Friday, January 29, 2010

Exodus, Chapters 3 & 4

Chapter 3

Moses is in the field one day, tending to his father-in-law Jethro's flocks. Wait! In chapter two, his father-in-law was called Reuel! You can look this up for yourselves, by comparing Chapter 2 verse 18 and Chapter 3, verse 1. So either Moses is yet another unpunished polygamist, or this book is inaccurate. Jerry of course, is mum on the subject. Also, who knew all these hillbilly names were biblical? Have you ever met a Jethro with all his teeth?

I digress. Moses stops in his tracks when an angel appears in a burning bush. Ooh! Fake fire. Good thing this was thousands of years ago, because today's kids wouldn't be impressed. Moses is, though. Suddenly god is also in the flames. So was the angel his secretary, just checking to see if Moses was available, and then he put the boss through? Is this a conference call? He tells Moses to take off his shoes, because this is a holy place now. Picky, picky. Then he introduces himself. Moses hides his face out of fear of god. And rightly so. He still hasn't had any consequences for killing someone in chapter 2.

God admits he finally noticed the Hebrews' suffering, and he's here to take them away from the Egyptians and unto a land flowing with milk and honey (v. 8), in other words Israel. You see why I wanted this version? Milk and honey? Too bad only crazy and/or skeptical interpretations are available. He informs Moses that he's going to go to Pharaoh and take everybody away.

Moses might be easily impressed by special effects, but he's clearly had some legal training, as he asks god why the people should believe him. God's answer is that he will be with them and he'll reward his efforts. Moses is still skeptical, and asks what he should do if they ask what this so-called god's name is. God says to say I AM THAT I AM (v.14) sent him, which doesn't sound very convincing if you ask me. He adds, however, that Moses should say The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (v. 15) which is a much better beginning, I think. He promises this will work, then tells him to gather the tribal leaders together, tell them this story, and to go to Pharaoh and say they've met god and need to go into the wilderness for three days to make sacrifices. So, Pharaoh is like their wives? Instead of honey, the boys and I are going golfing for three days, or in my household, honey there's a debating tournament next weekend, they're going out to sacrifice stuff. And just like an abandoned wife, god is sure Pharaoh will say no. And then he'll smite Egypt, and then they'll be allowed to go. Should ladies who refuse their husbands' 'guys weekends' be afraid of the wrath of god? He also tells Moses that they won't go empty-handed, the women are to 'borrow' silver and jewels and gold and clothing from their neighbours and house guests and put them on their sons and daughters. 'Borrow' in the sense of 'we're just taking it to Israel! I promise to send it back by post!'

Chapter 4

Moses is still skeptical about his ability to convince the people, so god starts doing magic tricks. First, he tells him to put his rod on the ground, and it turns into a snake. Moses runs away. God tells him to pick it up, and it turns into a rod. Is this what those bizarre snake-handling 'Pentecostals' are doing? Oh, no, apparently the relevant passages are in Matthew and Luke, sorry.

God says that will convince them, but if not, put his hand on his chest. Moses does, and when he pulls it away, it's leprous. God tells him to put it back, and it's healthy. Finally, he tells them to take river water and pour it onto the ground. When he does, it will turn to blood.

Moses still isn't done arguing, and says he's not eloquent. God reminds him who make men's tongues, as well as disabilities, and says they'll practice together. Moses still wants him to send someone else.

Finally, god gets pissed off and says he'll use Moses' brother Aaron instead. So was the whole 'kill the male babies' gambit ended after Moses? Did Pharaoh's daughter plead with her father? Did their mother just send all her boy babies down the river, and did they just happened to get rescued? Or was the copy-writer napping? Anyway, god is going to use Aaron as his spokesman only Moses is going to tell him what to say. He's also going to use a rod to do signs (v. 17). Moses is finally convinced and gets Jethro's approval for the plan. Also, god comes along and tells him the people who were pissed off at him for killing that dude are now dead.

So Moses takes his wife and sons to Egypt and god says to him When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. (v. 21). Now here is what Jerry has to say about that last line: "One must remember that God deserves the right to judge sin and the sinner whenever He desires. The sinner is subject to the wrath of God at any point in his life. God has the right to judge sin in any way He so desires the first time one commits sin. It is really the mercy of God that allows the sinner to continue to live." So who the fuck is Jerry or the Moral Majority to support the death penalty or oppose gay rights if it's all up to god? If he really believes what he says he believes, god will do all the punishing necessary, right?

God has further instructions: Moses is to say Israel is his son his firstborn, and he needs him to serve the lord, and if he won't let them go, god will kill Pharaoh's firstborn son.

But god can't even hold to his promises for one verse. At the inn that night, god tries to kill Moses. WTF? Fortunately, Zipporah is swifter on the uptake than me, and immediately understands this newest heavenly temper tantrum. She cuts her son's foreskin off and throws it at Moses' feet, calling him a 'bloody husband', which I'm just going to read as 'negligent bastard who nearly got us all killed'.

God leaves and goes to Aaron, telling him to meet Moses in the wilderness. Moses fills him in and they go together to the tribal elders. The people believe them and they pray together.

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