|GO BACK TO PREVIOUS PAGE|
|Chapter 12- Ezra|
|Yes, the "prophets" were wrong again. It was not such a long exile. In less than half a century, a chance twist of fate would again intervene in Jewish history, in the form of Cyrus, the king of Persia, who conquered Babylonia and decreed that the Jews could go home to Jerusalem and rebuild their city and their temple.
The Gullible began singing "Happy days are here again", and thinking maybe Cyrus was the Messiah! But the Jewish elders set them straight real fast- Cyrus was OK as far as foreigners went, but he was certainly NOT qualified to be the Jewish Messiah, as he was not even Jewish! For Christ's sake!
|If it seemed like there was a battle of the bands type competition between prophets during the Babylonian exile, to see which one could be the most bombastically scolding and threatening, it only got worse in the post-exilic period. The Josiah era prophecies of salvation and glory for the Judahites had gone terribly awry, so revisionist prophecy had to be hastily conjured. (Sort of like Y2K:)
When the political elite returned to Judah, they were eager to re-establish control over the masses who had been left behind and carried on with their lives. Naturally, they used good old fashioned repression, but they also justified themselves by claiming access to important truths.
The first couple of waves of returning exiles were preoccupied rebuilding the actual city and temple, so life for the remnants went on unmolested by the control freaks for a while. But then the third wave came, led by a hideously xenophobic, gynophobic megalomaniac named Ezra. He made the exile period prophets look mild-mannered by comparison.
Ezra subjected the Judahites to endless consecutive hours of exhortations and readings of the bible which he'd spent a great deal of his life in exile revising, and he threatened anyone who didn't attend these mind-numbing recitations with excommunication and shunning. Just to give you an idea of what this was like, think of the worst, most boring instructor you ever had, reading aloud the textbook he authored himself, for many hours on end, and then multiply the horror of that experience a thousandfold. Interruptions, questions, discussion, and probably even toilet breaks were forbidden. So, the poor Jews were once again in the hands and at the "mercy" of the most perverse among them---sort of like we are today in America!
|Ezra was appalled that the remnants and returnees had mingled freely and intermarried with the "filthy" Gentiles. Yes, he called them "filthy" (Ezra 9:11 & 14) He forcibly required them all to leave their foreign wives and children, no doubt rendering thousands destitute. But it was all to maintain the purity of Yahweh's elect- the chosen people. Today, we call this ethnic cleansing or at least racism.
There arose a protest movement among the cast-off Gentile women. They composed a letter to the Persian king, Artaxerxes, petitioning for relief from this travesty of forcible dissolution of their legitimate partnerings. They explained that their Jewish husbands planned to leave them without homes, food, land, or any means to support themselves and that their children were to be abandoned and disowned by their fathers. They informed
|Artaxerxes that this would most likely result in massive starvation, disease, and death, and the women subtlely explicated the political ramifications of a disgruntled, disgraced population, displaced by disdainful usurpers who were officially backed by the king- the very thing the Persians had been trying to avoid by letting the Jews go home to Judah!
Artaxerxes cursed the annoying political complexities of two insignificant, opposing populations in a strategically situated outback of his empire. He wished the Jews and the Palestinian Gentiles would all just go away. But he had to deal with the irritants. He sent the Ezra faction a message commanding them to show cause why they should be permitted to divorce their foreign wives.
The Ezra gang concocted the most ruthless, despicable, outrageous lie they could think up and responded to Artaxerxes with it. "Our foreign wives have committed abominations that out of respect for the dignity of mankind and your great majesty, we refrained from reporting to you until commanded us," they began shrewdly. "Our wives have inserted the reeds of flutes in their vaginas to give themselves pleasure (better known in this country as the Pulitzer Plea), and have known our children intimately, so as to render them unclean and ineligible for our communal religious rituals. Our wives have been found licking each other's private parts and suckling each other, and they have lain with multiple male partners among the Gentiles. They have committed sodomy with evil men and used instruments to sodomize each other. They refuse to cover their nakedness, neither day nor night, and let any who comes near look upon them. They squeeze our testicles in reproof of us."
The little nerdy-assed fatherfuckers must have all gotten hard-ons writing the thing. Artaxerxes certainly did when he read it. He jested to a companion, "Good god, bring these women to me!" He knew it was a lie (or he really would have had them brought to him) but it was an old boy's club even back then, and Artaxerxes used the charges as grounds to allow the annulments, adjudicated substantial settlements for each of the abandoned families, and hoped it would settle the matter. He prayed the women would go home to their fathers and spend their settlements frugally until they could remarry, and forget the whole incident. But they didn't.
|GO TO NEXT PAGE|