09 May 2010

May 9

Reference links:
Old Testament

It was a bad day for the Philistines when they decided to take the Ark of the Covenant from the Israelites. First, they put it in their temple, but the statue of their God, Dagon, falls down in front of it. Then the people of the town where the ark was kept were plagued with what my translation calls tumors and other translations call sores. The ark is sent to other towns, and they are equally afflicted. This makes for an entertaining story, but I do not think it reflects well on God's character.

The Philistines decide to send the ark back to the Israelites. They ask their priests and diviners what to do and receive a pretty elaborate answer involving cows, gold sores, and gold rats. The Philistines set up the return of the ark as an experiment: send it back in exactly this way, and see if the desired result occurs.
Now build a new cart, and find two cows that have just given birth to calves. Make sure the cows have never been yoked to a cart. Hitch the cows to the cart, but shut their calves away from them in a pen. Put the Ark of the Lord on the cart, and beside it place a chest containing the gold rats and gold tumors you are sending as a guilt offering. Then let the cows go wherever they want. If they cross the border of our land and go to Beth-shemesh, we will know it was the Lord who brought this great disaster upon us. If they don’t, we will know it was not his hand that caused the plague. It came simply by chance.
Of course, the cows did what was expected of them. Now, this was done by the evil terrible Philistines, so we cannot take it as an example of what ought to be done. That said, isn't it odd how God rarely gives such clear answers to the modern world? Here God easily convinces the Philistines of his power in this story, yet he does not now. He neither sends such clear and obvious punishment for displeasing him nor sends such obvious relief for remedying that. Funny that.

New Testament

The Gospel of John actually has some overlap with the other gospels. Amazing! Jesus turns five loaves of bread and two fish into enough food to feed 5000 people, and then he walks on water. We do get a line today that makes the Jesus from the Gospel of John slightly more likable than the tedious Jesus we have seen so far,
When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.
I can certainly feel some sympathy for the Jesus who just needed to get away sometimes.

Psalms and Proverbs

Unlike the last historical psalm, which seemed to ignore all of the times God threatened to murder the Israelites, this one dwells on it. That makes it much more amusing.