04 May 2010

May 4

Reference links:
Old Testament

Today's reading contains a rather awful story, that contain elements that remind one of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. A comment in the story, about how it was during the priesthood of Phineas, implies that it is set before most of the Book of Judges. As of yesterday, we seem to have reached the "appendix" of Judges which contains three stories not originally believed to be part of that book.

The story contains an interesting start. A man brought home a woman from Bethlehem to be his concubine. She became angry with him and returned home. He went to fetch her, and after staying with her father for many nights, the man headed home with his concubine.

After this, the story gets terrible rather quickly. The man decides to stay the night in Gibeah, a town inhabited by the people of Benjamin. An old man finds them in the town square and insists that they come to his home, saying ominously,
But whatever you do, don’t spend the night in the square.
It was at this point that I was first reminded of Sodom and Gomorrah. That reminder was, in fact, quite apt. In the very next paragraph we read,
While they were enjoying themselves, a crowd of troublemakers from the town surrounded the house. They began beating at the door and shouting to the old man, “Bring out the man who is staying with you so we can have sex with him.”
The old man stepped outside to talk to them. “No, my brothers, don’t do such an evil thing. For this man is a guest in my house, and such a thing would be shameful. Here, take my virgin daughter and this man’s concubine. I will bring them out to you, and you can abuse them and do whatever you like. But don’t do such a shameful thing to this man.”
Since there were no angels to save them in this story, the guest gives his concubine to the men of the city.
The men of the town abused her all night, taking turns raping her until morning. Finally, at dawn they let her go. At daybreak the woman returned to the house where her husband was staying. She collapsed at the door of the house and lay there until it was light.
This is just sickening. What kind of person is the husband to give her up like that? What kind of man is the host to offer his daughter? Yet only the towns people are condemned in this story.

The woman dies from her abuse, and the man takes her home, cuts her body into twelve pieces, and send the pieces to the tribes of Israel. This and his story inspire the Israelites to go to war against the tribe of Benjamin. After several tries, the rest of Israel defeats Benjamin. The text is oddly repetitive. It seems obvious that two narratives were smooshed together. The first version is from Judges 20:29-36. The other version is Judges 20:36-48.

New Testament

John the Baptist goes on about how awesome Jesus is. There are lots of verses which I am sure are super inspiring to the believer, but are tedious for the non-believer to read. It is like hearing about someone gushing about how wonderful their latest crush is when you think that crush is kind of dull and plain.

Psalms and Proverbs

Today's psalm is a continuation of yesterday's psalm. It has a couple of lines that are great for taking overly  literally despite their poetic nature. =)
The earth trembles at his glance;
the mountains smoke at his touch.
So that's what happened in Iceland.