An Unflattering Portrait is More Likely True

It stands to reason that the writers of the bible would want to make themselves, and their people, look good. Yet instead, we find one example after another of bad character, bad choices, and bad people. From the first story of Adam and Eve, to their children Cain and Able, to the rebellion of Korah, the misguided hero Samson, the brothers of Joseph who sold him to slave traders out of jealousy, and on and on it goes; the Israelites were a people of whom even God called “a stiff-necked people”, “an adulterous wife”, “a harlot”, and many more such unflattering terms. If you weigh the disobedience of the Israelites against the obedience, you end up with far more stories and chapters about disobedience and evil deeds.

The vast majority of the kings of Israel and Judah were referred to as “evil” in the final assessment. Only 8/20 kings of Judah, and 0/19 kings of Israel were noted as righteous. Previous to this, in the United Kingdom, there was only 1/3 considered righteous (David). Even Solomon, who started well, ended up building temples to false gods. All told, we can count 42 kings, of which only 9 were righteous. Not a great percentage.

So why should these Israelites concoct a history like this that is so full of unflattering stories and examples? Because it was the truth – the prophets of God wrote down the truth, which is often ugly. Truly, it makes the Jewish people look bad, but there are also heroes along the way. Job, Moses, Abraham, Daniel, David, Josiah – a few bright stars, few and far between.