So then God told Jeremiah to convince some of the elders and priests to meet him in the Valley of Topheth and to be sure to take a bottle or a flask with him.
When everyone was gathered, Jeremiah was all, Behold, God is going to bring destruction on you all because you have let people sacrifice their children to Baal in this valley! The ground cries out with their blood! Lo, a great battle will be fought here and Judah will lose and her warriors left here to rot. Then Jerusalem will be besieged and food will become so scarce that people will eat their children to keep from starving!
Then he threw the bottle on the ground at their feet so that it broke and spattered them all with shards and shouted, God will break the Jews like I just broke that bottle!
God is so good and generous.
Its people It never despised
though they sinned and sinned
with calves and Baals and human sacrifice.
It chastised them severely
with plagues and famine and fire.
Yet It always forgave
when Its forgiveness they did inquire.
Josiah brought back the old-old time religion. He was super zealous in following all the newly discovered laws and making sure all his people did too. He destroyed all religious icons and temples, including the elaborate altar commissioned by Ahaz and the calves commissioned centuries earlier by Jeroboam. He outlawed necromancy. He even eradicated the religious male prostitution that had sprung back up. He also rounded up all the priests for these various outlawed religions and burned them on the altar as human sacrifice. Then he made people celebrate Passover for the first time in centuries.
Because Judah was a tribute kingdom, when Assyria and Egypt had to defend the empire against rebellious Babylon and its allies, Josiah and his forces went out to war. Josiah died. So his son Jehohaz became king. But, he only reigned three months because Pharaoh Neco took him as ransom and demanded a yearly tribute of nearly four tons of silver and 75 pounds of gold. Neco left Josiah’s other son Eliakim as king-but he changed his name to Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim reigned 11 years.
In the twelfth year of Ahaz’s reign in Judah, King Pekah of Israel was assassinated by Hoshea. I’m sure the crushing defeat by the Assyrians and Judeans had something to do with the unrest and coup. Anyway, Hoshea ruled Israel 9 years.
Hoshea finally made peace with Assyria by becoming a tribute kingdom, but then Hoshea threw in with King So of Egypt and paid him tribute instead. Unfortunately, the maneuver didn’t work–Assyrian forces decimated Israel for three years, eventually sacking Samaria and enslaving Hoshea and all the Israelites and selling them along the river Habor and Gozan and to the Halah and Medes. Continue reading “II Kings 17: Israel in Exile”
Ahaz was 20 years old when he became king of Judah, and he reigned 16 years. He was a polytheist who honored every god, holy place, and custom among his people. He even offered one of his surely numerous sons as a burnt sacrifice.
The major war in this reign was when the Syrian king Rezim made pact with Israelite king Pekah and together they besieged Jerusalem. They conquered some cities, but couldn’t defeat Judah because Ahaz made pact with King Tigleth-pilesar of Assyria and sent him tribute to entreat his aid for Judah. For good measure, Tigleth-pilesar also sacked Damascus and killed King Rezim.
While looting Damascus, King Ahaz saw this totally rad altar to some Syrian god–Dagon, Baal, El, doesn’t matter. This thing was killer with its cornices and bas relief. Ahaz had plans for it drawn up and sent to the high priest, Urich, with instructions to have one built up ASAP. Urich dutifully complied. Ahaz check it out when he got back into town, inspecting round and round. With a satisfied grunt, he snapped his fingers and ordered that all that beautiful gold and gilded furniture and treasure be removed from that drab old Temple and placed around this, his new beautiful altar, and that from now upon it only all the daily ritual sacrifices would be offered. But still, the dank temple had its uses. For cleromancy, the priests would still use the bronze altar.
When Ahaz died, his son Hezekiah became king.
Jehoram ruled Israel for 12 years. God didn’t really like him, but thought he was better than his parents since he didn’t worship Baal.
Meesha, the king of Moab a vassal kingdom of Israel, thought that the confusion over succession seemed like a good time to rebel against them, and refused to send the ton of wool or herds of lambs Israel demanded yearly as tribute. So Jehoram sent a message to Jehoshaphat asking for help putting the rebellion down. It was decided that they would take the roundabout way into Moab by marching through the desert of Edom, a vassal kingdom of Judah. So they set out, but after a week, they weren’t there yet, and they had run out of water. After some pondering, the kings decided to consult Elisha, who happened to be handy. At first, Elisha was all rude to Jehoram, but he consented to talk to God out of respect for Jehoshaphat. So he called for a musician and in the music, he heard God or something, and he told the kings that in the morning, the arroyo would be filled with water, though no rain would fall. Continue reading “II Kings 3: The Moabite Rebellion”
At some point in David’s reign, there was a bad famine. When David had the priests inquire of God, they found out that the famine was punishment for Saul’s attempt to genocide the Gibeonites.
So David called the Gibeonites and was all, how much silver and gold will it take to erase the bloodguilt? But the Gibeonites were all, We don’t want your money. Only blood cleanses blood. We want to sacrifice seven of Saul’s male descendants. David was all, Fair enough.
Now David couldn’t bring himself to sacrifice Mephibosheth or his kids because of David’s love for Jonathan, so he tracked down some of Saul’s daughters and took their kids–three from Rizpah and four of Merab. (Merab, by the way, was married to Barzillai’s son, so the whole exchange between David and Barzillai during Absalom’s exile was of political importance). Continue reading “II Samuel 21”
Saul’s wife was named Ahinoam and with her he had three sons, Jonathan, Ishivi, and Malchi-shua and two daughters, Merab and Michal. His head general was his first cousin, Abner.
In the conflict with the Philistines, Saul set up camp with his 600 men in the pomegranate cave near Gibeah. Jonathan convinced his armor bearer/boy Friday to go with him to sneak into the nearby Philistine garrison. They had to navigate through a deep ravine or canyon, and the names of the two exits to this canyon were Pozez and Senech. Before exiting, Jonathan turned to his Boy Friday and was all, let’s practice some cledonomancy–if the Philistines tell us to stop and come down to us, we know we’re screwed, but if they holler for us to come up to them, we’ll know it’s a sign from God that It has given them into our hands. Continue reading “I Samuel 14: Saul almost gets Jonathan killed”
Even though Gilead has been called Gilead since the Hebrews first conquered it several books ago, in this story, Gilead had been ruled by a man named Gilead who had had several wives who had several legitimate sons. But he also had a bastard son named Jephthah with a prostitute. When Gilead died, his legitimate sons and the town leaders all declared Jephthah unable to inherit any of the patrimony and ran him out of town. Since Jephthah was a mighty warrior, he relocated to Tob and started a gang of bandits.
But during the Ammonite siege, the town leaders sent a message to Jephthah begging him to come save them and become the town headman. Jepthah was all, why should I? You all called me bastard and whoreson and ran me out of town. The elders were all, we’re sorry, man. Our bad. We’ll follow you loyally if you come save us. Jepthah was all, fine. If I manage to conquer the Ammonites, I will become your leader–but no take-backs! Continue reading “Judges 11: Jephthah Arises”
And still Moses continued, let me say again how important it is for you all to destroy the holy places, the relics, and the idols of the people you are about to exterminate. They often build their temples on high hills or mountains and they tend to worship trees or in holy groves–so be diligent in seeking out any place that looks like it might have been used for worship or have spiritual significance and raze it to the ground. Knock down their altars, break their pillars, chop down their idols, and burn their Asherim or holy trees.
And for the love of God, don’t make any inquiry or study into these people’s religious practices, because knowledge and curiosity are just traps! All you need to know is that God hates everything they are currently doing and wants it wiped from the face of the earth. They are bad people, guys. God tells me they even offer their children as burnt sacrifices. Yeah. Continue reading “Deuteronomy 12”