Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Weird Stuff In The Bible #6 - David and the 200 foreskins (gross!)

Hey!  We're back in the OT, back in the coo coo crazy world o' Saul, he who hired the witch of Endor to consult ghost Samuel back in Weird Stuff #1!  This story came BEFORE the dealings with the witch.  I probably should've gone in chronological order, huh.  Ah well.


Saul, David, Saul's daughters Merab and Michel, and 200 Philistines, who are about to become, gulp, unexpectedly circumcised.


1 Samuel 18:25-30


Okay, in the broadest strokes possible, so we can get to the weird stuff quickly:

Samuel is a prophet, and he's a pretty good one, leading the Israelites.

Samuel gets old and his sons aren't fit to take over as leader of the Israelites, so the nation Israel asks Samuel to ask God to give them a King.

God cosmically shrugs His shoulders (can't you trust ME?) and gives them Saul the warrior, who while a good warrior, turns out to be a pretty lousy dude (Be careful what you ask for, Israelites), does a lot of things that displeases God, who rejects Saul as King.  (Saul's son Jonathan is a decent guy, though.)

Once God's presence (Holy Spirit, perhaps) leaves Saul, a demon (evil spirit) comes to dance on Saul's head and make him miserable.

God tells Samuel to go visit Jesse of Bethlehem, God will show Samuel who He's picked as the new king.  Turns out to be David, who can play a mean harp, utilize a mean slingshot, and kill Goliath, meanest, biggest guy of the Philistines.

Now David grows up and hangs in Saul's court, leads his troops in battle, becomes besties with Saul's son Jonathan (and perhaps more than besties, depending on your interpretation).  All the Israelites LURVE David, and the evil spirits Paranoia and Jealousy who are tangoing in Saul's brain get Saul all riled up.


Saul wants David gone, but he can't kill David himself, since the Israelites LURVE David, and would hate anyone who killed him.  So Saul figures he'll send David out into the heat of battle against their local enemy the Philistines, and let David get killed in battle by them.  So Saul tells David he'll give his daughter Merab in marriage to David if he'll lead a specific campaign against the Philistines and come back successful. (Saul had actually already promised Merab to the one man who killed Goliath (1 Samuel 17:25), but one you hit chapter 18, nobody’s remembering that.) 

David either 1) sees through Saul's plan.  2) isn't a big fan of Merab or 3) is really THAT humble enough to say in response "I'm not worthy enough to be your son-in-law.”  So Merab is given to someone else and tries to bolster her self-esteem at being passed over by the hometown hero.

Meanwhile, Saul's OTHER daughter, Michel, has a huge crush on David, and Saul sees opportunity number two to get rid of David in a Philistine battle.  So he has his advisors talk to David and they try to persuade David that being Saul's son-in-law is an awesome thing, despite being the exact same set-up as last time, only with a different daughter.

David starts off saying the second verse of the Humble Pie song, “Do you think it is a small matter to become the king’s son-in-law?  I’m only a poor man and little known“ (1 Samuel 18:23).  Never mind the fact that David kinda IS well known, he did slay Goliath, and just 16 verses ago, when Saul and David were coming back to town after David killed Goliath, the women of the city danced and sang, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” (1 Samuel 18:7)

Yet if David rightly thinks this is a trap by Saul to kill David in battle, it apparently doesn’t bother him the second time around, and he accepts the “price” for marrying Michel which is to go to battle against the Philistines and bring back 100 Philistine foreskins.

Which is totally gross.  (don't try google image searching the phrase "David and the foreskins," you will NOT like what comes up.  So enjoy these images from the way awesome website The Brick Testament , which is the Bible illustrated in Legos.  Awesome, awesome, awesome.

Back in OT times, it was acceptable to cut souvenirs from the people you killed, so everyone would know what a barbarian, SORRY what an alleged bad-ass you were.  So people would take heads, scalps, hands, if you’re Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead, you take ears and wear them on a necklace around your neck, la la laaaaaaaaaaa.

So Saul is saying, in effect, that if you wanna marry my daughter with the weird misspelled boy’s name Michel, you gotta kill 100 Philistines and bring me back proof.  Hoping hoping hoping that David dies while trying to complete the task.

Yet David is an overachiever, or perhaps really obsessed with male genitalia (see those theories about him and Jonathan) because not only does David survive the battle, but he brings back 200 foreskins.

Which is totally gross.

So Saul’s forced to give Michel to David to marry.  Despite Michel’s ginormous crush on David, Saul still hates David and plots to kill him.

So David leaves Michel, goes on the run, takes two more women to be his wife while on the run, after seven years goes back to Michel so he can be King (she’s not impressed with him anymore).

David gets to be King, runs into Bathsheba, and borrows SAUL’S EXACT SAME PLAN to Kill The Ones You Hate By Sending Them Into Battle (i.e. Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband.) Luckily, Uriah doesn’t have to bring back any foreskins.  I guess David had enough left over from his days o’ war.

Weird, huh?


Anita said...

Hi Amy, I found your blog through Google searching for David 200 Philistines. I like your style and the enjoyed the lego pictures! I wondered what your thoughts are on this question...David would not fight back to harm Saul during the spear throwing incident because God had put Saul on the throne and David was honoring God's appointed authority over himself (David's self). But David went and killed 200 Philistines and desecrated their bodies. Why is this okay? Granted they worshiped Dagon, but they were created by God. Would love your thoughts.

Amy The Writer said...

Hi Anita,
I am absolutely no expert on anything Biblical (I got a film degree in college), so take this with an entire canister of salt.

You’ve pretty much answered your own question about why God permitted the killing of the Philistines. They didn’t worship God (even though He created them. The Philistines must have had the choice at some point to worship God and chose not to), and repeatedly waged war on the Israelites.

They were Israelites’ biggest enemy at that time. It wouldn’t have helped anyone to not meet the Philistines in battle, they were gunning for the Israelites. In OT times, God permitted the destruction of the enemies of God’s people.

Additionally, the order regarding the foreskins came from Saul, not God. And Saul didn’t really want the foreskins, he just wanted David to die in battle getting them. So David is following Saul’s (the very flawed human king) order. He overdid it on the number, but David was usually brash and over the top on a number of occasions, and was judged by God for his later transgressions (see first dead son by Bathsheba).

This is all just my two cents (which can also be flawed as well.) Thanks! :)