Sunday, 14 October 2018

TL:DR: The Genesis Question part twenty-three

Hi, Everbody!

1 Ramadan 1235 AH

Hi Troy and Mia; David and Marie:

Ezekiel 17:

This chapter I read as a dialogue between the YHWH and God (mostly therapy for the YHWH).  The parable/riddle of the great eagle (verses 1 to 10) I read as being God's, essentially stating what He has done:  brought the Kings of Israel to great eminence -- the highest branch of the Cedar -- and then cropped them at this apex and removed the last one into Babylon and planted it/him there.  The question posed, ostensibly to Israel but actually to the YHWH -- "Shall it prosper?"

(verses 11 to 15) I read as the YHWH interpreting God's parable/riddle and concluding that, essentially, it/he/Israel should not prosper because of sending ambassadors into Egypt -- thereby breaking the Covenant.  But poses it as a question.  Shall he escape that doeth such things?

(verses 16 to 20) I read as God making use of the YHWH's partial understanding (which at least serves as a self-indictment as a Covenant breaker) and essentially saying that Egypt doesn't pose a problem, the Covenant breaking is what poses the problem:  "Seeing he despised the oath by breaking the covenant (when, lo, he had given his hand) and hath done all these things, he shall not escape."  It's a critical point, as I read it:  the YHWH essentially has to declare, metaphorically, that the YHWH will not escape:  "…as I live, surely mine oath that he hath despised, and my Covenant that he hath broken, even it will I recompense upon his own head. And I will spread my net upon him, & he shall be taken in my snare, and I will bring him to Babylon, and will plead with him there for his trespass that he hath trespassed against me."  Emphasis mine:  God leads the YHWH in the direction of self-indictment and self-imprisonment but ONLY with long-term view of continuing to plead His own case:  to bring the YHWH to more accurate perception.

(verse 21) The YHWH essentially walks into the metaphorical trap by asserting that Israel needs to be stripped, militarily, of his/its defences, which means that is what will happen to the YHWH as well:  "And all his fugitives, with all his bands, shall fall by the sword, and they that remain shall be scattered towards all winds: and ye shall know that I the YHWH have spoken."

(verse 22 to 23) As I read it is God illustrating the next great phase in His plan:

"Thus saith the Lord GOD, I will take of the highest branch of the high Cedar and will set, I will crop off from the top of his young twigs, a tender one, and will plant upon a high mountain and eminent.  In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs and bear fruit and be a goodly Cedar, and under it shall dwell all the fowl of every wing: in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell."

Essentially, the bringing forth of Jesus in Israel's mountainous north.  In this case, the Synoptic Jesus (as distinct from the Johannine Jesus). Just as it had taken a long, long time for the Jewish Monarchy to hatch out, to produce its highest bough, that's how long it will take for the top of the highest twig of that construct to be cropped and planted and, in turn, to grow to that same height. 

It's the Synoptic Jesus' parable of the grain of mustard seed -- one of the smallest of seeds -- that brings forth a huge plant that grows large enough to shelter every kind of bird. 

The YHWH's reply (verse 24) is significant:

"And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the YHWH, have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree and have made the dry tree to flourish.  I, the YHWH, have spoken and have done."

It's an interesting inference to draw.  I don't think God intended to "bring down the high tree" by His plan, nor to "exalt the low tree".  I think His model was more of a progression:  the first tree has to reach the apex of its growth and then the apex needs to be planted and be allowed to grow to the same great height before the intrinsic nature fully hatches out.  But, considering that His intention is greater and more accurate self-awareness on the part of the YHWH, it's not hard to see why He made this a part of His plan, or at least at easily compelled inference:  the YHWH will be brought low and Jesus, of low but royal birth, will be exalted.  The YHWH's metaphorical tree (which the YHWH would see as green and flourishing) will prove to be dry and the dry tree -- an itinerant preacher from a section of Israel barely acknowledged to be a part of Israel -- will flourish.  Just as the YHWH has said.

Ezekiel 18:

Significantly, the YHWH follows the parable of chapter 17 with the proverb of chapter 18:  "The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge."   Which, I read,  as twofold:

a) essentially, on its surface, a meditation on the son suffering for the sins of the father -- which the YHWH deplores as theologically invalid. The YHWH might even have wondered WHY this suddenly came to mind

b) the YHWH at a very deep level of his/her/its consciousness, recognizing that agreement with chapter 17's premise is a "sour grape" that the YHWH has devoured and will put the children of the YHWH's "teeth set on edge" when it hatches out hundreds of years later with Jesus' ministry.

God interjects quickly:  "As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have any more to use this proverb in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine, as the soul of the father [which I infer to mean YHWH's soul], so also the soul of the son [the soul of the Synoptic Jesus] is mine:  the soul that sinneth, it shall die." 

This is elaborated at great length with a shopping list of sins on the part of the father and on the part of the son that would lead the soul to die. 

What God is setting in motion, hundreds of years ahead of time, is (as I read it) YHWH versus Jesus. 

Who has sinned and who is worthy to die? 

At the time, through the verdict of the YHWH-observant Sanhedrin, the answer will be obvious:  in the eyes of the custodians of the Law of Moshe, Jesus sinned against those laws and was worthy to die.  But, of course, the prominence of the event itself leads to a questioning of that, on the part of the followers of YHWH and the followers of Jesus.  Was the trial a miscarriage of "But if a man be just and do that which misjudgement and justice" (Ezekiel 18:5)? How corrupt was the Sanhedrin by that point?  The YHWH is literally caught between a rock and a hard place --  his/her/its own laws and the corrupt custodians of those laws -- with a compulsive nature that always urges toward punishment.  Lashing out.

"Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the YHWH is not equal.  O house of Israel, are not my ways equal?  Are not your ways unequal?" (Ezekiel 18:29)

Plenty of punishment and lashing out to go around. God, knowing what's coming, can say with perfect equanimity -- to Israel, but also and (as I read it) more emphatically to the YHWH:

"Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD; repent and turn your selves from all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed, and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?  For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD:  wherefore turn your selves & live ye."  (Ezekiel 18:30- 32)

Ezekiel 19:

You always have to be watching for technicalities -- in-built evasiveness -- in the YHWH's pronouncements.  In this case, I think Ezekiel 19:1-9 addresses "Israel as mother/YHWH as mother" in order for God to avoid Ezekiel 18 being inferred -- at some later date when its full import becomes obvious -- as referring only to men ("The FATHERS have eaten a sour grape and children's teeth are set on edge."). You can certainly "read into" the text any number of "Israeli young lions", whelps of Mother Israel.  Joseph seems an obvious choice for verse 4 and any number of Jewish kings could be read into verses 5-8, bringing us back to Zedekiah and the -- then-present -- circumstance in Babylon in verse 9.

Although there is no narrator attributed to this chapter, I think its purpose is clear: to establish that the verdict upon the fathers in chapter 18 -- which the YHWH has endorsed -- applies to the mothers, as well:

And she had strong rods for the sceptres of them that bear rule, and her stature was exalted among the thick branches, & she appeared in her height with the multitude of her branches.  

Technically, all of the Jewish kings were men, but their mothers were also attributed in the Books of Kings and II Samuel, and so I think it's only fair to assert that they are among the "highest branches" in the tree of the monarchy.  And it was the YHWH who pronounced the merciless judgement in 17:24, so only the YHWH can be to blame when

But she was plucked up in fury: she was cast down to the ground, and the East wind dried up her fruit: her strong rods were broken and withered, the fire consumed them.  

There is the promise of Mary, the mother of the Synoptic Jesus:

And now she is planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty ground.

But she certainly won't be exalted in her lifetime, despite her descent from the royal house of David:

And fire is gone out of a rod of her branches, hath devoured her fruit, so that she hath no strong rod a sceptre to rule:

this a lamentation and shall be for a lamentation.

Which is worth pointing out that far ahead of time:  that the YHWH will live to regret the mercilessness of his/her/its judgement in Ezekiel 17:24.

Ezekiel 20:

Ezekiel 20 has the same tone as Exodus 3:14 -- where, given the opportunity to self-identify as God, and to establish the distinction between God and YHWH, God instead identifies Himself as I AM THAT I AM: essentially compelling the inference of an interchangeable duality. 

Lord GOD -- God, I infer -- in chapter 20 essentially adopts the YHWH's intonation and adversarial posture towards Israel ("Thus saith the Lord GOD, Are ye come to inquire of me? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will not be inquired of by you.") by way of establishing a concurrence of overall assessment between God and YHWH:  the abominations in the Temple are "beyond the pale".  Israel stands indicted and convicted and must suffer the consequences.

Only God is aware that this also constitutes a self-indictment on the part of the YHWH.

 Just as the people of Israel, relative to the YHWH:

rebelled against me in the wilderness, they walked not in my statutes and they despised my judgements, which if a man do, he shall even live in them, and my sabbaths they greatly polluted, then I said that I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness

so did the YHWH relative to God.  Mindful of this, God attempts to "de-fury" the YHWH in verse 14:

But I wrought for my name's sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, in whose sight I brought them out.

The YHWH is having none of it:

Yet I also lifted up my hand unto them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given, flowing with milk and honey, is the glory of all lands
because they despised my judgements and walked not in my statutes but polluted my  sabbaths for their heart went after their idols. 

God persists, however:

Nevertheless, mine eye spared them from destroying them, neither did I make an end of them in the wilderness.  But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgements, nor defile yourselves with their idols.

Which is true.  The Ten Words were given in the wilderness and certainly clarified God's position.  The first act Moshe takes coming down from Mount Sinai is to destroy the golden calf (actually his FIRST act was to destroy the tablets which, in retrospect, as idolatry goes, seems to me to have been a very good idea: the word of God needs to be preserved but not worshipped in physical form). 

But God always allows of the compelled inference that God and YHWH are the same being -- which, to me, clearly they aren't.  This point in Ezekiel seems to establish the reasoning behind God's choice:  to shift the YHWH's alignment by portraying a unanimity that isn't there.  Even to the point of trying to excite some level of compassion in the YHWH, knowing that the judgement the YHWH is pronouncing upon Israel, the YHWH is also pronouncing upon the YHWH:

I the YHWH your God, walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments and do them.  And hallow my Sabbaths and they shall be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I, the YHWH your God.  Notwithstanding the children rebelled against me, they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgements to do them, which if a man do, he shall even live in them: they polluted my sabbaths: then I said that I would pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish mine anger against them in the wilderness.

The YHWH continues on in this vein and then imparts the -- surprisingly! -- self-revelatory:

Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgements whereby they should not live.  And I polluted them in their own gifts in that they caused to pass through all that openeth the womb, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I, the YHWH.

Oh, okay (I think, as I read this verse).  So you KNEW that a lot of the "laws" imparted by the Judges (after Moshe's father-in-law induced Moshe to corrupt his own judicial system) were nonsensical.  Or, at least, you're saying that in retrospect, anyway.  I'm not sure which is worse: a "deity" that doesn't know his laws are nonsensical or a "deity" who does know but imparts them anyway. 

More to the point: I really can't believe that people believe that it is God saying this:  that He intentionally gave his creations statutes that were "not good" and "judgements whereby they should not live".  Does that SOUND like something God would do?

God does appear to "cross the line" in verse 33:

As I live, sayeth the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand and with a stretched out arm and with fury poured out will I rule over you. 

but then almost immediately crosses back over, from fury to reasoning in verses 35-36:

And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face.  Like as I pleaded with your father in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD.

Whereupon the YHWH and God appear to intersect in verse 37:

And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the Covenant. 

One by fury and the other by reasoning.  Whereupon, the YHWH then further exacerbates the judgement he/she/it is inadvertently imposing upon his/her/its self:

And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn and they shall not enter into the land of Israel and ye shall know that I, the YHWH. 

God then reasserts the importance of free will.  That He won't be FORCING anyone "to pass under the rod" or to FORCE them "into the bond of the Covenant":

As for you, O house of Israel, thus saith the Lord GOD, Go ye, serve ye every one his idols and hereafter, if ye will not hearken unto me: but pollute ye my Holy Name no more with your gifts and with your idols. For in my holy mountain, in the mountain in the height of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land serve Me: there will I accept them and there will I require your offerings and the first fruits of your oblations with all your holy things. I will accept you with your savour of rest, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen. 

This, it seems to me, is tactical on God's part: He is careful to separate idolatrous worship and idolatrous gifts from monotheistic worship and monotheistic gifts (even though it's pretty obvious that the latter very quickly erodes into the former).

Okay, that's enough YHWH for me here on the second day of the sacred month.

I'll pick it up again next week.



Next Time: Have you guys NOT picked up on I made these posts weeks ago?

Saturday, 13 October 2018

The Ol' Bait & Switch...

Hi, Everybody!

So, yesterday I teased a new Cerebus in Hell? one-shot involving Star Wars...

Well, technical difficulties (that's what I'm gonna go with,) prevent me from doing that.


Maybe Monday?

Next Time: Dave's gonna say some stuff about God. Some of you will think he's bug-fuck nuts.

Friday, 12 October 2018

What keeps me motivated? (Dave's Weekly Update #256)

Hi, Everybody!

Heeeeeere's Dave:

Next Time: Wanna write Cerebus in Hell? strips? Do you like Star Wars? Well, buddy, have I got an offer for YOU!!!

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Roach. . .Nevermore

A few years ago I scanned all of Dave Sim's notebooks. He had filled 36 notebooks during the years he created the monthly Cerebus series, covering issues #20 to 300, plus the other side items -- like the Epic stories, posters and prints, convention speeches etc. A total of 3,281 notebook pages detailing his creative process. I never really got the time to study the notebooks when I had them. Just did a quick look, scanned them in and sent them back to Dave as soon as possible. So this regular column is a chance for me to look through those scans and highlight some of the more interesting pages.

There were 260 pages scanned of Dave Sim's twenty first notebook used in the production of Cerebus. Notebook #21 covers Cerebus #164 through 187.

On page 9 there is a quote from Astoria "Other women submit to and are subservient to assholes. I have to confess that I have never been so self-destructive as to do so, but I must confess that the strongest and most intelligent women are susceptible to the worse examples of male kind imaginable."

Notebook #21, page 9
There is also a thumbnail sketch of Cerebus #154 page 9. Here is the finished page for comparison:

Cerebus #154 page 9, aka page 35 of Women. 
Pretty close but Dave saves the reveal of the Roach's new look until the next page.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

CIH? Checklist!

Benjamin Hobbs:

Your friend and mine, Sean Michael Robinson, has informed me that CIH? readers are clamoring for a complete check list of ALL the CIH? one-shots. So, here's the back cover of SIM CITY: THAT ISSUE AFTER (out March 2019), which lists every CIH? one-shot all the way through April of 2019!  (Diamond order codes are listed where available.)

Next week: Who put all that butter on Jingles saddle?!?

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Original Sim

Hi, Everybody!

Friend to the Blog, and Superman's Frenemy, David Birdsong, sent in the following (which has run piecemeal in the past, but none of you would have realized that...) Click on Dave's stuff to make it nice and big...

This isn't by Dave, it's by Pat Broderick. But I thought you should see the cover in case you're gonna go back issue bin-diving looking for it.

So, the story I was looking for yesterday was the story of how this came about.

Can't find it.

So excuse the "Alan Moore From Hell commentary" here (ya know, Alan's "it's from this book, but I can't remember where, and I'm to lazy to go look it up.") .

I thought it was from the Blog & Mail, but I couldn't find it, so it might be from one of the Yahoo group Q&As.

Anyway, as I recall, these came about because Deni left Dave, and Dave needed money to buy out her half of Aardvark-Vanaheim. So he called Jim Shooter, who got him the Fanfare gig. 

Next Time: Hobbs. And Jingles. Sitting in a tree?

Monday, 8 October 2018

From the depths of the AMOC Cave I bring forth...Spider-Ham!

Hi, Everybody!

So looking for something else in the AMOC cave, I ran across something Dave wrote in the Blog & Mail:
Dave Sim's blogandmail #220 (April 19th, 2007) 
As You May Remember from Yesterday's Thrill-Packed Episode, Dave has been playing telephone tag with his contact at Marvel…
Evidently he does have a rate offer that he's gotten approval on from "upstairs" so I just have to wait and see what the number actually is. Haven't heard back all week and again I'm in the situation of having to decide whether to give him the benefit of the doubt or if this is the mainstream comics pressure tactic again of trying to figure out how desperate you are by how long they can keep you hanging. Hm. How desperate am I? I got in absolutely no money in the entire month of February so I was in a different frame of mind back in March when we first started talking and now I've just had two very big weeks of trade paperback orders, last week in March, first week in April (THANK YOU, RETAILERS!) and Monday I got in the first two big cheques from Diamond of the Dave Sim Solo Administration (THANK YOU, DIAMOND!). It's a very awkward way to make a living. Revenue dries up, so I start thinking about ways to make money and sending out metaphorical messages in a bottle and just as those reach their intended recipients, I get a nice big dump of money and orders and I think, "I don't want to do any commissions or any outside work. Sales are fine. Revenues are fine. Let's stop doing the Blog & Mail or any outside work and just work on the secret project. The books sell themselves." Of course then revenues dry up again. And there's no discernible pattern. Ger would print out all the crunched numbers for each of the trades, month-by-month. How many sold and what month they sold in. Bar graphs showing overall sales month-to-month. If you set the computer on "random play" I don't think you could get a less predictable sales profile.

The problem with the Marvel situation…well, there are a couple of problems already. First of all, I said, I think what went wrong at DC was I treated their work-made-for-hire contract as an initial overture. When Shelly Bond's assistant told me I could direct any questions to so-and-so in the Legal Department, I figured, okay, this is the guy I talk to about what I have problems with: here's what I'd like changed. Nothing was "do-able". End of negotiation. Bye-bye, DC. So I suggest to him, Why don't you fax through the Marvel contract and put a check-mark next to any non-negotiable point. I'll read what you have checked off and if I can't live with them, we'll call it a day. So he faxes through the Marvel contract. Nineteen, count `em, nineteen honking pages. Nothing checked off. So the next time I talk to him he says that he didn't know which clauses would apply in my case and which wouldn't so he decided to just fax everything over from their boilerplate work-made-for-hire contract on up. "Oh, well," I said. "Whatever else happens I'll have a lot of material to talk about on the Blog & Mail." I would describe the ensuing silence on the other end of the line as "pointed".

One of the problems is that what I pictured doing was Spider-Ham. I have a definite approach in mind but Marvel has a Submissions Waiver form (supplemental to the 19 pages, it came in the next day masquerading as an afterthought) which you have to sign which says that this indemnifies them if you pitch them an idea that they're already working on. There's a lot of trust involved in signing something like that. I mean, what's to keep them from CLAIMING that they were working on that idea already after they read the proposal? BWS pitched them on his Hulk graphic novel about Bruce Banner having been molested as a child. They rejected it, but a year or two later it turns up as a Jim Shooter script. Yes, that was a long time ago and, yes, that was a different Marvel administration. It's certainly possible that Jim had already been working on that but, even if you allow for that possibility, obviously the BWS story is going to be that much better just because it's BWS. And BWS gets bupkis.

So, I faxed my contact "I really can't sign this, so how about instead I'll tell you half of my idea, the half where there's no jurisdictional risk to Marvel at stake. What I want to do is Spider-Ham but it's a completely different approach to what Marvel has done with the character. So what I'm proposing is that Marvel gives me a stake—nothing huge—but a stake in my version of Spider-Ham and if it turns into a series or Hollywood wants to make a movie out of it, I make a small percentage. If you do YOUR version of Spider-Ham I don't get anything." Given that it's going to cut into my own writing and drawing time and I'll probably be making substantially less money, I have to come up with a scenario, however remote, that would potentially make this a cagey move. Even the outside chance of getting 1% of a 75-million or 200-million dollar movie would justify a certain encroachment on how I do things (is the uneasy underpinning of my rationalization).

Well, he went and ran that past whoever he had to run that past and phoned back a couple of days later and said, "No, Joe Straczyinski just did Spider-Ham in Civil War, so Spider-Ham is out." This is one of the things I have trouble understanding about mainstream comics. I'm not talking about Joe's Spider-Ham, I'm talking about Dave's Spider-Ham. It has something to do, I would guess, with creating the illusion that they're actually documenting real-life characters and if Dave's Spider-Ham shows up too soon after Joe's Spider-Ham that will make Spider-Ham less believable in an overall Marvel continuity sense.

The real world part of me thinks "We're discussing a cartoon pig in a Spider-man costume. `Believable' is a relative concept with very, very big quotation marks around it." You know. "Let's get a grip, here." But Dave Sim, fanboy, understands perfectly. Mark "Marvel Universe" Gruenwald (God rest his soul) has been dead and gone for some years, but the urge to make everything conform to One Giant Marvel Comics Flow Chart of Internally Consistent Reality has survived him in spirit if not in fact (a die-hard Marvel fan would know better than I would). Dave Sim, comic-book writer, who has a foot in both the real world and the fanboy world thinks, "I made twenty-six years of a cartoon aardvark plausible to an audience made up largely of grown-ups. Send me what Joe did and I'll figure a way to turn his Spider-Ham into my Spider-Ham in two panels that will have Mark Gruenwald weeping in the great by-and-by at the sheer symmetrical and internally consistent inventiveness of it all." But "real world" Dave understands that that's VERY unlikely to happen. 

"Real world" Dave is "new around here". When in Rome do as the Romans tell you to do.

"What other Marvel character would you want to do?"
 Everybody remember Spider-Ham?

This is what he first looked like...
 The character that Dave has said was "Cerebus in a Spider-Man costume."
[For those not aware of the history, way back when the earth was still cooling and I had done my three consecutive Wolverroach covers on Cerebus 54, 55 and 56 -- thereby sincerely pushing the boundary between misappropriation of a trademarked character and legitimate parody -- I suspect that Marvel decided to fire a warning shot across my bow by coming up with a funny animal version of Spider-man that was basically Cerebus in a Spider-man costume. I don't know whose idea it was (Jim Shooter his own self?) but I have to say that I always admired the thinking behind it. It was a very measured response along the lines of "See? How do YOU like it?" while also a creative one and, ultimately, a profitable one! According to my Overstreet Guide, Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham ran for seventeen issues from May 1985 to September 1987 as part of Marvel's Star Comics children's line. Not a bad run for the mid-80s]
 And which has been disputed.

This is how he usually appeared...

I mean when Dave draws him the "Cerebus-ness" is DEFINITELY there...
Well, there's a new Spider-Man movie coming out:

And Spider-Ham is in it. But he looks more like Porky Pig in a Spider-Man suit now.

Okay, I "momented."

Next Time: The thing I was looking for today (I hope...)

Sunday, 7 October 2018

TL:DR: The Genesis Question part twenty-two

Hi, Everybody!


22 June 14

Hi Troy & Mia, David & Marie:

The "unreadable chapter" of Ezekiel -- number 16 -- continues:

And in all thine abominations and thy whoredoms, thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, when thou wast naked and bare, wast polluted in thy blood.

And it came to pass after all thy wickedness (woe, woe unto thee, saith the Lord GOD)

thou hast also built unto thee an [eminent place/brothel house] and hast made thee a high place in every street.

Thou hast built thy high place at every head of the way, and hast made thy beauty to be abhorred, and hast opened thy feet to every one that passed by, and multiplied thy whoredoms

Thou hast also committed fornications with the Egyptians thy neighbours great of flesh, & hast increased thy whoredoms to provoke me to anger.

Behold therefore I have stretched out my hand over thee, and have diminished thine ordinary, and delivered thee unto the will of them that hate thee, the daughters of the Philistines, which are ashamed of thy lewd way.

This is primarily concerned with idolatrous worship, but I think it worth pointing out that idolatry was always strongly linked to prostitution (and prostitution to whoredom, obviously) through temple prostitutes in the time period being documented.  I'm sure there was a certain amount of pure "cash for sex" as well, but the really potent form was in the worship of pagan goddesses where the female devotee was expected to serve as a temple prostitute -- on a single occasion or handful of occasions in her life -- as part of her devotion.  There seems to have been a number of variations on this in the Biblical context, including the "high places" -- groves where prostitutes, harlots and whores lurked and had sex with strangers as a fertility rite.  

This, clearly, posed a temptation for the Hebrew people of both genders:  the urge toward illicit sex on the part of men and women for its own sake and also to participate for the sake of having a good crop year.  That is, belief that fornication was good fertilizer, a foundational pagan belief and, as I say, a temptation at a time when a good crop year and a bad crop year were far more important than they are today. 

"Fornication as fertilizer" was illicit and hidden for the Jews in our "physical context" plane of existence -- if no one sees you do it, you got away with it -- but transparently known to God (and to YHWH/Baal/Ashtaroth etc.).  And, I gather, by the time of Nebuchadrezzar's conquest of Israel and Judah, "fornication as fertilizer" was the rule rather than the exception: that viewpoint was prevailing over monotheism.  Which is why the conquest took place:  Israel and Judah were more pagan in practice (however hidden) than they were monotheistic.  No great loss for YHWH/Baal/Ashtaroth.  If YHWH worship was severely weakened, it just moved further down the slippery slope into Baal worship.  The price is paid exclusively by monotheism. 

Which, in my reading, is why YHWH God and Lord GOD are on the same page here at the bitter end of the Law and the Prophets.

And I think that goes back before the Big Bang.  This is just an "earth-bound" enactment of what (it seems to me) is the core problem at every level of Reality: maintaining faithfulness.  Faithfulness to God and faithfulness in marriage. 

This (it seems to me) is what God is lamenting:  the YHWH choice, the choice of His first creation, to be disloyal to Him. Our reality (the nearly unimaginable complexity of the composition of the earth, all life forms, the physical planet itself, the structural relationship between human beings and God and between human beings and YHWH), it seems to me, has been engineered BY God to demonstrate this TO the YHWH, for (at the very least -- and I think God accepts that "the very least" is all that is possible) the YHWH to be forced to experience what God experienced: profound unfaithfulness and disloyalty. 

PERHAPS to account for it. 

Doesn't anyone recognize that this unfaithfulness, the conscious choice of unfaithfulness, is the SOURCE of virtually all human misery?  Which proves to be a rhetorical question, as we are seeing all around us.  Which is why 1800 years later we've arrived back at the point where Ezekiel 16 is deemed unreadable.  Today, even the most devout want a religious devotion that doesn't include moral unpleasantness as subject matter or passing unfavourable judgement on any woman for any reason. 

If you want to talk about the suffering of God, that is where I see the suffering of God.  All of this has been engineered in excruciating detail and complexity for the very reason of arriving AT Ezekiel 16, and people just want to amputate it. 

And even amputated -- even in our society which is very far from devout (VERY far from devout), even in our Feminist Theocracy -- it still reiterates itself.  But, this time, not as a theological question -- disloyalty to God and/or disloyalty to the YHWH -- but as a gender question, completely divorced (in theory, anyway) from religion itself:

Is there such a thing as whorish behaviour? Is there such a thing as a harlot?

We see it in the outrage at honour killings in Western society -- or "honour" killings as it is now framed -- as committed exclusively by Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims.  Which can really be described as extreme responses to extreme provocation on the part of daughters.  You don't want your daughter to be a whore or a harlot or be seen that way because it reflects badly on your family.  She won't stop.  Something has to give.

Leaving aside that "culture specific" aspect of it, I think the Larger Construct (which our Feminist Theocracy refuses to face) is that as soon as you begin expanding the boundaries of what previously constituted whorish behaviour and normalize it and normalize being a harlot, you initiate a process that you have no control over as a society and which can only end very badly, as it did with Israel and Judah in Ezekiel's day. 

The flappers of the 1920s look pretty harmless in retrospect but they certainly didn't look harmless at the time and the choices that they made initiated all of the "free love" corruptions that followed.  And here we are.  Again. Ezekiel 16, I think, just defines the structure of the model.  Beauty is fine.  Beauty is to be celebrated.  Beauty is enamoured of self-adornment.  Self-adornment is fine: clothe beauty in beautiful trappings. 

But somewhere on that slippery slope, corruption creeps in.  Beauty and adornment become weapons to seduce Beauty away from God and then for Beauty (once seduced from the way of God) to seduce the faithful away from God:

Thou hast played the whore also with the Assyrians, because thou wast insatiable; yea thou hast played the harlot with them, and yet couldest not be satisfied.

Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of Canaan unto Caldea, and yet thou wast not satisfied herewith.

How weak is thy heart, saith the Lord GOD, seeing thou does all these things, the work of an imperious whorish woman?

It's not something that would register with the Feminist Theocracy, but I think it's the pertinent question:  how weak is thy heart?  And the answer is, I think, "VERY weak".  Whorishness lacks compassion and it lacks love.  It's concerned primarily with power and control.

[which is, I think, understandable.  Women's hearts BEGIN strong and are the dominant part of their lives and the source of their decision-making.  They are looking for Mr. Right even before they're remotely of marriageable age. "Someday My Prince Will Come".  And, until puberty, this urge is frustrated by the fact that they are looked down upon by boys.  Boys really don't want to associate with girls or to be seen as remotely girlish, which is a blow to the young female heart, no question.  The worm turns, however, after puberty as girls and boys develop physically and the hormones (whore moans) take over.  This is where the "adornment thing" runs amuck in women if it isn't controlled societally.  "If I'm getting THIS much attention just wearing jeans and a t-shirt, what can I do about my physical appearance, through adornment, to expand that level of attention?"  Well, you know, let me count the ways, starting with every page of every fashion magazine ever published.]

It requires a Question from God, to frame it in the right way:  How weak is thy heart?

That is, in order for you to become "insatiable" physically, in order for you to make of yourself an "imperious, whorish woman" you have to weaken your heart.  It's an "either/or".  An imperious, whorish woman is going to be less capable of experiencing love.  Lust? Yes.  Power? Yes. Control? Yes.  But each of those diminishes love. 

You can expand the question, personally:  How strong did your heart used to be?  How weak is your heart now compared to how it was then?  How much weaker can you stand to make your heart?  Has your heart become stronger or weaker as you've multiplied the number of your lovers? 

You can expand the question, societally:  how much is the weakening of your heart a regressive, societal thing?  You arrived into a female society -- a Feminist Theocracy -- that was already innately whorish when compared to the society in which your grandmother arrived and your great grandmother and your great-great-grandmother arrived.  So, arguably, you arrived into a society where your heart was only going to be allow to be "so" strong.  It was already bounded by whorish adornment as a given even when you were in the cradle.  Of COURSE you would use make-up.  Of COURSE you would wear tight-fitting clothes.  Of COURSE you would use your appearance to attract Mr. Right.  Of COURSE you had to compete with all other women, women with bigger boobs, lower cut tops, higher cut hemlines.  Of COURSE you would have lovers, MANY lovers, to stay competitive. 

"My Heart Will Go On". 

Well, yes, but that avoids the question, doesn't it?   The personal question and the societal question:  to what extent do you normalize whorish behaviour before you end up with a completely non-judgemental strict Feminist Theocracy society that, essentially, stacks all odds against the female heart from birth?  Your heart must be weakened in favour of lust, adornment, power and control.  If you want to just grow up, meet Mr. Right, marry and have children and then grand-children and then great grandchildren, you're going to have to do so swimming against Feminist Theocracy Rip Tides -- which were already formidable when you were born and how long ago was that?  How much stronger against the female heart are those Rip Tides today?

In Ezekiel's time, it was a matter of "delivering thee unto the will of them that hate thee, the [daughters/cities] of the Philistines which are ashamed of thy lewdness".

As I say, we seem to have come full circle.  The only formidable opposition to the Feminist Theocracy in our world is Islamists, like Hamas and Boko Haram (Western Culture Is Sinful), which are, indeed, "ashamed of thy lewdness". 

It's impossible to establish a "lewdness beachhead" and say, "This far and no further".  Whatever age a girl is born into, she is always going to be attempting to adorn her personal physical advantages in ways that push the borderline.  So the borderline is always going to move.  However lewd the Feminist Theocracy deems to be allowable today, that's how quaint that lewd behaviour and dress of today will be seen to be inside of a generation. 

The analogy is drawn between pagan worship and marital infidelity and making it distinct from prostitution, and, in fact comparing whoredom unfavourably to prostitution:

In thy daughters is thine eminent place in the head of every way and makest thy high place in every street and hast not been as a harlot in that thou scornest hire:

a wife that commiteth adultery, taketh strangers instead of her husband.

They give gifts to all whores, but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers and [hirest/bribest] them, that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredom.

It seems to me that this is the end point you arrive at and which we are, again, today pointing at and arriving at.  When women choose, willfully, to weaken their own hearts and so, over successive generations, escalating and expanding the limits of newly normalized whorish behaviours, there is only so much skin that you can expose, only so many piercings and tattoos you can get, only so many behaviours you can indulge in before the competition is going to arrive at bribery.  "You not only get all this, but I'll buy you an expensive gift".  Clearly, in Ezekiel's time, they had arrived at that point.  It certainly has to be a hidden but inevitable element at this point -- it's right up ahead! -- given that the Feminist Theocracy is founded largely on materialism -- which it, structurally, strengthens -- and not the female heart -- which it, structurally, weakens.

And the contrary is in thee from women in thy whoredoms, whereas none followeth thee to commit whoredoms: and in that thou givest a reward, and no reward is given unto thee: therefore thou art contrary.

It's the Outer Limits of whorishness.  It's only the women of Israel and Judah that are experiencing this.  It is not a meme, it's not an idea that's spreading like wildfire into other cultures -- become a whore, but don't take money, bribe your "customers" -- it's appalling to the female heart except where it has become the foundation of female competitiveness.  I'm sure even the whores of other cultures were appalled.

It's what Lord GOD -- who I infer is God -- has been leading up to.  Identifying this.

And then stops and leaves it for YHWH, God's enactment of His first creation. 

So, YHWH, what do YOU have to say about this? Quite a lot as it turns out:

Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the YHWH.

Thus saith the Lord GOD…

[I need to interject and say that I don't think this is God speaking.  I think this is the YHWH attempting to evade what God had just enunciated by, in effect, saying "Hear the word of the YHWH: this is what God just told you…"]

[Which is interesting in its own way -- a continuation of the YHWH's therapy -- since it involves the YHWH basically passing judgement on his/her/its own choices enacted by human being.  "When I, God, said all that, what did you hear?"  is at least as interesting as "What, YHWH, do YOU believe?" although evasiveness is going to be pretty much a given:]

Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers, and with all the idols of thine abominations, and by the blood of thy children, which thou didst give unto them…

That last bit raises my eyebrows since it appears to be an attempt to gloss over the fact of causing one's own children to pass through the fire -- human sacrifice -- by making it sound as if the children were just handed over as a gift to the lovers of Israel and Judah's women.

Behold therefore, I will gather all thy lovers with whom thou hast taken pleasure and all them that thou hast loved with all them that thou hast hated: I will even gather them round about against thee, and will discover thy nakedness unto them that they may see all thy nakedness.

And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged, and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy. 

It's worth noting that, as in our own society, women who break wedlock and shed blood are judged with greater leniency than are men, a lot of that originating with Jewish Law framed by the YHWH.  An artful bit of evasiveness in asserting what the YHWH believes that Lord GOD is saying. 

And I will also give thee into their hand, and they shall throw down thine eminent place, and shall break down thy high places: they shall strip thee also of thy clothes, and shall take thy instruments of thine ornament and leave thee naked and bare. 

They shall bring up a company against thee and they shall stone thee with stones and thrust thee through with their swords. 

And they shall burn thy houses with fire, and execute judgements upon thee in the sight of many women:

That's about the least evasive passage, the most matter of fact assertion on the part of the YHWH as to what God has just said.  What it lacks in accurate self-awareness it is, at least, aware of inevitable consequence.

But that's, of course -- this being the YHWH -- temporary:

and I will cause thee to cease from playing the harlot, and thou also shalt give no hire any more.

Which is nonsense.  God doesn't cause anyone to cease from playing anything.  That's what free will is all about.  What the YHWH is attempting to do is to evade consequence by implying that it is God's job to make the women of Israel and Judah to cease from playing harlots and to keep them from bribing their lovers materially.  Which is artful.  It means if the women of Israel and Judah don't cease from playing the harlot and don't stop paying hire to their lovers, well, then whose fault will that be?  God's, of course! It's God's job to stop them as (compelled inference) it is God's job to stop the YHWH.

So will I make my fury towards thee to rest, and my jealousy shall depart from thee, and I will be quiet and will be no more angry.

There.  That was easy, wasn't it?  God just has to get it over with, stop being jealous of the YHWH and be quiet and stop being angry.

Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast fretted me in all these things, behold therefore, I also will recompense thy way upon head, saith the Lord GOD: and thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations.

Behold every one that useth proverbs shall use proverb against thee saying As the mother, so her daughter. 

I don't think this is God, I think, again, this is the YHWH trying to reiterate what God has said and trying at the same time to evade what God has said. 

The problem really isn't "As the mother, so her daughter" which seems to me inaccurate in two directions: 1) it implies that the situation isn't worsening which I think we can see in our own time period is built in.  If there is a flaw in the mother, that flaw is going to be worsened in the daughter and 2) it implies that there is no recourse, whereas recourse is always built in.  The mother has free will and the daughter has free will, so each is fully capable to improving rather than worsening themselves and their situations.  The problem is bad choices and a failure to see that negative consequences are a result of bad choices and that bad choices, once embarked upon, tend to build upon each other. 

But that's a tendency, not an inevitability.

In Ezekiel's time or today, all mothers and daughters could unanimously decide ten minutes from now to dress, behave, speak and act modestly.  That's the whole point of free will. 

Thou thy mothers daughter, that loatheth her husband and her children, and thou the sister of thy sisters which loathed their husbands and their children, your mother a Hittite and your father an Amorite.  And thine elder sister Samaria, she and her daughters, that dwell at thy left hand: and thy [younger, lower than thou] sister that dwelleth at thy right hand, Sodom and her daughters.

This is weirdly associative, attempting to convey the idea that "the daughter is as the mother" and that this is the fault of bad family --  an attempt to expand upon "your mother a Hittite and your father an Amorite" -- and that Israel and Judah are the way they are because of proximity to Samaria (and her daughters) and Sodom (and her daughters).  It's buck-passing:  she can't help it, look who she had for family and for neighbours. 

This is all a bit much for God to take, so He replies:

Yet hast thou not walked after their ways nor done after their abominations: but as a very little, thou wast corrupted more than they in all thy ways. 

As I live saith the Lord GOD, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters.

Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom: Pride, fullness of bread and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me, therefore I took them away, as I saw. 

Neither hath Samaria committed half thy sins, but thou hast multiplied thine abominations more than they, and hast justified thy sisters in all thine abominations, which thou has done.

Thou also which hast judged thy sisters, bear thine own shame for thy sins, that thou hast committed more abominable than they: they are more righteous than thou: yea, be thou confounded also, and bear thy shame, in that thou hast justified thy sisters. 

When I shall bring again their captivity -- the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters -- then the captivity of thy captives in the midst of them:

That thou mayest bear thine own shame and mayst be confounded in all that thou hast done, in that thou art a comfort unto them.

When thy sisters -- Sodom and her daughters -- shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate.

For thy sister Sodom was not for a report by thy mouth in the day of thy prides; before thy wickedness was discovered -- as at the time of thy reproach of the daughters of Aram and all round about her -- the daughters of the Philistines which despise thee round about…

The YHWH can see where this is leading -- it's all pretty irrefutable stuff. 

The abominations which have taken place in Israel and Judah aren't the fault of Sodom and Samaria.  They have their faults, no question, and will bear the consequences of them in due course but (a critical point) this is the first time that the YHWH has so much as referred to Sodom as having any kind of link to the YHWH.  And, you know-- if you want to talk about Israel and Judah and how that relates to the "daughters of the neighbours" -- getting back to what the daughters of the Philistines think of the lewdness of the mothers and daughters of Israel and Judah…

As I say, the YHWH can see where this is leading and interrupts:

Thou hast born thy lewdness and thine abominations, saith the YHWH. 

It's an attempt to invert the situation -- to YHWH, YHWH is God, so this is leading to an indictment of Lord GOD by the YHWH.  The lewdness and abominations are God's. 

God, the very soul of patience, replies:

For thus saith the Lord GOD, I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, which hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant.

Then thou shalt remember thy ways and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters -- thine elder and thy younger -- and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant…

The YHWH sees where THIS is going and interjects:

And I will establish my covenant with thee, and thou shalt know that I, the YHWH.

Which God allows as an interjection but continues to refute as if He hadn't been interrupted:

that thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more: because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee, for all that thou hast done, sayeth the Lord GOD.

That is:  this is how this is going to go.  First YHWH has to remember and when YHWH remembers, YHWH will be confounded by the remembrance of how things actually are, who the YHWH actually is and what the YHWH has chosen to be and to say.  And it is the YHWH who will then be quiet because of the YHWH's shame. 

And it is THAT that will pacify God.

Okay.  That does it for Chapter 16.  Ramadan starts next week so I'll be writing commentaries but I won't be reading Ezekiel past chapter 29 for a month or so.

But that will give me a chance to address Ezekiel 17-29. 



Next Time: I don't know. That's "future" Matt's problem. I'm "past" Matt, and everything here is rosy. Row-Z!