Monday, January 31, 2011

Leviticus 1-3 How Much Repetition Can You Take?

Leviticus 1-3

At least the chapters are short!

We learn (over and over and over) how to kill, carve and cook various animals.
Make bread with flour and oil, but no yeast.
I believe the word MEAT is used to mean FOOD in some places.
Aaron and his son's like to have their food salted before it's cooked but they don't like honey.

I'm having a hard time imagining that these chapters aren't created by man.  Not only does it serve as way for the priests to get themselves fed, it could also be used as a guide to provide food that is safe to eat.
"But he shall wash the inwards and the legs with water"

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Exodus 35-40 The Exodus from Exodus

Exodus 35-40

Let's finish Exodus today so we can get to the infamous book of Leviticus this week.

I give you permission to skip from Exodus 36:8 to 38:20.  It's just a rehash of God's plans for the tabernacle being written as the building of same.

The people collect material for the tabernacle and get top work building it. Then, Moses, Aaron and sons get to worshiping.

A visual depiction of the Tabernacle and Aaron's Garments

I'm a little disappointed with the way Exodus ends.  It's a great saga of an escape from slavery.  Of reuniting with your long lost god.  Of having your god NOT kick your ass after he finds you cheating on him.

An observation.  God seems to me like a father who abandoned his family then comes back years later and over compensates for his absence by being really nice to his kids.  Then when they accept him back into the family, he becomes overbearing, bitter and wishes he had stayed away.

To have the book end with the first use of the tabernacle is kind of a let down.  And the book of Leviticus seems to continue exactly where Exodus.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Exodus 31-34 Deja Vu All Over Again?

Exodus 31-34

Did anyone else get a sense of deja vu while reading this?  Other then God's obsession with keeping the Sabbath holy and unleavened bread.

Did anyone else get a sense of the story is repeating itself?  Besides God's insistence with keeping the Sabbath holy and  eating bread that is unleavened.

Aaron and the Israelites don't seem to be very faithful to God after all he's done for them.
God is justifiably angry and Moses has to talk him out of another mass murder (Moses later ends up doing it for him).
I can't believe I'm saying this but I'm on Gods side on this one.  If I were him I'd wipe out the Israelites and started over with another tribe.
I guess God is just a bigger man then I am.

I was a little surprised when Moses had his followers execute three thousand Israelites.  I mean, isn't that against one of the commandments?  And doesn't God have a rule about killing Israelites?

Oh, and we get the 10 commandments on stone tablets at last.  Twice.

My question is;
"Are we reading two versions of the story here?  Exodus 34 seems to be the same event as Exodus 31-33 but without the tribes betrayal with the false idol.  I hate to bring it up again but it smacks of multiple authors and story lines.
You could the entire sub-plot with Aaron, the Golden Calf and God's wrath and go straight to 34:10 and not miss a beat.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Exodus 25-30 The Tabernacle of Extreme Boredom

Exodus 25-30

I'm asking you to be strong and work your way through these five chapters just so we can get past them.

God gives Moses EXTREMELY detailed plans for the tabernacle.  Size, color, design, placement.  Why?

Doesn't Jesus rebel against this grandeur and focus on the message instead of the style?  If so, why is the Catholic churches are so ornate?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Exodus 23-24

Exodus 23-24

God mixes in some good farming tips among the societal and worship laws.

My question is "Why does God want his people to waste food?"  Do they get to eat the burnt offerings?
I understand that he demands sacrifice from his people but couldn't that be accomplished thru fasting?
Wouldn't a Festival of the Harvest be a nice way for man to say thank you?

God promises to drive out those who would oppose his people.  I like his plan.  Slowly but surley.

Exodus 23:31 sets the boundary for the land of the Israelites.  If God created the Earth, and the Israelites are God's people, why would he give them such a small and infertile place to live?  Why wouldn't he tell them to go to Italy, France or Spain?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Exodus 21-22 Are you writing this stuff down Moses?

Exodus 21-22

God sits Moses down and starts laying down the law - Literally.

The laws start off kind of shaky, dealing with slavery and the treatment of women as property.
We then get into the societal laws dealing with crime and punishment.  God is very specific and thorough.

Everything here (except for the slavery and women as property) seems like it could have evolved naturally as man started to form communities and had to learn to live together.

Exodus 22:29 gets back to the worshipping of God.  I'm curious about this little bit;

"Thou shalt not delay [to offer] the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me."

Is God asking for a sacrifice of the first born males?  I'm sure he's not but that's how it's written.

Exodus 19-20 Wash your clothes, God's coming over tomorrow.

Exodus 19-20

The Lord "shows himself" to the Israelites.

God then gives us the Commandments and directions on how to build stuff.

The whole episode on/around Mt. Sinai seems almost comical to me reading it as a man living in the 21st century.  I see Moses, Aaron and Jethro (who conveniently left earlier in the story) concocting a plan to reinforce their status as leaders of the Israelites.

Moses:  "The people are getting restless.  I think we're dead men if they stopping believing we have God's ear."

Aaron:  "I think we should make a break for it at night.  I know a guy in Midian who can put us up for a few days."

Jethro:  "Relax guys, These people will be building shrines to you if you do what I say.
Here's what we do;  I'll say I'm heading out to start my own tribe, but I'll really just go up to the top of that mountain over there.  Aaron you get a bunch of dried grass and wood and spread it around the mountain.
Moses, the next time it looks like a bad storm is coming, you go up the mountain and "talk to God", come down and tell the people God is coming to talk to them but that they can't get to close or they'll die.  And tell them to wash up,  man they stink!  Any way, when it starts to storm, Aaron you light the brush on fire, I'll blow this soccer horn and talk in a really deep voice.  Moses, just play along."

The Ten Commandments (depending on how you break them out) start off with rules on worshipping God and are very explicit.  I can see how some modern religious sects interpret the graven images law as "Do not create art".
God then seems to gloss over the most important laws that are fundamental to a social order.  Killing Stealing, Lying, Adultery.  Could they have been inserted much later, like the U.S. Constitutions amendments?
The last commandment, while important to a healthy society seems to be there as a way to have people accept there place in the tribe (Be happy with what you have).

I believe we'll see them again later.

Hello Again

Like God remembering his covenant with the Israelites I have returned to you.
And like the Israelites, I have been toiling in the fields praying for a little peace and freedom from Big Phar...
But, I digress.

I've been putting in 16 hour days for the last 4 days with one 19 hour day thrown in and I'm a bit toasty mentally.

February is going to be more of the same so my plan is to try and read ahead as much as I can and pre-write some posts so i can just hit publish when needed and besides, everyone seems to be doing fine without me!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Exodus 15-18 The Saga Continues

I'm caught up at work today (can't even watch the Bears-Packers game).
Just keep reading the next few chapters and I'll start posting as soon as I can.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Exodus 12-14 Passover and the Escape

Exodus 12-14

God commands the Israelites to slaughter and eat a lamb, using it's blood to mark their doors so he will know to "pass over" their homes.

Question, God has spared the Israelites from the rest of the plagues without special preparation.  Why do it now?
To me this seems like an insertion into the story to explain dogma.
I believe it is also the first of God's VERY specific instructions to his people (not counting Noah, an individual).

"for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel." Again God's rules seem AWFULLY harsh.

We also see a repeating of the same rule.  Exodus 12:15 and 12:19.  And Exodus 13 REALLY drives it home.  OK, we get it! ;-)

Mosses finally looks like a worthy prophet as he commands the Israelites out of Egypt and across the Red Sea.  And Moses and the Israelites lived happily ever after.  Right?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Exodus 10-11 The Plagues Continue

Exodus 10-11

God brings on the final plagues, the last one being the mass murder of innocent children and animals.
I have a problem with that.

Wherefore art thou Satan?

This just popped into my head so I thought I'd throw it out there.

Up until now, bad things has been caused by man or God.
When does Satan,  the Devil, Beelzebubba make an appearance?
The serpent in the Garden of Eden doesn't count.  He not referred to as evil, only sneaky.

A Request to My Christian Commenters

There have been several comments stating that parts of the OT are prophecies that come true in the NT.
When we come upon one of these prophecies, please point them out so we can come back to them when we get to the NT.  No need to expound on it yet.

I know I asked that believers limit the use of quoting future passages, but in this case I believe it would be educational to us Atheists.

Things have gotten a little more heated in the past few posts.  I'll attribute that to everyone being excited about the readings and discussions.

Please remember, keep it civil and keep up the great debates.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Exodus 8-9 Quoth the Pharaoh "Bring It On"

Exodus 8-9

God and Moses try to be reasonable with Pharaoh but he won't budge.

Fun Question: "At what plague would you have broken?"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Exodus 6-7 Uncircumcised Lips

Exodus 6-7

Someone needs to edit The Bible.  Seems the story in Exodus 3-5 is pretty much repeated in 6-7 with some begats thrown in.  Am I missing something?

God reveals his name to Moses.  Why would he open up to Moses and not Abraham?

Moses has the best line so far in The Bible in describing his speaking skills.

I'm guessing that Exodus 3-5 and 6-7 are just two versions of the same story.  We've seen this in previous readings but not to this extent.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Exodus 3-5 In the Land of Milk and Honey

Exodus 3-5

God comes unto Moses in the form of a burning bush and lays out his game plan to him.
But, Moses seems to be a reluctant prophet and it takes some convincing from The Lord in the form of some magic tricks.
Things don't go that well for the Israelites after Moses and Aaron talk to Pharaoh and the Israelites aren't very happy with the brothers.

My question today is:
"Why does God come up with a plan to free his people that causes them more grief?"
Bonus question:
Why doesn't God just go with genocide, like he's done in the past and kill the Egyptians?"
Extra special bonus question(s):
"Why didn't the all knowing God know that Moses did not circumcise his son?  And why would he then try to kill his chosen prophet?"

I think by now we can quite calling this God "all knowing".

Guest Posters?

I'm thinking of having some of my commenters as guest posters.  I would use them when work prevent me from contributing.

What do you think?  Any volunteers?

If I have a believer contribute, should I have a non-believer  reply and vice-versa for a fairness?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Exodus 1-2

Exodus 1-2

We start off immediately with a recap of Israel and his children.  Almost like setting up a sequel.
Does anyone know how the Genesis writings relate historically/chronologically to the Exodus writings?

The Exodus story starts out with what seems to be a ridiculously bad move by the new Pharaoh.  If he wanted to "deal wisely with Children of Israel" he wouldn't "make their lives bitter with hard bondage".
God looks kindly on the midwives for not killing the males.

We learn very little about Moses after he is found and raised by Pharaoh's daughter.  Only that he kills an Egyptian for beating a Hebrew and is forced to run and hide from Pharaoh.  What is the purpose of this information?  It seems inserted only to show that Moses sides with the Hebrews.

After Pharaoh dies, God shows up, it seems he forgot the covenant he made with his chosen people (?!?!) Today's question is "Really?  God let's his chosen people suffer for so long and then decides to help them?"

A Few Reflections on Genesis

We've made it thru the first book, Genesis.  Thank you to everyone who commented during the readings.

As an Atheist, I've been paying very close attention to my Christian commenters.  It's been great to get a perspective that is pretty much foreign to my perspective.  Having said that, I'm experiencing a big disconnect between what I'm getting out of the readings and what the Christians are taking from them.

This difference in interpretation shouldn't be surprising to anyone but, I was really hoping for some more persuasive arguments.  
Future Bible passages and saying that God is setting up mankind for redemption in the future with Jesus are not strong (or even valid) arguments when we continually read stories of a short tempered/vengeful god.

A few questions that came to me while reviewing Genesis:
1. Why are Adam and Eve punished for acquiring knowledge?  Why does he want man to be a lesser being the God and his minions?

2. Man has become wicked after God kicks them out of the garden so all living creatures, save for Noah, his family and select animals are slaughtered without being given a chance for redemption.  If God is going to give man a "do over" starting with Noah, why not allow man back into the garden?

3. Why does God make a covenant with The Family, giving them land only to have man continue to wander around to survive?  Why doesn't God provide for his chosen people?

Thanks you again for your participation and I hope we can continue as strong as we enter Exodus.

And I truly hope my Christian commenters will keep at it.  I really want to understand your beliefs.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Genesis 46-50 The Twelve Tribes of Israel

Genesis 46-50

This reading's kind of long but I felt that it should be read as one piece because of its content.  It also concludes the book of Genesis.

The drought continues in Egypt and the people lose their cattle, land and freedom to Joseph and Pharaoh.  This sets up Exodus quite nicely.

I'm still trying to look beyond the money and power of The Family to see God's divine plan for humanity but frankly, all I see is a wealthy dynasty in the making, and using a supernatural being as their leverage.

As I believe someone mentioned in an earlier comment, God seems to have very little to do in this story.  Joseph says that God is interrupting the dreams but that's coming from a man who sees an opportunity to get out of prison.  Again using God as leverage.

The last part of Genesis has Jacob/Israel foretelling the future of his twelve sons and establishing the twelve tribes of Israel before dying.  Joseph's dream is fulfilled when his brothers bow before him and he forgives them for their horrible treatment of him.

Joseph has been my favorite story so far in The Bible.  It has a timeless story that is very much at home in today's society.

Besides the musical, does anyone know if this story has been retold in a modern setting?

The Week Ahead

Monday - Genesis 46-50
Tuesday - Exodus 1-2
Wednesday - Exodus 3-5
Thursday - Exodus 6-7
Friday - Exodus 8-9
Saturday - Exodus 10-11
Sunday - Exodus 12-14

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

Genesis 40-42 Joseph Takes Control

Genesis 40

Joseph takes advantage of the baker and the butler to get back in the good graces with Pharaoh.

What does he do with this new found position of power?  Get revenge on the brothers that sold him up the river.

No question tonight.  It's been a long week.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Genesis 38-39 hmmmm...

Genesis 38

This is one messed up family and God isn't helping any.

The Lord seems to commit the cold blooded murders of Er and Onin.
Judah lays with a harlot/daughter in law, then orders her to be burnt to death for taking his staff.  He backs off at the last minute.

Joseph on the other is righteous and hard working, even as a slave in Egypt.  He wins favor for his honesty and hard work and refuses the advances of his masters wife.

Once again I'm seeing a god that is a easy to anger and violence and the favored family acting only for personal gain.

Genesis 36-37 Joseph Has a Dream, His Brothers Are Not Amused

Genesis 36

Sorry for the delay and the lack of comments.  Work is keeping me busy.

I will mention that this is the start of the story of Joseph, one of the great stories in Genesis.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Genesis 34-35 The One Where Rachel and Isaac Die

Sorry, I had to make a Friends reference.  

Genesis 34 see the rape of Dinah and the wholesale slaughter of a people at the hands of Isaac's sons.  The pleasant feeling I had at the end of chapter 33 is quickly washed away.

Isaac once again flees for his life after the massacre of Hamor, his sons and people but God directs him to a safe haven.  I really can't blame them for their anger, but considering men have used women as a commodity up until this point, it's a new and odd behavior.

After giving birth to Joseph and Benjamin, Rachel dies.
"And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing." 
I do love some of the writing in the OT.  It can be very poetic.

The end of chapter 35 brings us the death of Isaac but the start of the story of Joseph, which I believe is one of the longest stories of any character in the OT, save Moses.  Spanning over a dozen chapters.

My question, that I've wanted to ask since early on is:
Why is God only blessing one family, The linage of Abraham?  He seems to be a personal god to the one family (Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, etc) and others must win favor with the family to benefit from God's power.  To me this comes off not as a god that loves and provides for his creation so much as a personal mentor/bodyguard for a wealthy family.

As always, show me the truth dear readers!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Genesis 32-33 Oh Brother

Jacob returns to face his brother, but not before wrestling 'a man'.
By splitting up his tribe, was Jacob showing doubt in God?  Was the wrestling a metaphor for wrestling with his faith?

This is one of my favorite reading so far.  As literature, it has  great drama and a nice message of forgiveness at the end.

Does the end of chapter 33 represent the establishment of the land of Israel?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Genesis 26-28

Genesis 26

Abimelech falls for the old "She my sister, not my wife" gag again.  This time with Isaac and Rebekah.

Isaac grows old and feeble.  Jacob makes his move.  Esau gets shafted.

Jacob flees in fear has a dream and finds out the LORD will be his god also.

Question: Why is the LORD ok with Jacob stealing Esau's blessing and birthright?  If so, why?

One Week(ish) In- A Big Thank You to All!

We're a little more then a week into reading the Bible and all I can say is THANK YOU to everyone who has contributed to the comments.  I've learned more in this week then I expected to learn in the entire year.

The commenters have taken over my blog and I couldn't happier!

Let's keep it going.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Genesis 24-25 Out with the Old...

Genesis 24

Abraham gives up the ghost, but not before knocking out a few more kids with a new wife.

Isaac takes a wife.

Two nations in one womb.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Genesis 21-23

Genesis 21

Sarah gets her way in the first part of chapter 21.  I believe this is a fairly rare occurrence in which the woman is shown (positively) in a dominate position.  Of course, it's because God wanted it that way.

Abraham takes Isaac for walk.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Genesis 14-18

Genesis 14

War is Hell for Sodom and Gomorrah.
Abram and Sarai's open marriage yields a son.
God decides Abram needs more letters in his name.
God's new club has a rather curious initiation requirement.
Three men head off to Sodom.  What could go wrong?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Genesis 11-13 - Babbling about Sex, Lies and... Cattle?

Genesis 11

God vs. Babel.  Once again we learn that knowledge is frowned upon.
Abram lies to Pharaoh, God punishes Pharaoh for believing it.  Abram leaves Egypt a rich man.
Abram and Lot go their separate ways and Lot wishes he had gone west instead of east.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Genesis 8-10 - A Fresh Start for Man?

Edit; Valerie had a request for links to the daily passages and Paul has a solution.  Thanks Paul, I'll try and incorporate this into the blog.
You can change between bible versions on the left side to compare text.

Genesis 8 

The Noah/Flood story has always had me scratching my head.  Why would an omnipotent god, who was frustrated by the acts of man destroy ALL life?  Why would he do it in such a prolonged, messy manner?  Couldn't he just snap his fingers and eliminate mankind?

And what's up with Noah being found drunk and naked in his tent?  Is this short and vague bit of story a biblical justification for slavery?

Upcoming reading:
Monday - Genesis 11-13
Tuesday - Genesis 14-18
Wednesday - Genesis 19-20
Thursday - Genesis 21-23
Friday - Genesis 24-25

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Genesis 4-7 Adam and Eve Start a Family

After screwing up a good thing in Eden, Adam and Eve start the human race.  But it doesn't start off that well.
This also marks the start of the Bible's favorite past time, LONG list of names and ages.

I'm really excited about all the conversation going on here but, I love to get some input from Christians and others of faith.  If you know anyone that may be interested, please send them here.

Todays question is: Do these near endless lists of names give any credibility to the Bible as an historical document (not necessarily the word of god but as a census of sorts)?
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