Oh cool, it’s irreverent but insightful Bible blogging! The chapter-by-chapter commentary by David Plotz is witty without either being preachy or hostile. The in-progress commentary on each book spans multiple pages, so you’ll want to start with the first entries for Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. More will be forthcoming, I’m sure.
David Plotz has noticed some of the same delightful tidbits that I’ve noticed in my reading, such as:
“Creeping” is all over these last few verses of Creation. God tells His newly minted man and woman that they rule over world and its creatures, including, as the King James puts it–”every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” What a superb phrase! It’s perfect for insects, terrorists, and children.
I also wondered about the sins worthy of the Flood:
The story of Noah: “The Lord saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth, and how every plan devised by his mind was nothing but evil all the time. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on Earth, and His heart was saddened. The Lord said, ‘I will blot out from the earth the men whom I created–men together with beasts, creeping things, and birds of the sky; for I regret that I made them.’ But Noah found favor with the Lord.”
The mystery of this passage is: What has man done that’s so terrible? There’s no explanation here, or in the next chapter, which merely says: “The earth became corrupt before God; the earth was filled with lawlessness.” What corruption? What lawlessness? It had been a very short time since Creation–how much evil could man have learned? Why would God give up on man so easily? Also, considering how detailed the Bible is about particular human crimes both before and after here, why is it so vague about the antediluvian wickedness?
Nothing could top this summary of the story of Lot:
This chapter makes the Jerry Springer Show look like Winnie the Pooh. The Sodom business is worse than I ever imagined. Two male angels visit Lot’s house in Sodom. A crowd of men (Sodomites!) gathers outside the house and demands that the two angels be sent out, so the mob can rape them. Lot, whose hospitality is greater than his common sense, offers his virgin daughters to the mob instead. Before any rapes can happen, the mob is blinded by a mysterious flash of light. The angels lead Lot, his wife, and daughters out of the city, and God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah with brimstone. Lot’s wife looks back and is turned into a pillar of salt. (God may have listened to Abraham’s rebuke, but He surely didn’t heed it. What of all the innocent children murdered in Sodom and Gomorrah? What of Lot’s innocent wife?)
But the chapter’s not over. After the attempted mass gay rape, the father pimping, the urban devastation, uxorious saline murder, it looks like Lot and his daughters are finally safe. They’re living alone in a cave in the mountains. But then the two daughters–think of them as Judea’s Hilton sisters–complain that cave life is no fun because there aren’t enough men around. So, one night they get Lot falling-down drunk and have sex with him. Chapter 19 poses what I would call the Sunday School Problem–as in, how do you teach this in Sunday school? What exactly is the moral lesson here?
The commentaries also contain some interesting and helpful discussions of themes and threads in the text.
I’ve only read the commentaries on Genesis and Exodus so far, but I’ll be read the others soon enough. These commentaries aren’t a substitute for reading the Bible, but they are a fun refresher thereupon!
Just remember: God created “every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth!”