Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Chapter 6
Summary:Moses addresses the Israelites, saying,
"Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, for you to obey in the land you are to possess - that you might fear the Lord thy God and obey all of his statutes and commandments, which I command you, your sons, and your grandsons, all the days of your life, that your days may be prolonged. Therefore, people of Israel, listen and obey these commandments, that it may be well with you, and that you may increase mightily, as the Lord God of your forefathers had promised, in the land of milk and honey.

"Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord - and you shall love the Lord thy God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your might. These words that I command you on this day, shall be in your heart, and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall speak these laws you are sitting at home, when out for a walk, when you go to sleep, and when you awaken. You should write them onto a sign bound to your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them upon the posts of your house, and upon your gates.

"It shall be, when the Lord your God has brought you into the land which he promised to your forefathers - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - to give to you great and goodly cities, which you would not have to build yourselves; houses full of good things, which you didn't have to furnish yourselves; wells digged, which you did not have to dig; vineyards and olive trees, which you didn't have to plant. When you have eaten until you are full, then beware lest you forget the Lord, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, from your slavery.

"You shall fear the Lord your God, and serve him, and shall swear by his name. You shall not worship other gods, of the gods of the [heathen] people which are around you - for the Lord your God is jealous, lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroys you from off the face of the earth. You are not to tempt the Lord your God as you tempted him in Massah.

"You shall diligently keep the commandments, testimonies, and statutes of the Lord your God, which he has commanded you. You shall do what is right and good in the eyes of the Lord, that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land which the Lord swore unto your forefathers, to cast out all of your enemies from before you, as the Lord has spoken.

"When your son asks you later on in the time to come, 'What do these testimonies, statutes and judgments mean?' You shall answer your son, 'We were the Pharaoh's slaves in Egypt, and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. The Lord showed us signs and wonders, great and terrible, upon Egypt, upon the Pharaoh, and upon all the Egyptian people, before our very eyes. He brought us here from out of there, that he might bring us here to give us the land which he had sworn to our forefathers. The Lord commanded us to fear the Lord our God, for our own good, so that we may remain alive, as we are today. It shall be our righteousness if we obey these commandments before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us."
Thoughts:Moses addresses the Israelites again to enforce the importance of obeying God's commandments. He stresses that people's fear of God should motivate them to obey his laws. Basically Moses is stating that you must obey God if you want to live, even if it means doing something immoral, such as committing mass genocide upon a nation of people - except for the virgin daughters which can be 'kept for yourselves'.

Incredibly, some believers would argue that if the command was issued from God, then that alone makes it a moral act - no matter how heinous of an act it may be. If God told you to rape your grandmother and kill your grandfather, then it would be morally correct for you to do so. In response to this, the believer might insist that God would never command such a thing, but in the Old Testament outside of the countless genocides he's commanded, he also commanded Abraham to sacrifice his own son - which he was ready, willing, and able to do, and he attempted to do so before God stopped him. While the apologist will argue that this was "just a test" of Abraham's faith, this completely sidesteps the fact that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own child simply because God told him to do so. Abraham didn't argue or plead with God, nor did he question him, he simply tricked his son into going on an errand with him alone, and after building an altar with Isaac's help, he then ties the boy to the altar and prepares to plunge a knife into his own son. The apologist tends to be quick to point out that God didn't allow Abraham to go through with this human sacrifice, however, that's not the point - if God commanded someone to rape their grandmother, and the man ties her to a bed, rips her clothes off, and is prepared to do the deed until God tells him to stop, he has still acted immorally. The act of attempting to murder or rape another human being is immoral, demanding that someone perform a heinous task is immoral as well - regardless of what the motivation might be. Just because the command to do something evil came from God and not a mortal man does not suddenly make it moral.

Moses then tells the people to love God will all of their hearts, which I simply find an impossible request. One simply cannot be commanded to love - love is something that usually must be earned, nurtured, and maintained to sustain itself. If you do not love someone or something, someone else requesting for you to do so isn't going to accomplish anything sincere.

Moses instructs the people that they are to also "love" God's laws, and are to be taught to their children, as well as repeated where ever they may be, from dawn to dusk, and that they are to be written down on a card and tied to their hands, as well as written on the posts of their gates and houses. This may mean to be taken for the people to simply memorize and live the commandments, but doubtless it has been taken literally by some.

Moses then tells the people to be grateful to God since he has brought them into a land where there would be no need to build cities, houses, wells, vineyards, and plants - even though God didn't build these things either. Simply put, he let the "heathens" stay in the land long enough to build "great and goodly cities" and then let the Israelites ransack and loot the place. Moses also makes sure to remind the Israelites yet again that God brought them out of their slavery in Egypt.

Moses' next commands the Israelites to fear God, serve him, and swear by his name, but warns them not to worship other gods - like the "heathens" that surround them do - or God will destroy the Israelites from the face of the earth. He tells the Israelites not to tempt God, like they had done in Exodus: Chapter 17 when they first whined about not having any water to drink.

He again restates that the Israelites are to keep the commandments and teach them to their future generations.

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