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.

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.