Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Worst Kind of Deja Vu

After Moses is done checking God out, God descends and describes himself a bit:
Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.(34:7)

Wow, we can't even keep up the loving God angle for the length of an entire verse, can we? Seriously, am I missing something or does it seem like "mercy" and "forgiveness" in this passage have totally different (meaningless) meanings from the ones we currently employ?

God also delivers a more boring version of the Ten Commandments, and as far as I can tell it is the only set of ten commandments actually described as The Ten Commandments by the Bible itself, but for some reason nobody wants these on display at their local courthouse. The Google tells me it is referred to as the Small Covenant Code, if you are interested in learning more.

In case you really really liked God's endless specs for the Ark of the Covenant, and thought six chapters wasn't enough, you're in luck! There are ANOTHER six chapters devoted to the Ark's actual construction. Although to call these chapters "new" would be a bit of a stretch. Compare these two passages:
And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.(25:17-20)
And he made the mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half was the length thereof, and one cubit and a half the breadth thereof. And he made two cherubims of gold, beaten out of one piece made he them, on the two ends of the mercy seat; One cherub on the end on this side, and another cherub on the other end on that side: out of the mercy seat made he the cherubims on the two ends thereof. And the cherubims spread out their wings on high, and covered with their wings over the mercy seat, with their faces one to another; even to the mercy seatward were the faces of the cherubims.(37:6-9)

And these:
And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same. And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side: Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick. And in the candlesticks shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers. And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick. Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold. (25:31-36)
And he made the candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work made he the candlestick; his shaft, and his branch, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, were of the same: And six branches going out of the sides thereof; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side thereof, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side thereof: Three bowls made after the fashion of almonds in one branch, a knop and a flower; and three bowls made like almonds in another branch, a knop and a flower: so throughout the six branches going out of the candlestick. And in the candlestick were four bowls made like almonds, his knops, and his flowers: And a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches going out of it. Their knops and their branches were of the same: all of it was one beaten work of pure gold. (37:17-22)

And it's very tempting to keep going, but you get the idea. Trust me, it's all like that. This might be the earliest recorded example of a Find and Replace.

Between the Golden Calf and the Ark of the Covenant, there is an awful lot of gold floating around this band of ex-slaves. I couldn't figure where it had come from, but Google tells me they stole it from the Egyptians back in Chapter 10. Which I read in October. Man, this procrastination thing is not working nearly as nicely as I thought it might.

Anyway, that's the end of Exodus! The Israelites build the Ark, and God blesses it and hangs around as a pillar of cloud or fire. I thought about doing an Exodus retrospective, like with Genesis, but until the Israelites get to their (currently occupied by Canaanites minding their own business) Promised Land, the story just doesn't feel finished.

So! I will do a retrospective at the end of the Pentateuch. Next up, Leviticus! Which as far as I can tell is just a very long list of arbitrary rules, so I will be powering through at LIGHTNING SPEEDS. I will read NINE chapters a week and tell you all about the best/worst/silliest rules of the lot. Should be fun!

As an apology for taking half a year to read one measly book, have a nine minute beat poem by Tim Minchin. If you are a fan of this blog you will almost certainly love it.

10 comments:

  1. Congratulations on finishing Exodus!

    Does the Ark of the Covenant look like that in Indiana Jones? Do they show it, or is it all like blazing and your face melts off? Also what is a "knop"? It sounds great.

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  2. Any reason why you're using the KJV here when there's good translations available in modern English?

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  3. Mainly because it's one of the few I've heard of, and it seems to be the one least likely to open me up to "But that's not what it says in the TRUE Bible" criticism. I'm given to understand many Christians (who are devout enough to bother having an opinion on translations) believe the KJV to be the 'correct' translation, and all others to contain grievious subversions of God's intended message. Is there a translation you'd recommend instead?

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  4. Buddy great work. Some advice, you should install a 'follow' device so we can all be alerted when you write something new. awesomeness.

    Kriss

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  5. I have written several satires of the Bible. I have another in progress. I am very interested, so ...

    Can you recommend the most humorous articles you have written about the Bible, so I can go read them?

    If you grant my request, then only read the next sentence up to the first comma:

    Thanks in advance, unless you decline my request, in which case, you jerk!

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  6. Thanks for your interest! I only have 27 entries(hopefully this will change soon), so it probably wouldn't take too long to read the whole thing, but here are my favorites in chronological order:

    Genesis:

    http://aheathenreadsthebible.blogspot.com/2010/07/genesis-chapters-13-20.html

    http://aheathenreadsthebible.blogspot.com/2010/08/circumcision-as-weapon-of-mass.html

    http://aheathenreadsthebible.blogspot.com/2010/08/retrospective-genesis.html

    Exodus:

    http://aheathenreadsthebible.blogspot.com/2010/08/exodus-so-god-and-moses-walk-into-bar.html

    http://aheathenreadsthebible.blogspot.com/2011/03/golden-calf-or-moses-checks-out-gods.html

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  7. Hey, I quoted this in a recent post also:

    visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

    It is just so damn profound.

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  8. If I commented on an issue dear to liberals like, say gay marriage, with the level of witlessness you show here you'd probably call me a bigot.

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  9. @ Lothair Of Lorraine

    You are making an unfair comparison. Gay marriage is an issue that affects real people in real time. It's evidential, it's true to life, whichever side of the fence you sit on.

    The Bible, on the other hand, does not enjoy anything nearing that level of veracity. There is simply no evidence, other than personal faith, theological just-so stories, archeological muddle-headedness and pseudoscientific claptrap that the book offers a verifiable account of anything. If it did, it would be considered a working text in at least one academic field outside theology.

    Both gay marriage and the Bible are, of course, open to satire. It's just that one lends itself to comedy much more readily than the other.

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  10. Like the blog, sorry you're not posting anymore. You and this guy : http://hausdorffbb.blogspot.com/ should compare notes. He's a mathy atheist bible-reader too.

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