Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Chapter 25
Summary:Moses' speech continues:
"If there is a dispute between two men, the judges are to justify the righteous and condemn the wicked. If the wicked man is worthy of a beating, then the judge shall order him to lie down and to be beaten in his presence. The amount of lashes he receives is to be in proportion to the severity of his crime, and is not to exceed forty lashes - for if he is beaten more than forty times, the people would view that as excessive.

"You are not to muzzle your ox when he treads in your cornfields.

"If a man's brother dies without having children and leaves behind a widow, his widow is not to remarry outside of the family. Her husband's brother is instead to sleep with her, take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother. The first child she bears shall be counted as the son of his brother who has died, so that his name shall not be forgotten in the land of Israel.

"If a man refuses to marry his brother's widow, the widow is to complain to the elders of the city. The elders of the city are then to speak to the man, but if he still refuses, then the widow is to take off one of the man's shoes and spit in his face, telling him that this is what happens to a man who refuses to build his brother's house. From that point on, the man's house shall be referred to as 'The house of him that had his shoe removed'.

"If two men get into a physical altercation and the wife of one of the men tries to help her husband by grabbing the other man's testicles, then you must cut off her hand and shall not pity her.

"You shall not have in your possessions mismatched weights and measures, but instead are to use perfect and just weights and measures, so that your days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord your God has given you. All that do such things are an abomination to the Lord your God.

"Remember what the Amalekites did to you when you came forth from out of Egypt? How they met you by the way and smote those of you who were lagging behind, as well as the feeble, the faint, and the weary while not fearing God? Therefore when the Lord your God has given you rest from fighting your enemies around the land which the Lord your God has given you for an inheritance, you are to blot out all memory of the Amalekites under heaven. You shall not forget this."
Thoughts:Moses begins the chapter by outlining how to administer corporal punishment. If a person is judged "worthy" of a beating, he is to lie down and is to be beaten in front of the judge who orders his beating. Moses adds that the amount of lashes the man receives is to be in proportion to the severity of his crime, and is not to exceed forty lashes - for that he reasons would "seem vile" to the people of Israel.

Today most of the developed world has abolished judicial corporal punishment with only 32 countries still following this practice - the largest majority of which, by no surprise, are located in the Middle East. There are numerous reasons why this has fallen out of practice throughout the civilized world, but apparently God and Moses believe this punishment to be just.

Moses follows this by telling the Israelites that when an ox is working in the cornfields, it is not to be muzzled.

Next Moses gives a ridiculous law that seems more fitting in a Monty Python sketch than in a book alleged to be the "word of God". Moses states that when a man's brother leaves behind a widow and did not have any children, then the man is to marry his brother's widow, and the firstborn child is to be counted as if he were the son of the dead brother. Essentially this was the law that Onan broke when he refused to ejaculate inside of his dead brother's wife. It becomes sillier when Moses states what is to happen if the living brother refuses to play along. Unlike Onan who was killed by God, if the man refuses to marry his brother's widow, the widow has to complain against her dead husband's brother to the elders of the city, and they have to go down and try to talk him into marrying her. If he still won't play along then the widow gets to remove one of the man's shoes and spit in his face, and from that point on the man's house will be known as 'The house of him that had his shoe removed'.

Moses then states that if two men get into a fight, and one of the men's wife tries to help her husband by grabbing the testicles of the man he's fighting, then the woman's hand must be cut off and she is to be shown no pity. Essentially, a man could be attacked, and his wife is not allowed to protect him by the one sure fire way to stop the attacker, by going for his testicles.

Moses next states that all weights and measures must be accurate, and that one is not to cheat other people by using flawed weights and measures. Doing so is an "abomination" to God.

Moses closes out the chapter by commanding that the Israelites are to commit genocide against the Amalekites as soon as they're done fighting the enemies tribes surrounding the "promised land". Moses justifies the genocide by reminding the people that the Amalekites attacked all of the slow, sick, weak, and injured and that they don't "fear God" either. However, Moses doesn't make it clear whether they'll be able to keep the virgin girls like they did with the slaughter of the Midianites.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Chapter 24
Summary:Moses' speech continues:
"When a man marries a woman and he finds some uncleanness in her, then he may serve her with a bill of divorce and send her out of his house. After she leaves her ex-husband's house, she may then remarry. If her second husband hates her and divorces her, of if her second husband dies, her first husband may not remarry her because she has been defiled. That is an abomination before the Lord, and you are not to bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God has given you for an inheritance.

"A newlywed husband is not to go out to war, nor is he to be given any duties, but instead he is to be free at home for the first year of his marriage to cheer up his wife that he has taken.

"No man is to take another man's millstone as collateral, because he is taking another man's livelihood.

"If a man is found kidnapping any Israelite and either enslaves them or sells them into slavery, then the kidnapper must die to purge the evil from among you.

"Take heed to the plague of leprosy, and follow everything that the priests and the Levites instruct you to do, as I commanded them, so you shall obey. Remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam after you came forth out of Egypt.

"When you lend your fellow Israelite anything, you are not to enter his house to pick out an item for collateral. You are to stand outside the man's house and he shall bring out the collateral himself. If the man is poor and offers his coat as collateral, you cannot keep his coat while you sleep. You shall return his coat at sundown so that he may sleep in it. You shall be blessed for doing righteousness before the Lord your God.

"You shall not oppress a hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he is an Israelite or a foreigner. He must be paid at the end of the day, because if the sun goes down and he cries against you to the Lord, it will be counted as a sin upon you.

"A father shall not be put to death for the sins of their children, nor shall a child be put to death for the sins of his father. Every man put to death shall be put to death for his own sin.

"You shall not twist judgment against a foreigner, an orphan, nor may you take a widow's garment as collateral. You are to remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you, therefore I command this.

"When you reap your harvest, and have forgotten a sheaf out in the field, you are not to go back to retrieve it - it is to be left for the stranger passing through town, the orphaned, and the widowed that the Lord your God may bless you in all your the work of your hands. When you collect your olives, you are not to go over the boughs again, and when you gather your grapes from your vineyard, you are not to glean it afterward - you are to leave what is left for the stranger passing through town, the orphaned, and the widowed. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, therefore I command you to obey this law."
Thoughts:Moses begins this chapter by stating that if a man gets married and later discovers he doesn't like his wife, he's free to serve her divorce papers and kick her out of his house. Once his now ex-wife leaves the house, she's free to remarry. But if her second husband divorces her or if he dies, her first husband is not allowed to remarry her because she has been "defiled", and God considers the act an "abomination".

Next, Moses states that a newlywed husband is not to be sent out to fight in a war, nor is he to be given any major responsibilities for the first year of his marriage, which he is instead to stay home and "cheer up" his new wife.

Moses states that a man is not to take another man's "millstone" as collateral, meaning in a broader sense that you are not to take as collateral on a loan, the tools of which a man makes his living - i.e. take a carpenter's hammer, a baker's mixing bowls, or a painter's brush, etc.

Next up, Moses condemns kidnapping - which he equates to theft of a person - whether it results in slavery, or selling the kidnapped into slavery, by punishment of death. With regard to how strict Moses's take on kidnapping is, the eighth commandment (seventh if going by Catholic standards) of the Ten Commandments - "thou shalt not steal" - is far more likely to refer to kidnapping than of our modern concept of theft concerning that of property.

Moses then tells the Israelites that they need to take heed to the ridiculous laws and instructions concerning leprosy as carried out by priests, and makes a curious mention to the Israelites to remember the fate of his sister Miriam. Miriam was punished not for disobeying leprosy laws, she was stricken with leprosy by God as a punishment for speaking out (along with her brother Aaron, who didn't receive any punishment) against Moses' marriage to an Ethiopian woman which violates God's law. Mentioning Miriam in this context makes no sense.

Moses' next law concerns collateral on loans, where he states that the man giving the loan is not to enter the other man's home and pick out an item for collateral himself, but is instead to allow the one receiving the loan to pick out his own collateral. Moses further adds that if the man is poor and offers his coat as collateral, that this coat must be returned to the poor man at night for him to sleep in.

The next verse while sometimes confused for a defense of the bible condemning slavery, it is not slavery that Moses is mentioning here, but that of a hired worker. Moses basically states that an employer is not to oppress his employee by not paying him promptly, especially if he is a poor man and is relying on prompt payment - which Moses warns is a "sin" to God.

The following verse also seems to have some conflict in its understanding, where some attempt to attribute it to mean that God does not punish people for the "sins" of their ancestors, this is not what Moses is saying here at all. What Moses says is that a man is not to be put to death for the "sins" of his ancestors (and vice versa, that one is not to be executed for their children's "sin") not that they aren't guilty of "sin", only that they are not to be punished with capital punishment.

Moses ends the chapter with a few laws to favor strangers in the land, orphans, and widow. First stating that judgment is not to be skewed against a foreigner, an orphan, nor may one take a widow's garment as collateral. Next Moses commands that one is not to pick their crops, grapes, and olives completely, but are to leave some surplus for the strangers in town, the orphaned, and the widowed. Moses attempts to somehow link the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt as a reason to obey this law, as he closes out the chapter.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Chapter 23
Summary:Moses' speech continues:
"He who is wounded in the testicles, or has his penis cut off, shall not enter the congregation of the Lord. Nor shall a bastard enter the congregation of the Lord, even to his tenth generation will he not be allowed to enter the congregation of the Lord. Neither an Ammonite nor a Moabite are to enter the congregation of the Lord, even to their tenth generation will they not be allowed to enter the congregation of the Lord forever - because they met you not with bread and water when you were lead out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam, the son of Beor, of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you all. The Lord your God would not hearken unto Balaam, but instead the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing unto you, because the Lord your God loved you. You shall not ever seek peace nor their prosperity with them throughout your generations.

"You are not to abhor the Edomites, for they are your relatives; nor shall you abhor the Egyptians, because you were strangers in their land. Their children may enter the congregation of the Lord in their third generation.

"When you go to war against your enemies, you are to keep away from every wicked thing. If there be amongst you any man who becomes unclean by reason of having a nocturnal emission, then that man is to leave the camp, and during the evening is to wash himself with water, and may return when the sun sets.

"You are to have a place outside of the camp to use as a toilet. You shall carry a spade as part of your equipment, and you shall dig a hole and cover your bowel movements; for the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you, and bring your enemies before you; therefore your camp shall remain holy, that he shall see no unclean thing, and turn away from you.

"You are not to return a runaway slave to his master. He shall dwell with you, even amongst you, wherever he chooses. You are not to oppress him.

"There shall be no whore amongst the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite* amongst the sons of Israel. You are not to bring any proceeds earned from prostitution, or the price of a dog*, into the house of the Lord your God for any vow - for these are an abomination to the Lord your God.

"You shall not demand interest upon a loan made to your fellow Israelite. You may add interest to a loan made to foreigner, but not to your fellow Israelite, that the Lord your God may bless you in all that you set your hand upon in the promised land, when you go to possess it.

"When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you are prompt in paying, for the Lord requires it of you and it would be a sin not to fulfill the vow. However, if you don't make a vow, that is not a sin. Once the vow has been uttered, you are to keep it and perform it - even a freewill offering - exactly how you promised to the Lord your God.

"When you pass your neighbor's vineyard, you may eat handfuls of their grapes to your pleasure, but you are not to gather the grapes in a container. When you pass your neighbor's corn field, you may pluck the ears with your hand, but you may not use a sickle on his crops."
Notes:1.) The term "sodomite" (note the lack of capitalization) is refering to homosexuals, equating homosexuality in general to the violent rapists depicted in Genesis: Chapter 19 who lived in the city of Sodom.
2.) "Dog" in this sense, is referring to a male homosexual prostitute.
Thoughts:This chapter Moses begins by listing the sorts of undesirables that should not be discriminated against from entering the sanctuary (the church).
  • Anyone with testicular damage.
  • Anyone who has had their penis cut off. (Sorry, John Bobbitt)
  • A bastard (meaning a child from unwed parents), or even his offspring ten generations later
  • Ammonites and Moabites - because their ancestry is responsible for trying to hire Balaam - the prophet with the talking donkey - to try and curse the Israelites.
God is apparently obsessed with the condition of male genitalia, as not only does he demand that his priests not have damaged testicles, he simply doesn't want anybody with damaged testicles, or who's had their penis cut off, entering his "sanctuary" either. While I may have joked about John Bobbitt above, which some will point out that he's not exactly a great example of someone we should care about getting banned from a church, the point is that there isn't anything John (or anyone else with a severed penis) could do about that. It's simply wrong to discriminate against someone entering a church because of genital damage - period.

Moses next discriminates against bastards, extending this discrimination to his tenth generation offspring. So what Moses is saying is that if a child is born to unmarried parents, even if his children and grandchildren marry and produce children, none of them are welcome in the church either. This is plainly discriminating against the status of one's ancestry. This would be equivalent of saying that if one of your ancestors had a prison record, then you're not allowed in the church.

Next Moses targets both the Ammonites and the Moabites, reasoning that they were the people who tried to hire Balaam (the prophet with the talking donkey) to curse the Israelites. This sounds about as reasonable as refusing Japanese, Germans, and Italians from entering your church because of World War II. Moses even extends the discrimination against these people by telling the Israelites that they are never to seek peace or prosperity with them throughout their generations. This is pure racism measuring someone's worth with their nationality and the actions of their ancestors.

Moses states however they are not to discriminate against the Edomites, for they are relatives to the Israelites - the Edomites being the descendants of Esau, the elder brother of Jacob (later to be renamed Israel) who sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup.

Moses also strangely insists that the Israelites are not to discriminate against the Egyptians, reasoning that they were once "strangers in their land". It's curious that God seems to have less of a problem with the Egyptians who enslaved the Israelites for numerous generations, than he does for the Moabites for unsuccessfully attempting to curse the Israelites. Perhaps this may be due to the Egyptian Pharaoh's treatment of Joseph, the fact that God has killed an awful lot of Egyptians (also see Exodus: Chapter 14 too), or because the Israelites "committed whoredom with the daughters of Moab", despite that the Midianites would be brutally killed, and the young Midianite virgins raped in retribution. However, as we'll see in the book of Ruth (a Moabite woman), she will marry an Israelite and give birth to a son named Obed, who would become the grandfather of King David.

If a soldier at war has a nocturnal emission (a "wet dream"), he is to leave the camp, wash himself with water, and not to return to the camp until sundown.

Moses then explains that a place has to be set aside outside the camp to be used as a toilet, and that all bowel movements have to be buried because God "walks in the midst of the camp", and will not tolerate anything "unclean" in the camp.

Next Moses states that a runaway slave is not to be returned to its master, nor is he to be oppressed. Although it is not specifically stated here, I think it is safe to assume that this probably only applies to Hebrew slaves that can be redeemed, and not to foreign slaves or Hebrew slaves that have been marked with an awl.

Moses then declares that there is to be no prostitution amongst the Israelite women, nor a "sodomite" amongst the men. The term "sodomite", despite equating homosexual men to the inhabitants of the city of Sodom, is uncapitalized as a further indicator of how homosexuals are not to be granted any common civil respect. Furthering this, after Moses declares that proceeds earned by a female prostitute are not to be brought into the church, he makes the same declaration for male homosexual prostitutes, calling such proceeds "the price of a dog". Moses states that these proceeds are an "abomination" to God. One other thing to note is that Moses is not outright banning prostitution - while Moses forbids Israeli women from becoming prostitutes, he says nothing about Israeli men soliciting prostitutes, for example Judah soliciting his daughter-in-law who he believes to be a prostitute.

Moses next states that no one is to tack on interest to any loan made to their fellow Israelite, but it's perfectly okay to add interest to a loan made to a foreigner.

Moses' next warns that when one makes a vow to God they are to be prompt in fulfilling that vow exactly as they had promised, or else they have "sinned"; but notes that it's not a "sin" if you simply don't make a vow in the first place.

Finally Moses tells the Israelites that if they're passing by a neighbor's vineyard or crops, that it's okay to eat as many handfuls as you desire from their crops, but you are not to collect any in a container, nor cut any down with a sickle to bring back home with you.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Chapter 22
Summary:Moses' speech continues:
"If you see another man's ox or sheep go astray, you are not to pretend as if you did not see it, but you must take them back to its owner. If you do not know the owner, then you shall bring it back to your own house until the owner comes looking for it and you are able to return it to him. The same applies to donkeys, clothing, or any lost item that belongs to someone else that you have found. You are not to keep them for yourself. If you see someone's donkey or ox fall down by the way, you are also not to pretend as if you didn't see it happen, but you are to help him lift it up again.

"A woman shall not wear men's clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman's garment. All who do so are an abomination unto the Lord your God.

"If you spot a bird's nest in a tree or on the ground, and there are young ones or eggs as well as their mother, you are not to take the mother with the young. You shall let the mother go and take the young, so that it may be well with you, and you may prolong your days.

"When you build a new house, you must make a guardrail for the roof so that you do not bring upon an accidental death upon your house if anyone were to fall from it.

"You are not to sow your vineyard with other seeds, lest the fruit of your seed that you've sown, and the fruit of your vineyard be defiled.

"You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.

"You shall not wear a garment made of mixed fibers, such as wool and linen together.

"You are to make fringes upon the four corners of your clothes.

"If any man takes a wife, sleeps with her, hates her, and speaks out against her, bringing an evil name upon her, by saying, 'I took this woman and when I slept with her, I found that she was not a virgin', then the woman's parents shall take and bring forth the 'tokens of virginity'* to the elders of the city. The woman's father shall explain to the elders that he gave his daughter to this man as a wife, that he hated her and spoke against her claiming that she was not a virgin, and present the 'tokens of his daughter's virginity'* and shall then spread the cloth before the elders of the city.

"The elders of that city shall take the man and whip him and fine him one hundred shekels of silver to be paid the woman's father, because he had brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel. The woman shall remain his wife and he shall not be permitted to divorce her.

"However, if the man's accusations are true, and there are no 'tokens of virginity'* for the woman, then the woman shall be brought to the door of her father's house and the men of the city shall stone her to death, for she has brought folly to the nation of Israel, by playing the whore in her father's house. So shall you purge the evil away from among you.

"If a man is found having sexual relations with an already married woman, then they both shall be killed - both the man that slept with the married woman, and the married woman herself. So shall you purge the evil away from among you.

"If a woman who is a virgin and is engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and rapes her, then both of them shall be brought out to the outskirts of the city and are to be stoned to death; the woman because she didn't cry out for help in the city, and the man because he humiliated his neighbor's wife. So shall you purge the evil away from among you.

"But if a man finds an engaged woman out in the fields, and the man rapes her, then only the man who raped her shall die. The woman is not to be punished because the woman committed no sin worthy of death. For this matter is similar to that of a murder victim, for he found her out in the field and the engaged woman cried, and there was no one to save her.

"If a man finds a woman that is a virgin, who is not engaged to another man, and rapes her, and they are found, then the man that raped her is to pay the woman's father fifty shekels of silver, and she is to become his wife, because he has humiliated her, and he may never divorce her.

"A man shall not take his fathers wife, nor dishonor his father's bed."
Notes:1.) Meaning the bloodstained sheets from when the woman's hymen was broken during intercourse.
Thoughts:This chapter begins on what appears to be a fairly positive note, but goes downhill awfully fast. Moses starts out telling the Israelites that if they see another man's ox or sheep go astray that they are not to ignore it, but are to return it to its owner. If they don't know who owns it, they are to take the animal back to their house until the owner comes looking for the animal. Moses adds that this applies to donkeys, clothing, and anything other lost item. Also if someone's donkey or ox falls under the load it's carrying, again you're not to ignore this, but you are to go help the animal get back up.

Moses then strikes out at transvestites calling it an "abomination" to wear clothes meant for the other sex. Why God would be so bothered by people's fashions to declare it an "abomination" just for wearing a piece of clothing intended for the opposite sex is beyond me. In the bronze age days of flowing tunics, who would even really know whether a garment was a man's or a woman's?

Next Moses states that if you find a bird's nest with both a mother bird and either its young or its eggs, you can keep the eggs and the young, but you must set the mother bird free.

Following that, Moses states that when building a house you must put up a guardrail on the roof to ensure that no one falls off.

Moses then spits out a few brief but strange laws:
  • Don't sow your vineyard with other seeds, or the fruit of the seed as well as the grapes of the vineyard will be defiled.
  • Do not plow your field with both a donkey and an ox together.
  • Do not wear a garment made with mixed fibers, such as wool and linen together.
  • Make fringes upon the corners of your clothes
The rest of this chapter gets pretty misogynistic and concerns itself primarily on the importance of a woman's virginity to her husband.

If a man suspects that his wife was not a virgin when they were married, the woman's parents must bring their "tokens of virginity" (meaning the bloodstained bedsheets) to the elders of the city. The woman's father is to present the stained bedsheets to the elders as proof of his daughter's virginity.

Obviously the problem is that not every woman bleeds from her first experience of sexual intercourse, and sometimes her hymen isn't even broken immediately either. Stained sheets only serve as proof that her hymen was broken, not of her virginity.

Now what happens when a man falsely accuses his wife of not being a virgin on their wedding night? Well he gets a couple of lashes with a whip, he has to pay 100 shekels of silver to his father in law for shaming his wife and her family, and he's not allowed to divorce his wife. Now what happens if the woman can't prove her virginity? Well, she gets dragged out to her father's house and gets stoned to death by the men of the city for "being a whore" and shaming her father. Under these laws, it's very possible and quite likely that many women were stoned to death because they were unable to prove their innocence. Perhaps their "token" was stolen, perhaps it was lost, perhaps it was destroyed accidentally in a fire, perhaps the woman simply didn't bleed during her first sexual experience, and perhaps her husband was unable to perform himself. There are a plethora of reasons why a woman could wrongfully die because of her husband's accusations, yet we're to believe that such a flawed law was mandated by the supreme. all knowing, all powerful, "loving", and "merciful" "creator of the universe" which basically puts a woman's life down to a gamble as to whether she bled properly on a bed sheet.

Next, Moses states that if a man sleeps with an already married woman, then they are both to be killed. This law obviously doesn't operate the other way around - if a married man sleeps with an unmarried woman, he simply has just taken on another wife.

If you've been reading along since the beginning (or at least since the book of Numbers) you should recognize the next three laws as points that were discussed in my "Apologist Rebuttal" to the events of Numbers: Chapter 31 concerning the topic of rape. The apologist claimed that "rape was (and still is) abhorrent to God", citing Deuteronomy 22:23-28, and putting special emphasis on Deuteronomy 22:25. However, we see that this chapter paints quite a different picture of rape than what the apologist was suggesting.

What Moses says, is that when a woman who is a virgin and engaged to another man is raped in the city, then both the woman and the rapist are to be brought out to the outskirts of town and are to be stoned to death. Moses states that it's the woman's fault that she was raped because she didn't cry out loud enough to stop her rape from happening. This law is not condemning rape, according to Moses the woman is condemned for not preventing her own rape, and the rapist because he took away the woman's fiancee's "right" to consummate his marriage.

Moses then explains that if a woman who is a virgin and engaged to another man is raped out in the countryside, then only her rapist is to be put to death, for Moses reasons that it's impossible to determine whether she screamed for help or not out in the fields, so it must be assumed that she did cry for help but that nobody heard her. Again, unlike what the apologist was trying to lead us to believe, this law applies only to virgin women who are engaged to be married.

When the apologist cited Deuteronomy 22:23-28, he stopped short of verse 29 which explains what happens to a virgin who is raped and isn't engaged to be married. Moses says that the rapist is to pay the victim's father 50 shekels of silver, and that the victim is to become the rapist's wife(!) and he cannot divorce her because he has devalued her by taking her virginity.

It's easy to see why the apologist didn't include this verse in their referencing, but the irony is that the apologist was attempting to defend Numbers: Chapter 31 by claiming that it was being "taken out of context" by not reading also Numbers: Chapter 25, when clearly we see that Deuteronomy 22:29 completes Moses' overall point that he was making in Deuteronomy 22:23-28. These verses aren't concerned with rape, more than they are concerned with robbing a man of his right to deflower the woman he's engaged to. In other words, the verses are more about vindicating the male fiancee's right to take his wife's virginity, not that a woman's virginity was taken without her consent, otherwise a raped virgin without a fiancee wouldn't be forced to marry her rapist.

Finally, Moses ends the chapter by stating that a man is not to take his father's wife nor dishonor his father's bed.


Chapter 21
Summary:Moses' speech continues:
"If a man is found slain in the land which the Lord your God has given you to possess, his body lying in the field, and it is not known who has slain him, then the elders and judges shall measure from the body to the nearest city. The elders of that city shall take a heifer that has never been yoked or worked in a field, and bring the animal down into a valley with running water that is neither plowed or sown, and they shall break the heifer's neck there in the valley.

"The priests and the Levites shall arrive - for they are chosen by the Lord your God to minister to him, bless in the name of the Lord, and to act as judges for the people - and the elders of that city that are beside the dead man's body, shall wash their hands over the heifer that has been beheaded in the valley. They shall say, 'Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it. Be merciful, O Lord, unto the people of Israel, whom you have redeemed, and not judge them responsible for this innocent blood.' So shall this absolve the people of Israel from the guilt of the death of an innocent man when you do what is right in the sight of the Lord.

"When you go to war against your enemies, and the Lord your God has delivered them into your hands, and you have taken prisoners, and amongst those prisoners you see a beautiful woman that you desire to have as a wife, then you are to bring her into your house, and she shall shave her head and pare her nails, and remain in your house for a full month to mourn her father and mother. After that you may go into her, and become her husband and she shall become your wife. If it shall turn out that you have no delight in her, then you shall let her go free - but you are not to sell her into slavery, because you have humiliated her.

"If a man has two wives, one that he loves and one that he hates, both of whom have borne him children, and the firstborn son is from the wife he hates, he may not give the birthright of the "firstborn" to the firstborn son of his beloved wife, because his firstborn son of the hated wife is indeed the firstborn. He shall acknowledge the son of the hated, by giving him a double portion of the inheritance, for he is the beginning of his strength, and that is his birthright.

"If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or mother, and that even when punished will not listen, then his father and mother shall bring him out to the elders of the city, and they shall say to the elders, 'This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us, and he is a glutton and a drunkard.' All the men of his city shall then stone him to death, so shall you put away evil from among you and all of the nation of Israel will hear about this and fear this.

"If a man has committed a sin worthy of death, and when executed you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but must be buried the same day - for he that is hanged is accursed of God, and the land which the Lord your God has given you as an inheritance must not be defiled."
Thoughts:Moses begins this chapter by stating that if the body of a murdered man is found lying in a field and it's not known who killed him, then the elders and judges of the land are to go to the nearest city and find the elders of that city. The city's elders are to take a heifer that has never been yoked or worked in the fields, and after bringing it down to a virgin stream in the valley, somehow breaking the cow's neck and decapitating it will allow the priests to bless the dead body (the man's, not the cow's) and absolve the people of Israel from the guilt of the death of an innocent man. This is probably another one of those "eye for an eye" type lines of thought, where in lieu of being able to kill a human being with capital punishment, that the Israelites have to kill something to appease their bloodthirsty God.

Next up, Moses states that if and when the Israelites win a war against their enemies - as long as they're not enemies that live in the "promised land" - and if there's a pretty girl amongst the prisoners they've taken, then you can bring her into your house, have her shave her head and pare her nails, and then mourn for the next month in your house for her dead parents that you've killed. After the month is up, you can then have sex with her and you'll be her husband. If afterward you don't like your new wife, you can let her go free, but you're not allowed to sell her into slavery, because you've humiliated her.

Basically, Moses is saying that if there's a pretty girl amongst the prisoners of war, you can bring her home against her will, rape her, and she gets the "privilege" of becoming your wife. Then if you later discover that you just don't like her, feel free to boot her out the door, just be sure not to sell her into slavery. How one can justify the blatant misogyny and complete disrespect of women that Moses is advocating is completely beyond me.

Moses then shifts the topic to polygamy - something I discussed at length recently with a Christian "reader" of this blog. Moses says that if a man has two wives - one that he loves and one that he hates, and has sons with both of them, with the firstborn son belonging to the hated wife, he is not allowed to give the "firstborn birthright" to the firstborn son of his favored wife, just because he hates his firstborn son's mother. The birthright still goes to the oldest son, as Moses reasons that this son is the "beginning of his [father's] strength". All should work as intended unless the boy sells his birthright for a bowl of soup.

Next, Moses addresses what to do with your unruly son. If your son is stubborn and rebellious and doesn't respond to being punished, then the mother and father must bring him out to the elders of the city and tell them that their son is stubborn and rebellious (and for good measure, add in that he's also a glutton and a drunk). All of the men of the city then are to stone the child to death, so that you can purge the nation of Israel from evil and frighten other children into obeying. Yes, the best way according to the bible to deal with unruly children is to kill them brutally with stones, so that you can set an example for other children and control them with fear.

Finally, Moses states that if your preferred method of execution is hanging, then you have to remove the dead person's body from the tree you hanged him upon and bury them before the day is through, because a hanged body will apparently defile the "promised land" if left up for too long.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Chapter 20
Summary:Moses' speech continues:
"When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses, chariots, and people that outnumber you, do not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. When you go to battle, the priest shall approach and speak to the people, telling them not to be faint of heart, nor be afraid because of the strength of the enemy. For the Lord your God will go with you, to fight against your enemies and to save you from defeat.

"The officers shall address the people, asking if any man has just built a new house and has not yet dedicated it; if there is, he is to go home lest he die in battle and someone else dedicate it. The officer shall also ask if anyone has just planted a vineyard and has not yet tasted it's fruit; if there is, he is to go home, lest he die in battle and someone else eats it. The officer shall then ask if anyone has just become engaged to a woman, but has not yet married her; if there is, he is to go home, lest he die in battle and someone else marries her. The officer shall finally ask if there is anyone who is fearful or afraid; if there is, he is to go home, lest he spreads his fears to others. When the officers have finished speaking with the soldiers, they shall appoint captains of the armies to lead them.

"When you approach a city to fight against, first offer it a peace treaty and if they accept it, then you are to enslave the inhabitants. If they do not accept the treaty, and instead make war against you, you must conquer the city. When the Lord your God delivers the city into your hands, you shall kill every male with the edge of your sword. The women, the young girls, the cattle, and the spoils of the city, you are to keep for yourselves, you shall devour the spoils of your enemies which the Lord your God has given you. These instructions apply only to the cities outside of the promised land, not those within it.

"Of the cities that are contained in the land which the Lord your God has given you as an inheritance, you are not to allow anything to live that breathes, but are to utterly destroy them - namely, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord your God has commanded you. That these people not teach you their abominations which they have done in the name of their gods, causing you to sin against the Lord your God.

"While you are waging war against a city, you are not to destroy any of the fruit trees, nor may you cut them down with an axe. Only the trees that you know do not bear fruit may you destroy and cut down to use its wood for building fortresses against the city that made war with you, until the fighting has subdued."
Thoughts:Moses begins this chapter by stating that even if the Israelites seem outnumbered by the amount of horses, chariots, or enemy soldiers on the battlefield, that they are not to be afraid because God will protect the Israelites. Before going out to battle, a priest will tell them this same thing.

The officers of the armies will then address the troops and ask them if anyone has just built a house that hasn't been "dedicated", planted a vineyard that they haven't eaten from, or become engaged to a woman they have yet to marry, and then allow those applicable to return home to dedicate their homes, tend to their vineyard, or marry their bride to prevent someone else from doing so if they were to die in battle. Moses then says that the officers should then ask if there are any men that are afraid to fight, and if so, that they are to be sent home in order to prevent them from spreading their fears to other soldiers. Upon weeding these people out, the officers are then to appoint captains to lead the remaining troops.

Next Moses explains the proper protocol for conquering cities outside of the "promised land". First, offer them a "peace treaty", and if they accept then enslave them all. If they don't accept becoming enslaved, then they've "declared war" then the Israelites are to kill every male with the edge of their swords. But the women and young girls the soldiers may keep for themselves along with the spoils of the city.

When conquering the cities within the "promised land" however, the women and children must be slaughtered - along with the cattle and anything else that breathes - because those pesky women and children will apparently teach the Israelites all of their abominable customs. I guess the persuasive power of infants and children is too much of a risk to keep them alive as slaves, so the only option is to slaughter them all. At least the Midianites weren't all destroyed, Moses allowed the soldiers to keep all of the girls who were virgins for themselves. No matter how you attempt to spin this, no matter what "context" you believe this should be viewed in, there is simply no way you can justify killing "everything that breathes" - especially when included amongst this are infants and young children - as moral.

Moses ends the chapter by stating that when the Israelites are invading a city, that they are not to destroy any trees that bear fruit. They can build fortresses using trees that do not bear fruit until the fighting is done, but are not to harm any fruit bearing trees.


Chapter 19
Summary:Moses' speech continues:
"When the Lord your God has destroyed the nations whose land the Lord your God has given you, and you succeed them and dwell in their cities, you shall set aside three cities in the midst of the land. You shall divide the land into three parts, with a city in each that anyone who has killed another may flee to. He who has killed his neighbor by accident, whom he had not hated in the past.

"If a man goes into the forest with his neighbor to chop wood, and the head of his axe slips off of the handle and kills his neighbor, he may flee to one of these cities for his safety; lest the victim's relative - the avenger of blood - pursue the man in their anger and kill him; whereas he was not worthy of being killed, because the man did not hate his neighbor in the past.

"If the Lord your God enlarges your borders, as he has sworn to your forefathers, and gives you all the land which he had promised to your forefathers - providing you obey these commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to walk forever in his ways - then you shall add three more cities of refuge in addition to the original three. Innocent blood shall not be shed in the land which the Lord your God has given you as an inheritance, for their blood will be upon you.

"But if any man hates his neighbor, ambushes and kills them, and flees into one of these cities, then the elders of the city are to fetch him and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, so that he may be killed by them. Do not pity him, but instead purge the guilt of innocent blood from the nation of Israel, so that all may go well with you.

"Never move your neighbor's boundary marker in attempt to cheat them out of their property in the land that the Lord your God has given you to possess.

"One witness alone shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sins. Only with the word of two witnesses, or by the word of three witnesses shall the matter be established. If a false witness wrongly testifies against any man, then both men shall be brought before the Lord, before the priests and the judges at the time. The judges shall make a diligent inquisition, and if they find the witness to be a false witness, and to have testified falsely against his fellow Israelite, then his punishment shall that of which he had tried to have done unto his fellow Israelite, so shall you purge the evil from amongst you. The rest of the Israelites will hear and fear the verdict, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. You shall not pity them, but life shall go for life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, and a foot for a foot."
Thoughts:Moses begins this chapter by recapping what God originally told him in Numbers: Chapter 35 concerning the "cities of refuge" - cities set aside for anyone to flee to escape vengeance from "accidentally killing someone".

He tells the people that they are to set aside three cities for this purpose after they possess the "promised land" - in addition to the three cities Moses already picked out outside of the "promised land" in Deuteronomy: Chapter 4.

Moses then proceeds to give a terrible analogy about the kind of innocent accidental killers he had in mind. In Moses' analogy, he posits that if two men go out into the forest to chop wood, and the head of the axe slips off and kills one of the men, then as long as the man who wielded the axe didn't have any previous animosity toward the man he just killed, he is not worthy of a "revenge killing" by his "avenger of blood". The problem with Moses' logic, is that the two men despite not having previous problems may have gotten into a heated argument out in the woods which ended in murder, and it isn't difficult to make a murder look accidental. However, Moses stresses that this must be an accident simply because the men had no animosities toward each other in the past, which again is another dumb train of thought, as quite often sudden arguments can escalate fairly quickly into violence.

Moses then states that if any man dislikes his neighbor, ambushes and kills him, and then tries to flee into one of these "cities of refuge", then the elders of the city are to find the man and to deliver him to his "avenger of blood" so that they may have their revenge killing. The obvious problem here is how is it determined whether or not the man in question is innocent or guilty of murder? When you are that hasty to hand over a suspected murderer to someone longing for revenge by murdering that person himself, wouldn't you want extra precautions to ensure that the man you're handing over to be murdered is actually guilty?

Moses then briefly changes his focus to boundary markers on people's property in the "promised land", and tells the people of Israel that they are not to cheat their neighbor out of land by moving a boundary marker.

Next Moses states that a single witness is not to bring a case against a man for a suspected "sin". Only with the word of a minimum of two or three witnesses shall they establish a case. This verse - Deuteronomy 19:15 (along with 1 Timothy 5:19, 2 Corinthians 13:1, and Matthew 18:16) - unfortunately is often used as a justification by Jehovah's Witnesses for their refusal to report incidents of child molestation, unless two or three Jehovah's Witnesses have witnessed the crime. Furthermore, witnesses are often discouraged by the church from getting involved due to the shame it would bring to the organization. Even worse still, the victims are often threatened being removed from the church if they don't keep quiet about the abuse.

Moses then says that if a witness falsely testifies against another man then both men are to be taken "before God" - meaning before the priests - to be judged. If they find the witness to have made false testimony then his punishment will be that of whatever punishment fits the crime that he has accused his fellow Israelite of having done. Now obviously the problem here is that our senses deceive us. We can be wrong about something we've seen, but still strongly believe in our convictions until it is pointed out to us why we are wrong. The witnesses are not intentionally giving false testimony, they believe in what they are claiming despite being mistaken. When you have ridiculously harsh biblical punishments such as being stoned to death for picking up sticks on a Saturday, you now create an environment where people will probably apt to not get involved rather than risk being accused of giving false testimony - even if they're not.

In essence this law will scare away more authentic witnesses than it will potentially false witnesses when we consider that one of the most common reasons people commit crimes is because they either lack a fear of being caught, or they feel that they are smarter than those who enforce the law. Apparently Moses sees the angle of fear from this as being a preventative measure, but unfortunately this "fear" has the more unwanted side effect of silencing authentic potential witnesses.

Moses punctuates the disdain for false witnesses by stating that they should not be pitied, and that they should be treated with the method of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth".

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Chapter 18
Summary:Moses' speech continues:
"The priests and the rest of the Levites will receive no inheritance amongst the nation of Israel. They shall eat the sacrifices made by fire to the Lord, therefore they shall have no inheritance amongst their fellow Israelites, for the Lord is their inheritance, as he has said to them. When an ox or a sheep is sacrificed, the shoulder, the maw, and the two cheeks are to be given to the priests. The first of your grain, wine, and olive oil shall also be given to the priests, for the Lord your God has chosen the Levites out of all the tribes of Israel, to stand and minister in the name of the Lord, from generation to generation forever.

"If a Levite comes to the sanctuary, no matter where he lives in the land of Israel, then he shall minister in the name of the Lord his God, as all his fellow Levites do, whom stand before the Lord. He shall be given his portion of animal sacrifices and offerings, which are his right.

"When you arrive in the land which the Lord your God has given you, you shall not learn to follow after the abominations of the nations living there now. No one is to make his son or daughter pass through fire; nor is anyone to use divination; or become an observer of times, an enchanter, a witch, a charmer, a consulter with familiar spirits, a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do such things are an abomination unto the Lord, and because of these abominations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you. You are to be perfect with the Lord your God. For these nations you are about to possess hearken to observers of time, and to diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God does not permit you to do so.

"The Lord your God will bring forth a prophet amongst you, an Israelite like myself, and unto him you shall hearken. According to your wishes to the Lord your God in Mount Horeb, you begged not to directly hear the voice of the Lord your God again, nor see his great fire, lest you die. The Lord said to me that he had heard what you had spoken and said, 'I will bring forth a prophet from amongst their brethren, and he shall speak my words, speaking to them all that I shall command. Whomsoever will not hearken to my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of them. However, a prophet who presumes to speaks in my name, but which I have not commanded him to, or one that speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die.'

"If you are to ask how you are to know if the prophet is speaking the word of the Lord or not, if his prophecy about fails to happen, it is not what the Lord has spoken. The prophet has spoken presumptuously and you shall not fear him."
Thoughts:Moses begins the chapter reminding the Israelites because the Levites are God's special tribe and are allowed to eat the animal sacrifices made by everyone else, that they are not to own property themselves. When an ox or a sheep is sacrificed to God, the animal's shoulder, stomach, and cheeks will belong to the priests. The first harvest of grain, wine, and olive oil is also to be given to the priests as well. A Levite regardless of where he lives can enter the sanctuary and dine on these animal sacrifices and offerings whenever he wishes because it's part of his "birthright".

Next up, Moses warns the Israelites yet again that when they arrive in the "promised land", they are not to follow the heathen customs of the nations living there - as those customs are "abominations". No one is to sacrifice his son or daughter by fire (apparently it's okay to use a knife to sacrifice your own child if God commands it though), nor is anyone allowed to use "divination" or to become a fortune teller, an enchanter, a witch, a charmer, a spiritual medium, a wizard, or a necromancer. Anyone who does such a thing is an "abomination" to God, and God will "drive them out" - meaning that he will demand that the Israelites stone such a person to death.

Moses claims that while the "heathen nations" seek after "diviners" and spiritual mediums, that God will bestow a prophet upon the Israelites - one that is an Israelite themselves - that they are to hearken to. Moses recalls the story from Exodus: Chapter 20 about how the Israelites begged and pleaded not to have to hear the actual voice of God again, fearing that they would die, and claims that God has instead chosen to speak to the people of Israel through prophets. God adds that anyone falsely claiming to be a prophet must die.

How are we to determine who is a prophet speaking the word of God or not, you might ask? All one has to do is make a prophecy that comes true. So therefore if I'm a bit smarter than my fellow Israelites concerning meteorology and can tell by the clouds that it's going to rain very heavily, I could make a prophecy about that and subsequently be considered the "real deal". This is a really naive way to "prove" someone's authenticity, and you would think that the all powerful "creator of the universe" could think up a better test than "let's see if what he says will happen, happens".

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

DEUTERONOMY: A Christian "Reader" Comments

I always enjoy when someone comments on one of my posts regardless of whether we agree or not. What bothers me however is when someone obviously didn't really read what I had written, picks out a small fragment which of what I wrote about, and then proceeds to spin that off into a completely different direction. This time an anonymous commenter decided to comment on my post for Deuteronomy: Chapter 17 and decided to focus briefly on verse 17:17 before beginning their proselytizing.

Deuteronomy 17:17 has Moses stating that kings of Israel should not have multiple wives. It reads as follows:
17:17 " Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold."
The commenter decides to focus in on this and mistakenly refers to polygamy as a "sin". They begin:
It is hard to understand why such Godly men committed such sins as polygamy.
First off, the term 'godly' is irrelevant because morality is a separate concept from religious belief. I realize that some religious people believe that morality is tied in with their belief system, but that is false. Atheists, agnostic, and people of non-theistic faiths act morally and immorally at the same rate as theists (a recent study in Science Daily confirms this as well).

Secondly, nowhere in the bible is polygamy defined as a "sin". Similar to how the bible treats divorce, it is accepted but not endorsed. The point that the bible attempts to make when addressing polygamy is that a man who takes another wife is not to neglect the needs of his first wife, as we've seen in Exodus: Chapter 21
21:10 "If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish."
The closest you can come to labeling polygamy as a sin is with two passages in the New Testament from the book of Mark. Mark 10:11 and Mark 19:9 give similar messages and read as follows:
10:11 "Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her."
19:9 "Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery."
While it may appear that polygamy is being compared to adultery in these verses, this isn't the case. If we look at the bolded text the qualifier clearly is whomever "puts away his (first) wife" to marry another - meaning a man who forsakes his first wife's needs in order to marry someone else. Basically every man has limited resources that (according to biblical marriage) he is to provide for his wife: food, money, sex, etc. What the bible is trying to say is that cutting your wife's food, money, sex, etc. down in order to marry another person would be considered adultery. The bible isn't endorsing polygamy either, as many bible verses endorse monogamy such as this verse in 1 Corinthians:
7:2 "Let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband."
The point is that there is no reference in the bible that defines polygamy as a "sin", which shows me that the commenter probably doesn't know their own scripture very well.

The Great things is that God is a loving and graceful God, using imperfect men to carry out his perfect plan of Salvation.
Obviously, the problems I have here with this statement are numerous, so I'll break this one down piece by piece.
All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God and that is exactly why Jesus came and lived among us, died for us and rose again.
Let's really examine what you are saying:
  • All have sinned...
    By this you include children who have yet to develop any sense of right or wrong, as well as the mentally handicapped and the insane who are incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong, or are incapable of comprehending your religious doctrine.
  • ...and fallen short of the Glory of God...
    If God supposedly created us, is omnipotent, and wanted us to be "perfect", then he had the power to do so and chose not to, and therefore it would be his own fault for "falling short" of whatever.
  • that is exactly why Jesus came and lived among us, died for us and rose again.First off there is no evidence that any such thing ever occurred. Even the evidence for a historical Jesus is sketchy at best, but the resurrection is only a claim of the New Testament and therefore cannot be relied upon to prove itself.

    Secondly, your reasoning for his "coming" is not what I would call a "perfect plan". If God's only solution to stop continually punishing humanity for the "crimes" (against laws he himself made) from people many thousands of years ago, is to come down to earth in the form of a human and offer himself up as a human sacrifice, it only serves to show how flawed his law was in the first place - thereby negating the "perfection" you're claiming.
I hope if you don't have a relationship with God...
Right at the top of this page underneath the heading "Zadoc Reads the Bible" it clearly states that I am an atheist. This only further confirms my suspicions that you really didn't read very carefully anything that I wrote, and I'd also imagine that you probably haven't read your own bible very carefully either. I really don't understand how it would be possible for me to have a "personal relationship" with a fictional character regardless of whether you or anyone else believes him to be real.
...that you will allow Him to work in your life and He will reveal Himself to you.
When I was eight years old I began questioning the belief I was being raised to be indoctrinated in. While I wouldn't accept my atheism for years to come, it was at this age that you could say I was in the middle of the road. Back then I did ask God to reveal himself, and I tried praying despite the fact that I never really truly felt that I was talking to anyone. It was a difficult thing for an eight year old boy to reconcile - the way the grownups in my family believed versus the gnawing fact that none of it matched up with the world around me.

The first event that began me on a path to atheism was when my parents gave me a children's bible for my First Communion. Up until that point I had only been aware of the most rudimentary version of my family's belief system - God was an all powerful invisible man up in the sky who knows whether we're doing right or wrong, and that his son Jesus was sent down to earth - born to a woman without having a human father - and that he was killed on a cross, and that by his death he opened up the gates of heaven. I know that's not fully biblically correct, but that was my understanding as an eight year old boy, and I accepted that.

What I didn't accept were all the ridiculous stories in the bible that I'd never heard prior to that - and these were in a much watered down form in a children's bible. I read these stories in complete disbelief and I kept attempting to reconcile my previous understanding of God with the bible and I simply couldn't. God did not "reveal himself to me", instead logic and rationalization lead me to realize that the bible simply could not be factual, much less moral, for a magnitude of reasons.

I held on to my God belief without the bible for a few years until that too began to seem as unlikely as the biblical stories themselves.
Zadoc Best of Luck in your realtionship with the Creator of all things!
God Bless!
While I appreciate your sentiment and good will, there is no more of a personal relationship between myself and God, as there is between you and Darth Vader. This blog has more served as an attempt for me to understand the people I share this planet with, those of whom vehemently hold on to beliefs that to me are so obviously made up and man made. It is not to convert people to atheism, nor is it a search for God by an atheist. Although I believe you will probably never return to this blog, as your proselytizing is probably done here and you've moved on, I sincerely hope that you stick around and actually read what I write here, and if it doesn't cause you to question your own beliefs, at least it will help you understand how the non-religious view the bible.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Chapter 17
Summary:Moses' speech continues:
"You shall not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep that has a blemish or defect, for that it is an abomination to the Lord your God.

"If there is anyone to be found among you, within the land the Lord your God has given you, man or woman, that has wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord your God, transgressing his covenant, and has gone and served other gods, and has worshiped them - whether it be the sun, the moon, or anything in the heavens which I have not commanded; and it be told to you, you have heard it, and upon inquiring about it, and discovered it to be true that such an abomination has been wrought in the land of Israel; then you shall bring forth that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing, and shall stone them with stones until they die. If there are at least two or three witnesses, that person is worthy of death and shall be put to death, but if there is only one witness, he shall not be put to death. The hands of the witnesses shall be the first upon the person to be put to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So shall you rid the evil from amongst you.

"If a matter arises that is too difficult for you to judge, between blood and blood, plea and plea, stroke and stroke, being of controversial matters with the land, then you shall bring the case to the sanctuary that the Lord your God will choose, before the priests, the Levite, and the chief judge, and they shall sentence the judgment. You shall follow the judgment they give, and you shall carry out the sentence exactly as they inform you. According to the letter of the law which they hand down, and according to their judgment which they decide, you shall obey - you shall not deviate from their sentence from either hand. Any man that will not obide by the judgment against him made by a priest or judge shall be put to death; as you are to purge evil away from the land of Israel. The rest of the people shall hear and fear this fate and will not act presumptuously.

"When you arrive in the land which the Lord your God has given you, and you possess it and dwell therein, and decide to appoint a king, such as the other nations around you have; you shall choose a wise king whom the Lord your God will choose - one from among your own brethren, as you may not elect a foreigner. He shall not build up a large stable of horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to raise horses for him there, for the Lord has said to you that you shall never return to Egypt again. Nor shall he have multiple wives, that his heart turn away from the Lord, neither shall he become excessively rich.

"It shall be, when he sits upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write himself a copy of these laws from the book belonging to the priests, the Levites. The book shall remain with him and he shall read it every day for the rest of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, and to keep and obey all of the words of the laws and statutes, to ensure that he does not raise himself above his fellow Israelite, and that he not deviate from the commandments, and may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children, in the land of Israel."
Thoughts:Moses begins the chapter by stating that all oxen and sheep sacrificed to God must be free of blemish or defect, because such an animal is an abomination to God.

Next, Moses repeats a similar edict to the one he commanded in Deuteronomy: Chapter 13, concerning the fates of anyone caught worshiping and/or serving other gods. The punishment again, as in Deuteronomy: Chapter 13 is death by stoning, but Moses adds that there must be at least two witnesses to confirm the person's guilt, and that those two or more witnesses must be the ones to cast the first stones. Moses claims that their death in necessary to "rid the evil" from amongst the Israelites.

It's ironic to me when the religious right here in the U.S. justify their Islamaphobia by insisting that the Quran is littered with passages that state "death to the infidel", yet their own bible is littered with the same demand towards people of other faiths. Of course when this is pointed out to them it is usually followed by a claim of "taking things out of context" and that the whole bible must be read to understand its meaning, but when pressed if they have read the Quran to ensure the same understanding, most will be pressed to admit that they have not. Regardless of whether it's in the bible or the Quran, killing people for having different religious beliefs is neither moral, ethical, or justifiable for any reason - period. There is nothing that you could "put into context" to justify rationalizing killing another human being simply because they have chosen to worship a different imaginary being than you do.

Next up, Moses states that if there is ever a matter too difficult for a local judge to come to a verdict, that the case is then to be brought to the sanctuary to be ruled over by the priests and the chief judge. Whatever verdict that the priests arrive at must be enforced to the letter, and anyone who will not abide by the verdict is to be put to death. Moses rationalizes this by saying that this will set an example for the rest of the people into making them behave out of fear.

The problem with this should be blatantly obvious - human judgment is fallible and capital punishment should never be thrown around so nonchalantly without appeal, and especially when used to try and set an example to instill fear into others. If these priests wrongly convict someone and there are people who believe in the innocence of the accused, this commandment aims to prevent them from appealing the case by using fear of a death sentence against them. There is simply no way to view this as moral regardless of what "context" you want to paint around it. This is ruling by brute force where "might equals right".

Moses' last topic in this chapter concerns electing a king. If the people elect a king, Moses demands that he must be a wise man selected by God himself, and that he must be an Israelite and not a foreigner. He also insists that the king must not amass vast amounts of horses - especially in the land of Egypt which Moses claims God has forbidden them from returning to. A king also is not to have multiple wives nor may he become excessively rich. As we read on however, we will find that very few kings will adhere to these "laws", such as King Solomon who amassed a total of 700 wives(!) and 300 concubines, and King David who was also a polygamist.

Moses adds that when the king takes his throne, that he will have to copy the laws from the Levites, and he is to study it for the rest of his life, so that he may learn to fear God and keep and obey all of his commandments (except for that troublesome bit concerning polygamy apparently) in order to ensure that he does not elevate himself up in stature above his fellow Israelites. I think when you've amassed 700 wives like good ol' King Solomon had, you've basically tossed that bit right out the window.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Chapter 16
Summary:Moses' speech continues:
"Observe the month of Abib* and keep the passover unto the Lord your God, for it was in the month of Abib that the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night. You shall therefore sacrifice a lamb or an ox to the Lord at the sanctuary in the place where the Lord has chosen to place his name. You shall eat no leavened bread with it; for seven* days shall you eat unleavened bread with the animal sacrifice. You are to eat unleavened bread as a reminder of the bread you ate as you left Egypt in haste. You are to remember that day for all the rest of your life. There shall be no trace of leavened bread to be found with you for these seven* days, neither shall any of the passover lamb be left until the following morning.

"You are not to sacrifice the passover lamb within your homes, which the Lord has given you, but only at the sanctuary which the Lord shall choose to put his name upon shall you sacrifice the passover lamb at evening, at sundown, in the season that you left Egypt. You shall roast and eat the sacrifice in the sanctuary that the Lord your God shall choose, and you are then to return to your homes in the morning. Six days are you to eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there is to be a solemn assembly to the Lord your God. You are to do no work that day.

"Seven* weeks after the harvest begins you shall observe the 'Festival of Weeks' with a tribute of a freewill offering to the Lord your God, in proportion to the amount of crops he has blessed you with. You shall rejoice before the Lord your God with your children, your slaves, the Levites in your community, the strangers amongst you, the orphaned, and the widowed amongst you at the sanctuary of the lord your God. You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall observe and obey these statutes.

"You shall observe the 'Festival of Tabernacles' for seven* days at the end of the harvest season after you have gathered your corn and grapes. You shall rejoice in this feast along with your children, your slaves, the Levites in your community, the strangers amongst you, the orphaned, and the widowed amongst you. For seven* days you are to keep a solemn feast unto the Lord your God in the sanctuary that the Lord has chosen. Because the Lord your God shall bless you with a good harvest and in your works, you shall surely rejoice.

"Three times each year every male must appear before the Lord your God at the sanctuary he has chosen; for the 'Feast of Unleavened Bread', the 'Feast of Weeks', and the 'Feast of Tabernacles', and they shall not appear before the Lord empty handed. Every man is to give what he is able to, in proportion to the blessing that the Lord your God has given them.

"Judges and officers are to be appointed from amongst each tribe for all of the cities which the Lord you God is giving you. They are to administer their judgments justly. They are not to twist judgment to benefit a rich man, nor are they to take bribes, as such gifts blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous. That which is altogether just must be followed, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving to you.

"You are not to plant a grove of any trees near the altar of the Lord your God, which you are to build. Nor shall you construct any image, which the Lord your God hates."
Notes:1.) Abib is the first month of the Hebrew calendar corresponding with mid April in our current calendar.
2.) Yet more references to the mystical significance of the number seven in the bible.
Thoughts:Moses lays out a series of three festivals that the Israelites have to celebrate. Beginning with passover, he reiterates that no one is to eat bread made with yeast products for seven days (there's that number again) afterward. Moses says that they are to eat unleavened bread as a reminder that they had left Egypt in a hurry. Some interpret this as meaning that they simply didn't have time to wait for the bread to rise, however, God clearly demanded the consumption of unleavened bread in Exodus 12:8 rather than it being a necessity due to a lack of time. Regardless, Moses punctuates this demand stating that not even a trace of yeast should be found during this week, nor shall any of the lamb be left overnight for the following morning.

Moses adds that the lamb is not to be sacrificed or eaten at home, but at the sanctuary and is to be sacrificed at sundown. For the next six days unleavened bread is to be eaten, and on the seventh day a sabbath is to be observed and no work is to be done.

The next feast Moses describes is the "Festival of Weeks" which is to begin seven weeks (again with that number) after the first harvest begins. Moses demands a "freewill offering" (despite there being nothing remotely "freewill" about a demand) consisting of a percentage of the first crops to be offered to the sanctuary. This offering is to be eaten at the sanctuary along with the person's entire household, slaves, neighboring Levites, foreign visitors, orphans, and widows. Moses once again reminds the Israelites that they were once slaves in the land of Egypt, and therefore by that reasoning they are to observe and obey God's laws.

The final festival Moses describes is the "Festival of Tabernacles", which is to be observed for seven (again with that number) days at the end of the harvest season after all the grain and grapes have been harvested. Again, the people are to feast at the sanctuary along with the person's entire household, slaves, neighboring Levites, foreign visitors, orphans, and widows. This feast is to be repeated for the next six days so that God will bless the Israelites with a plentiful harvest.

Every male amongst the Israelites is to appear before God at the sanctuary during these three festivals and they are not to show up empty handed - God wants them to fork over a percentage of their crops.

Moses then changes topics to state that judges and officials are to be appointed from amongst each tribe for each city in the "promised land". Moses demands that judges are to rule justly and are not to twist their judgment to benefit the rich, nor are they to take bribes. These requirements must be followed so that the Israelites may live in and inherit the "promised land".

Moses closes out the chapter by demanding that the Israelites are not to plant any trees near God's altar, nor are they to construct an image which God hates.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Chapter 15
Summary:Moses' speech continues:
"At the end of every seven* years, you are to make a release - a release where every creditor that has lent something to his neighbor shall cancel their debt of his neighbor, or of his brother, because it has been called the Lord's release. To a foreigner, you may exact the debt again, but towards your fellow Israelites, you are to release them from their debt. This shall prevent any amongst you from becoming poor, for the Lord shall greatly bless you in the land which the Lord your God has given you as an inheritance to possess - only if you carefully heed the words of the Lord your God, and to observe and obey all of the commandments which I give to you on this day. For the Lord your God will bless you, as promised, and you will become a lender to many other nations - not a borrower, and you shall reign over many other nations - but they shall not reign over you.

"If there is amongst you a poor man whom is one of your brethren, living amongst your city, in the land that the Lord your God has given you, you are not to harden your heart, nor shut your hand from your poor brother; but you are to open your hand wide to him, and are to lend to him as much as he needs and what he wants. Beware that you do not form the thought in your wicked heart and refuse to give him a loan because the seventh year, the year of release, is at hand, for when he cries out to the Lord against you, it will be a sin upon you. You are to loan to him without question or grievances, because for this act, the Lord your God will bless you in all your works, and all that you do. There will always be poor amongst you, therefore I command you to open your hand to your brother and to the poor and needy in the land.

"When your Hebrew brothers or sisters are sold to you into slavery, and serve you for six years, in the seventh year you are to set them free. When you set them free, you are not to let them walk away empty handed. You shall furnish them liberally from your flock, your olive press, and your winepress; of what the Lord your God has blessed unto you, you shall give a portion unto them. You shall remember your own slavery in the land of Egypt, and how the Lord redeemed you.

"If your Hebrew slave however tells you that he will not leave because he loves his servitude to you and your house, and because he is well with you; then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his ear, and that person will be your slave forever. To a female Hebrew slave shall you do likewise.

"You must not feel bad when you send your slaves away after serving you for six years, for your slave has cost you less than half of what the wages of a hired man would have cost you, and by releasing your slave, the Lord shall bless you in all that you do.

"All the firstborn males born in your herds and flocks are to be sanctified for the Lord your God; you shall not use the firstling of your bull to work your fields, nor shall you shear the firstling of your sheep. Instead, you and your household shall eat them before the Lord your God each year at the sanctuary which the Lord your God has chosen in the land. If the animal has any blemish, if it is lame, blind, or any defect, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God. Instead you shall eat it at your home, and the clean and unclean may eat it alike, just as if you were eating a roebuck or a hart. Only you are not to consume the animal's blood; you are to pour it upon the ground as you would water."
Notes:1.) Another reference of the mystical significance of the number seven in the bible.
Thoughts:Moses begins this chapter by declaring that every seven years (there's that number again) the Israelites are to cancel all debts owed to them by their fellow Israelites. Debts owed by foreigners are still valid, but fellow Israelites are to be released from debt every seven years. Moses states that this is to either ensure that no Israelite goes poor, yet the overall theme of this chapter is how to deal with the poor. Moses states that the nation of Israelis to become a lender - and not a borrower - to other nations, as to allow the nation to reign over all others, and not be reigned over themselves.

He then tells the Israelites that if there is a poor person amongst them that they are not to "harden their heart[s]" towards them and they are to lend him as much as he wants and needs. Moses warns the Israelites not to refuse to make a loan simply because the "Year of Release" is at hand, because it would be "sin" upon the person refusing to make the loan. Moses instructs that the Israelites are to loan without question or grievances, and that God will bless them for their generosity.

Moses next moves on to recount a few points on Hebrew slavery that he commanded in Exodus: Chapter 21. Unlike typical slaves, a Hebrew that has sold himself into slavery is to regain his or her freedom after six years and is to be freed at the start of the seventh. In this sense, the Hebrews are more like what we'd consider "indentured servants" than what we would consider true slavery. However, this only applies to other Hebrews and not foreign slaves. Moses adds to this, that when a Hebrew is freed from his/her slavery that they are not to be left empty handed. The newly freed Hebrew slave is to be furnished with a generous portion of their master's flock, crops, and wine. Moses reminds the Israelites that they are to remember how God saved them from their own past slavery in the land of Egypt.

Moses then adds the provision that if a Hebrew slave chooses not to leave his life in slavery and opts to remain with his master, then one can bore the slave's ear with an awl, and he will from then on out become branded as a slave forever. While on the surface this may appear to be a completely harmless voluntary agreement, Exodus: Chapter 21 lays out a strong motivating factor as to why a Hebrew slave might opt to forgo his emancipation - if his master gives him a wife while he is a slave, then the slave's wife and children they have borne will belong to the master, and not the slave. Therefore if the slave wishes to keep his family together, he must remain a slave. Essentially this is clever way to entice a Hebrew slave into forfeiting his freedom. Even if the slave insists upon his freedom, the slave master wins out and keeps the slave's wife and children, It's a veritable win-win situation for the slave owner to provide his slave with a wife. Moses adds that this "voluntary" permanent enslavement for life can also apply to female Hebrew slaves as well, so it's probable that making her a concubine and getting her pregnant could have served as an effective method for coaxing "voluntary" permanent enslavement as well.

Moses points out that if the slave opts not for "voluntary" permanent enslavement, but chooses their freedom instead, the slave master is not be upset about this but is to remember that he got six years of work from his slave for less than half the price he would have had to pay a hired man.

Moses ends the chapter by reminding the Israelites that the firstborn of their flocks and herd belong to God and are never to be used to work in the fields, or are firstborn sheep to be shorn. These animals are to be eaten each year at God's sanctuary - except if the animal in question has any defects, blemishes, or is lame or blind; then the animal is to be eaten at one's home. An animal with such defects eaten at home may be eaten by all in the household, "clean" and "unclean" alike, just as if they were eating a deer for dinner. The only stipulation, Moses adds, is that they are not to consume the animal's blood - it is to be poured upon the ground like water.