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PART ELEVEN – ISAIAH AND JEREMIAH -   Introduction Isaiah This book is purported to have been written in the 8th century BCE by a prophet names Isaiah ben Amoz. However, like much of the bible, its authorship and timeline are in dispute. Scholarly consensus is that it was written by at least two authors, with the latter part of the book […]
Day 209 - Isaiah 1-4 I hope you enjoyed that little break reading the books of wisdom, because here come the prophets, with their whining and wailing. Chapter 1 It starts right off as expected – the Israelites have disobeyed and rejected the lord; they are miserable sinners, etc. V 10-17 takes quite a turn, though. All of […]
Day 210 - Isaiah 5-8 Chapter 5 Verses 1-7 are a story about a vineyard that produced bitter grapes. It’s a parable about the destruction of Jerusalem. The rest of the chapter is basically “there goes the neighborhood”; a polemic about how all those evil people will get their comeuppance, and heaven will exult at the justice (v […]
Day 211 - Isaiah 9-12 Chapter 9 Here’s another major source of controversy regarding prophesy associated with Jesus. V 1-7 describes Isaiah’s prediction that the dark days after the fall of Jerusalem will not go on forever, but that Israel will be released from slavery and renewed under a future great leader, who will reign from the throne […]
Day 212 - Isaiah 13-17 Chapter 13 Re read in gory detail how Yahweh will destroy Babylon. Not that it could really be worse than anything than we’ve heard before – we’re used to Yahweh’s cruelty by now. Check v 10 and 13 for some bad science; v 15-18 for examples of biblical morality and justice; v 20 […]
Day 213 - Isaiah 18-22 Chapter 18 Now the threats turn towards the people of Ethiopia. I guess Yahweh’s got it in for everyone who isn’t among his chosen. Just more of the same ranting here… I wonder who will be next? Chapter 19 And it’s Egypt! God will turn the people against each other and destroy the […]
Day 214 - Isaiah 23-27 Chapter 23 Well this is dismal. Yahweh turns to Tyre and promises to trash it, too. But there’s more – at the end we are told that “after seventy years the Lord will revive Tyre. But she will be no different than she was before. She will again be a prostitute to all […]
Day 215 - Isaiah 28-30 Chapter 28 Here we go, it’s Samaria’s turn now. Isaiah doesn’t seem to have much use for liquor. He’s made negative references to it before, but this is the funniest. The NLT translation of v 1-2 “…Samaria—the glorious crown of the drunks of Israel…It is the pride of a people brought down by […]
Day 216 - Isaiah 31-35 Chapter 31 The author begins by advising people not to rely on the strength of human armies, but instead to rely on the lord for help. Wonder how that advice worked out. And the lord will bring ‘great disaster’ (NLT) or ‘evil’ (KJV) in v 2. I wonder why the translators changed the […]
Day 217 - Isaiah 36-41 Chapter 36-39 O for pity’s sake! These four chapters are just a retelling of 2 Kings 18-20. What the heck are they in here for? We’ve been there and read that. I’m not rehashing it again. There are probably some minor contradictions but I’m not going to bother to go through it with […]
Day 218 - Isaiah 42-44 Chapter 42 Mostly this is just Yahweh crowing again about his power and glory. However, it is also the first of 4 “Songs of the Suffering Servant”. These are four poems in Isaiah written about a certain “servant of YHWH.” God calls the servant to lead the nations, but the servant is horribly […]
Day 219 - Isaiah 45-48 Chapter 45 In verse 1-13, why does Yahweh refer to King Cyrus of Persia as his ‘anointed one’? Special, or chosen, maybe, since Yahweh seems to have chosen Cyrus to free the Jews from captivity and allow them to return home to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. But ‘anointed’? (The literal translation of […]
Day 220 - Isaiah 49-53 Chapter 49 This is the second of the 4 ‘suffering servant poems’. In v 1 is a favorite quote of the ‘pro-life’ movement – “The Lord called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name.” But in context it refers not to an individual baby but to the […]
Day 221 - Isaiah 54-58 Chapter 54 The author compares the restoration of Jerusalem to a childless woman suddenly bearing several children (v 1-3); in other words, barren is synonymous with ’empty’ or disappointed, and multiple children equate to success and prosperity. Rather an outdated and inappropriate metaphor now. The rest of the chapter zzzzzz. Chapter 55 God […]
Day 222 - Isaiah 59-63 Chapter 59 This chapter is an apologist’s dream, a psychologist’s nightmare, and a non-believer’s facepalm. The first 14 verses tell us that the reason god doesn’t help people or listen to their prayers isn’t because he can’t, but because people are so wicked and commit such horrible sins that god has ‘had it’ […]
Day 223 - Isaiah 64-66 Chapter 64 This chapter is disgusting. V 1-6 ask where god is and why doesn’t he show himself and perform miracles like he did in the old days. Good question! V 5-7 respond that it’s because we are all “infected and impure with sin…”. V 8-12 describe worshipers groveling for mercy. No wonder […]
Day 224 - Jeremiah 1-3 Here’s a handy chart showing the main themes in the book of Jeremiah that may be helpful. Just thinking about reading it is getting me depressed. But how else will I know what’s in there? Chapter 1 We start out with an explanation about when the book took place, but I already clarified […]
Day 225 - Jeremiah 4-6 Chapter 4 This is just plain nasty, so let’s find some humor in it. You gotta love the language of the KJV – here’s verse 4 “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart…”. In an attempt to turn that into something meaningful, the NLT morphs it into […]
Day 226 - Jeremiah 7-9 Chapter 7 God addresses the people, calling them hypocrites for committing all kinds of sins and then thinking that they can win his favor just by showing up at temple (v 3-11). Seems like something a lot of church and temple-goers should be reminded of today. But after that the chapter turns ugly […]
Day 227 - Jeremiah 10-13 Chapter 10 Jeremiah starts with a rant on god’s behalf against all the evil heathens whose practices are sinful – like astrology (v 2), and tree decorations (v 3-4) – goodbye Christmas! Yahweh creates the weather (v 13) but all other gods are worthless and people who worship them are stupid, etc etc. […]
Day 228 - Jeremiah 14-17 Chapter 14 All I get out of v 1-10 is that these poor primitive people don’t know what causes weather patterns, so they believe that drought is caused by something they have done to anger the god(s). In v 11-18, Yahweh says emphatically that his plans to destroy Jerusalem are firm, and anyone […]
Day 229 - Jeremiah 18-22 Chapter 18 V 1-17 *…*. V 18-23 Jeremiah tries to tell the people to quit their evil deeds and warn them of the impending disaster, but they don’t listen to him. He becomes paranoid. He believes that they are mocking him and plotting against him, and he curses them and says that Yahweh […]
Day 230 - Jeremiah 23-25 Chapter 23 Again, the usual rant. But check v 5-8 for more prophesy that can be interpreted as Messianic and/or pro-Israeli. Then continues the usual rant *…* for the whole rest of the chapter. But this time Yahweh scapegoats false prophets for leading people astray. (Which forms the basis for a lot of […]
Day 231 - Jeremiah 26-29 Chapter 26 Poor Jeremiah! He stands at the temple and preaches doom and no one believes him; worse, they threaten to arrest him, or kill him. I wish they had – I’m so sick of this book. Chapter 27 Jeremiah wears an ox yoke to symbolize that all the nations will be forced […]
Day 232 - Jeremiah 30-31 Chapter 30 What kind of evil maniac tortures people and then mocks them for being afraid? Yahweh, or course! (v 4-7) And then he has the gall to play the hero for releasing them from their captivity, and calling for a celebration, when he caused the misery in the first place. And still, […]
Day 233 - Jeremiah 32-34 Chapter 32 So King Zedekiah finally throws Jeremiah in jail – for treason, it sounds like, since Jeremiah keeps insisting that Jerusalem will fall and Zedekiah will be taken as a prisoner to Babylon. (Which is exactly what happened, as we know). The rest of the chapter is about a land transaction, and […]
Day 234 - Jeremiah 35-37 Chapter 35 Here’s a nice little morality tale involving a sect called the Recabites, descendants of Jehonadab – the guy who helped kill all of Ahab’s family back in 2 Kings 10 (although in 2 Kings he is called just Jonadab – I guess the continuity guy blew it). Anyway, Jehonadab supposedly instructed […]
Day 235 - Jeremiah 38-41 Chapter 38 The love-hate relationship between Jeremiah and King Zed continues. The king’s advisers toss Jeremiah into a cistern, but one of the king’s staff rescues him. Interesting that the KJV refers to this staff member as a eunuch. The Hebrew version says no such thing, so the KJV translators must have made […]
Day 236 - Jeremiah 42-45 Chapter 42 Well here’s a twist I didn’t expect – god doesn’t want the remaining Jews to leave Jerusalem and head to Egypt! Moreover, in some translations, he apologizes to them for what they have been through! (v 7-12) But that interpretation is debatable. In the Hebrew-English version, and the KJV, he says […]
Day 237 - Jeremiah 46-48 Chapter 46 Jeremiah warns the Egyptians that Babylon will invade and destroy them – but spare the Jews who are exiled there. Jeremiah drags his warning out over 28 verses but that’s the gist of it. Verse 10 (KJV) contains the phrase ‘Drunk With Blood’ again. We encountered this phrase previously in Deuteronomy […]
Day 238 - Jeremiah 49-50 Jeremiah 49 Just more of the same – except this time the victims are in Ammon and Edom. And Damascus (which apparently has some Christians today believing that the recent wars in Syria are the fulfillment of this prophesy). And some places I’ve never heard of – Kedar and Hazor (towns in Israel […]
Day 239 - Jeremiah 51-52 Chapter 51 If, like me, you are becoming inured to Yahweh’s constant violence, his boasts about his powers, and his rants against idol-worship, and if you are already aware that the prophesy about Babylon becoming a wasteland proved false, then there isn’t much to say about this chapter. It’s interesting to note Yahweh’s […]
PART TWELVE – LAMENTATIONS AND EZEKIEL - Introduction I’m glad we’re almost through with Jeremiah, but there’s no point in spreading false hope that things will improve; the last part of the OT (from Jeremiah to the end) is the WORST in my opinion – it’s going to be nothing but depressing from here on. Lamentations We’ve arrived at a collection of […]
Day 240 - Lamentations 1-3 Chapter 1 Supposedly Jeremiah is mourning the destruction of Jerusalem. Maybe it’s a moving, stirring lament – if you’re into schmaltz. I’m not. But verse 12 jumped right off the page at me – guess who used it in a major musical work? yup – we’re back to good old Handel. And tell […]
Day 241 - Lamentations 4-5 Chapter 4 Another acrostic poem – basically just a continuation of the mourning and misery. More of the same vivid descriptions of suffering under Yahweh’s brutality. V 9-10 are particularly heart-wrenching. V is the second instance in the bible of misinformation about the parenting practices of ostriches (the first was Job 39:13). That’s […]
Day 242 - Ezekiel 1-4 Chapter 1 Brace yourself, ’cause this is gonna get real crazy, real fast. Ezekiel has ‘visions’, and I’d say he was trippin’ on something, but what do I know? Read for yourself and decide. And pay attention, because the craziness in Ezekiel will be important when we finally get to Revelation. The crazy […]
Day 243 - Ezekiel 5-8 Chapter 5 The metaphors get ridiculous here. God tells Ezekiel to shave his hair with a sharp sword and divide it into thirds. Burn 1/3 in Jerusalem, chop 1/3 with a sword, and scatter the remaining 1/3 to the winds. This represents the fate of the Jews – 1/3 will die in the […]
Day 244 - Ezekiel 9-12 Chapter 9 It’s no surprise that Yahweh isn’t happy with all that sinning in the last chapter. Bring on the executioners! Six ‘hit men’ appear, accompanied by a scribe who will tag those who are exempted from the death sentence (expressing disapproval of idol-worship is apparently the ticket to getting off). Then god […]
Day 245 - Ezekiel 13-15 Chapter 13 How do you tell a true prophet from a false prophet? Zeke imagines that god tells him to prophesy against all those other ‘false’ prophets who are following only their own imaginations and have seen nothing at all (v 2-3). Are you kidding me? Pot… kettle. The rest of the chapter […]
Day 246 - Ezekiel 16-17 Chapter 16 This is another metaphorical tale, but creepier and deeply disturbing. Definitely not bedtime reading for the kids. There are a couple of curious verses near the beginning. The insult in v 3 “You are nothing but a Canaanite! Your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite” reminds me of […]
Day 247 - Ezekiel 18-20 Chapter 18 God explains the analogy of the sour grapes. Only problem is, this bit of wisdom isn’t from the Book of Proverbs, it’s from Jeremiah 31:29. This is the second time we have run across a proverb that isn’t actually a Proverb. (God doesn’t have a very good editor.) But this time […]
Day 248 - Ezekiel 21-22 Chapter 21 Yahweh’s rant continues. Sample – “I will cut off both the righteous and the wicked! I will draw my sword against everyone in the land from south to north. Everyone in the world will know that I am the Lord.” (v 4-5). Following that, there’s a warning for king of Israel, […]
Day 249 - Ezekiel 23-24 Chapter 23 The SAB has 8 icons for this chapter out of a possible 16 – Language, Sex, Family Values, Treatment of Women, Cruelty and Violence, Injustice, Absurdities, and Contradictions. I don`t know if that`s a record or if there is another chapter that rates more, but it provides a clue right up […]
Day 250 - Ezekiel 25-27 Chapter 25 Just more of the usual. Yahweh vows to punish and destroy the Ammonites, Moabites, Philistines, and Edomites. Yawn. But this chapter is famous because the hitman in Pulp Fiction, Jules Winnfield, supposedly quoted from it in the movie. Here is the text of his lines: “There’s this passage I got memorized. […]
Day 251 - Ezekiel 28-30 Chapter 28 Now we learn the reason that Yahweh has it in for Tyre – its commercial success as a major trading port has made it haughty and proud, so he needs to bring it down. Heaven forbid that anyone should be stronger or more successful than power-hungry Yahweh! Success in business makes […]
Day 252 - Ezekiel 31-33 Chapter 31 If you like poetry, you might appreciate this chapter, which compares Egypt to a mighty tree, describing its former beauty and how it has now been cut down, yada yada yada. The only verses of mild interest to me are those about death (14 and 16); do the references to ‘the […]
Day 253 - Ezekiel 34-36 Chapter 34 Yahweh turns to a new tactic – he looks for someone else to blame for the sins of the Israelites. (Is it even remotely reasonable for an omnipotent deity to try to shift the blame for anything???) He decides the tribal leaders are at fault, and creates an elaborate analogy comparing […]
Day 254 - Ezekiel 37-39 Chapter 37 Here is one of the crazier stories of the bible (and that’s saying something!). Yahweh takes Zeke to a valley of bones, and tells him to talk to them. And he does, and whaddya know – they rise up and regroup themselves into bodies. And then the bodies come to life. […]
Day 255 - Ezekiel 40-42 The last few chapters of Ezekiel describe his vision of a temple. So before starting them, let’s review what we know about biblical temples. The First Temple built in Israel was Solomon’s temple, built on the Temple Mount (Mount Zion) in Jerusalem, way back when (it’s hard to find an exact date, but […]
Day 256 - Ezekiel 43-46 Chapter 43 The glory of the lord appears to Zeke in the temple, and declares that it will be the place of his throne and where he will live forever among the people of Israel (v 7). That’s just more fuel for the fires that battle for occupancy in the Middle East. And […]
Day 257 - Ezekiel 47-48 Chapter 47 Understanding these last 2 chapters requires a geography lesson (well for me, anyway). The first half of chapter 47 describes the mysterious man in Zeke’s vision showing him a stream flowing through the temple and out the east side toward the valley of the Dead Sea. He tells Zeke that the […]
PART THIRTEEN – DANIEL AND THE MINOR PROPHETS - Introduction Only 13 books left in the Old Testament! Daniel This book is supposedly an account of the activities and visions of Daniel, a Jew exiled at Babylon. However, modern consensus considers the book pseudonymous, with the stories of the first half legendary in origin, and the visions of the second half the product of […]
Day 258 - Daniel 1-3 Chapter 1 Right off the bat there’s a contradiction, which will be no surprise if you read the intro. The third year of the reign of King Jahoiakim would have been 605 or 606 BCE, and Nebuchadnezzar was not yet king of Babylon; moreover, he didn’t invade Jerusalem for the first time until […]
Day 259 - Daniel 4-6 Chapter 4 The author writes as King Neb, describing his latest dream in the first person. It’s a humdinger, and Daniel interprets it as a morality tale, intended to teach the king that heaven is the true ruler (v 26). In v 28 the dream comes true! And lo and behold! He learns […]
Day 260 - Daniel 7-9 Chapter 7 After the legends in the first half of the book, the scene changes; the last 6 chapters describe Daniel’s apocalyptic visions. Put simply – the guy was high on something. Don’t dismiss this nonsense, though; it will become very important again in Revelation. And as I was contemplating that the wacky […]
Day 261 - Daniel 10-12 The vision of a great future war described in chapters 10-12 takes place around 536 BCE; so around the end of the exile and before the rebuilding of the temple. Chapter 10 It’s interesting that at the time of the vision, Daniel notes that he was in mourning and had consumed no meat […]
Day 262 - Hosea 1-7 To understand the book of Hosea, you first need to know that the characters are allegorical – Hosea is Yahweh; his unfaithful wife Gomer is Israel; the son Jezreel is named after a valley where many of the battles in the books of Kings were fought, symbolizing the fall of Israel; the daughter’s […]
Day 263 - Hosea 8-14 Chapter 8 Yahweh’s rant against the sinning Israelites continues on, and on, and on. There would be nothing interesting to comment on here if it weren’t for v 7, which became famous when it was used during a speech in WWII. I had to turn to an apologist website to understand what it […]
Day 264 - Joel There are only 3 chapters – yay! Chapter 1 Is there an entomologist in the house? There’s a plague of insects here, but depending on which translation you read, they are variously called locusts, cankerworms, palmerworms, or caterpillars (v 6). The crops are ruined, drought is causing prairie fires, and the people and animals […]
Day 265 - Amos 1-5 Chapter 1 Just what I expected, more visions of gloom and destruction. Ho-hum. And guess what else? The people have sinned, and Yahweh’s gonna punish them. Surprised? Their sins include selling people into slavery (what’s the big deal? Yahweh has never minded that before), breaking a peace treaty, showing no mercy in battle […]
Day 266 - Amos 6-9 Chapter 6 Amos is still ranting against the idle rich who are unaware of the oncoming disaster. He carries on about their fancy food, their silly songs, and their wine and perfume, calling ‘wake up, guys, the party’s over!’ Yahweh hates them all for their arrogance- how dare they prosper and enjoy themselves […]
Day 267 - Obadiah The book of Obediah has only one chapter, and to understand it you have to be familiar with the story of Jacob and Esau; if you aren’t, then go back to Genesis 25 and read about them first. So… the people of Edom are descended from Esau, and they make their homes in the […]
Day 268 - Micah Chapter 1 How much more can we stand of this non-stop ranting? Summary of the first chapter – the people are sinners; Yahweh’s gonna punish them; the prophet (in this case, Micah, but really, he could be any of these prophets) warns the people in various towns of the impending doom. Because he is […]
Day 269 - Nahum Chapter 1 Woo hoo! – I finally found an indisputable truth in the bible. V 2: “The Lord is a jealous God, filled with vengeance and rage. He takes revenge on all who oppose him and continues to rage against his enemies!” Sadly, this is intended as praise – the author believes that Yahweh’s […]
Day 270 - Habakkuk The book of Habakkuk addresses why bad things happen to good people. Great, because we’d all like to know. Chapter 1 We begin with the prophet calling out to god, wondering why the wicked go unpunished, and why he has to put up with them. And Yahweh’s ‘answer’? Haha – he tells them he […]
Day 271 - Haggai This book needs background info to be understandable. Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered the Babylonians around 538 BCE, releasing the Jews from their captors and ending the exile by issuing a decree allowing them to return to Jerusalem. So why didn’t the returning Jews immediately set about rebuilding the temple? Wouldn’t that have […]
Day 272 - Zechariah 1-7 Chapters 1-6 contain 8 bizarre visions – consider yourself warned. But don’t skip this stuff – or you’ll be sorry when we get to Revelation. It’ll be regurgitated there… Chapter 1 starts with a warning to behave, and then the first vision. It’s some bizarre story about riders on colored horses, and it […]
Day 273 - Zechariah 9-14 These chapters are like ‘part 2’ of the book, and an example of apocalyptic literature. That means it’ll get weird(er). Chapter 9 It starts off vicious – so much for the sweet merciful god of the last chapter. Yahweh’s going to trash and plunder a whole bunch of cities and states in the […]
Day 274 - Malachi This book was probably written between 515 and 445 BCE (after the temple was rebuilt but before Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem), and the author is anonymous (Malachi is just Hebrew for ‘my messenger’). Some scholars even think that Malachi was actually Ezra. The background on this book is that the Jews have been told […]