2 Kings 6:24-29
Afterward Ben-hadad king of Syria mustered his entire army and went up and besieged Samaria. And there was a great famine in Samaria, as they besieged it, until a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver. Now as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried out to him, saying, “Help, my lord, O king!” And he said, “If the Lord will not help you, how shall I help you? From the threshing floor, or from the winepress?” And the king asked her, “What is your trouble?” She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ So we boiled my son and ate him. And on the next day I said to her, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him.’ But she has hidden her son.”
I read these verses and was a bit taken back by the matter of fact telling of this story. Try to imagine having to go through something like this. Try to imagine the brutality and inhumanity that is sited in stories like this and others from the Old Testament. It’s quite stunning.
People were pretty cruel in those times. Things that strike us today as appalling and exceedingly gruesome seem to have been ordinary back then. Sons slay fathers to gain their power and think nothing of slaying all their brothers to insure that none would challenge them.
Societies who worshiped false gods gave their children to the gods to be burned as sacrifices. Conquerors would slay entire cities and nations.
Read what the prophet Elisha foretold to the soon to be anointed King Hazael.
2 Kings 8:12
And Hazael said, “Why does my lord weep?” He answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel. You will set on fire their fortresses, and you will kill their young men with the sword and dash in pieces their little ones and rip open their pregnant women.”
In the books of the Old Testament there are stories of the terrible famines caused by a king’s army besieging a city and cutting off its food supply, like the story sited at the beginning of this post. There are stories where bird poop and animal heads are more valuable than gold and silver.
The point of this is, when I think, or hear someone say something like, “the world is going to hell in a hand basket”, my reaction is, “No, I think we’re slowly working are way out of that basket.” There is still much brutality in the world but slowly, ever so slowly, we are getting better. I look at how messed up things were thousands or years ago and I see progress. We still have a long way to go.
So the next time you watch the mainstream news or any news for that matter, and wonder how did things get so bad, remember they use to be a lot worse.
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