I have an old leather-bound King James bible that’s been in the family forever, and occasionally I flick through it at random. I’ve always loved the sonorous language, which is so powerful and so much richer than the insipid, watered-down new bibles of the twentieth century.
Now don’t get me wrong. I haven’t lost my marbles and gone all religious, but those crazy people from Castlebar got me thinking. Remember them? The lunatics denouncing gays with quotes from the Old Testament.
I was a bit rusty on my Old Testament. It was time to read it again.
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy for a start.
I now realise that the deities in those days did a lot more job-sharing than they do in latter times. There was less demarcation. It’s quite obvious that the God of the Old Testament was actually Satan double jobbing. This guy loves blood. He loves slaying and smiting and going in unto virgins.
He’s mad. The God of the Old Testament is Colonel Kurtz.
The whole biblical world is full of people beset by unclean spirits that have to be cast out. Out to fuck there, ya bastard unclean spirit, says the Prophet. Fuck off out of it!
I remember when I was a lad, asking a religion teacher about the five books of the Pentateuch, as we called it, or the Torah as it’s known to the Jews. Why don’t you tell us about Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy?
Ah, he said, that’s a bit boring. It’s all laws and things.
It sure is. Laws about when a rape victim should be killed and when gays should be killed, and when people who work on the Sabbath should be killed. And when everyone in your defeated enemy’s land should be killed, including babes in arms, all men and all married women, but making sure to keep the young virgins alive so that you can go in unto them.
This is the word of the Lord.
A fucking maniac.
Genesis, a book most sane people would read as a fairy-tale is the basis for the Sarah-Palin creationist fundamentalists in the US.
Even in this book, God is a demented homicidal maniac. When he realises that Man is a nasty bastard, and that creating such despicable creatures was a mistake, he decides to kill everyone. But he doesn’t stop there. A recurring theme throughout the book is God’s delight in seeing animals suffer, so he decides to drown everything. Cats, dogs, pigs, cows, sheep, goats. He doesn’t explain how he proposes to drown the fish, the ducks, the swans, the otters, the seals, the walruses, the shags, guillemots and cormorants, but we can only assume it was by magic. In those days, God didn’t really think things out.
He had wrath issues.
Anyway, he didn’t kill Noah who was six hundred years old at the time, and feeling every second of it. God commanded the old guy to build a ship 150 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet deep. A very dodgy design, in my opinion, likely to induce severe seasickness, but who am I to question God?
Contrary to popular belief, he didn’t tell Noah to take two of every animal into the Ark. He took fourteen of some, but only two of the unclean ones. Every animal in the world, all packed into a small boat. Imagine the smell.
Genesis tells us that it rained for forty days and that the waters rose fifteen cubits, which is twenty-two feet, covering all the twenty-two-foot mountains in the world. Yetis and alpacas breathed a sigh of relief, not to mention every non-aquatic bird in the world. It was a bit of an intelligence failure for God in many ways, but he set up a focus group for the debrief and they all learned from their mistakes.
Anyway, that was God’s first mass murder. The first of many in the Old Testament. He goes on to kill everyone in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and to fuck with Abraham’s head by telling him to kill his son Isaac.
God is a nasty piece of work in Genesis, obsessed with murder and sex. He kills poor Onan for practising coitus interruptus.
It gets worse in Exodus, when the children of Israel leave Egypt looking for the land of Canaan which hath been given unto them by God, who doesn’t care that people live there already. The plan is to kill them all, which is pretty much what Charlton Heston does as he leads his people in a journey of conquest and ethnic cleansing.
God starts to get his kicks by killing babies, and smites the first-born of all the Egyptians, from the Pharaoh to the servants, and even their animals. Mwoohahahaha!! says God, in a little-known passage from Exodus.
He also starts to hand down laws.
A bull that gores somebody must be stoned to death. Not stabbed. Stoned, for maximum pain. If it happened due to the owner’s carelessness, he has to be stoned as well. Of course, if the gored person is only a slave, the bull’s owner has to pay the slave’s owner, but the bull still gets stoned.
Children who curse their parents must be killed, along with those who lie with animals.
It reminds me of something my good friend Parkenstein says: I’m great in bed. Two minutes and I’m off to sleep. Not a peep out of me.
If they killed people who only lay with animals, I wonder what they did to people who fucked animals?
Obviously, working on the Sabbath gets you killed, but that goes without saying.
The thing that amazes me about it is how violent Moses turns out to be, killing people for the slightest offence, but on mature reflection, maybe it shouldn’t be such a surprise. Look how influential he became in the NRA.
I was going to talk you through the rest of the Torah, but in truth, the whole thing is more of the same. Smiting. Slaying thine enemies. Taking unto thyself thine enemy’s women. Slaying thine enemy’s first-born. Sacrificing herds of cattle, the smoke sweet unto God. Pestilence. Plague. Slaying. Smiting. When and to whom thou may sell thine daughter.
I trudged on through the Prophets, the Psalms, Judges, Ecclesiastes, endless slaying and smiting.
Smiting, slaying and pestilence.
Jesus Christ, I was longing for the kind and tolerant New Testament, but Jesus seems to have little trouble with the things the old-timers said. In fact, he seems to be your standard, orthodox Imam that anyone might expect on the TV these days in gold-rimmed glasses defending some beheading in the name of Allah.
In fairness, at least there’s a comic side to Jesus.
My favourite story so far is the one about the Gadarene swine. Do you remember it?
Jesus goes into a town of the Gadarenes, and he meets a fellow possessed by unclean spirits. As I said, everyone was possessed by unclean spirits in those days, but in this story, Jesus becomes Brian. He casts out the evil spirits, whose name is Legion, and they fly into a herd of 2000 pigs. The pigs go apeshit and jump off a cliff into the sea where they’re all drowned, and Jesus is delighted.
Look, he says. They’re gone, the bastards.
Unfortunately, the people of the town aren’t so happy.
They come unto Jesus, and beseech him, saying , Would you kindly fuck off out of here and not come back, you mad bastard. All our fucking pigs are drowned.
Ah, this Bible study is great.