Friday, March 26, 2010

Deuteronomy, Chapters 17-19

Chapter 17

Sacrificial animals must be pure, in case that wasn't clear from the oh, 700 other verses where we are told that.

Non-believers who practice their religion in Israel are to be stoned to death, not unlike Saudi Arabia today, and we all know how much fun it would be to live there, don't we!

Some clarification on the death penalty: at least two witnesses are needed for a capital sentence, if only one can be found, you can only banish the person. Witnesses get to cast the first stone.

Moses then sets up various levels of court for more entrenched cases. People who refuse to accept the judgements of the supreme court will be put to death. Huh. Of course Jerry has nothing to say on how that particular verse does not apply to evangelical Christians' opposition to Roe v. Wade.

Then the line of succession is laid out: they can choose the king, and god will give his judgement. Qualifications for king: he must be an Israelite, he can't have too many horses, he can't take them to Egypt, he can't have too many wives or too much gold and silver. Take that, prosperity gospel! He also has to read his bible every day.

Chapter 18

A reminder to tithe so the priests can eat, and not to worship other gods. Then we get a reminder not to practice witchcraft of any sort.

Next, god promises to raise a prophet from among them. Of course there will be false prophets, and they'll know them because the things they predict won't come true. But hang on! A couple of chapters ago, we were told that false prophets' predictions might also come true! Jerry Falwell's crack team of biblical scholars for once notices the contradiction, but punts when it comes to explaining it, saying only that the true prophet will remain true to the word of god and not lead them astray. Of course, Jesus was killed because a council of priests decided he was indeed a false prophet, but there is no explanation of that, either.

Chapter 19

More on the cities of refuge. A typical example is given: a man is chopping wood, and the head flies off his axe and kills his neighbour. He can then run to the nearest city and if he gets there before the neighbour's relatives, he will be safe. If he killed his neighbour on purpose, however, the elders of the city must cast him out to the avengers. At least two people have to witness the crime for it to be valid. According to the Skeptics' Annotated Bible, this section is often used by Jehovah's Witnesses to justify not reporting crimes from within. False witnesses will be executed.

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