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Saturday, June 2, 2018
Adult Sabbath School: Romantic Relationships in the Bible.
2 Samuel 12:
1 "And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. 2 The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: 3 But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. 4 And there came a traveler unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him."
Great story here! Enough to make any caring man angry which is exactly what it was intended to do. It is a story about having "one little ewe lamb," even though she was evidently one "ewe la la" type ewe! But it was his. She belonged to him and was his prize possession. Middle Eastern men possessed their women like farmers possessed cows and sheep, oxen and asses. Not committing adultery in the Ten Commandments was a function of it being wrong to take a man's property. Coveting was a function of taking a man's property, animals and oh yes, wife. If he trashed her, you could take her.
A married woman was property and all laws punishing her unfaithfulness were designed to prevent not knowing who the father of her children were and associated inheritance rights of those children. Before DNA testing, there was the fear of stoning to keep a woman having only the children of the one man. It insured a positive DNA test! The one man, however, could enjoy as many wives as he could afford. Stoning kept women honest about whose child that was.
5 "And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: 6 And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. 7 And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man."
! David fell right into that trap. He became compassionate toward the little lamb, angry at the man and pronounced judgement on him...actually on himself, for having taking Bathsheba from Uriah and gotten Uriah killed in the process. But now it get's interesting.
"Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; 8 And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things. 9 Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon."
Notice what the issue here is. David killed Uriah and took his wife Bathsheba. This is bad stuff to be sure. But it is not an issue of the rightness or wrongness of having multiple wives. David already had that and evidently, if he needed more houses, power and wives, God would have been more than happy to do that. Just don't kill a man and take his! The issue seems more one of killing off a great soldier than taking his wife in the process. But no matter. God is saying that if David needed more wives, more women, more variety, all he had to do was ask and "I would have given thee such and such things." Such and such is almost code for "the women" Guy to guy stuff more than God to guy stuff!
10 "Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. 11 Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbor, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. 13 And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die."
Well David now has to be punished. So he gets "the sword not departing from his house." Never mind that the sword was a part of every kings house and war has raged between them all since there were kings. This is really nothing new. It's not like there was great peace in the land and now it would get nasty.
Notice also that God was going to take David's wives. David had wives a plenty. He could afford them. No one minded and it was rather expected and God never brought it up until he took one from a favorite soldier and got him killed doing it. So God says that his wives would be raped that very day in front of David. No evidence this ever happened, but notice, the poor women pay for David's "sin" not David. Would have been more real if God said, "now David, today YOU will be raped in front of your people." But that's not how it works. The women always pay and get to be the rapee to punish the guy. Notice that David quickly says, "I'm sorry." and just as quickly, Nathan says, "No problem, we forgive you, we had to say this, you'll be fine." See how easy it is for guys? Meanwhile, the ladies are out in the yard getting raped by who knows who and how. I hope this did not really happen.
14 "Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. 15 And Nathan departed unto his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, and it was very sick. 16 David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. 17 And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them. 18 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died...... 24 And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the LORD loved him."
Well, once again, it's not David that gets punished, but an innocent baby that never gets to survive David and Bathsheba's relationship. Maybe it was a girl anyway so easier to let go of. I suppose they were sad, but they graciously accept it, get back to worship and have another cute little boy who goes on to be Solomon, the wisest guy on the planet so they say along with being the most wealthy who has 500 wives and 700 Concubines in his own stable in due time.
(I often wondered, as do many, just where was the man "caught in the very act" with the woman taken in adultery in John 8? The man is never the issue in the Bible.
Maybe a deformed or handicapped child would have taught David and Bathsheba a better lesson, as that was also the ignorant belief of the day, but not so this time. (The Presbyterian Minister told my parents that they must have done something wrong because of the birth of my brother who ended up blind, deaf and unable to speak.)The Lord ends up loving them all and David gets to be "a man after God's own heart." So see it all works out!
It is common to say that they did have these multiple relationships but that it was only allowed because of the hardness of their hearts. Well, who's in charge here!? God seems to give up rather easily when humans won't go with the program. "Ok, since you don't want to do it, go ahead. But I don't like it." Divorce also was only permitted because the men did it anyway but "from the beginning it was not so." But actually from the beginning it has always been so.
Marriage in the Old Testament was not the romantic one on one affair that is required to be in our time. In our day, the Church demands that a young couple promise upon pain of eternal judgement and death that they will never change, ever. Then the Church conveniently forgets to mention that from the moment they make their vows, everything else in the universe will begin to change. A little unrealistic.
Even the New Testament says that the Elder must be the husband of one wife, as if other members did have more than one but could not be an elder unless they pared it back to one. But the New Testament, unlike the Old where men have multiple female relationships, is a book where the leading men have little or no real relationships, romantic or otherwise. Twelve men, with no female relationships, save maybe Peter, following the no relationships Jesus around and then celibate (who knows) men telling everyone else how to be married, raise kids and enjoy a relationship "God's way".
After the restoration of Da Vinci's "Lord's Supper" it became obvious the artist believed Mary Magdalene had a personal relationship with Jesus . She is seated on his right hand.
Makes no sense. There are no male/female relationships in the New Testament of any worth. It's the unspoken taboo. The Gospel of Philip indeed describes Mary M. as the "one who was called his companion", i.e. the companion or wife of Jesus. Jesus "loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on the mouth....The rest of the disciples offended by it and expressed disapproval. They said to him, 'Why do you love her more than all of us?'..." Jesus is said to have replied, "why does she love me more than you?" You can see why this book did not make the cut!
Catholic priests, in time past, were married and even had multiple relationships but that was ended in the Middle Ages by the Church so that any properties amassed by the clergy in their lifetimes would go to the church and not the wife. In time, celibacy was required across the board for Priests, but that was a value added law by the Church and not Biblical in any way. An unmarried Rabbi in Judaism had little credibility and it didn't happen from what I understand. Makes one wonder what was left out when Jesus was called "Rabbi".
Men got off rather easily with many perks, while women paid and paid and paid for the sins of the men by having to be raped, thrown out and sent into the desert to teach the man a lesson. Women were basically worthless possessions in scripture.
Only in the Song of Solomon do we see any one on one emotional and dedicated love expressed. Of course if any Solomon really wrote this, and some historians see no place for a real Solomon in history, I imagine he heard "I bet you tell that to all the girls" quite often. So much so that many churches see the Song of Solomon , out of embarrassment , as an analogy of Christ's love for the church. Go figure. Taliban Christianity is not much different today.
The Bible is not a primer on loving and caring relationships. The New Testament picks of the male/female themes of the Old Testament with regards to the "role" of women in the church. because "the woman sinned and not the man", (I Timothy 2:14) but that's another Adult Sabbath School lesson.