One Horse Per Butt Cheek
January 31, 2012 2 Comments
OT: Exodus 13-14
God tells Moses, “Dedicate to me all your oldest children. Each first offspring from any Israelite womb belongs to me, whether human or animal” (2). But I thought all the Israelites were already God’s peeps? What does it even mean to “dedicate” a kid to God?
Moses reminds everyone that, once a year, they should eat no leavened bread for a week to commemorate their escape. And he promises again that God is taking them to their home with milk and honey and such. Moses tells them the thing about dedicating their oldest children and animals to God. He elaborates that they should “ransom” all their oldest donkeys with a sheep, because if they don’t, they’ll have to break the donkeys’ necks. And they have to “ransom” their oldest children, too.
God leads the Israelites by “a column of cloud” (21) – a tornado? – during the day and by lightning at night. Instead of sending them by way of the Philistines where they might have to fight, he takes them the long route by the Reed Sea/Red Sea (depending on translation).
God tells Moses to have the Israelites turn back and set up camp by the sea, so that Pharaoh (who I guess is tracking them) will think they’ve gotten lost, and will come after them. God gloats, “I’ll gain honor at the expense of Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD” (4). What does it even mean for God to “gain honor”?
Backtrack: Pharaoh changes his mind about releasing the peeps and chases after them with his army and catches up with them at the sea. Not sure what good it did them to turn around in that case, but okay. The Israelites see that they are trapped between the Egyptian army on one side and the sea on the other, and they start bitching at Moses about how it would have been better to stay slaves in Egypt than to die in the desert. Moses is like “Don’t worry, God has everything under control. Nothing is fucked.” God tells Moses to use his staff to part the sea so they can cross, and then he (God) excitedly repeats the bit about gaining honor a few more times.
The cloud column moves behind the Israelite camp so it stands between them and the Egyptians. Moses parts the sea and the Israelites start across the dry land in the middle. When the Egyptians follow them in, God has Moses close up the water again, killing Pharaoh and everybody in his army. The Israelites make it safely to the other side and look back to see all the dead Egyptians and get all excited and worshippy about their great genocidal God. Yay!
I actually kind of like matzo. Especially matzo pizza. Mmmmm.
In what universe does it seem rational that God would be angry if you didn’t break a donkey’s neck?
Also, the whole killing-all-the-Egyptians-in-order-to-look-cool thing.
NT: Matthew 21
Jesus & co. arrive at Bethphage (which just sounds to me like a cell that is going to eat poor Beth, whoever she is), and Jesus tells two of the apostles to go into the town where they will find a donkey and a colt tied up, and to bring them to him. Then Jesus fulfills a prophecy (a kind of silly one, IMHO) by sitting “on them” (7). Like, on both the donkey and the colt…at the same time, or does he alternate?
People get excited and spread clothes and palm fronds on the ground in front of Jesus as he enters Jerusalem triumphantly with one butt cheek on each of his steeds. Some of the onlookers are out of the loop and are like “who is that guy with one horse per butt cheek?” and those in the know are like “It’s the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee” (11). And then the Jerusalem hipsters add, “And I was into him before he was cool.”
Jesus puts his business face on and dismounts from his donkey[s] and throws a fit in the temple; people have set up a market in there, so he starts knocking tables over and throwing merchants out, raving about how the temple is supposed to be a house of prayer. The legal and religious experts get pissed off and they’re like “hey Jesus have you heard all these kids praising you as the Son of David?” and he’s like “Yeah what’s it to you?” and goes off to the town of Bethany for the night.
In the morning Jesus gets hungry and goes over to a fig tree for breakfast, but there’s no fruit on it, so he throws a hissy fit and curses it so it can never bear fruit again, and it shrivels up instantly. The apostles are amazed and Jesus is like “you too can shrivel up fig trees and even fling mountains around if you are faithful enough!” I’m still waiting on a demonstration of that particular phenomenon.
The legal and religious experts ask Jesus who gave him the authority to do his tricks and teach his lessons. Jesus says they’ll tell them if they can answer the question of where John the Baptist got the authority to do baptisms. The “experts” confer: they can’t say from heaven because then Jesus will ask why they didn’t believe him, and they can’t say from humans because the crowds love John the Baptist and will get pissed off and maybe hurt them. So they say they don’t know, and Jesus is like, “Well then I don’t have to tell you where I get my authority. Nah nah nah boo boo.”
Jesus decides it’s time for another parable. A man tells his older son to go work in his fields, and the son refuses, but later changes his minds and goes to work; the man tells his younger son to go work, and the son agrees to, but never goes. Jesus asks which son did his father’s will, and the legal/religious experts say the older son. Jesus explains that “tax collectors and prostitutes are entering God’s kingdom ahead of you” because they believed John the Baptist but the experts didn’t believe him or change their hearts and lives.
Jesus tells another parable, about a landowner who employs tenant farmers in his vineyard while he is out of town. He sends his servants to collect his fruit, but the farmers kill the servants. So the landowner sends more servants for his fruit, and the farmers kill them too. Then the stupid landowner sends his own son, thinking the farmers will respect him, but of course they kill him. So Jesus asks the experts what the landowner will do when he comes home. They answer that he will kill the farmers and hire new ones who will do their jobs. Jesus basically tells them they’re stupid and quotes a psalm – “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” – and warns that God’s kingdom will be taken away from them (42-43). The experts get mad and want to arrest Jesus but can’t because the crowds think he’s a prophet and will riot if he’s arrested.
I love when Jesus tells the self-righteous hypocrites that those who disgust them most, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes, are going to get into Heaven before them. It’s the kind of verse I wish more Christians would remember and focus on.
Um…I don’t really understand the point of the vineyard parable. The landowner is stupid, the farmers are cruel, and the servants and the son are dead. Who exactly is supposed to be the winner in this scenario…?