Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Modern Dubai, Ancient Jerusalem

Sometimes I see photos of Dubai. It's usually accompanied by paragraphs gushing about the architecture or the opulence or wealth. It sickens me because I know that it's built on some of the worst labour conditions on the planet. A quick web search into "dubai slavery" will give you the picture. I refuse to be impressed by the place.

And perhaps this is just confirmation bias at work, but it also gives me a perfect modern day parallel to the most overrated person in the Hebrew Bible: Solomon.
King Solomon conscripted forced labour out of all Israel; the levy numbered thirty thousand men. He sent them to the Lebanon, ten thousand a month in shifts; they would be a month in the Lebanon and two months at home; Adoniram was in charge of the forced labour. Solomon also had seventy thousand labourers and eighty thousand stonecutters in the hill country, besides Solomon’s three thousand three hundred supervisors who were over the work, having charge of the people who did the work. At the king’s command, they quarried out great, costly stones in order to lay the foundation of the house with dressed stones. So Solomon’s builders and Hiram’s builders and the Gebalites did the stonecutting and prepared the timber and the stone to build the house. 1 Kings 5:13-18, NRSV
For the sake of the house of Yahweh, he enslaved his own people. Yeah, great king.

No wonder I have such a terrible reaction when I hear people talk about "the house" rather than the congregation or the building. If it's so bad for Dubai to be built on slavery, then it's equally as bad for Solomon to build the temple on slavery.
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