Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Judges 1-5

The Facts (Chapter number: Verse)

1:12-15 - Caleb said "Whoever attacks Kiriath-sepher and takes it, I will give him my daughter Achsah as wife." And Othniel son of Kanez, Caleb's younger brother, took it, and he gave him his daughter Achsah as wife. When she came to him she urged him to ask her father for a field. As she dismounted from her donkey Caleb asked her what she wished. She said, "Give me a present since you have set me in the land of the Negeb, give me also Gulloth-mayim." So Caleb gave her upper and lower Gulloth.

Judges 2 - No mention of any women.

3:5-6 - So the Isrealites lived among the Hittites, Canaanites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusties. They took their daughters as wives for themselves and their own daughters they gave to their sons, and they worshiped their Gods.

4:4-22 - At this time Deborah, a prophetess, wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel. The Iraelites came to her for judgment. She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali. She said to Barak, "The Lord commands you to go take position at Mount Tabor, bringing ten thousand from the tribe of Naphtali and Zebulun. I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jaban's army, to meet you by the Wadi Kishon with his chariots and his troops and I will give him into your hands." Barak said, "If you will go with me, I will go. If you will not then I will not go." Deborah said, "I will surely go with you, nonetheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell the life of Sisera into the hands of a woman." So Deborah went with Barak into Kedesh.

Sisera heard about Barak and he called out his chariots and troops. Deboah said to Barak, "Up! For this is the Day on which the Lord has given Siserainto your hands! The Lord is indeed going out before you." Barak and his tropps went down to meet Sisera and the Lord threw Sisera's army into a panic. Sisera fled from the battle on foot while the rest of his troops were killed.

Sisera fled to the tent of Jael wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between King Jabin of Hazor and the clan of Heber the Kenite. Jael came out to meet Sisera and told him to turn aside and have no fear. So he came into her tent and she covered him with a rug. Sisera asked her for some water to drink and she brought him milk. Sisera asked Jael to stand at the entrance of the tent, and if anyone came by to ask if he was there for her to tell them no. But Jael instead took a tent peg and a hammer and, while he was sleeping, slowly crept up and drove the peg into his temple until it hit the ground. When Barak came in pursuit of Sisera Jael came outside her tent and said to him, "Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking." So Barak went into her tent and found Sisera dead.

Judges 5 - Deborah and Barak sing of the events that had unfolded. The sing praises to the Lord. They praises Deborah as a mother of Israel who helped the people prosper. They sing of the people coming to Deborah. They sing of the battles Israel fought against foreign lands. They sing of the blessed woman Jael who drove a tent peg through Sisera's temple and delivered him to Barak. They sing of Sisera's mother who awaits her sons return and wonder why he is gone so long.

The land then had rest for forty years.

My Comments

Is Judges 1:12-15 supposed to be an addition to Joshua 15:16-19 or is it a retelling? Because it does not sound like an addition to the story, and if it is a retelling then it odd because in Joshua she got the upper and lower springs, not Gulloth. And why retell it again? Is this really that important that we need to mention it twice? And if it is that important then why do the two contradict on the present she is given? Just weird.

And I'm sorry, it's just weird that God basically punishes his people for NOT slaughtering everyone. The Israelites decided the conquered people were better used as slaves and workers instead of being corpses. Which is debatable if that is in fact better than being killed but that's not really the issue here. I just find it strange that God punishes his people because he is disappointed he didn't get the slaughter he demanded. God's just so bloodthirsty it's kind of creepy.

The excessive use of pronouns has been bothering me for a while. But this is so evident in Judges 3:6. So many "their"s I'm not sure who's giving whose daughter to whom and whose gods are being worshiped by whom and it's just a mess. This is not the first time that pronouns have made a passage super vague and basically unreadable, but this is the first time I'll bring it up. I won't mention every case I come upon (I could dedicate a whole other blog to that) but I may start mentioning ones that really pop out at me or are in the passages that deal with women, since I'll be writing about those passages anyways.

I do have to admit, I am suddenly enjoying the women stories. This is a much needed reprieve from women being constantly raped or being sexual tricksters. The women are suddenly more active, having a bigger role in God's plan. Sadly, I do not think these women are talked about near enough. I don't even remember really hearing about Deborah the judge when I went to church all those many years, and I only vaguely remember hearing about Jael delivering Sisera to the Israelites. And this is totally badass, so why don't we hear their stories more? Why aren't they being used as female role models in Sunday school to show how God did call upon women in the Old Testament to fulfill prophecy and even lead his people in very important roles? Perhaps it is because the stories are kind of violent. Jael's duty to God was to drive a spike through a man's head, not really suited for Sunday school coloring books.

Of course now that I say that I so want a Bible coloring book depicting all the bloodier scenes in the Bible. Like one about men and women being forced by God to cannibalize their own children and fetuses. Egyptians stumbling around with open oozing sores all over them. The Israelites slaughtering nation after nation. Jael staking Sisera. Oh the possibilities. :)

But yeah, Deborah and Jael both kick ass. They show that women can be called upon by God to take on higher responsibilities. That women can be something more than a baby maker or a prostitute. They can be active in their lives and their following of God's will, not just pieces to be moved around in a man's story. And this is much better than what Miriam ever got. Miriam was a prophetess too, but her story was never told. We'll never really know what she did or what she accomplished in her role as prophetess. Deborah and Jael managed to get into the tale and have their stories stand out. Maybe it's because Deborah was a judge, a big wig, while Miriam was overshadowed by the big prophet of the day Moses. Maybe if Moses hadn't had such a focus on him we could have gotten more of Miriam's story. We will never know, but at least some of the big female players in the Bible are getting well deserved face time.

Maybe this will continue to be a theme. Now that we're out of the more law heavy and boring books of the Bible hopefully it'll just be story time from here on out. I'll keep my fingers crossed but I still won't hold my breath. Yeah we've gotten 3 very strong female characters fairly close to each other, but the Bible has A LOT of bullshit to make up for. I sincerely hope it at least continues to try to make up for it.

Tomorrow: Judges 6-9

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