Tuesday, December 01, 2009
I'm finally going to finish Numbers here. I've been at this book for what seems like months. After all the huffing and puffing, animal sacrifices and censuses, the Israelites send 12,000 men to battle against the Midianites. The Midianites are obliterated, and every Midianite male is killed.
The Israelites take the Midianites' livestock and goods, and bring the surviving women and children to Moses. Moses is shocked, and says, "Why did you bring back ALL the women alive?!? Kill every male child, and kill every women who has had sex with a man! But all the female children that haven't had sex, keep them for yourselves!"
If you don't believe me, that's Numbers, Chapter 31:17-18.
After this proclamation, the Israelites inventory all the goods they've pillaged. It comes to:
- 675,000 sheep
- Threescore (a "score" is 20, so I'm guessing the total amount here is 72,000) and 12,000 "beeves"
- Threescore and 1,000 donkeys
- 32,000 virgin women.
And I'm not sure where these came from, but they also received an additional:
- 330,500 sheep (of which over 600 were sacrificed)
- 36,000 beeves (sacrificed threescore and 12)
- 30,500 donkeys (sacrificed 61)
- 16,000 persons (It reads as if they may have sacrificed 32 people here.)
This is the main event, but the next few chapters have a few interesting things as well, aside from the constant recordkeeping of where the Israelites move to and set up. It's also good to know that the journey from Egypt to Canaan (where the Israelites eventually wind up), for some reason they were lost for 40 years, when it would've taken a few weeks even back then. Yahweh apparently curses them to wander because the Israelites were discouraged at the sight of the land He had promised them.
In Chapter 33:50, Yahweh tells Moses to kill all the inhabitants of Canaan and make sure to destroy all their religious symbols - melt their statues and take down their 'high places'. High places is probably a reference to the Asherah's, or groves, in which the Canaanite people worshipped Asherah - who in Canaanite and Sumerian mythology is the wife of El. And El, the chief sky god of the Canaanite and Sumerian pantheon, is who Yahweh was originally (in Genesis). Pretty crazy stuff, eh?
"Yahweh" tells the Israelites to kill ALL the Canaanites, or otherwise He will make the Canaanites a thorn in the side of the Israelites. Yahweh my ass. The political leaders of Israel are using Yahweh to justify the killing of the Canaanites. This crap has been going on for thousands of years!
The rest of the chapters are just a bunch of divvying up of the spoils of war, a few begats, and a few extra rules. And that's pretty much it for Numbers - a truly horrific, and horribly written, book of the Bible.
I will close with this interesting rule from Numbers 35:16-28, which I will sum up: "If you kill a person with malice, you shall be put to death. But if it is an accident, you will be safe within the haven of the city. But if you are caught outside the city walls, it is okay for the closest relative of the victim to kill you."