Zechariah: Part 2

Uggh.  O.k.  Straight up: Zechariah is the most difficult Bible book review I’ve had to write thus far, and we’re nearly done with the Old Testament.  Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve written any reviews, and that is probably partly playing into this, but I swear to you this is the worst.  And why is that?  Zechariah is one of those books that is weird for the first half and then goes completely off the rails in the second half.  And when I say off the rails, I mean really just … I’ve been banging my head against a wall trying to make heads or tails of it for weeks now.  I’ve never in the entire time I’ve been reviewing the Bible had to split a review into 2 posts before.  But I did it this time because if I kept this as one post, it was going to be pushing 7,000 words.  Part 1 is here if you haven’t read it, and it covers all Zechariah’s visions from chapters 1-8.

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Zechariah: Part 1

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O.k., well, this is not what I was expecting.  First off, Hi.  It’s been over a year since my last Bible book review.  In case you were sitting there waiting and wondering where I’ve been, as I’m sure so much of my imaginary loyal readership has, I’ve been around.  Just busy with obnoxious stuff.  Well, one of the things keeping me busy was good, which was that I got a new job.  Yay!  The other stuff was bad.  Other than the new job I got, which I am genuinely happy about, 2016 was a shitshow for everyone, right?  It’s not just me?   Right.  O.k. let’s move on.

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Zephaniah

1:2 “I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth,”  “When I destroy all mankind on the face of the earth,” declares the Lord.

1:17 “I will bring such distress on all people that they will grope about like those who are blind, because they have sinned against the Lord. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like dung.

Uuuuuggggggggggghhhhhhhh are we still not done with this shit yet!!??  How many books have I been reading now that are the same. damn. story. over and over and over again?  I’m starting to feel like …

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Micah

Why do I keep putting off writing this Micah review?  I’ve been busy lately, but that’s nothing new.  Hey that rhymed.  It was an accident.  I ain’t tryna make a poem out of this.  Anyway as I’m sitting here forcing myself to start writing it, I’m realizing the problem – Micah is like the prophet book equivalent of vanilla ice cream.  Take the most generic, stripped-down and standardized “prophet book” outline and then write only that, and you’ve got Micah.  No frills and nothing novel or interesting to jazz it up.  No major hook.

No hot gingers

No locusts

No whale

No lions

No whoore wives

No Samuel L. Jackson reading (or sorta reading) its verses in a classic movie

No bears eating children

NADA.

Just another prophet blabbing about God’s plans to inflict violent punishment on his people.  Yaaawwwn.  OH WAIT – I actually did just remember one thing: This is apparently one of those Old Testament books that the New Testament later references as a supposed prophecy about the coming of Christ.  So, I guess it does have one thing going for it, but unfortunately there’s not much I can even say about that until I get to the part of the New Testament that references it.  I need context.  Well o.k., I’ll do what I can for now.

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Amos

Once upon a time, there was a prophet named Amos.  He baked some cookies, and then he got famous.

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O.k. fine, the idiocy of that joke is indicative of how hard it’s been for me to start writing this review even though I finished reading Amos over a week ago.  I just don’t know how many times I can review the same story over and over and over again.  We’ve been through 3 major prophets and 3 minor prophets now and it’s always essentially the same thing.  Israel and/or Judah are misbehaving.  God angry.  God angry, god SMASH.  God smash, God smash a lot.  O.k. ohhhh k, God sorry God smash.  God make things better again for God’s people.

hulk-smash11So what’s different or interesting about Amos vs. everything else we’ve read so far?  Per usual let’s start off with the setting and we’ll go from there.  “1:1 The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa—the vision he saw concerning Israel two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam son of Jehoasha was king of Israel.”  You may recall that both Hosea and Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of Azariah (a.k.a. Uzziah), Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah.  They had been the earliest prophets of the bunch so far.  Well Amos, it seems, actually slightly preceded both of those dudes (with some overlap).  His active years were somewhere around the 765-753 BC timeframe, according to the estimates listed on Wikipedia.  Those years are estimated based on the years of the reigns of Jeroboam and Uzziah, plus a historically verifiable earthquake that happened early on in this timeframe, which according to this verse, happened 2 years after Amos began to prophecy.

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Joel

Uuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh …….

Wait.

What?

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Can someone please explain to me what this book is about so I can write a review on it?  Do you wanna know what the entire description of Joel is in the first section of its Wikipedia page?  Here you go:

The Book of Joel is part of the Hebrew Bible.  Joel is part of a group of twelve prophetic books known as the Twelve Minor Prophets.

Riiiigghhhht.  Clearly I’m not the only one who has been left confused.  Joel is 3 chapters long, which I thought would make it a super easy read (and review).  Turns out I was sorely mistaken.  I mean it was a quick read, sure, but that doesn’t mean I had any idea what was going on or what the point was.  I still don’t.

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Hosea

1:2 When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him,
“Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her,
for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.”
1:3 So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.

Gomer, daughter of Diblaim

Gomer, daughter of Diblaim

Hosea … more like Ho-sea!!  Amiright folks??  Looks like Israel’s been hoin’ around with every Tom Dick and Harry she can get ‘er paws on eh?  Yeah.  That disturbing analogy has been used several times in the Bible so far, but with Hosea, we manage to get an entire book about it.  Yay!!  So if you’ve been reading the Bible up till this point and thinking, “You know, I’m kinda bummed that we’ve only focused on degrading women some of the time so far … I’d like more of that,” then you’re in luck!  Hosea is the book for you.

Here’s the scoop.  We’ve gotten several books leading into this that are considered as the books of the “Major Prophets” – Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.  Hosea, a far shorter book than any of those ones, apparently starts off the 12 books of the “Minor Prophets” that seem to be the ones that close out of the Old Testament.  I think we’re in the home stretch here, folks.

In terms of chronology, Isaiah lived and prophesied first, during the reigns of Azariah (a.k.a. Uzziah), Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah.  Then came Jeremiah, who lived through the Babylonian takeover of Judah/Jerusalem.  Then lastly was Ezekiel, who showed up during the Babylonian exile.  He started later than Jeremiah but overlapped him by a good bit, as far as I can tell.  With Hosea though, we rewind back to the time of Isaiah.  Hosea’s timeframe is listed here as being during the reigns of the exact same kings – Uzziah through Hezekiah.  Both these guys were around before and into the takeover of Israel by the Assyrians, which happened a good while before the Babylonian takeover.

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Lamentations

Well hello there.  Hi friend.  I’m back.

Considering how long it has taken me to read and review the last few books, I finished this one at warp speed, relatively.  That may or may not have something to do with the fact that Lamentations was 5 chapters.  As opposed to Jeremiah’s 52 and Isaiah’s 66.

What can I say about Lamentations?  Well, here’s what it has going for it, other than brevity: its name describes its subject matter to a T.  This book is traditionally believed to be the lamentations Jeremiahs_lamentations_1382-1280of Jeremiah regarding the destruction of Jerusalem.  Although according to Wiki, it’s no longer generally accepted that Jeremiah actually is the author.  No matter.  Point is, someone is sad about the destruction of Jerusalem and the people of Judah, and he is writing about it in the form of 5 poems (I say “he” because if the Bible has taught us nothing else, it’s that women are generally useless for anything other than bearing children and helping to clear the way for the men to take charge).

Wiki also points out that God doesn’t speak in this book at all, which I didn’t even notice until now.  Considering how pissed off and murderous God was in the last several books (err, most of the Bible books so far), he is not someone I missed in the least here.  It’s just the author (maybe or maybe not Jeremiah) lamenting about how badly God screwed the Jews over, and then, later, saying, “Oh well, I guess we deserved it.”

I’m not even gonna bother with a “Good Stuff” and “Bad Stuff” section for this book, because it’s short and there really isn’t anything that could be described as “good” here.  It’s actually annoying, because at first the book tricks you into thinking that the author is legitimately taking God to task for his insanity, with verses like the following:

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Jeremiah

6:19 Lord, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in time of distress, to you the nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, “Our ancestors possessed nothing but false gods, worthless idols that did them no good.  16:20 Do people make their own gods? Yes, but they are not gods!”  16:21“Therefore I will teach them— this time I will teach them my power and might. Then they will know that my name is the Lord.”

19:7 ”In this place I will ruin the plans of Judah and Jerusalem. I will make them fall by the sword before their enemies, at the hands of those who want to kill them, and I will give their carcasses as food to the birds and the wild animals.  19:8 I will devastate this city and make it an object of horror and scorn; all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff because of all its wounds. 19:9 I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh because their enemies will press the siege so hard against them to destroy them.”

That’s right, bitches.  God is going to make you eat your children.  And then after you eat your kids, you’re gonna have to eat your friends.  Because you’re a disloyal a-hole.  All you had to do was remain faithful to God, but oooohhhh no.  Oh no Mr. Man.  You just couldn’t do it.  You had to start worshiping all those other gods out there.  All those FALSE idols.  And now the time has come to pay the piper, buddy boy.

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Nehemiah

Remember that time I called 1st Chronicles “coma-inducing” and Ezra a “snoozefest and a half”?  I was wrong.  I have now realized that I had no idea what the meaning of snoozefest was until I got to the book of Nehemiah.  Well, to be fair, Nehemiah was another short one – 13 chapters, where as 1st Chronicles was 29 chapters.  So overall I’d still say that Nehemiah was much less painful to read, since it was much shorter.  So it has that going for it.

Nehemiah re-hashes a chunk of the events of Ezra, but from a different point of view.  This is the first book so far that is written entirely in the first person p.o.v. (of Nehemiah, of course).  Ezra started off in the third person, but switched to first person (Ezra’s p.o.v.) inexplicably about 7 chapters into the book.  So that was fun and not at all infuriating.  At least Nehemiah is consistent and much less confusing than Ezra.

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