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64 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If gods are nice guys, why do bibles depict them as monsters?, April 26, 2006
This review is from: Illustrated Stories From The Bible (Paperback)
Once upon a time, when Yahweh's nice Spokesman, Elisha, was about to enter Bethel, a gaggle of 42 children laughed at him and jeered at his bald head. So Elisha, in righteous indignation, called on his god to inflict appropriate punishment on the perpetrators of such irreverence. Yahweh promptly summoned two bears, and the bears mauled the 42 children to death.

Since the obvious moral of that exemplary tale was, "You don't mess with Yahweh's Spokesmen," it does not take a Sherlock Holmes to deduce that its author was a shop steward for the Spokesmen's Guild.

Following his retelling of the "Elisha and the two bears" fable, Farrell asks, "Could this story really be true? ... Well, if one accepts the Bible as literal truth, then it most certainly is true." He goes on to explain how defenders of religion try to rationalize such biblical horror stories by arguing that "the Bible doesn't really mean what it says."

Farrell next spells out another biblical myth that no child has ever been taught in Sunday School, of how Jephthah vowed to Yahweh that, if Yahweh granted him victory over the dirty heathens guilty of peacefully occupying land that Jephthah's tribe coveted, he would offer up the first living thing to emerge from his house after the battle as a burnt sacrifice. That turned out to be his little daughter, and Jephthah obediently fulfilled his vow.

By the time Farrell finishes describing the incredible and incompatible rationalizations offered by upholders of biblical "truth," the reader is left to wonder, "What color is the sky in these people's world?"

This is a book that all bible believers, including older children, should be required to read. Of course that is not going to happen. But at the very least, anyone bothered by uninvited door-knocking missionaries should have a copy handy. If nothing else, asking the missionaries to explain why Yahweh's own official biography portrays him as so much less than a nice guy, should stop them from ever returning. That should be worth the purchase price.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 19, 2009 4:12:09 PM PST
His interpretation of the story with the she-bears does not follow what the Bible actually says and is in no way logical.
see: http://www.carm.org/bible-difficulties/joshua-esther/why-did-god-kill-42-lads-merely-saying-elisha-was-bald

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 22, 2009 9:53:01 AM PST
NurseAngela says:
That was the most ridiculous rebuttal I've ever read. So, your essentially saying (NO proof that they tried to kill him, just taunted) that since the bald guy should die God killed the kids first. What a loving God!!! puke

Posted on Dec 30, 2009 12:22:14 PM PST
FWIW, my background is being brought up in a christian fundamentalist church. I haven't read this book yet, but I can comment on the line "Farrell next spells out another biblical myth that no child has ever been taught in Sunday School, of how Jephthah vowed...". For one, yes, I was never taught that passage when I was a *child*. There's a lot of stories (religious and secular) that I was not taught as a *child* in any school (religious or secular).

However, I can tell you that I was taught about both of these passages before I graduated from high school (which was many years ago!). Now we could argue over the interpretations I was given and what those passages might mean about people or about God, but the dramatic claim that "NO ONE EVER TEACHES THIS!!!" is not correct.

I should also readily admit that I've been in churches where I've listened to multiple sermons without being taught about *ANY* passage in the bible, so I realize that the above claim will seem very true to many people. I'm just saying that it isn't true of all churches, and I wanted to point that out specifically because I know there are churches which never look at large sections of the bible.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 21, 2011 8:56:39 AM PDT
Wow, are you actually defending this story with a couple of paragraphs of guesses?

"42 is a large number of people, and they WERE PROBABLY an organized group who had gone out to challenge Elisha. Their mockery IMPLIED a malicious intent; especially when the culture of the time insisted on showing respect to their elders. Furthermore, the statement "go up you baldhead!" has cultural significance. First of all, "go up" IS PROBABLY a reference to Elisha's predecessor, Elijah, ascending to heaven (2 Kings 2:11). IN OTHER WORDS, they are stating they want Elisha gone; and since Elijah had gone on to the "next world," the IMPLICATION is they wanted Elisha dead. Also, the epithet `baldhead' was one of "contempt in the East, applied to a person even with a bushy head of hair." Lepers had to shave their heads, so such a statement COULD EASILY HAVE BEEN a deliberate and malicious insult, something dangerous in a mob THAT CAN quickly get out of hand. Given the challenge of the youths, their intimidating number which COULD constitute a mob, their veiled threat, the contemptuous attitude, and the fact that Elisha was the prophet of God, the Lord allowed the youths to be destroyed."

I capitalized all the guesses and generalizations I saw in the paragraph. That's a lot of `maybe it meants' if you ask me. The author of the above is admitting he *does not know* what it means! He is simply making guesses to make the story more palatable to himself and other believers.

"...the Lord ALLOWED the youths to be destroyed" is also telling. In the story, god didn't "allow" them to be mauled, he DID IT! Elisha was incapable on his own of commanding bears to maul people. He was calling out to god to punish the mocking children. God then did it. Unless you think Elisha was some sort of deity who could command beasts on his own?

Posted on Mar 19, 2015 8:36:31 AM PDT
Wow. All I can say is before you jump to conclusions, read the actual bible account and keep on reading the whole thing. Jephthah's daughter was never killed. She lived a life of sacrifce serving at the tabernacle the rest of her days. She was wholly in agreement with her father about him keeping his promise. There is more than one meaning to the word 'holocaust'.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 19, 2015 11:19:13 AM PDT
The word used in 11:31 is "olah", the Hebrew word for a burnt offering or sacrifice. I am told it's used that way almost 300 times in the OT. I don't know where you are getting holocaust from. As to "read the actual bible account and keep on reading the whole thing", I have. I have many times. And I am more familiar with the bible than most christians I know.
Also, whether the daughter approved of keeping her father's promise or not is beside the point. People agree to crazy crap all the time in the name of religion. Did you know some people in the Philippines volunteer to be literally nailed to crosses on Good Friday every year? How about the Incan mummies on Argentinian volcano Llullaillaco? Those three children went willingly to die. And across the middle east, people practically line up for the opportunity to make themselves into a human bomb for religion. The idea that Jephthah and his daughter would be willing for her to die for Yahweh is not surprising in the least.
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