More killing people today, wonderful. This time it's for bowing down to the sun, the moon, or the stars. If two or three people (or more, presumably) see you doing this, you are to be taken out and stoned to death.
Chapter 17 reviews the Israeli court system. If you can't decide something among yourselves then go to the judge and he will decide it for you. This is something the bible is actually relatively coherent about. There is a bit of a backslide though, if you don't listen to the judge (ie a modern day "contempt of court" charge) then you get the standard punishment, death.
The end of Chapter 17 talks about the sort of king that should rule over any land you enter. First, it has to be a king that God chooses. How do we know what king God chooses? Oh that's right, the king tells us that God has chosen him (then we get "kings" like George Bush *gag*). Second, he must be an Israelite. America is doing well on that one (or very bad if you don't consider a Christian a type of Jew). Third, he can't be a foreigner. The United States is doing well on that one too. Fourth, he must not acquire a great number of horses. What? I think this one is a little out dated. I mean, no, it's not out dated, because this is the inspired word of God. Well, I guess we're doing well on that one as well. Fifth, he must not take many wives. Sixth, he must not accumulate great wealth. Oops. Bush (and every other president for that matter) forgot about that one.
Deuteronomy 18 has a list of detestable practices. These are: Don't burn your son or daughter in the fire (good one), don't practice divination or sorcery, don't interpret omens (yes, 99% of Christians, don't interpret omens), don't be a witch (yeah, Sarah Palin... Oh, witch. Never mind), don't cast spells, and don't consult the dead. If you do these things, God hates you.
The end of chapter 18 describes a prophet that God will send the Israelites. It seems like I've heard about an important Jewish prophet. God is going to send a prophet to the Israelites that they must listen to. But we just went over the fact that the Israelites are supposed to kill prophets. Well apparently you are only supposed to kill the prophets that don't claim to be hearing from the Israeli God. The bible says "You may say to yourselves 'How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?'". Good call bible, that's just what I was going to ask. The answer is that if a prophet says that God told them to say something, and it doesn't happen, then you know it wasn't God and you should kill him. So the only requirement to be a prophet is to predict something and have it come true? I decree on this day, that tomorrow is Monday!!! God told me that, follow me now.
The big question is, is this Jesus? Deuteronomy 18 is a widely cited prediction of Jesus' coming. I'm calling bullshit. This new prophet could easily be Joshua. He is a prophet who speaks to God, and everyone is supposed to follow him. I'm sure I'll have more to say about this when I hear about Jesus, and from what I hear this isn't the only Jesus "prophesy".
Deuteronomy 19 goes over the city of refuge concept. Somehow, if you accidentally kill someone, you are only safe in these select cities. If you kill someone on purpose and flee to one of these cities, the townspeople are supposed to somehow come get you, and prove that you killed on purpose. Then they kill you. This seems like a very strange justice system, and the bible was doing so well on it's court system idea.
At the end of the "Cities of Refuge" section there is this paragraph: "Do not move your neighbor's boundary stone set up by your predecessors in the inheritance you receive in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess." Excuse you? What does this have to do with cities of refuge? Are we miscategorizing things now (God has ADHD maybe)? So, don't move your neighbors boundary stones, whatever that means.
Chapter 20 is titled "Going to War". All the men of Israel have to fight, but a few groups get a reprieve. If you have a new house that's not dedicated, you get to leave the fight and go dedicate it. If you plant a vineyard and you haven't enjoyed it yet, you get to leave and enjoy it. If you are pledged to a woman, you get to go back and marry her. If you are afraid, or fainthearted, you get to go back so you don't scare everyone else. So essentially, if you don't want to fight you don't have to?
When you go to a city to fight, you are to give them an "offering of peace". Great, diplomacy right? Not quite. This offering of peace, we find out a few sentences later, consists of "surrender and be our slaves". Right, that's a great peace offering. If they refuse (I wonder why they'd refuse to be slaves) you are to kill all the men and take the women and children as plunder. This is unless you are battling a city that "God has given to you" then you are supposed to kill everything that breathes, so they don't corrupt you with their Gods. How exactly are the young children and babies you slaughter going to convince you that their Gods are the right Gods? What about the animals? Are they going to preach about Baal and corrupt the Israelites?
This sounds horrible (it is), but there's one thing you can't kill, maybe God still has some decency. The one thing you can't kill....Fruit trees. God wants you to save the fruit trees, cause there's one moral line we wont cross. Just to reiterate, kill the men, women, and children, burn the town and all the animals, save the fruit. Got it. I can't imagine why those nasty Atheists say they don't get their morality from the bible. It's obviously a tome full of perfect moral codes.
*Bible (sort of) News*
I couldn't find anything directly related to the bible today, but I found an interesting article on student religion in public schools. According to a Boston Globe article, Massachusetts is considering passing a bill to promote forums in public school for religious discussion. The only problem I have with this is when I'm forced to sit through it. An example would be graduation ceremonies, which would be "protected" under this bill. I think we can all agree that if you don't talk about your religion during a graduation speech, that I wont talk about how God doesn't exist during my graduation speech. Because that would have nothing to do with the topic at hand (graduating).
On the other hand, if Christians want to have a student group, pray before/after school (in a non-disruptive manner), or write a paper for a class project about religion. Then I'm 100% behind it. That is, of course, if secular student groups are also equally allowed, and I'm allowed to make anti-religious school projects.