This is how I feel watching "The Bible". I am going along some maze and suddenly action breaks out before me. The scene is one of a long popular tale in both Sunday School and secular Hollywood or TV. It tends to be entertaining, but never quite explains why it happened and why it was important
In "The Bible, Part 2" we begin with some repeat of where Part One left off. There is Joshua saying once more that all that stands between taking Canaan is defeating Jericho.
You know when I was a boy this Battle of Jericho was quite a popular theme. (Of course, I was a boy much closer to the actual event than many who may have been watching its reenactment on TV.) There was an old Spiritual created by slaves in the mid-1800s called "Joshua Fit De Battle of Jericho." It seemed to be sung on radio and TV a lot when I was a child. Even Elvis did a version (see video).
(Elvis performing "Joshua Fit Do Battle of Jericho.)
What is all this wall scaling and sword fighting? I don't recall reading this in Joshua Chapter 2, the book in the actual Bible. First of all, Joshua isn't standing looking at Jericho when he sends the spies. He and the Israelites haven't even crossed the Jordan River into Canaan yet when he sends the two spies over to "Search out the land". Actually they left out that whole march where the Jordan River opens up to allow them to cross on dry land and the priests pick up some rocks to make a monument. Yeah, God parted more than the Red Sea for Moses. I guess the producers felt another such crossing was too redundant.
And those two spies when they reached Jericho did not fling up some big old repelling device. Who were they supposed to be, Batman and Robin? They came to Jericho, went into the city and took up lodging in the house of a prostitute. You know that was pretty unsuspicious behavior, I bet, couple of guys going into the big city and heading for the local house of ill repute. It was certainly a lot less suspicious and risky as scaling the walls in the middle of the night. Oh, and guess who the prostitute was? Rahab.
Now the King of Jericho found out and sent men after them. But Rahab hid the spies and when these men demanded they come out, she told them, "'True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.'” (Joshua 2: 4)
The King's men did just that, pursued, but the spies were still hidden on Rahab's roof and they escaped three days later. The rope the spies gave Rahab wasn't just a convenient belt, it was a scarlet cord, a symbol of salvation, but who has time for such details when you need to show the walls crumbling and then getting on to Samson.
Yes, turn the corner, and a commercial, and here comes the Samson tableau. It is introduced with the Narrator telling us that Joshua took Canaan, then Joshua died and local magistrates ruled the people, but a new threat arose called the Philistines. Jericho tumbled and out of the dust rode the Philistines. Wow!
You know the Book of Joshua has 24 Chapters. Jericho fell in Chapter 6. A few more things happened before we get to Judges, and still more before we reach Samson. None of the ensuing battles under Joshua were mentioned, not even the one with the longest day. I suppose the allotments of land and the Cities of Refuge being named wasn't very film-worthy, so we skipped right to Samson. Samson was going to save Israel from the Philistines.
We got nothing about the evil Israel engaged in after Joshua died, how they turned to worshipping Baal and other Gods. Nothing was said about this sinning being why God allowed them to be under the hand of the Philistines for forty years.
We also skip through Samson's life pretty lickety-split as well, so a few niceties like facts needed to be dropped. After an Angel stands whispering in the ear of the wife of Manoah (the parents of Samson), we see Samson, a bulky man with long dreadlocks, striding toward the camera. Keep in mind that in the Book of Judges Samson doesn't get even a mention until Chapter 13. Such people as Deborah, Barak, Gideon, Jephthah and others who came before Samson must have been left on the cutting room floor.
Samson tosses a couple people around and before you know it he is marrying a Philistine woman, much to his mother's chagrin, but the Philistines don't appear real thrilled about it either.
In this film there are two Philistine big shots who go and demand Samson's wife tell them where he is. When she can't they set her house on fire with her locked inside. Samson is furious they killed his wife and attacks them, then flees into the hills. (Now this isn't quite the way I read it. They don't have Samson and his wife breaking up over a riddle, don't have a bunch of foxes with flaming tails, don't have an interfering father-in-law -- yeah, go to the source and look it up.) The Philistine big shots (the same two) now threaten the Israelites if they don't bring them Samson, which they do. He breaks his bonds and reaps havoc with a donkey's jawbone (pictured left). Oh, by the way, somewhere in all this action he notices this woman named Delilah.
Now that his wife is dead, he takes up with this Delilah and once again those Philistine big shots come along (the same two) and bribe Delilah to find out his source of strength. The big lug finally tells her it is his hair and falls asleep in her lap. She pulls out a big pair of scissors and begins snipping off his dreadlocks. (Uh, wasn't there this guy she called to do the dirty work of shaving his hair?) Speaking of snipping, let's cut to the chase, the two big shots and a bunch of soldiers pop in and Samson awakes and has no strength to fight. They grab him and the main big shot walks over and thumbs out Samson's eyes. Next thing we know Samson is in some building surrounded by people. He calls on God for one more burst of strength and then begins ramming these huge supports. Everything collapses and everybody dies. Samson's mother (she didn't die) brushes the debris off her dead son and cradles his head.
And we are off to the story of Saul and David. Yeah, there should be a story about a woman named Ruth in-between, a tale of redemption, but who has time for that.
To tell the truth, I'm getting exhaused from the pace and this post is growing long. I'm not going to compress the lives of Saul and David into a few paragraphs as the film does in a few minutes. I will just make a couple comments.
I liked the actor's portrayal of Saul (pictured right). I think it captured a man who started out on a high note, got too full of himself and then became somewhat paranoid. You can see the struggle on the man's face.
It is interesting to learn that the Young David (pictured left), at the time he slew Goliath, spoke with a kind of near-cockney British accent. He lost this as he grew older.
We have a scene when David, striped to the waist comes dancing into town. His wife Michal awaits, which seems to be something of a depiction of 2 Samuel 6:16-17, except on the way David runs into his very good friend, Uriah the Hittite and his lovely wife Bathsheba. I mean, really? Bathsheba doesn't make her debut in David's life until 2 Samuel 11, and I don't know much about a close friendship between David and Uriah. At any rate, David has sex with Bathsheba, gets her pregnant and has Uriah killed.
The remorse of David did not come through for me in this film. I also was confused by the prophets in the film. We started with Samuel, but I didn't get a sense of Nathan being properly introduced. At any rate, we were shown Bathsheba holding the doomed offspring of David's sin, which took emphasis away from the punishment David was suffering.
I just feel the filmmakers keep missing the point.
Again, I am glad this show is on air and doing well. I really hope it leaves people wondering why these things happened and they turn to their Bibles or to those who might answer such questions. And there are questions, the film leaves a lot more questions than answers.