27 June, 2010

The Dashing of Babies' Heads

This is a response to http://twitter.com/heidiraff/
@Epigrammist Ezekiel 9 Explanation - Question posed by atheists on Twitter: How can the order by god in... http://tumblr.com/xt1c64w9u

Which in turn was her response to @DanVerg’s question; How can Ezekiel 9 be justified?  I embellished the question - in order to get a response as @heidiraff was constantly stalling - with a passage form Psalms.  Psalm 137:9 to be precise.  You may remember the song as sung by Boney M; By The Rivers of Babylon:
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. 2 We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. 3 For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. 4 How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? 5 If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. 6 If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.7 Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof. 8 O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed;  happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. 9 Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

Ok, so Boney M didn’t sing happy shall he be that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones, but it would have made for an interesting song.  Back to Psalm 137 later.

Ezekiel 9 says (in the King James Version):
1 He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand. 2 And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar. 3 And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side; 4 And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.  5 And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: 6 Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. 7 And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city. 8 And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem? 9 Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The Lord hath forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not. 10 And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head. 11 And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me.

I suggest for those who aren’t familiar with bibles or concordances (those wonderful little bits of theological academia that justify anything, link any verse to any other verse, and generally attempt to confuse anyone trying to understand the bible for themselves) to grab one and have a look at the contexts in which Psalm 137 and Ezekiel are written.

@Heidiraff’s answer breaks down into 2 parts;
1. (biblical) Israel was corrupt, and
2. was in need of cleansing.  Yes, even new-borns who had no concept of “right” and “wrong”.

Ezekiel was an old school prophet; the “oh woe is Israel, oh woe is Jerusalem!” kind of guy.  This “prophecy” is no different (but I wonder if they only remembered and wrote down the prophecies that were right and those that were wrong were erased from history; certainly many prophets were denounced as false prophets).

In essence, what Ezekiel wrote (by tradition) was “God yelled at me, saying get all those that run the city, particularly priests, into the sanctuary with all their families so he can send his messengers down to destroy them.  Ok?  Thanks!  Oh, by the way, there is this angel next to me recording this event in a very efficient, bureaucratic way with pen and paper.”

@Hiediraff claims this is the same deal as Noah’s ark.  The obvious question here is that if Noah’s ark was supposed to rid the world of corruption and evil, since Noah was a righteous man, then why would it have to be done all over again?  If the story of Noah is to be believed, then we are all a result of incestuous sex from Noah’s family, which means the “flood” really wasn’t a great idea after all, even if there was archeological and geological evidence for it.  Which there isn’t.

Did god fail?  Because it’s starting to look like the god of the Israelites, Christians and Islamists is very good at getting prophets to write down a plan for humanity to marvel at before cocking up its execution.

More worryingly is that Ezekiel 9 is held up to be an example of how god looks after his chosen people by commentators like Wesley.  If we don’t turn to god and beg and plead and do everything god says without question, our innocent babies will be slaughtered by god’s henchmen, yay!

No matter who comments, or how Ezekiel 9 is interpreted, it all boils down to sin and corruption.  Ezekiel was tasked to tell all who would listen “If you don’t get your shit in one sock, then there is going to be lots of stick and no carrot.”  That’s pretty much the message of every Old Testament prophet, only they are imprecise and verbose.  Possibly due to the tea they made from that green stuff on the side of the road.

Back to Psalm 137: It’s a psalm that was, and is, used by exiled Jews (and now Christians) to remind them that although in exile, they will take back Jerusalem.  It’s also used to reassure Jews that Jerusalem is theirs for ever, no matter where they are.  Huzzah!

That, and that they’ll have a lot of fun smashing non-Jewish kids heads in with rocks.

What wonderful examples Ezekiel 9 and Psalm 137 set.  Wander slightly and your family will be slaughtered, follow the path of god and you have permission to kill newborns of your enemies.

This isn’t discipline, as @heidiraff claims.  It’s barbarianism.  For those who wonder why the extremes of Islam are brutal, this is it.  The same god, and the same reverence for the Old Testament (Torah) as Jews and Christians.  Next I’ll be told how only Christians have a moral authority because only they are the “chosen ones”.

I’m sorry; any answer that ends with the likes of @Heidiraff’s “In this case, God used other nations to discipline His children and bring them back to Himself. This was the push-me-pull-you relationship that existed until Jesus came and brought mankind back to God through His death on the cross.” is akin to saying “I don’t really know why, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but to me it doesn’t matter because of my personal relationship with God.”  I’d much rather the latter, honest answer than the former Jesus-makes-everything-taste-better answer drawn from the jar labeled “Stock Answers for when you don’t know the answer.”

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