23 December 2009

Five Golden Hemorrhoids ... and a partridge in a pear tree

Garrison Keillor says that atheists and Jews should "buzz off" at Christmas time and leave the holiday to believers.

But I like Christmas too much to leave it to Mr. Keillor and other mindless bigots.* In fact, I'd like to propose an improvement to one of their carols.

"The Twelve Days of Christmas" is a fun song, but none of the gifts have much to do with the Bible or Christianity. There are no french hens, leaping lords, or swimming swans in the Bible. And what's with the "Five Golden Rings" thing?

So let's change "Five Golden Rings" to something that has some religious significance. Something that is found in the Bible. Something God would appreciate.

Five Golden Hemorrhoids!
(If you don't know about them, you can read about them here.)

So this Christmas, in honor of Garrison Keillor, whenever you sing "The Twelve Days of Christmas" substitute "Five Golden Hemorrhoids" (or "Five Golden Rhoids") for "Five Golden Rings."

God and Garrison Keillor will love you for it!

Some believers might object by saying that the five golden hemorrhoids were from the Old Testament, so they have nothing to do with Jesus. But if so, they are forgetting that everything in the Old Testament points to Jesus. So the only question is this: How do the five golden hemorrhoids point to Jesus?

And the answer is perfectly obvious: The five golden hemorrhoids represent the five wounds of Christ in the crucifixion. They were fashioned out of gold and given to God as a present in the same way the wise men brought gifts to the baby Jesus at Christmas time.

Like everything else in the Bible, it all makes perfect sense.

Merry Christmas!

*I don't really think Garrison Keillor is a mindless bigot. I think he's just pretending to be one.

22 December 2009

God forced the Philistines to kill each other

After helping Jonathan with his first slaughter (which wasn't really his first, but Oh well), God took over the killing himself. He didn't have much choice if he wanted to get the killing done, because there were only two swords in all Israel at the time, Jonathan's and Saul's. And it's hard to kill Philistines with only sticks and stones.
So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found. 1 Samuel 13:22
But God had a plan. He'd force the Philistines to kill each other (and throw in an earthquake for dramatic effect).
And there was trembling ... and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling. ...
The multitude melted away, and they went on beating down one another... Every man's sword was against his fellow. 1 Samuel 14:15-20
After the Philistines killed each other, the Israelites must have gathered up their swords and spears, because by the end of the same chapter Saul is fighting everybody at once, "vexing" them all.
So Saul ... fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines: and whithersoever he turned himself, he vexed them. And he gathered an host, and smote the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them. 1 Samuel 14:47-48
(Since the Bible doesn't say that God was involved in these battles, I didn't include the victims in God's total.)

How many Philistine soldiers did God kill by forcing them to kill each other? The Bible doesn't say, so I just guessed the usual 1000.

God's next killing: The Amalekite Genocide

19 December 2009

Jonathan's very first slaughter (not counting the one before)

Well, it was a bit disappointing to me, but I guess it was OK for a very first slaughter.

Here's how it happened.

One day Jonathan and his armor bearer decided to go find some uncircumcised guys to kill. Who knows? Maybe God would help them.
Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us. 1 Samuel 14:6
Jonathan's amorous armor bearer said to him, "Do whatever is in your heart. Whatever is in your heart is in my heart, too." (They had a very close, intimate relationship.)
And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart. 1 Samuel 14:7
So Jonathan told him his plan. They will go over to the Philistines and if they say, "Wait there and we'll come over to you," then Jonathan and his armor bearer will stay put. But if the Philistines say, "Come up to us, and we will show you something," then they will attack, knowing that God will help them kill them.
Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over unto these men, and we will discover ourselves unto them. If they say thus unto us, Tarry until we come to you; then we will stand still in our place, and will not go up unto them. But if they say thus, Come up unto us; then we will go up: for the LORD hath delivered them into our hand: and this shall be a sign unto us. 1 Samuel 14:8-10
So they did that. And when the Philistines saw them, they said, "Look the Hebrews have crawled out of the holes they were hiding in."
And both of them discovered themselves unto the garrison of the Philistines: and the Philistines said, Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves. 1 Samuel 14:11
And then the Philistines said the magic words of doom, "Come on up and we'll show you a thing or two."
And the men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armourbearer, and said, Come up to us, and we will shew you a thing. 1 Samuel 14:12a
When Jonathan heard that, he he told his armor bearer that God would help them kill the Philistines.
And Jonathan said unto his armourbearer, Come up after me: for the LORD hath delivered them into the hand of Israel. 1 Samuel 14:12b
So Jonathan and his armor bearer crawled out of their hole and began to kill Philistines.
And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armourbearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armourbearer slew after him. 1 Samuel 14:12
They killed about 20 of them, all in an area of half an acre or so. Which is not too bad for a very first slaughter.
And that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armourbearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were an half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plow. 1 Samuel 14:14
I don't know about you, but the thing that bothers me about this story is the "first slaughter" part. Because if this was Jonathan's very first slaughter, then what the hell was he doing in the last chapter?
And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba. 1 Samuel 13:3
It sounds like Jonathan's second slaughter, and I'm a bit pissed off about it!

God's next killing: God forced the Philistines to kill each other

17 December 2009

Another Ammonite Massacre (and another God-inspired body-part message)

Remember the Holy Civil War a few killings back? Well this is a lot like it.

It starts with the people from Jabeshgilead making a proposition to the Ammonites.
Then Nahash the Ammonite came up, and encamped against Jabeshgilead: and all the men of Jabesh said unto Nahash, Make a covenant with us, and we will serve thee. 1 Samuel 11.1
Does Jabeshgilead sound sound familiar to you? Well, if you read about God’s 57th killing, it should. (In that story, the Israelites killed everyone in the city of Jabeshgilead except for the virgin women, whom they gave to the surviving Benjamites for wives.)

So everyone in Jabeshgilead was killed a few years before the events in 1 Samuel 11 supposedly took place. Yet here in verse 1 they are making a treaty with the Ammonites. Do dead people make treaties? I guess they do in the Bible.

Anyway, here's the deal that Nahash offered the (dead?) people from Jabeshgilead:
Nahash the Ammonite answered them, On this condition will I make a covenant with you, that I may thrust out all your right eyes, and lay it for a reproach upon all Israel. 11.2
Now you might think that this would be a 'no brainer' to the people of Jabeshgilead. But since they were already dead, maybe they didn't have any eyes to poke out. In any case, the people of Jabshgilead asked for a week to see if they could get an army together to fight the Ammonites. If they couldn't, they'd let the Ammonites poke out one of their eyes.
The elders of Jabesh said unto him, Give us seven days' respite, that we may send messengers unto all the coasts of Israel: and then, if there be no man to save us, we will come out to thee. 11.3
The Ammonites said, "Sure, go ahead and get an army together. We'll give you a week." So the leaders of Jabeshgilead sent messengers to Saul.

When Saul heard about it, "the Spirit of the Lord came upon him," and Saul did what any spirit-filled person would do: he killed some oxen, chopped their bodies up into 12 pieces, and sent the pieces to the 12 tribes of Israel.
The Spirit of God came upon Saul ... And he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the coasts of Israel by the hands of messengers. 11.6-7a
And it worked, too. Messages like that always work in the Bible.
The fear of the LORD fell on the people, and they came out with one consent. 11.7b
Within a week the ox body parts were sent around to all the tribes of Israel and all the people of Israel responded "as one," forming an army of 330,000.
When he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand. 11.8
It's amazing what a 12 rotting pieces of meat can do!

Then Saul told the people of Jabeshgilead:
To morrow, by that time the sun be hot, ye shall have help. And the messengers came and shewed it to the men of Jabesh; and they were glad. 11.9
So the messengers went back and told the good news to leaders of Jabeshgilead, and they told Nahash that tomorrow they'd let them poke out their eyes.
The men of Jabesh said, To morrow we will come out unto you, and ye shall do with us all that seemeth good unto you. 11.10
The next day Saul and his army killed Ammonites until it got a bit too hot for killing. Then they stopped and took a little break. Before they were done, though, they had killed all the Ammonites.
Saul ... slew the Ammonites until the heat of the day: and it came to pass, that they which remained were scattered, so that two of them were not left together. 11.11
After the slaughter, some of the people wanted Samuel to kill all the Israelites that didn't want Saul to be made king. But Saul said,
There shall not a man be put to death this day: for to day the LORD hath wrought salvation in Israel. 11.13
So since it was God that did all the killing, he deserves all the credit. The Bible doesn't say how many Ammonites were killed; I'll call it a standard massacre and say 1000.

God's next killing: Jonathan's very fist slaughter (not counting the one before)

16 December 2009

The Lord thundered great thunder upon the Philistines

After God killed more than 50,000 for looking into the ark, the ark was moved to Kirjathjearim and the people of Israel "lamented after the Lord" -- which means, I guess, that they wanted the damned thing back.
And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjathjearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD. 1 Samuel 7.2
So Samuel told them what to do. Get rid of all their other gods and worship Yahweh alone. So the Israelites rounded up all their gods and threw them away. When the Philistines heard about all this, they prepared to attack Israel.

The Israelites asked Samuel to ask God to save them. So Samuel killed a baby lamb and burned its dead body for God. Then Samuel cried out to God and God heard him.
Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the LORD: and Samuel cried unto the LORD for Israel; and the LORD heard him. 7.9
While Samuel was busy roasting the lamb for God, the Philistines attacked. And God "thundered with a great thunder" and "discomfited them." Then the Israelites chased them down and killed them.
As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them. 7.10-11
After the slaughter, Samuel put up a monument that said, "So far the Lord has helped us." 
Hitherto hath the LORD helped us. 7.12
Once again the Bible doesn't say how many Philistines were killed. So I'll just call it 1000.

God's next killing: Another Ammonite Massacre (and another God-inspired body-part message)

15 December 2009

God kills Eli's sons

There was an old priest name Eli, who had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas. Like Eli, his sons were priests, but they were bad priests who didn't know God, stole meat from burnt offerings, and had sex with women at the door of the tabernacle.
The sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD. 1 Samuel 2.12
If any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force. 2.16
Eli … heard all that his sons did … how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 2.22
Eli talked to his sons about it and tried to get them to change their ways, but they wouldn't listen to him since God had already decided to kill them.
They hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them. 2.25
Before killing Eli's sons, though, God tormented Eli a bit. First, a "man of God" tells Eli that God will "consume his eyes" and "grieve his heart" and make sure that all of his descendants will die young.
A man of God ... said unto him, Thus saith the LORD ... I will cut off thine arm... There shall not be an old man in thine house for ever ... I shall ... consume thine eyes and ... grieve thine heart. 2.27-33
Then, just in case the first message didn't get through, God sends another one to Eli through the boy prophet, Samuel. It takes God three tries to deliver the message, but he finally does. And it's the same nasty message: God will make everyone’s ears tingle by punishing all of Eli's unborn descendants for the sins of his sons.
The LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken … I will judge his house for ever … because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. 3.11-13
Samuel delivers the message to Eli and he responds the way believers always do. (God can do whatever he wants -- however absurd, cruel, or unjust -- and they will call it good.)
It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good. 3.18
So now God had to figure out how he was going to kill Eli's sons.

And that's where the Philistines came in. God used them to kill Eli's sons, along with a 34,000 Israelite soldiers.

In the first battle, the Israelites lost 4000 men.
The Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men. 4.2
Which surprised the heck out of the Israelites, since God was supposed to be on their side.

So they went to get the ark of the covenant, figuring it would protect them from the Philistines.
When the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of … that … it may save us out of the hand of our enemies. 4.3
Along with the ark, they also got Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas.
So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the LORD … and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. 4.4
When the ark came to the Israelites’ camp, they all shouted at once, causing an earthquake.
When the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again. 4.5
The earth shook so much that the Philistines felt it at their camp, and they knew just what it meant. God was with the Israelites and he was on their side.
The Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore. 4.7
The Philistines had heard what God did to the Egyptians and they were afraid that now he’d do it to them. So they all said together: “Woe is us.”
Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness. 4.8
Then they snapped out of it and started to act like Philistines, and killed another 30,000 Israelites.
The Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen. 4.10
And, in the process, they also killed Eli’s sons.
The ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain. 4.11
Just as God said he would do in 1 Samuel 2.25 (I gave God credit for 34,002, 34,000 Israelite soldiers and Eli’s two sons: Hophni and Phinehas.)

12 December 2009

50,070 killed for looking into the ark of the Lord

In his last killing, God was busy fashioning hemorrhoids and placing them in the Philistines' secret parts. Stuff like that gets annoying after a while.

So the Philistines asked their priests how they can get God to stop. The priests told them to make five golden hemorrhoids and five golden mice as trespass offerings, and put the ark and the offerings in a cart pulled by two cows. Then let the cows go wherever they choose. If they go toward Bethshemesh, then it was God who was striking the people with hemorrhoids in their secret parts.
The Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the LORD? And they said, If ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but … return him a trespass offering: then ye shall be healed … What shall be the trespass offering? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice … take the ark of the LORD, and lay it upon the cart; and put the … trespass offering … and send it away … And see, if it goeth up by the way of his own coast to Bethshemesh, then he hath done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that smote us: it was a chance that happened to us. 1 Samuel 6.2-9
Since that sounded like a reasonable plan, that's what they did. And the cows headed straight for Bethshemesh "and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left."
They laid the ark of the LORD upon the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their emerods. And the kine took the straight way to the way of Bethshemesh.  6.11-12
So the world now knows for sure that it was God who killed the Philistine people by putting hemorrhoids in their secret parts.

That would have been a happy ending, I suppose, except some of the Bethshemeshites looked into the ark. So God had to kill 50,070 of them.
He smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter. 6.19
Stories like this can only be found in the Bible.

God smote them with hemorrhoids in their secret parts

You may have noticed at the end of the last killing, that the Philistines stole the ark of the covenant from the Israelites. And that’s when their troubles really began.

The Philistines brought the ark to Ashdod and set it up next to their god, Dagon.
The Philistines took the ark of God ... unto Ashdod ... into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon. 1 Samuel 5.1-2
The next morning Dagon had fallen on his face.
When they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face. 5.3
So they put Dagon back in his place, but the next morning he had fallen down again, and this time his head and hands had fallen off, so he was no more than a stump.
When they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him. 5.4
Then God started to get nasty. He destroyed the people of Asdod and smote those that survived with hemorrhoids.
But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods (hemorrhoids). 5.6
So the people of Ashdod decided to send the ark to another Philistine city: Gath.
What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel? And they answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel about thither. 5.8
And then God smote the people of Gath, the small and the great, with hemorrhoids in their secret parts.
The hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts. 5.9
After that, what do you think the Gathites decided to do with God's ark? They sent it to Ekron.
Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. 5.10
When the ark arrived at Ekron, God did the usual thing: he killed most of the people and gave the rest hemorrhoids.
There was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven. 5.11-12
The Bible doesn't say how many people God killed in Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron. So I'll just call it 3000, 1000 from each city. 

11 December 2009

God's Killings in Judges

Here's a summary of God's killings in Judges.
Killing Event Verse Estimated number killed Cumulative total
1 God delivers the Canaanites and Perizzites Judges 1:4 10,000 10,000
2 The Jerusalem Massacre Judges 1:8 1000 11,000
3 Ten Massacres, a wedding, and some God-proof iron chariots Judges 1:9-25 10,000 21,000
4 The LORD delivered Chushanrishathaim Judges 3:7-10 1000 22,000
5 Ehud delivers a message from God: a knife in the belly Judges 3:15-22 1 22,001
6 God delivers 10,000 lusty Moabites Judges 3:28-29 10,000 32,001
7 Barak and God Massacre the Canaanites Judges 4:14 1000 33,001
8 Jael pounds a tent stake through a sleeping man's head Judges 4:18-25 1 33,002
9 God forces Midianite soldiers to kill each other Judges 7:22, Judges 8:10 120,000 153,002
10 A city is massacred and 1000 burn to death because of God's evil spirit Judges 9:23-33 2001 155,003
11 The Ammonite massacre Judges 11:32-33 20,000 175,003
12 Jephthah's daughter Judges 11:32-33 1 175,004
13 The spirit of the Lord comes on Samson and he murders 30 men for their clothes Judges 14:19 30 175,034
14 The Spirit of the Lord comes upon Samson and he kills 1000 men with the jawbone of an ass Judges 15:14-15 1000 176,034
15 Samson's God-assisted act of terrorism Judges 16:27-30 3,000 179,034
16 A Holy Civil War Judges 20:35-37 65,100 244,134

There are other notable killings in Judges that involve God in one way or another. I didn't include them in God's killings since it wasn't entirely clear (to me at least) that God was directly involved. Here are a few posts about these killings.

Let me know if I missed any or if I got some of the numbers wrong.

10 December 2009

The End of Judges: Two genocides and 200 stolen virgins

My last post was about the God-inspired civil war between the tribe of Benjamin and the other Israelites, which was God's way of dealing with that messy affair involving the Levite and his concubine.
Now it's time for the rest of the story.

As you'll recall, God told the Israelites to fight the Benjamites three times. In the first two battles, the Israelites were defeated and 40,000 of their soldiers were killed. But the third time "God smote Benjamin," killing 25,100 of them. But 600 Benjamites survived.
But six hundred [Benjamite] men turned and fled to the wilderness unto the rock Rimmon, and abode in the rock Rimmon four months. Judges 20:48
After the battle, the Israelites killed everything (human and animal) in every Benjamite village, town, and city and then burned everything to the ground.
And the men of Israel turned again upon the children of Benjamin, and smote them with the edge of the sword, as well the men of every city, as the beast, and all that came to hand: also they set on fire all the cities that they came to. Judges 20:48
But then they remembered the 600 surviving Benjamite soldiers.

Where the heck were these guys going to find wives, since the Israelites had killed all the other Benjamites and they all swore to God at the Mizpeh concubine body part meeting that none of them would "give" their daughters to any Benjamite?
Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpeh, saying, There shall not any of us give his daughter unto Benjamin to wife. Judges 21:1
Then they thought of a great solution. They'd check the records of the Mizpeh meeting and see who didn't show up when they got a body part in the mail.
And they said, What one is there of the tribes of Israel that came not up to Mizpeh to the LORD? And, behold, there came none to the camp from Jabeshgilead to the assembly. Judges 21:8
It turned out that Jabeshgilead was absent. So they sent 12,000 soldiers to Jabeshgilead to kill everyone in town except for the virgin women. That produced 400 virgins, which they delivered to the Benjamite survivors at the rock Rimmon.
And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the children. And they found among the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead four hundred young virgins, that had known no man by lying with any male ... and they gave them wives which they had saved alive of the women of Jabeshgilead: .Judges 21:10-14
But shit! There were 600 Benjamites, so they were still 200 virgins short. Where the fuck were they going to find 200 more virgins?

Well, someone heard about this dancing festival that they had at Shiloh. So they had the remaining 200 Benjamite men hide in the bushes and catch the Shiloh virgins when they came out to dance.
Therefore they commanded the children of Benjamin, saying, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards ... And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh ... And the children of Benjamin did so, and took them wives, according to their number, of them that danced, whom they caught. Judges 21:20-23
So each of the 600 surviving Benjamite soldiers got a virgin and everything worked out according to God's plan.

In the comments, busterggi asks, "So what was Yahweh's plan?"

It's a fair question. Let's see if we can figure it out from the text of Judges 19-21.

There are some things that are clear enough. God approved of the Israelite civil war between the Benjamite tribe and the rest of the Israelites. We know this since God was directly asked three times (Judges 20:18, 23, 28) by the non-Benjamites whether they should attack the Benjamites. In each case, God said yes.
Which side he was on is less clear, however. The first two times that he told the non-Benjamites to attack, they were routed by the Benjamites and lost a total of 40,000 men. But the third time, "the LORD smote Benjamin" and 25,100 Benjamites died (which was nearly all of them). What God had in mind in the first two battles is anyone's guess, but he seems to have favored the non-Benjamites in the overall war.

Which makes you wonder, why did God want the Israelites to fight against each other, and why did he want the non-Benjamites to win?

To answer that we have to go back to the Levite and his concubine. That was, after all, the only justification for the war. The men of Gibeah were Benjamites, the Benjamites refused to hand over the men of Gibeah (all of them, I guess) to the non-Benjamites to be killed, so the non-Benjamites had to go to war with the Benjamites. God must have accepted this justification for war, since no other is even hinted at in the story.
So God approved of the war, but did he approve of the way the Israelites were called to war? That is, did he approve of chopping up the concubine's body into 12 pieces and sending the pieces to the 12 tribes of Israel? (I guess even the Benjamites got a piece.) Well, he certainly never voiced any disapproval. And there is another similar message that he definitely approved. Shortly after Saul became king, "the spirit of God came upon Saul ... and he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the coast of Israel." (1 Samuel 11:6-7). This was a call to war -- and Saul did it under the influence of God's spirit. So chopping up dead bodies and sending them as messages is something that God inspires people to do. So we can be pretty sure that God approved of the rotting concubine body part messages.

OK. So God approved of the war, was rooting for the non-Benjamites, and most likely approved of the call to war message. But how about the genocide after the war?

That is a harder question. But God had plenty of chances to object if he disapproved. And (as readers of this blog well know) he often performed genocide himself and commanded the Israelites to do likewise. So I think he was OK with the genocide of the Benjamites.

But what about after the genocide. Did he think the 600 surviving Benjamites needed wives? Did he approve of the vow (to him) that the non-Benjamites made to not "give" their daughters to Benjamites? Did he think it was OK to kill everyone in Jabeshgilead except the virgin women in order to get 400 wives for the Benjamites? And did he approve of the abduction of the Shiloh girls for the remaining 200 Benjamites?

I would say that the answer to each of these questions is yes. God approved of it all. It was all a part of his plan and everything worked out just the way he wanted it to.

What do you think?

God's next killing: Eli's sons and 34,000 soldiers

09 December 2009

A Holy Civil War (It had something to do with rotting, concubine body-part messages)

Remember the story about the Levite and his concubine? You know the one where the Levite and his concubine are staying at a guy's house when a mob comes and asks to have sex with the Levite, and the host says no you can't have sex with him but I'll give you my virgin daughter and his concubine instead, so the Levite gives them his concubine and they rape her all night and she crawls back to the house and dies the next morning, and then the Levite puts her body on his donkey and goes home and chops her body into 12 pieces and sends a piece to each tribe of Israel? Yeah that one.

Well, it's not over yet.

You see, when the 12 tribes got the pieces of decaying body parts, they immediately assembled before the Lord in Mizpeh, along with the entire population of Israel and 400,000 soldiers. (What else would you do if you got a hunk of rotting flesh in the mail?)
Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was gathered together as one man ... unto the LORD in Mizpeh. And ... four hundred thousand footmen that drew sword. Judges 20:1-2
When they arrived at Mizpeh, the Israelites asked the meaning of the rotting flesh messages. So the Levite told them the nasty story that is found in Judges 19, except that he left out the part about how he gave his concubine to the mob to do with as they pleased.

When the Israelites heard this, they all said together in complete unison:
This shall be the thing which we will do to Gibeah; we will go up by lot against it. Judges 20:9
(God's just war theory: Since the town of Gibeah was where the incident with the concubine occurred, and the inhabitants of Gibeah were from the tribe of Benjamin, the other Israelite tribes must go to war with the Benjamites. This may not make much sense to you, but it does to God.)

But first the Israelites ask God what they should do. He tells them to go to war with the Benjamites, saying that the tribe of Judah should go first. (I'm skipping a bit here. See the Brick Testament for the details.) So they did that, but it didn't work out too well, and 22,000 Israelites died.

After their first defeat, the Israelites wept before God and asked him what they should do next. God said to go fight the Benjamites (again). So the next day they tried that, but it didn't turn out so well this time either. Another 18,000 Israelites were killed.

Once again all of the Israelites sit and weep before God, and ask him (for the third time) if they should attack the Benjamites. God give them his usual answer: Attack. This time he promised that he would deliver them into their hands.

And he did. It's not entirely clear, though, how many Benjamites were killed, 25,100, 25,000, or maybe both in two separate battles. But since there were only a total of 26,000 Benjamites soldiers, I'll just give God credit for killing another 25,100.
And the LORD smote Benjamin before Israel: and the children of Israel destroyed of the Benjamites that day twenty and five thousand and an hundred men: all these drew the sword. Judges 20:35
Still, it seems to me that God was also at least partly responsible for the 40,000 Israelites that were killed in the first two unsuccessful battles that he told the Israelites to fight. What do you think, should these be included in God's killings?

10 Dec 09: I've decided to add the 40,000 Israelite deaths to God's total. If you think I'm wrong about that, let me know in the comments.