Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Moses dies, couldn't have written Deuteronomy - Many religious people contend that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch) by himself. That can't be, because how could he have written Chapter 34, which is essentially his obituary?
It's a very short chapter, too. Moses dies in Moab and is buried somewhere near Bethpeor, but no one knows where his tomb is (Deut. 34:6).
It says he lived to be 120 years old, and was sharp-witted and able-bodied as ever, which contradicts Chapter 31, which said he was unable to "go out and come in". I'm not sure what Chapter 31 was referring to, but it sounded like it was a big problem for Moses.
The chapter also ends by saying that no prophet in Israel is like Moses, in that he knew Yahweh "face to face". This, of course, contradicts many other verses in the Bible that describe people who actually have seen Yahweh, or the claim that Yahweh can be seen at all. In fact, in Exodus 33:11, Yahweh Himself only shows his ass to Moses and tells him he will never be able to see his face because no man can see His Face and live.
And that ends my foray into the Book of Deuteronomy, and I'm proud to say, I finished reading the Pentateuch. Finally!
Moses does a final shout to his boys - Before he dies, Moses does a shout out to his boys in the leadership caste of the Israelites in Chapter 33. It's not too much really, just the glorious rantings of a dying old man who probably never existed.
One thing that's weird is that in the beginning it says that these are Moses's words, but Moses is mentioned in the list of people being praised. In fact, he's the first one.
Some of the more interesting "props" given is for Levi, and a special compliment for his Urim and Thummim. The Urim and Thummim is kind of like a coin toss. Flip it and it lands, you get heads (or Urim) or tails (Thummim), and that guides the decision.
Another interesting shout-out is to Joseph, who actually gets a lot of praise from Mo. Aside from Joseph being blessed by Yahweh in successful agriculture and hunting his glory is like the first male son of a bull, and his horns are like a unicorn. They really had a different concept for flattery back then, didn't they?
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Chapter 32 starts off nice, Moses talking about how great Yahweh is and how perfect His work is. And then, with almost no transition, it sinks into the macabre. Literally, here's the transition:
32:4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
32:5 They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.
And it goes downhill from there - burning and starving for everyone, including elderly and children.
What I want to know is - where does perception of a loving God come from? I mean I see that the Israelites loved Yahweh - well, some of them did. And Yahweh sometimes shows love - but it's a love that's built on conditions. It's not really "love" as we understand it. And it's built on the most ridiculous of conditions - "Believe in me and follow my laws, or else!"
As Deuteronomy, and therefore the Pentateuch, come to a close, I yearn for the great wisdom of the Bible. I haven't seen much evidence for it yet. Deuteronomy especially is just the same thing, over and over: "God is wonderful, but since you guys suck He's going to make your life really shitty!"
Thursday, June 10, 2010
At 120 years old, Moses begins to worry about his legacy.
Moses prepares to die - In a man's waning years, he becomes worried, perhaps even paranoid, that all of the things that he worked for in this life will go to hell in a handbasket. This is the image I get of the author of Deuteronomy, Chapter 31.
Moses, whom aside from the Bible there appears to be no evidence of being a real person, symbolizes the worries of the ancients who wrote collaborated in the writing of Deuteronomy. They wrote it during a time of competition with other religions. They wrote it as their new Yahwist religion was just getting afoot. The religion had a strong base among the Israelite people, but many people still worshiped the gods of old Sumeria. And so, as the founders of the religion began to get old, they worried. And, they used Moses as the mouthpiece of this worry.
As his strength and vision was leaving him, Moses said he is no longer able to move around. But he told the Israelite people he had a vision, and Yahweh told him that they will conquer the nations around them with the help of Joshua. He brought Joshua before them and told him of the vision.
Yahweh had also wrote a song for Moses. That was rather kind for an all-knowing, all-powerful deity to do, wasn't it? The song further reflected the worries of these old men. Apparently, to set up the need for the song, Yahweh told Moses that after he dies, his people will begin to worship the other gods in droves; and that He (Yahweh) will no longer bless them but curse them.
So, He made a song to teach the Israelites so that they will be ever reminded of Yahweh's love of the Israelites, what He did for them, and what they must do for Him in return.
So, in a nutshell. Whatever this song was (it was unclear in the chapter what the song was), it was made because the Levites (or priesthood) were worried that people were on the verge of losing their religion, and taking on other ones.
What I want to know is if Yahweh was so prevalent back then, showing himself as a great pillar of fire and smoke upon the Tabernacle, making these great shows of display, destroying all their enemies, and even destroying a few Israelites in the process - why is it that so many Israelites had so much trouble believing in Yahweh? Why was it such a prevalent problem that people were converting to other religions?
Thursday, June 03, 2010
Did this gentleman choose to jump up and down at the beach, or is it the Will of God?
Deuteronomy 30 - The Lord thy God will circumcise your heart ..." Thanks, Yahweh. Having all that extra skin on there is a sure way for it to get dirty.
Fortunately, Deuteronomy is quick, dirty, and mercifully short. It's basically the same format as the last few chapters. "If you do what Yahweh says, He'll be happy and bless you. If not ... well, we ought to know by now what that entails." Murder, death, cursing, blah blah.
Long after this book was written, a gentleman named Paul living in the Roman Empire misquoted a part of this chapter to serve his own ends. Deuteronomy 30:14 says, "... the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou may do it."
Basically, Deuteronomy 30:14 says that though Yahweh's Law is professed and in our heart, we have the ability to choose to do it.
In the Book of Roman 10:8, Paul wrote: "The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach." Paul leaves out "that thou may do it" and replaces it with "that is, the word of faith, which we preach."
By doing so, this passage is turned on its head. Now, instead of faith and choosing to do the right thing; Paul is now supporting salvation by faith alone.