Now if Solomon had one fault it was this:
He was a complete and utter sex maniac.
Some people may get offended about this statement but, really, what else do you call a man who had 700 wives and 300 concubines? I mean, how did he get round them all? Did he have a thousand day rotation or did he just regularly hold gigantic orgies? In any case, this guy made your average Mormon compound seem positively quaint.
Now this in itself is not really a problem – the real issue is that some of these women were foreign. You know what I mean, Moabite sluts, Edomite scum and so forth. God, after all, had expressly warned several chapters prior, that such women were not for Israelites to marry. Then, to make matters worse, these women acted as is natural for their sex, corrupting him and encouraging him to sacrifice to the false idols of their inferior nations.
Needless to say God was pissed, but he had also acquired a smidgen of patience – whilst usually he'd have had a temper tantrum and would have sent snakes to bite people and caused their bodies to erupt into gigantic puss-filled boils etc, he decided that, whilst Solomon was the guilty one, He'd wait till Solomon was dead and punish his descendants instead. Even then though, God's great mercy would shine through, for although he'd take the whole Kingdom away from the line of Solomon, He would stay true to His promise with David and make sure that his family would inherit half of the Kingdom of Israel.
But just to keep Himself entertained in the meantime, God decided to raise Himself an enemy for Solomon, choosing Hadad, a male heir of Edom, who was somewhat miffed about the 6 month vacation the Israelites took to his country in order to kill every male there. Then, because creating enemies was fun, God decided to raise up a guy called Rezon, who, though now King of Damascus, was a little put out by David's slaughter of his father's nation some years before. Finally, as a last act, God made a traitor of Jeroboam, a servant of Solomon, by having him meet up with a priest who tore up some clothes into ten pieces and said they were gifts from God.
Then Solomon died and you can read about all the stuff he did in some other book.
Now, following Solomon's death, his son Rehoboam became King. Jeroboam and his men, who had been hiding in Egypt for the last years of Solomon's reign, came before him and promised him their loyalty if he gave his word to be a good leader who would lighten the load upon the people. But God needed Rehoboam to act like a dick, so He had him say this:
"Screw that! You think my dad was harsh? Well you ain't seen nothin' yet! I'll keep your noses to the grindstone so hard that they'll have been sanded down into the finest powder within a week!"
So the King, as the Lord had desired, did not listen to the people, which merely angered them and caused them to rebel, making Jeroboam their leader and sundering all but the House of Judah from the rule of Rehoboam. Rehoboam, of course, sought to bring the rebel houses back under his control, but the Lord spoke to the holy men and had them explain that the situation was as He desired for He, Himself, had brought it about and So Rehoboam stayed his hand and accepted his fate.
Thus it was that Jeroboam ruled the people of Israel, and Rehoboam ruled the House of Judah, remaining in the palace of his father's in the holy city of Jerusalem. Yet, although he ruled over ten of the twelve tribes, Jeroboam was jealous and scared of Jerusalem for he worried that the people would change their loyalties to Rehoboam when they went to Jerusalem to sacrifice in the Temple of the Lord. To try and combat this, he made two gold statues and said to the people "This is the Lord God of Israel, please sacrifice to this and go no more to Jerusalem." And so Jeroboam sinned, building temples and appointing priests not of the House of Levi. The Lord was, of course, outraged.
The Lord then went back to Judah and spoke to a Priest, telling him to approach Jeroboam and tell him that he was well and truly fucked, for the Lord had decided to bring from the House of David, a child named Josiah, who would cut him to pieces on top of all his priests whilst burning human bones upon him (God was pleased with this one - He kept surprising himself with breadth of his imagination.)
Jeroboam was naturally shocked and upset by this prophecy and asked that the Priest come and speak with him, but the Priest declined explaining, "The Lord says that I may neither break bread, drink water here nor come home the way I came and to that promise I shall remain true."
Now having said his piece, the Priest turned back and rode his donkey down a road different from the way he came, but another man, who had heard from his son about the commotion, called out to him from the road,
"Why, hello over there! Why don't you stop awhile and partake of some vitals? I've just rustled up a spot of lunch and, by Jove, it would be a jolly good sport to dine in company.
The priest frowned, "No, I have been told by God to have neither bread nor water nor come the way I came," he reiterated.
"Ah" said the man "But you see, my good fellow, the Lord spoke to me just now and said that all this travelling on an empty stomach just isn't good for a chap – got to think about one's health now, haven't we? And, what with me having a somewhat scrumptious supper laid out but with not a body to share it with, well God said he had the most delightful of solutions for me."
The Priest thought for a moment, 'God said this was ok?' he asked at last.
"Oh yes, Random Roadside Holy Man's Honour – now please, alight from your worthy beast and do me the great honour of intruding upon my humble abode, whereupon you shall find quite a cracking spread waiting for you."
The priest thought a moment, "Well, I suppose if God says it's ok...and all this riding about giving ominous fortunes for people does take its toll...and I can see no reason why a random guy I've just met on the road could be lying – I shall most certainly accept your generous offer." reasoned the Priest, his face perking up now that he knew that his rather empty stomach would soon be cheerfully full, and with that he dismounted his donkey and went in with the stranger in to his house where a most delicious meal of the finest bread and water was laid out for his consumption.
Having been seated and with all the formalities behind them, the Priest began to eat, bringing a piece of bread to his lips but as he swallowed the Lord came to him and said "You! I told you! I expect total obedience and you have disobeyed! You must pay the penalty!"
The priest gulped and went pale, beads of sweat began appearing on his brow, and he no longer felt very hungry now. He wondered what would happen to him as his host, whom he now knew to be fraudulent, prattled on about the purity of his spring water. "Perhaps he'll make my bowels fall out" thought the priest trembling, "or perhaps he'll give me some awful sickness, or maybe he'll turn me into a newt."
Thus, when the priest left, it was with a heavy heart for he knew not when the punishment would come, nor what it would be – he could only hope that the Lord would be merciful. As it turned out, he had not long to wait to face the consequences of his transgression, for only a few hours later he heard a great roar and turned to see a lion running toward him at great speed. He might have prayed but he had little time to do anything between seeing the lion and being thrown off his mule by the force of the wild beast, which, having caught its prey, had a lot of fun mauling it to pieces. The priest had time only for this one last regret: "it wasn't even good bread" he thought mournfully as the lion bit into his torso, "the crusts were all burnt and I only ended up eating it to be polite!" he managed to wail before his beating heart stilled and his blood sprayed out onto the grass.
After this Jeroboam continued to be a prick so it really shouldn't be surprising to you all that one of Jeroboam's sons became sick. Jeroboam, at a loss about what to do, asked his wife to find the Priest who had given him the ten pieces of clothes that had led to his rebellion against Solomon, "but go in disguise" he warned her. She did this but the Lord went and spoke to the Priest, warning that Jeroboam's wife would come in disguise, so it was that when she arrived the Priest was waiting for her already aware of her planned deception. "I have bad tidings to give you" he told her, "This is what the Lord God of Israel says: 'I took from the House of David and gave to you, but you have not walked in my ways as David did – you have sacrificed to other Gods and built altars on hills. You have taken the biscuit and the cheese and if I do not put a stop to this, you'll no doubt take My fat as well, so I must sunder your line and make sure none survive. I shall kill all men in your line, whether they be slave or free, for your kind is the excrement of the world and as they live like shit, so shall they die.' Behold, for the Lord has spoken! Their corpses will be torn apart by dogs! Now go, for the child will die when you re enter the city, but worry not for this boy was the only good thing to come of Jeroboam and so the Lord in His mercy shall have him buried in a grave – a fate that shall not await his kin, for today is the day that the Lord shall bring forth the King that shall destroy the House of Jeroboam. Israel is screwed for the Lord shall strike it for what it has done – He will come to its aid no more."
But then, just when you thought that God's people could do no more to piss Him off, the people of Judah also did evil and their sins angered the Lord more than anything that had gone before. If the Lord had such a thing as veins, they would have been pulsating and his blood pressure would have been off the chart, for the people of Judah also built altars on the hills and flirted with the false Gods that the Lord so despised. In the period of Rehoboam and Jeroboam, there was much war between the two nations and when they died, they both gave their inheritance to their sons who followed in their father's footsteps and sacrificed to idols. Then when Abijam (son of Rehoboam, King of Judah) died he gave the nation to his son who was a fine man who walked in the ways of the Lord like David before him. He got rid of the Temple prostitutes and got rid of many idols, yet, although his heart was with the Lord always, the high places still remained. Yet those who ruled in Israel were still men of sin who continued to contribute to the Lord's high blood pressure. The Lord reiterated his threat to the new King of Israel, Baasha, saying that he would have the corpses of Baasha and his family eaten by dogs and birds – this turned out not to be quite true but He did manage to have them all nicely slaughtered by a man named Zimri several years later. Then, following the rule of Zimri, civil war broke out and a man called Omri took the helm of the nation, yet he also did wrong, even going one step further than Jeroboam with outright worship of Baal.
So all in all, things weren't going according to plan, which just makes it the perfect time for a complete random guy to crop up in our story and say "there will be no water in the land unless I say so 'cos I totally dig the Lord." The Lord liked this guy (whose name was Elijah) and had him fed daily by ravens until the stream by which he lived ran dry, whereupon He ordered him to go off and look for a widow to feed him. Elijah did this and, when he saw a woman collecting sticks, he called out to her, "Hey you! Can you bring me a bowl of water and some bread?"
The old woman looked up, "No," she said, "I only have a tiny bit of flour and oil and that's reserved for my son and I for we are going to die once we've eaten it."
"Go and do that, but do give me a little something to eat – if you do that then the Lord shall see to it that your flour and oil never runs out."
And the widow did this and lo! The flour lasted and the oil lasted and the widow and her son lived on for a year but, when the son became ill, the widow got angry at Elijah for she accused him of bringing misfortune upon her. But Elijah was unfazed for he took her son and cried to the Lord for mercy and He granted it and returned life to the boy. The widow was amazed and knew that Elijah truly was a man of God.
After a while the Lord figured that He had best find a solution to the problem so that He could let it rain, so he asked Elijah to go and speak to Ahab, the King of Judah. Now the famine had been terrible and, although his evil wife Jezebel (who was a foreigner) had gone about killing all of the Lord's Priests, he summoned his vizier, Obadiah, a man who loved the Lord. They decided to search the land together for water so that the people would not need to slaughter their beasts of burden. In order to speed up the process, they both went to separate ways and so Obadiah was thus employed when he came across Elijah walking in a field.
"Oh Elijah!" he cried, falling to his knees, "It is you, isn't it?"
"Yes" replied Elijah solemnly, "Now go to Ahab and tell him that I am here."
Obadiah's face fell, "No way – I don't have a death wish. The King has been looking for you everywhere and you expect me to skip gaily up to him and announce with a perky smile, 'Oh look, Elijah's wandering around the Kingdom'?" He'll go nuts and you – you will toddle off to someplace that the Lord will have whipped up for you where you cannot be found and I'll be left behind to face the music of his wrath. Do you know what I did when Jezebel was going around murdering the Priests? I hid them all in caves and gave them food and water – I cannot afford to go against the King's will again for it would be the death of me. "
"All this I know," assured Elijah, "that is why I shall wait for him here."
Elijah was true to his word and presented himself before the King of Judah, who sneered at him and said, his voice dripping with contempt, "So here is the rebel, the thorn in the heel of Israel."
But Elijah answered calmly, "I am not the thorn – you and your family are for you do not follow the ways of our Lord. Now come, summon the entire nation and all the Priests of Baal to Mount Carmel and we shall have a contest."
The King agreed and had the entire nation assembled at Mount Carmel, whereupon Elijah gave an arousing speech. He stood before them, the multitude, illuminated by the sun, his clothes whipped by the wind as he outstretched his arms and proclaimed his message.
"We have come to it at last" he called, "The great contest of our time is at hand!"
At this there was a great stirring and muttering, "What's he saying?" the people asked each other, "Get on with it!" some of them yelled as others clamoured for Elijah to reimburse their travel expenses. Yet Elijah was unfazed by the complaints and continued:
"How long can you live the double life, serving two masters? You cannot swing both ways! If the Lord is God then we should serve Him, if Baal is God then it is to him that we shall give our loyalty. They cannot both be God! And today...today we shall settle it! WHO IS WITH ME?!"he bellowed, raising a fist into the air, but the people merely looked at each other feeling that they'd rather be at home checking on the crops.
Though slightly disappointed by the lack of rapturous applause, Elijah was not yet finished and so he continued. "There are four hundred Priests of Baal and yet, for the Lord, there is but me. Only I remained loyal! Only I continue praise Him! And so I fight, 400 against one. I say we get two bulls and cull them for sacrifice whereupon they'll be put on top of an altar. No fire shall be prepared, for the sacrifices shall be burnt by the fire of the One True God! If that God be Baal, then he shall answer the summons, if it be the Lord, then He shall bring forth the fire...WHAT SAY YOU TO THIS?" he roared, glaring at the crowd, ravenous with righteous anger.
The Israelites began to nod in agreement and started to discuss amongst themselves. "I bet you a shekel it's Baal" some of them began to say as the throng began to warm up to the event, "This guy is gonna look a total idiot" others laughed.
"Oh prophets of Baal" Elijah called, "prepare your sacrifice."
And the prophets culled a bull and placed it atop their altar.
"Now people of Israel" yelled Elijah "Call to him! Call to Baal...if he be real at all."
Then the people began to praise and worship, crying the name of the God they had chosen for themselves. They entered a prophetic state, waving their hands jerkily in the air, dancing up and down, rolling around on the ground, the women tearing at their breasts and the men tearing at their hair. "Baal" they cried and shrieked, "Baal our God! Baal bringer of life", but nothing happened, Baal did not answer.
After a few hours the people began to tire out and gradually their prophetic orgy started to dwindle, the wave of their hands growing increasingly sluggish, the twitching of their seizure lessening and the women getting more and more self conscious of how their breasts were showing through their ripped clothes. But Elijah was ruthless and ordered them to keep going.
"Call to him again" he snarled, "He is a God – he might be busy, or maybe", and here Elijah began to laugh, "maybe he's away visiting his grandmother."
The Israelites responded, crying out to Baal again and resuming their rolling on the floor or their seizure or their own preferred technique, but they did it wearily and were quite looking forward to when this was all over and they could all go home and enjoy a nice refreshing glass of goats milk in the comfort of their home.
When again the prophets and people rested, exhausted from their travails, Elijah taunted them. "So where is your precious Baal? Come on! Let us hear your explanation!"
"The Lord Baal...does not come...at the command... of man" one of the priests panted, "He comes...only...of his own...accord. Do not tempt him!"
"A likely excuse" Elijah sneered, "Now let's build the altar to the Lord God of Israel!"
And so Elijah constructed the altar and dug a moat around it, filling it with water so that there could be no doubt that any resulting fire was that of the Lord, God. And Elijah knelt before the altar and prayed quietly to the Lord: "Oh Lord, please answer my prayer for it is I, Elijah, your faithful follower. Show the people your strength and wonder."
And the Lord cried "Woohoo!" and sent a bolt of lightning from the sky, striking the altar and consuming it in flame and evaporating the water. The people were amazed and cried together "The Lord, the Lord! The Lord is GOD!"
Elijah stood up and faced them, "Yes, The Lord is God, and now we must deal with those phonies who sold you lies." Then, pointing at the priests with his outstretched hand Elijah hollered at the Israelites "CAPTURE THEM ALL! FOR I SHALL MURDER THEM!"
And the Israelites, forgetting their fatigue, chased the prophets of Baal, capturing them and bringing them before Elijah who joyfully slit their throats. "Hahahahahaha!" Elijah laughed, "Justice is served!"
Then, within minutes, the sky grew dark as clouds converged above the nation of Israel and the heavens opened and the rains poured down, hammering upon the parched and dusty ground. King Ahab, afraid of these miracles, raced back home on his chariot, terrified of what would happen to him. Thus, once when he got back to his palace, he appeared before his Queen, Jezebel, wide eyed and shaking with fear.
"Elijah!" he squeaked "Elijah has d-d-d-d-d-done it!"
Jezebel arose from her throne (she was also dedicated to this most vital of tasks), "What?" she hissed, grabbing Ahab, who had fallen upon the floor, by his clothes. "EXPLAIN!"
"G-God answered his summons. H-h-h-he has put your p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-"
"OUT WITH IT!"
"he has put your prophets to the sword and has all the people following your every word - we're f-f-f-f-fucked!" Ahab wailed.
Jezebel looked upon her husband with disgust, "you weak little worm – you pathetic pile of puss" she said, tossing him to the side. "Guards" she ordered, "Go to Elijah and tell him that my schedule tomorrow will be taken up with the most tedious, yet satisfying, task of hacking him to pieces." Jezebel smiled and turned again to her husband who was snivelling into his mantle, "See how easy that was? You're fortunate to have me around."
Back in camp at Mount Carmel, amongst the heaped bodies of the prophets of Baal and the born entrepreneurs who were unashamedly flogging "I saw the hand of God" tunics, Elijah received Jezebel's threat and felt the icy hand of fear clench upon his heart. Though he was the hero of the hour and had God on his side, he was too scared to remain where he was and fled to Beersheba, helped along the way by the Lord's angelic food delivery service. Eventually he came upon a cave in the mountain of Horeb where, feeling sorry for himself, he began to cry.
"Why are you crying?" The Lord spoke.
"Only I am left for You because of the Israelites treachery and now that I've killed their prophets the King and Queen want me dead! Life sucks!"
"Elijah, go up to the top of the mountain and I, the Lord, shall pass by you there."
And Elijah went up onto the mountain and lo! The weather was truly shit - raining and pouring with great gusts of wind, but the Lord was neither in the rain nor the wind. Then the earth shuddered violently underfoot and when it came to rest Elijah had only a moment to gather his composure when suddenly fire appeared everywhere – but the Lord had not been in the earthquake nor was he in the fire. Then in the smoky ash-filled aftermath a great whispering arose and Elijah felt the spirit of the Lord.
"Elijah why are you here?"
"Because you told me to come here, o Lord."
"No – I mean why here in the middle of nowhere instead of, for example , in the city."
"But you know – I told you in the cave."
Here the whispering quickened and the Lord returned in a more disgruntled fashion, "I know but I want to seem cool and mysterious – now come on and play along."
"Only I am left for You because of the Israelites treachery and now that I've killed their prophets the King and Queen want me dead! Life sucks!" Elijah repeated.
"No, not like that" lectured the Lord. "Say it a bit more...poetically."
Elijah thought for a few minutes "O Lord – my fervour for you, which beith without limit, hath put me, thy humble servant in the most dire of quandaries! My life is sought by those who loveth not the Lord! Life sucketh!"
The Lord was appeased and gave Elijah his instructions, "Go unto Damascus! There you will find three men: Hazael, Jehu and Elisha! Hazael you will anoint King, Jehu and Elisha shall become My prophets. The four of you shall take the kingdom and put all to the sword who have knelt before Baal and worshipped him..." the Lord stopped for a minute, calculating, "that should leave you about seven thousand people."
Thus, when Elijah set out the next day it was with hope in his heart and a spring in his step for the Lord would protect him. When at last he came upon Elisha, who was ploughing in the field, Elijah ran up to him and trapped him in his cloak.
"Please! Don't kill me! I'll do anything you say – just let me tell my parents I'm being kidnapped by a mad man!" Elisha screamed, somewhat muffled by the cloak.
Elijah was confused, "Why do you think I'm a madman?" he asked, keeping the poor boy wrapped up..
"Because you have jumped upon me and trapped me in a cloak." Elisha replied, struggling uncomfortably against Elijah's strong arms.
"Yes, maybe in hindsight that was a strange thing to do," admitted Elijah, releasing Elisha, "it just came over me all of a sudden really."
The misunderstanding cleared up, Elisha quite happily went off Elijah without a second thought, for his parents had never taught him to say no to strangers.
Now it came about that King Ahab wished to buy a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite and tried to do a deal with the man. But Naboth refused, saying that the land was his inheritance from the Lord and was thus not up for sale. So the King moped about the palace and was so miserable that even Jezebel took note.
"What's up with you now?" she inquired impatiently.
"I want Naboth's vineyard but he won't give it to me! It's so not fair" Ahab bawled, "I want it!"
"Israel should be ashamed having a pathetic thing like you on the throne. When are you going to get some balls?" sighed Jezebel.
Ahab sniifed "want it" he repeated.
"I'll get it then you worthless King of Israel" Jezebel said, rolling her eyes, "It's easy when you use force."
So Jezebel went about getting her husband his vineyard and wrote letters using his seal ordering that Naboth become the head of the people and to organise a celebration in his name. Then, she organised a couple of henchmen to accuse Naboth of cursing the Lord and the King and get him stoned to death. When she heard from her messengers that her plan had succeeded she organised Ahab to go and seize Naboth's land.
But whilst Ahab galloped happily towards the vineyard yelling "It's mine, it's mine, it's mine!" God was having a word with Elijah explaining the terrible deeds of Ahab and his wife. "Tell him that I'm going to make first class dog food out of him," He instructed. Elijah obeyed God and came to Ahab and informed him of his fate.
"You're just saying that because you don't like me" said Ahab, "and I bet you're jealous about my new vineyard, but it's MINE and there's nothing you can do about it."
"I am not jealous – I speak the word of the Lord. He shall curse you as he cursed Jeroboam – you and your family will be left to rot in the streets, food for mangy flea-ridden dogs. You are doomed – DOOMED!"
Ahab felt his confidence sway, he remembered the bolt of fire and looked fearfully at the sky. Slowly his bottom lip began to wobble and his body began to shiver and tremble. He clutched at Elijah, crying, pleading "Save me, save me, save me, save me, save me, save me!"
Elijah ignored his pleas and disentangled himself from the terrified King who then flung himself onto the ground, tearing at his clothes, kicking and screaming and wailing and flailing.
"Jezebel's a bitch" Elijah thought "But fuck, that's one heavy cross to carry". He was just walking off when suddenly he heard a giggling in his ear.
"Teehee. Tee,hee,hee, hee."
"Is that you Lord?"
"Hee, hee, yes – it is, tee, hee, hee."
"Why are you laughing?"
"Well Ahab's display was so funny, I've decided not to curse him after all. Tee, hee – look at him there – he's rolling around on the ground pounding it with his fists now. Anyway, since he's so entertaining I'm gonna let him off and curse his son instead, after all – I'm sure his son is gonna turn out to be a real wanker."
"Certainly does sound like a terrific plan, o Lord." Elijah agreed, as he traipsed off into the sunset.