Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Deuteronomy 7-9 Mo' Frontin' Than a East Coast Rappa

Deuteronomy 7-9

Deuteronomy 7-9 Skeptics Annotated Bible

We see that God is still homicidally insecure at 7:4
For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.

God brags thru most of chapter 7, talking smack about how powerful he is and how he'll destroy anyone who gets in his way.

At 9:5 we see that God hasn't forgotten the whiny, cowardly Israelites from Mount Sinai.
Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

I agree with God on one point.  He's basically saying that he's doing this for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and not for the current Israelites.  The people of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers certainly haven't earned their good fortune with the way they've followed the LORD's commands.  I hope they appreciate this!
Then again, I'd hesitate to follow a god that feds me only manna and then kills my family for complaining.

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  1. I'm trying to read Deuteronomy as if it was the first book. In a way, it is, because it originally opened the Deuteronomical Histories (BHitt gave an excellent summary in the ch. 4-6 thread.)

    The text extensively references JE stories from Exodus and Numbers. The author knew the JE document very well and expected his readers to. Like P, it spins the familiar stories to serve its POV. (P resorted to rewriting the stories; D just recaps.)

    Why isn't Genesis referenced? Besides a few name-drops, the focus is entirely on the exodus story. Why?

    The deuteronomist's telling of the Ten Commandments is basically how we now visualize the event. It compresses the jumbled narratives in Exodus to a digestible story.

    Both P and D have very strong objectives, but they have really nothing to do with each other. 9:20 is D's only mention of Aaron. P was obsessed with the dude.

  2. In the final verse of today's reading, Moses reminds Yahweh "Yet they are thy people and thine inheritance."

    Why is Israel referred to as Yahweh's inheritance? From whom did he inherit them? Tradition has Yahweh inheriting them from his father, El, chief god of the Canaanite pantheon. We'll see this mentioned in Deuteronomy 32:

    32:8 When the Most High [El Sheddai - common epithet for El] divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.
    32:9 For the LORD's [YHWH's] portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.

    Modern monotheists like to ignore it, but Yahweh was one god among many in the pantheon of the region. He had a father (El), siblings (including Baal) and possibly a wife (Asherah).

  3. @BHitt
    What tradition are you referring to where God has a father?

    Concerning Deut. 32:8 and the use of Most High here is what the Reformation Study Bible has to say (note from Gen. 14:18): Hebrew El Elyon. El, the supreme god in the Canaanite pantheon at the time of Abraham, has similar titles (e.g., El Olam, "Everlasting God"). The patriarchs used these titles for the LORD, the true God, Creator of heaven and earth. Abraham interpreted Melchizedek's praise in this way, repeating the same titles but adding the covenantal divine name LORD (Yahweh) in v. 22. Though a Canaanite, Melchizedek had come to know the true God--a pagan priest could not meaningfully have blessed Abraham, nor would Abraham, who was consecrating the land to the LORD have given a "tithe" to the priest of the depraved Canaanite god El.

  4. Is it wrong for God to brag? I mean...if anyone should brag it's him right? He's really the only one who has the right too. Just wanting to hear some people's thoughts on this.

  5. @Matt33

    "Is it wrong for God to brag?"

    I don't think it's necessarily wrong. It does seem to point to him appearing "homicidally insecure" as Bruce put it. Not sure why a supposedly omnipotent deity would even feel the need to brag. What's he so insecure about?

  6. To whom would God be bragging?
    It does not make sense to brag to your creations--that is just empty boasting. And about what is he bragging: "Hey, look at me! I created fragile mortals, everyone of whom is a sinner"
    Of course, we haven't heard of any other God doing better, but i bet our god gets a lot of ribbing when he visits the End of the Universe Bar and Grill.

  7. I think God has every right to brag. He created the universe. But, as Barbara points out, he really did mess up on that Humans project.

    Incidentally, I heard that God kept Moses around as long as he did be cause he made a great jynnan tonnix*

    *Read the Hitchhikers Trilogy for context.

  8. I'm reading a children's version of the NIV Bible that I got as a gift when I was 8, and the little commentaries by the editor are really interesting. Today the annotator added a little blurb about why God wanted the Israelites to kill all the Canaanites. It turns out that that Canaanites were bad because they practiced child sacrifice, so their punishment for the Israelites was to kill their children for them (and the adults too). I really think that anyone who can reconcile stuff like this deserves an Olympic gold medal in mental gymnastics. Maybe young kids wouldn't be able to see they irony of such a position, but I think most kids are smarter than that.

  9. I agree that if you're quite confident that you created everything including every other being, you have every right to brag, but really, what's the point? Oddly enough, I ran into him at the End of the Universe Bar and Grill but his entourage said he was spending a year dead for tax purposes. (I guess it's Hitchhiker's night)

    @Brian: The family relations of the deities is from Canaanite mythology, not any existing religious tradition. Deuteronomy 32 is consistent with what is discerned from Canaanite inscriptions (inheritance typically going from father to son). Your study Bible is right, the Hebrew epithet translated in KJV as Most High is actually El Elyon.

    Indeed, the patriarchs used names for the god they worshiped that are consistent with El, which may be why the E and P accounts of the revelation to Moses of the name YHWH in Exodus repeat over and over that he is the same god worshiped by the patriarchs, they just didn't know him by the name YHWH. Again, this must have been a burning question for the intended audience (Is the god of Moses the same as the god of the patriarchs?). In Deut. 32 the El Elyon referred to is definitely separate from Yahweh since he is giving something to Yahweh as inheritance.

  10. While googling "YHWH and his wife Asherah" I found this intriguing inscription, but it will take some digging to sort out some good information.


    http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php?topic=16759.87 (scroll down)

  11. That thread at Why Won't God Heal Amputees actually has a fantastic little essay on the subject. Definitely worth a read.

    Perusing its bibliography has led me to buy (CURSE YOU, Amazon 1-Click) the ebook of "Did God Have a Wife?" Which is pretty great so far.

  12. @Bruce,
    "he really did mess up on that Humans project."

    In what part of the Human project did God mess up?

  13. @Edward,
    Haven't you been reading along with us? ;-)
    God's humans are physically, mentally and morally screwed up right out of the box.
    I would have picked the giant octopus as my chosen people.

  14. @Bruce,

    Maybe you have some special tool to show you latest posts. I missed your reply. However i will post this here maybe it will come up again in the future.

    "God's humans are physically, mentally and morally screwed up right out of the box."

    Yes God's humans are in that condition now because of sin. They were designed to love and learn. With the capacity for logic and morality. Adam knew what he was doing was wrong and he did it in rebellion. And that is when logic and morality began their corruption.

    Animals are one thing. They have done the same thing for 100's of years, man is the only one that has advanced. Sometimes for great good, however many times for terrible evil. And man is the one God came to save. To show man what unconditional love is and how much He does love us. However man still wants to rebel.