02 November 2009

The Ammonite massacre

This is the fifth time the same stupid story is repeated in Judges (See Judges 2:14, 3:84:2, and 6:1 for the others), so you know by now what's going to happen.
  1. The Israelites do evil in the sight of the Lord.
  2. God gets angry and sells them as slaves. (This time to the Ammonites.)
  3. The Israelites cry out to God.
  4. God slaughters the people he sold the Israelites to.
A few details change each time the story is told: the number of years that the Israelites are enslaved, the people that he sells them to, and the person that he chooses to help him with the massacre. This time God chooses Jephthah.

As usual, everything starts to go to hell when the spirit of the Lord comes upon Jephthah.
Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah ... And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. Judges 11:29-31
Did you catch that? The spirit of the Lord comes upon Jephthah and he promises to kill whatever comes out to greet him if God will help him massacre the Ammonites. God not only approved of Jephthah's vow, he inspired it.

And, of course, God comes through with his end of the deal by giving Jephthah "a very great slaughter."
So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the LORD delivered them into his hands. And he smote them ... even twenty cities ... with a very great slaughter. Judges 11:29-39
God delivered 20 cities into Jephthah's hand and "he smote them ... with a very great slaughter." And then Jephthah came home, which leads us to God's next killing.

Note: I originally only gave God credit for 1000 in this killing, but I increased it to 20,000 to account for the 20 massacred cities.


Adnan Khalil said...

Ah, biblical morality at it's finest!

And with Yahweh being omniscient and all, I guess he knew beforehand it was going to be Jephthah's daughter who was on the menu.

Steve Wells said...

Yep, God knew it was going to happen and was looking forward to it.

And this time he didn't intervene by providing a ram instead (like he did when Abraham was about to kill Isaac for him) or just saying something like, "Stop! What are you doing? Are fucking crazy?" Nope, he just sat back and watched, enjoying the whole thing. (He probably still rewinds it and watches it over and over again.)

Brucker said...

(He probably still rewinds it and watches it over and over again.)

Steve, are you an atheist, or do you believe that God exists, and you just don't like him?

Steve Wells said...

Thankfully, Brucker, the God of the Bible doesn't exist. But if he did, he'd enjoy watching Jephthah kill his daughter. He'd play it over and over again on his big screen TV, enjoying it more each time he saw it. He's the type.

Do you think you'll get to watch it someday with him?

Brucker said...

Well, with that out of the way, why do you hesitate to include Shamgar's killings, but not to include the killing of Jephthah's daughter? Nowhere in the text does it say that God called for it. Frankly, I can understand you disagreeing with my viewpoint on this passage, but in light of your earlier post, you seem too eager to assign blame here.

Steve Wells said...

Yeah, I could go either way on Shamgar's killings. That "he too delivered Israel" thing seems to imply that God was involved. But it could also just mean that God approved of the killings.

As for Jephthah, "the spirit of the Lord" came upon Jephthah" in Judges 11:29 and he makes a vow in the next verse to kill whoever greets him after God helps him with a great slaughter. So it sounds to me that the spirit of the Lord inspired Jephthah's vow.

If the spirit of the Lord had of came upon Shamgar (as he does a little later in Judges for Samson), I'd have given God some credit for that mass ox goad killing, too.

busterggi said...

So for the 4th time the Israelites pissed Yahweh off.

I dunno how an omniscient deity could select such a fickle people to be his 'chosen people'.

Matthew Blanchette said...

Finally! The story that inspired Shakespeare to drive Ophelia insane in Hamlet, yet is still terrible for it.

HAMLET: O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure hadst thou!
POLONIUS: What a treasure had he, my lord?
HAMLET: Why, 'One fair daughter and no more, the which he loved passing well.'
POLONIUS: (aside) Still on my daughter.
HAMLET: Am I not i' the right, old Jephthah?
POLONIUS: If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a daughter that I love passing well.
HAMLET: Nay, that follows not.
POLONIUS: What follows, then, my lord?
HAMLET: Why,'As by lot, God wot,' and then, you know, 'It came to pass, as most like it was,'-- the first row of the pious chanson will show you more; for look, where my abridgement comes.


Such a shame that a wonderful play had to be tarnished by such a reference; it's like a sudden mention of Twilight in the middle of Madame Butterfly.

=8)-DX said...

"Such a shame that a wonderful play had to be tarnished by such a reference;"

Sheesh, don't you know anything about Shakespeare? It is precisely such references that give his plays the right sting in my mind. Hamlet is making grand fun of Polonius.. and this foreshadows her death.