Bonzo Territory

The account at 1 Samuel 10:1-16 and 1 Samuel 19:19-24 on the goings on of prophets—both of these are weird. It isn’t easy to find material that explains it well….

unless we enter Bonzo territory.

Bonzo is an elder who follows me on social media so I try to make it worth his while by occasionally referring to him as “the worst speaker in the circuit, possibly the world.” Not to worry. He is actually a pretty good speaker and, as to my playful jabs, he says ‘keep them coming.’ He is not otherwise a large consumer of social media. Mostly he chimes in about golf.

Bonzo offered the best take on the golden piles from 1 Samual 6 that I have heard yet. Making the axis lords send golden images of their piles is just the ultimate example of Jehovah doing something “in style”—the ultimate humiliation of those who resolutely put their trust in false gods:

So they asked: “What guilt offering should we send to him?” They said… ‘You should make images of your piles and images of your mice that are bringing the land to ruin, and you should honor the God of Israel. Perhaps he will lighten the weight of his hand that is on you and your god and your land.” (6:4-5)

With that as complementary backdrop, I posed: “The question is whether he, with such a grasp of biblical realism, will begin ‘behaving as a prophet’ after consideration of 1 Samuel 19:24”. That’s the verse about Saul taking off all his clothes. I watched Bonzo carefully during that Zoom meeting and he commendably refrained from that course, unless it happened when he turned his video off.

It is he, too, who framed David and Saul’s little spat as a function of currying favor with the ladies. “The women would come out from all the cities of Israel  [all the women—“not just his mom and sisters,” he said] with song and dances to meet King Saul with tambourines, with rejoicing, and with lutes.  [They] would sing: “Saul has struck down his thousands, And David his tens of thousands.”  Saul became very angry, and this song displeased him…. (1 Samuel 18:7-8) 

This is why every time I see a Philistine, I beat him up. I do it only to impress the ladies. If it worked then it should work now—just like it did for Will Smith.

And Bonzo showed proper appreciation for this gem I tweeted about, a verse that I’d love to see featured, rather than some superfluous thing about fitting angels on a pinhead:

At that Saul said…‘The king does not want any bride price except 100 foreskins of the Phi·lisʹtines, to take revenge on the enemies of the king.’ (1 Samuel 18:25)  WHAT?!…..1/3

Not to be too crude here, but this was a common way of verifying kills during battle, so as not to be suckered by tall tales of braggarts  and to safeguard against ‘cheating’ by killing women.  (not recommended today. Just snap a battlefield photo with your smartphone).. 2/3

No, I didn’t say this at the meeting……3/3

This verse led to some discussion, someone posing the question of just what would you do with such a gift. I assigned that topic to him as personal research. To another who carried on about the bother of circumcising  a dead man, I said I suspected taking the foreskin was a colloquialism for taking their whole you-know-what, a derisive reference to how none of them were circumscised, something very important to a Jew. The Egyptians used to lop off right hands to verify their kills. Easier to get at, I suppose, but taking more space, and maybe after they rot in the sack for a few days it becomes hard to distinguish the right from a left hand (allowing someone to report two kills when there was only one) or making it hard to distinguish from that of a woman.

I then lovingly and considerately added: “I hope you’re not eating lunch just now.”

I’m not really sure about the purpose of the 100 foreskins. I’m extrapolating from Bob Brier’s lecture series on Egyptology in which he points out that Egypt was “a nation of accountants” that kept track of everything, including kills of the enemy which they verified by collecting right hands.

Charles Israel, who wrote the book Rizpah, misses that nuance entirely, and just writes about the obscenity of Saul’s request. Rizpah was one of Saul’s concubines. She is mentioned only twice in scripture, but because I had previously read that work of historical fiction, I knew all about her when she came up in the rotation, much to the surprise of my offspring. That book works from the same set of facts as the Bible, yet manages to paint Saul as the wronged hero and David the ambitious upstart, his “treachery” covered up by “lying scribes.” I was surprised at how easy it was to do, and by extension, how any tale can be told from a different point of view. Rizpah being Saul’s concubine, she is not overly disposed to be kind towards David.

Alas, the way we insist upon sanitizing everything, when she came up in the Bible gems she was lauded for her great love of God’s law, beating away the birds and critters so they wouldn’t devour the corpses of her dead impaled sons, as though absent God’s law, she wouldn’t have batted an eyelash.

Then [Saul] handed them over to the Gibʹe·on·ites, and they hung their dead bodies on the mountain before Jehovah. All seven of them died together; they were put to death in the first days of harvest, at the start of the barley harvest. Then Rizʹpah the daughter of Aʹiah took sackcloth and spread it out on the rock from the start of harvest until rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies; she did not allow the birds of the heavens to land on them by day nor the wild beasts of the field to come near by night. (2 Samuel 21:9-10)

They were her sons. She probably went mad.

 

***The bookstore

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The Locusts of Joel and the Locusts of Revelation—Two Different Species!

I commented on the first paragraph of that Watchtower study (April 2020) on the Joel passage about locusts—rarely do I comment on the very first paragraph—on how all “fundamental Bible truths”—soul, resurrection, paradise earth, no trinity, why suffering—had been uncovered back in Russell’s day. There had been lots of tweaking since then, as would be done this day—sometimes there is even backtracking—but everything fundamental was revealed long ago. “Someone would raise a question, and then the group would examine every scripture text related to the subject. Finally, they would make a record of their findings. With Jehovah’s blessing, those sincere Christian men discovered many fundamental Bible truths that we cherish to this day,” the paragraph read, of Russell’s time.

A little girl—was she nine?—the speaker’s daughter, nailed that technical point about verse 28 that many adults I am sure would have missed. Holy spirit should be during, not after, the locust charge of Joel 1:14 if those locusts can be said to represent Jehovah’s servants. That holy spirit is said to come after, not during, was one of four bits of presented evidence to suggest a rethinking of Joel 2:7-9 was due:

They charge like warriors, They scale a wall like soldiers, Each keeps to his own course, And they do not swerve from their paths.They do not shove one another; Each man advances in his course. If the weapons cause some to fall, The others do not break ranks.Into the city they rush, on the wall they run. Onto the houses they climb, through the windows they enter like a thief.” (vs 7-9)

No, it has nothing to do with preachers of the good news—it is a description of the ancient invading Babylonian article of long ago. The reason the passage was ever connected with preaching of the good news in the first place was because of a passage in Revelation chapter 9 that is similar in some aspects—but not all. The differences were highlighted in yesterday’s study in the following paragraph:

Consider: In Joel’s prophecy, the locusts devastate the vegetation. (Joel 1:4, 6, 7) In John’s vision, the locusts are “told not to harm the vegetation of the earth.” (Rev. 9:4) The locusts Joel saw came from the north. (Joel 2:20) Those John saw came out of an abyss. (Rev. 9:2, 3) The locusts Joel described are driven away. In Revelation, the locusts are not driven away but are allowed to finish their work. There is no indication that they deserve Jehovah’s disapproval.​“

The little girl, by the way, along with her even younger brother who also commented like an adult—the two were centered in their Zoom window, and it was the parents who where cut in two by the frame—one on this side and one on that. I talked to my daughter the next day, and she knows the mother. Those kids were brought up as was my daughter and her brother—you don’t make little children prepare the entire Watchtower—how in the world are they going to retain any of it? What you do is focus on just 2 or 3 paragraphs, teach so they can explain it in their own words, and throw the rest away—for them, that is, not you. They’ll pick up more of it as they grow—and what is more important, they will want to, since they have had the experience of understanding and explaining smaller portions.

Frankly, the update from preachers to Babylonian army seemed so obvious that one wonders how it could have missed in the first place. But the explanation that was supplied I can live with: “Bible prophecies are often best understood when they are undergoing fulfillment or after they have been fulfilled.” Okay. The public speaker in his (unconnected) talk had said something about hiking a trail and you can’t really see things until you come across them—he even displayed Watchtower artwork of a family hiking, and it looked like his!—with two tow-headed kids and a mother with dark hair.

Sure. You’d best wait for things to undergo fulfillment or even to have already gone down before you prophesy on what has gone down—I can get my head around that. Still, it does represent some pulling in of the horns—maybe because sometimes those horns hadn’t always hit the target, and now there is more modesty. What! You think it’s a piece of cake looking into the future? It’s not.

I am reminded of that scene from ‘Up the Down Staircase’ in which the high-school student contests his failing grade for having wrongly interpreted a poem. His protest falls on deaf ears, even after he brings the poet to class and the poet says, ‘Yes—that is exactly what he meant.’ The teen’s only consolation is to know that he has changed school policy; from that day on only dead poets are to be used for assignments.

Vic Vomodog, that perennial apostate, somehow caught wind of the revision, and screamed “flip_flop” on his website! “It used to be this way—and now it is that way! he hyperventilated.

As far as I am concerned, the way you answer the idiot is to say, “Oh, we changed that.” We lean into punches when we could just as easily duck them. Duck them, and the big slob’s own momentum (believe me, he is a big slob) sends him hurtling over the edge.

It is only soreheads who think it not permissible to revise positions—the JW organization itself doesn’t say it, nor do reasonable people. What is “the light that gets brighter” and “tacking” if not an admission that things change? The current study article was even more forthright—they see what they now see “in hindsight.” They are not the essential things that I commented on in that first paragraph, is the point—the core beliefs that everyone who became a Witness did so on that account—the core beliefs—that distinguish JWs from any other religion—that opposers forget all about, and thus reveal they haven’t a spiritual bone in their bodies, as they harp on trivial matters of human imperfection—as though Santa Claus should be running the show—showering presents on everyone and asking nothing more than a vague promise to ‘be nice,’ for people to define any way they like.

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Did the Bible Writer Malachi have Teenagers?

Either Malachi had teenagers or all teenagers have read Malachi. How else can you explain his style of writing?

Everything is a challenge. Malachi is the last Bible book – a short job of just four chapters:

“I have shown love to you people,” says Jehovah. But you say: “How have you shown us love?”

And if I am a master, where is the fear due me?’ Jehovah of armies says to you priests who are despising my name.” But you say: “How have we despised your name?

“‘By presenting polluted food on my altar.’ ‘And you say: “How have we polluted you?”’

“You have made Jehovah weary with your words. But you say, ‘How have we made him weary?’

Return to me, and I will return to you,” says Jehovah of armies. But you say: “How are we supposed to return?”

“Will a mere human rob God? But you are robbing me.” And you say: “How have we robbed you?”

“Your words against me have been strong,” says Jehovah. And you say: “How have we spoken against you among ourselves?”

Enough already! Everything is challenged! Everything is hurled back in his face.

Malachi is the last book of the Hebrew scriptures. Just for kicks, turn the page. Find yourself in the gospels and roll that attitude onto Mary, mother of Jesus. (Luke 1:26-28)

"In her sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to…Mary. And coming in, the angel said to her: “Greetings, you highly favored one, Jehovah is with you.”

“In what way is he with me?” she shoots back.

“Forget it!” comes the reply. “There is my servant Ethel. She’ll do fine.”

Whatever is wrong with Mary - not smart-mouthing the angel?

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Babylon Will Rise Again

What do you do when you spy the woman of wickedness trying to climb out of the ephah jar? (Zech 5:7)

You grab the brazen hussy by the scruff the neck and boot her back down into the jar from where she came. (taking care in these volatile times that you do not get accused of harassment) Then you summon the two with wings to ship her back to Babylon.

Maybe it was a reminder to the Jews who had just come from there to check their own ephah jars - or even their shoes, lest they had tracked something in. 

Incidentally, present at our meeting was an Iraqi man who has responded to the Arabic group. The actual  Babylon means something to him, unlike to anyone else. He says it is the site of a festival each year, with music and food. Also that there is the slogan everyone knows: 'Babylon will rise again.'

Hanging gardens

On Facebook, one of my countless friends said: "Hussein's rebuilt Babylon was smashed to bits in the first gulf war. A Syrian brother told me the local Iranian word on the street was basically "Why did they bomb Disneyland?"

 
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Ezekiel Comes Home After a Hard Day's Work in Israel

After Colombine, newspeople said that grief counselors had been dispatched, with the same air as they might use reporting that fire fighters had been dispatched to the house fire. “I’d love to hear what they have to say,” I told one woman in service. Her eyes got big. “You have an interesting job!” she exclaimed.

But it’s not as interesting as Ezekiel’s.

“Honey, I’m hooomme!”

“Oh, Ezekiel. How was your day?”

“Great! Today I bored a hole through the wall and carried out some luggage.”

“Daddy, Daddy,” the children come running to embrace him. “That sounds like fun. Can we do that?”

“Ha, ha, you’ll have to ask your mother first. Remember, she didn’t like it much when you crayoned on that wall.”

“How did you get that bump on your head, Ezekiel?”

“My boss had me cover my face so that I couldn’t see where I was going. Some of the guys at the assignment – it really is a rebellious place – said that I should report him to OSHA! Some of the other guys asked me what it meant that I was doing.”

“And what did you tell them?”

“I told them it meant they were toast.”

“Oh, honey, I’m so proud of you!”

“Thank you, dear. It was almost as fun as my gig last week, lying on my side naked staring at a brick.”

“It’s a wonder you didn’t catch your death of cold.”   

I have a lot of comments the spiritual gems portion of the meeting this week. The trouble is, will any of them be 30 seconds or less? (Highlights from Ezekiel 12)

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