More Bible LOLz: God’s Golden Hemorrhoids

So in the book I Samuel of the Bible, the Philistines smite the Israelites and steal the Ark of the Covenant.  They bring it to the temple of Dagon, but Dagon’s image is found the next day shattered (I Samuel 5)

4 And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him.

Clearly Yahweh is ticked off, but that’s no surprise.  The Philistines, realizing that they’re in trouble, pick up the Ark and carry it away, intending to put it somewhere else, but it’s too late.  God begins filling the land with pesky mice, slaying people, and, amusingly, afflicting the people with hemorrhoids:

9 And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts.. . .

11 So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.

12 And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven.

The term “emerods” has been construed variously—boils, “buboes” (the swellings from plague), anal fistulas, and so on, but to me the translation that makes the most sense is “hemorrhoids,” not only because of the similar sound (so that the translators thought that’s what the word meant), but because they’re in the Philistines’ “secret parts.”

Lacking Preparation H, the Philistines asked their priests what to do to rid themselves of their afflictions. The priests tell them to return the ark to the Israelites, but along with it they have to send a treasure: five golden mice and five golden images of hemorrhoids (1 Samuel 6):

4 Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords.

5 Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land.. . .

11And they laid the ark of the LORD upon the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their emerods.. .

Each golden hemorrhoid was an offering on behalf of a different afflicted city:

17 And these are the golden emerods which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering unto the LORD; for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Askelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one;

An artistic rendering:

You can find a more extensive discussion of this vexing Biblical issue here.

49 thoughts on “More Bible LOLz: God’s Golden Hemorrhoids

  1. isn’t that the best? 🙂 I wonder too, are these magical golden hemmorhoids the size of regular ones or gigantic impressive ones? Cause if my city was getting what amounted to a gold booger, I’d be less than impressed with a god that required them.

  2. I was ok until I got to the image of the golden farmer giles. Now I am shifting uncomfortably on my seat.

  3. FWIMBW, this webpage:

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+5&version=KJ21

    lets you see some 30 (!) different English translations of whatever chapter/verse you care to look at. And a gazillion other languages, including Hebrew.

    Some use “Tumors”, others “emeroids”, my fave (haven’t sampled all 30):

    “the privier part of [the] buttocks/in the more privy part of their tail ends.”

    from the “Wycliffe Bible”

    1. Secret parts & all – it is so Monty Python! Funny how I never heard that one read out in the cathedral when I was a choirboy – every boy would have been laughing. That is why the religious nutters do not really want people to read all the bible – it just provokes amusement because it is so absurd, like something by Jarry.

  4. You *sure* you got your copy of the Bible from a legit source and not, say, Landover Baptist Church or Monty Python?

    Seriously, if I saw this quoted anywhere else but here, I’d think someone was taking the mickey…

  5. They weren’t _destined_

    for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Askelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one

    but were on behalf of each (trespass offerings for); Ashdod, Gaza, Askelon, Gath and Ekron were Philistine cities afflicted.

    It is an odd story and we’ve lost the context in which it was originally told.

    1. what context could that be? No reason to assume it was anything other than a primitive god that is interested in all sorts of human body parts and activities.

      Sounds pretty much similar to the other primitive gods of the time, human inventions showing human interests and human pettiness.

  6. Yeah, after the Philistines were healed, they enjoyed golden slumbers and next day thanked Yahweh for the golden opportunity to learn His ways.
    And lo they feasted on golden apples from the Garden of Hesperides carried to them by a traveling Greek named Pythagoras who was then inspired to discover the Golden Mean after noting that after their cure all the Philistine’s turds measured exactly (sqrt(50 + 1))/2

  7. So, if a fundamentalist comes down with hemorrhoids (has that ever been on a spelling bee?), does he construe that to imply that God has mistaken him for a Philistine?

  8. I’m thinking genital warts instead.

    The first historical mention of HPV infection.

    Those Philistines were hanging around the wrong concubines.

  9. I think you’re being a bit dismissive of the Bible, JAC. Remember, all the best books have more than a layer of irony and the Bible is definitely one of those, even though written by maybe 50 hands.

    I don’t think I’m giving too much of the plot away when I tell you that this Yahweh figure actually turns up in human form three-quarters of the way through the book! A sort of deus ex machina, if you’ll pardon the play on words (joke of the week in the latest American edition of ‘The Priest’).

    Then things really start getting slightly wobbly, psychedelic and post-modern with the same story told from 4 – yes 4 – different perspectives; see if you can spot the differences and contradictions between them. You have all that ahead of you, JAC; remember, I said all the best books are worth re-reading for irony, for the recognition of patterns and for early scenes and themes foreshadowing later ones.

    So don’t stint on a second run-through once you’ve finished ‘Revelations’. Back to Genesis, at the double!

    1. Wait a minute. I thought the longsuffering Dr. Coyne was going to read the Koran next!

      1. Now the Koran really would be summat of a chore to wade through twice: I read it on a beach holiday in Brittany a few years back, and got some distinctly funny looks; “Who’s the ginger Islamophile on the burning sands?”

        At least the Bible has a few lines worth dipping into: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth for thy love is better than wine.” (Song of Solomon 1:2) Ecclesiates 3:1-8. Proverbs.

        But Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Koran is laughable, intellectually, poetically null, banal in the extreme, inadvertently and unself-consciously hilarious; it’s rather like listening to the random sputterings of a deeply frustrated Pooter, puttering about in a strange land. “Listen to me, listen to me”, the prophet repeatedly wails from the flat, featureless landscape of his fevered, yet deserted, imagination.

        I can understand the Bible’s lasting influence, due to its multi-faceted nature: history, myth, theology, poetry. But the Koran, words fail me…and it. Second worst book ever written (after Mein Kampf).

  10. If you take a step back, the bible looks even more like propaganda.

    In the earlier parts, it claims that the Israelis were great warriors, genociding the Canaanites and with a large empire established by David and Solomon.

    They fought a lot with the Philistines who held the coast, the Philistines being newcomers who are thought to be from the Greek islands.

    They never did get rid of them or all the Canaanites for that matter. The Philistines hung on until after the Roman era and seem to have just aculturated away.

    Of course in the later parts, the god of the chosen people was useless. They were overrun by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans (who kicked them out of Israel) and finally the Germans.

  11. Five_Golden_Emerods…

    Four calling birds, three french hens, two turtle doves…
    And a partridge in a pear tree!

    1. Now, now, it wasn’t abortion. David’s & Bathsheba’s love child had already been born:

      ¹⁵And Nathan departed unto his house. And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick.

      ¹⁶David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth.

      ¹⁷And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them.

      ¹⁸And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead?

      ¹⁹But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead.

      So – no problem. In fact, it is very ‘right-wing Jesus’ – once the kid is born, then to hell with him. Shit happens, ya know.

      1. Why do magic things always happen on either the third or seventh day in the bible? Also long periods of time is always 40 years an large groups of people always 70?

        1. I don’t know the history of it, but 7 was a magic number for many of the writers of what came to be the Bible. I’ve noticed the recurrence of 40 as a significant time span in the Bible as well (40 years, 40 days & 40 nights), but I’ve no idea what it means. Those Israelites sure were fond of their numerology, which continues with Jews and (especially, I think) Christians today.

  12. It was a mistake. God meant to bombard them with “asteroids” but hiccuped and it came out “ass-eteroids”.

    Well, it’s a theory.

    1. That trope has actually been used in the Sanskrit epic Ramayana. One of the demons in the epic does a mighty penance to get a boon from the god Brahma. As Brahma gets ready to grant his boon, the apprehensive minor gods, led by their king Indra supplicate to Brahma’s consort, Saraswati, the goddess of learning and language. True to her office, she enchants the demon’s tongue so that when he tries to asks for indraasan (Sanskrit, literally: the throne of Indra, the king of the minor gods), he actually ends up pronouncing it as nidraasan (Sanskrit, literally: The posture of sleeping). He is granted his boon, but Brahma, realizing Saraswati’s trick, makes him rather powerful anyway to compensate. However, this is mostly useless now since the demon can only remain awake for one day in a year.

      The story has been used by generations of Sanskrit (and later Hindi) teachers in India to drill home the importance of correct pronunciation into student’s heads.

  13. I think the equivalent in kittehs would be swollen anal glands.

    My 16yo cat is on raw food. She has bladder stones so she can eat only two chicken necks a week. Too much phosphate and calcium. Same with turkey wingtips

    So she gets beef heart and pork thymus most of the week, and one turkey wing and two chicken necks as treats. I usually mix in chicken hearts and gizzards to fill out the rest of the diet.

    My cat is still strong enough to attack and till the occasional anole or gecko,

  14. To add another footnote, “a cry went up to heaven” is evangelical spin. The hebrew behind english’s heaven and sky is the same word. In its original context it’s simply “sky”. English translators place birds in the “sky” and Yahweh in “heaven” but it’s the exact same word/concept in biblical hebrew.  Just another bronze age sky God in a three tiered universe. Christian heaven is being thrust back onto the text to give the impression of a meaning that didn’t exit in the original context.   Its even worse when you factor in the whole literal dome of the sky concept. 

  15. That artistic rendering could probably win the Turner Prize. I guess philistinism is back in vogue.

  16. I found Ophalim and Teharim as the likely original Hebrew words here translated as emerod: our modern word comes from a middle age French form which derives from Latin through Greek roots, though I am not clear if the Greek word would have been available as such in the biblical era. In any case “emerod” is probably an artifact of fanciful translation: the Hebrew words mean swellings or rounded eminences. If there is an association with ‘mice’ this would imply bubonic plague, admitting that the buboes are not necessarily confined to the ‘secret parts’. It is interesting to note that even in modern Italian, ‘topo’ can mean mouse or rat, the difference between the two I suppose being once only a question of size. There are also our modern words ‘rodent’ and ‘vermin’ which maybe could have been used instead of ‘mice’.

    1. “emerod” is probably an artifact of fanciful translation: the Hebrew words mean swellings or rounded eminences . . . ”

      Do I correctly recall that one of the Pope’s titles is, “Your Eminence”?

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