Esther to Song of Solomon

If this is your first visit to HAAM’s Atheist Bible Study, please read the Introduction before beginning.

PART EIGHT – ESTHER AND JOB - Introduction Esther The book of Esther is the last book of the history section of the Christian Old Testament, and part of the Megillot (Five Scrolls) section of the Ketuvim (Writings) in the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible). Wow – that’s a mouthful! Esther relates the story of a Jewish girl who becomes queen of Persia […]
Day 150 - Esther 1-5 Chapter 1 Welcome to Esther – a story right out of Hollywood! King Xerxes (known as Ahasuerus in Hebrew) reigned the Persian Empire from 486-465 BCE. He hosts a 6 month celebration of the magnificence of his empire, ending with an opulent week-long feast which featured an open bar. He orders his seven […]
Day 151 - Esther 6-10 Chapter 6 King Xerxes can’t sleep after the first banquet, so he asks his servant to read to him from the chronicles of his reign. (LOL!) The servant reads the story about Mordecai exposing the assassination plot, which jogs the king’s memory about not rewarding Mordecai for that. In the morning, Haman arrives, […]
Day 152 - Job 1-4 Job is not a fun book, so suck it up. If you want to get the gist of the story early on, watch Dark Matter’s video. Chapter 1 Everyone knows the basic story of Job, right? If not, all you need to read are the first couple of chapters. The important events all […]
Day 153 - Job 5-7 Chapter 5 Eliphaz continues his poetic false comfort. Consider “Evil does not spring from the soil, and trouble does not sprout from the earth. People are born for trouble as readily as sparks fly up from a fire.” (v 6-7); and “But consider the joy of those corrected by God! Do not despise […]
Day 154 - Job 8-10 Chapter 8 The second friend, Bildad, adds his two cents. Get a load of this: “Does God twist justice? Does the Almighty twist what is right?” (v 3) Yes he does, you nailed it, Bildad! But unfortunately, Bildad’s next lines indicate that he believes the answer to those questions is No. He believes […]
Day 155 - Job 11-13 Chapter 11 The last friend, Zophar, adds his opinion, which contains these pearls of wisdom: “God is doubtless punishing you far less than you deserve!” (v 6) and “If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! Get rid of your sins, and leave all iniquity […]
Day 156 - Job 14-16 Chapter 14 Job’s address to god. zzzzz….. This is getting repetitive. Chapter 15 Eliphaz lays into Job once more. The gist of his very long speech – “You are nothing but a windbag…. Have you no fear of God, no reverence for him? Your sins are telling your mouth what to say. Your […]
Day 157 - Job 17-20 We’re on a roll here now – does everyone see the pattern? It’s gonna continue for a few more chapters. Job’s ‘friends’ take turns rubbing salt in his wounds, then Job defends himself, then he bemoans his fate and vents his anger at god. Over and over. Even the SAB has little commentary […]
Day 158 - Job 21-23 Chapter 21 It’s Job’s turn to speak. He has some good questions for god. Keep thinking, Job, you have the makings of a skeptic; you’re just a little ahead of your time. Job asks: “Why do the wicked prosper, growing old and powerful?” (v 7) … “And yet they say to God, ‘Go […]
Day 159 - Job 24-28 Chapter 24 Job continues to expound on why life is unfair. He makes some good points: “The poor must go about naked, without any clothing. They harvest food for others while they themselves are starving. They press out olive oil without being allowed to taste it, and they tread in the wine press […]
Day 160 - Job 29-31 Chapter 29 Job reminisces about his former happy life, and he’s got quite an ego – he boasts like he’s campaigning for sainthood. “All who heard me praised me. All who saw me spoke well of me. For I assisted the poor in their need and the orphans who required help.” (v 11-12) […]
Day 161 - Job 32-34 Chapter 32 Job’s 3 friends finally give up on badgering him because he is so insistent on his innocence. But now a fourth guy, Elihu, shows up, and starts all over again. Elihu is angry not just with Job, but with the 3 friends, because they were not able to adequately respond to […]
Day 162 - Job 35-37 Chapter 35 Elihu still isn’t through defending god. Now he claims that “it is wrong to say God doesn’t listen, to say the Almighty isn’t concerned. You say you can’t see him, but he will bring justice if you will only wait.” (v 13-14) Yadda yadda yadda. Chapter 36 He’s still not done. […]
Day 163 - Job 38-39 Chapter 38 Alleluia! Elihu is finally done. And whaddya know? God finally answers Job out of a whirlwind and he’s angry! “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?” And god isn’t any better at science than the people who wrote the book – “Where were you when I laid […]
Day 164 - Job 40-42 Chapter 40 Like a domestic abuse victim, Job finally cows to god’s endless intimidation and bullying. And still Yahweh rants on, boasting about his power. He’s really on an ego trip. Chapter 41 Unbelievably, god spends the whole of chapter 41 describing and bragging about the Leviathan (sea monster), and taunting Job about […]
PART NINE – PSALMS - Introduction The Book of Psalms is the first book of the Ketuvim (Writings) section of the Hebrew bible. There are 150 of these poems which seem to be in no particular order….. so this’ll take a while. Seventy-three are attributed to King David, but that’s disputed by modern scholars (no surprise there – like just […]
Day 165 - Psalms 1-8 #1 Here’s a message about in-group/out-group characteristics, with some very strong language and threats: Don’t associate with sinners, for ‘the ungodly shall perish’, and ‘the wicked are like worthless chaff…They will be condemned at the time of judgment’. Nice! Note, though, no specific mention of a literal hell. I would also argue that […]
Day 166 - Psalms 9-16 #9 and 10 #9 is attributed to David, but #10 doesn’t mention an author at all and is not one of those attributed to David in the sources I checked. However a footnote in the NIV to #9 states that these two psalms “may originally have been a single acrostic poem in which […]
Day 167 - Psalms 17-20 #17 This has some pretty poetry (“Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings” v 8 KJV) but otherwise it’s just another rant on the same theme – David sucking up to god, begging for attention, and asserting his righteousness as compared to all those […]
Day 168 - Psalms 21-25 #21 Here is David thanking god for victory. He is certain that he won in battle because Yawheh was on his side. But in v 8-12, he is right back obsessing on the gory details of the violence and vengeance that Yahweh will inflict on his enemies. #22 This one starts out with […]
Day 169 - Psalms 26-31 #26 A song for the egotistical, smug, and self-righteous. Fits David to a Tee. Take a gravol before you read this. #27 Back to the sucking up and whining. The last verse is another well-known chestnut: “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart”. Christians just love […]
Day 170 - Psalms 32-35 #32 This psalm reinforces a popular notion about sin and guilt in religious circles – if you confess all your sins to god, you will be forgiven and your conscience will be cleared. Sounds good, but it does nothing to correct the wrongs committed, nor make any reparation for injury or trespass. And […]
Day 171 - Psalms 36-39 #36 This is another that gets no more than a zzzz icon from the SAB, but it’s worth a read. Look at how obsessed David is with affirming himself as good and everyone else as wicked in v 1-4. Yet think about how his own words apply to himself (you’ll know if you […]
Day 172 - Psalms 40-45 #40 Another bit of nostalgia from my youth. Felix Mendelssohn took the first verse from this psalm and created a whole anthem out of it. It’s standard repertoire for church choirs; my mother sang the soprano solo many times and also played it on the organ. The next few verses are the same […]
Day 173 - Psalms 46-50 #46 These verses leap out at me, they are so familiar. Took me a while to figure out why. They are the inspiration for the hymn A Mighty fortress is our God. The sentiments in this psalm are so perfect for cherry-picking: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in […]
Day 174 - Psalms 51-57 #51 We’re back to David’s writings for a while. Oh goodie. Supposedly David wrote this psalm while doing penance for his affair with Bathsheba. This masterpiece confirms David’s reputation as the ultimate politician, the master manipulator who lies through his teeth and always says what the people want to hear. He sure talks […]
Day 175 - Psalms 58-65 #58 This psalm gets icons in the SAB for injustice, cruelty and violence, intolerance, dysfunctional family values, absurdities, bad science, and misogyny – and rightly so. David’s throwing a tantrum, and we all get to listen. He rants that “Wicked people are born sinners” (v 3), and then goes on to describe exactly […]
Day 176 - Psalms 66-69 #66 This is just a poem written by a sycophant praising god. Its author is anonymous. The first two verses are very familiar. I’m sure have sung them, in some choral work probably, but I couldn’t find it on YouTube. #67 Here’s another cute little song of praise by an anonymous author. Too […]
Day 177 - Psalms 70-73 #70 I cannot believe the constant vitriol in these psalms of David. The guy’s deranged. #71 This one’s anonymous. It’s another song of praise, but it’s not quite as smarmy as the ones by David. There are some familiar phrases here: “incline thine ear” (v 2); and “thou art my rock and my […]
Day 178 - Psalms 74-77 #74 Another rant against god. The author reflects on the tales of Yahweh’s former power and glory, and asks why he is not making himself known now. He begs god to show up and help. The enemy has sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple, and still god doesn’t reappear or do anything about […]
Day 179 - Psalms 78-79 #78 A long-winded recount of tales of the good old days back during the exodus. (It’s important to recount these stories for the kids.) There’s a lot of violence in the tale, because as we all know, Yahweh was a nasty character. Gotta love v 34 “When God began killing them, they finally […]
Day 180 - Psalms 80-85 #80 Just more whining about the good old days and where is god now and why doesn’t he come and help us…… #81 The Israelites did evil and worshiped Pagan gods and so misfortune befell them…. blah blah blah #82 Another rant about why the wicked should be allowed to prosper (v 2). […]
Day 181 - Psalms 86-89 #86 We’re back to David, but just for this one. Actually, I could tell that as soon as I started to read it. The first couple of verses are basically – listen, I need your help; and save me, because I serve you – ie whining and sucking up. It continues in this […]
Day 182 - Psalms 90-95 #90 This one marks the beginning of Part 4 of the Book of Psalms, and it is the only one written (supposedly) by Moses. It’s not a bad little ditty about the brevity of life; there are some nice sentiments in it if you remove the supernatural references. Note again that death is […]
Day 183 - Psalms 96-102 #96 These words are very familiar, but I couldn’t place it. After a while I think all the lyrics start to sound the same, and when I googled the first line ‘sing unto the lord a new song’, I got a number of hits for different music containing that line. This phrase seems […]
Day 184 - Psalms 103-105 We are at the halfway point! Did you realize how much of the OT there is after the familiar stories like Noah’s Ark and the Ten Commandments? Bet not….. And there’s still lots left of the OT, which comprises about 3/4 of the bible. My motto – what doesn’t kill me will make […]
Day 185 - Psalms 106-107 #106 Verses 1-3 are wishful thinking about how wonderful god is. V 4-5 just sound like brown-nosing to me. And then we just get into another rehash of the history of the Israelites. If you haven’t read the first few books of the bible, this may be worth skimming to get the idea, […]
Day 186 - Psalms 108-114 Psalms 108-110 are attributed to David. #108 The usual ‘god is great’ zzzzzz stuff, but I noticed that verses 6-13 are almost identical to #60: 5-12. It was the verse about the washpot that tipped me off to the similarity. Either David is repeating himself, or there are multiple versions of these psalms. […]
Day 187 - Psalms 115-118 #115 These words are familiar – I’m sure I’ve heard this read in church. The author is saying that idols aren’t real – unlike god. Sure. V 13 – here we go again with the emphasis on fearing god. What is it with this? And note in v 17, the finality of death. […]
Day 188 - Psalm 119 This is the longest psalm and the longest chapter in the entire bible. I’m sure glad no one has (I hope) ever used this for a hymn – that would be an endurance test. There’s a reason it’s so long – it’s an acrostic, written in stanzas. Each stanza has 8 verses, and […]
Day 189 - Psalms 120-125 #120 Yet another plea from some poor tormented person to god to rescue him from all those other nasty wicked people, and then punish them. I think we’ve heard this before. Note that this is the beginning of a whole group of psalms dedicated to pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. I wasn’t sure about […]
Day 190 - Psalms 126-132 #126 This one’s a poem celebrating the return to Jerusalem, also anonymous. Some nice little words of wisdom in v 5-6. #127 This psalm was supposedly by Solomon. I find that interesting, because he is known for being wise. I have to disagree with every line of this psalm. Make sure to read […]
Day 191 - Psalms 133-139 #133 Another of David’s. It’s just a short bit of schmaltz about living in harmony. Since it is dedicated to the pilgrims returning to Jerusalem, presumably the harmony refers to the reunification of the Jews there. But as we all know, there has been very little harmony in Jerusalem in the last couple […]
Day 192 - Psalms 140-145 #140 Well this certainly is typical David. This guy is a paranoid megalomaniac; I’d like to see a modern psychiatric assessment of him based on the info in the bible. The first verse “O Lord, rescue me from evil people.” lets us know what this psalm is going to be about. More ranting […]
Day 193 - Psalms 146-150 The last 5 psalms are all anonymous, so we’re done with David. Collective cheer! #146 There’s not much in this one. V 3-4 tell us not to put our trust in people, for there is no help there; and once they’re dead, they’re gone. Again, death is mostly seen as final in the […]
PART TEN – PROVERBS, ECCLESIASTES, AND SONG OF SOLOMON - Introduction Proverbs The common definition of ‘proverb’ in English is “a simple and concrete saying, popularly known and repeated, that expresses a truth based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity”. Is that what’s in this book? Guess we’ll see. Proverbs is supposed to be a record of the Wisdom of Solomon. Well, […]
Day 194 - Proverbs 1-3 Chapter 1 The purpose of this book is stated clearly in chapter 1:2-6, and it sounds perfectly reasonable and rational. And then v 7 comes along….. “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge” – wait, what? We’re back to fear again? What is it with the emphasis on fear? The […]
Day 195 - Proverbs 4-6 Chapter 4 This chapter is mostly good. It’s about the value of wisdom. The only verses that give me pause are 14-17. I get the uncomfortable feeling that the author believes that evil people are just born evil. Of course there wasn’t much in the way of behavioral psychology in those days. Chapter […]
Day 196 - Proverbs 7-9 Chapter 7 There is no good in this one; it’s all bad. It’s a warning to men not to be led astray by loose women. And it’s pretty heavy on the misogyny. Eg V 11 “She was the brash, rebellious type, never content to stay at home” – because we all know that […]
Day 197 - Proverbs 10-12 Chapter 10 This chapter is entitled “Proverbs of Solomon”, which we know is questionable, but whatever. There is a long list of basically one-line statements. It’s a mixed bag. Some are truisms. Some are debatable. Some are nasty. Some are just plain wrong. As usual, we read that God will punish the wicked […]
Day 198 - Proverbs 13-15 Chapter 13 Just more of the same. The first part’s not too bad; most of the verses contain some truth, or at least something nice (wishful thinking). Then we get to v 22 “Good people leave an inheritance to their grandchildren, but the sinner’s wealth passes to the godly.” I view the last […]
Day 199 - Proverbs 16-18 Chapter 16 On and on it goes. I’ll just pick out a few highlights. V 3 is familiar – frequently quoted. V 10-15 seem to establish the divine right of kings that I learned about way back in junior high social studies. It makes more sense now that I see the context – […]
Day 200 - Proverbs 19-21 Chapter 19 This chapter contains some nice little witticisms; how about “Wealth makes many ‘friends’; poverty drives them all away.” (v 4) But then we get to this zinger: “A foolish child is a calamity to a father; a quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping” (v 13) Wow – attack your […]
Day 201 - Proverbs 22-23 Chapter 22 Verse 6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” is quoted often by parents and educators, and used as a motto by private religious schools. But right in the same chapter, v 15 promotes beating kids with […]
Day 202 - Proverbs 24-26 Chapter 24 This starts off with something else for me to rant about, something I’ve noticed before but forgot to include in that list of attitudes I’m tired of. “Don’t envy evil people or desire their company. For their hearts plot violence, and their words always stir up trouble.” (v 1-2). This illustrates […]
Day 203 - Proverbs 27-29 Chapter 27 This chapter is mostly full of observances about human nature. Some of them are quite astute – eg v 4, 6, 13. But of course there’s the usual condemnation of women (v 15-16) and fools (v 22). Chapter 28 On and on we go. V 2 seems like sage political advice […]
Day 204 - Proverbs 30-31 Chapter 30 For some reason, this chapter moves away from Solomon and is now supposedly written by some guy named Agur. Wikipedia says little about him. Look at v 4. If you’re Christian, it’s one of the references to the coming of Jesus; if you’re Jewish, it refers to Moses. It has quite […]
Day 205 - Ecclesiastes 1-4 Chapter 1 The language of Ecclesiastes is eloquent when read in the KJV. It was not, however, written by David’s son, as stated in the first verse. Whoever wrote it sounds jaded, in the introductory monologue about the meaninglessness of life. V 3-5, 9, and 15 are familiar phrases. V 5-7, regarding nature, […]
Day 206 - Ecclesiastes 5-8 Chapter 5 This chapter contains some truth and some good advice. But you have to sort them out, just like in Proverbs. For example, v 7 “Talk is cheap, like daydreams and other useless activities. Fear God instead.” We’re back to that again! V 8-11 are astute observations about human nature, and it’s […]
Day 207 - Ecclesiastes 9-12 Chapter 9 This chapter gets all thumbs-up icons from the SAB so it must be good. The first few lines still sound cynical, but v 5-10 are oddly inspiring, esp if the references to god (which add nothing to the sentiment) are removed. They pretty much cover death from a non-believer’s perspective. Funny […]
Day 208 - Song of Solomon Remember to keep in mind while you’re reading this book – is it erotica, or allegory? Chapter 1 OK, one chapter read and I’ve already made up my mind. This is erotica.Trying to interpret “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine” as […]
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