Saturday, October 24, 2009

49: Rebellion

Numbers 16-17
Numbers 16 finally brings some action. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram decide to rise up against Moses. Ironically, the people that are rising up against him are Levites (the only people that were with him for the golden calf incident). Moses, seeing his opposition, tells them to present fire before the Lord. This is the same sort of "unauthorized fire" that got Aaron's sons killed. Moses is using God as a puppet to execute his opposition. He knows that God will kill them if they present this fire.

To make sure God kills them, he goes to God and says "Do not accept their offering". God is totally getting played here. Shouldn't it be Moses getting executed, considering Moses just told them to offer the fire to God? These people are going to get punished for doing what Moses tells them to do.

They bring their fire to the tent of meeting (along with Moses and Aaron). God tells Moses and Aaron to step away from the assembly because he is going to kill them (big shocker there). Moses asks God why he is mad at the whole assembly if only one man has sinned. Is he being coy? Did Moses not just tell God to reject their offering?

God doesn't listen to Moses this time. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram are buried alive with their families (by God), and anyone who brought fire for God (other than Aaron and Moses) are burned alive. Did God love and forgive these people too?

The next day the entire Israelite community rises up against Moses, saying that he's killed the Levites (the Israelites are finally catching on). God immediately begins killing everyone with a "plague". Moses and Aaron decide they don't really want everyone to die (otherwise who are they going to rule over). Aaron runs into the assembly and atones for their sins before God can kill any more people. God kills 14,700 people in all (a nice round number, convenient). So God didn't forgive these people until Aaron atoned for their sins? Doesn't this mean that Aaron is in control of God (i.e. Aaron does nothing, God kills people, Aaron does something, God doesn't kill people)? Why is this "all powerful" God being a total puppet this entire chapter?

In Numbers 17 God commands that the 12 tribes of Israel bring him 12 staffs (plus one for Aaron) and the staff of God's chosen person will sprout. God does this because he wants to rid himself of the constant grumbling against Moses. I propose that God could end the constant grumbling more easily by not killing people. Just a thought.

Of course, Aaron's staff sprouts almonds. God essentially says "there we go, fixed that grumbling problem". To which the Israelites respond by grumbling some more. Why are God's great ideas always so bad? So much for all knowing. Even the Israelites think that Moses is scamming them, they constantly don't believe in the miracles of Moses so why do we?

I'll leave you with a quote to represent the sentiment of the Israelite community toward God. Keep in mind that these are God's chosen people, the people that God is supposed to love the most. "We will die! We are lost, we are all lost! Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the Lord will die. Are we all going to die?" - Numbers 17:12-13.

Friday, October 23, 2009

48: Let's Go Back

Numbers 14-15
After seeing the armies of the Canaanites and the Amalekites the people rebel. They say that they should go back to Egypt or they will be killed by the opposing armies. God is angry that the people would dare doubt him and he says he is going to kill everyone. Moses talks him out of it again. And again, Moses essentially says "what will the Egyptians think of you if you rescue your people only to kill them out in the dessert?". Why does God care what people think of him? On a more profound level, how can Moses talk God out of something? God obviously knew what people were going to think of him before Moses pointed it out, otherwise God wouldn't even be as intelligent as Moses. This is horribly inconsistent with the "all knowing" and "all loving" part of God's character.

It gets even worse. Moses asks God to forgive the people for what they've done, and he immediately says "I have forgiven them". What? I usually try not to get too ahead of myself, but what is Jesus for if God can immediately forgive people just because Moses asks? There is yet to be any mention of an afterlife, so maybe that's what Jesus is for.

God seems to have a strange definition of "I forgive them". He sets them out into the dessert and says that only two of the people currently alive in Israel will live to see the promise land. God also says they will know what it's like to "have [God] against you".

A group of men decide to try to take the promise land for themselves. Wait a minute here, wasn't the whole point of rebelling that they wouldn't fight the people in the promise land? They die because God was not with them. Or because they were a small band of farmers with no military experience. I'll let you decide.

Numbers 15 just reiterates how to give offerings (really? quit repeating these things). The only thing interesting that happens is that a group of Israelites find another Israeli gathering wood on the sabbath. The people that find him bring him back to Moses. Moses consults God and God personally says "The man must die". For collecting wood on the wrong arbitrarily decided day of the week?! God definitely showed his love and forgiving with that guy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

47: You Want Meat? Are You Sure?

Numbers 11-13
Finally! Something mildly interesting. God is back to his childish ways.

The Israelites complain about their hardships (the bible doesn't say what hardships). So, of course, God does the logical thing and starts killing people (burning them to be exact). The people then run to Moses screaming. Moses prays and the fire dies down. It's a good thing Moses is there.

The Israelites, never learning their lesson, start complaining that they only have manna to eat. Moses hears the people complaining and goes to the tent of meeting to talk with God, who is apparently pouting in the tent because nobody likes him. Moses finally tells God that he's being a jerk, and says that if God is going to continue to treat him this way that God should kill him now.

God decides to be a total douche about the whole situation (there's no other way to describe it) and says if they want meat then they will have to eat meat for an entire month. They are to eat meat until it comes out of their nostrils, and they hate it because they've eaten it so much. So someone asks for something, and instead of giving it to them nicely he says "fine, have so much meat that you hate it". How hard is it going to be for God to give them meat? He is all powerful after all.

God drives quail into the camp and the people start eating it. God doesn't like this and strikes all who are eating meat with a "severe plague" that presumably kills them (they bury their bodies).

Aaron and Miriam begin questioning Moses' leadership. God is pissed (of course) and gives Miriam leprosy. Moses tells God to take her leprosy away (why do humans always have to tell God to be a nice person?). God replies "If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been in disgrace for seven days?" and uses this fact to say that she should stay outside of the camp for seven days. What? So if your father spits in your face you're the one at fault?

Moses sends several men ahead to explore the land of Canaan. They come back with a report that the land is indeed flowing with milk and honey (are we translating this passage literally?) but it is also swarming with the enemies of Israel. But wait. I thought God was going to send an angel ahead to clear the path for them. I remember God saying this several times. The first place I can find it is here. I know I've mentioned it in several other posts. God clearly doesn't do what he says he's going to do. Unless, of course, he says he's going to kill you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

46: Trumpets

Numbers 8-10
Yet again we have a section that is rather wordy but pretty irrelevant. Shouldn't this book be filled with gripping passages that make me not want to put it down? We are talking about an all perfect writer after all. I guess that's too much to ask.

In Numbers 8 God (again) sets apart the Levites to be his special Israelites. They're the special, special people. They all have to shave their bodies and have animals sacrificed for them. Only the Levites that are 25 and under are allowed to work in the tabernacle.

God tells the Israelites to celebrate passover (he already said this). Some of the Israelites ask Moses what they are supposed to do if they are ceremonially unclean on passover (from a dead body of course). Moses consults God. God says that if they are unclean on that day then they are supposed to celebrate passover on the fourteenth day of the second month. But what if they are unclean on that day as well? I guess you're screwed. If you can't/don't celebrate passover you are to be cut off from your people. The moral of this story: stay away from dead bodies?

There is a cloud above the tabernacle. When it moves the Israelis move, when it doesn't they don't. Hmm, I said that in two sentences, why did it take the bible 8 verses (half a page)?

Numbers 10 is about two trumpets. One is for the east of the camp, one is for the south of the camp (there is no north or west of the camp?). If both are sounded then everyone is to come to the tabernacle, if only one is sounded then the respective side of the camp assembles. I'm not at all sure how they tell the difference between trumpets.

At the end of Numbers 10 the Israelites leave Sinai. Whenever the Israelites start moving Moses says "Rise up, O Lord! May your enemies be scattered; may your foes flee before you", and whenever they stop he says "Return, O Lord, to the countless thousands of Israel." I only mention this to bring up the irony of calling the Israelites "countless", considering they just counted them.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

45: Offerings Offerings Offerings ...

Numbers 7
Wow, this post may set the record for most uninteresting post so far. As you can see, the wise people who divided the bible into 365 sections have only given me one chapter today, and all it is about is dedicating the tabernacle. The bible seems to bring all these things up again and again for no reason.

This is a hugely long chapter but all it does is list the 12 offerings (on 12 different days) of the 12 representatives of the tribes of Israel at the tabernacle. I will list the offerings by days.

Day 1 - Tribe of Judah
One silver plate, one silver bowl, one gold dish, one young bull, one ram, one male lamb, one male goat, two oxen, five rams, five (more) male goats, and five (more) lambs.

Day 2 - Tribe of Issachar
One silver plate, one silver bowl, one gold dish, one young bull, one ram, one male lamb, one male goat, two oxen, five rams, five (more) male goats, and five (more) lambs. Hmm, it's almost like I just copy and pasted that... Oh wait... I did. They're exactly the same.

Day 3 - Tribe of Zebulun
One silver plate, one silver bowl, one gold dish, one young bull, one ram, one male lamb, one male goat, two oxen, five rams, five (more) male goats, and five (more) lambs. Hmm, it's almost like I just copy and pasted that... Oh wait... I did. Oh no! I'm doing it too, I'm pointlessly repeating myself with different headings.

Day 4 - Tribe of Reuben
Why do I feel like I should be singing this to the 12 days of Christmas? "One silver plate, one silver bowl, one gold dish, one young bull, one ram, one male lamb, one male goat, two oxen, five rams, five (more) male goats, and five (more) lambs." (and a partridge in a pear tree?)

Day 5 - Tribe of Simeon
I'm feeling seriously sorry for whatever scribe had to repeat this text 12 times, I'm hating it right now and all I have to do is copy and paste. One silver plate, one silver bowl, one gold dish, one young bull, one ram, one male lamb, one male goat, two oxen, five rams, five (more) male goats, and five (more) lambs.

Day 6 - Tribe of Gad
Oh no, I'm running out of witty things to say, and I'm only half way through. I could just say "all of these sections are exactly the same". But then my post would be two lines long. One silver plate, one silver bowl, one gold dish, one young bull, one ram, one male lamb, one male goat, two oxen, five rams, five (more) male goats, and five (more) lambs.

Day 7 - Tribe of Ephraim
Did God not have some kind of gift registry? He's going to want to return about 11/12 of his presents. One silver plate, one silver bowl, one gold dish, one young bull, one ram, one male lamb, one male goat, two oxen, five rams, five (more) male goats, and five (more) lambs.

Day 8 - Tribe of Manesseh
This is going to be a ridiculous number of animals slaughtered at the end of this chapter. One silver plate, one silver bowl, one gold dish, one young bull, one ram, one male lamb, one male goat, two oxen, five rams, five (more) male goats, and five (more) lambs.

Day 9 - Tribe of Benjamin
I think the bible is taunting me. Or maybe I'm going completely insane after having read the same paragraph 9 times. One silver plate, one silver bowl, one gold dish, one young bull, one ram, one male lamb, one male goat, two oxen, five rams, five (more) male goats, and five (more) lambs.

Day 10 - Tribe of Dan
I wonder what the tribe of Dan is going to offer... Oh, that's right... One silver plate, one silver bowl, one gold dish, one young bull, one ram, one male lamb, one male goat, two oxen, five rams, five (more) male goats, and five (more) lambs.

Day 11 - Tribe of Asher
Oh my God! Something different!... Ha... Got you... One silver plate, one silver bowl, one gold dish, one young bull, one ram, one male lamb, one male goat, two oxen, five rams, five (more) male goats, and five (more) lambs.

Day 12 - Tribe of Naphtali
Woo hoo! The final day! One silver plate, one silver bowl, one gold dish, one young bull, one ram, one male lamb, one male goat, two oxen, five rams, five (more) male goats, and five (more) lambs.

Now why couldn't the bible have just said "All of the tribes brought one silver plate, one silver bowl, one gold dish, one young bull, one ram, one male lamb, one male goat, two oxen, five rams, five (more) male goats, and five (more) lambs." Wouldn't that have been so much easier?

Monday, October 19, 2009

44: Witch Hunt

Numbers 5-6
Numbers 5 starts with God telling Moses (again) not to let any impurity come into the Israelite camp. Apparently dead bodies somehow make you unclean (I'm told it is by touching a dead body, but the bible hasn't said yet) because nobody that is ceremonially unclean from a dead body can enter the camp.

A subsection in Numbers 5 is "The Test for an Unfaithful Wife". I didn't know that was easily testable. Well here it is, the inalienable word of God. If a man's wife is unfaithful (or more accurately, if a man thinks his wife has been unfaithful) he takes his wife to the priest. The priest will take some holy water and put dirt from the tabernacle floor into it. Then he will put grain in her hands and loosen her hair. The priest is supposed to write on scrolls that if she has been unfaithful the water will make her sick. Finally he washes off the ink from the scrolls into the water and makes her drink it. If she gets sick then she was unfaithful, and if she hasn't she will be fine. This isn't anything like the Salem witch trials. If she is innocent, of course, the husband wont be in trouble for accusing her, but the woman will bear the consequences if she has been unfaithful (or more accurately, if she fails this ridiculous test).

Since when does drinking dirty ink water have anything to do with one's faithfulness? And what's to stop a husband from falsely accusing their wife if their is no consequence? This doesn't sound like something an all knowing creator would write. However, this does sound like something a sexist, ancient, Israelite man, who was ignorant of any modern knowledge would write. I'll let you decide which it was.

Numbers 6 is all about how you become a Nazirite. I'm not really sure what makes a Nazirite and a regular Israelite different. The Nazirites can't eat a few extra things but who cares? What difference does that make? To become a Nazirite you have to go through a period of separation where you can't shave your head. The Nazirites can't even go near a dead body, there is no definition of "near" as far as I can tell, so I guess it's however far you think it is. There seems to be a bit of an obsession with hair. If someone suddenly dies in your presence (thus making you "near" a dead body) then you are said to have defiled your hair. Once your period of separation is over you are to shave your head, then you can drink wine. I'm not sure what you've accomplished by becoming a Nazarite. Something to brag about at a dinner party?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

43: Redemption Money

Numbers 3-4
I yet again do not have much time for a well thought out post, and I yet again have a completely boring section to review. I'm taking this as a sign that God approves of my writing (and anything bad that happens to me is Satan trying to prevent me from writing).

The bible recounts the story of Nadab and Abihu getting killed by God for their unauthorized fire. The bible also says (again) that only the Levites (and Aaron) can go into the tabernacle or touch anything holy. What's the punishment if anyone else touches something holy? Say it with me... Death!

Moses collects more "redemption money" this time 5 sheckels per person (Levite). God sure needs a lot of money. I'm not sure what they need shekels for out in the dessert anyway, so I don't suppose it matters much if they're being robbed of them.

Numbers 4 tells which people should care for which things in/on the tabernacle and numbers all of the people that should do it. Hence the book name I suppose.
 

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