Exodus Chapter 32

I’m at another chapter that tells me that the god being spoken of in this particular book is impotent at most. If he was truly all-knowing and all-good, he would have let the people know that this was going to take a while. Instead Aaron, who should have known exactly what was going on up on the mountain, gives in to the people and makes them a golden calf to worship because for some weird reason the people need to worship something. God, who could have stopped this before it started, instead tells Moses to get down there and do something about it.

Let us not forget that in one of the earliest commandments, Chapter 20, verse 5, God says that he is jealous and is not putting up with those shenanigans (I might have paraphrased). So naturally, worshiping something that isn’t God is punishable by death. However, God can once again be bargained with and Moses talks him out of destroying his chosen people. All of this happened before Moses actually went down the mountain with the tablets.

Moses carried the tablets of the commandments down the mountain and when he saw the Israelites worshiping the golden calf, he threw the tablets down and reduced the calf to powder, scattered it on the water, and forced the Israelites to drink it. Then Aaron told him how this all happened because the Bible likes to repeat.

Moses called for the people who were still faithful to God and the sons of Levi answered. I think I should let the Bible tell this part:

27He said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side, each of you! Go back and forth from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill your brother, your friend, and your neighbor.’ ” 28The sons of Levi did as Moses commanded, and about three thousand of the people fell on that day. 29Moses said, “Today you have ordained yourselves for the service of the LORD, each one at the cost of a son or a brother, and so have brought a blessing on yourselves this day.”

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (pp. 194-195). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

God could have stopped this before it started. He knew what was going on, but he decided to let it play out. It’s stories like this one that convince me that the God of this book (and several others) is a bloodthirsty monster. After the massacre that looked like something out of Shogun Assassin without the baby carriage, Moses goes up the mountain to atone for the people’s sin and God sends a plague on the people and then sends them off to another destination.

Exodus Chapters 25 through 31

I’m not gonna lie, these seven chapters sound like the set design notes for the first Indiana Jones movie. This is basically a long section describing how to make up the offerings for the tabernacle, build the ark of the covenant, how to build and present the table for the bread of the presence, the lampstand, how to make the tabernacle itself, the framework for the aforementioned tabernacle, the curtain, the altar for burnt offerings, the court and hangings for the tabernacle, the oil for the lamp, the vestments, and so on and so forth. I’m not going to go through the details because I’m not running a how-to blog over here.

This is apparently God telling his people how to worship him and what he likes. Go back to my comments on Chapter 23 and read the third paragraph because I really don’t want to repeat myself. I might as well make it the subtitle for this blog. This is the words of men trying to control people and get them to build some pretty stuff.

At one point, God appoints two men to make all of the stuff in the previous chapters. After that, it’s a review of everything that was said in the previous chapters. Finally, God talks about the sabbath laws and tells Moses to tell the Israelites. At the end of all of these laws, God gives Moses all of these laws written on two tablets in God’s finger.

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 1 & 2

Chapter 1

The chapter starts out with the recitation of the sons of Jacob who were fruitful and multiplied. We don’t get the names of any of the offspring, but they were prolific and exceedingly strong.

Apparently, the twelve sons of Israel were really, really busy being fruitful because their multiplication outnumbered the Egyptians, so the new Pharaoh (not the same one as in Genesis, but I’ll still use Yul Brynner’s picture where necessary, you’re welcome) set about oppressing them. He appointed to taskmasters to force them to work building supply cities, but the more they were oppressed, the more they were fruitful.

Pharaoh, in an effort to stop the Israelites from multiplying, told the Hebrew midwives to kill all of the baby boys, but let the girls live. Of course, the midwives feared God and let the boys live.

18So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?” 19The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.”

Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 134). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Pharaoh commanded his people to throw all of the boys born to the Hebrews into the Nile, but allow the girls to live.

Obviously, the authors are building the villain of the story. Having read and watched much about Egyptian history, this whole book is a work of fiction. The Israelites were never enslaved in Egypt, and there is no record in the meticulously kept records of Egypt about two million people leaving. Sorry, I guess I should have said, “Spoiler alert.”

Chapter 2

I always thought the story of Moses’ birth and youth was longer than it is. It’s only a few paragraphs and includes his birth, being placed in a mini-ark (a basket with bitumen and pitch), the Pharaoh’s daughter finding him, and Moses’ actual mother nursing him. After he had grown up, which is a sentence later, Pharaoh’s daughter took him as her son.

Moses killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave and thought nobody had seen, but two other Hebrews had and apparently told Pharaoh, so Moses fled to Midian. There, he helped some Midianite women water their flocks after a group of shepherds tried to chase them away. For this act, the women’s father, a priest, invited him to dinner and gave him one of his daughters and she bore him a son, Gershom.

Eventually, this Pharaoh died and the Israelites cried out and God heard them. Once again, we have a non-omniscient moment from God. He hears the Israelites call out and it’s then that he remembers his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. What else is going on that he can’t keep straight his covenants without a reminder. He’d probably think about flooding the world again until he noticed a prism in sunlight and saw the rainbow. Anyway, on to the next chapter.

Genesis Chapters 46, 47, & 48

Chapter 46

“So they loaded up the wagons and they moved to…the land of Goshen.” OK, it doesn’t have the same ring to it as Flatt and Scruggs (kids, ask your grandparents).

Anyway, Jacob/Israel and his entire household left Beer-Sheba and relocated to the land of Goshen in Egypt. The whole second paragraph of this chapter simply details all of the people who went. It turns out to be seventy in all, but I’ll let the reader go find out everyone’s names. It reads like a genealogy and as people know, I’m not a fan of those.

Joseph and his father, Jacob/Israel are finally reunited after many years, since that day his brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites. He can now die having seen that his son is alive. Joseph is going to tell Pharaoh that the family is now moved in and tells his brothers what to say. It turns out that Egyptians don’t care much for shepherds.

I wish I had more to say about this chapter, but there’s not much going on at this point. I think we can all predict what’s going to happen, since we still have sixty-five books to go after this one.

Chapter 47]

Joseph introduces the family the family to Pharaoh and the brothers tell him what Joseph told them to say and Pharaoh instructs Joseph to set them up on the best part of the land and put them in charge of his livestock as well. Then he brings in Jacob who blesses Pharaoh and Jacob tells him that he is one-hundred and thirty years old. Joseph settled them in the land of Rameses and gave them enough food to sustain them.

The famine raged on and the people bought as much food as they could with the money they had, but that wasn’t enough. Then they sold their livestock to Pharaoh to buy more food, but that still wasn’t enough to make it through the famine, so they sold their land to him and became slaves to Pharaoh in exchange for food. See where this is going? Then they had to give one-fifth of everything that they grew to Pharaoh. The priests didn’t have to sell their land or become slaves because they’re given an allowance by the Pharaoh.

Seventeen years after moving to the land of Goshen in Egypt, Jacob/Israel would die. Before he died, he called upon Joseph to swear an oath (by touching his junk) to bury him in the land of his ancestors. Joseph agreed.

So we get the origin of how the Israelites became slaves to Egypt and we will get the naming of the Twelve Tribes of Israel in a couple chapters. This chapter just felt anti-climactic with absolutely no resistance to being enslaved. I mean, they volunteered to be enslaved.

Chapter 48

Joseph came to his father’s bedside with his two children so that Jacob could bless them. Jacob tell Joseph that he will make him fruitful and multiply, but that Joseph’s two sons are now his (Jacob’s), because they will inherit the land that Jacob inherited. Anymore children that Joseph has will be his own.

When Jacob asked the two sons to approach and he blessed them, he put his right hand on the younger one’s head and his left on the older one’s head. This is obviously a callback to how Jacob got his father’s blessing as the younger. When Joseph tried to correct his father, he crossed his arms, still putting his right hand on the younger one’s head. Joseph wasn’t happy about this, but he didn’t seem to do anything about it. Jacob says that Ephraim, the younger, will be greater than his brother. Then he gives Joseph, I’m assuming, the land where Jacob’s ancestor’s are buried since he talks about land that he apparently took from the Amorites. The problem is that this didn’t happen, or at least it’s not anywhere in this book.