Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer
2:39PM Jun 25, 2020
All right, my friends. Here we are. Another Rob cast. This is Episode 282, and it's called “Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer.” Oh, I know you love that title as much as I do. Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. So this is an episode, but let's be honest here. It's a sermon. And this sermon—this one might take a while, because here's what I want to do. I want to show you how this moment that we're living in—this great unmasking, this massive upheaval—I want to show you how it's new, but it's also not new. And I want to show you the ancient pattern that we're actually living in. There's history here, and it goes back thousands and thousands of years. So, I want to take you all over the Hebrew Scriptures. And I want to show you a couple of things that the storytellers are very keen to point out, because these are these are masterful storytellers. And we'll start way, way, way back, thousands of years ago—3,000, 4,000—however many years ago. And then, at some point we'll work our way to 2020. Yeah, because if you can spot the pattern, a whole world of things suddenly become really clear. So let me start in the book of First Kings chapter nine and it's telling us all about King Solomon, and King Solomon. His rep is more like you know he was really wise and had sort of profound things to say. But the Storyteller here has a specific list of things King Solomon is doing, including building Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. Now, this is the kind of thing that you can just skip right through King Solomon's building this, and he's building that, and he's building those things. He is also building Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. This is a classic kind of thing you just skip right over, if you're even reading this thing at all. But I'm telling you, my friends. This is one of the major verses in the Bible.
First off, the fact that when people think about the Bible, they think about a book that's very boring or a book that's irrelevant, or it triggers because of all of the horrific things that have been done in the name of the Bible, or just the ways in which it has been approached that just didn't seem to have anything to do with anything. This just makes me mental. In some ways, this is why I do what I do. When I think about it, I'm righting what I see as a grievous wrong. Even the fact that when I say Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer, I laugh and you laugh because you're like, “What the… It just sounds like gibberish.” The fact that this wasn't any time, anywhere, anybody got anywhere near the Bible. They didn't go, “Oh, that verse right there: major, major moment. Not just a moment, then, but a moment now.” Not just that it happened, but that it happens. The fact that this isn't the first way that people are taught this book. Anyway, but that's what we're doing right now—correct?—is we're fixing that. We're righting that wrong.
So, what are Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer, and why mention them? Because these ancient storytellers, they are very clever. They are very crafty and they never just include random details. There's always something happening. The storyteller wants you to see something. Now, let's back up because Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer are listed in a whole list of things that King Solomon is doing. So, let me just back up. First Kings, chapter nine, verse 15, for those of you keeping score at home. It reads like this.
“Here is the account of the forced labor King Solomon conscripted to build the Lord's temple, his own palace, the terraces, the wall of Jerusalem”—King Solomon was building a wall—“and Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer.”
Now, let's back up. When it says that he's using forced labor that he had conscripted you know what that is: slaves. So King Solomon is using slave labor to build—and then, first thing—LORD's temple. Now the word LORD there is all capitals. Capital L, capital O, capital R, capital D. When you see that written in English, that's an English attempt to translate a Hebrew word YHWH. And YHWH means the divine—essentially, “the divine delivers” or “the divine saves.” So that's the name given to the divine when these Hebrew slaves were slaves in Egypt, and YHWH rescued them and liberated them and brought them out into the wilderness. So King Solomon's ancestors had been slaves in Egypt. They are liberated by YHWH, and now King Solomon is building a temple to honor this God. Using slave labor, he's building a temple to honor the God who rescues people from slavery using slave labor. That's only a few first words of the sentence. He's building this temple, he's building his own palace, the terraces—which means massive gardens—he's building a wall of Jerusalem—so think fortification, think protection from enemies—and Hazor; he's also building Megiddo, and Gezer.
Then it says, he's also buildings—skip down to verse 19—“as well as his store cities, and the towns for his chariots and his horses.” Now, a bit more detail is given next chapter, chapter 10. It says that Solomon accumulated chariots and horses. “He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem. The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones and cedar as plentiful as sycamore fig trees in the foothills. Solomon's horses were imported from Egypt, and from Que. The royal merchants purchased them from Que at the current price.” So we get this weird detail about how the horses were purchased at a particular price. They imported a chariot from Egypt for 600 shekels of silver—and you all know how much that is—and a horse for 150. They also exported these chariots and horses to all the kings of the Hittites and of the Arameans, which basically means the neighboring nations.
Good God! What's happening here? Solomon's building a wall around his city. He's building Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. And then he's accumulating chariots and horses. Now the numbers here, 1,400 chariots, 12,000 horses. He's making silver common. And then, he's importing a chariot from Egypt, and horses from Egypt, and then he's exporting these chariots and horses to the surrounding nations.
Now, this is all coded language, in essence. But what's a chariot? What's a horse? Yeah, weaponry. Weaponry. The chariot was the tank of the ancient world. Horse and chariot was the F14 of the ancient world, the drone—yeah—the tear gas, the rocket launcher, the aircraft carrier. He's importing and he's exporting them. What do we call somebody who imports and exports weaponry? Yeah, it's an arms dealer. The storyteller wants you to know that Solomon has slaves who are building him a temple and a palace. He's building Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer, and he's accumulating massive amounts of weaponry as he builds a wall around his city. He's become a very profitable arms dealer. “He made silver common in Jerusalem as stones,” is how the verse here says, “and he's also building Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. You know what Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer were? Military bases. Yeah, military bases. Yeah, Megiddo had been around for 5,000 years as a strategic military base. Guess what nation had, at one point, operated Megiddo as a military base. Egypt. Yeah, because of its flank, how it protected part of the country from foreign invaders.
Yeah, so this is all coded language. This is all coded language. Here's what I mean. Let me take you back to chapter nine after it says Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. It says (verse 16, chapter 9), “Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, had attacked and captured Gezer. He had set it on fire. He killed its Canaanite inhabitants”—this is a story that happened earlier—“and then gave it as a wedding gift to his daughter Solomon's wife. And Solomon rebuilt Gezer.”
Wait. Solomon is marrying the daughter of the Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, who has given a military base to his daughter as a wedding gift. That is a nice touch, as a father! Now, this is an ancient storyteller. What is the storyteller trying to do here? What kind of picture is the storyteller painting for you of Solomon? Because Solomon's ancestors, not that many generations earlier, had been slaves in Egypt. And now they've made their way out of Egypt. They've made their way to Jerusalem. And now what is Solomon doing? He sounds a lot like Pharaoh.
Yeah, now this takes us back earlier to his people’s history in Egypt, because I want to show you why this coded language, where he keeps having these references to how he's getting his horses and his chariots from Egypt. Why is this coded language? What is happening here? What is the ancient pattern that is unfolding here?
Now, there's a tiny, tiny, little detail we saw there in chapter 10 that he's building storehouses—partway through chapter 9—that he's also building store cities. Why is that significant? Notice Exodus chapter 1. And in a minute here we'll start to fill all this in and when you see this… Okay. Good God! I get worked up about this, because it's just… I want you to see these patterns. I keep saying that I want you to see how the thing that's happening now is actually ancient, and that there's all of this wisdom that then gives us clarity about the moment that we're in. Here's what I mean. Exodus chapter 1 is the story about how these Hebrews find themselves in Egypt and they find themselves enslaved. And this is a major moment because Exodus is about the liberation of these slaves. It's like the real people in a real place at a real time get liberation. That's how the storytellers always handled the story, but the story—the divine—is ultimately not a concept, is ultimately not like an idea that you argue about. The divine is liberation in space and time, which is what we all need. Right? Freedom. Yeah, rescue. Ever felt that? Yeah. And often in the ancient tradition they saw Exodus as the first book in the Bible, because it's the great moment. And then Genesis is like the prologue, the first book.
The Bible's like, “Well how did they end up there in slavery?”
“Well, to do that I’ve got to tell you the story. In the beginning…”
So Genesis was often seen as the prologue. It's like the warm up. It tells you the story that explains how they ended up in Egypt. So then you can understand the need for the rescue. But there's a small detail here that gets skipped over again and again.
Exodus chapter 1, verse 11: “So the Egyptians put slave masters over the Israelites to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Ramses as stores cities for Pharaoh.”
We’ll slow down there.
So it's not just that they're slaves in Egypt. What is the specific work that they are doing? The specific work they are doing in their oppression as slaves is building store cities. Sometimes store cities gets translated “treasure cities.” What's Pharaoh doing? Pharaoh’s building store cities, using forced labor.
But what's a store city? Well, obviously it's where you're storing things. But what are you storing? Well, if you have to build cities just to store things, then you have more than enough. Yeah. Do you see that? Do you feel the ancient arc in the story? Yeah, somebody somewhere is stockpiling their wealth and abundance. Yeah, in Egypt, Pharaoh has his slaves buildings store cities. Yeah, there is a spiritual energy to stockpiling. You with me on that? Do you feel that? Do you feel that ancient pain? Yeah. What are these slaves doing they're spending their days stacking their bricks to help somebody who has way more than enough stockpile their abundance, so that they can gain even more abundance, so that they can pile their wealth even higher.
What this does is create profound inequality. Somebody is having more and more and more and more and more while somebody else isn't. Now, it's important to understand that in the Hebrew understanding of things. The earth is a generative abundant place. So this is never a story about the inherent abundance of the earth. Here's an example. If you ever read about a famine, or you see in the news there's a famine—somebody somewhere isn't getting enough food to eat—what we know is that the earth is fully capable of providing enough food for everybody. So abundance is always, always the mindset. And in the Hebrew consciousness, justice—oftentimes you hear the word justice, and you think well somebody you know getting caught for the thing they did, and being brought to justice. But justice in the Hebrew consciousness is always a much, much larger idea of there is plenty. Justice is a proper sharing and distribution of the world's abundance.
So this person isn't getting their case heard. Someone's wronged them, and they're not getting their case heard. Well then, they need justice. There has to be enough fairness. There has to be enough rule of law for them. This person doesn't have enough food. This person isn't being protected from somebody who is attacking them. Well, there must be an abundance of protection for them. Okay, so you can see how in Hebrew consciousness justice is always at the center of everything. What does God require of you? Justice. What does God want from you? A heart for justice. Why have people been given all of this abundance? To spread it around, to maintain justice. Yeah, justice. Justice. That's the engine of the whole thing.
So what the storyteller is doing in Exodus is saying, not that there is lack, but that when somebody is stockpiling massive wealth and abundance, what they're doing is they're blocking the flow of abundance. They're not taking part in the larger flow of proper sharing and distribution of the Earth's abundance. Do you see how these are deep, ancient, spiritual patterns. And when the storyteller tells you about these slaves in Egypt who are building store houses in miserable bondage and oppression—essentially is saying, “Anytime you have massive structural stockpiling of wealth and abundance in such a way that it's altering the very structures of society, you're blocking the flow of justice and abundance, and somebody, somewhere is going to suffer. Now you see also the really subtle thing that's happening here is, there is an energy that animates this stockpiling. But what this animating stockpiling energy does—which is often built on an understanding of lack: there isn't enough. So I've got to hoard. There isn't enough. So I have to keep storing it higher and higher and higher. By the way when you're stuck in lack, then you can never have enough. When you're in bondage to a scarcity mentality, then you can pack them away, because you're scared you're not going to have enough, but then you have to pack more away. Then you have to pack more away. And then you have to make even more money. And then you have to put that money away and then put even more money on top of it, because there's never an end.
That scarcity is so greedy, it just takes and takes and takes. How much? How much? How many millions—Right?—before you can relax? Because you're going to be okay, right? You can see that. You can see when somebody is stuck, when stuck in scarcity, because it's an energetic spiritual posture of the heart and when you're stuck in it there's never enough.
But here's the thing happening in Exodus. This stockpiling, this animating energy of scarcity that has to stockpile inevitably becomes structural. The spiritual energy of scarcity inevitably gets baked into whatever structures are being created. So what you see an Exodus is systemic. It's not just one person who is oppressing or controlling or being brutal to another person. It's not just one Egyptian slave driver, who's beating one Hebrew who's not producing their quota of bricks. It is an entire system of oppression that is robbing everybody involved of their humanity.
And so the storyteller here in Exodus isn't just saying this particular Hebrew slave was having a difficult time and this particular Hebrew family over here was being oppressed. But what the what the storyteller is doing is placing this within a larger system. So whenever you see something that is systemic. Ask yourself, “What is the animating energy here?” Because it's probably going to be scarcity, fear. When you get to those roots, there's only a few of them. Greed, violence. Revenge at some level, but that usually comes from some form of fear.
Yeah, yeah. So you can see when you begin to hear people will use words like “systemic,” you always want to go to, “What is the animating energy? What's the energy behind the energy? What's the cause behind the cause? What's the thing behind the thing?”
Yeah. So, Solomon's people, his ancestors had been slaves in Egypt, they're liberated from their slavery, and the storyteller here, then, back in I Kings, wants you to know that Solomon is marrying the new Pharaoh's daughter. He's building store cities. He's building military bases at Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. He's building a wall to fortify his city. He's importing horses and chariots from Egypt. Solomon has forgotten where his people have come from. He's forgotten the story of his people, and he is now the new Pharaoh.
It would be like a—try to imagine. I don't know. This is just a crazy example. Imagine if there was a nation of immigrants that had developed anti-immigrant—yes, you’re with me there. I don't have to finish that sentence. Right? Yeah. Yeah. Imagine if there was a nation that was formed in an effort to find freedom from oppression, that was then creating oppression for those in their midst. Yeah. Yeah. If you forget your story this is where it goes. This is always where it goes in empire is if you take the surplus and you take the abundance and you take the wealth and you don't spread it around and distribute it to those who are the most vulnerable, then you're going to start using all of your energy and wealth to protect your surplus. And that inevitably leads to Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. You either use all the good fortune that has come your way to take care of the most vulnerable. Or you start using your resources to protect your bounty. And that will inevitably create inequality, exactly like it does in Exodus. Some will have more and more and more, and others will have less and less and less, and the ones who have less and less will become bitter, because they will see others who have more and more, and more, and you will eventually have upheaval of some sort.
Now, notice, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, now Deuteronomy has a whole bunch of passages. As these slaves are leaving Egypt… They leave Egypt. They’re in the wilderness. And then there are all these warnings in Deuteronomy about, “Be careful when you make it to the land you're headed to. Be careful when you are no longer wandering slaves, but you actually have your own nation, and you build a nation. Pay very careful attention to what you do when you build and reorder a new world for yourself. You see where this is headed. So, notice some of these warnings, because when you read these warnings, and then you see what the storyteller tells you about Solomon. Oh! Here's what I mean.
Deuteronomy 17. “When you enter the land, the Lord your God has given you—you've taken possession of it and settled it—and you say, ‘Let's set us a king over us. Let's put a king over us like all the nations around us.’ Be sure to put a king from your own people.” So notice this: Deuteronomy chapter 17, “Here's the thing. The king that you appoint someday when you're no longer wandering slaves in the wilderness, when you have your own nation—here's the thing. The king must not acquire a great number of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them. For the Lord has told you, ‘You are not to go back that way again.’”
How's that for a line? You've just been liberated from the oppression of Egypt. You are not to go back that way again. You have been on the receiving end of horrific violence at the hand of empire. So when you get a king in your new land, and you reorder yourselves, not like Egypt—here's the first thing—whatever you do, do not go get horses from Egypt.
Yeah. Do not become obsessed with weaponry and protecting, because all you're going to end up doing is building a new Egypt, or notice this one. Oh, well, it just keeps going. That king must not take many wives or his heart will be led astray, he must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. But what's the first thing we know about Solomon he has tons of wives, he's just been given a military base as a wedding gift by his bride's father, who is the king of Egypt. What is he doing? He's accumulating wives because these wives are strategic military relationships. Everything has become about protecting his surplus. Then it says he must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. What's the thing that we saw in I Kings? That he had made silver as common in the city of Jerusalem as stones.
Now, notice also Deuteronomy. “When you find yourself in this new land appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the Lord your God has given you and they shall judge the people fairly. Do not pervert justice or show partiality.” So as central to this new world. You cannot have people with wealth, having their hands on the levers of justice, it has to be fair for everyone, do not accept a bribe for a bribe blind the eyes of the wise and twist is twist the words of the righteous. Follow justice, and justice alone so that you may live and possess the land.
So notice how bound up…
And this… this…
Oh my goodness. So massive when you make this connection. Notice how the warnings are a connection between becoming over-militarized—too many weapons—and justice, and the relationship between money and justice. You have to have it be fair for everybody in every way.
So again and again in Deuteronomy, there are all of these very clear warnings. Yeah, yeah. Be really, really careful that those who develop the wealth and surplus don't have the system tilted in their favor. Because if that happens… Well, and I would even argue that Deuteronomy is written in exile, so I would argue, what happens after Solomon is basically the whole thing falls apart. I'm going to totally do a spoiler right here. But, well we have already done that in a couple of earlier episodes in Isaiah with the idea of exile. But Solomon… Essentially the Empire collapses and everybody's hauled away into exile, and it's in exile that they edit together the Hebrew Scriptures. So you can see… I mean this is like serious 4D underwater chess right here. You can see how the storyteller, in Deuteronomy, with the way it's edited in exile, they go back to their ancient texts and have all these passages about the warnings because the warnings all came true. Solomon did everything that they were warned for the king not to do. But if your system of justice and laws gets money—“bribes and gifts” is the phrase. Isaiah mentions the same thing. If it gets perverted by money, then you are in danger of the whole thing collapsing.
It would be like if there was a nation that had massive tax cuts in 2017, that 81 or 82% of the population were against, but those tax cuts favored wealthy individuals and corporations and so they were passed even though the majority of the citizens were against those tax cuts. Can you imagine a nation like that? And can you imagine the reason why politicians brazenly passed the legislation for those tax cuts is because in that same country, wealthy individuals and corporations could give money to those politicians to give them those tax breaks. Yeah, so imagine if there was a Vice President of that nation in 2017 on television being asked, “Most Americans over 80% are against these tax cuts. Why are you doing them?” And the vice president had nothing to say. This is what happens when money and justice—essentially it's modern bribes—get a hold of this thing. Or imagine if the number one donors to the campaigns of people running to be prosecutor or police unions in that same country—yeah, the very people who would prosecute police for acts of force and brutality. The people who would prosecute those police officers, receive massive donations from those police officers unions to fund their campaigns. Yeah. Imagine a system like that. Well, it might work, or appear to work, for a little bit. But then it might actually begin to fall apart. And then you would have serious upheaval if more and more people saw this. You know, we're… just a bit of conjecture there. But you see how these ancient warnings, and these ancient patterns, they're all alive and well.
Notice, Deuteronomy chapter 10 has this great line, which just this week started to sort of explode for me. In Deuteronomy, it talks about to the LORD your God, the God who liberates from slavery—once again the storytellers are massively clever here—to the LORD your God belong the heavens even the highest heavens the earth and everything in it. Once again, this idea of everything taking place within an abundant universe. So when you read that sort of God, it sounds like old language, it sounds like it… Just hang with it, because what it's saying is an understanding of a generative abundant world undergirds everything you're doing. If you fall into scarcity, it doesn't. That's not the route to go. And scarcity leads you to stockpile, always leads to oppression. It’s abundance. It’s abundance.
“For to the LORD, your God, belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth, and everything in it.”
And then it has this great line here. “This God defends the cause”—this is the God who rescues from slavery—“this God defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigners residing among you, giving them food and clothing.” Do you see how the link here, it always goes to economics and justice? It goes from, you know, greatness. It's literally because that's an ancient way… “The heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth…” It can sound sort of… What's that talking about? Here's what it’s talking about. You want to know what greatnesses is? Do you want to know how a properly organized society works? Do you want to know where greatness is found? Greatness is found in defending the cause of the fatherless, the people who have no rights—the widow and the ones who are all alone—and loves… (You want to know real greatness?) …loves the foreigners residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners. For you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. Fear of the LORD your God, and serve Him, because your ancestors… Well, he performed for you all these great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. Your ancestors who went down to Egypt were 70 and now the LORD your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky. So, you want to know greatness? Greatness is not forgetting where you came from. You have greatness is remembering the liberation that you have been a part of. But greatness is when your entire ordering of your world is bent towards caring for the widow, the orphan, and the foreigner among you. Yeah, because if you are welcoming to those who need it the most—you once needed it the most, and your God welcomed and rescued you. So you can see, again and again and again, the warning is always, “Make sure that the deepest tilt of your heart is always towards those who are most vulnerable, not towards heavily fortifying your surplus to protect it against those who are most vulnerable?”
Do you see the relationship here? Do you see how these ancient energies and questions and postures and paths are all still in play? What will you do with your abundance? Will your society be ordered around stockpiling or around sharing? Will it be ordered around more and more Hazors, Megiddos, and Gezers, or will it be ordered around the fatherless, the widow, and the immigrant among you?
The great warning here, and the warning that carries all the way through to exile, is excessive stockpiling of abundance and wealth creates a deep inequality which will inevitably lead to collapse and exile. Empires sometimes collapse from the outside, but they also can collapse from the inside.
Imagine if there was a nation—right now, 2020—that had 800 military bases around the world, and also had 500,000 homeless within its borders. Yeah, well, obviously, it's not sustainable. It's not sustainable. When there are billions of dollars to build more and more Hazors, Megiddos, and Gezers, and there isn't the will to help, and structurally reform, how we could have half a million homeless people, that's not sustainable. And that sort of world will collapse from within, if nothing less. If you have a growing gap between those who have and have more and more and more, and those who don't have, well then, you're going to have to spend.
(Continued on Part 2 of the transcription: https://otter.ai/s/6FM9P3nATI2LAJhTiqkxZQ)
And here, let's bring this into 2020. If you have a select few who are stockpiling to such a degree that wealth is being concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer and fewer people while more and more people are struggling for basic…