Friday, September 6, 2013

A bloody ending

I am finishing up my reading of Esther this week. It has a bloody ending. It could have been the blood of Jews if Haman had had his way. Instead, in a twist to the story, the blood shed is that of the Persians. Queen Esther seems to turn from asking for the lives of her own people to be spared to demanding that the lives of others be taken. I still don't know how Veggie Tales ever made a video on Esther! The Old Testament scholar, John Goldingay, I have been reading makes some helpful points; the slaughter of the Persians was DEFENSIVE, and the Jews refused to take plunder from their victims, to gain any profit from their military successes. It is remarkable that the Persians still attacked the Jews even after Haman's plot was exposed and he was put to death. Racial or religious hatreds do not conform to reason often. Goldingay says that the Jews continue to celebrate this victory today (Feast of Purim) by the giving and receiving of gifts especially remembering the poor in their midst, both Jewish and non-Jewish. There is a lot of violence in the Bible and people have a problem with that sometimes. But, why wouldn't there be? There is a lot of violence in the world. In our day, we can pick up a phone and call 911 to have someone else deal with some of that violence. Not so in the days of the Bible. People living in a violent world are going to have to deal with it. God, at least, had some rules for his people that served to restrain the violence. Today, we are debating the national response to the escalating violence in Syria. Will our response lead to more violence, or will it lead to a negotiated settlement and less violence. When we look at our responses in Iraq and Afghanistan, we know there is no easy formula. We do know violence is a given in the world we live in and it is messy and we have to deal with it.