppress" them. This goes on until the Israelites "cry out" to God, which apparently takes 20 years.

At this point, the Israelites happen to be lead by a woman, Deborah. I cannot express how surprised I am that there was ever a woman leading the Israelites. Anyway, she says that they need to go attack these people with the chariots. This whole story is really confusing and poorly written. Deborah tells this guy Barak that he needs to go attack the chariot people, who she will be leading (how the hell does she intend to pull that off? who knows.) and thus they will win. Barak says that he will only do it if Deborah leads their people with him. She agrees (but what about her mighty and nonsensical plan?), but warns him that he will get no honor from this. Because there was going to be honor for Barak in leading an army into a sham battle against a force that Deborah has already co-opted. Whatever. I clearly don't understand "honor."

They go, there's a battle, and with God's help they kill everyone except the leader, Sisera. So, apparently God can handle the chariots, he's just chosen not to all this time. Great. Anyway, Sisera gets away and makes it to Jael, who is the wife of some ally, and he takes a nap in her tent. While he's sleeping, she drives a tent peg through his head. We never get to find out why she would do this and ruin her husband's alliances, she just does it for no apparent reason. Good story-telling, that.

Then Deborah and Barak spend a chapter singing a song about how awesome they are. I don't think it's about much else.

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