The most accomplished book of the Bible so far. It uses the, now recognisable, listing format as a way of skipping through various wars and generations. The fact it only touches on one war to tell us six hundred people were killed by an ox goad makes me think this writer has a sense of humour.
As the Israelites assault their ‘peaceful and quiet’ neighbours, it is the little details, such as cutting off their neighbours’ big toes or the graphic description of a man stabbed so hard the sword’s handle disappears into his fat and the blade sticks out between his legs, that shows the brutality of the early books woven into a much slicker offering. In a beautiful multimedia move, a tent peg hammered through someone’s head is embellished upon in song.
The God character slowly and cleverly begins to fade into the background. At first he seems to have moved away, using henchmen to enforce his terror. Then one character, Gideon, tries to tell if God is still around by seeing if he can make some wool wet.
Many of the stories, including one where someone burns his daughter to death for God, follow proper literary arcs and so does the book. Gruesome horror and characters devoid of morals escalate in the last two stories. One follows Samson, a man with magic hair, who robs people, ties animals’ tails together and sets fire to them, burns people’s crops, sleeps with prostitutes and comically kills a thousand people with a donkey bone. Finally, revamping a Genesis story, the reader’s limits are pushed and never allowed to resettle as a character is gang raped to death and innocent people are killed, as the consequences of revenge twist and sickeningly twist again.