Sunday, January 31, 2016

Numbers 33-36

Numbers 33: 

A lot of marching and camping. Here's a snippet of the riveting adventure I get to go on while reading this:

"They marched from Elim and camped by the Red Sea. They marched from the Reed Sea and camped in the Sin desert. They marched from the Sin desert and camped at Dophkah." This goes on for 34 more similar sentences.

Lord bosses around Moses some more. He's got to get in all that he can before he sends Moses off to his death. The Israelites need to take over the land of Canaan and drive all the people out and destroy all tokens of their false gods. Lord then gets into some of his trademark threatening, telling Moses that if the Israelites leave any of the Canaanite people in peace, the Canaanite will "prick your eyes and be thorns in your side. They will harass you in the land in which you are living. Then what I intended to do to them. I'll do to you."

I wonder if I'll get to read about any remotely likeable characters again in the next 815 pages of this book. Right now, it's like being stuck in the Cersei point of view chapter in Games of Thrones. A seemingly endless one.

Numbers 34: 

Lord repeats his Canaan spiel then gives Moses a geography lesson on the land the Israelites will take over:

"Your southern boundary extends from the Zin desert alongside Edom. Your southern border extends from the edge of the Dead Sea on the east. Your border will turn south of the ascent of Akrabbim and cross toward Zin. Its limit will be south of Kadesh-barnea." This goes on for several paragraphs. If I wasn't writing this blog, I would have quit reading this book a long long time ago. Those 2 to 3 likes a week are all that keep me going.

The chapter ends with an epic battle between the Israelites and Canaanites, filled with vivid detail that makes me feel like I'm really there, and there's character development, and plot. Just kidding. Lord divides up the land to different tribes.

"These are the names of the men who will assign the inheritance of the land: Eleazar the priest and Joshua, Non's son. You will also take one chief from each tribe to apportion the land. These are the names of the men: from the tribe of Judah, Caleb, Jeph-." I won't put you through any more of that. No one should have to put themselves through any more of that unless they're getting land in return for it.

Numbers 35: 

The Levites, the teacher's pet of tribes, get 48 cities, 6 of them being "refuge cities." Lord says that the refuge cities will be for people who kill someone and need to flee. A safe haven for murderers if you will.

Lord later clarifies that the refuge cities are to hold people who have killed and are awaiting trial by the community which makes more sense than allowing murderers to get off scot free. How could I have doubted Lord for one moment? All his decision thus far have been logical, merciful, and fair. The Levite refuge cities are also for keeping temporary residents and refugees. Do you think the U.S. would be more willing to take in Syrian refugees if they had to live with accused murderers?

Lord gets into detail about the difference between accidental killing and murder. It is...specific.

"...if someone strikes a person with an iron object and he dies, he is a murderer. The murderer must definitely be put to death. If someone strikes another with a stone in hand that could cause death and he dies, he is a murderer. The murderer must definitely be put to death. Or if someone strikes with a wood object in hand that could cause death, he is a murderer. The murderer must definitely be put to death" . . . "If in hatred someone hits another or throws something at him with premeditation, he will be put to death. Or if in hostility someone strikes another with his hand and he dies, the one who struck is a murderer and he will be put to death."

Allow me to provide you with murder loopholes: Kicking someone to death. Pushing them off something high. Drowning. Burning. Impaling. Setting someone up to be caught in a stampede. Eating them. Convincing another animal to eat them. Guns. Bees. Dropping a piano on them. Etc.

Lord's pretty lenient with accidental death: "But if suddenly and without hostility someone hits another or throws any object at him without premeditation,"

(You know all those time when you just like, peacefully throw death causing objects at your pal? You know? Without hostility? Like you do?)

"... or accidentally drops any stone on him that could cause death and he dies---even though they weren't enemies and no evil was intended--then the community must come to a verdict between the killer and close relative in accordance with these case laws."

The case laws are that the accidental killer is protected in a refuge city and has to live there until the high priest dies. If they venture out before the high priest dies, and the close relative of the dead person comes across them, the close relative is allowed to kill them.

Some others rules:

1. The close relative gets to put a murderer to death. I wonder if they get to choose the way the murderer dies? Do they get to be creative? Can they ask God to do some plague stuff?

2. One witness is not enough to put someone to death. A suspiciously reasonable rule for this book.

3. You cannot accept a ransom for the life of the murderer or accidental killer. Two reasonable rules in a row. Way to go Lord.

Lord concludes with the real reason he's anti murder: "You may not pollute the land in which you live, for the blood pollutes the land. There can be no recovery for the land from the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it. You will not make the land in which you live unclean, the land, in the middle of which I reside"

It all comes back to Lord being a germaphobe.

Numbers 36: 

Girls don't get to marry outside or their father's tribe (i.e. their cousins) because otherwise their inheritance and land would be given to another tribe. This seems like less Lord's rule and more creepy and greedy Israelite man rules. And that's how the worst section of this book so far ends, with forced cousin marriage. Feels right.


Next time I'll be onto Deuteronomy which I'm going to hold out hope is at least slightly more bearable than the last 2 and a half sections. Until next time.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Numbers 28-32

Chapter 28:

If you remember from last time, God tells Moses that he's going to die soon as punishment for....something. Moses isn't dead just yet. God reviews some to-do-lists with Moses about offerings and when to eat unleavened bread because even when God fires you, you're still not done taking his shit.

Chapter 29:

The reviewing of rules continues.

Chapter 30:

Can you guess the overall theme of this chapter? If you guessed plot development, you would be wrong. Here are some rules:

When men make promises to the LORD. They have to keep them. Or else.

When women make promises to the LORD she must keep them. UNLESS her father or her husband disapproved of those promises in the first place and said so out loud. Because women can't make decisions. However, if they're divorcees or widows they get to decide shit on their own. i.e. women without men in their lives are the luckiest women in this book.

Chapter 31: 

Remember the Midianites? LORD does and he doesn't like them. They tempted the Israelites with their gods. LORD tells the Israelites to go to battle against them as punishment. The Israelites kill all the Midianite men and all their kings: Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and *gasp* Reba? You too?:

They also kill Balaam. You remember the guy who took a stand and listened to what LORD said and blessed the Israelites 3 times over in spite of what a king ordered him to do? Remember that. I guess the authors didn't or they didn't remember to explain why LORD would suddenly have him killed. Is my book just missing pages?

The Israelites take the women and children prisoner. Moses isn't into that. He says the Midianite women and little boys should be killed too. Remember when Moses used to plead with LORD to be more merciful? I guess he's so close to retirement that he doesn't give a shit anymore. He says the virgin girls can stay alive though. They haven't been sullied with non-circumsised penises. Classy guy.

Chapter 32: 

A couple of the Israelite tribes: the Reubens and Gads, notice that some of the new conquered land would be great for their livestock. They ask Moses if they can stay behind and forget the whole promised land thing. Moses is pissed and says that this is the kind of thing that gets all of them wandering the desert forever as opposed to...?

The Reubens and Gads say that they'll set up an area in the Amorite land and leave their women, children, and livestock there then help the Israelites fight to reach the "promised land" so long as they get to return to the Amorite land. Moses agrees and says if they don't stick to their promise, God's going to do some smiting.

Sooooo they're just going to leave their women and children and livestock behind? Alone? In a land they just conquered from enemies they've pissed off? Solid plan guys.

Do you think these women might become Amazon-Amorite warriors while the men are away and then reject and Xena chakra them to death if they try to return? Because I really hope so.