Monday, March 19, 2012

Tobit 3-5

The Facts (Chapter number: Verse)

3:7-17 - [The beginning of the book mirrors a similar prayer given by Tobit, who wishes for his life to end because his blindness causes him so much suffering] Sarah, daughter of Raguel in Media, was approached by one of her father's maids. Sarah had been married to seven husbands and a demon named Asmodeus had killed each of them before they could give Sarah any children. The maid says to Sarah, "You are the one who kills your husbands! See, you have already been married to seven husbands and have not borne the name of a single one. Why do you beat us? Because your husbands are dead? Go with them! May we never see a son or daughter of yours!" Sarah grieved and wept and went to her father's upper room with the intent to hang herself. After she thought about it, Sarah said, "Never shall they reproach my father, saying to him, 'You had only one beloved daughter but she hanged herself because of her distress.' And I shall bring my father in his old age down in sorrow to Hades. It is better for me not to hang myself, but to pray the Lord that I may die and not listen to these reproaches anymore." So Sarah prayed:

"Blessed are you, merciful God! Blessed is your name forever; let all your works praise you forever. And now, Lord, I turn my face to you, and raise my eyes towards you. Command that I be released from the earth and not listen to such reproaches any more. You know, O Master, that I am innocent of any defilement with a man, and that I have not disgraced my name or the name of my father in the land of my exile. I am my father's only child; he has no close relative or other kindred for whom I should keep myself as wife. Already seven husbands of mine have died. Why should I live? But if it is pleasing to you, O Lord, to take my life, hear me in my disgrace."

God hears both Tobit and Sarah and send the angel Raphael to heal them both. Raphael will remove the white film from Tobit's eyes, bring Tobit's son, Tobias, to Sarah so she may be given in marriage to him, and setting Sarah free from the demon Asmodeus. For Tobias was entitled to Sarah before all others. At the same time that Tobit returned from the courtyard of his house, Sarah came down from her father's upper room.

4:3-4 - "Then [Tobit] called his son Tobias, and when he came to him he said, "My son, when I die, give me a proper burial. Honor your mother and do not abandon her all the days of her life. Do whatever pleases her, and do not grieve her in anything. Remember her, my son, because she faced many dangers for you while you were in her womb. And when she dies, bury her beside me in the same grave."
4:12-13 - "Beware, my son, of every kind of fornication. First of all, marry a woman from among the descendants of your ancestors; do not marry a foreign woman, who is not of your father's tribe; for we are the descendants of the prophets. Remember, my son, that Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our ancestors of old, all took wives from among their kindred. They were blessed in their children, and their posterity will inherit the land. So now, my son, love your kindred, and in your heart do not disdain your kindred, the sons and daughters of your people, by refusing to take a wife for yourself among them. For in pride there is ruin and great confusion. And in idleness there is loss and dire poverty, because idleness is the mother of famine."

5:17-6:1 - [Tobias begins to set out on a journey with Raphael to retrieve money Tobit left with Gabael in Media] "Before he went to start his journey, he kissed his father and mother. Tobit then said to him, 'Have a safe journey.' But his mother began to weep, and said to Tobit, 'Why is it that you have sent my child away? Is he not the staff of our hand as he goes in and out before us? Do not heap money upon money, but let it be a ransom for our child. For the life that is given to us by the Lord is enough for us.' Tobit said to her, 'Do not worry; our child will leave in good health and return to us in good health. Your eyes will see him on the day he returns to you in good health. Say no more! Do not fear for them, my sister. For a good angel will accompany him; his journey will be successful, and he will come back in good health.' So she stopped weeping."

My Comments

Not gonna lie, Tobit 3 and 4 impress me to a certain degree. Tobit 3 is just kind of cool because it's got a nice literary mirror going with Tobit's prayer for death compared to Sarah's prayer for death. I'm honestly just a sucker for decent story telling, ESPECIALLY since the Bible seems to lack that in so many ways. Also not even a little mad about Sarah's story here. Yeah, it's another story about a woman being deemed less than for failing to conceive heirs. But she's given a voice, unlike so many other women who have faced similar hardships before her. The entire ordeal is not even presented as her fault since it is very clearly a demon who has brought this misfortune upon her (and her late husbands). And on the end of that, we get a great look into Sarah's emotions during this time, which is, again, something the Bible tends to leave out of stories involving women's tragedies. I'm also amazed at the way suicide is looked at here. Tobit and Sarah really do want to end their suffering and pay no lip service to their miserable lives. Compare this to Job, who, while having a horrible time with life, still trudged on and praised the lord despite his suffering. Tobit and Sarah do make mention of god, but not quite in the same vein as Job did.

Tobit 4 actually has Tobit's request to Tobias to protect and look after his mother as one of the FIRST things he lists. It's so rare to see a mother being thought of first before so many other aspects of life including property and godlyness. It's a good chunk of text, too, not the usual throw away line of, "Oh, and don't forget your mother. She's important or something." It really is a nice change and actually seems to have genuine sentiment behind it rather than just being included as a chore that must be attended to.

This may also be a bit of a surprise, but I'm not even mad about Tobit 4:12-13. I will preface that with a few words: The first line is a bit jarring, but I am not sure what exactly is meant by "fornication" in this context, since it is obvious Tobit is not forbidding ALL sex, but my Bible does not give any alternate definitions so I am not sure how it should really be taken. There is also the bit about idleness being the mother of famine, which is just odd because it doesn't seem to fit with anything else Tobit is talking about here, but this can have my usual gripe about evil/not good concepts typically being portrayed as female. Aside from that, Tobit telling his son to marry within the tribe does not bother me. This, right here, is a cultural thing. When most people say sexism in the Bible is a cultural thing that's just bullshit. This bit about foreign women is not strictly a cultural preference to marry within a tribe. This section about foreign women is not simply a statement that marrying within the tribe is just something you do to keep the lineage pure. Foreign women, up to this point, are spoken of as if they were the purest of evil, sent to destroy god's people and lead them down a path of ruin. Yes, the tradition to marry within your own tribe and people was cultural, but the WAY in which these traditions are spoken of is not cultural. Previous passages were utterly sexist in their depiction of foreign women. THIS passage, on the other hand, is what I would consider a non-sexist portrayal of a cultural norm. Tobit does not warn Tobias that foreign women will lead him astray or make him worship false gods or drag him to the pits of wherever. It's just a simple fact. Tobit's tribe has a long lineage which links directly to the old prophets, which is something Tobit wishes to keep intact. Nothing more. Actually, instead of the foreign women being at fault in this passage it would actually be Tobias himself who would be actively disappointing his kinsmen.

I mean, it's kind of sad how impressive this is to me, but with what I've had to endure reading up to this point this is simply amazing.

In looking at Tobit 5:17-6:1, I'm going to double back on the previous post a tiny bit. There was an exchange in the last reading where Tobit accused his wife of stealing, even when she was working to keep them all afloat since Tobit was not able to work due to his blindness. I will not take back what I said about Tobit being an asshole. He was still very much the asshole in that dialogue. What I did not mention, though, was that his wife, Anna, is surprisingly active in her role here. She is not simply yelled at then never given a chance to speak back. Compare this to a woman like Job's wife, who was angry at Job for still worshiping a god who would ruin their lives, but was simply silenced by Job and never heard from again. Tobit yells at his wife for stealing and his wife gets a chance to speak right back at him. "Where are your acts of charity? Where are your righteous deeds? Those things are known about you!" This new interaction is a bit of the usual fare: woman is seemingly unreasonably upset about something, man is the usual stoic and tells her to calm down and she does. But to me, this doesn't quite feel that way. Now, I'll admit it did my first read through. Having had a day to think about it and look over it again, it does not seem as harsh as it did the first time. When Tobit yelled at his wife in chapter 2 that was harsh, and Anna responded appropriately. Here, Anna is understandably upset that her only son is being sent off with a stranger to a strange place, leaving her all alone with a blind husband who cannot work. Tobit, who does not wish for his son to live in the poverty that has befallen their family, knows that Tobias going off to collect the money from Tobit's friend is the only way to get Tobias and their family out of that poverty. I guess it does depend on the tone you give Tobit here, but through a second read to me it feels more like Tobit is comforting Anna rather than commanding her to shut up. In many respects, they are both given enough words to make them seem like a fairly normal couple. Not every couple has the same values. Some people are like Anna, they value family being together more than material comfort, while some are like Tobit, who want everything for their children including physical luxuries they may have never had.

I only think this is achieved because Anna is allowed a voice. She is allowed to put Tobit in his place when he is being unreasonable, and she is allowed to voice her sorrow when Tobit sends Tobias off. While Tobit may receive god's blessing by the end of his book when god heals his blindness, Anna is not overtly shown to be some sort of unfaithful monster for not being okay with everything Tobit does.

The agency given to the women in this book, Anna and Sarah, is such a breath of fresh air and also does a lot to aid in the story telling and leave the women feeling like actual people and less like demons/obstacles for the men to overcome. I really hope the book continues in this vein. I'm happy to finally be reading something that flows much more like an actual story. Sad that such a promising book is apocryphal but whatever.

I will totally understand if there's any disagreement with my interpretations. I'm not used to having so little negative to say about Bible books, too. And I do think some of this is personal interpretation, like how I view Tobit's response to Anna being upset as comforting rather than him just telling her to shut up. I do feel that since Anna is not held in a bad light that the comforting interpretation does hold water, but I'll be more than happy to hear other opinions on the matter.

Next time: More Tobit

Monday, February 20, 2012

Malachi & Tobit 1-2

The Facts (Chapter number: Verse)

Malachi 1 - No mention of any women.

2:11 - "Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah has profaned and sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign God."
2:14-16 - "You ask, 'Why does he not [regard or accept your offerings]?' Because the Lord was a witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and wife by covenant. Did not one God make her? Both flesh and spirit are his. And what does the one God desire? Godly offering. So look to yourselves, and do not let anyone be faithless to the wife of his youth. For I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel, and covering one's garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless."

3:5 - "Then I will draw near you for judgement; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts."

Malachi 4 - No mention of any women.

Tobit 1:8-9 - "A third tenth I would give to the orphans and widows and to the converts who had attached themselves to Israel. I would bring it and give it to them in the third year, and we would eat it according to the ordinance decreed concerning it in the law of Moses and according to the instructions of Deborah, the mother of my father Tobiel, for my father had died and left me an orphan. When I became a man I married a woman, a member of our own family, and by her I became the father of a son whom I named Tobias."
1:20 - "Then all my property was confiscated; nothing was left to me that was not taken into the royal treasury except my wife Anna and my son Tobias."

2:1 - "Then during the reign of Esar-haddon I returned home, and my wife Anna and my son Tobias were restored to me."
2:11-14 - Tobit's Wife Earns Their Livelihood
"At that time [when Tobit was blind], my wife Anna earned money at women's work. She used to send what she made to the owners and they would pay wages to her. One day, the seventh of Dystrus, when she cut off a piece she had woven and sent it to the owners, they paid her full wages and also gave her a young goat for a meal. When she returned to me, the goat began to bleat. So I called her and said, 'Where did you get this goat? It is surely not stolen, is it? Return it to the owners; for we have no right to eat anything stolen.' But she said to me, 'It was given to me as a gift in addition to my wages.' But I did not believe her, and told her to return it to the owners. I became flushed with anger against her over this. Then she replied to me, 'Where are your acts of charity? Where are your righteous deeds? Those things are known about you!'"

My Comments

Finally, we're back! Hopefully I will continue to be back. Things have finally started to settle down and I've got time to sit and work on this project again. It's good to be back. :)

Oddly, Malachi up until chapter 2 verses 14-16 is about how God is upset that his people are giving him shitty offerings. No mention is made that he's upset about men being unfaithful to their wives in any context until it seemingly randomly pops at the end. Now, Malachi speaks out against Judah who married the daughter of a foreign God. This is the grievance that is mentioned 2 verses before the start of verse 14. The "daughter" in that verse is not a flesh and blood women, it is an ideal, a covenant, which Judah came into with a foreign God. Looking at all of this, how the beginning of the books concerns God's people being unfaithful to their covenant with him by giving unsatisfactory offerings and how the verses preceding 2:14-16 use women and marriage as a symbol for a covenant between man and gods, I'm going to argue that 2:14-16 is not about how much God wants human men to love their human wives. Rather, I think those verses continue the use of human wives and marriage as a symbol for God's covenant with his people.

God was a witness between Moses accepting the covenant and commandments from God in the beginning after they were saved from Egypt. This old covenant and "wife of their youth" is what God's people are being unfaithful to when then dare sacrifice polluted foods or sickly livestock. God made this covenant wherein man's flesh and spirit and earthly lives are under his control. And since the main component of this covenant/wife is offerings and sacrifice (just go flip through any of the law books if you doubt that about 2/3 of God's rules were solely about sacrificing to him correctly), anyone who provides sub par sacrifices is being faithless to the covenant/wife. Do not let those around you be faithless and irresponsible with upholding and following the covenant. God hates people who divorce from the covenant and hates having to punish those who do with violence (try to stifle your laughter), so take heed and do not be faithless to the covenant/wife.

The subheading for 2:10-17 is also "The Covenant Profaned by Judah" so I think it's pretty obvious this section concerns covenants and not mortal marriage.

Tobit is our first foray into the apocryphal texts. From here on we will be going through apocryphal texts until we reach the New Testament.

Tobit was a man who lived a life of charity. He was held captive in Nineveh where he secretly buried the bodies of executed Israelite. Tobit fled when he was found out and only came back when the king was murdered and one of his sons took over the throne. Tobit returned to his wife and son after that and continued being the charitable person he was known to be. He was blinded after he buried a man and slept out in his courtyard where some bird droppings fell into his eyes.

That is his whole story up to this point. He's a man with no faults who risks his life to bury his people who aren't afforded a proper burial. He gives a good portion of his possessions and earnings to those in need. The man is a saint with no seeming fault to be found.

Yet this man, when he is sick and unable to work, is completely capable of accusing his wife of stealing when she is working to keep them alive and apparently doing so well that she gets a bonus from her clients. What is this? I mean, it's amazing that his wife will do this for him especially after he left her and her son alone when he fled from the king. It is obvious that his wife is faithful to him and willing to work to keep him alive and comfortable. Tobit can't even show a small amount of compassion for his wife while she is working by herself to keep their family afloat. Tobit seems to care more for strangers than for his own wife. His wife is right to snap back at him. "Where are your acts of charity? Where are your righteous deeds?" Sorry, Anna, but those deeds and acts seem to be reserved solely for others and God. He's spread himself thin and can't seem to make sure there's any left over for you no matter how much you sacrifice for him.

Looking through chapter 3, he also never seems to acknowledge his assholery towards his wife and this exchange seems to be swept under the rug. Chapter 3 mostly consists of Tobit praying to God that God kill him so that he no longer needs to suffer his blindness and his reputation that had been maligned by the foreign kingdom in which he lives.

What exactly does this exchange do in this context then? If Tobit is still held up as a holy man and this act of cruelty against his wife is seemingly swept under the rug, what does this say? What is its purpose? To show that women are so insignificant that their own acts of charity and faithfulness are meaningless while the charity of faith of a man will get him great rewards (Tobit's blindness is later healed by God)? That doing harm to your own wife is something that is so insignificant and inconsequential that it will not harm your reputation with God in any way?

Whatever it says, I don't think it's anything very good.

Next time: More Tobit

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Sorry it's been pretty much silent here for a while now, and I'm sorry that it is probably going to be silent for a while longer. The last couple of weeks are been incredibly draining. On top of general Thanksgiving/holiday craziness on of my dogs has started seizing regularly for about two weeks now. The first week we thought it was just stress from having my boyfriend's mother staying at our place (my dogs get really anxious around new people) and the vet said the first two seizures were pretty normal and gave me some vallium to give my dog before bed each night. She was fine on that and then I stopped giving her the pills after his mom left and she was doing fine for a few nights. And then she had another seizure a couple of nights ago and then the next night she had two within a few hours. I talked to the vet the next day and while the first couple seemed normal, according to my vet it isn't normal for her to keep having them and in such a short span of time. So The vet gave me an anti-convulsant medication to give my dog twice and a day in hopes that that may help some. Apparently it takes a week or so for the medication to really start taking effect and my dog is till seizing, though the seizures last night (three this time, one grand mal and two partial) seemed a bit shorter and not as tough ad the previous ones. To add to this she only seems to be seizing at night when she's sleeping so I have not been getting a good amount of sleep at all the past two weeks and any sleep I do get isn't very restful since my entire body is ready to jump up and into action the second I hear her collar make too much noise or her slam into something while she's starting to seize.

The entire ordeal is incredibly stressful. The only symptoms she has are the seizures so there's really no clue as to what is really happening. She's eating fine, drinking fine, she's still rough housing with the other dog like normal. Only slight change is she seems to get a little more tired when we go on our walks, but that's probably mostly because she hasn't been sleeping well due to her seizures. We've ruled out a metabolic cause because all of her blood work was normal, and now it doesn't seem to be stress induced. So it's been tough. The seizures are just really hard to watch and, at least for the first four or so, she would get really aggressive afterwards and seem to forget who I was for about 5 or 10 minutes after. But I have to be the one to sit there with her and pet her while she's going through it and talk to her, and I have to be as calm as I can because if I act stressed and scared then she'll be more stressed and scared as well.

So I haven't had much energy these past two weeks. I feel like a huge ball of non stop stress and worry, mostly because there's really no idea right now what is wrong with her. It takes most of my energy to go to work and keep myself from thinking about it so I don't sit there crying in my cubicle. And then when I get home I'm really only good for mindless activities like tv or some simple video games. And I spend a lot of time just keeping an eye on her since I need to write down any changes I see or make sure I notice when she's starting to seize so I can get everything I need to get her through it (towel so I can hold her without her biting me if she is aggressive afterwards, a dog kennel to place her in she she doesn't run around right after while she's still disoriented, and her medication so I can give it to her right after she comes around so she doesn't potentially go straight into another seizure).

Long story short, a lot of my energy is going towards trying to keep my dog as safe as I can while she's having some unknown medical problems and trying to keep me sane enough so I can handle it. Unfortunately doesn't leave me much time at all to do the blog or anything else I want to get around to doing. I'm hoping in the next week or so her meds start working and I'm not completely on edge 24/7. It may not lower my stress levels significantly, but at least I might be able to get some sleep.

As it is now I'm afraid I'm going to be away from the blog and most everything else until things work themselves out. I hate going on another indefinitely hiatus again since it seems like I was on hiatus only yesterday, but I just cannot get myself pulled together long enough to read anything, never mind do any sort of analysis of it. 

I hope everyone remains well in my absence.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Haggai & Zechariah

The Facts (Chapter number: Verse)

Haggai 1 - No mention of any women.

Haggai 2 - No mention of any women.

Zechariah 1 - No mention of any women.

Zechariah 2:7 - "Up! Escape to Zion, you that live with daughter Babylon!"
2:10-11 - "Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! For lo, I will come and dwell in your midst, says the Lord. Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in your midst. And you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me [an angel of the Lord] to you."

Zechariah 3 - No mention of any women.

Zechariah 4 - No mention of any women.

Zechariah 5:5-11 - Seventh Vision: The Woman in a Basket

"Then the angel who talked with me came forward and said to me, 'Look up and see what this is coming out.' I said, 'What is it?' He said, 'This is a basket coming out.' And he said, 'This is their iniquity in all the land.' Then a leaden cover was lifted, and there was a woman sitting in the basket! And he said, 'This is Wickedness.' So he thrust her back into the basket, and pressed the leaden weight down on its mouth. Then I looked up and saw two women coming forward. The winds was in their wings; they had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and sky. Then I said to the angel who talked with me, 'Where are they taking the basket?' He said to me, 'To the land of Shinar, to build a house for it; and when this is prepared, they will set the basket down there on its base.'"

Zechariah 6 - No mention of any women.

Zechariah 7:10 - "Do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another."

Zechariah 8:1-2 - "The word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with the great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath."
8:4-5 - "Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets."

Zechariah 9:9 - "Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."
9:11-13 - "As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to your stronghold, I prisoners of hope; today I will declare that I will restore to you double. For I have bent Judah as my bow; I have made Ephraim its arrow. I will arouse your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece, and wield you like a warrior's sword."
9:17 - "For what goodness and beauty are his! Grain shall make the young men flourish, and new wine for the women."

Zechariah 10 - No mention of any women.

Zechariah 11 - No mention of any women.

Zechariah 12:12-13 - "The land shall mourn, each family be itself; the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself, and their wives by themselves; and all the families that are left, each by itself, and their wives by themselves."

Zechariah 13:3 - "And if any prophets appear again, their fathers and mothers who bore them will say to them, 'You shall not live, for you speak lies in the name of the Lord'; and their fathers and their mothers who bore them shall pierce them through when they prophesy."

Zechariah 14:2 - "For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses looted and the women raped; half the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city."

My Comments

These books are taking a turn to talking about how God will rebuild and fix his people after his punishment instead of just waxing poetic about how horrible their punishments will be. I can't help but think back to Job, where God spent so long destroying Job's life (and Job was actually extremely faithful to God, unlike God's people) and then in the end God replacing everything with new stuff (not giving him back his old stuff like his dead kids are estranged wife) as if this magically fixes Job. Simply replacing something doesn't make it all better. It doesn't fix the emotional and mental harm that is caused by such destruction because there would definitely be some mental and emotional damage caused here. All of those women in these cities don't suddenly become unraped and all the men and children don't suddenly become undead and their families unsad. Shiny, new stuff and a promise that all that bad stuff will never happen again really doesn't solve half the problems such prolonged suffering causes.

I'll use an example from my own life when our house got robbed about a year or so ago, if that has ever happened to anyone reading this. It was a very hard experience to go through and it definitely has nothing to do with the physical items that are taken. In the beginning, that was part of it, but, at least for me, that was only a flashing moment in the whole experience. The stuff was replace, but our whole family spent that first night awake and on edge, and even after we had an alarm installed the next day it was difficult to feel completely safe in the house. I worried for months about people coming in and this time harming our dogs or, heaven forbid, taking something like my gun and using it to hurt someone else. If the robbers had come back the next day with all our stuff and given it back and, on top of that, added a few thousand dollars that wouldn't fix anything. And could you imagine if they had come back with our stuff and then some and then had the AUDACITY to demand that we praise them for bringing it all back lest they do it again?

This same issue when it comes to emotional and mental damage also shows up in many, many other crimes and situations, I only use the robbery example because it's been fresh on my mind for a while (we recently moved and no longer have an alarm system to provide any sense of security and I often worry about someone breaking in when we're not home, my biggest concern being the safety of my dogs). Having all the physical stuff in your life back and in order may fix some of it, but rarely does it fix everything. There is still so much healing needed which takes time, and that is made especially difficult when other parties are convinced that you should be all a-ok now, like how God expects his people to just continue on grinning from ear to ear and worshiping him simply because he raised the cities back up and defeated their attackers.

I also want to address Zechariah 5 concerning the woman in the basket. A lot of Zechariah deals with these visions he is getting and having an angel help him interpret these visions. Of these visions he sees: horsemen, the horns and the blacksmiths, the man and the measuring line, Joshua and Satan, the lampstand and the olive trees, the flying scroll, the woman in the basket, and the four chariots.

Notice, many of these visions involve men. Only one involves a woman. The horsemen patrol the earth for God and bring news to the angel that the earth is at peace. The blacksmiths (I'm kind of mostly guessing here because for whatever reason that section is ridiculously hard to figure out what is going on) are there to stop the horns which scattered Judah. The man with the measuring line is simply there to measure Jerusalem. Joshua is raised high and shall rule God's(?) house and keep charge of his courts. The chariots represent the four winds and they also patrol the earth.

Meanwhile, the woman in the basket represents the iniquity in all the land. She is Wickedness.

One of these things is not like the other.

Also like to note that the women who take Wickedness away are not called angels. They are simply women with stork like wings. Off the top of my head I do not recall a single female angel in the Bible thus far. Please correct me if I am mistake on this point, but if an angel had been female I would have definitely written about it, and I do not recall ever talking about female angels. Considering how angels are never female it's amazing that so many of our modern day depictions of angels have them in female form. What a simple way to erase some of the misogyny of the Bible by making it seem like women are actually a large part of the Bible and of God's angelic court.

So men are male symbols are protectors and God's workers. They go out and patrol the land and report back to God and take measurements and protect Judah from the forces keeping it apart.

But women are the embodiment of Wickedness. Nothing redeeming, nothing good. Pure evil that is meant to be locked away so it cannot meddle in the world of men and turn men astray and away from God's path.

Up next: Malachi

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Habakkuk & Zephaniah

The Facts (Chapter number: Verse)

Habakkuk 1 - No mention of any women.

Habakkuk 2 - No mention of any women.

Habakkuk 3 - No mention of any women.

Zephaniah 1 - No mention of any women.

Zephaniah 2 - No mention of any women.

3:14-20 - "Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak. The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it. I will dear with your oppressors at that time. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the Lord."

My Comments

Yes, be PLEASED, Jerusalem, that God is around! BOW to the God that has gotten rid of all these ills that have plagued you and killed so many of your people!

Nevermind the fact that it was God himself who cause these ills to fall upon you. No, no, let's forget about all that. Water under the bridge. Don't pay attention to the last ten books that practically reveled in your misfortune and torment. No, now it's all over and God's here to give you a kiss and some flowers and ask you to just come back home, baby. He won't ever do it again.

You know... as long as you do everything he says and everything he wants. Otherwise, God may have to punish you again because hey, you won't learn without some discipline, right?

Ugh.... how much more of this abusive husband bullshit do I have to read through? It's really, really getting old...

Next: Haggai & Zechariah

Monday, October 24, 2011


The Facts (Chapter number: Verse)

Nahum 1 - No mention of any women.

2:7 - "It is decreed that the city be exiled, its slave women led away, moaning like doves and beating their breasts."
2:12 - "The lion has torn enough from his whelps and strangled prey for his lionesses; he has filled his caves with prey and his dens with torn flesh."

3:4-10 - "Because of the countless debaucheries of the prostitute, gracefully alluring, mistress of sorcery, who enslaves nations through her debaucheries, and people through her sorcery, I am against you, says the Lord of hosts, and will lift up your skirts over your face; and I will let nations look on your nakedness and kingdoms on your shame. I will throw filth at you and treat you with contempt, and will make you a spectacle. Then all who see you will shrink from you and say, 'Nineveh is devastated; who will bemoan her?' Where shall I seek comforters for you?

"Are you better than Thebes that sat by the Nile, with water around her, her rampart at sea, water her wall? Ethiopia was her strength, Egypt too, and that without limit; Put and the Libyans were her helpers.

"Yet she became an exile, she went into captivity; even her infants were dashed in pieces at the head of every street; lots were cast for her nobles, all her dignitaries were bound in fetters."
3:13 - "Look at your troops; they are women in your midst. The gates of you land are wide open to your foes; fire has devoured the bars of your gates."

My Comments

Well, here we are again. It may be a slow start getting back into the groove, but I need to try to get back into it and frankly I want so desperately to be in a state of mind where blogging is possible again. The last few weeks have been a bit of a struggle on the stress front, but I'm settling into my new job okay. There's a lot to learn, but I tend to pick up new things fairly quickly so I'm not too worried about that. :)

Anyway, back to the Bible!

Sorry, Bible, lions are no the be all, end all of the lion pride. Lionesses tend to be the primary hunters in a pride and primary caretakers of themselves and their cubs. Lions are important for safety, sure, but definitely not the most vital component of a pride, no matter what Disney may have taught us in The Lion King. So the sentiments in the verse listed above isn't horribly accurate, other than the bit about the lion taking from his children (the lion ALWAYS eats first in a pride). And while the lion may help hunt on occasion, he is not the master hunter that he is usually held up to be. The verses before it quest what shall become of the lion's den when the lion falters. Simple answer: nothing. Lions are constantly being rotated out of prides, either because they leave or because they are challenged by another male and lose. The only consistency in a pride are the lionesses. So really, losing a male lion is not a huge deal.

It would seem the dens filled with torn flesh are supposed to be analogous to the people of God hoarding treasures and other things, but I really do not think lions (or other carnivorous animals) tend to hoard food very often. They tend to eat all that they have so that none of it goes to waste.

So, really, lions are an odd choice. Other than the fact that prides have one to two males to 4-20 females and the females tend to do all the work for the males (preparing food and child rearing), there really aren't many similarities between the human family culture of the Bible and lion prides.

And once again we have nudity being used as a punishment for women. More than happy to let their bodies be laid bare for those around them to gaze upon and use as they wish against the will of the woman. Nice.

I've started to wonder where this idea that the flesh and being nude are shameful. Where exactly did this come from? According to the Bible this shame came from the Tree of Knowledge, since Eve and Adam presumably walked freely in the garden and only hid their nakedness after they ate the fruit, but when you really start to think about it the whole idea of it starts to unravel.

Think about this for a bit and see if you can make any sense of it. God make Adam and Eve naked from the start. He never pushed them to wear clothes or commanded it from them or had any issues whatsoever with it, which would imply that God was completely okay with human nudity. The Tree of Knowledge supposed held the knowledge of good and evil, which was knowledge God already possessed but Adam and Eve were (for whatever reason) forbidden from learning. Once they ate the fruit, Adam and Eve KNEW that their bared flesh was sinful and covered it up.

So here's my question: If the knowledge obtained from the fruit includes the information that nakedness is sinful, then why was God, who supposedly already had this knowledge, okay with Adam and Eve's nakedness from the beginning?

It seems that only AFTER Adam and Eve eat the fruit does God decide that, yeah, nakedness is a horrible thing! Suddenly, instead of a philosophy that includes nakedness as just a part of nature and life, God decides that nudity is something to be ashamed of; punishable if one looks upon another naked (unless under the binds of a marriage contract) and used as a punishment for those who displease God enough (so far, only women).

So why is this? It seems even odder because nakedness is seen as pretty much one of the worst things ever. Hell, an entire blood line from Ham (son of Noah) and on were cursed by God just because Ham had the audacity to cover his drunk, naked father with a blanket and accidentally looked upon him while doing so. Nakedness is so shameful that it is used as a punishment for women who dare to stray from their owners/husbands/fathers/whomever. Nakedness has proved to be something incredibly horrible and yet God still refrains from using it as a punishment against men/males. Women, sure, no problem, hang their shame out for everyone to see. But God loves men so much that he would never dream of making men deal with such a horrible punishment.

Any thoughts on the concept of nakedness in the Bible? Any ideas on God's sudden change of heart when it comes to nudity? I'd love to hear them. I've pretty much just come to the conclusion that it's not really gonna make any sense, like most things in the Bible. God, even though unchanging and perfect, changes his mind at the drop of a hat and is more than happy to find any new punishments that he can to inflict upon his creations.

Next post: Habakkuk

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


The Facts (Chapter number: Verse)

1:6-10 - "Therefore I will make Samaria a heap in the open country, a place for planting vineyards. I will pour down her stones into the valley, and uncover her foundations. All her images shall be beaten to pieces, all her wages shall be burned with fire, and all her idols I will lay waste; for as the wages of a prostitute she gathered them, and as the wages of a prostitute they shall again be used. For this I will lament and wail; I will go barefoot and naked; I will make lamentation like the jackals, and mourning like the ostriches. For her wound is incurable. It has come to Judah; it has reached to the gate of my people, to Jerusalem. Tell it not in Gath, weep not at all; in Beth-leaphrah roll yourselves in the dust."

2:9 - "The women of my people you drive out from their pleasant houses; from their young children you take away my glory forever."

Micah 3 - No mention of any women.

4:8-13 - "And you, O tower of the flock, hill of daughter Zion, to you it shall come, the former dominion shall come, the sovereignty of daughter Jerusalem. Now why do you cry aloud? Is there no king in you? Has your counselor perished, that pangs have seized you like a woman in labor? Writhe and groan, O daughter Zion, like a woman in labor; for now you shall go forth from the city and camp in the open country; you shall go to Babylon. There you shall be rescued, there the LORD will redeem you from the hands of your enemies. Now many nations are assembled against you, saying, 'Let her be profaned, and let our eyes gaze upon Zion.' But they do not know the thoughts of the LORD; they do not understand his plan, that he has gathered them as sheaves to the threshing floor. Arise and thresh, O daughter Zion, for I will make your horn iron and your hoofs bronze; you shall beat in pieces many peoples, and shall devote their gain to the LORD, their wealth to the Lord of the whole earth."

5:3 - "Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel."

Micah 6 - No mention of any women.

7:5-6 - "Put no trust in a friend, have no confidence in a loved one; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your embrace; for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; your enemies are members of your own household."
7:10 - "Then my enemy will see, and shame will cover her who said to me, 'Where is the LORD your God?' My eyes will see her downfall; now she will be trodden down like the mire of the streets."

My Comments

Okay, I can't seem to get over my anxiety about my Jonah post so I haven't worked on it anymore. I'm still gonna try to get time to sit and deal with my bullshit and finish it, but until then I'm going to continue to press on and cover more ground.

Honestly, I had no idea that so much of the Bible was dedicated to nothing but how much God punishes those who don't grovel every chance they get as his holy, all knowing feet. I'd gotten this idea from all my years of church and whatnot that the Bible was mostly a book about how cool and awesome God was, with a few stories and moral teachings mixed in for good measure. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it was filled with such hate and violence. Not only is it filled with hate and violence but it seems to REVEL in it. This all wouldn't be so bad if it kind of had a more somber tone. Instead it feels like it's almost enjoying it. Like a movie that claims to be making a statement about horrific topics but then takes every chance it gets to put those topics front and center on the screen. Kind of like Gamer (with Gerard Butler), if anyone ever bothered to watch those movie. It was a movie that seemed to have some notions of making a statement about violence and sex in video games and how gamers envelope themselves inside these twisted, violent fantasies. Of course, apparently to make this point they had to shove as much sex, violence, violent sex and unsubtle misogyny in your face so all it did was undermine their "point." Side note: If you ever do find yourself in the same room as that movie and you have any love for Michael C. Hall (like I do) there's a scene near the end with him dancing and singing with mind controlled inmates have a fight scene with Butler that is just the best scene ever. I hesitate to say that scene alone was worth the 5 dollars I paid to see that horrible movie in theaters, but it was really the only scene that was watchable.

But I digress! I have had some people imply that I went into this project hating the Bible. That all this I'm doing is just me going into it with anger in my head and with nothing but a motive to do as much bashing as I can. I don't think there's anything I could really say to those people to convince them otherwise, but I honestly went into this thinking, "Well, I'm sure it won't be that bad. I mean, it is the base for the religion I grew up in, and while some bits of it are troubling most services and whatnot had feel good messages. And if the majority of my church experience was fluffy God is awesome stuff then I'm sure there's at least SOMETHING to back that up in the Bible." I definitely didn't think in my wildest dreams that this is as bad as it is. I'm sure many people here haven't really read the Bible, and I'm sure a lot of you are taking this a bit like I am. Where you knew there were problems with it, but you never imagined they were THIS bad. My surprise and angry in any of my posts is my genuine surprise and anger, and my anger is only so strong because I do feel like I have been lied to my whole life about this. It's like finding out that not only is Santa Claus not quite the fat and jolly man you grew up loving but that he also murders children in their sleep when they've been naughty. Which might not be that far from the truth, really.

So I'm still honestly surprised that we're still harping on God's punishment of his people. I mean, Micah SAYS that he's walking through the ruined streets, lamenting the fate of God's people who strayed, but it's hard to think he's all THAT upset when he's got florid prose after florid prose describing these scenes in detail. Am I the only one who sees it this way? I'd hate to think I'm overreaching here, but to me, reading all these books one after the other, it's starting to really feel like these prophets are really protesting too much about how horrible they really think these scenes are. If it had just been the one or two books, I would probably say that they just wanted to definitely make sure everyone knew what sort of punishment awaited those who strayed from God. But after 6 or 7? Now it's just enjoying the whole thing.

Anyway, we have more female punishment involving being "uncovered" for all around her to see. Of course, she is merely a prostitute so this is a just punishment because she takes her clothes off and lays bare for men for money so letting other use her body without paying her is okay. Or something. It's like when people claim you can't rape a prostitute, but then men will still use rape to harm and "punish" prostitutes.

Also love how Zion has "no king in her," if you catch it the Bible's single entendre. Again, Zion is laid bare for all to see. The metaphors involving undressing and being laid naked for others to gaze upon aren't seen when the cities are neuter or male. Why is nakedness only used as a punishment for women? Is it because gazing upon men is a sin so great that God will punish an entire line of decedents simple because on man happened to see his father naked while he was trying to cover him up and make him look decent? So since gazing upon a naked man is such a great offense to God is that why God seems to never use it as a punishment?

I would say something about how pain inf child birth is also used often as a descriptor for pain when it comes to these punishments, but seeing as childbirth is pretty much one of the major punishments given to all women because of Eve eating the apple, it is not at all strange that it is often used in this manner throughout the Bible. Not that I don't find it problematic that childbirth is seen as a punishment throughout the Bible even when (male) children are seen as the only real accomplishments a woman can achieve. It is problematic, but at least the Bible seems to be consistent in the fact that labor = horrible pain comparable to the pain suffered under God's punishment.

There is also a part where God gives Zion the tools to defeat her enemies, but these tools are only provided after Zion commits herself completely and unquestioningly to God's reign and law. Only in her complete compliance will God allow her some peace. Funny, that.

Friday: Nahum and I'll continue with posting as usual and continue trying to finish up my long winded piece on Jonah.