Saturday, May 21, 2011

Deuteronomy 26-34: God is one sick, twisted fuck

So, Moses has just finished going over all of God's rules. Now comes the part with the threats and coercion to get them to obey.

There is yet another statement of the little deal they're making... God says that the Israelites are his "treasured possession" and they will be a great nation, better than all the rest. Nothing we haven't been hearing a million times since the beginning of Genesis. And in return, the Israelites promise to obey. Or more accurately, Moses promises on behalf of the Israelites that they will obey.

Moses tells them that after they cross the Jordan, they have to go to Mount Ebal and build an alter there. They have to include 3 big rocks that have all these rules written on them. And, guess what, they have to make sacrifices.

Also, they have to curse and bless themselves. Moses splits them in half, one half has to stand on Mount Ebal and recite the curses, the other half stands on Mount Gerizim and recite the blessings. Weird.

People who do the following are cursed:
  • make idols
  • dishonor your parents
  • move boundary stones
  • trick the blind
  • withhold justice from foreigners, orphans, or widows
  • sex with your father's wife, sister, half-sister, or mother-in-law
  • bestiality
  • secretly kill your neighbor (apparently you have to do that in the open)
  • hit man (killing someone for money)
  • anyone else who doesn't follow the law (lol, did they get bored?)
And the blessings are:
  • fruit of your womb
  • crops
  • livestock
  • basket and kneading trough
  • "when you come in and when you go out" ...whatever that means
  • you will easily defeat your enemies
  • barns
  • "everything you put your hand to"
  • you'll get rain!
All this holds as long as they obey. But if they don't obey, woe unto them! Pretty much exactly the opposite of all the blessings happen. The fruit of your womb is cursed, no rain, and so on. Also,
  • disease
  • plague
  • blight
  • mildew
  • scorching heat
  • sky turns to bronze (weird)
  • ground turns to iron
  • your carcasses will be food for wild animals
  • boils
  • tumors
  • blindness
  • oppression
  • madness
  • wives raped
  • you will build a house and not live in it
  • you will plant a vineyard and not enjoy it
  • slaughter and theft of your livestock
  • children sold into slavery
  • locusts
  • worms
  • destruction
  • hunger
  • thirst
  • nakedness
  • poverty
  • you will eat your own children (the ones who weren't sold into slavery?)
Holy shit, I think you've made your point. This is an awful lot like Leviticus 26. I dare anyone to read Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 and still say that God is loving. God is one sick, twisted fuck.

Interestingly, God says that he is making the covenant today, right now, with them. I thought he made it with Abraham ages ago. Whatever.

They are warned, yet again, to not let anyone worship idols or other gods. If you worship something else, God will never, ever forgive you. Also, they will ruin it for everyone!! The land will be a "burning waste of salt and sulfur." And they will be driven out of their land and scattered among other nations. Fantastic.

However, if after that they come back to God, he will forgive them and gather them back to the promised land, and all the good stuff we just talked about will still happen. Aww, that's so cute, God actually thinks he can forgive.

It also mentions "circumcise your heart" here again.

Then there's some little statement about how God has laid 2 paths before you, prosperity and destruction, which path you take is up to you!! I think God set them up to fail, (by giving them laws that they couldn't possibly follow all the time, plus God himself is going to be tempting them to fail) but that's just me. Also, since they have a choice, does this mean we have free will?

Believe it or not, I actually don't know how this story ends, which makes me suspect it ends badly, because why else wouldn't I have learned it in sunday school or church? I guess I'll just have to read on and see.

Then Moses declares Joshua is the new leader.

Then Moses writes down all the rules and gives it to the Levitical priests, with instructions that every 7 years, when everyone comes to God's Special Place, they have to read the rules to everyone.

God tells Moses and Joshua to go to the tabernacle so he can "commission" Joshua. Though apparently he just wanted to talk to them in private, because when they get in there, God tells them that he already knows that the Israelites will rebel, and bring all those curses down on themselves. Hmm, so much for free will. Also, if God already knows all that horrible shit he said is going to happen, then why did he set it up this way? The only reason I can think of is because that's what he wants to happen. God is a real asshole.

Anyway, then God gives them a song to teach to the Israelites. Apparently his motivation for this was so the song would "be a witness for me against them." "This song will testify against them, because it will not be forgotten by their descendants." So he can say "nyah, nyah, I told you so" later, in other words.

Chapter 32 gives the song lyrics. It pretty much tells the story about how they got here, and then it talks about their impending failure. So... now the Israelites know what's going to happen. And apparently they're just going to go along with it anyway.

Then God tells Moses to climb Mount Nebo. Apparently the view of the promised land is quite good from up there... since Moses can't go there, at least he can have a look. How nice of God. And then he gets to die up there. God already told him to do this, of course, and he still hasn't.

Anyway, before he goes, Moses blesses the people. Pretty uninteresting.

Then Moses finally climbs the mountain, and sees the promised land, and then he dies. The Israelites grieved for 30 days.

Apparently there has never been another prophet like Moses, "whom the LORD knew face to face." So Joshua, the new leader, doesn't get to talk to God? And what about that new prophet that was promised a couple of chapters ago? Doesn't that happen? Oh well.

So that's Deuteronomy. A pretty unnecessary book, really. Moses just rehashes all the stuff from Exodus-Numbers, and then dies. Boring.

1 comment:

  1. But then later, as I understand, Joshua is commanded to slaughter the people of Jericho - every man, woman, and child. I don't believe the bible tells us what they did to deserve that fate. Except, that is, for the harlot who lets the soldiers in. Wasn't one of those edicts on the tablets of Moses "thou shalt not kill"? Of course it would have been in now ancient Hebrew but how different could the translation have been? Maybe there was an asterisk next to the commandment with a note saying: "unless otherwise specified".