Biblical Scholar Interview

I am not a biblical scholar. I'm just a person who has been reading the Bible from a Humanist perspective to see what I think of it.

But this woman, Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou, is. And she's an atheist and the head of a theology department at Exeter University.

She's funny and interesting and views the Bible the same way I do. I loved her interview and thought you might too. Obviously - even among Biblical Scholars her views are a bit - controversial, but not as controversial as you might think.


2 Kings 9: Jezebel is killed

Synopsis:

Elisha has one of the children of the prophets go to Jehu, son of Jehoshaphat and pour oil on him and declare he will be king over all Israel and then they fled. He is ordered to smite the hose of Ahab. The dogs shall eat Jezebel and there shall be none to bury her. Jehu goes out to the servants; they blow trumpets and declare him king. Jehu conspires against Joram of Israel, who is in Jezreel heeling. Ahaziah, king of Judah, nephew of Jehu is visiting him. Jehu rides furiously to Jezreel. Joram and Ahaziah come out to meet him and ask him if he is coming in peace. The answer is no. What peace, so long as the whoredoms of your mother Jezebel are so many? Joram flees. Jehu draws his bow and sends an arrow between his arms. It came out through his heart.  Ahaziah sees this and flees, but Jehu follows him and smote him also. Ahaziah flees to Megiddo and dies there. Jezebel is now aware of what Jehu is doing. He looks up to the window of the servants of Jezebel and asks, who is on my side. Two or three eunichs throw Jezebel down. She is trampled under the feet of the horses. Jehu enters the palace and eats and drinks and then tells the servants to bury Jezebel, but there is nothing left but her skull.

In other words:

Jehu, son of Jehoshaphat kills Jezebel and the other kings and takes over.

Favorite bit:

2 Kings 9:3 – Then take the box of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, Thus saith the Lord, I have anointed thee king over Israel. Then open the door, and flee and tarry not.

Least favorite bit:

2 Kings 9:33: And he said, Throw her down. So they threw her down: and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses: and he trode her under foot. (Very graphic, very disturbing)

Most interesting bit:

Ahaziah is the nephew of Jehu. So his brother had become king and he plots against his nephew and when he can kill both his nephew and the king of Israel he does it. Very clever.

Best comeback:

2 Kings 9:22 And it came to pass, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu? And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?

Moral Lesson Learned:

Be strategic about WHEN you act (2 Kings 9)

2 Kings 10: Jehu cleans house

Synopsis:

Jehu writes to the people raising Ahab’s 70 sons and tells them to kill the kids and deliver their heads. Which they do. All that remained of the house of Ahab were slew in Jezreel. Jehu goes to Samaria and meets with the family of Ahaziah. He kills all 42  men. Jehu then goes to Samaria and asks to meet all the prophets of Baal saying, Ahab served Baal, but I shall serve him much more. He calls for a great feast and once all the worshippers of Baal are together, he kills them all.  The Lord promises Jehu that his children for four generations shall sit on the throne of Israel. Which is nice, but Jehu doesn’t walk with the low of the Lord God of Israel. So the Lord begins to give parts of Israel to others, like Hazael of Syria. Jehu reigns for 28 years.

In other words:

Now that Jehu is king, he kills all his rivals including the family of Ahab, Ahazial and all the worshippers of Baal.

Favorite bit:

2 Kings 10:31 But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin. (God chooses him specially and he STILL doesn’t do what God wants!)

Most interesting bit:

2 Kings 10:1-7 – Jehu writes letters to the prominent men who are raising the sons of Ahab and they are so afraid of him, they kill their wards. It’s interesting how this plays out.

Most strategic bit:

2 Kings 10:18-28 – the destruction of Baal from Israel.  Basically, he organizes a gathering so ALL the prophets and followers will be in the same place. And he performs a sacrifice. The house of Baal was filled from one end to the other. They killed everyone, destroyed all the images and vestments and turned the house of Baal into a draught house.

Least favorite bit:

2 Kings 10:13,14 -  Jehu meets with the brethren of Ahaziah and takes them alive, slays them in the pit of a shearing house.

Moral Lesson Learned:

Even if you eliminate all your competition, your problems aren’t over (2 King 10)

2 Kings 7: The siege ends

Synopsis:

Elisha prophesizes that flour shall be sold for a shekel. The lord upon whose hand the king leans who had sought out Elisha questions this, and Elisha says, you will not see this. There were 4 lepers at the city gate who decided that if they were going to die of starvation, they might as well go to the Syrians and see if they could get some food. If they are killed, so what, they are going to die anyway. It turns out that in the middle of the night the Syrians had fled because they heard loud noises of “chariots” and “horses.” They thought the Hittites and Egyptians had come to aid Samaria and so they left in a hurry and left their tents, horses and food. The lepers found the tents empty, ate their fill and sole as much gold, silver and raiment as they could carry and hit it and then got some more and hid it. They then went to the king and told him what had happened.  The king assumed that this was a trap to get them to leave their walled city to explore the campsite of the Syrians and that the Syrians would jump out of the surrounding woods and kills them. He sent 2 chariot horses and behold, there was no one there. The people went out and spoiled the tents. There was so much food, a measure of flour sold for a shekel – just as Elisha had said. But the lord who had sought out Elisha was trampled in the stampede by the gate and didn’t live to see it.

In other words: 

The Syrians flee because they think the Hittite’s are attacking. They leave tents, food and supplies. The siege is ended and the Samarians can eat again.

Favorite bit: 

2 Kings 7:3 – And there were four leprous men at the entering in the gate: and they said one to another, Why sit we here until we die?

Least favorite bit:

2 Kings 7:17 And the king appointed the lord on whose hand he leaned to have the charge of the gate: and the people trode upon him in the gate, and he died, as the man of God had said, who spake when the king came down to him.

Moral Lesson Learned:

It’s good to be cautious, but you must also take risks to succeed  (2 Kings 7)