The end of the Torah is nearly upon us, Moses is soon to breathe his last. Of course, being Moses he managed to squeeze an entire book in just before he died, but it was mostly repeats of his earlier stuff. Guess he had a case of second album syndrome or something, gutting for you Moses. He does still manage to come up with the odd bit of hilarity though, and that’s what this/the previous entry are all about. So as we reflect, sit back and enjoy the life (but mostly death) of Moses.
Deut 23, Verse 1: No one who has been emasculated by crushing or cutting may enter the assembly of the Lord.
Before I comment on this I’ll try and clear up what ‘the assembly of the Lord’ is. In the King James Version the word ‘congregation’ of the Lord is used leading people to believe that it meant in general any follower of the Lord. However, a quick google search seemed to indicate that the assembly of the Lord means the elders, judges, representatives of the tribe etc. So if that’s right, it means that they aren’t allowed leadership roles.
Either way, guys without penises aren’t allowed to be leaders? Or maybe it’s only if’s been crushed or cut. What about hacked, or sawed, or bitten . . .
Deut 23, Verse 2: No one born of a forbidden marriage nor any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, not even in the tenth generation.
Sorry Jon Snow, no electoral system here. If you’re a bastard you can’t have a leadership role. Even if your great great great great great great great great grandfather was a bastard, sorry but that still goes against you.
Deut 23, Verses 9-11: When you are encamped against your enemies, keep away from everything impure. If one of your men is unclean because of a nocturnal emission, he is to go outside the camp and stay there. But as evening approaches he is to wash himself, and at sunset he may return to the camp.
For those unaware, a ‘nocturnal emission’ is now more commonly known as a ‘wet dream’. This is nothing significant, I just found it pretty funny that anyone who had one had to leave the camp for a day.
Deut 24, Verse 16: Parents are not to be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin.
Uh . . . what? That’s almost the exact opposite of what you’ve said before. Let’s take a look back at Exodus 20
Exod 20, Verse 5: I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.
I understand that the difference here is about being put to death, but the principle is contradictory.
Deut 25, Verses 11-12: If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.
Chapters 26 and 27 are boring repeats, but then in chapter 28 there is a huge section on Curses for disobedience. It is literally 53 verses of what God will do to them if the Israelites don’t do what God told Moses to tell them to do. Here are the highlights:
Deut 28, Verse 22: The Lord will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish.
Deut 28, Verse 26: Your carcasses will be food for all the birds and the wild animals, and there will be no one to frighten them away.
Deut 28, Verse 30: You will be pledged to be married to a woman, but another will take her and rape her.
Deut 28, Verse 32: Your sons and daughters will be given to another nation, and you will wear out your eyes watching for them day after day, powerless to lift a hand.
Deut 28, Verse 37: You will become a thing of horror, a byword and an object of ridicule among all the peoples where the Lord will drive you.
Deut 28, Verse 53: Because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the Lord your God has given you.
Deut 28, Verse 63: Just as it pleased the Lord to make you prosper and increase in number, so it will please him to ruin and destroy you.
Like I said, those are just the highlights. The last verse I quoted is I feel the most important. It will ‘please’ God to ruin and destroy the Israelites. It wouldn’t be done out of regretful duty, but of pleasure. What a sick and twisted figure this God character really is, to enjoy such a thing as people being so hungry they eat their own children, all for the paltry crime of say; working on the Sabbath.
Then chapter 29 is yet another renewal of the Covenant. I’ve lost count of how many times it’s been renewed now.
Deut 29, Verse 9: Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do.
It’s not a matter of prospering, it’s a matter of ensuring you aren’t forced into a horrible fate by a mad dictator!
But before chapter 29 finishes, God goes on another maniacal threat spree.
Deut 29, Verse 23: The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur—nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, which the Lord over threw in fierce anger.
God mentions some of his best past atrocities, so you know he’s for real about this.
In chapter 32 God makes ‘The Offer of Life or Death’ which, as I’m sure you can guess, is follow my laws = life, don’t follow my laws = death. In chapter 31 Moses blesses Joshua and tells everyone he’s in charge now, and then God asks Moses to listen to his mixtape, which is played out in chapter 32. Moses is supposed to spread the song to all the people of Israel.
Deut 32, Verse 4: He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is he.
The lyrics are of course totally lame. Joking aside, imagine now that you’re in a North Korean work camp. Your camp leader then summons all the workers and plays them a new song:
Kim Jong-Un is the Rock, his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful Leader who does no wrong,
upright and just is he.
It suddenly seems a little more suspect, doesn’t it?
In chapter 33, Moses blesses all the tribes of Israel, and then in chapter 34 . . .
Deut 34, Verses 1-4: Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho.There the Lord showed him the whole land—from Gilead to Dan, all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Mediterranean Sea, the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.”
As crazy as Moses is, that is kinda sad. He has (supposedly) worked incredibly hard to bring the people of Israel back to the promised land, but he doesn’t get there himself.
Deut 34, Verses 5-6: And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is.
Yep. No one knows where it is. It’s almost as though it never existed.
So the old boy has finally been laid to rest. Obviously the Moses character was a bit of a maniac, but I’m sad to see him go in the sense that this blog will now become slightly more difficult to write now. At the end of chapter 34 it says: “Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” Now obviously Jesus will come along in the New Testament, but we’ve got 34 books to cover before that, and their organisation and messages aren’t always as easy to interpret, nor are they as widely known. We all knew who Moses was before I started talking here about him, but I doubt so many will know the details of Ezra or Micah quite so well. But I guess we’ll cross each of those bridges as they come!
Deuteronomy was in a similar vein to Leviticus, in that it didn’t really cover much of the actual ‘history’, just rules/laws etc. It’s even harder to summarise given that the majority of the laws are repeats. What we see are more disgusting examples of the way this book treats women, other religions, and other peoples. So often it has been stated in this book to respect foreigners and treat them well, as the Jews were foreigners in Egypt. That is of course all well and good, but then in the same chapters God is calling for the complete annihilation of other peoples. It seems to me as though the Israelites are ok with foreigners, but only so long as they are in a minority position without any power. There is of course also the slight contradiction chapter 24 where it said of parents and children that each will die for their own sin, but it has been said numerous times in the Bible that multiple generations will be punished just because of what their ancestors have done.
The rampant contradictions in the first 5 books lead me to say with 99% certainty that the first five books of the Bible were not written by ‘Moses’, whoever he really was.
By Rory McDowell