The Biblical Game of Thrones

One of the most interesting things about the Bible, especially the Old Testament, is the all-to-human snapshots it gives of life and politics of the Bronze Age. While the Gospels spreads a moral vision of a perfected humanity, the OT spares us none of the warts and horrors we have come to expect of ourselves.

For example, consider the Books of Kings. Historians have called into question whether Solomon really ruled over the resplendent realm that Scripture describes, but the fall from power that Solomon and his heirs experience has a powerful truthfulness to it. Basically, Solomon grew old and arrogant, taxed too much, married too often, and began to idolize himself. He became the thing that the prophet Samuel warned Israel about when they asked him for a king. And then, under his heirs, the northern part of the realm broke away and formed its own kingdom, worshipping the Golden Calf (because nothing is new under the sun).

The House of David after Solomon, ruling the southern kingdom of Judah, was a mixed group, according to the two Books of Kings. We see some genuine reformers, some hardened idolators, and some in between. But they hung on to power until the Babylonians came calling.

The Northern Kingdom of Israel, on the other hand, was a soap opera out of George R.R. Martin’s most lurid imagination.

The leader of the revolt against Solomon, who became king of the Northern Tribes, was Jeroboam I. He build the Golden Calves, an idolatry the Biblical authors never miss a chance to remind us of and condemn. His son and successor, Nadab, was murdered by Baasha, a captain in Nadab’s army, who stole the throne. As Justice would have it, Baasha’s son and heir, Elah, ruled barely a year before a commander of chariots, Zimri, murdered him while he dined in the house of a steward.

Zimri was king for all of seven days. Apparently he’d neglected to check if the army was really behind him. As soon as the word got out that Elah was dead, the soldiers nominated another commander, Omri, to be king, and Omri laid siege to the palace in Tirzah. Zimri perceived that all was lost and set fire to the palace, burning it down over his head. Omri thereafter ruled from Samaria.

After this, we get a period of relative dynastic stability. Omri’s dynasty rules for three generations. They are followed by the dynasty of Jehu, which manages four generations. Then the old pattern re-emerges. Shallum murders King Zechariah, and rules for a month before being killed by Menahem. Menahem rules ten years, and his son Pekahiah for two, whereupon Pekah assassinates Pekahiah (yeah, there’s a difference). Pekah rules for twenty years before being assassinated himself, by Hoshea. Hoshea was a puppet of the Assyrians, and when he made the mistake of rebelling against them, the Assyrians did what they were famous for, and wrecked the place, brought in foreign tribes, and resettled the Israelites in other parts of the realm. So began the legends of the Lost Tribes of Israel.

genealogy_of_the_kings_of_israel_and_judah

There’s a novel in here somewhere, is all I’m saying…

Praise be: It’s F-f-f-friday! Linkfest for the Weekend

Casting around the Internets:

A pre-med student, asked as part of a class to comment on the Emma Sulkowicz affair, goes into full attack mode. She leaves it all on the field. Relevant quote:

If we don’t give colleges the power to put the accused on trial and convict criminals for murder, why do we give them the power to do so for cases of sexual assault?

Why, indeed? One might speculate that this has less to do with stopping a violent crime that is about 20% as common as it was in 1973, and more to do with enabling bureaucrats and their ideological water-carriers to attain power. If one were so inclined.

The Pope Calls Attacks on the state of Israel anti-Semitic.  Everyone who jumped up and down about Papa Francesco’s pronouncements on the climate has to pay attention to this too, right?

There may be political disagreements between governments and on political issues, but the state of Israel has every right to exist in safety and prosperity.

Catholicism is Jewish, and that’s a good thing.

Fancy-Schmancy old-school headphones from Master & Dynamic. Beautiful. WANT.

The headphones are made of steel and aluminum, and pair we tried out were gunmetal grey. The MW60s last about 15 hours on one charge, but they can still be used with an included cable if they die.

I don’t have $600 to drop on something like that, but man do I wish I did.

Can Donald Trump Destroy SNL? If you read this hand-wringing AV-Club article all the way through, you may miss it, but the message is there. Conservatives abandoned SNL long ago (I didn’t mind Tina Fey throwing daggers at Bush – she was mostly funny when she did so. But their cowardice in going after Obama, their pretense that nothing about him was risible, was pathetic). But if they lose their support among lefties, then that could mean something. Hey, if we play our cards right, they might destroy each other.

Mexico Just Got Excorcised. This is apparently a thing.

A few months ago Mexico, the second largest Catholic country, was exorcised of its demons in an unprecedented rite of exorcismo magno performed in secret in the city of San Luis Potosí.

This would seem to be at odds with the stricter rules for excorcism that Benedict enacted in 2009. But whatever works.

Happy weekend.