Numbers Chapter 15

When it comes to the offerings to the Lord that are outlined, I’m pretty sure that’s the priests of the temple writing those up so that the people will give them their best food. “The Lord wants your most fatted calf, your choicest grains, your finest wine.” Actually, the priests probably want to have a party paid for by the congregants. There are a lot of offering rules given here and I’m not going through them all.

Whoever wrote this book had no system for organizing the subject matter, and after the previous section on offerings to the Lord upon entering the new land, we have a section on the penalty for violating the sabbath, and it’s just slightly more than a slap on the wrist.

32When the Israelites were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the sabbath day. 33Those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses, Aaron, and to the whole congregation. 34They put him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. 35Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him outside the camp.” 36The whole congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 315). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

This is a totally measured and completely sane…who am I kidding? My first question is, is the man that was gathering sticks even a member of the congregation or was he just some rando who was unaware that this particular god existed? Because this passage is not at all clear about that, and that’s the whole passage verbatim. And actually, it’s not the actual penalty that is the worst thing about this chapter, it’s the matter-of-fact telling of it. I would wonder if anyone thought that this penalty was a bit fucked up, but the way the Lord acted in the last chapter, I’m pretty sure people were only trying to think happy thoughts as if God was little Anthony Fremont from the Twilight Zone.

It’s at this point that I have to ask, if evangelicals and fundamentalists take this book literally, why do they seem to skip this law? I’m not saying that I want anyone to want to enforce this law, but why pick Leviticus 20:13 and not the above passage? I think it’s because the people who preach the Bible want the lessons to fit their prejudices.

So we go in a single chapter from offerings to God, to stoning people who gather sticks to fashion rules, this book is disjointed. It’s as if someone is just making it up as they go along. The final part of this chapter talks about fringes on the corners of garments so that they will remember all of the commandments that God has given them. Does this include the rules that will be made after this point?

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