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.

Exodus Chapters 17, 18, & 19

Chapter 17

As we read in the previous chapter, the Israelites complained about not having enough to eat, so God gave them manna from heaven. This time, they’re whining that they don’t enough water to drink. Moses is afraid that they’re going to stone him to death, so God commands him to take his staff and hit the Rock of Horeb and water will come out of it. So he does it and sure enough, water came forth. The Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord and wondered if he was with them.

Then we get the story where Amalek came and fought with Israel. So Joshua was told to choose some men to go out and fight while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up on the hill and as long as Moses raised his arms, the Israelites would be winning, but if his arms dropped, then Amalek would start winning. Eventually, Moses got tired, and so Aaron and Hur each held up an arm, which to me sounds like cheating.

14Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this as a reminder in a book and recite it in the hearing of Joshua: I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.”

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 164). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

If you write down a person’s name in a book that you intend to blot out of remembrance, are you actually doing just that? This makes no sense.

Chapter 18

So apparently Moses sent his wife and kids back to her father, Jethro (pictured), but now sent word that he was coming to see him and bringing his wife and kids. They met up, Moses told him all that had happened, and they made burnt offerings, and ate bread.

The next day, Moses sat as judge for the people to settle their disputes, but Jethro convinced him to created a municipal court system where judges would be appointed to settle lesser disputes. That’s it. That’s the chapter. It’s a lot of words for not a lot of substance.

Chapter 19

After three months, the Israelites came to Mount Sinai and the Lord told Moses to tell the people, paraphrasing here, “obey God.” God also tells Moses that he will appear as a dense cloud so that the people could hear what Moses is being told so that they will trust him.

So God tells Moses to tell the people not to go up the mountain or even touch the edge of it or else they will be stoned (not in the good way) or shot with arrows (also, not in the good way). They were to wash their clothes and prepare for the third day, and not go near a woman. Of course, if the person in question is a woman, that would be difficult to do.

God appeared as a pillar of smoke and descended on the mountain as he said would and Moses introduced Israel to God. Then God summoned him up the mountain and told him to go down and tell the people to stay off the mountain. Moses had to be in spectacular shape from going up and down the mountain so many times. Moses was told to go down the mountain and bring Aaron up, again, telling the people not to come up.

Exodus Chapters 14, 15, & 16

Chapter 14

We now come to the crossing of the Red Sea. God tell Moses where to camp so that it looks to Pharaoh like they’re wandering aimlessly. Then God decides that he is going to…oh here, read for yourself.

4I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, so that I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army; and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD. And they did so.

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 157). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

At this point, God just looks like he has two pawns that he is playing against each other. This is not a good and just God. This is pure evil in any context. He is going to drown the entire army of Egypt because he hardened their hearts.

Moses stretched out his over the sea and it parted so that there was land for the Israelites to walk on and cross to the other side. Of course, the Egyptian army chased after them and God told Moses to once again stretch out his hand over the sea so that the waters would close up around the Egyptian army and drown them all.

30Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31Israel saw the great work that the LORD did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the LORD and believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 159). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

The Lord made the Egyptians chase after the Israelites in the first place so that he could prove his manliness as a God. He also killed a lot of men and horses. The God of Exodus is a monster.

Chapter 15

The first part is song of praise to God for drowning the chariot drivers and their horses. It’s also a recounting of the events of the last chapter with no mention of Pharaoh’s hardened heart.  Then the prophet Miriam (Aaron’s sister) joined in to celebrate the deaths of horses and riders.

They ended up in Marah, which means bitterness, and they could not drink the water because it was, you guessed it, bitter. So Moses cried out to God who gave him a piece of wood and he threw it into the water and that bitterness cleared right up.

Finally, God tells his people that they won’t catch any of the diseases that the Egyptians caught if the listen to him and heed his commandments. This is the God that heals them. They camped a lovely oasis with twelve springs and seventy palm trees.

Chapter 16

This is a long story about bread with a lot of repetition. Anyway, it’s a test by God to see how well the Israelites follow directions. Each morning, God will provide the Israelites bread and they have to gather enough for the day for their families, no more, no less. They are not to keep the bread until the following morning. Some do just that and it bred worms (I see what they did there) and was inedible. So, they learned their lesson and collected and ate the bread in the same day.

On the sixth day, they were told to gather twice the amount of bread, which they did. They were told this time to save half for the following morning, which they did. This time the bread did not grow worms and go bad. The seventh morning, they went out to gather bread and found none and God got upset because they weren’t keeping the Sabbath. Aaron placed a portion before God as an offering to kept for generations.

Exodus Chapters 11, 12, & 13

Chapters 11 & 12

Chapter 11 is the warning to Pharaoh of what is to come because he has not let the people of Israel go. God will go throughout Egypt and kill the firstborn son of every Egyptian from Pharaoh to slave and of every animal.

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (that phrase is pretty common throughout this series of chapters) and blamed Pharaoh for not letting the Israelites go. That to me is a moral monster, honestly. I’ve gone on about it enough, so I’ll be quiet now.

Chapter 12 starts off with a paragraph and a half about how to pick a lamb, use its blood to mark the door posts, prepare the lamb, and eat the lamb. Basically, each household will eat their lamb in one night, leaving none for morning.

The blood is a signal to God that his people live in that house because he is going to go throughout the land of Egypt and kill the firstborn of Egypt. He also gives Moses and Aaron the rest of the instructions for the Passover. On the first day, all yeast (leavening) is to be removed from their homes and they are only to eat unleavened bread for the seven days of the observance. This is followed by Moses explaining all of it to the Israelites.

So God did exactly as he said he would do. He went throughout Egypt and killed the firstborn Pharaoh’s son because he’s creeping death, apparently (Metallica reference). He also killed everyone’s firstborn and everything’s firstborn, because it’s the cattle’s fault if they didn’t know to put lamb’s blood on their stable doors. I do wonder if the sheep and goats were spared since they likely already lost their firstborn to the Israelites.

Finally for the third time in Exodus, Pharaoh tells Moses and Aaron to take the Israelites and leave. This time, God doesn’t harden his heart and instead, makes the Egyptians see favor in the Israelites which allows the Israelites to plunder them. Then the Israelites went from Rameses to Succoth on foot carrying unleavened bread, and taking they livestock with them.

Finally, God gives Moses the instructions for Passover. A lot of this involves circumcision of slaves if they are to eat of the feast. Also, any alien who wants to eat the feast must also be circumcised.

Chapter 13

God tells Moses to consecrate to him all of the firstborn of the Israelites and their animals (more on that later). As it turns out he’s not all about the human sacrifice.

We then get more about unleavened bread because I guess God doesn’t like yeast or something. I do know that there is a lot more about this in the Talmud, but I’m not reading it. However, I have no problem looking for further explanation wherever I can find it. The Oxford commentary isn’t much help here.

We come to the explanation of the consecration of the firstborn, and instead of sacrificing the firstborn of the Israelite people, they will be redeemed.

15When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from human firstborn to the firstborn of animals. Therefore I sacrifice to the LORD every male that first opens the womb, but every firstborn of my sons I redeem.’

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 156). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

I’m not saying a word about Pharaoh and his hardened heart…

OK, so God led the Israelites out of Egypt, but not through the land of the Philistines because he didn’t want them to experience war or else they might return to Egypt. Instead he led them to the Red Sea. Egypt was preparing for battle (I assume with the Israelites despite having their hearts softened so that they would help them out). Moses was carrying the bones of Joseph (oh, right, I forgot about that) because he made them promise to bury him with this father when God led them out of Egypt. God led the Israelites as a pillar of clouds by day and a pillar of fire by night.

Exodus Chapters 8, 9, & 10

Chapter 8

I promised you frogs at the end of the last post, well you got frogs. Moses and Aaron made these things appear everywhere.

3The river shall swarm with frogs; they shall come up into your palace, into your bedchamber and your bed, and into the houses of your officials and of your people, and into your ovens and your kneading bowls. 4The frogs shall come up on you and on your people and on all your officials.’ ”

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 145). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

See? Everywhere. If this happened today, they would be in the rice cooker, the air fryer, the toilet, everywhere. So they made it happen and it was apparently awful. However, the Pharaoh’s magicians were able to do it too, but Pharaoh called upon Moses and Aaron to get rid of the frogs.

I knew I had a problem in this rundown of plagues, but it wasn’t until commenter Classicjason pointed it out. If the magicians could replicate the tricks that Moses performed, why couldn’t they reverse them?

Anyway, back to the story. Pharaoh promised the dynamic duo that he would allow the Israelites go and worship if they would just make these frogs go away. So Moses cries out to God to lose the frogs, and so God strikes them dead everywhere except in the river. So there’s a bunch of frog carcasses laying around and they have to be gathered up and dumped. Oh, by the way, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened again, so they weren’t allowed to go worship.

So, Moses told Aaron to stretch out his staff and strike the dust of the earth. This caused gnats to appear out of the dust and they got everywhere. Pharaoh’s magicians tried this trick and they couldn’t perform it. They told Pharaoh that this was the finger of God, but of course Pharaoh’s heart was hardened so God could show off some more.

And again the same thing with the flies. I mean, really, this is tedious. Pharaoh tells Moses that they can worship within the land, but Moses say that it would be offensive to the Egyptians and they would be stoned (not in that way, potheads). They had to go three days journey from there, but Pharaoh’s heart was hardened again.

Next up: Dead cows, boils, and thunder and hail.

Chapter 9

This time Moses threatened that a pestilence will strike the livestock of the Egyptians, but not the livestock of the Israelites. Sure enough, it happened as planned, but hardened heart…yada yada yada. Seriously, I could tell this story in three paragraphs.

Moses threw some soot from the kiln in front of Pharaoh and caused festering boils on humans and animals throughout the land. The magicians couldn’t stand before Moses because they were afflicted. Hardened heart…no go.

This time Moses told Pharaoh that he was going to make it hail and that he should really move all of his slaves and livestock under cover. Except, didn’t all of the livestock die due to the pestilence at the beginning of this chapter? CONTINUITY, PEOPLE! Anyway, let’s make believe that this story is all made up and what happened earlier doesn’t matter. So, the hail falls and the thunder booms and Pharaoh admits that he sinned and decides to finally, FINALLY let the Israelites go.

PSYCH! Nope, once he saw that the hail and thunder stopped, his heart was hardened again and he reneged. Seriously, this is just a power play for God. Pharaoh admitted that he had sinned, but now God just wants to torture him. Does anyone actually wonder why I don’t believe this book?

Chapter 10

Guess what? More plagues because the God of Exodus is written as a sadistic monster. I’m sorry, but Pharaoh already admitted his and let the Israelites go, but God can’t let the opportunity for more torture go to waste.

3So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh, and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, so that they may worship me…”

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 149). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Pharaoh did humble himself when he admitted his sin, but again, God hardened his heart. Pharaoh’s officials told him to let them go because the land is ruined, but Pharaoh and his heart were not budging. This time around, the brothers of destruction unleashed locusts to pretty much destroy everything that wasn’t destroyed before.

16Pharaoh hurriedly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the LORD your God, and against you. 17Do forgive my sin just this once, and pray to the LORD your God that at the least he remove this deadly thing from me.”

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 150). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

That seems pretty humble to me, but God doesn’t care. He hardens Pharaoh’s heart because I think he’s having fun. The ninth plague is a shroud of darkness such that the Egyptians cannot see one another or even move from where they are. Again, Pharaoh capitulates, but God has one more, disgusting, heinous atrocity up his sleeve.

Exodus Chapters 5, 6, & 7

Chapter 5

This chapter is just explaining that after Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and asked to be allowed to go into the wilderness, they were rejected. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he exercised more cruelty on the Israelites by no longer providing them straw to make bricks. They would have to collect it themselves, but were also required to make the same amount of bricks. The Israelite supervisors approach Pharaoh and plead with him, but he calls them lazy and reiterates his command.

They come across Moses and Aaron outside and yell at them, essentially, because they are treated badly. Moses turns to the heavens and pleads with God because he obviously doesn’t remember that the only reason that they’re treated badly is because God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.

Chapter 6

The beginning of this chapter is a lot of recap. “I’m The Lord…Abraham…Isaac…Jacob…Land of Canaan…Israelite slaves…Egyptians…Pharaoh…” God told Moses to tell the Israelites this story, but they wouldn’t listen because they were broken. Moses explained that the Israelites would not listen to him. God told him to go tell Pharaoh to let his people go, but Moses said he couldn’t speak to Pharaoh because the Israelites wouldn’t listen to him.

We come to, surprise surprise, a genealogy. I’d like to take a moment to wonder why God didn’t, instead of hardening Pharaoh’s heart, speak directly into the Israelites’ hearts and tell them, “Hey, this Moses guy is your dude and you got nothing to worry about. Follow him and he’ll show you some crazy stuff. Wait until you see what I have planned for the Red Sea.” But no, God always has some bizarre Rube Goldberg device of a plan to “fix” things. Remember that flood from way back when that was supposed to cure the world of wickedness? How’d that work out?

From a writer’s perspective, I can understand the whole “harden Pharaoh’s heart” thing as a plot device. The god in this story wants to ensure that he can put on display his plagues and miracles so that people will believe.

Chapter 7

OK, finally, on to the main event. All the training is done and now Moses is like God and Aaron is his prophet. They went before Pharaoh and when he told them to perform a wonder, Aaron took Moses’ staff, threw it to the ground and it became a snake. Pharaoh called on his sorcerers and magicians and they performed the same trick. Is this Penn and Teller’s Fool Us? However, Aaron’s snake swallowed up all the other snakes. Also, I have to chuckle because the name of this section with the staff and snake trick is called “Aaron’s Miraculous Rod”. I’m going to hell.

Pharaoh’s heart is, of course, still hardened because God made it so, so he sends Moses and Aaron out to the Nile River to meet Pharaoh. There would demand that he let the Israelites go. When Pharaoh refused, Moses or Aaron or both struck the water with the miraculous rod and the river turned to blood, all the fish died, and it stank. The Egyptians had to dig for water to drink. However, Pharaoh’s magicians were able to replicate the trick and so the Israelites would not be set free on this day.

Once again, pardon my language, but this is nothing more than a mystical dick-wagging contest between Arron and Moses and the Pharaoh’s magicians. I have a feeling that this will keep going for the rest of the plagues.

Coming up next: Frogs.

Exodus Chapters 3 & 4

Chapter 3

Before we get to the main attraction in this chapter, I immediately notice that Moses’ father-in-law in the previous chapter is named Reuel, but in this chapter goes by Jethro. According to the Oxford Bible Commentary, he probably did not have a name in this tradition and different authors probably used different sources and inspirations. This also tells me that there is no possible way that Moses wrote this book because that would mean that he couldn’t keep his father-in-law’s name straight. Anyway, on to the rest of the story.

While Moses was out tending his father-in-law’s flock, he came to Mount Horeb and he saw the bush burning, but noticed that was not consumed by the fire. He likely inhaled deeply and heard the voice of God, as you do. Long story short, God recounts the misery of the Israelites and wants Moses to deliver them to the promised land, or rather, the land of milk and honey. God states that the cry of the Israelites has come to him, as if he didn’t already see this coming to the point that he mentioned it back in Genesis.

Moses asks God what he should say to the Israelites that will convince them that he was truly sent, then he asks for God’s name. It turns out to be the most anticlimactic reveal, “I am who I am.” Moses must tell the Israelites that I AM sent him and they will believe him. He tell him to go to them and then repeats all of the stuff he said earlier. He then says that Pharaoh will not let them go (I wonder why) and that he will stretch out his mighty hand and perform all the wonders, and after that Pharaoh will let them go and they will plunder Egypt.

So Pharaoh won’t let them go until after God performs his magic tricks for the Egyptians. It sounds like God is just showing off. I mean, save something in case they try to keep them from leaving.

Chapter 4

Moses isn’t very confident. I mean, he’s no Charlton Heston here. God teaches him some magic tricks like turning a staff into a snake and pulling a leprous hand out of his cloak. The latter is sure to be a hit at kids’ parties. After Moses masters these tricks God tells him more of what they’ll be doing.

8“If they will not believe you or heed the first sign, they may believe the second sign. 9If they will not believe even these two signs or heed you, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 138). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

You don’t know how much I was hoping that it wouldn’t go through another progression like the bargaining on the way to Sodom. “If they don’t believe the first three signs…, the first four signs, etc. etc.” I’m glad that it wasn’t taken all the way out to the seven plagues.

Once again, Moses tries to get out of it by saying that he’s not a good public speaker. God gets angry and tells him that he will speak through Moses, but Moses asks him to send someone else. So God decides to send Moses and his brother Aaron.

Moses returns to his father-in-law, whose name is still Jethro at this point, and asks to return to return to Egypt to see if his people are still alive. He loaded up his family on a donkey and took his staff and went back to Egypt.

21And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders that I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 139). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Uhhh, what? Why? Is this just so that God can show off his superpowers? God wants his people out of Egypt and in the promised land. In order to carry this out, he is going to make Pharaoh NOT want to let them go so that God can perform a magic show. Dear lord, Jason is right, why am I putting myself through this torture?

This is, according to the Oxford Commentary and I agree, disjointed:

24On the way, at a place where they spent the night, the LORD met him and tried to kill him. 25But Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin, and touched Moses’ feet with it, and said, “Truly you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” 26So he let him alone. It was then she said, “A bridegroom of blood by circumcision.”

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 139). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

I have no idea what is going on here, but accord the commentary, “feet” is a euphemism for “penis” (don’t ask, I just read the commentary). According to the commentary, this is maybe an origin tale of circumcision, but even in the commentary doesn’t know. I may have to ask a rabbinical scholar.

Aaron was sent to meet Moses out in the wilderness to go over the game plan. They gathered the elders and Aaron spoke to the elders while Moses did his tricks. It was a regular Penn and Teller act.