Thursday, March 5, 2009

Biblical humor

While the primary purpose of the Hebrew Bible is to teach people how to live a spiritual life and serve God, many of the stories contained in the text are quite humorous. Some of these situations result from a funny predicament and may include humorous imagery as well.

For example, the plague of frogs. First, the imagery invoked of a country overrun with jumping frogs, including frogs in the palace, in the bedrooms of Egypt, in the ovens and kneading bowels is quite ludicrous. Then, as if this image is not funny enough, the Egyptian magicians, trying to downplay what Moses had done, "brought up frogs on the land of Egypt " (Exodus 8:3) to show that they could do the same thing. One would think they would have tried to eliminate the plague (but, of course, they couldn’t).

There is even humor in the word used to describe Moses’ prayer to God asking for the frogs to go away. Moses cried (vayitzack) to God. Moses had to cry because the noise made by all those frogs required that Moses scream to be heard (see the commentary of Sifse Chachamim).

Friedman, Hershey. International Journal of Humor Research, Vol. 13, Sept. 2000

1 comment:

  1. I know the Lord has a sense of humor, of that I am sure.