Category Archives: History Vibes

The Vibe of the Angel of Death

The Angel of Death, aka the Destroyer, has the vibe of a divine Terminator. The clue is in the name: wherever the Angel of Death roams, death follows. It is this angel that God sends into Egypt as a deal breaker when Pharaoh insists on holding the Jews in Egypt against their will. God has already sent plagues of frogs, lice, boils, locusts and other nasties but when Pharaoh refuses to let the people go, God plays his trump card and the Angel of Death is mobilized to kill every firstborn human and animal in Egypt. Only families that daub lambs’ blood on the outside of their doorposts will be passed over unharmed. The night is a success: Pharaoh gives in, the Jews escape and the vibe is still remembered today as the Passover. However, Passover isn’t the Destroyer’s only outing, he is employed a couple of other times in the Bible. Israel’s King David is punished by God for wanting to know just how powerful a king he is and taking a head count of all his soldiers. The Angel of Death brings a plague that wipes out seventy thousand of these warriors. Later on, the aggressive Assyrian King Sennecharib is brought down to size by the Angel who lays waste to 180,000 troops who are about to attack Jerusalem. An inspiration to countless metal bands and writers of horror movies, the Angel of Death is God at his angriest, and not a vibe you want to meet face to face.

General vibe of the Angel of Death: the Destroyer

Factvibe: Some believe that the Angel of Death reappears in the book of Revelation as one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Angel

How much metal fans love the Angel of Death is evidenced by the millions of images such as this that proliferate the internet

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The Vibe of Rahab

Rahab turns a dollar for tricks, or in other words, she sells her body for money. Whether she lives in a whorehouse or just works out of her own bedroom is unclear, but her den of vice is built into the wall that surrounds the city of Jericho. When Joshua takes charge of the three million or so Jews still wandering in the Sinai Desert after the death of Moses, he sends spies into Jericho to see how the land lies. The men go straight to Rahab’s house, no doubt because she knows the mood of the city very well, having slept with so many of its townsfolk. Here, she assures them that the city is utterly terrified of the mass of Israelites over the hill, especially as word of the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea has got out. Still, the spies are spotted and the King of Jericho sends soldiers to arrest them at which point Rahab assures them that the men have long since left the city. In reality, she has hidden the spies under bundles of flax on the roof of her brothel. The soldiers buy Rahab’s story that the Israelites have already left and hurry off in pursuit, shutting the city gates after them. Rahab then bags a deal with the spies that, should they choose to destroy Jericho, they will spare her and her family. The men agree and are able to escape from a window and climb down the city wall using a rope and a basket. Before they leave, they give Rahab a scarlet cord to tie in her window and tell her to make sure it is visible and that her entire family is in her house when they return, otherwise they cannot be accountable for the terrible vibes that might be unleashed. Sure enough, Jericho is looted and burned by the Israelites but Rahab and her family survive and live happily among their new neighbours. As if to complete Rahab’s rehabilitation, her son Boaz becomes the great grandfather of King David, and a direct bloodline to Joseph, father of Jesus.

General vibe of Rahab: Tart with a heart

Factvibe: The red cord in Rahab’s window is a precursor of brothels using red lights to tell customers that they are open for business.

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Red light in a brothel window – a vibe which many think began with Rahab

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The Vibe of the Flood

This rather soggy vibe begins in the earliest days of Creation, by which time God’s people have already decided that doing their own thing is preferable to being obedient to their maker. In a fit of pique, God decides to reverse creation and to take the vibe back to day one, when the Earth was still covered with water. Thankfully for the human race, there is one good man left who God wants to survive the apocalypse: Noah. Noah is instructed to build a giant boat and to load it up with his family, two of every animal and enough food to keep them all going for a long time. The flood is vast. According to the Bible, it rains for forty days and the floodwaters are so deep that the highest mountain is still around twenty feet below the surface. The flood kills every living creature that needs dry land to survive and the earth is covered for 150 days. Eventually the waters start to recede, beaching the Ark on top of a mountain but the land is still completely waterlogged.  After another forty days, Noah opens one of the windows in the Ark and sends out a raven to find dry land. The bird is unsuccessful but eventually a dove fails to return, suggesting that it has found somewhere to make a home. Finally, more than a year after the first rains fell, God orders Noah and his family to leave the Ark and to begin the process of recolonizing the planet. Noah’s first move is to build an altar in honour of the God who has rescued him, and in return, God promises never to destroy his handiwork again. A gloomy vibe that turns out nice in the end.

General vibe of the Flood: Creation reversed

Factvibe: Some archaeologists believe the Flood occurred when melt water from the last Ice Age (10,000BC) flooded the area that is now the Black Sea

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Forecast: wet

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The Vibe of the Fiery Furnace

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are three young men born into Jewish nobility and who have the misfortune to be in Jerusalem when King Nebuchadnezzar’s conquering army arrives to defeat the city. Dragged off to Babylon with the rest of Judah’s ruling elite, their vibe improves a little. The men are good looking, smart and quick to learn and are fast tracked to good jobs in the royal household alongside their countryman, Daniel. However, the vibe turns sour when Nebuchadnezzar erects a ninety foot high gold effigy in the desert. The crowds who show up for the statue’s grand unveiling are warned that, if they don’t worship it, they will be thrown into a blazing furnace. Not fancying the vibe of worshipping anyone other than God, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego decide to pass, a move that fast tracks them to a face to face meeting with King Nebuchadnezzar himself. The king is furious and offers the men one last chance to change their minds. They pass again and Nebuchadnezzar is so angry that he orders his guards to make the furnace seven times hotter than usual. In fact the flames are so hot that the guards whose job it is to push the three men to their deaths die of heatstroke themselves. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego fall into the furnace and moments later an astonished Nebuchadnezzar asks onlookers why a) there are four men in the furnace, not three and b) why they are walking round as if nothing is wrong. According to the king, the fourth man in the furnace looks like ‘a son of the gods’, leading to many Christians believing that this is an early appearance of Jesus. Nebuchadnezzar then forbids anyone in his kingdom to say a bad word about the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and gives the three men important jobs in the equivalent of the Babylonian Civil Service.

General vibe of the fiery furnace: very very hot

Factvibe: history doesn’t relate how the men get out of the furnace

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Not even these can act as protection from this oven

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The Vibe of the Canaanites

The lush fertile coastal plain that spreads east from the Mediterranean Sea to the River Jordan is such prime real estate that Moses spends forty years leading several million people to settle there. Advertised to Abraham as a ‘Land of Milk and Honey’, Canaan is there for the taking. Unfortunately for the Canaanites, their vibe turns sour early on in their history. After a night on the wine, Noah falls asleep naked and is discovered by his son Ham. Instead of making the old man decent, Ham blabs to his brothers and for his indiscretion, Noah curses him, telling him his sons will forever be slaves. Ham’s son is Canaan and it is his back yard that the Israelites have in their gun sights when looking for a new home. The Canaanites don’t help themselves by worshipping the pagan god, Baal and it is for this reason that their cities are utterly destroyed by zealous Israelites wanting to establish a pure nation whose focus is on God. Once the settlement is a success, the Land of Canaan is renamed the Land of Israel but despite being conquered, many surviving Canaanites choose to stick around. Thanks to a proliferation of seaports, the Canaanites become known as skilled merchants, exporting oil, cedar wood and wine to Egypt and Greece and bringing back Egyptian linen and Greek pottery. They are also famous for their craft vibe – it is the Canaanites who build and design Solomon’s Temple. The Canaanites even invent the first alphabet with letters we recognize today. To the Ancient Greeks, the Canaanites are known as the Phoenicians and their vibe covers an area which today includes Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and western Jordan. So despite a few bad religious choices and a thorough kicking when the Israelites first arrive, the defeated Canaanites generally thrive and live peacefully and profitably alongside their new landlords.

General vibe of the Canaanites: the pagans next door.

Factvibe: Papyrus scrolls imported from Egypt to the Canaanite port of Byblos were called Biblia, giving us the word Bible.

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We have the Canaanites to thank for our alphabet. Thanks Canaanites!

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The vibe of Noah’s Ark

The ark is a giant boat built by Noah and his sons in order to escape a flood sent by God to wipe out the human race. That’s a lot of responsibility for one boat and the demands don’t stop there. Not only must the ark be large enough to accommodate Noah, his sons and everyone’s wives for over a month, it has to have enough space to store two of every kind of animal currently on Planet Earth. With his limited workforce, Noah constructs a vessel so huge that its vibe is not surpassed until Brunel’s Great Eastern is launched in 1858. The ark itself is made from an unidentified type of wood referred to as ‘gopher’ and is lined with a resinous substance called pitch. The ark has three decks and measures 450 feet long, 50 feet wide and 45 feet high. It is clearly waterproof and seaworthy, managing to stay afloat without major mishap until the floodwater recedes. How Noah manages to keep his floating menagerie fed while everyone is incarcerated is not mentioned in the Bible, it is the fact that the humans and animals survived that is important, not the details of their eating and toilet arrangements. Interestingly, the ark has no sails and no rudder – navigation is left to God. It simply floats until the floodwater recedes, finally coming to rest in a mountainous region of Eastern Turkey, where Noah, his family and countless animals disembark two by two and begin life on earth all over again.

General vibe of the Ark: Floating zoo

Factvibe: The ark was twice as long than a tea clipper but only half as long as an ocean liner, or in other words, 450 ft. (137m)

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No one told the unicorns the ark was leaving.

The Vibe of the Apocrypha

Crammed between the Old and New Testament and often forgotten altogether, the Apocrypha has an ‘almost made it but not quite’ vibe. That’s not to say that the Apocryphal vibes aren’t taken seriously – many were considered authentic enough to stay in the Bible until as recently as three hundred years ago. Some mention characters who also appear in the real Bible, some are written by people whose books appear in the Bible, others seem a little far fetched. However, their general absence from most Bibles suggests a ‘could try harder’ vibe, or even a vibe of not being one hundred per cent on the money. The word ‘apocryphal’ suggests a story that has no truth to it and is itself a product of the Apocrypha not being an official part of the Bible. As for the books themselves, 1 and 2 Esdras is really just the book of Ezra over again plus some visions that appeared to the scribe. The book of Tobit details Tobit’s adventures with the angel Raphael, Judith seduces her way into her enemy’s tent and chops his head off, we have a few extra chapters from the book of Esther, some more proverbs from the Books of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, Baruch is written by Jeremiah’s scribe, Song of the Three Children refers to the three young men who survived the Fiery Furnace, Susannah survives a sex scandal in which she is wrongly accused, Bel and the Dragon concerns a god (Bel) who Daniel refuses to worship and a dragon (yes, a dragon) who he slays, a king apologises for worshipping other gods in the Prayer of Manasseh and 1 and 2 Maccabees describe the Jews’ revolt against the Greeks and their defeat of the Syrians under their rebel leader Judas Maccabeus. All in all, a racy bunch of vibes whose shoes still weren’t quite shiny enough to be let into the Bible by those who make the rules.

General vibe of the Apocrypha: The Bible’s also-rans

Factvibe: There are no phrases in everyday use that have been taken from the Apocrypha

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The Apocrypha has everything it. Even dragons.

The Vibe of Zadok the Priest

Immortalised in Handel’s anthem and a fixture at coronations, Zadok’s vibe begins in the days when the Israelites are still wandering in the sandy wasteland of Sinai. Aaron has a son called Eleazar who becomes a priest and sets in play a vibe that decrees that all future High Priests must be his direct descendants. Zadok is one of these chosen few and first sees action when he supports King David as he escapes from his rebellious son Absalom, offering to follow David whilst carrying the Ark of the Covenant. However, David believes that the vibe is a little too perilous for the Ark and sends Zadok back to Jerusalem. By the time David’s son, Solomon builds the first Temple in Jerusalem, Zadok is the natural choice to be its High Priest and is last heard of at the ceremony where Solomon is anointed as king. Some Bible boffins believe that Zadok the Priest gave his name to the Jewish ruling elite, the Sadducees. However, other boffins believe that the Sadducees are named after a completely different Zadok. Still, Zadok remains the most famous priest ever to have lived, which is no doubt why his vibe is such a favourite at royal weddings and other ceremonies.

General vibe of Zadok the Priest: the first Temple’s first High priest.

Factvibe: Many believe that the Dead Sea Scrolls were written by direct descendants of Zadok.

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Unlike Harrison Ford, Zadok actually set eyes on the Ark of the Covenant

The Vibe of Xerxes

Bible fans love Xerxes as he is a genuinely documented historical figure who also pops up in the Bible. As soon as he becomes king, Darius I of Persia marries a daughter of Cyrus of the Great and they have a baby boy. Despite already having a son, King Darius doesn’t want a successor who was born to him when he was just plain Darius and so when Xerxes is born in the royal palace to the daughter of a king, Darius places him first in line to the throne. Xerxes takes over from his dad in 486BC, considers himself King of Kings and rules an empire that stretches from India to Libya and Romania to Oman. He enjoys scrapping with the ancient Greeks, winning the battle of Thermopylae and losing at Salamis, both in 480BC. He also undertakes numerous ambitious building projects in Susa and Persepolis, the vibe of which can still be seen as ruins in present day Iran. In around 479BC, Xerxes becomes immortalised when his newest bride, Esther, turns out to be a fantastic diplomat and, despite the best efforts of Xerxes’ advisor, Haman, manages to prevent a holocaust against the Jews in Babylon. So grateful are the surviving Jews that Esther’s story remains in both the Jewish Tanakh and the Christian Old Testament. An ‘I was there, if only briefly’ kind of vibe.

General vibe of Xerxes: King of Persia

Factvibe: When a bridge he had ordered built across the Dardanelles washed away, Xerxes ordered that the Dardanelles (the narrow channel of water linking the Aegean with the Sea of Marmara) be whipped three hundred times.

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The “look! I’m so real here I am on a coin” vibe of Xerxes

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The Vibe of the Torah

The Torah, aka the Pentateuch, aka the Law, has a very Jewish vibe. Made up from the first five books of the Bible, it is the first part of the Tanakh, the Jewish Old Testament. The other two parts of the Tanakh are the Neviim (the Prophets) and the Ketuvim (the Writings). The Torah’s vibe isn’t just one of the written word, there is also the Oral Torah, a collection of writings and opinion about the Torah by eminent rabbis that have been passed down through the generations. Traditionally, the Torah is written on a scroll by a scribe and is divided into fifty-four chunks. These chunks are read in public, in a synagogue, usually on the Sabbath and are divvied up so that the entire Torah is read aloud in one year. Scribes armed with ink and parchment have been on hand since the time of Moses to record the vibe, although most of the Torah is first written down by panicky scribes around 600BC fearing their history will be forgotten while they are in exile in Babylon. Some three hundred years later, the Jews are still sufficiently worried about their stories being swallowed up by those of their more powerful neighbours that they set to and pull all the most important bits together in one final ‘best-of’ compilation: the Torah is born. Around this time, King Ptolemy of Egypt decides that he would quite like to have the Torah in his gigantic library in Alexandria, and sets seventy scholars to the task of translating it from Hebrew into Greek. Legend has it that, despite working separately, these holy men all produce identical translations, now known as the Septuagint. By the time Jesus arrives, the Jews all agree that the writings they have pulled together are sacrosanct and can never be changed. The Torah sits neatly alongside the Talmud, a set of commentaries, writings and teachings about the Old Testament. A heavily Jewish vibe without which there would be no Christianity.

General Vibe of the Torah: The Book of the Law

Factvibe: Whenever New Testament writers talk about Scripture, they mean the Torah, the Neviim and the Ketuvim. They had no idea their own letters and stories would make it into the Bible.

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The Torah: a ‘best of’ compilation vibe

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