Yesterday I began a new sermon series on the book of Judges. I started with Samson because he is the most famous. I’ve had something come up for February 3, so I’ll have to rearrange a bit–but I originally wanted to cover Samson, Deborah, Gideon, Ehud, Abimelech, and Jephthah. Now, someone has got to go (It will probably be Abimelech.)
Yesterday I told the Samson’s story pretty straight up–with a few twists–but I did drop a hint on something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Woudn’t it be fun to rewrite the Judges stories but put them in the old west? Ashkelon and Gath become Dodge City and Tombstone and Jerusalem and Shechem become San Francisco and Oregon Territory?
In this rewriting the Philistines would have to be the Spanish-Mexicans moving up from the south and the Israelites would be Anglos moving in from the east. The Canaanites are the American Indians and their various tribes. I write this to not be racists or judgmental, but only because it seems to match the historical reality of ancient Palestine–two migrating groups (Hebrews from Egypt and Ur and Philistines from Greece) overrunning native inhabitants and their settlements.
Now, if we do that, then each judge becomes “Sheriff” and has control over a region or province. So, what is the revised plot for Samson?
Sheriff Sam is a supernaturally strong man that has a taste for a good fight and for Mexican women. He was raised by strict Methodists who told him the key to his strength was avoiding three things–booze, dead bodies, and barbers. Sam’s first wife, a Mexican woman, is killed when he has a shootout with her family. In between visits to brothels, he falls for a Mexican woman named Senorita Dee who betrays his trust and double-crosses her lover. In one final bid for vengeance Sheriff Sam dies in a blaze of glory as he destroys the Mexican Garrison and kills the evil governor.
What about Ehud?
Ehud (Doesn’t the name Ehud just sound like the old west?) and his small town have been overrun by the Mexican army, who have in turn monopolized the railroad and the nearby ore mines–thereby controlling commerce and industry. After seeing how this oppression has hindered his people, Ehud undertakes a daring and dangerous mission through Comanche territory to Texas to get a shipment of Six Shooters to help him in his cause of revolution. Upon his return, he hides the powerful pistol under his Sheriff’s coat and sneaks into the Mexican Captains home, a man named El Gigante, and kills him while he is on the toilet. Sheriff Ehud escapes from certain capture in a thrilling chase scene as the story climaxes. Ehud rallies the men from every surrounding town and a few Comanche scouts to band together with their new revolvers and fight off the oppression of the occupying army.
When I read Judges, I see the Lone Ranger, Zorro, and Billy the Kid. Your task as you think about Judges is to figure out who are the good guys and who are the bad guys, and why?