Thursday, May 29, 2008

Humor in the Bible

The "bone-headed male" category of comedy, best expressed by "Tim 'The Tool Man' Taylor" of the sitcom "Home Improvement," shows us that few things are as funny as a well-meaning guy who wants to say the right thing, but utterly fails. I guess this is funny. Lots of actors playing married men have made careers out of it. If you find this sort of thing funny, then you'll probably chuckle at Elkanah.

The book of I Samuel opens with the story of a man named Elkanah and his two wives, Peninnah and Hannah. What are the odds? Elkanah. Peninnah. Hannah. I imagine them at 1960s cocktail parties, introducing themselves as the "Nah-Nah-Nah family."

Anyway, Peninnah is able to have kids, while Hannah is not--a problem with a huge stigma attached to it in the ancient world of the Nah-Nah-Nahs. On top of that, Peninnah is rubbing it in every chance she gets. "So, how are your kids doing in school? Oh. That's right! You don't have any!" "I'm going to the mall to buy Dinah and Monah some new outfits. Why don't you come along and bring your little ones? Oh, yeah. You don't have any, because God hates you!"

As you can imagine, Hannah is especially bummed out about this whole arrangement. She bursts into another one of her long crying jags while the family is at temple (Jewish family=comedy!), and her husband, trying to get her calmed down says,
"Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don't you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?" -I Samuel 1:8

I don't know whether to slap him or hide out of embarrassment for all of male-kind.

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