THE STORY SO FAR…
After successes in the book of Joshua, Israel enters a roller coaster of triumphs and defeats from the early part of Judges. Series 19 discusses the MYSTERY OF LEADERSHIP and its power to shape every part of life
Judges 2: 1 – 21.
Miriastarte had a name she did not like. Her family members who wanted to remain Jacobites hated it. It didn’t make sense to give the girl a name that started with that of her ancestress Miriam and ended with that of the goddess her mother worshipped. The two names were from different worlds. Why mix them even if her family mixed their Jewish lineage with baal worship?
Her friends from the brothel of ashtaroth laughed at it. Her parents insisted it assured her of a good future because she could fit in everywhere with it. No one was quite sure if it was to be recorded as a Hebrew name or Canaanite name.
But she hated it because it meant she could not fully fit in anywhere. At home she was Hebrew. Every morning when she left home, she went to study with the courtesans of ashtaroth. And on the streets she…..was not quite sure what she was supposed to be. And that is why she had been given the name.
Her grandmother Rahab had become a heroine of Jewish history when the Jews invaded Jericho. When Rahab saved her whole family by betraying her city Jericho, the great reward was the absorption of her family into the people of Jacob. Salmon, one of Joshua’s right hand men fell in love with Rahab and married her. Rahab learnt to love the God of the Israel as much as the fear of Him had brought her whole family safety.
What everyone forgot was that it was not every member of her family that feared or loved God. So as the battles raged between Israel and the Canaanite tribes, and Israel settled into Canaanite lands with each victory, the baal of peor, ashtaroth, astarte, molech, and all the gods of the Canaanites thrived and merged with the worship of Israel’s God.
Their worship was so much more attractive to the senses and sensuality than the worship of the God of Israel, who demanded the spiritual attention of His people and their own attention to their values, morals and behaviors. In the worship of God, Israelites sacrificed their animals, sang songs of worship, spent time being kind to each other, and waited for God to bless them. It was all rather tame.
In the worship of the baals, the Canaanites abandoned themselves to active sex with the priests, priestesses, neophytes of the cults, killed their children and threw them in fire. The bloodier and more sensual, the stronger the worship. Since the battles had raged with conquests and push backs, no one was quite sure what was truth about history and religion anymore. The truth was dependent on who was telling what.
If you wanted peace, like Miriastarte’s family, you became what the environment demanded of you for your greatest survival. So they went to the tabernacles of God to worship when there was a priest, (and often, the Levites were too busy quarreling over meat to care about the worship going on in the tabernacles), and they went to the shrines too. They hoped the God of Israel would bless them. And they hoped the gods of Canaan would favor them. Miriastarte heard her name being called. It was her turn to go service that man with the big stomach called the priest of baal curaze. His god was supposed to cause winds to blow. Her fifteen year old body was too tired to care.