Tuesday, July 18, 2006

And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking (Exod 19)

Exodus 19 is the lead-in to the Ten Commandments passage, which I haven't decided how much detail I'm going to go into regarding it. It will probably take more than one entry, but whether it might be worth going really deep and making three, four, maybe even as much as ten, that remains to be seen. I suppose I have to decide what role I am to play in relating that information.

Here in this chapter, though, the first thing the SAB notes is God's promise of favor to the Israelites. I suppose one could see this as unjust and intolerant, as the SAB labels it, but at the very least, let's not forget that this is not arbitrary. If you read the whole verse, you see an "if" in it--this is a conditional state for the nation of Israel, contingent upon their fulfilling their part of the contract. If they do fulfill their part, they will become "a kingdom of priests", which is an odd turn of phrase. I think this is something that has to be taken figuratively to some degree, because reading all of the Mosaic Law makes it clear that only certain people can literally be priests. Defined very loosely, though, a priest is someone who is qualified to act as an intercessor between God and man, and the purpose of the nation of Israel according to Christian theology (and probably many branches of Judaic thought as well) is that all the other nations would see the special relationship between God and Israel and come to know God better by observing them. In this sense, every observant Jew is a priest.

Now God gives some warnings that nobody but Moses is allowed on Mt. Sinai. Penalties for breaching this law are severe; any man or animal that touches the mountain will be put to death. The SAB has an interesting speculation on this, one that I myself have considered in the past. Maybe Moses is going up on the mountain and meeting with nobody at all, and he figures that the best way to keep his cover from being blown is to keep everybody off of the mountain. If this is so, it doesn't seem to make much sense to punish animals as well, but perhaps it's just Moses' paranoia? I think the real problem with this is that the supernatural aspect is still apparent, and would need to be explained away. There's the column of smoke, which apparently at this time sits on the mountain, and there is the voice of God, and a show of power of some sort that the people experience. Still, an interesting thought no doubt.

The SAB also notes that Moses tells the men to not have sex for three days. I'm not sure why this is sexist, since there is no statement that somehow having sex will make them unclean because they touched a woman. Frankly, I have no idea what this is about, because no explanation is given.

The last note here is that God warns Moses to make sure nobody tries to sneak in and see God, because doing so will cause them to die. This is something that is mentioned a number of times throughout the Bible, and no explanation is given for it either. I don't think the "cruelty" tag is appropriate, nor really the "injustice" one, although I'd grant the "absurd". The fact that seeing God will cause one to die is generally presented not so much as God being mean and demanding privacy or whatever Steve Wells might be guessing, but rather a supernatural thing, that the mere act of laying eyes upon God in his full glory would be too much to take. It's another thing I don't fully understand, and certainly won't try to give an explanation for it.

4 comments:

DON'T TREAD ON ME said...

The location of yahweh's delivery to moses of the commandments is contradictory. Another biblical passage has the Law handed down in oral form, not on stone tablets, at Mount Horeb.

Brucker said...

I'm not sure I follow you. Do you have a specific passage? I looked up "Horeb" and found that in Deuteronomy 4, there is talk of the law being handed down at Horeb, but once again, on stone tablets.

Two things: There's a difference bretween the Law as a whole, and the Ten Commandments as a subset of the Law. The latter were supposedly handed down on stone tablets twice (the first set being broken by Moses), but yes, the former was orally given.

Secondly, "Horeb" is largely accepted as being synonymous to "Sinai", my understanding being that the Sinai is a mountainous region, and Horeb is the specific mountain within this region upon which Moses received the Law.

If you have more specifics, I'd really love to discuss it further.

Michael said...

You say "The SAB also notes that Moses tells the men to not have sex for three days. I'm not sure why this is sexist, since there is no statement that somehow having sex will make them unclean because they touched a woman. Frankly, I have no idea what this is about, because no explanation is given."

I believe the part of the Bible you are looking for, that states that man and woman having sex is a sin, is here "
18The woman also with whom man shall lie with seed of copulation, they shall both bathe themselves
in water, and be unclean until the even." In other words, anytime man and woman have sex that includes secretions, or anytime seed is spilled, it is unclean. Therefore all children are born of sin. What a bunch of hypocrites you Christians are. So you come together to have sex and commit a sin, in order to have something that was created by sin, which is a sin in itself. Sure, it makes a lot of sense, but why do you Christians keep on sinning and having more children. Perhaps you should stop sinning by procreating. It would do a lot of us a huge favor. By the way I read the Bible too, and my mother was a nun, so I have heard different theories on everything. You seem to only want to talk about things in the Bible you can explain without putting your religion down. Every answer you have to the SAB seems to be that no explanation is given for the way God acts. Could it be because some schmo wrote it, and then it was passed on, and then someone added to it without thinking. The Bible has so many authors I am surprised they were able to all tell the same story. Oh wait, they don't. The OT and the NT are total opposites. Why do some Christians listen to the evil god, and some to the good god? Why are there different sects of Christianity itself? Shouldn't all Christians agree on the same issues? And if you don't agree, who goes to Hell, them or you? There is a reason that the East laughs at us.

Brucker said...

>>>I believe the part of the Bible you are looking for, that states that man and woman having sex is a sin, is here [Leviticus 15:18]<<<

I think it's fairly clear from the context that that is not talking about sex, but talking about accidental issuance of bodily fluids.

>>>In other words, anytime man and woman have sex that includes secretions, or anytime seed is spilled, it is unclean. Therefore all children are born of sin.<<<

I don't follow your logic, sorry.

>>>What a bunch of hypocrites you Christians are. So you come together to have sex and commit a sin, in order to have something that was created by sin, which is a sin in itself.<<<

Christians may be hypocrites, but certainly not for this reason. I don't believe that the Bible anywhere says that sex in and of itself is a sin.

>>>By the way I read the Bible too, and my mother was a nun, so I have heard different theories on everything.<<<

There's got to be an interesting story behind that. I'd love to hear it, if you want to share it.

>>>You seem to only want to talk about things in the Bible you can explain without putting your religion down. Every answer you have to the SAB seems to be that no explanation is given for the way God acts.<<<

You may have read the Bible, but I don't think you've read much of my blog.

>>>Could it be because some schmo wrote it, and then it was passed on, and then someone added to it without thinking.<<<

Could be. I don't think so personally.

>>>The Bible has so many authors I am surprised they were able to all tell the same story. Oh wait, they don't.<<<

Actually one thing we "fundies" are so keen on is the fact that the Bible does have a coherent message throughout. Personally, I don't find it quite so miraculous as some do because after all, if somebody wrote a book and claimed it was God's word, but it outright contradicted what other parts of the Bible say, of course it would never be allowed into the Canon. Ever considered that?

>>>The OT and the NT are total opposites. Why do some Christians listen to the evil god, and some to the good god?<<<

You must not be reading the same Bible I am. I don't know what you're talking about.

>>>Why are there different sects of Christianity itself? Shouldn't all Christians agree on the same issues? And if you don't agree, who goes to Hell, them or you?<<<

I've never bought this stale argument that if Christianity were true, there would only be one sect. In some ways it's like saying if ice cream were really good, there'd be only one flavor, and no such thing as sherbet.

>>>There is a reason that the East laughs at us.<<<

I wasn't aware that "the East" was laughing at us. To whom are you referring? South Korea is pretty eastern, and it's also one of the most Christian nations on earth. Or are you talking about the East Coast?