Numbers Chapter 13

God orders Moses to send men to spy out Canaan because God is going to give this land, which is well established with villages and families, to the Israelites because…apparently he promised it to them. So we get a long list of names who were the sons of other names from the tribes of still other names. I swear, the Bible was written for NaNoWriMo. At the end of this paragraph, and I guess for the purpose of aesthetics, Moses renames Hoshea to Joshua.

I have a problem with this next paragraph, but I want to preface it with the verse:

17Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, “Go up there into the Negeb, and go up into the hill country, 18and see what the land is like, and whether the people who live in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many, 19and whether the land they live in is good or bad, and whether the towns that they live in are unwalled or fortified, 20and whether the land is rich or poor, and whether there are trees in it or not.

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 309). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

What could Moses (with the blessing of God) be planning? Notice that he doesn’t tell his spies to find out if the people are friendly or if maybe they have enough space to house the Israelites so that they can live in peace. No, this is recon for an attack. Also, it’s another strike against God’s omniscience, because he tells Moses to send the men out to find out about the land. Shouldn’t perhaps an all-knowing deity already know what’s going on in the land?

The spies returned to tell Moses and Aaron that the people are strong and the towns fortified and large. Caleb thought that they should go and occupy it because they could overcome, but the rest of the men gave a big ol’ nope to that. They also reported seeing the Nephilim which made the spies seem really small.

Numbers Chapter 12

Here we come to another point in the Pentateuch where it is likely obvious that it was not written by Moses.

3Now the man Moses was very humble, more so than anyone else on the face of the earth.

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 307). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Truly the writing of a humble man. I would like to hear from someone who takes this book literally who can explain how Moses is so humble that he has to tell the reader that he was so humble. By the way, does this sound like someone we all know?

Prior to this, Aaron and Miriam were complaining about Moses because he apparently married a Cushite woman. According to the Oxford Bible Commentary, Cush could refer to Ethiopia (this would be Moses’ second wife) or an area in northern Arabia (this would be Zipporah, the Midianite woman he married in a previous book/chapter), the reason this is brought up is uncertain. However, they’re jealous because God only speaks through Moses.

So God calls them all out of the tent of meeting and appears as a cloud pillar and tells them that he speaks to Moses face to face and not in dreams and riddles like he does with other prophets. Then, because God can’t let anything go, strikes Miriam with leprosy for speaking against Moses. Then Aaron begged Moses not to let this happen, and Moses asked the Lord, and the Lord and the Lord said no dice, she’s gotta go bye-bye for seven days.

Numbers Chapter 11

The Israelites are grousing because they don’t have any real food to eat, just the manna from heaven. They miss meat, fish, and vegetables, which I would too. God gets mad at them for complaining, but Moses, showing some backbone, tells God to put up or shut up (in more biblical terms). God tells him to gather seventy elders and he will put some of the burden of the people on them as well.

Then God tells Moses that he will give the people meat and they will eat not for a day or two, but for a month, until meat comes out of their nostrils.

19You shall eat not only one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, 20but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you—because you have rejected the LORD who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, ‘Why did we ever leave Egypt?’ ”

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 306). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

There’s a pleasant thought, don’t you think? But Moses mentions that there are 600,000 people and asks the Lord if there are enough fish, flocks, and herds to feed them all for a month and here’s where we get a God flex.

23The LORD said to Moses, “Is the LORD’s power limited? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.”

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 306). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

So, I guess he’ll have to wait and find out. But first, the Lord had to give the elders some of Moses’ spirit and they went out and started prophesying, which concerned the rest of the people until Moses told them what happened.

Finally, God blows in a whole mess of quails from the sea and let them drop on either side of camp, three feet deep and as far as the eye can see. The people spent a day gathering what they could carry, but before they could finish eating, the master of the grudge, God himself, struck the people with a great plague (or maybe the dead birds weren’t fit for human consumption).

Ancient Aliens

Welcome to Saturday and another Saturday Sermon. I know it’s been a while, but I feel it’s better to write when I feel like it rather than force myself to write something on a schedule. This is why I don’t want to make being a writer or podcaster a career move. Anyway, on to the sermon.

This topic seems a little more suitable for my Illuminati Social Club blog or podcast than for a blog related to the Bible and religion, but bear with me. There was a time when I believed that aliens came to earth and gave ancient man the tools and knowledge to build the pyramids, the Sphinx, the Mayan pyramids, and all the other wonders of the ancient world. However, with age comes wisdom, and it was not long before I realized that the ancient aliens mindset can be seen as racist. After all, if modern white people can’t do it with all of their technology, then how could ancient brown people with simple machines?

These days, the idea of building a pyramid seems like a novelty. Back in ancient Egypt people were paid to build the tombs where the Pharaohs would be laid to rest. That’s because the Pharaoh was the earthly embodiment of the gods who would return to the pantheon upon his (or her) death. There have been a great many hints as to how the blocks of sandstone were carved, moved, and placed found all over Egypt. The reason that the pyramid is seen on at least three different continents is because it is the most structurally sound shape that can withstand wind and rain. The Maya may have build several hundred cuboid and cylindrical structures, but they would have been destroyed by centuries of bad weather. The pyramid is the only one that would have survived. There were no aliens necessary.

According to one author, he interpreted the hieroglyphs and confirmed that aliens did in fact come to earth and share their wisdom. He thought that it would be impossible for ancient people to make up the stories of the gods that Egyptologists claim the hieroglyphs to be. Why? Is it impossible for ancient people to have imaginations? Stories of gods and monsters were akin to science fiction today. These ancient stories sought to explain how the world came to be and how natural processes work. That’s why just about every ancient civilization has a story about a great flood washing away the entire world. It didn’t actually happen, it’s a morality tale, much like the story of Atlantis in Plato’s Republic. There was no Atlantis, it was an allegory akin to the World State of Huxley’s Brave New World, or Oceania in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

All of the same can be said of the Bible. It’s not a literal history book, but more of a moral guide for people living back in the days when those stories were told. It’s hardly a moral guide today though some lessons can be gleaned from its pages. As I stated about Exodus (I can’t remember the chapter), there were many times more words about how to properly worship God than about how to treat one another. That’s because back in those days, people were far more superstitious and thought that gods were responsible for natural disasters, growing seasons, and disease. It was far more important to worship correctly than to treat your neighbor with respect.

Can we please quit disrespecting the history of ancient civilizations by claiming that they were too weak and/or stupid to do any of what they are credited with? Just because they didn’t come up with the smartphone doesn’t mean they couldn’t build a pyramid or imagine far-off lands of strange creatures and technology.

Numbers Chapters 9 & 10

Numbers 9

The first part of this chapter is about keeping the Passover at its appointed time. Of course, there are people who touched corpses and are unclean and could not keep the Passover. They will just have to observe it as those who are traveling observe it. If they don’t observe the Passover, they will be cut off from the rest of the people.

The second part is about the day that the tabernacle was set and a cloud covered it. During the day, it looked like a cloud, but at night it looked like fire. When the cloud covered the tabernacle, the Israelites were to stay put and camp regardless of how long it was there. When the cloud lifted, the Israelites could get moving. This, of course, was God doing this because he couldn’t just tell them to camp or move. Basically, the rest of this chapter is just God playing a really elaborate game of “Red Light, Green Light.”

Numbers 10

God instructs Moses to make two silver trumpets for pretty much anything and everything having to do with calling for attention. It depends on whether one or both are blown and I’m assuming that they’re different sizes or in different musical keys or something. I also hope that these instructions were shared with the Israelites because this could get confusing. If both trumpets are blown, the congregation will go to the tent of meeting, but if only one is blown then only the leaders will show up. If one alarm is blown, then the east side camps will hightail it, but if a second alarm is blown, then the south side camps will make tracks. But will the east side camps still also leave or not? This gets confusing. The trumpets are also to be blown when they go to war. Also, they’re blown in celebration for festivals and at the start of the month. They are to be blown over burnt sacrifices. I guess, the way this book is going, it’s just trumpet sounds day and night.

God finally lifted the cloud from the tabernacle so the Israelites could leave. We get an exhaustive, and way too detailed account of what each different group did. I do have one question: What if God lowers the cloud on the tabernacle while they’re taking it down to get moving? Just asking.

Numbers Chapter 6 through 8

This chapter deals with the consecration of Nazirites, which are those who take a special vow to the Lord. They must abstain from any product of the grapevine, whether it’s alcoholic or not. They must also not cut their hair (I can’t let my hair grow much longer than an inch, so I’m out) and they cannot defile themselves by going near a corpse. That is, even if it’s a family member. This is the time of their consecration. Of course, all of this ritual is accompanied by, what else, animal sacrifices. You can’t do anything in the Bible without grilling up a living creature.

Once the consecration period has ended, the Nazirite comes to the tent with an offering of a lamb, a ewe, and a ram along with some unleavened bread because you need the carbs, a grain offering, and a drink offering to wash it all down. The Nazirites shave their heads at the entrance to the tent of meeting and the priest places the hair in the fire under the offering for a lovely addition of flavor. I’ll pass on dinner, thanks.

Chapter 7 is a long litany of offerings over the span of twelve days in order to dedicate the altar. It’s a lot of animals being burned on the altar along with a lot of silver and gold. Basically, the whole chapter is a really long “12 Days Of Christmas”.

Chapter 8 starts off about lamps and a lampstand for the altar, but then goes into the consecration of the Levites. It’s not as complicated as the Nazirite consecrations and it doesn’t involve animal sacrifice. Levites are to serve in the tent of meeting from aged 25 to 50. Once they hit 50, they can only assist.

Book Burni…errr…Banning

Does this image make you uncomfortable?
It should.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Saturday Sermon and my regular posts have slowed down a bit. That’s due to my own laziness, I guess. I am also reading an interesting book about the cultural shift that lead to the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. I will be writing or podcasting about that at some point.

As you can tell by the title, I am looking back in history to a time when authoritarian leaders and the ignorant people who followed them want to remove what they saw as controversial ideas from the public square. This is something that doesn’t happen anymore and we should be…what? You mean…? Oh crap.

Scratch that above paragraph, it turns out that some state school boards around the country have decided to remove ban books from their schools’ libraries in hopes of “cancelling” those ideas, apparently. The one that has garnered the most press lately is Maus by Art Spiegelman, the first and only graphic novel to win the Pulitzer Prize for literature. It is the story of the Holocaust as told by the author’s father in comic strip form. The Tennessee school board banned it because of “unnecessary use of profanity and nudity”. Unnecessary profanity about the fucking Holocaust? The most profane event in history? Had I been in that meeting in Tennessee, I would have some very necessary profanity for the school board.

There are many other books on the list that deal with racism, LGBTQ+ subjects, religions other than Christianity, and other topics that make governments “uncomfortable”. Honestly, that’s how I know a book or movie or music is doing something right. People need to be made uncomfortable and to see things from the perspectives that they can’t seem to tolerate. That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing.

Do you know which book makes me uncomfortable? The Bible, and yet I am reading it. I’m not only reading it, but I am reading with the goal of understanding it and the people who put it on a pedestal over other humans’ lives the best that I can. So far I’m failing. How anyone can read the flood narrative and say, “Oh, yeah, I can understand why God drowned all of the men, women, and children (including babies) as well all of the animals minus the few that a 600 year-old man and his family took on a boat.” That’s just sick. These are the same people who look at the rest of Exodus and see it as somehow moral when it spends more time talking about how to treat slaves and how to properly worship a deity than it does anything of value.

My advice for everyone, whether you agree with this book banning or not, go read those books. Every time you see that a book is being considered for banning, seek it out and read it. Make yourself uncomfortable, and put yourself into the subject matter. Do not embrace the “cancel culture” of these holier-than-thou school boards who can’t see past the cover of their precious bibles which I would guess many of them have never read.

Numbers Chapters 1 through 5

Chapters 1 through 4

It turns out that the name of this book is pretty accurate. It starts off with God asking Moses and Aaron to take a census of the entire congregation of Israelites…but only if they’re male…and over twenty years old…and able to go to war. This isn’t a census, it’s a draft.

The book goes on to list all of the individual tribes and the number of able-bodied men who will be going to war. I will not be adding up all of those numbers because I really don’t want to. The Levites will not be counted with the Israelites because they have to guard the tabernacle.

Chapter 2 is nothing but marching orders…seriously. The order and direction that the tribes will set out.

Chapter 3 is the all about the Levites. It talks about their duties, such as setting up and furnishing the tent of meeting. Then there’s another census, this time of the Levites. There is also the redemption of the firstborn of the Levites which God is now willing to accept. It’s a money grab.

Chapter 4 is about taking yet another census of yet more tribes. It describes the duties of these groups ad nauseum, including very, very detailed instructions about how to lay the cloths on the altar. It’s gripping stuff really.

Chapter 5

This chapter is one that makes me cranky. It starts off with directions for “unclean” people, both male and female. Anyone who is leprous or has a discharge, or anyone who had contact with a corpse will be sent out of camp because the defile it. The camp must not be defiled while the Lord is living there.

Confession and restitution comes next. A person who is wronged will be reimbursed the value of the wrong, plus one-fifth. If the injured party has no next of kin, then the restitution goes to the priest. Makes me wonder who’s writing this book.

The next section, and the section that makes me really cranky, is about an unfaithful wife. The worst part about this section is that a man need only have a feeling of jealousy that his wife was unfaithful. Perhaps in some cases she didn’t have her period when she should have or she was pregnant when it would not have possible if she was faithful to her husband. These things need not happen, he just has to notice that maybe she looked at the neighbor for a little too long, even if nothing happened between them. Anyway, if this happens, the husband brings the wife and a grain offering of jealousy. The priest will set her before the Lord and mix water and some dirt from the floor of the tabernacle. She will hold the grain offering and repeat an oath and then she has to drink the cursed potion (the water and tabernacle dirt). If she was not unfaithful, then nothing will happen to her. However, if she was unfaithful then the priest, at the instruction of God himself, will make her drink a potion that will cause an abortion to occur.

27When he has made her drink the water, then, if she has defiled herself and has been unfaithful to her husband, the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain, and her womb shall discharge, her uterus drop, and the woman shall become an execration among her people.


Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 292). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

There is no other way to describe this passage. God is condoning abortion. “But wait,” I hear you ask, “what if a husband is unfaithful?” That’s a good question. If a husband has been unfaithful to his wife, the first sign will be a new girl/woman in the harem.

Leviticus Chapters 16 through 27

I am still reading Leviticus as I write this, because this will be my last post on it. Leviticus is the laws given to Moses to give to the people. Biblical literalists claim that every word in this book (the whole Bible, not just Leviticus) must be taken literally. Of course, these people only say this so that they can cite Leviticus 20:13 and claim the moral high ground instead of letting people be people as they are. What about all of the other laws and rules put in place in this book? Do these people set fire to their leftovers if they’ve been in the fridge for more than two days? (Lev. 19:6)

I follow a Rabbi on Twitter and subscribe to her newsletter, Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, and I have learned that the Torah (Pentateuch) cannot be read as is, but requires Rabbinical study and knowledge of Hebrew. The translation gets the basic point across, but in order to fully understand it requires knowledge of the Talmud. This is where Christian literalists are clueless. Going back to the first paragraph, the verse as it is written in the NRSV is:

13If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 256). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

A quick Google search to a Jewish website explains something that isn’t quite obvious on the surface. First of all, other translations, including the NIV, do not translate this verse correctly according to the original Hebrew. Look at the first two nouns, “man” and “male”. According the Jewish Standard (website) the original Hebrew uses two different words, one for man and the other for male. Hmm, could there be a reason for this. Here is the article that I found, and there are plenty of other articles on this same subject. My advice is to stay away from Christian sources when looking for information on the first five books. They were written in Hebrew and Jewish scholars know way more about that than Christian amusement park owners.

Throughout this book, God seems to really picky about the animals that are burned for him. They must not have a blemish upon them, as if all animals don’t look the same after they’ve been barbecued. These sacrifices are not voluntary according to the reading. Moses and his people do not appear to be giving of themselves because they want to, but because of fear of reprisal if they don’t. However, reading further, it looks more like Moses and his priests are making this stuff up as they go along in order to get the best food for themselves. The people are instructed to bring the first fruits of the harvest and the best lamb to the priests as an offering. A burnt offering is to be eaten by the priests within the same day. I get it now, it’s a racket.

17Anyone who kills a human being shall be put to death. 18Anyone who kills an animal shall make restitution for it, life for life. 19Anyone who maims another shall suffer the same injury in return: 20fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; the injury inflicted is the injury to be suffered. 21 One who kills an animal shall make restitution for it; but one who kills a human being shall be put to death. 22You shall have one law for the alien and for the citizen: for I am the LORD your God. 23Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel; and they took the blasphemer outside the camp, and stoned him to death. The people of Israel did as the LORD had commanded Moses.

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 265). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Prior to this passage, Moses handed down the law that blasphemers will be stoned to death. It’s good to know that blasphemy laws have been overruled by civil law. However, that’s not why I point this passage out. Biblical literalists tend to ignore verse 22. They treat their own in one way while expressing a desire to trample the rights of outsiders. Everyone should be treated equally regardless of their status.

It goes on in chapter 25 to be very specific that the laws stated here are for the Levites. A lot of monetary policy here along with directions of not charging interest to kin. It goes on about supporting kin and not charging them for food at a profit.

The book goes on about rewards for obeying the laws and punishments for disobeying. Obedience begets rains in the growing season, plentiful harvest, good luck in war, etc. Disobedience begets pain, pestilence, war, and death. So make sure that fatted lamb is cooked to absolute perfection…or else. It’s telling that the section on obedience is a couple paragraphs, but the section on disobedience goes on for pages and pages, as if God really likes talking about how he is going to hurt people who don’t follow every jot and tittle of the law. Chapter 26 is nothing more than torture porn in the highest degree.

Chapter 27 discusses votive offerings. If you pray for a man, it’ll cost the most and a female alien costs the least. If a person can’t afford the set cost of an offering, the priest will determine what they can afford. Also, God is the only one who can charge interest.

Leviticus is definitely not for modern times, at least not how it is presented here. It is a mixed bag of laws that have very little relevance to today and are already overruled by modern civil laws and statutes. Fully understanding the law written in this book requires knowledge only available to scholars of the Torah.

I hope I didn’t bore you too much with this post. I will now be moving onto Numbers, but I have a feeling it will be more of the same.

Leviticus Chapters 12 through 15

Chapter 12

This chapter is about the purification of women after childbirth. If a women bears a male child, she is unclean for seven days (on the eighth, the boy gets the snip-snip) and her blood purification takes thirty-three days where she can’t touch anything holy or go into the sanctuary. Oh, double all of that if she has a girl because…of course.

After the purification, then she has to bring a lamb and pigeon to the tabernacle. The lamb is for a burnt offering and the pigeon is for a sin offering. Is that a sin offering because she is a woman or because she gave birth? My guess is the latter since it was in Genesis that God made childbirth a punishment.

Chapter 13

What’s that? You want to know everything about leprosy? You’ve come to the right chapter.

I am not going to go over everything in here because this is a long chapter and there is a lot of repetition. This chapter is regarding diseases of the skin and not just leprosy, but it’s all collected under the same banner. The priest examines the skin and makes his determination whether the person is clean or unclean and might require confinement. If it is determined to be leprosy, then that person’s clothing is burned. Of course, if the disease didn’t spread further, then only the section of cloth that touched the diseased tissue will be cut out.

I understand that people in those days had very little knowledge of diseases such as these, but the way this is written, it could have simply been a chart. I’m sure the cleansing process in the next chapter with be totally scientific.

Chapter 14

It’s not. Not. At. All.

The cleansing ritual is for a person who has apparently recovered will be sprinkled with bird blood. That doesn’t seem sanitary at all. I am not going to go through this chapter. It’s a lot of sprinkling of blood with cedarwood, red yarn, and hyssop. Also, tearing down houses if it’s believed that the disease is still in there.

I feel like it’s these previous two chapters that results in people believing that illness is a result of moral failure rather than a virus, bacteria, or genetics. There’s a lot of “guilt offering” or “sin offering” after a person recovers from a disease in these chapters. No, disease is not the result of sin.

Chapter 15

This whole chapter talks about bodily discharges including blood (for women), semen, and other discharges that sound like gonorrhea. Essentially, everything that people touch, sit on, or  wear during this time is unclean and they must be purified.

Naturally, the once the person is no longer having the discharge, then they have to burn animals, cut open birds, and pray at the tabernacle because they’re filthy sinners or something. They also have to bathe and wash their clothes.

Honestly, these past few chapters have been hard to read because of all of the repetition. Not only repetition within the chapters, but between the chapters. I mean, why couldn’t God make a chart? Put the animals and birds on one axis, the reason for the sacrifice on the other axis and then just put an X in the square. That would be a lot easier.

I feel like I could write this book better. Also, I don’t think anyone wants pictures for the last three chapters.