Treebeard - Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers (2002)Abimelech and Jephthah
Judges 9:1 to 12:1


9:1 A chaotic power struggle ensued following Gideon’s death and through various manipulations and lots of murders Gideon’s son Abimelech managed to get himself crowned king. Meanwhile Abimelech’s brother Jotham was upset with the arrangement and the murders, so he made up a colorful analogy about how all the different types of trees were once looking for a leader, a king of the trees.

9:7 The trees got together and considered various species of themselves, one at a time, in an effort to decide which kind of tree would be the best king for them. But each specie of tree in turn had some lame excuse why they were not the kind of tree that would make for a good king.

An olive tree was approached first. The olive tree said "But I'm so nice and fat, too fat to be a king because everyone likes big fat trees, even God, and being king would cause me to lose weight and be a skinny tree. Nobody wants that."

Next the trees asked the fig tree to be king. He said "But figs are so sweet that they are loved, and make excellent cookies. Being king would take too much time away from proper fig making."

The trees asked a grapevine to be their king, even though a vine isn't really a tree. The grapevine responded "Should I give up making wine, a lovely beverage which after all is enjoyed by both God and men?"

In desperation the trees eventually asked a bramble patch to be their king. The bramble patch was willing to be king but he was a bit of a tyrant and kind of scary and threatening. The bramble said "I'll be your king, come sit in my shade. But if anyone doesn't like it I'm gonna burn down all the freaking trees bwaahahaha." Having a bramble king comes with a price.

Fruit of the Vine - photo by Brad Snowder

Jotham used his tree king story to shame the people for allowing Abimelech to ascend to the throne and rule like a vindictive old bramble patch. Jotham would have preferred being ruled by a nice fat olive tree. Meanwhile all the drunks mostly focused on the part that implies Yahweh likes to drink booze. Abimelech himself found his brother’s tree king story to be disturbing and frankly rather confusing. After spreading the story around, Jotham had to go into hiding to avoid being rubbed out by Abimelech which is what was happening to most of the king's family under the thorny reign of terror.

9:26 Perhaps the tree story had some effect because not every town bowed to king Abimelech. The people of Shechem rebelled openly. They would get drunk on wine, why not, God likes it, and talk smack about Abimelech, even in church. They chose a guy named Gaal as their leader and he began to fortify the city of Shechem.

9:45 Abimelech got wind of the insurrection and made ready to suppress it. He came to Shechem and fought his way into the city and trashed it good. He not only killed Gaal and the people and burned their homes, he had their fields treated with salt in an effort to destroy their economic viability.

A Keep at The Rock of Cashel, Ireland. Built around 400 CE. Besieged and sacked by Cromwell's army in 1647, all 3000 of its inhabitants were massacred. Photo by Brad Snowder.9:49 Some survivors of Shechem retreated to a fortified tower, a keep. So Abimelech took an axe and cut off a bough of a tree and instructed his soldiers to do the same. They piled the branches around the tower and set them on fire. The flames and smoke were intense, killing everyone inside, about a thousand men and women.

9:50 King Abimelech was on a killing spree now and eventually he came to another tower and had the intention of cooking the folks in this one as well. As the king and his men approached with torches, a woman on the top of the tower dropped a heavy stone down which hit Abimelech on the head. As he was dying he found out his demise was at the hands of a female and he became even more concerned about that than he was of dying. It was all too humiliating what with another great man being brought down so ingloriously by a mere woman. Abimelech ordered a servant to finish him off with a manly sword stabbing. And so the ultimate humiliation was somewhat mitigated.

10:1 Several judges of Israel came to rule in the years after that, one after the other, each living and dying in turn. The people started drifting off towards religious freedom and social tolerance again, experimenting with being a pluralistic multicultural society. The Lord hates that. After a while there were people attending all sorts of churches. They were all "live and let live," and that sort of thing.

10:6 There were people worshiping Baalim, and people worshiping Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines. The Lord was hot with anger and dejection from all this peaceful coexistence. As usual he punished the tribes by allowing them to be conquered by a few of their neighbors again.

Major Gods and Goddess of the World

10:14 The people told the Lord they were sorry for all the peace-loving religious tolerance and asked for help regaining their national sovereignty and independence. The Lord said, "Hey, why don't you go ask those other damn gods to help you, you stupid whiners."

The followers of Yahvism got rid of those other churches and temples but it was too late. The Lord’s soul was sad and he wasn't going to be much help this time.

11:11 A man named Jephthah, the son of a popular prostitute, was elected to the position of leader-judge of the Israelites and under him they rebelled against the Ammonite overlords. But first Jephthah tried peaceful negotiations by sending several insulting and threatening messages to the Ammonites. That never works.

11:30 They really needed the Lord's help on this one. So Jephthah promised The Lord that if he would let Israel win the battle, the first thing to come out of his house when he got back home from war would be killed and sacrificed with fire. It’s baffling to ponder what Jephthah thought might actually be the first thing to come running out of his house when he returned home. A cow? A goat? One of his slaves maybe? Maybe just his wife? Anyway, the Lord seemed all too pleased with the offer.

The Sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter, 1790 - John Opie 1761 - 1807When the battle was won and Jephthah returned home, his beloved daughter, an only child, came out of the door and ran to greet him. She had bells on and she danced around laughing. Jephthah tore his clothes and cried "Crap and alas, I have made a promise to the Lord and I’m locked in, I have to kill you now."

11:36 The young virgin daughter agreed that a deal is a deal and insisted that her father was correct, that a human sacrifice must be done to please the Lord and stay in his favor. She asked only that she be allowed two months to go up in the mountains and grieve the fact that she had never been laid.

11:38 Jephthah told to her go, by all means go go go. So she and some friends went up to the mountains to lament the fact that she had never known the joy and wonders of schtupping, of glazing the bagel, pickle me elmo, a kosher clam bake, back seat boogaloo, hiding the sacred sausage.

11:39 After two months the daughter returned home with her virginity still intact, and Jephthah killed her and burned up her body in a macabre human sacrifice for the delight of the loving merciful benevolent Lord.

11:40 Many women of Israel began making a regular yearly pilgrimage to the mountain in Gilead where the daughter spent those last two months of mourning and when they go they spend four days honoring her blessed sexlessness. No one is really sure what the daughter's name was but she represents young women everywhere who hideth not the sausage.

Coincidentally, and suspiciously enough, women had been making this exact same pilgrimage to Gilead for many generations prior to the events described by this story, based on an entirely non-Yavistic pagan ideology.

Young Pilgrim of Gilead

12:1 The Israelite tribe of Ephraim got into a big civil war with their brother Israelite tribe of Gilead and lost the fight. The Ephraim survivors dispersed and tried to blend in with the population but they were found out because they had trouble pronouncing the "sh" sound. The cops simply went around asking people to say something like “She sells seashells by the seashore.” Whenever someone was discovered who had trouble producing the "sh" sound they were killed. That put an end to the tribe of Ephraim as well as many folks with slight speech impediments.

Next: The Lion, the Switch, and Thirty Wardrobes
More at Skywise Unlimited

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Tags: bible, cosmology, creation, god, judges, mythology, religion, satire

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