Exodus — In the Wilderness
|Into the Wilderness — 16:1-19-25||Rules for the Tabernacle and Priests — 25:1-31:18|
|The Sinai Covenant — 20:1-24:18||More Law and Punishment — 31:1-35:2|
Manna From — 16:1-36
The people complained they were hungry and out of food. To Moses they were complaining against God. He said a prayer. That evening quails were everywhere just waiting to be eaten. In the next morning there was dew everywhere for drinking. When the dew evaporated there was this fine flaky substance on the ground. Moses commanded them to gather it all and leave none remaining. But they disobeyed and the next morning it became foul with worms. So each day they gathered it, but when the sun grew too hot it melted. On the sixth day they gathered enough for two days. On the seventh day they were not supposed to gather food but some did anyway. They ate what became known as manna. It was like coriander seeds, white, and tasted like wafers made with honey. They ate it for forty years until they reached the border of the Promised Land. The quail came only once.
Comment: The term “manna” comes from the phrase “What is it” (16:15). So what is it? It is described as fine and flaky as frost on the ground. It comes from dew and does not grow in the ground. It grows to maturity overnight. It must be gathered in the morning; otherwise it will melt from the hot sun. If it isn’t all gathered on its day, the remainder will breed worms and spoil the next morning’s batch. It doesn’t grow on the Sabbath but it grows just enough the other six days. If you put it in a jar it keeps forever. And finally, it satisfies the body’s nutritional requirements. The answer: manna never existed.
The Watering Rock — 17:1-7
At Rephidim, where there was no water to drink, the people complained to Moses for leading them to a place where they will die of thirst. So Moses cried out to God, “What shall I do with this people. They are almost ready to stone me.” So, at God’s instruction, before the elders, Moses strikes the rock at Horeb and water came out of it. The people had quarreled with Moses and tested his power.
Comment: By conventional standards, it would not seem rebellious to doubt your leadership for leading you to where you might die of thirst. To Moses, the threat of death was not cause for complaint. He demanded unconditional faith.
The Battle With the Amelekites — 17:8-16
When the Amalekites attacked at Rephidim, Moses sent for Joshua. “Choose some men to fight and I will stand on top of the hill with my staff.” When Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; whenever he lowered his hand, the Amalekites prevailed. In time, Moses’ grew weary. Aaron and Hur gave him a stone to sit on; each held up one hand until the sun set. Joshua prevailed that day. Moses vowed to annihilate the Amalekites the next time they met.
Comment: This little story might have been intended to reaffirm the power of Moses’ outstretched arms and his staff. And yet for all his alleged power, it wasn’t enough to hold up his arms.
Moses Forms a Court System — 18:1-27
Moses’ father-in-law was a Midian priest named Jethro. Hearing of Moses’ success, Jethro brought Moses’ family to him: Zipporah, his wife and his two sons, Gershom and Eliezer. Jethro was convinced that the God of Moses was more powerful then his own God. The next day he noticed how overwhelmed Moses was, adjudicating law to the people. Said Jethro, “You will wear yourself out this way. If you appoint trusted men to judge minor cases, you will have time for the major ones.” Moses heeded his father-in-law. Jethro returned to Midian.
Comment: It appears that Jethro respected Moses’ God, but he could not have converted if he expected to return to Midian. For all the importance law was to the creator of the heavens and earth, he couldn’t organize a system for administrating his dictates. He had to accept advice from a pagan priest.
Mt Sinai — 19:1-25
The Israelites camped at the base of Mt. Sinai. There, Moses went up to the summit, where God spoke to him. Tell the people to obey me and keep my covenant and they will be my priestly kingdom and holy nation. In 3 days, I will come down in a dense cloud so the people will trust you speak for me. Consecrate the people and have them wash their clothes. Tell the people not to touch the mountain or I will kill them with stones or arrows. When they hear a long trumpet blast they may go up the mountain.
When Moses came down the mountain, he made his people consecrate themselves by cleaning themselves and avoiding sex for the remaining 3 days. On the morning of the third day, there was thunder and lightening and a thick cloud on the mountaintop; loud trumpet blasts made the people tremble. When Moses spoke, God answered in thunder. The people stood at the foot of mountain while Moses went to the top. Up there, God said to Moses, go back down and tell the people not to even look at the mountain, or else they will perish. Bring Aaron back up with you and no one else. So Moses went back down to tell the people.
Comment: Mount Sinai is 7,500 feet high, about a thousand feed higher than Mt. Washington, New Hampshire. It takes a day to journey to the top and back; I’ve done it. Sinai is a dry desert mountain that is not volcanic, inhospitable to clouds and has no vegetation, yet it spews fire and smoke. The mountain quakes, yet the ground around it does not. We might wonder how God is going to throw stones and arrows from heaven. Who blew the trumpet? Without lungs, vocal chords, mouth and tongue, how does one speak intelligibly?
God Did Not Talk to the People
According to the experts, this was only one time when God spoke directly to the Israelites during the reign of Moses. Scripture says otherwise.
Moses went up the mountain to talk to God (19:3). He summoned the elders and spoke to them (19:7-8). But Moses did not go down the mountain to the people until (19:14). Did Moses shout from the mountaintop?
God says that on the third day he will come down the mountain to let the people see him (19:11). Meanwhile, anyone who touches the mountain shall be put to death (19:12). They may they not go up the mountain until the trumpet blasts (19:13). Finally, Moses goes down the mountain to tell the people (19:14). Is God going to go down the mountain or are the people going to go up the mountain?
So on that glorious third day, when the trumpets blasted, Moses brought the people to the base of he mountain to meet God (19:17). Then Moses went to the top of the mountain where God was (19:20). God tells Moses to go back down to tell the people that they can’t come up to look (19:21-23). Go down and bring Aaron back with you, he says (19:24). So Moses went down to tell them (19:25). Clearly, God does not want to talk to the people.
When God dictated his commandments (20:1-17), the people saw smoke and heard noise (20:18). They wanted Moses to talk for them because they feared that if God spoke to them they would die (20:19). First, if God wanted to talk to them, they couldn’t stop him. Second, God wouldn’t tell them how to behave if he wanted to kill them.
Afterwards, God told Moses to tell the Israelites “You have seen for yourselves that I spoke with you from heaven” (20:22). Did the Israelites see God talk to Moses from heaven? Or did they see God talk to them from heaven? Did God speak from the mountaintop or from heaven? If God had spoken to the Israelites, would they need Moses to convince them? The only answer that fits is that God and Moses are one in the same.
The Ten Commandments — 20:1-17
The Ten Commandments is arguably the highest point of the Old Testament. Modern believers maintain that if the Ten Commandments were accepted as a universal standard for moral conduct, there would not be so much social chaos. This argument has a serious flaw. Yahweh’s law means what Yahweh says it means, at the time he is alleged to have said it; these are tribal laws. Fortunately, modern law doesn’t force a belief in a god.
The primary aim of the Ten Commandments was to direct thought towards the belief in one particular God. Next they aimed to stop the destruction and promote the procreation of one particular race; they did not apply to violations against aliens. The Commandments constricted not only your, religious beliefs, but your material beliefs as well. Individual behavior was strictly limited.
By comparison, the purpose of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, called the Bill of Rights, was to protect individual rights by limiting governmental behavior. The First Amendment, especially, protects you from being punished for what you think and what you say. Conversely; if government authorities respected the Bill of Rights, there would not be so much social chaos.
2I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;
3you shall have no other gods before me.
It was Yahweh who brought the Israelites into Egypt when he brought 7 years of famine into Canaan at the time of Joseph. This first Commandment outlaws religious freedom and promotes holy wars. Which God should prevail: God, Yahweh, Jesus or Allah? Or is the real God a Far Eastern God? Or does it apply only to the descendents of those who came out of slavery? Or no God at all? Who decides? Who enforces? The answer came at the point of a sword.
4You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me,
6but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
The second Commandment outlaws all images such as art, photography, and television — especially Christian art. This jealous king of kings is not impartial; he is a bigot. Democracy could not exist in a nation where dissenting opinions are punishable offenses. He doesn’t punish only the guilty; he will punish innocent children to the fourth generation for the single offense of one parent. In Exodus 32:1-28, Moses ordered his priests to kill 3,000 Israelites for constructing a golden calf. God’s promise to love is meaningless because his Commandments are impossible to maintain.
7You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
The Third abolishes freedom of speech. Never question or criticize your priest. Even thinking contrary thoughts is dangerous. Even a poorly phrased utterance could get you in trouble. In Leviticus 24:16, blasphemy is a capital offense.
8Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.
9Six days you shall labor and do all your work.
10But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.
11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
The Fourth would stifle a capitalist society if it had to shut down entirely one day of every week. This law makes two exceptions. Wives were considered property and thus exempt. The police would need license to roam about to catch violators. Jews, Christians and Moslems can’t agree on the true day of the Sabbath. The wording is specifically addressed to men who rule over their families. In Numbers 15:32-36, an Israelite man was stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath.
12Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
This Fifth Commandment means a lot more than be nice to your parents. You show honor by acts of obedience. You accept the faith and the values your parents impose on you. If you obey you show honor; therefore you will live long. But if you disobey, you dishonor and your life will be short. In this context, honor is a euphemism for fear. This commandment sanctions child abuse and would likely increase the population of dysfunctional adults. In Exodus 21:15; 21:17, striking or cursing you parents is a capital offense.
13You shall not murder.
The Commandments are listed in order of importance. The secular laws, including murder, are considered inferior to religious priorities. Biblical laws were never intended to apply as a universal standard of conduct. They were tribal taboos, intended to foster the development of the tribe as a unit. Other societies who violated the most important, the First Commandment, were targets for genocidal extinction. A case in point is when Moses murdered an Egyptian for abusing a Hebrew slave. Shortly thereafter God recruited him to lead the Israelites.
14You shall not commit adultery.
The only legitimate form of sexual contact was intercourse between a married male and female. All other sexual behavior was defined as adultery. The implications are broader than just a man cheating on his wife. The penalties for violation were more severe then that for stealing. A woman had to maintain her virtue until she was married. Illegitimate children were ostracized. The definition applied to masturbation and even celibates with erotic wet dreams. In Numbers 25:1-8, sexual intercourse and marriage with anyone outside the tribe were punished by death. Sex with virgins was treated differently. In Numbers 31:17-18, Moses commanded his solders to kill all the married women, but allowed them to take the virgins for their personal pleasure. In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus defined adultery as looking at a woman lustfully. This law was meant to enforce ignorance on all matters related to sex.
15You shall not steal.
Honesty was not the goal. Physical assets such as property, food and livestock were precious and vital to survival to each member for the sake of the tribe. Their loss could result in starvation or death. Stealing from anyone outside the tribe was approved. In Exodus 3:21, 22, Moses told the Israelites to steal jewelry, gold, silver and clothes from the Egyptians.
16You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
The definition of neighbor applied only to a tribal member, not someone of acquaintance. Lying to someone not a neighbor was approved. For example, Moses lied to Pharaoh in Exodus 5:3 when he asked for a 3 day leave of absence for the Israelites to offer sacrifices. Moses had no intention of returning.
17You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
If may be impolite to covet too strongly. This law was not intended to promote polite society. It is addressed to men only. Wives are listed along with other forms of property because they were considered property. This law would ban advertising whose sole function is to create desires to own things. It is biologically impossible not to have desires and wants. This law would empower Orwellian thought police. Your thoughts would be as subject for punishment as your acts.
Aliens were not accepted as neighbors and thus it was acceptable to envy their possessions. In Exodus 3:8, God tantalized Moses when he promised to:
"come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.”
Conclusion: The Ten Commandments are morally inferior to the Bill of Rights. The idea of a universal moral code was unheard of in those days; their intent was to promote the tribal religion and nothing else. The Commandments are listed in order of importance; the first five, which govern religious behavior, were punishable by death. Only three of the ten — fraud, theft and murder — are worthy of punishment by modern standards, and of the three, only murder is worthy of debate over whether it should be a capital offense. The commandments against adultery and covetousness attempt to suppress all biological and material desires.
The 300 Ordinances
After the Ten Commandments, there are over 600 other laws known as ordinances. They tell a lot about the depressing quality of Hebrew culture. Capital offenses and bizarre offenses are indexed.
Law and Altars — 20:18-26
The mountain smoked and trumpets blared while thunder and lightning filled the sky. God came to test you, says Moses, and to put fear into you. Do not build gods of silver or gold. Make an altar of earth and sacrifice your sheep and oxen and I will bless you. An altar of cut stone is irreverent. No altar should have steps; otherwise people will go up it in the nude —21:26. This is what Moses said God told him.
On Slavery — 21:1-11
A man could sell his son or daughter, or himself and his family into slavery to pay off a debt. A male slave could serve his master for up to seven years. If a man is single when he is enslaved he must remain single when he is freed unless he was originally married. If his master gives him a wife who bears children, his master owns his family when he is freed. But if such a married slave chooses to stay with his family, he remains a slave for life. A master may take a female slave as a wife, or he may give her to his son. If so, he must treat her as a daughter. If she does not please him, he must free her without debt or payment.
On Violence — 21:12-27
Premeditated killing or kidnapping someone carries the death penalty (21:12, 21:16). So does striking or cursing ones father or mother — 21:15, 21:17. Injuring someone in a quarrel requires restitution 21:18-19. Killing a slave is a punishable offense except if the slave survives at least a day — 21:20-21. If two men injure a pregnant woman while fighting, causing miscarriage, fines will be according to the husband’s demands and the judges’ determination. If there is additional harm to the woman, punishment will match the damage done to the woman: life for life, eye for eye, wound for wound 21:22-25. If a slave-owner destroys an eye or a tooth of slave, he must free the slave to compensate foe the loss —21:26-27.
On Property — 21:28-36
If an ox kills someone, the ox will be killed; but if the ox has killed before and the owner warned, both will be put to death (21:28-29).
On Restitution — 22:1-15
If a thief steals livestock and slaughters or sells them, he must pay full restitution. If he can’t pay restitution he will be sold into slavery (22:1). If a thief breaks in and is killed, there is no penalty. But if the thief is killed after sunrise, the killer is bloodguilty, meaning he is unclean and thus cannot participate in religious ceremonies.
Social and Religious — 22: 16-31
If a man rapes an unbetrothed virgin, he must pay for her and marry her; but if her father objects, he must still pay for her. The three offenses of female sorcery, sexual intercourse with an animal, and sacrificing to a different god are punishable by death (22:18-20). Abusing widows and orphans is a capital offense (22:23-24). On the eighth day, firstborn oxen, sheep, and sons must be offered for sacrifice (22:29-30) — anything, including humans, offered to God was destroyed.
General Law — 23:1-19
The Ninth Commandment, against bearing false witness is elaborated in more detail (23:1-9). The Sabbath year and the Sabbath are described. Every seventh year, there is to be no farming and every seventh day, no work (23:10-13). God likes festivals held in his honor. He wants the best fruits of your labor three times a year (23:14-19).
Canaan Promised — 23:20-33
God is going to send an angel to the battlefront. Do what the angel says and he will blot out the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Do not bow to their gods, or worship them, or follow their practices; instead you will utterly demolish them. I, God, will send my terror and my pestilence in front of you and drive them out. Your borders will be from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines to the Euphrates. Make no covenant with them or their gods.
Comment: Since no can listen to an angel, we must assume they heard the angel through Moses. The southern border was settled nowhere close to the Red Sea; it touched the Gulf of Aqaba. Neither did the Israelites cross the Red Sea when they escaped from Pharaoh.
The Covenant is Ratified — 24:1-8
Moses arose one morning. Built an altar and set up twelve pillars. He sent for the young men and had them sacrifice oxen. Moses then put half the blood in the basin and threw the other half against the altar. Then he read the book of the covenant and threw the remaining blood on the people.
Comment: This may have been the first baptism, only it was done with ox blood instead of water.
Return to the Mountain — 24:9-18
When God called, Moses went back to Mt. Sinai. He entered a cloud and stayed at the top for forty days and forty nights.
On Material, the Ark, Table and Lamp-stand — 25:1-40
Since the Israelites have been in the desert for a short time, we must presume that the list of exotic materials like gold, silver, spices, incense, and gems were stolen from the Egyptians.
Build an ark 40 inches long by 27 inches wide by 27 inches high. Mount poles on the side for carrying. Contrary to the second commandment, make no idols; the Israelites construct two cherubim. A cherubim is a lion with wings and a human head. The ark is to contain the commandments when they are made.
Build a table with poles for carrying. Always keep bread on the table. The bread was for God, but it was the priest who ate the bread.
Build a seven lamp stands of gold.
On Tent Walls and Veils — 26:1-36
The Creator has elegant taste. We will note God’s obsessive detailed specifications this chapter. He wants the best materials he can scare from the Israelites.
The Altar, Courtyard and Lamp Oil — 27:1-21
We will pass on other obsessive detailed specifications this chapter.
Priestly Garments — 28:1-43
God also has very specific and expensive taste in fashion. He wants his priests to dress for success. I find amusement over God’s dictate that Aaron and his sons must wear linen underwear when they enter the tent or he will kill them (28:42-43).
Aaron’s Bloody Ordination — 29:1-46
God instructed Aaron and his two sons on how to conduct this ritual. They must first enter the tent in their fashion finest and linen underwear.
Kill a bull and put its horns on the altar. Put some blood on the horns and throw the rest at the base. Burn its fat and organs on the altar and burn the rest outside camp.
Kill a ram and spread its blood on the sides of the altar.
Burn the entire ram on the altar because God likes the smell of burning rams.
Kill another ram and smear blood on each right ear, right thumb and right great toe. Splash the rest on the altar. Take some of the blood from the altar and sprinkle it your clothes. Take the ram’s fat and organs and some bread and wave it all around. Afterwards burn them on top of the altar. God likes its sweet smell. Boil the flesh and eat it. Burn all other remnants.
Do this every day for seven days. Each day afterward, kill a lamb in the morning and another in the evening. Mix its meat with flour, olive oil and wine and cook it. This is called the holocaust offering.
Comment: It wasn’t often that they bathed and changed their clothes in those days. The bodily accumulation of blood and smoke by the end of a week must have been wretched.
Incense, Taxes, Bowls and Oil — 30:1-38
Make a special altar for burning incense. Perhaps the incense they burned every day masked the smell of smoke and decaying flesh.
Aaron and his sons must take care to wash their ands and feet before they enter the tent so they may not die.
Moses took a census and made every registered Israelite over 20 years old donate taxes. The penalty for failure to make a voluntary donation was death. Since God doesn’t need money, the tax went to support the priests. The KJV calls it a soul ransom: your money or your life.
God laid out detailed specifications for anointing oil. Along with the blood, spread oil over every structure on the sacred grounds. The priests are to throw oil on themselves too. Any priest who throws oil on a layman will be ostracized from the tribe.
Equally, anyone who uses incense for enjoyment will be ostracized from the tribe.
Artisans, the Sabbath and the Two Tablets — 31:1-18
God even pondered who would build his holy grounds.
The Sabbath must be kept sacred. Anyone who works on that day will be put to death.
When God finished speaking to Moses on Mt. Sinai, he gave him two stone tablets with the commandments inscribed by his own finger.
The Golden Calf Incident — 32:1-35
When Moses was late to come down from the mountain, the people grew impatient. So they asked Aaron, we do not know what has become of Moses; we need you to make for us gods to look at. Collect all your gold earrings, responded Aaron. So the people gave Aaron their gold rings and Aaron cast them into a calf. When the people saw the calf, they thought the calf represented the gods who brought them out of Egypt. When Aaron saw how pleased the people were, he announced a festival to God on the next day. The people started early that morning. They made offerings, ate, drank and made merry.
Said God to Moses, go down at once! Your people are acting perversely. They made an image of a calf and have worshipped it and sacrificed to it. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” They are stiff-necked. Now let me alone so my wrath will burn hot against them and I may exterminate them, and of you I will make a great nation. But Moses implored God. Why does your wrath burn hot against your chosen people? If you kill them, the Egyptians will say you brought them out to the desert to annihilate them. To Abraham, Isaac and Israel, you will have broken your promise to multiply their descendants like the stars of the heaven. So God changed his mind; he decided not to bring disaster upon the people.
Moses came down the mountain with two tablets of the covenant in his hands. They were written on both sides by God’s finger. Joshua was the first to meet him. There is a noise of war in the camp, said he; but it is not the noise of winners, nor is it the noise of losers; it is the sound of revelers I hear. When Moses saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned hot. He melted down the calf and ground it into powder. Then he forced the people to drink the powder mixed with water.
Said Moses to Aaron, what did the people do you that you brought this sin upon them. You know the people, said Aaron; they are bent on evil. They told me to make the gods because they did not know you would come back. So I told them to give me their gold. I threw it in the fire and a calf came out! Moses knew that Aaron had let them run wild.
Whereupon he stood at the gate of the camp and called for his Levi priests to gather around him. To his priests, he said, God says “Put your sword on your side, each of you! Go back and forth from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill your brother, your friend, and your neighbor.” His priests killed 3,000 people that day. The next day Moses crowed, by killing a son or a brother you have ordained yourself to serve God.
Moses returned to God to see if he was appeased. Unfortunately God was not appeased. He sent a plague on the people.
Comment: On The one-dollar bill is the slogan, “In God We Trust.” Not so, according to this story. When the partying Israelites made God angry, he wanted to exterminate them. Moses talked him out of it. After calming God, Moses got angry and had 3,000 killed. After all this, God changed his mind and inflicted a plague anyway.
- Absent Moses, the Israelites went to the second in command, Aaron. He was by now an ordained priest and the only other man who knew God. When they asked Aaron to make a God, they had no idea they were betraying Moses. The calf, they thought, Aaron molded, was the God of Israel. Not only did Aaron mold the calf; he was the one who called for the festival in honor of the God of Israel. They trusted Aaron, and thought they were doing everything right.
- To save himself, Aaron lied and said the people made him do it. He blamed the fire for making what obviously had to be molded. The only other man who knew God’s law, Aaron, turned out to be a cowardly leader. Moses blamed the Israelites for what Aaron did, and so did the omnipresent God.
- The Israelites were not faulted for worshiping a foreign God as commonly believed. They were punished for worshiping an idol that was constructed by the only member of the tribe, besides Moses, who knew the law. Innocence was no excuse.
- The penalty for violating the Second Commandment against worshipping idols, is death. Innocence is no excuse.
- 32:25 of the KJV says, “And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies).” Modern translations change the embarrassing “naked” to “running wild.”
- The two tablets that God himself wrote with his finger, that Moses broke on the ground, were the most sacred of sacred artifacts. Moses was above the law.
Leaving Mount Horeb — 33:1-11
Leave, said God to Moses. Go to the land I promised you, the land flowing with milk and honey. I will send an angel before you to drive out the inhabitants. I am not going with you, because if I did, I would exterminate the people for being so stubborn. Tell the people to take off their ornaments, and I will decide what to do with them. The people never wore ornaments again.
Moses kept a tent outside of camp where he went to seek God. When he entered the tent a pillar of cloud would descend on the tent. Inside, Moses spoke to God, “face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” When Moses returned to camp, Joshua stayed inside.
Said Moses to God, you asked me to lead these people, but now you will not go with us. Of all the people on the face of the earth, these are the ones you chose as yours. Without you we cannot go on. Please tell me what I must do to change your mind. Okay, said God. I will go with you. Said Moses, please show me what you look like. Said God, I will be gracious and merciful, but you cannot my face and live. I will put you in a rock crevice and I will cover you with my hand as I pass by. When I am past, I will take away my hand and you shall see my back.
Comment: Inside the tent, Moses and God are alleged to speak face to face (33:11). But God says no one can see his face and live (33:20).
- God is portrayed as human-like but shy about showing his face. Moses is supposed to be the last human to see God. If Joshua stayed in the tent with Moses, he too would have seen God face to face. In other words, man was created in God’s image, literally.
- Mount Horeb (3:1, 17:6, and 33:6) is either another name for Mount Sinai, as most claim. Or it is another place. Most likely there were two writers who did not know what the other wrote.
Another Covenant — 34:1-26
Cut two tablets like the ones you broke, said God to Moses, and I will rewrite what I wrote before. Come up in the next morning with the tablets but make sure nobody else is on the mountain. When Moses did as he was commanded, a cloud descended over the mountaintop. When they met, Moses pleaded; although these are stubborn and sinful people, pardon our faults and let us receive your inheritance. Said God, I will make a covenant. And if you obey it, I will drive out the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
- Do not make covenants with other inhabitants, or it will trap you.
- Tear down all their altars, pillars and sacred poles.
- Do not worship any other God because my name is Jealous [not Yahweh].
- A covenant with other inhabitants will tempt them to invite you to eat their sacrifices.
- You may take their daughters as wives for your sons. Their daughters will make your sons follow a different God. Comment: makes no sense?
- Make no cast idols [like Aaron].
- Your will sacrifice your firstborn male livestock or if you do not sacrifice it you must break its neck. You shall also sacrifice your firstborn sons; no one shall appear before me empty-handed (34:19-20). Comment: The actual word used is “redeem.” In this context it does not mean to save from sin. Livestock cannot sin. It was a sacrifice tax. The currency was all firstborn males — human as well as animal.
- Sabbath rule.
- Festival rules.
- Sacrifice rules.
Moses’ Face — 34:27-35
Moses stayed at the top of the mountain for forty days and forty nights. He ate no bread and he drank no water. When he came down, his face was shining because he talked to God. Everyone was afraid to come near him. Moses called them to come closer and repeated what God told him. When he was done, he put a veil on his face. Whenever he talked he removed the veil which showed his shiny face.
Comment: No human could survive more than a week without water and more than a month without food. Without food and water combined, a week would be stretching it.
An example of how the translation of ancient text is self-serving. The Vulgate version says Moses’ face was horned. Horns, then, were a symbol of importance. The book allegedly dictated by God is sometimes unintelligible.
Sabbath Rule — 35:1-2
Whoever works on the Sabbath will be put to death. No fires are allowed on the Sabbath.
BUILDING THE TABERNACLE — 35:3-40:38
Tabernacle Preparations, Offerings and Construction — 35:3-36:38
Ark, Table, Lampstand, Altar, Scents — 36:39-37:29
Burnt Offering, Courtyard, Tabernacle — 38:1-31
Sacred Clothing, Work Completed — 39:1-43
Moving In — 40:1-38
The Persian God, Zoroaster, preceded the Hebrew god as a monotheistic god; was said to have existed about 650 BC. One day Zoroaster prayed on a high mountain in the midst of thunder and lightning. God delivered him the “Book of Law” called the Avesta. When the King of Persia and the people were assembled, Zoroaster delivered the Avesta. Zoroasterism thrived until the Muslims overran and conquered Persia.
Another code of laws that existed about a 1000 years before the Hebrews was sponsored by Hammurabi, an actual king of ancient Babylon. Its title “Laws of Righteousness that Hammurabi, the mighty and just king, has established for the benefit or the weak and oppressed, the widows and orphans,” gives some idea of its intent to establish a reasonable morality.
As much as the Jews painted the Egyptians as morally inferior, the Egyptians established a list of Ten Commandments called the “Oath of Clearance” long before the Hebrews moved into Egypt. One example: “I have not committed fraud and evil against men.” The Pharaohs may have been hypocritical, but then, what rulers aren’t.
Throughout the Old Testament, the only commandments God enforces are the first four. Not one of his Chosen are untainted by violence and or sex. Hebrew mythologists would lead you to believe that morality flowed from them. No. It flowed to them from the Egyptian-Babylonian cultures — all godless heathens.