Tuesday, March 17, 2009

EXODUS: Chapters 5 & 6

Chapter 5
Summary:After their presentation to the elders, Moses and Aaron went to see the Pharaoh. They told him that they were bringing a message from the God of Israel, asking that the people be allowed to make a pilgrimage for a religious feast out in the wilderness.

The Pharaoh questioned as to who this God fellow was, and why should he let the people of Israel go. He stated that he did not know this God and would not let the people go. Moses and Aaron persisted, telling the Pharaoh that they had to obey and make this pilgrimage or God would kill them by plague or by the sword.The Pharaoh now got angry and shouted at them implying that this whole scheme was becoming a distraction from the work the Hebrew slaves had been ordered to do. The Pharaoh then tells the taskmasters to withhold giving the slaves any more straw for making bricks, but also to keep the same quota, stating that they obviously don't have enough to do or else they wouldn't be talking about all this pilgrimage nonsense. So the Israeli slaves scattered everywhere in search of straw in order to meet their brick quotas, so to avoid getting whipped by their task masters.

The foremen of the Israeli slaves begged to the Pharaoh to no avail, and when they saw Moses and Aaron they cursed them both for their bad fortune.

Moses then protested to God, asking him how he could do this to his own people, telling him that the Pharaoh has only become more brutal while God has not delivered the people at all.
Thoughts:Moses and Aaron gain audience with the Pharaoh and ask for his permission to let the people of Israel head off for their pilgrimage, telling him that their God has commanded it.

The Pharaoh states that he has no idea who this God person is and that he doesn't see any reason to let the Israelis take a few days off from work to go on some silly pilgrimage.

Moses and Aaron tell the Pharaoh that the people have to obey God's command or he will kill them - either by plague or by the sword.

This is one of the biggest problems I have with religion - people claim that it's all about love and peace, yet when you point out something like this to them (the "obey me or die" parts) they contradict themselves and justify God's death threats, claiming that God has the right to kill anybody he wants, because he created us all. I wish that people could just take a step back and really see how twisted that logic is. Let's look at it this way:
  • Killing is wrong:
    • Me: Agree.
    • Theist: Agree!
  • Telling somebody to do something and threatening to kill them if they don't is wrong.
    • Me: Agree.
    • Theist: I agree too!
  • Therefore, God threatening to kill people who don't obey him, and God actually killing people for simple disobedience is wrong:
    • Correct.
    • Theist: Um...no. Because everything God commands is just, correct, and proper, so you should obey simply on principle. Oh, yeah, and God can kill anybody he wants because he made us all!
    • Me: So, therefore if God told you to rape and kill your neighbor, or else he would kill you, you would do that?
    • Theist: But God would never ask such a thing!
    • Me: You haven't really read the bible, have you? More specifically, the books of Leviticus and Numbers where God tells Moses to command his armies to rape and murder the inhabitants of entire cities?
    • Theist: Umm...no...I don't remember that part of the bible. But, I'm sure there was a good reason for it!
    • Me: (slaps forehead)
The argument is circular and redundant, as due to the nature of God he can ask you to do whatever he wants you to do and it is never considered "wrong" to believers. He asked Abraham to murder his son Isaac in human sacrifice back in the Book of Genesis: Chapter 22 - and even though he did stop Abraham from going through with this nasty deed, the point is that Abraham was willing to murder a child - his own son - because "God told him to do it". The point that I'm trying to make is that "God told me to do it" is not a justification for murdering a child, especially your own - or for that matter murdering, raping, or harming anyone. Extorting people to do something by the threat of death - whether by sword or plague - also is not a justification either. These are not examples of "love", these are examples of manipulating people through fear and extortion.

Back to our story, the Pharaoh has had enough hearing about Aaron, Moses, and God's idea to have a picnic out in the wilderness and figures that the Hebrews obviously have too much time on their hands if they're hatching all these hair-brained plans and ideas. In turn, he stops supplying the slaves with the straw needed to make bricks, telling them to go find their own, but to keep their brick making quotas the same, or else...

The slaves obviously can't find enough straw to keep their quotas and in turn start receiving whippings from their task masters. Obviously, the foremen of the slaves are none-too-happy with Moses and Aaron's handiwork of ticking off the Pharaoh and curse them both.

Moses ends the chapter off by chatting with God asking how he can sit by and watch all these Hebrews suffering thanks to his little plan.
Chapter 6
Summary:The chapter begins with God boasting about he's got planned for the Pharaoh, adding that by the time he's through with him, he'll be driving the Israelis out of the land. God continues to blather on about that he's the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; his promise of this great piece of land to his descendants; etc. He states that he never revealed his name, Yahweh* to them, however. He then assures Moses that he will keep his promise to the people of Israel. He continues, telling Moses that he will use his mighty power to perform miracles to deliver them from slavery.

Moses goes on to tell the people of Israel what God had said, but they were through listening to him. God speaks to Moses again, telling him to demand that the Pharaoh let the people of Israel go. Moses replies that if his own people won't even listen to him, why should the Pharaoh.

The chapter then finishes off with another redundant list the names of the heads of the various tribes of Israel:
  • The sons of Reuben:
    • Hanoch
    • Pallu
    • Hezron
    • Carmi
  • The heads of the clans of the tribe of Simeon:
    • Jemeul
    • Jamin
    • Ohad
    • Jachin
    • Zohar
    • Shaul
  • Heads of the various tribes of Levi*:
    • Gershon:
      • Libni
      • Shime-i
    • Kohath*:
      • Amram*:
        • Aaron:
          • Nadab
          • Abihu
          • Eleazar
          • Ithamar
        • Moses
      • Izhar:
        • Korah:
          • Assir
          • Elkanah
          • Abiasaph
        • Nepheg
        • Zichri
      • Hebron
      • Uzziel:
        • Misha-el
        • Elzaphan
        • Sithri
    • Merari:
      • Mahli
      • Mushi

Notes:1.) This contradicts Genesis: Chapter 22 where Abraham names the place where he almost slays his son Isaac "Yahweh provides", implying that he must have known God's name of Yahweh.
2.) It is noted that Levi died at age 137.
3.) It is noted that Kohath died at age 133.
4.) It is noted that Amram died at age 137. He also married his father's (Kohath) sister Jochebed, and that Moses and Aaron were his sons.
Thoughts:An interesting footnote I listed above concerns God's insistence that he had never revealed his true name, Yahweh, to either Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob. However, Abraham back Chapter 22 of the book of Genesis specifically calls the place in the mountains where he almost made a human sacrifice out of his son Isaac: "Yahweh Provides". He names it this due to the ram he found stuck in the bushes which he got to sacrifice instead of his son Isaac. While I do note that looking back, I have actually used the name Yahweh in a few of my summaries, it isn't used anywhere in the King James Version of Genesis except for in Chapter 22. A direct quote from the King James Version (noting that the version uses the more improper version of Yahweh, "Jehovah") Genesis 22:14 is:
14: And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.
This verse makes it very clear that Abraham was the person who named the place; used the name Yahweh (or "Jehovah", here) in reference to God; therefore the name Yahweh must have been known to him, contradicting what this chapter claims. The direct quote from the King James Version of the bible concerning this is:
6:3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.
How could have Abraham named the sacrifice place in the mountains if the name Yahweh was not known to him? I'm sure the biblical apologist stance is probably that God is saying something out of context, or that Yahweh is a regular Hebrew word that Abraham just *somehow* put to use with his intentions of naming the location after God. However, I just don't see this myself as anything but a clear error. Abraham had to have known the name Yahweh, or this is by far one pretty unlikely coincidence.

Anyways, God tells Moses not to worry as he's going to keep his promise to free the people of Israel - by using his mighty power of miracles. However, when Moses goes to spread the word to the elders, they've pretty much decided that they're through listening to Moses' crackpot ideas after what happened the last time they decided to hear him out.

We end the chapter with Moses in doubt as to his ability to convince the Pharaoh of anything when he can't even get the elders to hear him out anymore.

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