Monday, May 16, 2011

Deuteronomy 1-6: Recap by Moses

Right, Deuteronomy. The Israelites are still by the Jordan River, which is apparently the boundary of the promised land, and they are about to cross over into it, and I guess kill everyone they find over there. But first, Moses (still not dead) spends about 3 chapters going over the story of how the Israelites got from Egypt to here. I can sort of understand the repetition in this case, because it's a new book.

It's pretty much the same, except a couple of interesting tidbits:
  • In chapter 1, Moses tells the people about how God told him he wouldn't make it to the promised land, because he somehow fucked up the 'making water come out of a rock' thing. But here, Moses tells the Israelites that he blames them for his death. That's nice.
  • In chapter 2, we find out more about why the Israelites killed some people and not others. Apparently they passed some people by because God told them to, because he had "given this land as a possession to the descendants of" Esau, or Lot, or whoever. In other words, God seems to have had other "covenants" with other tribes of people to give them land. Except in their cases, it didn't take about 500 years of slavery, hardship, wandering around in the wilderness, God himself killing hundreds of thousands of the very people he's supposed to like with plagues and fires, etc. Somebody explain to me in what way the Israelites are God's favorite people again? He treats them worse than everybody else.
Anyway, then in chapter 4 Moses starts talking about all the rules they're all supposed to follow. He basically says, you already know all the rules, and be damned sure to obey them, because...just do it, dammit! He also says, "remember that time when God gave us the 10 commandments..." even though I think he is officially the only person left who was actually alive then. Lol, crazy old man.

Then he reminds them about the "no idols!" rule, which I am absolutely convinced is the only thing God cares about, other than "no fucking yeast" and the "pleasing" aroma of burning animals. In what may be the biggest understatement of the bronze age, Moses also calls God "jealous" a couple of times in here.

Also at this point, Moses says (for the third time) that he is going to die here because "The LORD was angry with me because of you." Why is he blaming them? From my own understanding of what the bible said, God got upset for no apparent reason about the one time Moses made water come out of a rock. In that case, Moses can just blame God for being a fickle bitch.

On the other hand, it seems that the general interpretation of that story is that Moses didn't sufficiently glorify God for the water...he tried to take all the credit for it, in other words. In that case, it's mostly his own damn fault. And again, God is still partly to blame, for being a fickle bitch. Either way, he should really stop trying to guilt everyone about it.

Moses also threatens them that if they don't follow all God's rules, they will "quickly perish" and be destroyed, and scattered, and so on. Fantastic.

Then Moses starts talking about how fantastic God is. He created the universe! He brought us out of Egypt! You people had just better acknowledge his existence and obey his every fucking whim.

Then Moses names the 6 cities of refuge.

Man, this is all over the place. If the storyteller was trying to capture the fact that this is basically the incoherent ramblings of a dying old man, they did a great job!

For his next act, Moses goes over the 10 commandments... the 1st version, not the 2nd one (the one about "don't cook a baby goat in it's mother's milk" and so on). A couple of interesting bits here too.
  • Moses says that even though God laid down the covenant law at Mt. Sinai, he wasn't actually making the covenant with them, it was with the people alive now. Except that's not what he said then... apparently God lied to them. Fantastic.
  • Also, Moses says that at Mt Sinai the people were too afraid to go up the mountain...but at the time, I remember God repeatedly forbidding anyone but Moses from going up there.
Moses also tells them to obey "so that you may live." Always with the threats.

Now we get a whole chapter where Moses tells the Israelites to obey, remember, love, and fear (but mostly obey) God. Also, teach the covenant law to your children, and that they should all think and talk about it almost constantly (when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, etc). And write it on your doors and gates. Because this is totally not excessive.

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