Monday, 26 November 2012

God plucks defeat from the jaws of victory

Have a really good look at one of those bible stories that are never told in church.  Take two or three translations in order to get a good feel for the story.  Starting at 2 Kings 3:21, we read a short story about how the Israelites tricked the Moabites into lowering their guard and moving in to finish off their enemy.

Having lured the Moabites into their trap, the Israelites they fell upon them and started to massacre them mercilessly.  Then they pursued the Moabites to their own country, destroying property and land, and filling wells and (somehow stopping springs) as they went.

When it was clear that all was lost for the Moabites, and after a failed counter-strike by 700 swordsmen, their king resorted to one of the few measures remaining him.  He sacrificed his own son on the city wall, presumably to another god (who doesn't even get named, but is probably called Chemosh, or Kemosh).

Suddenly the tables were turned and the Israelites fled in terror.  It is not that the sacrifice of the eldest son was such a shock.  It had been a common practise not far back in history, so it defies common sense to make such an assumption. Something else must have frightened them a lot.

Does this demonstrate something about all-knowing, all-powerful God, or does it relegate him to the position of a subordinate deity?

Stories like this always make me wonder why Christianity retained the Old Testament, or indeed if it did, why it kept the parts that are most embarrassing to its own cause.

Incidentally, an artifact in The Louvre called the Mesha Stele (or Moabite Stone) appears to correlate with the story from the bible.  You can read about it in Wikipedia, and see a translation here. (I can't check for authenticity.) Whether this stone tablet refers to the same story or not, this relatively unknown story from the Old Testament still says something about God that most Christians and Jews would find inconvenient.

Mesha Stele - The inconvenient Moabite Stone!
Mesha Stele - The inconvenient Moabite Stone!

Explanations please?

1 comment:

LadyAtheist said...

uhhh God works in mysterious ways? It's his will? One door closes and another opens?