Friday, January 22, 2010
I've mentioned before that Deuteronomy is a collection of sermons from Moses to the Israelites.
Deuteronomy, Chapter 8 is a reminder to the Israelites that if they forget Yahweh for what He has helped them achieve, then He will chastize them.
As the closing sentences say, "And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God."
Chapter 9 is a sort of pep rally to the Israelites just prior to invading other lands. Moses warns the Israelites of "nations greater then their's" and of even MORE giants! But they shouldn't fear, because they have Yahweh on their side, and the Ark of the Covenant, and they shall surely prevail.
Moses justifies their invasion. I paraphrase this, but I encourage you to the chapter for yourself. "It's not for our own pride or for our own benefit, but because these nations are an affront to Yahweh, and it is only through their destruction that Yahweh can deliver on his Holy promise of delivering them to their land of milk and honey."
Moses reminded the people about how they have strayed. "While I was up on the Mount for 40 days and 40 nights, eating only bread and water, and Yahweh was writing His commandments, you were down here worshipping an idol of Ba'al, and corrupting yourselves! Yahweh wanted to destroy you then, but I interceded and convinced Him not to do so."
In Chapter 10 Moses continues his historical narrative, basically reminiscing on the how the ark of the covenant was created. He sort of takes the credit for building the ark. But if we look back in Exodus 37:1, it's a man named Bezaleel. Moses also seems to get it wrong about the death of Aaron and where he was buried. In Deuteronomy, Aaron was buried in a place called Mosera; but in Numbers Aaron was buried on Mount Hor.
Moses closes chapter 10 with a series of problematic statements. He says that the only requirement he asks of the Israelites is that they fear Yahweh, to keep His commandments, and to remember that the heavens and the earth belong to Him. We should be kind to strangers, praise Yahweh because he is above all other gods, and we should swear by His name.
There's so many technicalities on that little bit. Depending on where you read in the Bible, the Earth belongs to either God, humans, or the devil. Being kind to strangers isn't necessarily a Judeo-Christian trait if you've read the Bible. And of course, we're not supposed to swear by the name of this particular god.
We see here in these chapters that Yahweh can be reasoned with, if we stroke His ego. Wait. Isn't that the key to all Abrahamic religions? Isn't that what Jews, Christians, and Muslims say that the whole purpose of life is? It's to worship. It's to stroke the ego of Yahweh, or Allah. Worship is that, and it is also a surrender to God. Right?
I remember when I was a Christian. The words I spoke were meant to stroke the ego of God, but the experience in so doing was a surrender. There's nothing wrong with the surrender, per se. It's the context of how we do it that is problematic. The surrender is an experience that can be had by all humans. Surrendering of course, leaves us in a vulnerable state. The words that we say in this condition, be it "Praise Jesus", "Hare Krishna", "Om nama shivaya" or "Allahu Ackbar" are utterly separate from the experience itself. It is only afterward that we internalize the meaning of these words. We somehow attribute their implications to the spiritual experience itself. If you don't believe me, try it yourself.
So, in the words of Moses, "Don't be so stiff-necked and proper. Rather, circumcise the foreskin of your heart." (Deuteronomy 10:16) :)
Posted by Andy at 8:50 AM