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A plot of depravity

January 21, 2017

All within a swift narrow plot! Priest, layman, tribe, family, mother, son. Theft, idolatry, desecration, betrayal, bribery, lawlessness: one after the other, they came intertwined in a swift bewildering array, all within one story. Israel had only shortly been led by the hand out of Egypt’s slavery. God had gone ahead of them with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. He’d abundantly instructed them not to liken him to any graven image. He’d given them even the ten commandments to uphold basic humanity that stands on principles of honourability and moral conscientiousness. Yet, as one they strayed.

The son stole his mother’s silver. He confessed. So she gifted him an idol made out of that very silver. A priest strayed into this household. The man meant to guard Israel against idolatry was given the very thing and asked to be priest (though it was not for men to appoint or dictate the priestly office). The priest meant to be near the tabernacle for all Israel, was far away at a household for petty gain. An entire Israelite tribe (about a 10th of the Nation) that meandered to this place enquired of the idol, by the Levite (whose ephod – a priestly accessory- they thought consecrated the man when it was his consecrated life that was meant to sanctify the item)! He pronounced what they sought. It turned out so. They came another time and stole the loyalty of the Levite, bribing him against the man, the host, who had actually given him shelter. Not to end there they plundered all the idols of the host in broad daylight. The violated man protested, they raved, the frightened man silenced. The disloyal priest rejoiced that his office had been upgraded from a tent to a tribe.

And the concluding 6 words of the rather long book are summarily telling: In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit. For they’d forgotten God as King.

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