Desolation haunts the streets;
Even the wealthy hunger.
Starvation’s haggard visage peeks from every window.
Old people lay in streets dying, children beg;
Ladies cook their babies and feast,
Aspiring to live one more day.
Tragedy consumes the city.
In the palace, the princes weep.
Only God can end the suffering
Nebuchadnezzar causes at Its whim.
Isaiah prophesied that one day Babylon would burn and everyone inside would writhe in terror, like a woman in labor before anesthetic was invented. On that day, the sun will darken! The moon will disappear! People will scatter and be hunted down like rats! Rats! Invaders will loot houses! Implacable, they will rape the Babylonian women and smash Babylonian babies’ heads in! Babylon will be razed like Sodom and Gomorrah. It will never be inhabited again!
When Athaliah, Ahaziah’s mother, saw he was dead, she saw her chance to consolidate her own power and become queen. She murdered all of her grandkids as well as all of her late husband’s other male children–except for the infant Joash, whose sister Jehosheba smuggled him out of the palace and hid him in the home of the high priest Jehoida.
When Joash was 7, Jehoida conspired with all the soldiers. He had them guard the boy at the Temple and crowned him king. Then he had the soldiers kill Athaliah and all her followers. He also roused the people to rise up and destroy all the temples of Baal and murder Mattan, high priest of Baal.
Ahab had 70 sons, so Jehu sent letters to their schoolmasters and butlers and guardians and ordered that they choose the most likely son to send against him to fight for claim to the kingdom. But the masters and guardians were all, Uh, we’d rather not. So Jehu sent another message saying, If you want to show your loyalty to me and save your own lives, send me the heads of Ahab’s sons. So they did, which Jehu took as a sign from God he was meant to be king.
Then Jehu issued a proclamation that he was going to hold a festival for Baal and that all the followers and priests of Baal needed to attend. When everybody was squeezed into the temple, he locked the doors and ordered his men to kill all inside. Then they burned the temple. God was pleased with Jehu’s initiative that It sent him a message that It would guarantee Jehu and his progeny would rule in Israel for at least four generations.
For the most part, times were peaceful, but unfortunately, King Hazael of Syria started capturing and conquering the edges of Israelite territory.
This other time Elisha made a lost ax-head float to keep the guy who borrowed it from distress.
Another time, when the Syrians were making war on Israel, Elisha kept giving the king of Israel such good advice to circumvent the Syrians that the Syrian king began to suspect a spy in his camp. But his followers convinced him that it was because Elisha was such an awesome prophet that nothing was hidden from him. So the Syrian king sent a troop to besiege Elisha in Dothan, where he was staying. Everyone but Elisha was freaked out about this, because he knew he was guarded by an invisible army of angels driving chariots of fire. Then Elisha struck the Syrians with temporary blindness and idiocy and led them into the heart of Samaria. The king of Israel offered to kill them all, but Elisha was all, Let them go this time. So peace between Syria and Israel was made.
Another time the Syrians were besieging Samaria, and it had gone on so long that they had run out of food and people were making a fortune selling donkey heads and dove dung to desperate people to eat. One evening, while the king of Israel was walking the ramparts, worrying at the troops at his gate, a woman came up to him and threw herself at his feet and begged for his help, because her neighbor was cheating her! They had agreed share and eat their babies, and yesterday they had eaten her baby, but today, her neighbor wouldn’t produce her baby! This upset the king pretty badly, and in anger, he sent for Elisha, to kill him for not helping end the famine.
So this other time, Elijah and Elisha were in Gilgal doing prophet stuff when Elijah was all, Look, Elisha, I have to go to Bethal. You should just stay here. But Elisha was all, Never! I will follow you, wherever you may lead!
In Bethel, the other holy men were all, Hey, Elisha, we hear that Elijah’s going to be taken by God soon? And Elisha was all, Shut up about it! I know!
Then Elijah was all, Well, now it looks like I have to go to Jericho. Really, Elisha, just stay here. But Elisha was all, I will will follow you, wherever you may lead!
So they went to Jericho. The holy men there were all, Pssst. Elisha! God’s going to take Elijah today! Elisha was all, I know! SShhhhh…here he comes! Continue reading “II Kings 2: Elijah, Elisha, whatever”
Then Moses told the Hebrews that God gave them the following instructions, and that it was crucial that they follow these orders to a T to avoid being smote along with the Egyptians. He told them that everyone needed to sacrifice a lamb at twilight and then smear its blood all over the lintels and doorposts of their houses. Also that night, everyone was to eat a feast of unleavened bread and bitter herbs and to burn whatever wasn’t eaten. After dinner everyone needed to be dressed, packed and ready to flee, because the orders from Pharaoh to drive them out would be shortly forthcoming.
Moses also told them that in the future, the Hebrews would always celebrate this holiday for a week, and hold the main feast on the tenth day of the first month of every year. In the future, Hebrews would not be allowed to eat or even possess any leaven during that whole week. Continue reading “Exodus 12: Smiting of the Firstborn”
Joseph and his brothers prospered and so did subsequent generations, until Egypt had a large population of sojourning Hebrews.
Eventually a Pharaoh developed a prejudice against the Hebrews. He didn’t really know how they came to sojourn there or that Joseph had been good friends with some previous Pharaoh, only that there were a lot of Hebrew “immigrants.” So Pharaoh made it a policy to make Hebrews second class citizens–more or less slaves forced to do hard labor like construction in an era without power tools or backhoes. Pharaoh hoped that the hard labor would increase the mortality rate and take care of the problem. But Pharaoh’s plan backfired because instead of dying off, the Hebrew population increased–probably because sex was one of the few pleasures in life for slaves in the Bronze Age. Or maybe their population didn’t actually increase, but Egyptian xenophobia and racism magnified the population in the popular imagination. Anyway, Egyptians increasingly oppressed and overworked the Hebrews. Continue reading “Exodus 1”