Monday, June 28, 2010

Judges 10-15

The Facts (Chapter number: Verse)

Judges 10 - No mention of any women.

11:1-2 - Jephthah, the son of a prostitute, was a mighty warrior. Gilead was the father of Jephthah. Gilead's wife also bore him sons, and when his wife's sons grew up they drove Jephthah away, saying he shall not inherit anything because he was the son of a prostitute.
11:34-40 - (Jephthah makes a vow to God that if God helps him destroy the Ammonites that Jephthah would make a burnt offering to the Lord of the first person to greet him when he returned home.) Jephthah returns home and his daughter, his only child, is the first out of his house to greet him. When Jephthah saw her he ripped his clothes and cried, "Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low; you have become the curse of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and cannot take back my vow." His daughter wants him to keep his vow, since he made it to the Lord and the Lord did help him take down the Ammonites. She asked her father for two months so that she and her companions may go and wander in the mountains and bemoan her virginity. So she and her companions went into the mountains for two months and bewailed her virginity. At the end of two months she came back and her father upheld his part of the vow. There then arose an Israelite custom that for four days every year the daughters of Israel would go out to lament the daughter of Jephthah.

12:9 - Ibzan judged Isreal for seven years and had thirty sons. He gave his thirty daughters in marriage outside his clan and brought in thirty young women from outside for his sons.

13:2-14 - A man named Manoah had a wife who was barren. An angel of the Lord appeared to his wife and Said to her that she would no longer be barren, than she would bear a son. He warned her to be careful not to drink or eat anything unclean, and that no razor was to come to her son's head since he was to be a nazirite to God from birth. Her son is to be the one who will begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines. The wife went to her husband and told her what had happened and what the angel had told her. Manoah entreated the Lord to send the man again to tell them what he as his wife are to do concerning the boy who was to be born. God listened to Manoah and sent the angel to the woman again, but Manoah was not with her. She went to her husband to tell him the man who talkedto her the other day was back and Manoah went to him. The angel told Manoah what he had told his wife previously.
13:19-25 - Manoah offers a burnt offering to the Lord and the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar before Manoah and his wife. Manoah and his wife fell on their faces to the ground and the angel of the Lord did not appear again. Manoah said to his wife that they would surely die for seeing the face of God. His wife said that surely the Lord would not kill them if He had just accepted their burnt offering, or shown them this vision, or announced to them these things.

The woman bore a son and named him Samson. The boy grew and the Lord blessed him.

Judges 14 - Samson went down to Timnah and saw a Philistine woman. He told his father and mother and asked for her as his wife. His mother and father asked why doesn't he take a woman from his kin or his people. Samson again told them he wanted the Philistine woman, his mother and father unaware that this was part as a pretext to act against the Philistines. Samson went down with his mother and father to Timnah. Samson fought and killed a lion without letting his mother and father know. Then he went down to talk to the Philistine woman and she pleased Samson. He later returned to marry her. While there Samson found honey in the carcass of the lion he had killed and brought some honey to his mother and father, not letting them know where he had gotten it from.

Samson's father went down to the woman and Samson made a feast there. Thirty companions went to be with him during this feast. He offered up a riddle for them to solve, the reward being thirty linen garments and thirty festal garments. If they could not solve the riddle in seven days the companions were to give him the same. They accepted the challenge and Samson told them the riddle, "Out of the eater came something to eat. Out of the strong something sweet."

After three days they could not explain the riddle. On the fourth day they asked Samson's wife to coax the answer out of him, threatening to burn her and her father's house if she did not. So Samson's wife went to Samson and wept before him, saying, "You hate me. You do not really love me. You have asked a riddle of my people, but you have not explained it to me." Samson told her he hasn't even told his father and mother the answer, why should he tell her? She wept before him for seven days, and because she nagged him on the seventh day he told her. Then she explained the riddle to the people. The men of the town told him on the seven day, "What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?" And Samson told them, "If you had not plowed with my heifer you would not have found out my riddle." The spirit of the Lord rushed down on Samson and he killed thirty men of Ashkelon, took their spoil, and gave the festal garments to the men who solved the riddle. He went back to his father's house. Samson's wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man.

15:1-8 - At the time of the wheat harvest Samson took a kid and went to visit his wife. He asked to go to his wife's room but her father would not allow him to. Her father told Samson that since it seemed Samson had rejected her, she had been given to Samson's companion. Her father offered up her younger sister to Samson instead. Samson, angry about this, went and tied torches to 300 foxes' tails and set them loose in the town. The Philistines asked who had done this and they said Samson, the son-in-law of the Trimnite, because he has taken Samson's wife and given her to his companion. So the Philistines burned the woman and her father. Samson swears revenge on the Philistines for burning his wife and her father, and slaughtered them all.

My Comments

Have to say, I was looking forward to the piece of work that is the story of Jephthah. I mean, really? Jephthah blames HIS DAUGHTER? It's his daughter's fault that he now has to sacrifice her to the Lord? He's the one that made the vow. He knew damn well his daughter was a possibility. So how dare his guilt trip his daughter just because she was happy to have him home. Why not place the blame on himself for making such a stupid vow? Or putting the blame on God for allowing such a horrible vow to be made in the first place? Both of those are far more reasonable than blaming the victim in this whole mess.

God is definitely not against human sacrifices. He's not even against parents sacrificing their children. Which is weird since he spent many a verse talking about how he detested human sacrifices and forbade parents from sacrificing their children. Maybe he just doesn't mind if people sacrifice women. Since, you know, women are lesser than and all that jazz. So sacrificing a woman isn't really a HUMAN sacrifice. It's on par with sacrificing cattle or sheep. Yeah...

Then there's Manoah and his wife. Another woman who is promised the glory of having a son after being barren for years. Seems being promised a son by God is like winning the lottery in the Bible. Such an awesome thing to happen. I especially love how Manoah doesn't believe his wife when she tells him so he has to ask God to send the man back to tell him personally what his wife was already told. And God thinks this is totally okay and actually sends the angel back. And just in case God happened to not get the praise for this miracle he makes sure to put an angel in the flame of their offering just to make damn sure he was the one who got the credit.

Where to begin on the Samson story. First, I guess, way to use a woman to gain a reason to destroy the Philistines. Apparently this is only possible if he gets the Philistines to kill her. So, yay for her I guess. I guess second is the horrible riddle thing. How stupid is that riddle? It's seriously not a real riddle since no one could get the answer correctly without knowing what he had done. It's not word games or something that cam be figured out logically. You HAVE to know the story to get it right. So yeah, the men are gonna ask for help. Third, Samson had no right to blame his wife for all that shit when she was threatened by the men with death if she did not get the answer. She wept and "nagged" because she feared for her and her father's life. Samson even refers to her as "his heifer" when he finds she'd told the men the answer. You can't get much more woman hating than that, actually referring to you wife as cattle. How loving.

Fourth: So after he leaves Samson's wife is given to his best man. Understandable, since apparently in these times women can't be without a husband ever. And when Samson comes back he's pissed about it? He's the one that left without warning and for a significant amount of time. If he'd wanted to keep his wife he should have taken her with him. But I guess this was all part of his plan? He wanted a reason to be able to destroy the Philistines, so he manipulated it so his wife would be given away, giving him something to be pissed about, allowing him a reason to set fire to the town. And then when the town was burning the people would blame the woman and her father for their troubles, since the father gave her away and (I guess) the woman allowed it(?). So they burn the father and woman and thus give Samson yet another good reason to slaughter everyone. I can only assume this is what is actually going on, since Samson mentions the Philistine woman was just a way to form a pretext in which to act against the Philistines. This "plan" is never mentioned again, so I'm not really sure. It's unclear if he is actually angry that all this has happened or if he's only acting out because this was his plan all along. It doesn't seem to make much sense. If this was a big plan I'd think it'd be mentioned more than just once.

And why don't ANY of the women get names in these stories? Each woman basically gets an entire chapter dedicated to her story and yet we get no names. Is it because they are so passive? Merely bending to the will of any man around them? Passive women seem more likely to be denied names in the Bible, so maybe this is a reason. But it seems completely unfair that women like Jephthah's daughter, who suffered so much and were treated so poorly, aren't given names for us to remember them by. Not only are they passive but they must always be referred to in relation to men in their lives. Manoah's wife. Jephthah's daughter. Samson's wife. It strips their individuality and constantly leaves them someone's property. For all of history. It's just... really unfair.

Tomorrow: Judges 16-21

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