The Lord’s Tough-Love Tactics

The Lord allegedly became frustrated and angry a lot in the Old Testament.  And rather than just guide his chosen ones through omniscient psychological counseling, the Lord was prone to strengthening those who opposed his darlings in order to inflict punishment upon his chosen ones!  At least that is the imagined motivation as presented by the priest-authors who aspired to chronicle God’s holy mood swings.  The favored excuse for explaining away any Israelite defeats was that they “…went a whoring after other gods.”  The priest-authors were very fond of belittling whoever displeased them. 

A typical but lesser known example of this favored excuse comes from the book of Judges, which purports to cover the “history” of Israel from the time of the settlement of Canaan until just before the establishment of the monarchy.  (Related post: Fables From the Book of Judges, August 2010.)  According to the priest-authors of Judges, the fall of the Israelites was due to a series of desertions from the faith.  By that the priest-authors meant that the people resented priestly indulgences imposed upon them as an alleged condition for receiving the Lord’s conditional love.

The book of Judges was an attempt to connect and continue the priestly saga of the alleged battles for the “Promised Land” that had been introduced with the book of Joshua.  Sadly, no leader who was comparable to Joshua had been provided by God after Joshua died, and thus the unity of the tribes supposedly weakened and degenerated into apostasy followed by military defeat to Mesopotamia.  Thus the book of Judges continued the blood and guts stories, which seems a peculiar documentation to express the alleged love, grace and favoritism supposedly showered upon the Israelites by the Lord.

The ways of the Lord are mysterious, and so after the Israelites suffered defeat to Mesopotamia, the Lord determined that the Israelites must be made to endure eight years under Mesopotamian rule before he would raise up a warrior (Othniel, Joshua 10:15:17 and Judges 3:9) to deliver them.  But after the typical forty years of  Othniel’s supervision the people again “went a whoring after other gods.”  This, of course, was the alleged cause for Israelite defeat c.1406 BCE by Eglon, king of the Moabites, who had allied with the Ammonites and Amalekites against God’s darlings.

After eighteen years under the harsh thumb of King Eglon (Joshua 10:3; Judges 1:12, 14, 15,17), a self-appointed rescuer named Ehud (Joshua 3:15; 4:1) from the tribe of Benjamin decided to redeem his people by assassinating King Eglon.  Ehud was convinced that getting rid of the tyrant Eglon was his godly calling, and so he fashioned a two-edged dagger about eighteen inches long, hid it in the  folds of his cloak, and managed to get into the presence of the obese King Eglon.  Ehud implied that he had a secret errand, so the king allowed Ehud a private meeting in the king’s summer parlor.

According to the priest-authors it is deception that, for some mysterious holy reason, is the honored way to serve God, so Ehud came close to the king, saying, “I have a message from God unto thee” (Judges 3:20).  As the king bent near, Ehud then drew with his left hand the dagger hidden beneath his cloak on Ehud’s right thigh, and thrust the long blade into the obese king’s belly. 

The lethal attack is adoringly detailed: “And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed in upon the blade, so that he (Ehud) could not draw the dagger out of his (Eglon’s) belly; and the dirt came out.”  Skulking away and locking the door to the summer parlor behind him, Ehud managed to depart the crime scene just as the servants arrived and hovered outside the parlor door, for they were afraid to impose upon the king’s  privacy.  Then from verse 27 to 30 Ehud raises an army, leads them into battle, and allegedly slays “…ten thousand men, all lusty and all men of valor; and there escaped not a man.”   There is no further narrative.  There is only the statement that Ehud, inferring that Ehud had God’s blessing, “delivered Israel.”  Thus Ehud is ensconced as the second of the revered “judges” of Israel.

If such a premeditated, cold-blooded murder as so graphically detailed in holy scripture of Eglon’s murder was carried out in modern societies of today, would it be so callously brushed aside as in this savage tale presented in the book of Judges?  Well, perhaps—in the blow-’em-apart movies made for immature audiences.

Could any sane person possibly believe that such practiced betrayal and plotted taking of human life (even of a tyrant) can in some way be carried out as fulfillment of some divine commission?  Unfortunately, yes.  There are still religious fanatics who hold up tales such as these as examples of “biblical values” which they wish to install upon the masses as guidance for conducting a democratic government!

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One Response to “The Lord’s Tough-Love Tactics”

  1. […] The Lord's Tough-Love Tactics « Time Frames and Taboo Data Blog […]

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