“Since Edom refused to let them go through their territory, Israel turned away from them.”
Alright, so let me get you up to speed here. The Israelites have been bumbling around in the desert for what seems like forever, when they realize that they are coming up on Edom, which had a well-known, large path that was used primarily for trading purposes. Moses sends some messengers to the King of Edom to say, “Hey I’m heading up this HUGE group of people who have had an unbelievably rough life. You’d really be doing me a solid if you’d let us just use the main road that runs through your country. I promise, we’ll leave your crops and everything alone.”
The king replies with a message similar to the one I gave to the guy who cut me off in traffic the other day. The Israelites persist: “Seriously, we just want to use the road. If we need some water, we’ll gladly pay you for it. PLEASE just let us walk through!” Again, the king refuses, and punctuates his message by sending out an army of Edomites to stop the Israelites, just in case they decide to try and use the road anyway.
The King of Edom kind of reminds me of a troll. Not one of those weird looking naked dolls with the crazy hair; more like the kind that eats billy goats that dare to trip-trap over his bridge. All the Israelites want to do is get from Point A to Point B, and Edom was an enormous territory, especially if you’re in a crowd of a few million people traveling on foot. Besides that, Moses was nice enough to try to give the guy a heads up so the countryfolk wouldn’t wig out when they saw this horde of people coming at them while they were outside watching their kids play Red Rover. Yet, the king still said “no.” And it wasn’t even a friendly “No, I’d rather you not.” Rather, he responded with quite a large amount of hostility.
I have a reputation for being a very argumentative person. At some point last year, I realized that as much as I hate to admit it, I’m a bit of a know-it-all. I’m always right–just ask me, I’ll tell you. And if I feel like I’m being treated unfairly, I do not hesitate to make it known exactly how I feel about it.
This particular passage, however, shows me that may not always be the best way to go. We’ve all heard the phrase, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” In this case, though, the Israelites weren’t even looking for flies! They made what seems to be a reasonable request, and were greeted by…well…a troll. But their reaction is intriguing; rather than getting bent out of shape and saying, “Well fuck you too, we’re coming through anyway because you’re a douche,” they “turned away.” Did they deserve to be treated rudely? Not really. Was navigating millions of people (who have already spent the last several decades bitching about everything) around this ginormous territory going to be an inconvenience? You betcha!
Perhaps the lesson learned here is that shit happens. You can’t always control other people or your current situation. Rather than being combative (and possibly getting chopped off at the knees), sometimes it’s better to shut up, grab your ankles and get it over with. It’s not fun, but you’re less likely to get your neck snapped that way. And if the situation isn’t that traumatizing (which it usually isn’t), and you’re always the one flipping out over things, it causes people to see you as a melodramatic headcase. And no one likes to be around a melodramatic headcase.