The LDS Inverse Old Testament, Part 3: Samuel to Kings

The LDS Inverse Old Testament, Part 3: Samuel to Kings

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First off the bat, the Inverse Bible contains the story of Hannah's vow. It's a shame that a story featuring a proactive woman who is an active participant in a story gets skipped over so we can talk about how God speaks to a little boy.

I am amazed by the LDS Sunday School lesson that covers 1 Samuel 15! Most Latter-day Saints are familiar with the verse, "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (1 Samuel 15:22), but the lesson actually goes into the full context that where Saul disobeyed was in not killing every single living thing in a city of the Amalekites. He killed the men, the women, and even the children, but he had neglected to kill their livestock or their king. When Samuel the Prophet rectifies the situation by hewing the Amalekite king "in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal", the manual misses a great opportunity to talk about prophetic fallibility. It is a horrible, disturbing story with really very little redeeming about it. I am surprised in the extreme that the entirety of chapter 15 is part of the lesson, but it is. And, oddly, it is thus not present in the Inverse Old Testament.

I find it interesting that the story of Uzzah, who is killed while trying to steady the ark, is skipped as the phrase "steadying the ark" is often used with a negative connotation by members of the Church. Perhaps they don't want to address that Uzzah's death freaks David out so that he doesn't finish moving the ark the rest of the way to Jerusalem for three months and performs constant sacrifices as it moves and dances "before the lord with all his might" to prevent further problems.

Also, the rebellion of David's son, Absalom, is a major part of the story of David as told by the author of Samuel-Kings as it is something of a reversal of the story of David's guerrilla war against Saul. It also highlights some of the failings of David as a leader because he loves his son too much to treat him properly as a rebel and a danger to his rule.

I'm not surprised that the subsequent centuries of warfare between the divided kingdoms after Solomon are not covered: they're repetitive and rather boring. However, there are a number of oddities regarding the "prophets" and the actions of so-called "righteous" kings that would lead to some disturbing Sunday School classes for many LDS. The actions of the prophets in particular paint a picture of prophecy that behaves almost like a mental disease like epilepsy or something: it sometimes seems to take people by force and make people say and do things they might not otherwise do. Which is very different than how Mormons view their current leadership who are led so subtly that they sometimes make mistakes.

It's also somewhat disturbing how often the Temple Solomon built at Jerusalem is despoiled, sometimes by attacking nations and other times by the Judean kings themselves so they can use the treasures as bribes for other nations. Usually Mormons view Jerusalem as a stronghold that was never successfully attacked until the Babylonians attack after Lehi leaves Jerusalem, but the facts as presented in the biblical history paint a very different picture of a much weaker, more-often attacked Jerusalem. Jerusalem is sacked and plundered right before Zedekiah is made king (whose first year of reign begins the Book of Mormon).

Notable Verses and Pericopes

1 Samuel

  • Eli thinks Hannah is drunk as she prays for a son which she promises to God (1 Samuel 1:1-28)
  • Hannah's psalm of praise (1 Samuel 2:1-11)
  • Eli's sons use the ark to scare attacking Philistines, but it gets stolen instead and most everyone dies (1 Samuel 4:1-22)
  • The ark dismembers a Philistine idol and causes deadly hemorrhoids (1 Samuel 5:1-12)
  • The Philistines placate God by making golden mice and golden hemorrhoids and returning the ark (1 Samuel 6:1-12)
  • God kills over fifty thousand people because some of them looked in the ark (1 Samuel 6:19)
  • Jonathan is sentenced to death by King Saul because he ate some damn good honey after Saul decreed a fast even though Jonathan didn't hear the decree (1 Samuel 14:24-30, 38-45)
  • Saul has some trouble with a case of incapacitating (and denuding) contagious prophecy (1 Samuel 19:19-24)
  • David eats the showbread of the tabernacle (1 Samuel 21:1-6)
  • David levels up his weapons with Goliath's sword (1 Samuel 21:8-9)
  • David pretends to be crazy to avoid being killed by Philistines (1 Samuel 21:10-15)
  • David gains the wife and property of Nabal through divine means that were in no way suspicious (1 Samuel 25)
  • Unlike Saul, David has no problem with genocide (1 Samuel 27:8-9)
  • Saul talks to the ghost of Samuel through a necromancer (1 Samuel 28:3-25)

2 Samuel

  • David performs constant sacrifices and dances to prevent further death after God kills Uzzah while moving the ark (2 Samuel 6:6-15)
  • David's wife is upset at David's dancing because he exposes himself while doing so (2 Samuel 6:16, 20-21)
  • David executes prisoners of war using precise measurements (2 Samuel 8:2)
  • Absalom insults his father by publicly having sex with his father's concubines (2 Samuel 16:20-23)
  • Absalom dies because his hair gets caught in a tree (2 Samuel 18:9-15)
  • God kills 70,000 men because he inspired David to perform a census of his people (2 Samuel 24:1-15)

1 Kings

  • David is given a young girl in bed to keep him warm in his old age (1 Kings 1:1-4)
  • Nathan the prophet starts some political intrigue with Solomon's mom to ensure he inherits the throne instead of another of David's numerous sons (1 Kings 1:5-34)
  • David's dying counsel to his son Solomon is to wrap up all the loose ends of people he never got around to killing in vengeance before he died (1 Kings 2:5-10)
  • The righteous Solomon marries the daughter of Pharaoh, long after the Exodus (1 Kings 3:1)
  • The righteous Solomon sacrifices in "high places" like Gibeon (1 Kings 3:2-4)
  • The cloud of God is so thick in Solomon's new temple that the priests can't even do their jobs (1 Kings 8:10-13)
  • Solomon enslaves the Israelites' ancestral enemies (1 Kings 9:21-22)
  • A prophecy of an awesome later Judean king to come, which is in no way a possible editorial insertion by later scribes trying to curry favor with said king, is given to a wicked king (1 Kings 13:1-3)
  • The same prophet is tricked into offending God and the liar that tricked him is made to prophesy the death of said prophet, which then occurs (1 Kings 13:11-32)
  • It is mentioned almost in passing how Egypt is able to plunder Solomon's temple of all of the golden riches during the reign of the righteous Rehoboam so that they have to be carefully replaced with brass items (1 Kings 14:25-28)
  • Righteous King Asa of Judah, while besieged, uses the treasures of the temple to bribe the Syrians into attacking Israel (1 Kings 15:16-20)
  • God assists the wicked King Ahab in defending against the Syrians multiple times to defend his reputation (1 Kings 20:1-34)
  • A prophet commands his neighbor to wound him with a sword; the neighbor refuses and is killed by a lion (1 Kings 20:35-36)
  • The same prophet asks someone else and we find out the entire reason is for an object lesson from God to prophesy the death of King Ahab for not killing the King of the Syrians (1 Kings 20:37-43)
  • Lady Macbeth Jezebel, wife of Ahab, convinces him to man up and steal ownership of a nice vineyard (1 Kings 21:1-16)
  • After he humbles himself, God changes his mind about punishing the wicked King Ahab and instead decides to send the punishment onto Ahab's son (1 Kings 21:25-29)
  • God asks for volunteers of the heavenly court to go down and give false prophecies to the prophets to convince Ahab to take deadly action in war (1 Kings 22:19-23)

2 Kings

  • Elijah burns 101 soldiers with fire from heaven to prove he's a "man of God" (2 Kings 1:9-12)
  • Israel is besieged and goes so hungry that Israelites begin eating their young children (2 Kings 6:24-29)
  • Elisha gives a self-fulfilling prophecy worthy of the Matrix Oracle (2 Kings 8:7-15)
  • A chapter from Game of Thrones randomly appears in the Bible, complete with multiple kings, betrayal, arrows through the chest, and the bodies of royalty being consumed by dogs (2 Kings 9)
  • Jehu continues his bloody, HBO-friendly rampage through the kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 10:1-28)
  • King Azariah of Judah, who "did that which was right in the sight of the Lord" is emitted with leprosy by God (2 Kings 15:1-5)
  • The Assyrians destroy the kingdom of Israel and replace the people with foreign nations (2 Kings 17)
  • Hezekiah is prophesied to die but is able to change God's mind about that, instead getting an extra fifteen years added to his life (2 Kings 20:1-7)
  • The Babylonians capture Jerusalem, despoil it and the temple, carry away to Babylon everyone except the poorest people, and set up Zedekiah as a puppet ruler (2 Kings 24:10-17)
  • Zedekiah rebels, is captured, and all of his sons are killed (2 Kings 25:1-7)

1 and 2 Chronicles

  • It's actually rather boring to list anything here because Chronicles is a later re-telling and whitewashing of the books of Samuel through Kings and thus has a LOT of duplications with those works while also leaving out many of the more odd or disturbing aspects (such as David's adultery with Bathsheba, for instance). Also, some stories are covered by LDS Sunday Schools in the study of Chronicles that are skipped in the study of Kings, such as the discovery of a book in the reconstruction of the temple by Josiah and the subsequent consultation about it by the Prophetess Huldah (2 Kings 22).
Tom Doggett

Tom Doggett

I'm a programmer, Ancient Greek reader, feminist, spouse and partner, and a dad.

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