Sunday, March 14, 2010

Numbers Chapters 26 & 27

Chapter 26

God is just about ready to finally let the Israelites into the holy land. He orders a census so as to decide how to divide the spoils between the tribes. One man, Zelophehad, doesn't have any sons. This will be important later. Somehow, despite the plagues, fires, food poisoning, snakes and earthquakes sent by god, there are still 601 730 men over the age of 20. Odd then that Herodotus doesn't mention them at all. Even odder is that only two of the men who were alive in the last census, Caleb and Joshua, are still around for this one.

Chapter 27

Zelophehad's five daughters come to Moses to petition for property rights, because they have no brother to claim their share of the land. Moses takes the case to god, who says that from now on, if a man dies and has no sons, his daughters can inherit his property. Yay, a little, for the girls. Of course this particular statute very seldom found its way into legal codes for the next several thousand years, and there is still the problem that if you had a brother, he'd get everything. Jerry of course, falls on the side of the patriarchy, pointing out the problems tht would arise in this situation, because the daughters would take the property away under a new name when they got married, destroying the father's estate? Why, exactly? He's dead. Is it better for a nephew or cousin to inherit it so it 'stays in the family?'

Next, god tells Moses to go up Mount Abarim so he can look at Canaan before he dies. Moses asks who will be in charge, and god makes the first crude separation of church and state: Joshua will be the military leader, Eleazar the spiritual. Jerry Falwell's crack team of biblical scholars fails to pick up on this, probably because they're still hoping for a theocracy based on the wonderful, just laws contained in books such as this one. Eleazar will not be able to communicate with god face-to-face, instead he is to use the Urim and Thummim coin, to which he can ask yes-no questions. Nope, not corrupt at all!

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