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Source: (consider it) Thread: Kerygmania: Humour in the Old Testament?
dyfrig
Blue Scarfed Menace
# 15

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I was reading the opening chapters of 1 Samuel last week, and there's a bit where the people demand that Samuel gives them a king; God tells Samuel that, ok, we'll give them a king like they asked.

The next scene is Saul out in the desert looking for some donkeys. I don't know if it's deliberate, but this juxtaposition struck as very funny - "You want a king? Ok, I'll give you a king - one who's used to rounding up donkeys."

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Anna B
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# 1439

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Just reread the story of Jonah and the whale with my son and it struck me as appropriate for this thread. Jonah thinks he's got to go all the way to Tarshish to escape the presence of God, but it's when he's stuck in a bellyful of half-digested local fish that he comes up with a really eloquent prayer ---and then the chapter ends with a bang as he gets spat up onto shore.

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balaam

Making an ass of myself
# 4543

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One of my favourites, and the reason for my online persona, is the story of Balaam. Numbers 22 onwards.

One of the Theophanies (Where God puts in a physical apperance in the form of The Angel of the LORD) God blocks the road but Balaam, supposedly the great prophet, can't see him, but the ass can.

Wonderfully ironic.

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Kelly Alves

Bunny with an axe
# 2522

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And then the donkey tells him off.

Actually, sparkleylady, the Abram/ Ishamel story ispretty funny. Thanks for holding it up.

My favorite bible humour story is when a fed-up Jesus tells a nagging Peter to go fetch the taxes out of a fish's mouth. Or rather, he bawls Peter out for answering a political question for him(whether or not he paid taxes), then tells him to catch a fish and look in its mouth. Peter of course finds two coins for the tax in the fish's mouth.

Boy, do I become an inerrantist when I read that story. I really want to believe that Jesus was such a master of wordless sarcasm.
[Overused]

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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I just love the bit where God is talking to Moses after the Israelites have screwed up AGAIN, and he says, "The people YOU brought out of Egypt. . ." And right away Moses correct him: "Oh no, the people YOU brought out of Egypt. . ." [Snigger]

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ekalb
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In think Paul's NT remark about the 'judaizers' going the 'whole way' with circumcision is pretty funny...
As far as OT stuff goes, I think that Gideon's story is pretty hilarious. Maybe it's just me, but I can't help but picture Woody Allen as Gideon if ever the movie is made.

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Newman's Own
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If I may be permitted to stray into the NT once again...

It only recently occurred to me that Paul is being exceedingly ironic and wry in the 1st letter to the Corinthians. Where, in other epistles, he praises the recipients' faith, love, and so forth, all he seems to find to praise in Corinth is their 'knowledge' - and, in this letter and others, it becomes all too plain that knowledge is not something Paul values in the least.

The conflicts between Peter and Paul always have their very funny side - I have a vivid mental picture that neither one of them would have been particularly pleasant sorts with which to deal. Those who were 'of Cephas' probably were exceedingly vacillating - all the more if one recalls that, in the 'Antioch' references in Acts, Paul is scolding Peter for upholding the Jewish ways then joining the Gentiles at table. Paul may be all things to all people, but, when Peter does it, it is ... I suppose just as inconsistent as one would expect of Peter, given his performance in the gospels.

One other scene which puzzles me (almost as much as my wondering why the sower planted the seeds on bad ground in the first place) is when the soldiers guarding the tomb of Jesus tell of what happened while they were asleep - and this on the advice of lawyers! It seems that the only ones who are not considering that he may leave the tomb were the believers.

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rewboss
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# 566

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Can't think exactly where it is now, but there's a story in the OT where soldiers trap a load of Baal's priests in the temple, wade in, slaughter the lot and then demolish the temple. Then, by way of a footnote, the passage concludes: "...and the ruins are used as a latrine to this day."

A lot of the humour in the OT (and also the NT) is certainly intended. And why not? Humour is a very effective rhetorical device, and as far as I'm concerned, the ability to laugh is a gift of God.

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Janine

The Endless Simmer
# 3337

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Ezekiel 23:20 ff is so over-the-top, in calling Israel/Judah to task for their wandering from God, I always laugh when I read it.

Prolly oughta mention that in TnT before it goes away.

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Moo

Ship's tough old bird
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Originally posted by Wasilla and transferred from his 'OT humor' thread
quote:

I'm gald that a few people mentioned Esther. The description of the party is hilarious. This book seems to have recorded history's first "dirty old man" (Ahaureus agreeing with the suggestion of how he might proceed to select a new Queen), and the world's first recorded feminist (Ashti refusing to dance for the drunks). The story also records what might be the first slapstick routine, when the King, having just re-read the chronicles and having just been reminded of what Uncle Mordecai had done for him, meets the villain Haman, just as Haman is about to propose having Mordecai hanged. I have gotten a few people to actually read the Bible for the first time by talking up Esther.

I also like Jonah. I particularly like the scene where Jonah, sitting in a puddle of whale-puke on the beach, hears God's voice, reminding him about that gig in Ninevah. "OK, OK, I'm going already!"

The last verse in Jonah is also funny, sort of. But it is also moving.

Esther was my first venture into reading the Bible. I was curious when I read an account in National Geographic about the path of Moses, in which it was reported that the Dead Sea Scrolls contained fragments of every Old Testament book except Esther, "the only book in the Bible in which God is not mentioned."



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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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I rather like the bit where the people of Israel have screwed up, once again, while they're out in the wilderness (can't remember what, idolatry probably) and God says to Moses, "Now LEAVE ME ALONE and I will destroy them." Lemme at'em! Lemme at'em! [Big Grin]

I picture a great big snarling dog doing his best to get past a mouse . . .

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GraceCantsin
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# 6116

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Then Saul said, "Thus shall you say to David, 'The king desires no marriage present except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines'" (1 Samuel 18:25) [Killing me]

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Janine

The Endless Simmer
# 3337

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And David took that bid and raised him another hundred!

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luvanddaisies

the'fun'in'fundie'™
# 5761

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quote:
Originally posted by Kyralessa:
quote:
Originally posted by irreverentkit:
Also, my OT prof told us that "feet" was a euphamism for sexual organs. So where Ruth lies down that night with Boaz is .... [Eek!]

That's been done to death already on this thread.
err.. my 'pooter keeps telling me the thread doesn't exist - help?! [Confused]
(am leading study on RUth 3 in fortnight, so am interested in passing)

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Oscar the Grouch

Adopted Cascadian
# 1916

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The feet=genitalia question is not 100% clear (certainly not in Ruth 3). But on the whole, I think that Ruth 3 makes more sense if you assume that Ruth is uncovering Boaz's "tackle" whilst he is in a drunken stupor. He wakes up, with everything on display and with a pretty girl lying beside him and (like so many men since) wonders to himself "Did I? No - surely I'd remember.... But then again...." As a result, he is kick-started into making "an honest woman" of Ruth.

What is implied in Ruth 2 & 3 but not said outright is that Ruth and Boaz fancy each other like mad. But, again like most men, Boaz hasn't got a clue how to make the right move until Ruth makes it utterly clear where she stands (or lies) on the matter. It is important to notice that she acts at the end of the harvest - basically, Boaz has had a few weeks to get his act together and now, at the last moment, Ruth takes control.

The alternative interpretation is that Ruth uncovered his feet in some obscure gesture of submission - which is rather bizarre if you consider that throughout the book, Ruth is portrayed clearly as someone who is anything but submissive.

The more I read through Ruth, the more I think "Mills and Boon" for some inexplicable reason.... [Smile]

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ken
Ship's Roundhead
# 2460

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It is the end of the harvest. These people have been working flat out in the open for three weeks. Hard physcial work in the summer heat.

At the end of the harvest they have a party. They drink wine. Lots of it. There is singing, and dancing. It all goes on till after dark. No-one goes home - they crash out on the threshing-floor.
All those people are lying about pissed as farts. Ruth is sleeping in a room stuffed full of drunken agricultural labourers.

Boaz is traditionally thought to have been a middle-aged or even elderly bloke. He's been working hard. He's exhausted. Knackered. But he's proud too - it's his farm, his land, his harvest. His lads have got the work done on time. The barns are full and he's set uyp for winter. He's a rich man, respected, prosperous, powerful - though for some reason still unmarried.

He's almost certainly rather drunk. He's crashed out on the floor of his barn, or in the yard just outside. Maybe he's got his head on a bale of hay. He's on his own though.

It is dark. Flat-out pitch dark. Up comes this young woman he fancies, snuggles close to him, ands whispers something like "protect me from all these rough young men". Or maybe she just shoves her hand into his loin-cloth and grabs hold of whatever she finds there.

Mills & Boon ain't in it.

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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

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Moo

Ship's tough old bird
# 107

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We have had this discussion many times over the last few years, and I still refuse to accept this interpretation. I don't think it fits in with the preceding events in the book.

Ruth is the Gentile widow of a Jewish man. After her husband's death she attaches herself to her (former) mother-in-law and says that from now on her mother-in-law's people will be her people. She wants to become Jewish, and her mother-in-law tells her what to do.

In the scene on the threshing floor she is following Naomi's instruction exactly. Can you imagine a woman whose son is dead giving instructions to that son's widow on how to seduce another man? I can't.

Naomi was telling Ruth how to get Boaz to do his duty as a kinsman-redeemer.

The word 'foot' sometimes means genitals. It means foot far more often. There is also other symbolism connected with feet and their covering.

Here is Ruth 4:7-8;
Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning redeeming and exchanging: to confirm a transaction, one party took off a sandal and gave it to the other; this was the manner of attesting in Israel. 8So when the next-of-kin said to Boaz, 'Acquire it for yourself', he took off his sandal.

To repeat a point I have already made, read the entire book and ask yourself if the prior behavior of Ruth and Naomi fits in with the interpretation that, following Naomi's advice, Ruth uncovered Boaz's genitals unless you believe that this was the customary way for a widow to claim protection from her husband's relatives.. My understanding of Jewish social and religious laws is that this is extremely unlikely.

Moo

[ 27. May 2004, 12:35: Message edited by: Moo ]

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See you later, alligator.

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frogluj
Apprentice
# 5294

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There are so many favourites! Most have already been done, but one I found yesterday, judges 1 v 6-8, cracked me up. The Israelites are conquering the surrounding areas...

'(King)Adoni-Bezek escaped, but the Israelites soon captured him and cut off his thumbs and big toes. Adoni-bezek said, "I once had seventy kings with thumbs and big toes cut off, eating scraps from under my table...."'
[Killing me]

And Genesis20 v 26, not long before many really odd rules about mildew...

'And you may not approach my altar by steps. If you do, someone might look up under the skirts of your clothing and see your nakedness.'
The ever practical God.

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If you do not shake the bottle
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luvanddaisies

the'fun'in'fundie'™
# 5761

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my lot's in with Moo on this one (Ruth)

was only wondering if there was a Hebrew thing I didn't know about. Seems not ergo, I'll go with the context.


btw,

Q : which scottish football team crops up in the Bible?

A : Queen of the South
[Roll Eyes] [Razz] [Disappointed]


(betcha haven't heard that one before)

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ONUnicorn
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# 7331

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1st Samuel, 24...

The whole thing is funny, but verse three takes the cake "And Saul went into the cave to relieve himself".


I have no idea where it is, but somewhere in Kings or Chronicals there is a king who is murdered while using the (equivilant of) restroom. His advisors waited outside "to the point of embarassment". That's pretty funny there.

(and I'm not normally a fan of potty humor!!!)

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Halcyon Sailor
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# 5270

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I think Tarantino would be perfect for handling some of those darker sections in Judges and such; he'd bring a whole new humorous twist to them.
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Custard
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# 5402

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quote:
Originally posted by ONUnicorn:

I have no idea where it is, but somewhere in Kings or Chronicals there is a king who is murdered while using the (equivilant of) restroom. His advisors waited outside "to the point of embarassment". That's pretty funny there.

(and I'm not normally a fan of potty humor!!!)

Eglon, king of Moab, assassinated by Ehud in Judges 3ish

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Sebastian
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On the original topic of humor here... [Killing me] I have always thought the bit about Balaam in the Old Testament (Numbers 22) was amazing - heh!

God's got some sense of humor to humiliate Balaam (Balaam needed this) by being rebuked/scolded by HIS OWN DONKEY!!

But don't take my word for it - check out the text for yourself at
http://bible.gospelcom.net
type in "Numbers 22" and hit "go" (without the quotes of course)

Sebastian [Killing me]

[ 12. July 2004, 06:02: Message edited by: Sebastian ]

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Oscar the Grouch

Adopted Cascadian
# 1916

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quote:
Originally posted by Moo:
We have had this discussion many times over the last few years, and I still refuse to accept this interpretation. I don't think it fits in with the preceding events in the book.

I think the key part you're missing in all this is that sense of humour that this thread relates to.

My understanding is that the Israelites had a very earthy sense of humour. The whole Threshing Floor incident strikes me as an example of this.

Boaz - rich, influential Israelite man
Ruth - poor, Moabite woman

Who comes out on top? Not only does she get Boaz to make the move she wants him to make, she does so in a way that would have the audience sniggering even more at his embarassment.

Mills and Boon suddenly goes Channel 5 late night. It's brilliant.

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Faradiu, dundeibáwa weyu lárigi weyu

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Moo

Ship's tough old bird
# 107

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quote:
Originally posted by Oscar the Grouch:
My understanding is that the Israelites had a very earthy sense of humour. The whole Threshing Floor incident strikes me as an example of this.

Boaz - rich, influential Israelite man
Ruth - poor, Moabite woman

Who comes out on top? Not only does she get Boaz to make the move she wants him to make, she does so in a way that would have the audience sniggering even more at his embarassment.

Mills and Boon suddenly goes Channel 5 late night. It's brilliant.

You are overlooking the fact that Ruth was not simply a poor Moabite woman. She was the childless widow of a Jewish man, and as such had a legal claim to be protected by the men of her late husband's family.

You are also overlooking the fact that Ruth was doing exactly what Naomi told her to. I still refuse to believe that Naomi was giving instructions on how to seduce a man. I think she was telling Ruth how to claim Boaz's protection.

There is another Old Testament story which has something in common with this--the story of Judah and Tamar. Do you think this is meant to be funny? I grant you it has elements of humor, but it also makes an important point about the obligation of the men in a family towards the childless widows of their relatives.

As I see it, both women were claiming what they were entitled to under Jewish law. Remember that Ruth had said to Naomi, "Your people will be my people." She was learning to become Jewish.
Moo

[ 12. July 2004, 11:15: Message edited by: Moo ]

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balaam

Making an ass of myself
# 4543

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quote:
Originally posted by Sebastian:
On the original topic of humor here... [Killing me] I have always thought the bit about Balaam in the Old Testament (Numbers 22) was amazing - heh!

God's got some sense of humor to humiliate Balaam (Balaam needed this) by being rebuked/scolded by HIS OWN DONKEY!!

Especially when you realise hat the King of Moab sent all the way to Messopotamia to get someone whose curses mean something, then when the great prophet comes on the scene he wouldn't recognise God even if he stood in front of him (but the donkey does). The irony of this scene is fantastic even before the donkey speaks.

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Sebastian
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Heh - good point, you've motivated me to read it again!

Thanks Balaam (Even I can learn from a donkey... at least I hope so)

Sebastian

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"A wise man is a fool with a good memory"

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Anij
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# 8506

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My favourite part in the bible is actually one of the many rules,

quick story

My cousin was reading a small black bible on the train came past this section cracked up laughing, a guy asked her what she was reading, The Bible, I don't think he was amused.

Deut 25 11-12
11 If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, 12 you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.


Come on the assailant might like it.

sorrrryyy

Just hilarious, and yes God uses humour all the time, maybe not meant to here. but still humourous, whatch out ladies, leave the men to fight it out alone, you might lose a hand

[ 16. September 2004, 06:39: Message edited by: Anij ]

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Elisabeth Scott
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# 7290

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With all these posts about Esther, no one mentioned the irony of Haman building a scaffold for Mordecai and getting hanged on it himself. How droll!

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A merry heart maketh a cheerful medicine

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jemimah
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# 8474

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Moo posted:
quote:
There is another Old Testament story which has something in common with this--the story of Judah and Tamar. Do you think this is meant to be funny? I grant you it has elements of humor, but it also makes an important point about the obligation of the men in a family towards the childless widows of their relatives.

Yes, it does make an important point about the rights of women to have a place in society (no matter how strange by modern norms). It is a story also full of irony and humour, and it's a personal fave in the OT humour department.

The rabbis said of this story "the Torah laughs at men" (Genesis Rabbah 85.9). (A feminist might say the same of it, with a slightly different nuance!)

In its context, it's in the story of Judah and his brothers and how they sold Joseph and tricked Jacob that he'd been killed. The one who deceptively asked his father to "discern" (Gen 37.32), has a moment of truth when he has to "discern" (Gen 38.25) The one who used a kid and a garment to deceive his father, is himself deceived with a garment and a kid.

When Tamar is sitting at the "gates of Enaim" (= "opening of the eyes" in Hebrew), Judah fails to see who she really is.

Judah's double standards are made ridiculously clear, when he's willing to execute his daughter-in-law for a crime he has participated in, and which he drove her to.

I guess it's amusing in a clever-irony way, rather than a laugh-out-loud way, but I still enjoy it.

And there's a happy ending, feisty heroine, and Tamar's one of Jesus' great-grandmas. [Smile]

[ 17. September 2004, 06:56: Message edited by: jemimarrr ]

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jemimah
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Sorry, though I'd managed to do the link to the text - please forgive a newbie.

Story of Judah and Tamar

(fingers crossed)

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That which we love, we come to resemble. - St Bernard of Clairvaux

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Cedd
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Leviticus 10:

1 Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD , contrary to his command. 2 So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD .


There is also a similar story about 250 thurifers getting burned up in much the same way. I like to share this with the serving team on Sundays, keeps them on their toes.

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Cedd

Churchmanship: This week I am mostly an evangelical, catholic, orthodox with both liberal and illiberal tendancies. Terms and conditions apply.

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hild
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Yrmenlaf always says Esther is the funniest book in the Bible. And that you have to give Haman John Cleese's voice - at its most - well - cleesish... [Snigger]

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still journeying

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jlg

What is this place?
Why am I here?
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I just discovered this thread. I way too often find myself carefully studying my toes during the OT (and some NT) readings in order to hide my smirks.

In future I will try to note the passages and thus be able to contribute.

I'm also going to check out whether Balaam's donkey isn't in the RC lectionary cycle or just happens to be tucked away on some obscure weekday.

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jinglebellrocker
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1 Samuel 18:25-27
"Saul replied, "Say to David, 'The king wants no other price for the bride than a hundred Phillistine foreskins, to take revenge on his enemies.' "Saul's plan was to have David fall by the hands of the Phillistines. When the attendants told David these things, he was pleased to become the king's son-in-law. So before the alloted time elapsed, David and his men went out and killed 200 Phillistines. He brought their foreskins and presented the full number to the king so that he might become the king's son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.

What kind of a bride-price is that? And then David actually went and paid it!!! [Eek!]

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For I know that my Redeemer lives,and at the last he will stand upon the earth. - Job 19:25

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FlatEric
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My favorite funny bit that i haven't seen in is in Job where God gets sarcsatic on Job. Job 38.19-21 where God is talking about how he created outer space and he says, "Surely you know, for you were born then, and the number of your days is great!" OUCH! Basically, "you're just a young punk, what do you know!"
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FlatEric
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I thought of another one! When the Philistines take the Ark of The Convenant and are struck with a plauge of mice and hemmeroids, and the cure is that they must make gold images of both. Imagine being the model for that sculpture!
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Moo

Ship's tough old bird
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quote:
Originally posted by FlatEric:
Imagine being the model for that sculpture!

[Big Grin]

Moo

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See you later, alligator.

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Yrmenlaf
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quote:
Originally posted by Anselm:
I also love the story of Esther. The juxtaposition of characters is delightful! And the scene were Haman begs for mercy from Esther, but the king comes in and thinks he's making a pass at his Queen...

I love the book of Esther. I always try and "cast" bible stories when I read them, and somehow Haman came out as an Edmund Blackadder, and Xerxes as a Basil Fawlty. Slapstick comedy of the first order, from start to finish.

(apologies to non British readers who might not get the references)

Aparently it contains a serious allegory of the church, as well as hammering home the point that God has a sense of humour.

I also like the bit towards the end of Genesis, where they are negotiating a land deal for Abraham's tomb.

Y.

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Please do not think me foolish because I am flippant. And I will not think you wise if you are grave.

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Yrmenlaf
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quote:
Originally posted by hild:
Yrmenlaf always says Esther is the funniest book in the Bible. And that you have to give Haman John Cleese's voice - at its most - well - cleesish... [Snigger]

And this proves that I should read the WHOLE THREAD before I chip in.

Y.

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Please do not think me foolish because I am flippant. And I will not think you wise if you are grave.

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Rossweisse

High Church Valkyrie
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I like Sarai snickering in the tent when the strangers predict that she'll have a baby. "Yeah, RIGHT!"

And in the NT there's the story of little Zachaeus, climbing the tree to see Jesus. (Think Danny DeVito.)

Rossweisse // sarcasm is your friend!

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I'm not dead yet.

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dj_ordinaire
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quote:
Originally posted by jinglebellrocker:
1 Samuel 18:25-27
"Saul replied, "Say to David, 'The king wants no other price for the bride than a hundred Phillistine foreskins, to take revenge on his enemies.' "Saul's plan was to have David fall by the hands of the Phillistines. When the attendants told David these things, he was pleased to become the king's son-in-law. So before the alloted time elapsed, David and his men went out and killed 200 Phillistines. He brought their foreskins and presented the full number to the king so that he might become the king's son-in-law. Then Saul gave him his daughter Michal in marriage.

What kind of a bride-price is that? And then David actually went and paid it!!! [Eek!]

And more to the point... the cost was one hundred, the suplly 200... what did David do with the other hundred? Or did some spoil in transit? Or hell, maybe they just got so into the swing of killing philistines that they lost count...

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Flinging wide the gates...

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Moriarty
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I find the excuse offered by Aaron for making the bull-calf (Ex 32 vs 24) funny:

"I asked them to bring me their gold ornaments, and those who had them gave them to me. I THREW THE ORNAMENTS INTO THE FIRE AND OUT CAME THIS BULL CALF!!!"

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Searching for a better aphorism

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bubbles
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I had to giggle in church when 1 Kings 2:23-25n was read:

'From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. "Go on up, you baldhead!" they said....'
etc... and then the youths get eaten by bears.

Let that be a lesson to the youth of today [Smile]

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Sinistærial
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[Bump]

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People laugh at me because I am different.
I laugh at other people because they are all the same.
æ = æ

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Pyx_e

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I recommend the best way to bump a thread is to post something scintillating.

Pyx_e , Kerygmania Host.

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It is better to be Kind than right.

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Tweedle
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I always smile at Ecclesiastes, since someone mentioned it sounded like Eyeore. 'Useless. It's all useless....'

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Dazed and confused

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Fool on the hill
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Numbers chapter 11! What a riot! "You want meat, you whiny bunch of wanderers, I'll give you meat.........." Hahahahaha [Two face]

The one about the talking donkey is pretty funny too. I also used to like to tell my children the story aobut Samuel waking up his adoptive father over and over again. GET THEE BACK TO BED, for crying out loud! If He speaks again, ANSWER HIM, and leave me alone to sleep!

[Big Grin]

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Kelly Alves

Bunny with an axe
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<bump>

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I cannot expect people to believe “
Jesus loves me, this I know” of they don’t believe “Kelly loves me, this I know.”
Kelly Alves, somewhere around 2003.

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pimple

Ship's Irruption
# 10635

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I think I have only on one occasion found myself, in church, biting the inside of my cheek as hard as possible. It was one Evensong when, along with the rest of the choir, I was trying to sing Psalm 147 in one's best, passsionate but asexual voice. I was a tenor then, and the part was a bit high for me.

When we reached verse 10, I noticed that not one member of the choir dared to look another straight in the face:

He hath no pleasure in the strength of an horse: neither delighteth he in any man's legs.

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In other words, just because I made it all up, doesn't mean it isn't true (Reginald Hill)

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