Job. Not as Awful as It Sounds.

Job 1:1

So there’s a guy named Job. Judging by his name, you might think that Job is an awful person. You’re wrong, he’s a really great guy who walks in the ways of the Lord. God, Satan (the footnotes say that Satan, in this instance, means “accuser”) and a couple of angels decided that Job was an upright dude. And because of this, Satan talked God into testing him. (Satan was convinced that Job wasn’t as awesome as he pretended to be.) But this test is even  worse than than the LSAT, the SAT and GRE all rolled together. God let Satan loose on Job, and he took away everything the Job had. He lost everything, his children included, all in one day. And though God tested him (aka destroyed his fucking life and everything in it), Job remained blameless and would not curse the Lord.

Since taking away everything the man had didn’t work to entice Job into evil, God let Satan attack the man himself. Satan put boils and sores on Job, but still he would not curse God. Three of Job’s friends heard of his plight and came to check on him. When they saw him, they barely recognized them and tore their robes. Job then gives a speech, cursing the day he was born and asking why bitter souls are given joy, while he suffers and wishes for death.

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One of his friends tells Job (in a very long-winded speech) that he needs to trust in his own righteousness to save him, and trust in God to protect him, because God is blameless. Job replies that his friends are useless and not helping. He says that God has forsaken him and welcomes death. The second friend replies that Job is being ridiculous; he just needs to honor God, and remind Him that he’s been a good little human, and God will make prosperous again.

This is all just a bunch of back and forth between Job and his buddies, so let me break it down:

Job: I hate my life. I am a good man, but God is all powerful and has punished me anyway. Because he’s God and He can. I wish I had never been born.

Job’s friend: You must not be that good, because God knows everything, and He’s punishing you, so… get right with God.

Job: You don’t know any more than I do, and you’re a crappy friend.

Job’s other friend: No, you must have sinned. Like a lot.

Job: You guys suck. My heart is pure before the Lord. If the tables were turned, I would be nice to you.

Job’s other other friend: You evil.

Job: Am not. You’re attacking me for no reason, just like God.

Job’s friend: No, God only punishes the wicked. You wicked.

Job: Not true, I know some really wicked dudes whom God does not punish. They have big tents and lots of rich stuff.

Job’s other friend: You must have turned away the needy or something. God wouldn’t do this for nothing. You need to get right.

Job: No really, there are bad dudes out there, and God doesn’t punish them. They take advantage of the poor and leave them to rot, yet God does nothing.

Job’s other other friend: No person can be really be blameless, we’re all maggots.

Job: Nah, people are cool. We have wisdom, and wisdom is fearing God and shunning evil. Wisdom is worth everything. I have been kind and shown love to all who needed it, but now they laugh at me and spit in my face. Why, God, why do you not see me and help me? I have always done right by those around me and worshipped God. If only He would grant me an audience, I could tell him!

Apparently, there’s this young guy, Elihu, who has been listening to the entire back and forth between Job and his friends. He is pissed, because Job cannot see that he is unrighteous, and that the three friends had condemned Job without really refuting him.

Elihu: I was trying to keep my mouth shut, because I’m younger than you guys, and I’m supposed to respect my elders, but seriously you guys are not helping. And Job, shut up I’m about to spit wisdom. You say you are righteous but suggest that being righteous does man no good, because God does not pay attention. You say it is pointless, because God isn’t paying attention. By doing that, you doubt God and sin and prove Him right to punish you. Stop saying you know better than God does.

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And then God Himself decided to weigh in on the deliberation.

God: Job, who the hell are you to question me? Did you create the earth and do all that cool stuff? (Up until God speaks, this book has been a yawn fest, but this part is actually beautifully written) He who accuses God can answer to him!

Job: Shit. I’m sorry.

God: I’m gonna ask you some questions, answer like a man. Why are you discrediting “my justice?”

Job: I spoke of things I don’t understand, things too wonderful for me to comprehend. I hate myself.

God: Good. Your friends suck, and they were wrong about me not letting the righteous suffer. Pray for them.

So Job prayed for his friends, as asked. After that, God blessed the hell of Job, and his life was better than it had ever been! Supposedly, the book is supposed to be  lesson about how sometimes life is suffering, and you shouldn’t judge those suffering. Still, that’s pretty low to ruin a guy’s life to teach a lesson/test him. And as a side note, the sin that Job is accused of over and over again, the one that seems really super, extra important over every other sin to these guys, is not helping the needy. So yeah, help the needy, or God might ruin you completely. Or He may not, who knows.

Up next, Psalms!

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I’ma Talk at You Now

Holy fuck balls, guys. I just tried to reread everything I had written, because I intend to sum up the history portion of the Old Testament, but fuuuuuuuuuuck, that’s a lot of reading! I only made it to David. I don’t know how anyone has kept up with this nonsense! Thank you, though. You deserve that at the very least. Thank you for following me on this journey. I don’t know about you but I have learned a lot. 

So, first and foremost I feel the need to point out, once again, that this has been a journey for me. It may seem like I’m having a jolly time poking fun at the holy book of a major religion, but that is not (and has never been) the point of this blog. I decided that I needed to read the thing for myself, so I could know exactly what is and what is not in the damn thing. Poking fun has just come naturally, because of how ridiculous the stuff in it is.

That said, the most interesting part, so far, hasn’t even been what I’ve read but how people react when they find out I’m reading it. It always starts with praise, “Good for you!” And then the inevitable questions like, “Where do you go to church?” When I’m not writing a blog that I’m pretty sure next to no one will read, I actually do try and be respectful to those around me, so I politely answer that I don’t attend church. Of course, the natural assumption is that I just haven’t found the right church, so then I get invited to this particular person’s church. Seriously, I’ve been invited to be a Catholic, an Episcopalian, a Methodist, and some other one I can’t remember. I even have a brochure for one! When I point out that I’m really just reading to know what’s in it, the answer almost every time has been that they haven’t read the Bible themselves. In fact, more than once I’ve been told that it is too complex for our little brains, so we just have to trust what others tell us about it. One man pointed out that his church goes strictly “by the book,” but after five minutes of questioning him about his beliefs, he didn’t even know what was in the thing! He just trusts his pastor to help him live “by the book.”

This blew me away! I couldn’t believe it! This man is a die-hard Christian who spouts self-righteous regurgitation at every available moment. He lives “by the book,” preaching disdain for those around him, without knowing what is actually in the damn book!

Well, now that my blood is good and boiling over that memory, to anyone who would like to judge me or get angry at anything I’ve posted, suck it. At least I’m reading the stinking book. That said, it has  probably become obvious to anyone who has read a single post, that I’m not an expert Bible historian, or whatever they call themselves. Preachers? I’m just a curious person who decided to read it. I’m probably not getting little piece of meaning that can be pulled out of this thing by those who have spent their lives studying it, and I don’t pretend to! However, I do believe that words are words, and in general they mean the same thing no matter how you read them. You can take what those words say and twist them into thousands of different meanings, but those words and their underlying meanings don’t change. So if you try to tell me I’m wrong, and that the Bible doesn’t treat women like shit, I can point you to at least 20 different passages that word-for-word prove you’re wrong. The end.

Onto the stories we’ve actually been reading. Obviously, right from the beginning the stories are full of holes and often straight up contradict themselves. So… that’s difficult for me. While this makes it really hard for me to believe that the Bible is the word of God (seeing as how God is all-knowing and should actually have the story straight), it doesn’t 100% mean that the stories are wrong. Humans suck at keeping good records. We just do; we can’t get the history of yesterday straight, let alone thousands of years ago. So if man wrote the Bible, it makes sense for these irregularities to pop up. God, not so much.

As for the stories themselves, I admit I went into this doubtful as hell that the Bible recounts actual history. I enjoy, nay revel, in ancient history. It’s a weird obsession no one understands, myself included. And I happen to know enough about it to know that many of the stories in this sucker are borrowed from other cultures. Don’t believe me? Look up the origins story of the Zoroastrians. Actually, you can compare a lot of Zoroastrianism to various bits of the Old Testament. Read about the Epic of Gilgamesh. Compare the words of Jesus to the words of Buddha. Plus, many of the Ten Commandments appear to come directly from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. And compare the book of Proverbs to my personal favorite (half of the thesis I never finished was written about this baby) the Instruction of Amenemope. The list could seriously go on and on. Not to mention the similarities that arise between dates and meanings of various holidays. We just recycle that shit from pagan stuff and put a new face on it. Like putting lipstick on Sarah Palin.

Love of ancient history rant over. I thought I would be able to go back over the things I’ve read bit by bit, summing it all up with a nice bow. But I just can’t do it. It’s late, I’m tired, and I already admitted that I couldn’t even read all that crap I wrote. So here’s my big take on the Bible thus far. Notice that I emphasize thus far, and that is because (I’m hoping) that is going to get better. What do I mean? This thing is depressing as hell. It’s one of those movies where everyone sucks, and you can’t figure out whom to root for.

I mean seriously, God is an angry, vengeful dude. And sometimes when he kills a lot of people, he’s really just keeping his promises. But most of the time, God is just causing chaos. I mean, I’m still pissed about the Tower of Babel. Seriously, He wants us not to be a bunch of little shits, but He makes it as difficult as possible. He is constantly putting evil into people’s hearts, and testing His people. All because He is a jealous, chaos-causig turd. There is no other reason. And His chaos causes untold amounts of death and despair. I find that hard to get behind. God is a bully who forces people to bend to His will, and then punishes those same people for doing so. And what the hell happened to free will? So far, everything evil in this book happened because God willed it so. Therefore God is behind good and evil, and following that logic, you can’t get too mad at people like Manson, because God put evil into their hearts.

That said, the Israelites and various Israelite main characters are little better. Even David, who is the can-do-no-wrong guy, does a lot of wrong! He kills people (lots of people); he gets his dick wet with everyone, whether or not he should. Yet he always plays the damn victim. And that’s the guy who is supposed to do no wrong! I mean come on. The Israelites cannot follow basic rules, even when faced with certain death. So who exactly, in this book, is supposed to be a damn role model?

Women are little more than chattel throughout the book. They are brutalized and victimized and shown little to no mercy by anyone. Oh, I’m sorry, women tempted men into evil? They seem to have damn well deserved it. People are little more than chattel. People can be sold into slavery, left and right. You can sell your daughter into it for goodness sake. Where is the humanity toward one another in this book? There seems to be so little of it. The blood and the violence are unrelenting. Entire territories of the earth are murdered whole sale. For what? Worshipping the wrong god. Not for being gay, not for being sorcerers, not for being rapists, thieves or murderers. For building an altar to the wrong entity. And don’t forget, those people worshipping the other gods? They weren’t chosen by God, so what choice did they have? Did they even have one?

And yet, people tell me that what we need in this country is God and the Bible. Now granted, I haven’t read the whole book yet, and this opinion is based on just the part we’ve been over, but. It seems to me that a book that preaches war, murder, machoism on a fucking ridiculous scale and treating others like less than humans may not be what we need to further our nation. I hope we get to Jesus soon. He sounds like a decent guy. I’m hoping that section makes me less angry.

Until then, onward.

You Don’t Mess with the King’s Lady

Esther 1:1

Remember that tall, mostly naked dude from the 300? The one with all of the piercings and crazy jewelry? That’s Xerxes. I’m sure the depiction is historically accurate, so we’ll go with it. During the reign of Xerxes, he threw a huge party. All of his people from the least to the greatest were invited to join and drink as much wine as they possibly could. During the party, drunk Xerxes decided that he wanted to show off his beautiful wife, Queen Vashti, to the people. So, he sent a bunch of his eunuchs to collect her. But Queen Vashti refused to come.

This was a problem. Xerxes and his advisors all agreed that this kind disrespect could not go without punishment, because then all wives would think it was ok to disrespect their husbands and not answer to their every whims. Which is bad. They decided that, in order to punish her, they would strip her of her title and never allow her in the presence of the king ever again. So there 😛 *I can’t depict it in the picture, but this tongue-sticky-out face is making a raspberry.

Afterward, Xerxes sobered up and remembered that he needed a queen, because Vashti had done things. What things it doesn’t say. I’m guessing bang the king and carry babies. The advisors decided that they would have the country searched for the most beautiful virgins, whom they would bring back to the palace, fix them up Miss Congeniality style and present to the king to choose amongst them.

It just so happened that there was a beautiful virgin who was also Jewish; her name was Esther. She had been taken in by her uncle, Mordecai, when both of her parents passed away. Mordecai had forbidden her to tell anyone what her nationality was, and she was taken to the palace to be presented to the king. Xerxes fell for her immediately, and she found favor with everyone who met her. Soon, she was made queen in Vashti’s place and given everything she could ever want.

2:19

Mordecai happened to overhear two of Xerxes’ advisors plotting to kill the king. Mordecai informed Esther, who told Xerxes immediately. The accusations were found to be true, and Xerxes favored Esther and Mordecai even more than he had before. (Though apparently he didn’t realize that they were related.)

And then Xerxes picked a real douche bag, Haman, to be his top advisor. Everyone bowed to Haman, except Mordecai. When asked why he would not kneel to Haman, Mordecai responded that he was Jewish. It does’t say why that explains anything, but I guess it does. Haman is super-pissed that Mordecai will not bow to him, and soon finds out that Mordecai is Jewish. Instead of taking out his anger on Mordecai, Haman decides to just kill all of the Jews instead.

Haman went to Xerxes and told him about how awful the Jews were, how they refused to live as other Persians lived, and how they refused to follow Xerxes’ laws. Xerxes gave Haman permission to exterminate the Jews, and even put out on edict giving the date that this extermination would take place.

4:1

When Mordecai found out, he was understandably upset; he tore his clothes and stuff. Then he sent a messenger to Esther asking that she make an appeal to the king to save her people. Unfortunately, there was a rule in the Persian court. You did not present yourself to the king unless requested by the king. Ever. Or you would be executed. Knowing this, Esther replied to her uncle that she could not go to the king, or she would risk death. Mordecai laid the guilt on really thick, telling her that she will have stood by while her father’s family was murdered. True, harsh, effective.

Esther agrees to risk her life to protect her people. She went to the king, who was pleased to see her and waived his scepter thing to show he would speak with her instead of kill her. She requested that he and Haman join her for a banquet. So they did. Then she asked them both to join her the next day as well. Human went home really excited and happy that the queen had invited him to her banquet. But on the way there, he passed Mordecai who still would not bow to him. It enraged him. His family suggested that he build a scaffolds and request permission from the King to hang Mordecai from it. That seemed like a good idea to Haman, so he built the scaffolds.

The next day, Haman went to Xerxes to request Mordecai’s death. It just so happened that Xerxes had had trouble sleeping the night before and had requested the chronicles of his kingship be read to him. When the part about Mordecai reporting rumors of an assassination and saving Xerxes’ life, he decided to honor Mordecai. He brought Haman in, and asked him what should be done for a man whom the king wished to honor. Thinking that the king intended to honor himself, Haman gave a big long answer about things that he would like done for him. Xerxes liked Haman’s idea and told him to do it at once! For Mordecai. So Haman ended up leading Mordecai, his mortal enemy, through the city streets on the king’s horse proclaiming that the king was honoring Mordecai.

7:1

Embarrassed and enraged, Haman left to go to Queen Esther’s banquet. (No one knows that she’s related to Mordecai or even that she’s Jewish, remember?) When asked why she had requested the audience, Esther told Xerxes that she wished to save her own life and the lives of her people. Xerxes became enraged at the thought of someone harming his beloved wife and asked who would do such a thing. Esther answered that Haman was the man who had sentenced her and her people to death.

Xerxes became even more enraged. Human begged Esther for his life, but this only made Xerxes even angrier, if that’s possible. As Haman was being carried out of the room, and Xerxes was trying to decide what to do with him, one his servants pointed out that Haman had built a large scaffolds on which to hang Mordecai, the man who had saved the king’s life. And so, Xerxes had Haman hanged on his own scaffolds.

Turns out, a edict of the king cannot be undone. Even by the king. So Xerxes couldn’t take back his “kill all the Jews” thing (you would think he’d a bit more careful about what he signs). And so he sent out a second edict, this one giving the Jews the right to protect themselves against anyone who might harm them.

9:1

When the big day arrived, word of Mordecai’s importance and close proximity had spread, and everyone was afraid of the Jews. The Jews killed those who would stand against them, killing hundreds just in Susa, the Persian capital. They also hanged all of Haman’s sons.

The day after the jews were to have been killed, they partied and had a big feast. Mordecai spread word far and wide that the day should be celebrated by all Jews and would be known as Purim. This book about Esther, the woman who risked her own life to protect her people, ends with a section subtitled, “The Greatness of Mordecai.” Yeah. He becomes second only to Xerxes, widely respected for standing up for his people. Not much else is said about the woman who directly risked her life to do so. Not really surprising.

Up next, Job!

We Built this City on Rock and Roll and Persia’s Money

Nehemiah 1:1

This book is written in first person by the dude it is named after, and it takes place at roughly the same time as the book of Ezra.

Nehemiah was the cup bearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia. One night, Nehemiah was having a conversation with a fellow Israelite and was told what a horrible mess Jerusalem was. Somehow, this came as news to Nehemiah, and he was really upset. The next time he was in the presence of the king, the king noticed that Nehemiah was sad and asked what was up. Nehemiah responded that he was upset that the city where his fathers were buried was a smoldering heap. So, the king allowed Nehemiah (and any other Israelites who wanted to go) to leave, take a bunch of money and other stuff from his personal treasury, and go back to Jerusalem to rebuild it. Artaxerxes pulled out all of the stops. For his cup bearer. Seriously, the makers of the 300 did zero research before they made that movie. But you probably already knew that from the diaper wearing and crazy monsters.

Once Nehemiah and his fellow Jews got back to Jerusalem, they began to rebuild immediately. Want to know which family helped to rebuild each section of the wall? Don’t worry, the Bible has a list for that. Snooze fest. Neighboring people (as you might recall) were not happy about the Israelites being back or the city being rebuilt and tried to interfere. They even threatened the Israelites with attacks and war. But Nehemiah and the others weren’t having it and worked with one hand while holding a spear in the other. Somehow, that seems to have panned out for them. Multi-tasking at its finest.

5:1

While building, it came to Nehemiah’s attention that some of his fellow Jews were in dire straights. The officials over his people were demanding large tariffs, and some of the people had nothing left for themselves. Nehemiah publicly shamed the officials for usury against their own people. He made the officials promise to cut their shit out, and asked God to punish anyone who broke that promise.

Throughout the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem, outsiders tried to intimidate Nehemiah into giving up his work, including intimidation with false prophets. But Nehemiah was set, and eventually the wall was finished. At which point, Nehemiah immediately sent guards to protect what had been built.

Another list of returned exiles.

8:1

Our friend from the last book, Ezra, comes up again. Nehemiah calls him a “scribe.” In this book, he is said to be reading the Laws of Moses to the gathered Israelites. They cry and weep and worship with their faces to the ground. Then the people celebrate the feast of the seventh month, completely following Moses’ laws, which hadn’t been done since Joshua was in charge.

Then everybody confessed their sins, and there is a really long prayer. The prayer is nothing new. God is awesome, but we suck real bad. You’ve done great things, but we’ve forsaken you. But now we’re gonna be better, honest. We were slaves, you made us not slaves, but then we wanted a king and he made us slaves again, and now we’re seriously for real slaves, because the Persian king rules over us. (Even though he gave us pretty much a blank check to his coffers to rebuild this dung pile we ruined by being horrible followers.) Help, please. We won’t be dicks again, promise.

Supposedly, putting it in writing that they wouldn’t be dicks again made it air tight. Everybody signed the agreement which said as much and affixed their seals to it. So no more being dicks!

10:1

Then there’s a list of people who signed that piece of paper I was just talking about.

The next part is the actual letter, I think. It talks about how everyone promises to be a good kid and keep all of God’s laws. Not giving/accepting daughters to/from foreigners, tithing, keeping the Sabbath holy, all that stuff.

The people who came back from Persia, were just the remaining Jews (the tribe of Judah), Benjamites and Levites. Everybody else was captured separately and taken to a different place. When those returning came back, they were from all over in Judah, but Jerusalem was largely empty, so everybody drew lots for who got to live in the holy city. And as usual, there is a list of those lucky few.

12:1

Still listing.

Party time. The Israelites threw a huge bash to celebrate, purify and dedicate their newly constructed wall. Lots of singing. Lots of rejoicing. Babies were probably made and animals probably died.

Then Nehemiah went back to Persia to serve his king. Some time later, he was allowed to return to Jerusalem. Just like old times, the Israelites had fallen into their old ways and started sinning. They had married foreign women, they were working on the Sabbath and trading with foreigners. (Nehemiah took God’s rule about not doing business with a certain few foreigners to the extreme and rebuked all foreigners. I feel like Nehemiah is my racist Texan uncle.) Real naughty stuff like that. He wagged his finger at the Israelites, beat them up and was super self-righteous about everything.

He honestly spends a good portion of his time asking God to look kindly on him, because he was such an upstanding dude. Seriously, the last line of his book is, “Remember me with favor, O my God.” Ass kisser, amiright?

Next up, Esther, the last of the history books in the Old Testament.

How the Bad Guys from the Movie 300 Totally Saved Israel

Ezra 1:1

As I was saying, Cyrus, the King of Persia, decided that he needed to build a temple to God in Jerusalem (God moved him to do this, obviously). The Persians get a bad rap, because the 300 was an awesome movie, but as far as ancient warmongers go, they were actually pretty cool. They would totally conquer the shit out of you, but then they would let you live pretty much the way you had lived before. No getting carried off into slavery, being forced into worshipping/living like the Persians, or other stuff like that (for the most part).

Cyrus asked that those surviving Israelites who wished to go home and build the temple give any gold or other rich stuff that they had to the cause. It was to go to the temple, not to Cyrus or Persia. Aaaaaaand theres a huge list of those who returned to Israel, including those who were eligible to re-enter the priesthood. Any priests who had lost track of their family record could no longer be priests, as they couldn’t prove that they were Levites.

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Once the Israelites had been given time to settle back into their homes, they all met in Jerusalem to begin rebuilding the temple. They began by building the altar in the same spot it had stood before. And they immediately began offering animal sacrifices and worshipping God as the Laws of Moses instructed.

Before long, the first stone was laid for the new temple. Everybody cried, shouted, and just made a lot of noise in general (happy noises). As the Israelites built the new temple, some of the neighboring people tried to discourage the Israelites and trick them into giving up their endeavor, but they weren’t having it. They kept building.

Over time, tensions mounted, and during the reign of Artaxerxes of Persia, someone in a community neighoring Jerusalem sent a letter to the Persian king. It said that the king ought to put an end to the rebuilding of the city. The writer says that the city has been a rebellious and troublesome city since ancient times, which is why it was sacked in the first place and ought not to be allowed to rebuild. I mean really, can you disagree? How many wars did these people get into? (This letter also includes the first use of the word “Jews” I’ve seen so far.) At which point, Artaxerxes looked into the history of Jerusalem and realized that whomever had written the letter was right. The city had a history of causing trouble. In the King’s response, he asks the writers of the original letter to go to Jerusalem and order the “Jews” to stop building until further notice.

5:1

The Israelites followed orders for quite some time, until some heard-headed elders began rebuilding again without permission. At this point Artaxerxes was dead and Darius was king of Persia. The same group that wrote the original letter found out that the Israelites had continued work and sent another letter to Darius. In it, the writer talks about how the Israelites had been questioned about why they had resumed work and by whose command. The Israelites response was that Cyrus had decreed that the temple be rebuilt, and they were doing so under his orders.

So, Darius decided to look into this. In the Babylonian archives ( I wanna go!!!!!!) they found a decree from King Cyrus. In it, he says that the temple is to be rebuilt. Not only that but all of the riches taken form the temple by the Babylonians is to be returned to their rightful places, the royal treasury will foot the bill, and Persia will also supply animals for the sacrifices. Anything and everything possible is to be done if it will aid the Israelites in completing the temple.

Since that’s pretty straight forward, Darius commanded that Israelites be allowed to finish the temple. And  they did. Guess what happened then? You guessed it. Dead animals. Everywhere. Then the priests were placed and the whole place organized to fit with the Laws of Moses, and they held Passover. More dead animals.

7:1

During Artaxerxes’ reign, an Israelite named Ezra made his way to Jerusalem. He had dedicated his life to studying the Laws of Moses and was well versed. Artaxerxes, of course, was the guy who put a hold on the temple-building fun. So you might surprised that he sent a bunch more Jews (including Ezra) back to Jerusalem with a letter stating that they could use the royal coffers for all of their needs. The letter also gave Ezra the go ahead to appoint officials and punish wrong doers.

Insert another list of names returning to Jerusalem here.

On the way back to Jerusalem, Ezra did not request any bodyguards or fighting men to go with his people and keep them safe. He understood that he needed to trust in God for those needs, not in other people. Hear that, gun lovers? Put the gun down and trust in God. Relying on anything but Him to protect you is a grievous sin. Anyway, it worked and everyone got back to Jerusalem safely.

9:1

When Ezra got there, he had to do some serious robe tearing. The Israelites were already totally screwing up in the eyes of God. They had (even the priests and officials) already begun intermarrying with outsiders, spoiling their holy blood. Ezra immediately fell to his knees and prayed to God about how badly the people had screwed up.

While Ezra was blubbering about on the ground, he gained quite a crowd of spectators. After a while, the crowd began to cry and pray as well. It was quickly decided that this matter of intermarrying needed to be taken care of ASAP. So, Ezra and other officials brought the heads of house in one at a time and heard their cases. Anyone guilty of intermarriage had to send his wife and children away, never to be seen again. Seems fair to the women and children left with nothing in the middle of the desert, having done nothing but not be Jewish.

Insert list of naughty intermarriers. (There were a lot of them.)

The end. Up next, Nehemiah.

The End of the Remix, When It’s Mostly Just Noise, And You’re Hoping a New Song Starts Soon

2 Chronicles 22:1

Raiders had killed all of Jehoram’s (bowel guy) sons except one, Ahaziah, so the people had no choice but to make him king. Ahaziah was a jerk, like his father. On a trip to visit a wounded friend, some enemies of that friend killed Ahaziah and everyone who was with him. This is the guy with the crazy mom, who killed the rest of the royal family when she found out that her son was dead. Ahaziah’s sister was able to save one of his sons and hide him from his grandmother. That kid, Joash, became the new king.

During Joash’s kingship, he reinstated the tithe that Moses had put on the people when still in the desert. The people gave “gladly,” and the king was able to collect a great deal of money. With this money, the King repaired the temple, which as we know was sacked like fifteen times. At least now we know how they replaced all of that rick stuff back at least of one of those times.

But then Joash went all evil and killed a prophet.  And then he got killed too.

25:1

Amaziah becomes king of Judah. He wants to win some war, so he hires some Israelites to fight for him. God no likey. God tells Amaziah that he can provide much more than these hired fighters, so Amaziah sends the hired mercenaries home. Then he goes and kills a bunch of people by throwing them off of a cliff. Then he started worshipping other gods, tried to pick a fight with Israel, gets his ass handed to him, and dies.

Uzziah took his place as king. He was a good dude, had a lot of stuff, killed a lot of people and had the love of God, because he followed God. Then he got really full of himself and thought that he would go burn some incense to God, which was a no no because he isn’t a priest or a Levite. The priests tried to point this out to Uzziah, to which he replied by throwing a temper tantrum. And then he got leprosy for burning his own incense. He lived separated from the everyone else after that.

Blah, blah, blah, stuff we’ve already read. Uninteresting kings. And we get to Ahaz, that really lovable guy who did everything detestable in the eyes of God; he even sacrificed his own kids. Pretty much everyone in the area attacked and defeated Ahaz, carrying off more of Judah’s rich stuff. Even Israel attacked and carried off a bunch of people to enslave. Luckily for them, some priest reminded them that it was a sin to enslave their fellow Israelites, so those slaves were sent home. Ahaz decided it would be a good idea to serve the gods of those who had defeated him. They had defeated him, so their gods must be strong right? Wrong. Since it had nothing to do with other gods, just God God showing his displeasure with Ahaz being an ass. Ahaz died after a long reign, but he didn’t get to be buried with his fathers. Which doesn’t really seem like that great of a punishment, but whatever.

29 :1

And then there was Hezekiah, Mr. Perfect, who began to set right everything that his father had helped to destroy. Kings talked about how he had led his people to walk in the ways of the Lord, destroyed the altars to the foreign gods and all that, but this book also shows that he reinstated the tithe that had been abandoned. There was so much extra money after the tithe had been going for a few month, that he began to distribute it amongst the Levites as it should have done all along. The Levites got a lot of stuff. Oh, and everyone pretty much waded in the blood of sacrificed animals. As one should.

The Assyrians came and attacked and stuff, and Hezekiah gave a good ole fashioned Independence Day type speech, and everyone took heart in God and did not give up. God was pleased and saved Judah; we already know this. The Assyrians were destroyed and went home. Hezekiah reigned for a long time, got super rich and stuff but finally died.

Menassah next. Complete ass. Sacrificed his kids and stuff. Total douche. The King of Assyria took him prisoner and dragged him back to Assyria with a hook though Menassah’s nose. Menorah pleaded with God to save him and give him another chance, and God took pity on him and did so. Once Menassah was back in Judah, he did his best to lead his people back to God. But he had led them way astray and couldn’t really get everybody on board. Most people kept woshiping foreign gods. And Menassah died.

33:21

Then another evil king. Then Josiah, that good dude who found the old laws of God and lead his people to follow them once again. He was the one who held Passover for the first time in forever. It was too late for Judah, God had had enough and doomed them, but because Josiah was awesome, he decided not to destroy everyone until he had died. Josiah was really awesome, but that didn’t stop God from letting him die in a battle against the Egyptians. God really wanted to get on with the destruction, I think, good little follower be damned.

Then there was another shitty king, whom the Egyptian King carried off and replaced with a puppet king. The puppet king sucked too, and was taken by a Babylonian King, who replaced him with another puppet king. Everyone, puppet kings and all were awful, and God finally wiped the slate clean when the Babylonians carried all of the Israelites off to their homeland to enslave them. They also destroyed the temple, the palace and other various parts of Jerusalem.

The enslavement of the Israelites only lasted 70 years, however. Apparently God had promised Jeremiah that the destruction of the Israelites would only last that long (I don’t remember that particular part, mostly just the dogs eating your dead type of stuff. I didn’t think that there was a time limit, just a lot of death and misery, but…?) The 70-year term happened to end when Persia came to power with Cyrus as its King. Cyrus decreed that God had given him power over the people of the world in return for Cyrus building a temple to God in Jerusalem, and anyone who wanted to go do that was free to go. Cool dude, Cyrus.

The end! No more remix! Only three more history books left! Next, Ezra.

The Remix Continues

2 Chronicles 1:1

We’re back to Solomon. In this book, more detail is given to just how fucking rich Solomon was. It says that during this time “silver and gold were as common as stones,” if that helps you picture it. Like Donald Trump’s house, only you’re far less likely to be accosted by a creepy, orange dude.

It also explains who actually built Solomon’s temple. Solomon had a census taken of all of the foreigners in Israel. Turns out, there were 153,600 of them. And as it turns out, every single stinking one of them was a slave. They were each assigned to different tasks dedicated to building the temple. So yes, Solomon’s temple (and his palace) were built by slave labor. Funny how I’ve never seen that in a Charlton Heston movie. “Let my people go! So that we can go enslave some other people, thereby continuing the grim tradition crushing the souls of innocent people into dust.”

Interestingly, when describing the temple and what all was done to build/adorn it, the text always says “He made,” meaning Solomon. But as we’ve just seen, he didn’t “made” shit. Slaves did. And if you’ll also remember, Solomon didn’t even design the place, David/God did. Solomon “made” the temple in the same way white Southerners “picked” all of that cotton.

4:1

Then the Ark thing is brought in and everybody parties! Solomon makes a long speech to God about how awesome He is. In the speech, Solomon also pleads that if the people sin against God, and they are taken to a foreign land to be slaves, that God will eventually forgive them and bring them back to the temple. It was a good bit a foresight for Solomon to ask for that, because we all know the Israelites are gonna screw up. Hard. Then, they dedicated a part of the temple, sacrificed stuff and partied for seven days. Then they dedicated another part of the temple, sacrificed stuff and partied for seven more days. Because the Israelites knew how to party. And how to find an excuse to keep partying.

After the party was over, God spoke to Solomon. He promised to take care of his people, keep David’s line in power and to continue to live within the temple. Unless the people do that thing you and I both know that they’re going to do. If they do that thing, God will destroy everyone. As He does when they do that thing continuously for generations.

Then we talk about how freaking rich Solomon was. Everything the guy touched was gold. Everything. Probably even his dick. Gold condoms for all his crazy sex. Those ladies in the picture above? His ladies. Not gratuitous nudity. Although his ladies probably all looked like that chick from the beginning of The Mummy. The Queen of Sheba comes up again. And he dies.

10:1

Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, is an ass and Israel splits in two as the Israelites rebel against Rehoboam. We already knew this, but this book goes into a little bit more detail about it than the last one did. According to Chronicles, Rehoboam ruled over the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. He also kicked out all of the Levite priests living within his land and appointed his own priests. God’s wishes be damned.

Unlike Kings, Chronicles follows mostly just the kings of Judah, not Israel. Which is cool, because switching back and forth between the two was dizzying. Beyond that, the stories are pretty much the same. This one focuses far more on how much the kings did to fortify their country and how many hundreds of thousands of people they killed in war.

There is also a stark contrast between the two books in what each has to say about what really gets God’s goat. In Kings, it mostly talks about the people serving others gods and stuff. In this book that is still a horrible offense, but even if you are serving only God, you can still seriously piss him off. How? Seek the help of someone else, instead of trusting to God alone. Kings who sought help from doctors instead of God in sickness=naughty. Kings who sought outside help to win a war instead of trusting to God to just kill their enemies=naughty. And that seems to be the larger arc in Chronicles. Serving God and only God matters, but trusting in Him and only Him also matters.

21:4

And then we get to King Jehoram of Judah. He, as you might remember from Kings, is a departure from the previous kings of Judah. He is evil. He slaughtered his brothers, married a woman from another tribe, and worshipped foreign gods. This much we know, however the description of what happens to him because of this is a bit more specific than it was in Kings: “You yourself will be very ill with a lingering disease of the bowels, until the disease causes your bowels to come out.” So that’s graphic and awful. I mean, bring back the carcass-eating dogs, because it sounds better than the bowel thing. He dies later in “great pain” and “to no one’s regret.”

So I’m cutting this one kind of short, because this book is an awkward length, and it needs to be two short pieces or one really long piece. I’m doing everyone a favor here. Plus, I can’t top the bowel thing. I just can’t. The rest of 2 Chronicles, next time.