jumping jehoshaphat

Dearest Internet, 

Can we chat for a minute? I have to tell you: I really keep meaning to post a ridiculously long and very very thorough research article here about Temple Mount, because I feel like it's sort of the center piece to the show DIG. But the more I talk to people, and the more I read, the sadder I get. Humanity, for real?! Over a rock. Honestly. 

No, no! I get it, I get it...it's just. Listen: I'm a Christian in culture only, as I do not believe Jesus is Magic, and I have become a godless heathen who hasn't graced the inside of a holy building for nigh going on 3 years now and the last time was for a Christmas Eve service and I only went because my mom was buying dinner. (Hi, Mom! I love you! I promise how I've turned out is ME and not you.) 

I get it--I am surely hell bound for not taking God seriously--I'm certain the Universe has directed me to the story of Jehoshaphat as Its first warning shot. But then I think about my sister-in-law's sweet Baptist Grandmama who always said to you, whenever you were worried or really really angry about something, "Now look at y'all get y'all self riled. A hundred years from now, is this still going to matter?" 

And the answer is no. NO it won't matter. And this is why I think the Temple Mount stuff...gah, wait! That argument won't work, I just realized, people have been fighting over the Temple Mount for MILLENIA...so Grandmama's wisdom is futile here. Poop. Ok. Well, then...let's move on, shall we?

I will post what I learned about it, soon. Possibly this weekend. But I want every single one of you reading this to know I feel nervous about doing it. Because I've seen some things and I've read some things and I don't want anybody coming in here, to a comments section, to insist: Oh, that belongs to US not THEM. and start Armageddon in this blog. I read the Internet--I know how you people are. I see you on FOX Nation and in Yahoo! News Articles and in the Education section of Huffingtonpost.com. I won't have it here, I won't have it--I'm the peace and love and tolerance and connections girl...nooobody's allowed to be angry here. When I start talking about Dome of the Rock/Temple Mount. I mean it.


(who thinks John Lennon's IMAGINE should be taught as gospel in public schools and universities)

So instead, let's talk about Jehoshaphat today, shall we? And I apologize if I misspell or typo his name throughout this piece--typing it, for me, is like trying to type out Missississsssiiiissspppippi 100 times real fast.

But first: A Game of Chess.

But! Before we talk about HIM, let's talk about the game of chess briefly. 'Cause I looked it up. And I looked it up because Gregory Donaldson, in episode 8, was given a Bishop chess piece (I was told) in the mail. And Emma was casually fingering that same piece in dad Donaldson's Room of Freaking Psycho. 

I don't play chess, but here's what Wikipedia told me to do with the Bishop: each player gets two Bishops. To start, one Bishop is placed between the King and his knight, and the other is placed between the Queen and her knight. There are no restrictions on how a Bishop can move in chess (whereas some pieces can only move forward or diagonal), but it's not allowed to jump over the others (but Knights can). 

The interesting thing about the Bishop piece (when I think of DIG) is that when you begin, you decide which wing each Bishop will play on...you decide at the beginning which of your Bishops will stay on either all the light-colored squares...and which Bishop will stay on the dark-colored squares (Sons of Light...Sons of Dark--right?). 

In Medieval chess, there was no Bishop. There was the alfil, meaning elephant, and it could jump and move diagonal and move 2 squares. Because it had such movement, it got restricted to 8 squares only and alfils couldn't attack each other. The Bishop came along around 1200, just as The Crusades were ending, but it wasn't officially called a "Bishop" until about the 1600s. What I'm trying to tell you is chess is an old game. An old, very old, game. 

And it's a game of strategy, of outwitting your opponent. Less experienced players tend to underestimate the power of a Bishop; more experienced players do not. As the game nears an end, and more pieces are captured and more lines on which they can play open up, a Bishop becomes more and more powerful, when used correctly. For example, two bishops together are far more superior to one bishop, a knight, or a pair of knights. And two Bishops vs. a King forces a checkmate, and when checkmate happens? Game. OVER. 

So. Gregory was sent a Bishop piece. Where's the other piece? Who has it? And are they saying to Gregory: time to wake up out of your muted psychosis? The endgame is near? 

(I'm still thinking about that. You go think about it too if you'd like...and also: if you play chess, will you come to my house and teach me? Because now that I've learned more about it, I think people who are good at that game are kind of hot, and I'd so I'd like to hang out with you. I promise you'll beat me, because I'm a horrible--HORRIBLE--strategizer.)

Onward to Valley of Jehoshaphat:

Source: bibleencyclopedia.com
Jehoshaphat means "God judges." It's from the same Hebrew root word as the name of the 7th book of the Old Testament, Judges (Shophatim). He was the 4th king of the Kingdom of Judah, and his reign was considered one of the most prosperous in its history. (At one point, Israel was divided into two kingdoms: Judah to the south, Israel to the north.) It became prosperous when it allied itself with Assyria, which wanted to control the olive industry. Eventually, around 605 BCE, Egypt and Neo-Babylon fought for control of it, and it fell and became part of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

The other thing about Judah is that it was always at war with its neighbors Israel and Egypt. Jehoshaphat's father, King Asa of Judah, reigned for 35 years in peace, until in his 36th year Baasha of Israel confronted Asa creating a dangerous situation. So Asa took gold and treasure from the Temple Mount and sent them to the king of Damascus to convince them to end their peace treaty with Israel. Damascus attacked Israel, and Baasha was defeated. Asa used this to fortify his own borders.

Jehoshaphat, like his father Asa, was very pious in that he hated idolatry. He had a friendly, BIG personality, and so his people immensely liked and trusted him. Which is why, in the 3rd year of his reign, he sent out priests from the tribe of Levi to teach the people of Judah the Torah, and about morality, and to show them how to worship the one true God properly. In the Bible, Jehoshaphat is praised because of this, and God blesses his reign and his kingdom.

Jehoshaphat also reorganized Judah--he divided it into districts and rearranged the judicial system so it aligned with what the Torah commanded. He built a large, well-organized army and fortified his borders. By doing this, he earned the respect and admiration of neighboring countries. The Edomites, Arabs, Philistines, and others came to Jehoshaphat to pay him tributes to keep his goodwill. 

One day, Jehoshaphat took a royal trip to Samaria and agreed to help Ahab, the King of Israel, fight the king of Syria. Ahab and Jehoshaphat were allied via the marriage of Jehoshaphat's son Joram to Ahab's daughter. But at the end of the fight, Ahab was killed and Israel defeated. 

Jehoshaphat was allowed to return to Judah but when he got back, all his prophets were so annoyed and they all yelled at him. So then, Jehoshaphat was basically like, "Yeah, I know you guys, my bad." And he promised to do better.

But then, one day? Jehoshaphat (trying to increase his kingdom's wealth) started trading with people along the Mediterranean Sea. Ahab's son Ahaziah was King of Israel now, and Jehoshaphat went into the maritime business with him. Bad financial move, because God was watching and got pretty ticked about that, since Ahaziah was NOT very moral and didn't do worship right, and so God sent a big storm and destroyed Jehoshaphat's entire fleet of ships.

At that, Jehoshaphat was all "Okay, okay. I GET it, God." And when Ahaziah came and said, "Hey, Jehoshaphat, want to re-new our partnership?" Jehoshaphat was like, "Nope. Take thy idolatrous self back to Israel, Ahaziah."

Still Jehoshaphat was friendly (remember?) and so he stayed in touch with Ahaziah--sent him little messages via pigeon or donkey or whatever once in awhile, checking in (like ancient Facebook status updates, texts, emails). So later, when he asked for Jehoshaphat's help in fighting the Moabites, Jehoshaphat said: Sure. And used his Edomite connections and also asked the Prophet Elisha to guide him. Elisha, because Jehoshaphat came to him humble and regular people, let him know: "Oh, yeah, you're good; you got this." And then? God smote Moab. As God is wont to do (in these stories).

Later, however, the Moabites were able to get the Edomites all worked up against the Kingdom of Judah. So THEN, the Moabites, Edomites, and Ammonites went after the Kingdom of Judah. Jehoshaphat's army was weak and depleted from the other Moab thing, so he just asked his people to go on a fast and pray--pray hard

During the fast, Jehoshaphat himself offered prayers to God for help, and God answered them. A prophet said there would be complete victory, because the battle wasn't theirs, but God's. So Jehoshaphat's army, getting a second wind, marched on Jerusalem to see what was what. When it got there, everything was over. Corpses all around. Stick a fork in it. Because it turned out the Moabites and Edomites and Ammonites didn't actually trust each other, in fact, hated each other...so they they did what neighboring gangs in busted down neighborhoods usually do: drive bys and shoot outs, and you know. Just basically killed each other until they were all dead. (I have very Tea Party Conservative friends who feel this is a smart idea for most situations. Which is why I'm pro-gun control.)

Jehoshaphat collected all the spoils of war, without having really to lift a finger, and the Kingdom of Judah prospered in peace until he died at age sixty and his son Joram became King. (Reggae-themed fairy tale ending music inserted HERE--you'll find out why in a minute.)

The Valley of Jehoshaphat, connecting Kidron Valley to the Valley of Hinnom, which is a valley of graves

In Israel, today, there is an area known as the Valley of Jehoshaphat. It's also the area known as Kidron Valley, and it's an ancient burial ground.

The Valley of Jehoshaphat is located in the Old City of Jerusalem, on the Eastern side, right near the Temple Mount. The part that is Kidron Valley actually separates Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives. (In case you don't know: Temple Mount is sacred to both Jews and Muslims; it's Judaism's holiest site--where the original Temple stood/Abraham almost killed Isaac...and it's Islam's 3rd holiest site--where the Prophet Mohammad ascended into Heaven on a white horse. The Mount of Olives is sacred to Christians--this is the spot Jesus supposedly ascended into Heaven after rising from the dead.) It is filled with flat, rocky tombs, and it was one of the main burial grounds during the 2nd Temple period. This area stretches for about 20 miles through the Judean Desert toward the Dead Sea.

The Hebrew Bible calls it Emek Yehoshafat, and in Jewish prophecies, it's the location the Prophet Elijah will come when he returns...followed by the Messiah...followed by the War of Gog and Magog, aka Judgment Day, aka Armageddon. (Basically if Disneyland is the Happiest Place on Earth, the Valley of Jehoshaphat is like the antidote.)

In the Book of Joel 3:11-12, the prophet Joel talked about it:

Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD. Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.

Modern day people like to talk about Jehoshaphat still, by using his name in silly ways: "jumping Jehoshaphat," for example. 

In Isaac Asimov's ROBOT series, it's often used as an expletive. 

And Jehoshaphat is the subject of a reggae song by Max Romeo called "Valley of Jehoshaphat." (While not even HALF as awesome or summery as Bob Marley's STIR IT UP or THREE LITTLE BIRDS, Max does sing a really very interesting song that mentions the color red a lot, garments dipped in blood, Robin Hood, and something about two being in bed and one being taken away, and money being spread all over the land...GO HERE and listen.)

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