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.

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