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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Nehemiah - funniest book in the Bible?

Mawkish Victorian Image of Nehemiah

Looking at the thread of comments in the last post reminded me of my favourite and potentially the most lary character in the Old Testament (or, for my Jewish friends, the Testament!). In the eponymously-named book of History that is Nehemiah, the protagonist, a high-ranking Jewish servant/exile in the house of the Babylonian King Darius, pleads for the return of Israel to Jerusalem, to rebuild the House of the Lord, the walls and palace gates of Jerusalem which had been demolished 70 or 80 years previously.

He returns and, together with the scribe Ezra, they rebuild the walls and the spiritual lives of the people. He's a great character - at one stage, the people of Israel are under physical attack from the nearby tribes - and so they work to rebuild the walls, men and women, with one hand they are building and in the other they are ready with their weapons. While the men load the stones into place, the older men and women stand behind with spears and lanterns so they are ready for any attacks.

But Nehemiah is so funny! I always laugh out loud in church whenever they read the following chapters:

Chapter 6 vs 8: he tells a bunch of big-wigs: "You are just making it up out of your head."

But the best bit is in Chapter 7, where he catches a lot of the Jewish elders going round nicking wives from the unbelieving tribes and doing naughty things they shouldn't be doing with various ladies of questionable reputation:

"(CH 14 v 7): I rebuked them and called curses down on them. I beat some of the men and pulled out their hair."

ha ha ha ha! Chortle! Every time I see this in my head I think of TEACH from the Beano, jumping up and down and pinging chalk onto a kid's nose, while snorting in rage and yelling: "Nincompoop! Imbecile! Moron!".

And when I see this in my head and they're reading this passage out in Church, I always laugh out loud. If more ministers of the cloth so rebuked their recalcitrant congregation, the world would perhaps be a much better place. I'd love to see The Archbishop of Canterbury labouring about some minor clergy's head with an advent candle for some misdemeanour. It would amuse me greatly to witness a pastor slam-dunking someone's cranium into the collection plate for smoking on the church step.

After all, if the Muslims can wreak religious punishments, surely Christians could do it better, with more panache and possibly with a wry sense of irony.

Ah! Nehemiah! You have much to teach us today. Just leave my highlights alone.

40 comments:

Tuscan Tony said...

Have you read the Don Camillo series by Giovanni Guareschi? If not, I highly recommend it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Camillo

I'm currently halfway through Don Camillo and the Prodigal Son.

Love 'em!

Mermaid of Moorgate said...

Never heard of him lovey. Sounds like some foreign book to me. I'll read the Sun Book Reviews column and find out more.

natch.

Tuscan Tony said...

Don Camillo is I reckon your kinda priest, based on what you said in theyour post.

Newmania said...

Oh Merm....Yes.(x2) :)

Mermaid of Moorgate said...

Newms - TWINS? Or that I was right on both counts? Blimey O'Reilly! Ding Dong congrats all round!

electro-kevin said...

Sermons in my church St Michael's are a real hoot:

In the first book of the Bible, Guinessis, God got tired of creating the world, so He took the Sabbath off. Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree.

Noah's wife was called Joan of Ark. Noah built an ark, which the animals came on to in pears.

Lot's wife was a pillar of salt by day, but a ball of fire by night.

The Jews were a proud people and throughout history they had trouble with the unsympathetic Genitals.

Samson was a strongman who let himself be led astray by a Jezebel like Delilah. Samson slayed the Philistines with the axe of the apostles.

Moses led the Hebrews to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without any ingredients. The Egyptians were all drowned in the dessert. Afterwards, Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the Ten Amendments. The First Commandment was when Eve told Adam to eat the apple. The Fifth Commandment is to humor thy father and mother. The seventh Commandment is thou shalt not admit adultery.

Moses died before he ever reached Canada. Then Joshua led the Hebrews in the battle of Geritol.

The greatest miracle in the Bible is when Joshua told his son to stand still and he obeyed him.

David was a Hebrew king skilled at playing the liar. He fought with the Finklesteins, a race of people who lived in Biblical times. Solomon, one of David's sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.

Jesus enunciated the Golden Rule, which says to do one to others before they do one to you. He also explained, "Man doth not live by sweat alone."

The people who followed the Lord were called the 12 decibels. The epistles were the wives of the apostles. One of the opossums was St. Matthew who was, by profession, a taximan.

St. Paul cavorted to Christianity. He preached holy acrimony, which is another name for marriage. A Christian should have only one wife. This is called monotony.

Trubes said...

I was just about to make a very profound Christian statement but after reading Electro`s comments I`m afraid I`ve lost my piety and can`t stop laughing. Will come back later.

Merms: Is it the "Big Weekend", this coming weekend ?

Trubes said...

Tuscan: I`ve read the Don Camillo stories and they are hillarious. They were serialised on Radio 4 a couple of years ago.

Gorilla Bananas said...

I second the Don Camillo recommendation. He's a priest who's continually talking to Jesus and gets witty replies from his saviour. And while we're on the subject of faith, Kieran has been touched by the Lord (see post of 19th January). Seriously, Mermaid, you should meet him before committing to Phone Guy. He's now both funny AND a devout Christian.

Old Tarf said...

Well done. You should also read "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis.

fleetofworlds said...

There is a lot to be said for muscular christianity. The more muscular the better. The Vicar at my church is very muscular, for a woman.

Mermaid of Moorgate said...

Fleet of worlds - welcome to me 'umble blog. We once had a woman preacher. We didn't commission her - she just got up during the sermon, ranted at everyone in the church, called us all out on our past sins, then marched out of the hall.

Mermaid of Moorgate said...

Electro - I love them!! Thank you for that brill series of quotations.

one thing - Moses didn't die before he reached Canada - he got there, saw there was nothing there, and died of boredom. Hockey had not been invented and he was too late for Seal Season.

Mermaid of Moorgate said...

Trubes - I hope you do come back later! and yes, this weekend coming. he he he. have to be v careful though re what I say on me blog about PG! - I have a few more readers among my old friends - yes, you know who you are, Robert Redford fans!

Mermaid of Moorgate said...

GB - seeing as you all have read these books I will bow and read them myself, they sound rather good.

Kieran? really? I can never really read his blog properly, it only comes up small on my screen, dunno why. Probably because Gorillas keep trying to matchmake? Oh, and I do think PG is great! We shall see after le weekend. :)

Mermaid of Moorgate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trubes said...

"God so loved the World, that he gave his only begotten son, that who so believeth, believeth in him.
Should not perish, but have everlasting life" .
There we are Merms. that is one of my favourite texts, as promised.

Nite Nite.

Di. xxx

Mermaid of Moorgate said...

Great text Di!

night all... merms is tired after several hours of blogging and catching up on your lovely blogs xx

Steve said...

For some reason I imagining Nehemiah as looking not unlike Lilly Savage...

Mermaid of Moorgate said...

Steve - that comment alone would make nehemiah pull your hair out and thump on you soundly.

The Hitch said...

NOW THIS IS THE CHRISTIANITY I LIKE!
Plenty of SMITING!
The Arch Bishop of York wouldnt think twice about beating a burglar, Rowan Williams is an ass.
Back in the deep mists of time when The Hitch occasionally wore the Queens uniform , Bible classes were compulsory, or rather time with the Chaplain to discuss life and morality, no doubt that is something else that has been banned.

fleetofworlds said...

Our lady vicar is great. She's..well, not svelte, and dresses in a black cape. When she bears down on one the impression is distinctly old testament.

Dennis said...

The Last Rap

Tangen had studied with Sengai since childhood. When he was twenty he wanted to leave his teacher and visit others for comparative study, but Sengai would not permit this. Every time Tangen suggested it, Sengai would give him a rap on the head.

Finally Tangen asked an elder brother to coax permission from Sengai. This the brother did and then reported to Tangen: "It is arranged. I have fixed it for you to start on your pilgrimage at once."

Tangen went to Sengai to thank him for his permission. The master answered by giving him another rap.

When Tangen related this to his elder brother the other said: "What is the matter? Sengai has no business giving permission and then changing his mind. I will tell him so." And off he went to see the teacher.

"I did not cancel my permission," said Sengai. "I just wished to give him one last smack over the head, for when he returns he will be enlightened and I will not be able to reprimand him again."

(Paul Zeps, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, Penguin, 1971, p. 79)

P.S. Electro-Kevin -- excellent!

Mermaid of Moorgate said...

FleetofWorlds. I rather fancy Severus Snape bearing down on me in a black cape. But that's not got much to do with The Bible.

Dennis - with what did he rap him over the head? I think it's a teaspoon.

Anyone else got any ideas?

fleetofworlds said...

Good Lord, Mermaid....

I have never been able to look on the mighty Rickman with anything other than contempt since he was so BEASTLY to lovely Emma Thompson in Love Actually.

fleetofworlds said...

Call us overgrown Schoolboys, but my brother an I can reduce one another to hysterics by merely stating to the other "Deuteronomy 23:1"... "He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter the assembly of Jehovah"

*snicker*

The Hitch said...

Ai Yah Merms
*Beats Merms with Bible*
proverbs
"For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth with a teaspoon, even as a father in the half woman half fish in whom he delighteth"

I think that is a lesson for us all.
I just wish I understood what it meant

idle said...

f o w, I rather enjoyed the irritating Emma Thompson's pain in love achsherly, one of the highlights of a truly dreadful fillum.

When I saw Emma blubbing on a platform in Davos last week I congratulated myself on my instinct. She was surrounded by wimmin and spouting forth about refugees whilst choking on her tears.

I am a warm-hearted fellow, and I am as prepared to take the plight of a blameless refugee as seriously as the next man, but onion-peeling, treading on one's ingrowing toenail, and blubbing for the media makes me turn selfish and heartless.

Come to think of it

idle said...

... she may have been giving old Hillary an acting lesson or two pre-New Hampshire.

Mermaid of Moorgate said...

The Mermaid of Moorgate refuses to allow herself to watch Love Actually.

Mawkish, cheesy, full of lies such as "You'll find the one". Bullcrap.

Emma Thompson wasn't woman enough for Alan Rickman. I should like to see the man who dares to make me cry!

The Hitch said...

Ai yah
Merms
I make every woman I go out with cry.
Reminds me of something
Many years ago I was in Bettys tearooms in York (worth a visit) with the GF
Had the misfortune to be next to a table inhabited by a wimp and some gobby woman (a school teacher) annoying the whole room with her loud voice and crap opinions, then she came out with
"I'd like to meet the man who would tell me to shut up"
Fuck, it was a gift from heaven.
GF and I exchanged looks, she rolled her yes and Guess what?she The mouth on legs did indeed get to meet that man.
Its so nice to make a persons Dream come true.

Trubes said...

Merms: It`s getting near to "Countdown re "Phone Guy". Are you all wobbly and excited ? I bet he is !
I`m so excited tra la la,.... don`t wanna lose control......
DI. xxxx

P.S> I`ve posted a new little rant on my site, for your perusal.

electro-kevin said...

I've never understood how Emma Thompson has become so highly rated.

She plays the SAME part in EVERYTHING. INCLUDING Nanny bloody McFee.

Jumped up Luvvy. The media wing of the socialist movement.

I bet I could make you cry, Mermins ... if I spilled your morning latte and jumped up and down on your doughnut.

But hailing from Saarf Larndan I might be underestimating your tough as old-Mitcham-common-pond-disgarded-leather-bootness.

fleetofworlds said...

Who knew that someone as anodyne as Emma Thompson could incite such passion?

;-)

Mermaid of Moorgate said...

The Hitch - fantastic! Good for you.

I think I meant,I'd like to meet the man who would dare to raise his hand against me. Any bloke slapping me would get his arm ripped off and he would be beaten around the head with the bleeding end so hard that I would have killed him so hard that he died to death.

But I am happy to be told to shut up. And men do make me cry.

EK made me cry with laughter at his hatred of the spumante Thompson woman. I dont really hate her at all. But I need to express venom and bile. I am full of rage and anger. I HAVE A MIGRAINE AND I HATE BOOKING THINGS ONLINE AND I HATE GRRRRRR TICKET SALES AND I ALSO HATE GRRRRR fshs;oyjbx ;ihjmdx;pyvjc'mvhjc'pzovrjymzdhjmgc'p/szo,g/s\omjzhojd JD:L

but we are being calm now.

Montgomery, Bernard said...

Monty says - MEOW!!! HELP ME MUMMY HAS GONE MAD

Tuscan Tony said...

"When I saw Emma blubbing on a platform in Davos last week.."

Only idle could slip that one out and get away with it. Until now.

mutleythedog said...

Teech is still in Beano you know... still in mortar board and whatnot.

Kieran said...

I never thought I'd come across a post on Nehehmiah. Well, not a readable one anyway. I'm knew to all this but I was reading the other day about a prophet who the local hoodies/chavs/trouble-makers starting shouting "baldy" at as he was walking along the road. I was expecting him to maybe put a brave face on it and move along, but no, he called down a curse on them and a bear from a nearby forest turned up and ate them all. That was the way asbos were given back then.

Perhaps the hair pulling might be a better place to start, but I might suggest this technique to a friend who works in a very rough London estate.

Kieran said...

I spelt new "knew." Because I noticed it, it doesn't count as a mistake. That's in the bible too.