Monday, November 23, 2009


Chapter 5
Summary:Moses gathers the people of Israel and said to them,
"Hear, the people of Israel, the laws and judgment which I speak to you on this day, that you learn and obey them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Mount Horeb, and he made this covenant not with our forefathers, but with us who all of us are here alive to this day.

"The Lord talked with you face to face from the mountain out of the midst of the fire. I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to show you the word of the Lord, for you were afraid of the fire, and did not go up the mountain."
Moses then restates the ten commandments:
  • I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Thou shalt have none other gods before me.
  • Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth:

    Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
  • Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
  • Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee. Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:

    But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work , thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.
  • Honour thy father and thy mother , as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
  • Thou shalt not kill.
  • Neither shalt thou commit adultery.
  • Neither shalt thou steal.
  • Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.
  • Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour's.
Moses continues,
"These words the Lord spoke to all of you at the mountain, from the midst of fire, from the cloud, and in thick darkness with a great voice - he added no more, but wrote them down onto two tablets of stone, and delivered them to me.

"It came to pass, when you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness - for the mountain did burn with fire - that the heads of your tribes and your elders came before me saying, 'Behold, the Lord our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice from the midst of the fire. We have seen a day where God has talked with man, and man survived, but why should we [tempt] death [again]? This great fire could consume us, and if we hear the voice of the Lord our God anymore we could die. For what mortal has ever heard the voice of God speaking out the fire, as we have, and lived?

'Go hear all that the Lord has to say and speak it to us afterward, and we will listen and obey.

"The Lord heard your words when you said this to me, and the Lord said to me, 'I have heard the words of the people, and they have spoken wisely. They have a great heart in them, that they would fear me, and always keep all my commandments. If they obey, all will be good for them and their children throughout their generations.

'Tell the people to return to their tents, but when you return, stand here and I will speak to you all the commandments, statutes, and judgments for you to teach them, that they may follow in the land which I give them to possess.

"You are to obey exactly as the Lord your God has commanded you, you are not to deviate from his law in either direction. You shall walk in all the ways that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that all may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess."
Thoughts:Moses gathers the Israelites and prepares them to listen to his retelling of the "ten commandments" that we first encountered in Exodus: Chapter 20.

Moses tells the people that these commandments differ from most of God's covenants, since the people this covenant was made with are still alive and listening to Moses' speech this day. However, this couldn't be possible considering that this speech occurs after the last generation of Israelites - the one who were present in Mount Horeb - were made to wander around the desert for forty years, and they had all died out since then.

Moses states that God spoke to the Israelites "face to face" from the midst of fire upon the mountain, and also claims that he served as an intermediary between God and the people, because they were afraid of the fire, and did not go up the mountain - which might very well have something to do with the fact that they were threatened with death if they were to attempt to approach the mountain.
Moses then retells the ten commandments, which is almost identical to how they appear in Exodus: Chapter 20 with only some slight differences to the wording of the fourth commandment, with an additional reminder of God's rescue of the people from slavery in Egypt. Moses tells the people that these commandments were written by God onto two stone tablets that were delivered to Moses.

He then mentions that the people were frightened of hearing God's voice and somehow couldn't shake the apparently common superstitious fear of the time, being that you apparently are not supposed to be able to hear the voice of God and live. The Israelites, according to Moses, asked Moses to be their middle man, delivering God's message to them, so that they would not have to fear God's voice speaking out of the flames again.

Obviously this sets Moses up in a position of power that is easily abused - as now anything that Moses claims is "God's word" is to be believed as such, without any way of discerning whether what is being said is in fact "God's word" or Moses' own personal agenda. The Israelites aren't even allowed to venture up near the foot of the mountain, nor are they allowed within the tabernacle, both under the penalty of death. Thereby creating a "man behind the curtain" facade in which Moses and the priests can take advantage of the blind trust the people have in that the edicts they receive are the "word of God", the privacy they are afforded by having areas that are off limits to the public - enforced with capital punishment, and very little recourse for anyone to dispute their leadership.

The biggest problem with religion is that it discourages critical thinking, that people are not to question authority for any reason, and that laws are not to be amended or adapted to evolve alongside of societal changes. Over time we find that many laws simply serve no function to us any longer, or were unjust from the very beginning (such as slavery) but were kept on the books to avoid civil unrest between proponents and the opposition. As we discover new technologies that alter the way we live - such as the automobile, radio, telephone, and the internet - we need new laws to regulate the usage of these technologies to protect people's safety. We simply can't rely upon the laws that were in effect in 1776 to govern the modern world in 2009. It's even more unfathomable to attempt to live as people did in the bronze age over 3000 years ago did, yet that is exactly what religion attempts to encourage. The Catholic church is against the use of contraception and carries this message even when dealing with HIV stricken countries like Africa where condom usage would better help contain the further spread of the disease than simply telling people to practice abstinence - which obviously doesn't work very well with their own priests and their ensuing sexual abuse scandals.

Moses tells the Israelites that even God himself approves of the Israelites suggestion of having Moses play middleman, and says that life will be peachy and keen so long as they follow all of God's commandments. God tells Moses to send the congregation of people back to their tents so that he can speak with Moses alone and give him all the commandments, statutes and judgments for him to teach the Israelites.

Moses finishes off the chapter by stating that these laws are to be obeyed exactly as God commanded them, and not to be added to or subtracted from, or altered in any way.

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