Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Numbers, Chapter 25: Right off the bat, 24,000 Israelites die of a horrible plague. And all this after we've been talking about talking donkeys and the conquests of other nations! What happened?
Well, if you've been following this blog or are familiar with the Old Testament, we all know how Yahweh is. He's jealous, He's psychotic, and He's kind of anal. He almost reminds me of Kim Jong Il.
In a nutshell, the Israelites started hanging out with the wrong crowd; the Moabs and the Midianites. The Israelites even partook of some of the worship ceremonies of the Moabs, who worshiped a god (or Baal) named Peor. Peor is the name of the mountain where they were, so it's likely that Baal Peor was a local god of that particular mountain. Apparently, the Israelite men were getting busy with the Midianite women as well.
Yahweh witnesses this and just goes off the handle. He says to Moses, "Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel."
As a further affront, an Israelite man brings a "Midianitish" woman before the congregation, and takes her into a tent. The grandson of the recently deceased Aaron sees this, grabs a spear, and pursues the two into the tent, and runs both of them through. In fact, the woman is stabbed through the belly.
Yahweh sees this and is greatly pleased, and prevents the entire population of Israelites from contracting the plague He had sent out. Unfortunately, 24,000 do die before this happens. Yahweh tells Moses that the man who killed the two will be blessed for his zealousness. And then the Sumerian god who nowadays Christians revere as the omnipotent creator of the universe turns to Moses again and says, "Vex the Midianites, and kill them all."
I am happy to report that the next few chapters I can pretty much skip, because they repeat things that have already been said. They go through another census as they prepare to make war on the Midianites (numbers are probably inflated), they go through some more rituals about animal sacrifice, there is another reference to the practice of scapegoating, etc. The only thing to add is that in Chapter 30 we find out that women are not really responsible for anything - it's the men who oversee them that are responsible for them. And if she is responsible for something, it's only because her father or husband allows her too.
Next time, the Midianites gets smited!!!
Above: Heavy metal culture has brought back Ba'al into something completely different.