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).

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.

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.

Leviticus Chapter 11

I am back after a much needed break.

I thought I was going to skate through Leviticus by just doing reaction posts to the verses that are normally quoted from this book. However, I found that this chapter is actually interesting in that it shows how people observed the natural world and made inferences.

This chapter deals with clean and unclean foods. God is setting down the rules of what is good to eat and what isn’t. Animals with divided hooves and cleft-footed and chew the cud are considered clean. Camels are unclean because they do not have split hooves. The rock badger and the hare are both named as unclean because they chew the cud, but they don’t have split hooves. Let’s stick a pin in that and come back to it. Finally, in this section, pigs have split hooves, but they don’t chew the cud, so they are unclean.

OK, back to that pin. Rock badgers and hares do not chew the cud, but they are coprophages which means that they eat their own poop, which is kind of along the same lines as chewing the cud. These animals, though, are herbivores. By the way, in talking to my girlfriend about this chapter, we both wondered if badgers were even native to that area. The rock badger is. I can understand the pig being on this list since they are omnivores and tend to eat anything and everything. Eating pork in those days without cooking it through and through would have resulted in some nasty parasites.

Then we move into sea life. Only those things that have fins and scales may be eaten. That means fish, plain and simple. If it doesn’t have fins and scales, it shall not be eaten. That means no shrimp cocktail, surf and turf, oysters on the half shell, or calamari.

Again, this makes some sense. Crustaceans like shrimp, prawns, and lobsters are bottom feeders and eat the waste of the other sea life. Bivalves like oysters, clams, and mussels are filter feeders which is much the same. Naturally, it seemed like a bad idea to eat things that ate other things’ waste. But they’re so, so good.

The birds that are listed are exactly what one would expect, all scavenger types. Then the directive on insects. All winged insects that walk on all fours are unclean unless they have jointed legs above their feet. I can see some desert dweller picking up a bug and squinting his eyes to see the bug’s legs. Clean insects include locusts, crickets, and grasshoppers. All other insects that have four feet are detestable. Except that insects have six legs.

The rest of the chapter details what one should do if made unclean by any of these animals. Becoming unclean can happen through touching, carrying, maybe even just looking at them (ok, I made that up).

Leviticus Chapter 10

This chapter starts with Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, prepared censers and made an offering to God. Except that it was “unholy fire” that God had not commanded. So being a reasonable, merciful deity, he immolated the pair because that’s normal. Moses had the charcoal remains removed and told Aaron and his two remaining sons that they were not allowed to mourn or else they would be killed too along with the rest of the congregation.

So because did not demand the offering of the sons, he not only did not accept the offering, but he killed the sons. The Oxford Bible Commentary is of no help in giving a reason behind this story. It’s my opinion that this is nothing more than an allegory that tells priests to obey and follow ritual instructions…or else. However, that’s reading too much into the story when it comes to biblical literalists. I can’t even imagine how they would justify God’s reaction to this story. Anyway, moving along.

8And the LORD spoke to Aaron: 9Drink no wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons, when you enter the tent of meeting, that you may not die; it is a statute forever throughout your generations.

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 234). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

The above verse holds a significance to me and other fans of the TV show M*A*S*H, due to an episode Season 3, “Alcoholics Unanimous”, Father Mulcahy attempts to give a sermon on temperance, but due to being drunk never actually gets past this verse. It’s also why I can’t read the sons’ names without hearing them in William Christopher’s drunk voice. That is my explanation for the picture accompanying this chapter.

The rest of this chapter is about the offerings gone wrong. The goat was burned, but it wasn’t eaten and the blood was spread properly and that meant another sin offering was demanded.

Leviticus Chapters 1 through 9

God tells Moses to tell the people…and what follows is a litany of instructions about how to properly make offerings to God. I suppose if I titled my posts creatively I would call this one, “There’s more than one way to skin a sacrificial animal.” The instructions include how to dispatch the animal on the altar, how to spread its blood, what to do with the freshly killed carcass, and so on and so forth. Admittedly, I did not read each chapter fully and merely skimmed slowly over them.

All fat is the LORD’s. 17It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations, in all your settlements: you must not eat any fat or any blood.

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 221). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

So much for that rare steak with the thin ring of fat around it. Fat is flavor, my friends.

God also tells Moses to tell the people that grain offerings that are baked must not be leavened. So does that mean that God is gluten-free? Leaven and honey should not be turned into smoke.

Reading through these rules, even atonement for property fraud and theft is accompanied by animal sacrifice. Either they had an overpopulation of animals and they were just multiplying daily, or the people were starving because their finest animals were burnt on the altar.

Anyone who consumes any blood will be cut off from their kin. Well, again, I guess that means no rare steaks.

Ordination of priests carries with it an animal sacrifice as well. Question for the pastor that follows my blog, when you were installed as the pastor of the church, did the congregation make a burnt offering? If not, why not? If they didn’t, then you missed out on having blood applied to your earlobe, thumb, and big toe.

OK, that tent must have been pretty rank after a short time. Blood was spattered on the altar from all directions. Animals were carved up and their entrails burned.

Part of the ordination has the new priest’s vestments being sprinkled with anointing oil and blood. Do you know how hard it is to get those two stains out of fabric? They had better pre-treat those vestments for at least a couple days prior to washing. They had to stay in the tent of meeting all week. Those stains are going to set in and they will be impossible to get out.

Exodus Chapters 33 through 40

Chapter 33

God tells Moses to pack up and leave Sinai and head into the land of Canaan. God would send an angel ahead to drive out all of the people already living there since he promised this land to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. However, he tells Moses that he will not go with them because the Israelites are a “stiff-necked” people. That is, I learned, stubborn. The people were really upset to hear such harsh language about themselves, so they didn’t get all dressed up with their ornaments.

Moses had set his tent up outside of the camp and God would visit him there in a whirlwind and they would talk face to face as friends. The people would bow to the whirlwind when it appeared. Anyway, Moses expresses disappointment that God will not go with them to the land of Canaan and tries to talk him into it. Lo and behold, God can once again be bargained with and he agrees to go with them. However, nobody could see God’s face and live. That’s it, that’s the bargain.

Chapter 34

I’m calling this the last chapter of any substance and it is quite interesting as we will soon find out. I’m calling this an egregious retconning of the commandments. God tells Moses to cut two stone tablets and God shall write upon them what was written on the first set. However (I use that word a lot in this book), as we will see, the commandments are nothing like the previous set. First though, God has to make his presence known, I guess.

6The LORD passed before him, and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 197). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Is it wrong of me to laugh at that, “slow to anger” line? Who flooded the globe again?

Moses is told not to make a covenant with any of the inhabitants of Canaan and to destroy their altars and pillars and cut down their sacred poles. That’s because they are not to worship any other gods because God is Jealous.

Do not make cast idols. Keep the festival of unleavened bread. All firstborn males of livestock, animals, and people belong to God and shall be redeemed. No one shall appear before God without an offering. Remember the sabbath. Observe the festival of weeks. Three times per year, all males will appear before God. Apparently God really hates yeast because the blood of sacrifice will not touch leavening. The best of the first fruits of the harvest will be given to God. And most importantly, no boiling a baby goat in its mother’s milk.

So once Moses wrote this all down, he came down…wait a second…I though they left Sinai, but he was back up there again. Anyway, he came down and apparently his face was shining. So he put a veil over his face unless he was speaking with God.

Chapters 35 through 40

The last six chapters are simply carrying out the instructions given in Chapters 25 through 31. It’s the building of the altar, the tabernacle, the making of the priestly vestments, the assigning of the priests, and the building of the Ark Of The Covenant. I skimmed through it to see if there was anything of interest, nope, not to me there isn’t.

I’m sure in Jewish traditions this is all very interesting and has some historical context and stuff, but for the purposes of this reading, I’m not going to bother. I’m actually more interested in the narrative stories and some of the more well-known laws.