A nonbeliever's SECOND reading of the Bible

A nonbeliever's SECOND reading of the Bible
Hunc tu caveto.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Exodus ends with the building of the Tabernacle, a special, portable temple-ish structure that holds the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark is where Moses will store the stone tablets.

The final chapters of Exodus are a very long and detailed account on how the temple, the ark, the altar, and all the regalia that comes with them (i.e. curtains, statues, etc.), were made. The Israelites building it were following instructions laid out when Moses was speaking with God up on Mt. Sinai.

"And they set in it four rows of stones: the first row was a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this was the first row." That's how detailed they are, for the last five chapters.

Other than the building of the Tabernacle and Ark, I should point out some inconsistencies, as that is my role as a nonbeliever to do so.

Verse 37:1 says that a man named Bezeel builds the Ark of the Covenant, but later in Deuteronomy Moses says that he's the one that built it. Not a big deal, BUT it's just one more thing to add to the long list of inerrancies within the Bible.

Verse 38:26 seem to indicate that the Israelites numbered at a few million people. Such a number is ridiculous. Even the City of Rome, a few hundred years later, would only have 1 million people living in it at its height. And that's a city with irrigation and aquaducts, etc. The people who wrote Exodus are claiming that several million people that were living in the desert! I'm not sure if we should take that claim seriously.

Don't get me wrong, though. The Tabernacle is very significant to the Israelites. And thought we don't realize it yet; the Ark is F***ing awesome!

In later books of the Old Testament, we'll see how the Ark is like the Israelite's secret weapon. It shoots this light out, called the Shekinah, which obliterates armies like they're nothing.

As for the Tabernacle, when Yahweh is in it in the daytime, He appears as a cloud. And when He's in it at night, He appears as a pillar of fire. When Yahweh is present, the Israelites can resume their traveling. When He isn't there, the Israelites stay where they are and wait for Him to come back.

So, let's put this in perspective. Exodus tells us that there was a group of several million Israelites wandering around the desert, carrying around the Ark of Covenant, which looked like an anvil, with two cherubim statues, on a stretcher. The Ark probably felt like an anvil, too, to the people carrying it. The cherubim are not cute little baby angels, either. They're a mythical creature with four legs and wings. At least, that's what the Sumerians believed. And the Israelites are basically the Sumerians with a slightly different religion.

Meanwhile, a huge dark cloud would follow them through the desert. When the group would stop, they'd build up this portable temple, the dark cloud would settle on it, and as night came a huge pillar of fire would rise up from the Tabernacle area, in full view of everyone, probably for miles around.

These were people you didn't want to mess with. And this is one heck of a tall tale!

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