Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Whoring after the gods of the people of the land (Judges 2)

The second chapter opens with a rebuke of Israel from God, and an accompanying rebuke of the text by the SAB. Apparently, this rebuke is absurd, unjust and intolerant. Frankly, the only one I see is the intolerant bit, but as I have said before, absurdity and injustice are in the eye of the beholder, and I see no reason to excuse intolerant behavior on the part of God. They didn't do their job, now they suffer the consequences, and will repeatedly suffer the consequences throughout this book.

Actually, that covers pretty much all of the issues in this chapter. God is indeed intolerant, and it's a common view that it's not so much that God punishes them for turning their back on Him, but that turning their backs is its own punishment. Psalm 121 says "My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth." If you turn away from the source of your help, um, well... you'll be helpless, won't you?

And yes, the phrase "they went a whoring after other gods" is a bit harsh, but that's really part of the point. You might as well make yourself a prostitute as not follow God, or at least that's the metaphor used throughout scripture, most prominently in the book of Hosea.

Chapter 2 serves overall as something like an outline for the rest of the book; a "CliffsNotes" version of the book, if you will. The whole book is a repetition of the following process:
  • God brings peace to Israel
  • Israel gets complacent and turns from God to sin
  • God allows them to be conquered by a foreign power
  • Israel calls out to God for help and repents
  • God delivers them from their situation through the use of a "Judge"
  • ???
  • Prophet!
Sorry, I couldn't resist that last bit; actually the first five essentially repeat over and over throughout the book, and probably one of the saddest things (or inspiring, as I have suggested before) is that even the people God chose to deliver Israel were far from great moral examples.

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