|Have No Gods Before Me, For I Am A Jealous God, And Ima Fuck You Up
||[Jan. 30th, 2013|11:10 am]
Old Testament, Wrath of God, dogs and cats living together!|
I cannot be the only person who's ever wondered why it took forty years to walk across the Sinai.
Now, mind, I realize that "forty" is just a placeholder for "a bunch", an indeterminate amount, as in "One, Two, Three, Many". I also understand that the Exodus is probably pure myth – I've read that there are no Egyptian records of large numbers of Israeli slaves. It's still a long time to assign to a few weeks march.
That being said, one of the things I have long been interested in about the Old Testament is suggested by the (usual) First Commandment – you shall have no other gods before me. The assumption, so far as I can tell from my spotty reading, is that the implication is not that one shall have no false gods – it's that there are plenty of gods and godlings thick on the ground, but you should stick to your own franchise, and not wander off with one of the others. It's a matter of teams, rather than Absolute Truth.
A related point is that the Old Testament God is a great deal smaller than the current touted Universal Spirit. In Genesis, he's walking in the Garden in the cool of the day. Not only is he human-sized, he spritzes. Even in the desert, he's leading the refugees as a pillar of smoke in the day, and a pillar of fire in the night. Not sending pillars – he's down there leading.
The traditional Second Commandment – you shall not make any graven images – the one that causes Moslems to eschew any figurative art at all – is also interesting, suggesting the confusion between the map and the territory, and the tendency to venerate the figure and not the purported entity behind it. Probably deserves its own discussion.
And then there's manna.
During the War, the Red Cross or suchlike organizations would send supplemental food supplies to Allied prisoners of war. (For all I know, they aided German POWs as well. I'll have to go research that.) The Germans, I have read, released these supplies to the prisoners, and always punctured the tins first. That way, the prisoners would have to consume them promptly, and couldn't save them up as provisions for an escape and a quiet dash to the coast.
15: And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.
16: This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.
17: And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less.
18: And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.
19: And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning.
20: Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them.
21: And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted
So the Lord has led these refugees into the Sinai, and is walking them around and around in circles. The Lord issues rations daily, but has arranged it so that they can't be used later than the day they're issued. Seems to me the Lord is making sure no one can say "My fliggerty grandfather fled fliggerty Egypt, and died out here walking in fliggerty circles, and my father was born out here and has done nothing but walk in fliggerty circles, and I've spent my entire fliggerty life eating fliggerty manna and walking in fliggerty circles. I'm out of this Christless circus" and take off on their own, for an escape and a quiet dash to the coast.
The Old Testament – full of psychological surprises. Next service – Leviticus!