07 June 2010

Jun 7

Reference links:
Old Testament

Today's reading relates how Solomon consolidated his power by showing that he was willing to have anyone who opposed him murdered. I dislike him already.

David dies with surprisingly little fanfare given how much we have read about him. Before he dies, he tells Solomon to kill pretty much everyone who was still around who had ever gone against David. In particular, David wants Joab killed for having killed Abner and Amasa. David also wants Shimei killed for the time Shimei cursed him while he was fleeing from Absalom. Note that Shimei was one of the few who supported Solomon over Absalom.

Through Bathsheba, Adonijah asks Solomon to give him Abishag, the girl who had been used to keep David warm in his old age. Solomon sees this as a plot on the throne and has Adonijah killed. Again, isn't Solomon a lovely man?

Solomon then has Joab killed. Joab flees to the altar of the Lord for safety. Solomon has him killed while he is still at the altar. I am shocked that Solomon would kill someone next to the altar of the Lord. We have seen people flee there for safety several times, so it is pretty clear that this was supposed to be a traditional place of refuge. To fly in the face of that and to shed human blood in a time of peace by the altar seems despicable.

Solomon is slightly more subtle in his murder of Shimei; I guess even he realizes the danger of straight up murdering one of his few original supporters. Solomon tells Shimei that he must build a house in Jerusalem and always live there. A few years later, he leaves and returns, and the king has him killed.

This killing is all performed by Benaiah, the former captain of king's gaurd and Solomon's apparent henchman. Benaiah replaces Joab as the commander of the army.

I suppose all this killing was a political necessity, but still, I find Solomon to be a despicable murderer who has no qualms shedding blood to achieve his personal goals. Remember, history is written by the victors, so his winning of the throne may not have actually had David's approval and may, instead, have been a bloody victory achieved by killing all who opposed him.

New Testament

Speaking of bloody, today we see the beginnings of violent repression in the Christian church. Ananias and Sapphira sell their land and give only part of the money to the apostles. They lie and say that they gave it all. Peter detects their lie and they both fall down dead. After this,
Great fear gripped the entire church and everyone else who heard what had happened.
The lesson: lying to the apostles is worthy of death.

The apostles heal many miracles. Some of them sound even more miraculous than what Jesus did:
As a result of the apostles’ work, sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter’s shadow might fall across some of them as he went by. Crowds came from the villages around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those possessed by evil spirits, and they were all healed.
Apparently, Peter's shadow was healing people.

We also read about more confrontations between the apostles and the Jewish high council. They continue to dislike each other.

Psalms and Proverbs

Nothing of particular note today.