Monday, March 8, 2010

Numbers, Chapter 16

More rebellion. This time, 4 men are basically arguing for protestantism, wondering why they have to follow Moses and Aaron if the whole congregation is holy? Why can't they have a direct line to god? Jerry, who you think would be all over this, is oddly restrained in his commentary here.

Moses prostrates himself before them and asks them to come back the next day so god can decide who's the holiest, a test that will involve censers and incense. It's a twist on drawing guns at dawn I suppose. Two of the rebels, Dathan and Abiram, have a beef with the political leadership, which seems to them to be leading them around in the wilderness in order to enrich itself, and refuse. Moses is enraged that anyone would think this system, where he controls access to god and dictates all the rules and punishments, could be corrupt and orders them to be there with their censers drawn.

So they come back to the tabernacle the next day with their censers, and god tells Moses and Aaron to leave, because he's going to kill them all. Moses and Aaron try to plead with him, asking him if he'd punish the whole congregation for one man's sin. Um, yes. It's like his favourite sport.

Moses calls Korah, Dathan and Abiram, three of the leaders, and asks them to step to the side with their families. He turns to the rest of the rebels and says if they die natural deaths, he's not god's messenger. Way to diffuse tension there, Moses. Let's say they live another 20 years. Will anyone remember this particular bargain? Prolly not. BUT. If the ground opens in front of them right now, he, Moses, is indeed god's messenger. Of course the ground opens up and swallows them all. The others scatter, but god burns them all to death.

Now, here's another hole Jerry Falwell can't talk his way out of. He says they were right that they were all holy, but they got burned to death for defying priestly authority. By this logic, Martin Luther and every Protestant that followed him, should suffer the same fate.

Anyway, god turns casually to Moses after this 19th and 20th mass murder, and tells him to make sure the censers are gathered as a reminder to others that only Aaron's sons can peddle incense. Nope, not corrupt at all, this regime!

The next day, the brave, or foolish, depending how you look at it, people are still complaining, saying god killed holy men. God tells Moses and Aaron to stand aside yet again, because he wants to kill everybody yet again. Moses tells Aaron to get some incense to stop the plague that is already infecting people. Aaron does, and makes an atonement, which stops the plague, but not before 14 700 people have died. Jerry actually calls them brazenly blasphemous for this, apparently ignoring the fact that his own religion is one that has come down on the rebels' side and decided that the masses should have access to god, not an elite. Nice theology there, Jerry.

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