As I've shared in some previous posts (here and here), I'm reading the entire Bible during this Lenten season. It's certainly not an impossible task, although some days are easier than others. Yesterday, I finished the Hebrew Scriptures (aka the Old Testament), and today I read the Gospel of Matthew. Which means I'm actually ahead of schedule by a full day! Several years ago I read the whole Bible for Lent, and I seem to remember it being a much more difficult task. This time around, I'm really enjoying myself the vast majority of the time. For example, I remember Psalm 119 (the longest chapter in Scripture) being a real chore. This time, I really enjoyed it, and it didn't seem as long as I thought it would. Jeremiah was a bit tedious, to my way of thinking, but Ezekiel was awesome (except for some of the stuff at the very end of the book about the new temple measurements).
Here are a few thoughts that occurred to me as I read through the Hebrew Scriptures:
We're just under a month away from Easter at this point, and I am nearing the midpoint of the Bible. I am halfway through the book of 2 Chronicles, so I'm basically in the middle of a big recap..."Previously on...THE BIBLE!" It's not the easiest read: there are lots of long stretches of genealogies that make it slow going. And I can't help thinking, "I just read about all these people...why do I have to go through the whole thing all over again?" It actually gives me greater appreciation for the traditional Jewish order of the Hebrew Scriptures, where Chronicles comes at the very end.
Still, now that I've finished the whole saga of the kings of Israel and Judah, as told in 1 Samuel-2 Kings, I do feel a sense of accomplishment. Sure, it's an almost endless saga of good king/bad king, but it ends with the very dramatic event of the Babylonian Captivity, so there is a payoff at the end of the sequence. Meanwhile, 2 Kings has one of my favorite odd stories in it: the little paragraph at the end of the second chapter, where the boys mock Elisha the prophet, with disastrous consequences. I'll let the Bible tell it...
He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys. (2 Kings 2:23-24, ESV)
Pretty weird, no? It's one of those weird little, oddly detailed stories that you come across in Scripture from time to time. They often don't advance the larger story at all, but they are interesting.
But back to Chronicles for a second. It's also interesting to me that the Chronicles version of King David's story completely skips the embarrassing tale of Bathsheba, and David's murder of Uriah the Hittite (Bathsheba's husband). If you were to read only the Chronicler's depiction of David, you would come away with a picture of him as the greatest king ever, with no evidence to the contrary. Oh, and another thing: the story of King Saul almost completely disappears in Chronicles. It's a really big deal in the earlier version of the story: Saul trying to kill David, and David always outwitting him. Saul only rates a brief paragraph in 1 Chronicles, almost an afterthought. The Chronicler just wants to move the story along to the hero--King David.
Well, after Chronicles, it's just a few relatively short books before I come to the Writings (as they're often called in Jewish Bibles): Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon. That's good stuff, and I'm looking forward to reading it all again. Thanks for reading!
(adj.) wild and frenzied; from Greek κορυβαντες (Korybantes)