Do as I… What Was I Talking About Again? Part 6

As we walk towards the finale of the epic tale of Exodus, Moses is dragging gigantic slabs of rock down a mountain, the tablets having been inscribed by the Finger of God Himself with every rule He could think of.

Meanwhile, at base camp:

“Hey Aaron, we were all just wondering,” a nervous looking Israelite was fidgeting as he spoke. “Moses has been gone for like… Weeks. Do you suppose he just made all of that God stuff up? And I mean… Like… Now, I am just spitballing here… We need to have gods. We can’t live without them. Now, since he made that God up, we don’t want to believe in Him any more. What say you make up a god for us?”

Aaron looked thoughtful. “You know what? You’re right, he probably made it all up and isn’t coming back. Gather up all that gold we stole from the Egyptians, let’s melt it down and make us a god.”

Aaron collected all of the gold and jewelery from the Israelites and melted it into a cast he apparently had handy of a calf. From it he made a golden calf.

“There you go, Israelites! Against all evidence, and ignoring the fact that I obviously just made this calf in front of you a few minutes ago, this is the god that rescued us from Egypt!” Aaron flung his arms wide in a gesture indicating the glory of the golden calf.  (Seriously, Exodus 32:1-4)

“And since this is our new god, let’s offer it some burnt sacrifices! Since we aren’t following Moses’ stupid God that he totally made up any more, these bulls aren’t doing anything useful anyway!” So they made an altar in front of the calf and sacrificed some stuff to it, because why not?

Then, for the first time in 40 days, the omniscient God looked down the mountain that Moses was slowly descending. “Oh what the hell! You’ve been up here for what? A few weeks? They said they’d worship me forever out of fear! How could they turn so quickly? I am going to smite them so hard”

Moses let the gigantic slabs fall to the ground, and spun on God. “Oh no you don’t. No. You don’t get to ruin my life, then mess with my family and me for over forty years then just smite them. You put so much effort into saving them, why would you waste that? And you promised Abraham that his descendants would number as the stars, and what would everyone say if God just went around breaking promises?”

“Uuuuuugggghhhhhhhhhh. Fine. But you just wait until I tell you the new rules. Those slabs you are carrying down the mountain? Those will practically be invisible beside the paper it will take to write out my new rules.” God crossed His arms in a huff and wandered off to smite something that Moses wouldn’t complain about. He mumbled as He turned “Stupid people don’t realize the amount of awesome they are constantly rejecting.”

Moses turned around and dragged the slabs to near the bottom of the Mountain when he saw that everyone was celebrating in front of a golden calf, just like God had said. Realizing that the Israelites were completely undermining all of his effort, he got so angry that he threw the tablets down the mountain, shattering them that God Himself had written. “Oh, oh, oh hohoho. You know what? I am going to smite some of these idiots myself. I am tired of this crap!”

Moses ran the rest of the way down the mountain, through the people, and poured oil all over the golden calf. He then started the calf on fire, and kicked it over and it smashed (as gold is wont to do) then made the Israelites powder the statue and he shouted “You drink it! YOU DRINK YOUR SHAME! IDIOTS! And you, Aaron! What the hell, man? YOU’VE TALKED TO GOD YOURSELF! You know how He is! What did they do to you, that you actually made this god for them?!”

“Well,” Aaron was staring at his shoes and drinking his burning gold-oil water. “They asked me to make a god, so like… What was I gonna do? Say no? So I made them a god. Well, really, it made itself. You know. With magic. It’s kind of hard to explain.” (Exodus 32:22-24)

Moses was struck dumb momentarily, and Aaron thought he could actually see something break in Moses. Moses turned around and walked to the altar of the Golden Calf. He turned and looked at the people, all in rapt silence looking at him.

“Whoever believes in God, come over here.” Only one group followed him, the Levites.

“Ok, so God wanted to smite everyone, and I thought, you know… How bad could it be? But you know what? This is stupid. This is all stupid. So grab some swords, and kill all of the Israelites in the valley except the Levites. Just… Smite them. As hard as you can. Maybe seeing some wanton destruction in His name will keep God from smiting some random tribe.” The Levites grabbed swords from the armory, and like a giant living lawnmower they killed everyone, their brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers who were not of the tribe of Levi.

As this wanton destruction happened, Moses climbed back up Mount Sinai to talk to God.

“Hey Moses, saw what you did back there. I like it. I like your style. Hey, though, just for good measure I am going to strike all of the Israelites with a plague, so they remember how awesome and merciful I am. Should put the fear back into them, too. It worked so well last time!”

Moses just shrugged and said “Sounds good.”

Good looked at Moses with something that could have been concern, but probably wasn’t. “Hey buddy, you ok?”

“M’fine. Go plague some stuff. I have to go rethink my life.”

“Cool, cool. Oh, by the way, you may be my chosen people, or whatever, but I’m done helping you directly. Seriously, I have almost killed all of you so many times, I’ve just decided to be hands off going forward. You guys don’t deserve to be in my awesome presence anyway.” And for the first time in forty years, Moses felt a sliver of hope that he may yet know something like happiness in his life.

“Oh, but before I go, we have to remake those slabs you broke. I mean, I could put them back together… But I’d prefer if you came back up Mount Sinai. Don’t worry, I’ll still do the writing, but you have to make the slabs. Bring them up the mountain with you tomorrow! That’ll cheer you up!”

Moses had regrets about ever having been optimistic, but the next day chiseled out some slabs of stone and dragged them up the mountain.

When Moses got to the top, God was waiting. “Heeey buddy! Have I mentioned how awesome and merciful and compassionate and slow to anger I am lately? Because I am all of those things. But if you break even one of my rules, I swear upon my own name, I will send you to hell, and your kids to hell, and their kids to hell, and their kids’ kids to hell. COMPASSION! Am I doing this right?” (Seriously. Exodus 34:6. In fact, I think I made it make God sound even more merciful than the Bible version does.)

“Anyway, as part of how merciful and compassionate I am, I feel like now is the time to remind you to go to the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, and kill them. Kill them so dead. Like… Turbo dead. Is that a thing? Turbo death? I feel like I should make that a thing. Man, I’m awesome. Turbo-death. So awesome. Hey, I just remembered. When was the last time you had a seven day long party in my name? You should do that. Do that each time you annihilate an entire people in my name. Just so I know you know how awesome I am. AND NO YEAST (Yup, came up again, Exodus 34:25). I hate yeast. It is so… So not awesome. Also, don’t know if I mentioned this recently, but make sure not to cook a young goat in its mother’s milk. That’s important. (Exodus 34:26)

“Anyway, stone slabs are ready. Get dragging. Also, I turned you into a nightlight; isn’t that hilarious? You should probably wear a veil for the rest of your life, or people will make fun of you for glowing. (Exodus 34:33) Have fun, you rascals!”

Moses dragged the slabs down the mountain, and showed them to the Israelites. He also made sure that the Israelites built the box God wanted, and set up a tent with the patterns exactly how God wanted them, because even though God is slow to anger, Moses knew that God would smite them all if the patterns weren’t exactly right. After all of the work was right, Moses made sure to inspect every inch of every piece of the box and of the tent and of the furniture in the tent, before even telling God that it was done. And when he was done inspecting, he inspected again, because he was not going to bargain for the lives of 2 million people again, especially when they didn’t deserve it, and when he himself had ordered thousands of them smited.

For the rest of eternity, the Israelites were blessed with the opportunity to carry a box weighing thousands of pounds with them wherever they went.

The End

What a nice story, am I right?!

Do as I… What Was I Talking About Again? Part 5

When we last left Moses, he was writing down strange and onerous rules pertaining to justice, mercy, and the moral way of living (as punishment for backtalk to God). I won’t list all of the rules in this summary (you can find them in my previous blog posting, The Laws of Morality), but suffice it to say, God was probably just messing with Moses just to see what happens. After Moses had delivered the laws to the Israelites, they said they would happily follow them to avoid pissing God off because they saw what he did to Egypt and they are not as stupid as Pharaoh.

God was just giddy to see the look of fear and terror in His beloved playthings… I mean people. He came down onto Mount Sinai again, and called out to Moses, “Hey buddy, come back up here. Bring Aaron with you, I like him, and bring like… Seventy elders or whatever. I want witnesses. But only Moses comes close, the rest get to watch from a distance.”

“Are you asking me to pick out 70 elders to come up the mountain but still not come close to them just so you can watch 70 elders climb a mountain?” Moses asked sardonically.

“… No. Shut up. Bring the elders. Oh, but before you come up, I need you to be cleansed. So here’s how you are going to cleanse yourselves; you are going to sacrifice twelve bulls, one for each of the tribes with you, and collect all their blood, then take half of it and pour it on yourselves. Then you’ll be clean! Then you can come up the mountain.”

Moses heaved a heavy breath and went to gather twelve bulls, built twelve altars, and made sure he had twelve very large bowls to collect all the blood. He then engaged in the slaughter according to what God had said, because at this point this was probably one of the least frustrating things God had asked them to do, aside from the fact that there was a lot of meat there, and they weren’t allowed to eat it.

Then Moses, Aaron, and the seventy elders climbed Mount Sinai and saw God sitting at the top. Moses was frankly surprised they the elders weren’t killed by God for some reason (no, seriously, Exodus 24:11). Once they got to the top, God told Moses to come up further, away from the elders, and He’d write the Laws of the Covenant on stone tablets for Moses to take down to the Israelites.

When Moses arrived at the foot of the throne of God, he really wasn’t sure what he was expecting. Maybe that he’d get stone tablets quickly? But he wasn’t so lucky.

“Heeey Moses! How’s things with you? Having fun being the caretaker? Hey, I’m gonna spend some time writing these tablets, why don’t you make yourself comfortable?” God cheerfully began carving stones at about the same speed Moses could have.

“I’m… Well,” Moses replied unsurely. “How long are we talking here? How long will I be sitting alone with you?”

“Oh,” God said, then looked at the stones around him thoughtfully. “I should be done in about forty days. But hey, we get to hang out for forty days! I arranged it like this, because I am awesome, and I knew you’d want to hang out with me after being stuck with all those other boring people for so long!”

“I can’t even describe how I feel right now, God. You have no idea.” And so began forty days and forty nights of Moses hanging out with God.

After the forty days, before God sent Moses down Mount Sinai, He decided to drop the bombshell. “Hey buddy, these forty days have been awesome! Thanks for hanging out. But hey, I feel like the Israelites haven’t been sacrificing to me all that much since you came up here, so here’s what you’ll tell them to sacrifice to me when you get down there: I like gold, silver, and bronze, so those are good. Ummmm… Blue, purple, and scarlet string.”

“What?”

“I like those colors. So yeah. Blue, purple, and scarlet. That’s important. Some goat hair would be nice. Make sure you burn it, though.”

“But that will smell awful!”

“Hahahaha! It sure will! Where was I? Goat hair. Right. Ram leather, but only the stuff that has been dyed red. I’d like some acacia wood, too. That stuff is great for medicine.”

“But if you burn it, you lose all of the medicinal parts…”

“I KNOW! It’ll be hilarious. Stop interrupting. Spice-scented olive oil, and any gems you have. Then you’re gonna build an insulated box for me to stay in so I can ride along with you guys.”

“An insulated box? Insulated against what?”

“I have this bad habit of accidentally killing people whenever my mind wanders. If you build the box according to these plans, there is only a minimal chance you’ll all be killed for being too close to me! Aren’t I awesome?!

“Uhhh… Why does the box have to be made almost entirely out of gold?”

“It will be SUPER SHINY! It’ll blind anyone who looks at it! Won’t that be hilarious? And gold is like super heavy. I wanna watch you guys carry it around, everywhere, for the rest of forever. I mean, you guys would never lose something as important as this, right?”

Moses decided to keep all of the future questions to himself.

God looked thoughtful for a second. “Here, have some more plans. One for a bitchin’ tent that you are to put the box in. I don’t want a standard tent, and remember how I mentioned blue, purple, and scarlet? The tent had better be those colors! And I’ll need priests! Can’t have a solid worshiping without priests, right? But how will they know that these priests serve the most bitchin’ God of all time? Hmmm…” There was a brief pause before God continued. “Make the robes out of blue, purple, and scarlet, of course. But the best priest will need a bejeweled breastplate. We don’t want people thinking I am worshiped by peasants, right? How will they know how awesome I am if my priests are boring assholes?

“I think that about covers how they look. But how will I know they are serious about the position? Well, how about this. Have them sacrifice a bull to me, but remove its internal organs and burn those as sacrifice to me, and haul the rest of the body out and burn it in the wilderness. Eheheheh, that corpse is gonna be so hard to carry.

“Also, we’re just warming up. Take two rams and sacrifice them to me. Cut up the first one and cook it, but you can’t eat it. It is mine. The second one, take its blood and mix it with oil, then smear it on Aaron. Actually, you know what? Cover Aaron’s sons with it, too. Yeah, gotta know Aaron is serious about being a priest.”

Moses looked up at God for a moment, setting down the plans for the box. “You haven’t asked him to be a priest yet. How do you know he will even be sort of serious about it?”

God looked at Moses quizzically, “Wouldn’t anyone want to be a priest for such a bitchin’ religion? Wait, I get it! You’re jealous! You wanna be my High Priest. But you don’t have to be, you’re my boi! That’s like… Way better! The High Priest will barely ever get to talk to me! Haven’t we had such awesome conversations?! That’s what I thought.”

Moses again sighed heavily and looked back at the plans for the box.

“Also, bread. Lots of bread. But NO YEAST. You’ll make two different kinds of bread for this. One of the breads will be baked with olive oil mixed in. BUT NO YEAST. The other one will just be brushed with olive oil. ALSO NO YEAST! Did I mention I don’t like yeast? Because yeast is awful. Hell, I’d go as far as to say yeast is me-damned. Me-damned yeast. Hate that stuff.

“Anyway, once you have the bread, give it to Aaron and his sons, and have them wave the bread at me. (Author’s note: What? Seriously, what? Exodus 29:24-26) Then, burn it. Burn all that bread. I want to taste it in the air.

“Now, this is just on day one. For the next six days, sacrifice a bull each day.”

Moses didn’t even look up this time. “How many bulls do you think we have?”

“Psh, you think I care? I like burned bull, and that’s what you are going to keep burning. It’ll be awesome. Also, you think you are going to run out of bulls? Wait for this next one!

Every day for the rest of eternity I want you to sacrifice two lambs. They have to be exactly one year old, so you’d better be calving those sheep every day. Also, wine. Lambs love wine. Sacrifice the lamb with wine.

“Anyway, I think that about covers it. As long as you do this stuff, I will be your God. But if you ever stop these sacrifices, you bitches are on your own. (Exodus 29:45-46)

“Now, this next part is important. I don’t know how many of you there are, so take a census. Also, for every person, take a ransom to ensure their good health (seriously, God blackmails them with plague threats in Exodus 30:12, and asks for protection money). The ransom price is one half a shekel. Also, I want to know how much the people like me, so no one is allowed to pay for anyone else. The poor have to provide their own ransom money! (Exodus 30:15) Use this money for the upkeep of my bitchin’ box. See? I’ve thought of everything. Aren’t I awesome?!

“Now, you guys smell a little funny, so I need you to make a huuuuuuuuuge basin of perfume. Literally enough to last for the rest of eternity, because anyone who makes any more of the perfume as per the recipe I am giving you will be SMOTE. Seriously, dead and sent to hell. This perfume is serious business. Also, only use it on the priests, because they are the only ones who can come even close to me. The rest of the smelly peasants just aren’t allowed nearby.

“And now the most important commandment I will ever give you. No work allowed on Saturday. If you, or anyone, or any of their animals, work on Saturday, even to lift a finger, wash, or whatever, kill them, and I’ll make sure their stay in hell is eternal and horrible.

God then handed Moses the stone tablets that contained not just the ten commandments, but all of the Jewish rules, because it would be hilarious to watch a 90 year old man drag around gigantic slabs of rock.

—-

I think Part 6 will be the last part of Exodus, then I can return to my regularly scheduled updates.

But seriously, this section was ten straight chapters of God making rules. I tried to capture the highlights, but seriously. The specificity is amazing in there for just the smallest things. There’s bread recipes, and rules for the patterns in the tent where they are supposed to store the ark, and rules for the smallest details in the lid of the ark. I am sorry, I really didn’t know how to capture any of this section but also make it funny. There’s just nothing interesting there, for ten straight chapters, except for the fact that the reason that God hasn’t talked to anyone since Jesus was around is because we stopped sacrificing the lambs (probably). So I guess that makes sense.

The Laws of Morality

So you may recall, if you are a regular reader, that I am writing a sort of “The Bible Abridged” kind of thing (I plan to vastly expand this project, as I’ve mentioned) and that means I am rereading the Bible so I can do it right. Well, I just came upon the Ten Commandments section, which contains far more than just the Ten Commandments; it contains the rules for all people in being just and moral. What does it take to be just and moral in the eyes of God? Let’s start in Exodus 21.

First, male slaves (if they are Hebrew, of course) are to be set free after 6 years of slavery. If you give him a wife from among your slaves, though, the wife is yours forever to do with as you please, and the only way he get to stay with his wife (and any children he had, which are also the lifelong property of you, his owner) is for the slave to dedicate himself as a slave for life, serving one master until he dies (or you force him to leave, and keep his wife and kids, which you can totally do).

Alright, dickish and kind of sexist, but as far as rules for slaves, it could get worse. Right? Well, hold on to your belt, suspenders, or waist band, friends. It does.

Let’s go over the good news, first, though. If you kill someone on purpose? Death penalty. If you kill one of your slaves by accident (and we are talking beating them to death here), you are exiled but are to face no other punishment.

Now, here’s the fun part; if you beat your slave with a rod but the slave recovers from their injuries, there will be no punishment. It goes on more explicitly to say “Because they are your property.” (Exodus 21:20-21)

It is also in Exodus 21 that we find the extended version of “An Eye for an Eye,” which reads, in full: “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” (Exodus 21:24-25) But don’t worry, this doesn’t apply in full for slaves; the above caveat (if they recover) still applies. Go nuts! But things like knocking out their tooth, or blinding them? Well, you don’t get punished, but you have to let the slave go free. JUSTICE! Thank God for such merciful justice and strong moral leadership, right?

Also, if your slave is killed not by you, but by say… Your livestock? You have to pay the owner of the bull (you) 30 pieces of silver. LOOPHOLES ARE THE BEST HOLES, AM I RIGHT?! Now, if your bull gores another owner’s property (slave), you have to pay that person 30 pieces of silver, and your bull is put to death, and that is way less fun that putting disobedient slaves in a bull pen for sport, right?

For some reason, though, Exodus 21 focuses as much on cattle (Bulls and Oxen, mostly) as on slaves (logic: they are both livestock). Now, I am not sure how often this kind of thing happens, but apparently bulls killed so many people that verses 28-36 (more than one fifth of the chapter) are completely dedicated to how one handles bull-related violence. Huh. Weird.

Exodus chapter 22 has some weird rules, too. If someone breaks into your house at night, you can kill them, no questions asked. If he breaks in during the day and you kill him, you are to be put to death. One would imagine that hiding bodies would make good sport back in the day. Then, when night rolls round, you throw them in the kitchen and cry bloody murder and call the watch! For this body, stiff with rigor mortis, clearly JUST BROKE IN! MORALITY!

The legendary point of contention, if a man sleeps with a virgin who is not married, he must pay the father restitution and marry the woman. What say does the woman have in all of this? SHUT UP AND DON’T ASK QUESTIONS! You’re married now. Go make some babies and a sandwich! (At least, one presumes that was the thought process that went into Exodus 22:16-17)

We go through a few of the more mundane rules; kill witches, kill people who have sex with animals, kill anyone who offers any sacrifice to any gods but God) but then we get to what I am going to call the “Insurance Salesman Clause”. It reads, as per Exodus 22:22-24, “Do not take advantage of a widow or the elderly. If you do, and they tell me you took advantage of them, I will kill you myself!”

There are some basic rules about banking (you are to charge no interest on money you have lent, but you are allowed to take collateral, except their coat. You can have anything except their coat. It expands this thought: If you take their coat, what will they sleep in? So leave them your coat, for I am a God of compassion. Wat. (Exodus 22:25-27)), then the basic rules of religion (kill blasphemers instantly), etc, etc.

Another slightly weird rule is that you are never to eat meat if the animal was killed by any wild animal, no matter how fresh it was (there are, listed I believe in Leviticus, extensive rules for kosher slaughter, but I can’t recall the exact chapter because I try to avoid reading Leviticus as the rules in it are so… Ugh… Well, I am working on a project that involves rereading the whole Bible, so I’m sure I will talk about the weird rules there eventually on this blog). Why does slaughter have to be done in a very specific (and, frankly, no more humane than many other methods of slaughter) way? BECAUSE SHUT UP, GOD SAID SO.

I like the opening parts of Exodus 23, this one is the lawyer cause. You shall never help a guilty person by lying on their behalf. Welp, there goes the entire idea of law as we understand it today (take that, lawyers). Also, if you are the prosecutor and you get a false conviction, and the person is put to death as a result of your prosecution, even if no one knows, and you didn’t know he was innocent, God does. And better know he will judge the everliving shit out of you. Again, take that, lawyers (in Texas)!

Now, these are quick mentions, but again go to how odd the rules in the Bible are… Exoodus 23:18-19. If you are making a sacrifice to me, it must not be made with, in, around, containing, or generally mentioned in the same sentence as, yeast. NO YEAST. This is said at least 15 times in Exodus, NO YEAST. God hates, hates, hates, hates, hates, hates anything to do with yeast, or yeast byproducts. When it rained bread from heaven (manna), it was flat bread, because even God can’t leaven bread without yeast, and NO YEAST! Mentioned in the same breath as that yeasty tirade (hehehe. That sounds gross) is “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.” One presumes other milk is ok, but how common was it to cook it in its mother’s milk that God put a rule in there, the penalty for breaking being… Well, that isn’t spelled out, but generally smiting is the go-to punishment.

Now, things start to get a little darker. Go to the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites, and kill them. This commandment is not optional. And as long as I am happy enough with how dead they are, I will make sure no one among you gets sick, hungry, thirsty, or even has a miscarriage, because I want to see those people dead SO BAD. (Exodus 23:20-30) In fact, there are three he wants dead worse than others; I will send swarms of hornets ahead of the Jews (who, you must remember, are marching to kill these nations anyway) to just… Ruin their day. Before they die. Seriously! “OH GOD! PLAGUE OF HORNETS! THERE IS NO GOD!” Then you get stabbed in the face by someone on the orders of the same God who just plagued you with hornets? Shiiiiiiiiiiiit, that’s not right, bro…

And the common rebuttal of the harsh laws of the Bible (mostly contained in Deuteronomy and Leviticus) is that “Well, those laws were for the priests.” But this is Exodus. You can’t have “The Ten Commandments”, because God never said “Here are ten specific things.” The Ten Commandments are lumped in with all of these others rules, the rules about beating the everliving hell out of your slaves, but only bad enough that they can still walk.(The actual provision is that they have to be able to walk with the aid of a walking stick within two days of the beating, WHICH ACTUALLY MAKES IT WORSE TO ME!) Also, the killing thing being not optional? Yeah, that gets reiterated over and over in Exodus 23, just make sure NONE OF THEM ARE LEFT ALIVE, NOT EVEN ONCE.

Well there you go, friends. There are your rules for morality, and these are mentioned in chapters shared by the so called ten commandments. (And, it should be said, there are numerous caveats to the commandments, like “You can kill at night, if the person was breaking into your house. But not at day.”)

Boy, I sure am glad the rules for being a good person are so clear in the Bible, and it’s no wonder Southern Christians think people without belief in God are the worst people (even worse than rapists according to Pew and Gallup)! Why, all of us who have alternate laws for morality? We might want to have mercy on those around us, but it’s a good thing God was there in Exodus to tell us that MERCY IS FOR SUCKERS. In fact, the Stand Your Ground law that was at the very forefront of public discourse in the Trayvon Martin case? Justified by God Almighty, and reiterated by Jesus, for as is stated in Matthew chapter 5: “17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.””

Time to go buy some slaves and make them marry each other. For science.

Do as I… What Was I Talking About Again? Part 4

As we enter into the final chapters in the saga of the Ten Commandments, the Israelites have left the desert they were wandering around in for forty years. God is juuuust about ready to give them the land He promised them, but He needs to play one last joke.

The caravan of Israelites was attacked by the nation of Amalek (God didn’t let the Israelites take the shortcut because they might get into a fight with the Philistines, but after they’d been wandering for forty years and a few months, what were they gonna do? Go back to Egypt? Psh, no one would even have been alive there at this point except whatever it is that has a very strict diet of frog corpses.). Moses, caretaker of the Israelites, told Joshua to grab all the men in fighting shape he could find and take them to face the enemy army. God… God will help us defeat the Amalekites!

So Moses carried the staff that had worked the miracles of God to the top of a hill, and looked over the battle, and God said “Hey, Moses. I’ll help Joshua win the fight, but you gotta do something for me.”

“Ok,” Moses replied with a heavy tone of trepidation. “What can I do to earn your help?”

Moses thought he heard a chuckle. “You gotta… Here’s what you gotta do. You gotta hold that staff over your head! See? Not so bad!”

So Moses raised the Staff of God over his head, and the tides of the battle began to turn in the favor of the Israelites, but the battle was long and hard fought.

“Hey Moses… You’ve got to be… What? Almost 90 now? You gettin’ tired? Maybe you should ask for help holding that staff up! Better not let it drop! You’ll lose the fight if you drop your staff!” (Seriously. Exodus 17:11. I wanted to write God as a character who was a teenager, but I feel like the original author of the Bible wrote him as a child far better than I could. Again, what do I learn from this? That they win the fight as long as Moses holds the staff up? WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING? Why did anyone even want that in the Bible?)

Moses, elderly and worn down by the harsh years in the desert living only on rain-bread, felt his arms tire and the staff slipped below the crown of his head, and instantly the battle surged in favor of the Amalekites. Moses called for the help of Aaron and Hur, who held his arms up, knowing that if he dropped his arms too far they would all surely perish.

“Psh. That’s no fun. Since you are asking for help, I’ll make sure this battle lasts all the way until night. You’ll be stuck that way for hours.”  And so it was that the battle ran until sunset, Aaron and Hur holding the Staff of God, in Moses’ hands, over the head of Moses. When they had won, God said “Man, aren’t I awesome? I am so awesome, you have to write down how you won that fight, and make sure it is mostly just about how awesome I am. In fact, as soon as you write it down, go show it to Joshua, makes sure he knows he only won the fight because I helped.”

Before he even voiced the question, he began to regret it. “But God,” Moses intoned, “Joshua was out there fighting for at least 36 hours (Exodus 17:9, 12), thousands of our men are dead. Don’t you think they could have some credit?”

“Again with the whining! You know what? Fine. Mention his name. He can have some glory, but make sure everyone knows he only won because I was helping. MAKE SURE THEY KNOW THAT!” (Exodus 17:14. I don’t… I don’t even know where to begin with this one. I think it stands on its own. Hell, go read Exodus 17, SUPER short chapter, and tell me if I have in any way mistaken God’s personality in this summary.)

After the battle, Moses got to see his family. Jethro, his father in law, ran up to him, “Hey man! I heard about everything God did, with the plagues on Egypt, and rescuing you, and feeding you, and giving you water! Those are some amazing miracles, man! And then I heard you were going to get wiped out by the Amelekites, and God totally won that battle for you! Man, God is so amazing, hey! I’ve got a bunch of really young, unblemished lambs. Let’s go sacrifice some lambs and have a party in God’s honor, eh? Man, our God is an awesome God, isn’t He?!”

Moses stood staring, dumbstruck. “You know what? Sure. Sure, God is awesome. If you’ll excuse me, I have to go sit and judge some Israelites for being dicks. You go sacrifice some lambs. He’ll like that.” Moses turned and walked away, and returned to his duties of being caretaker for the Israelites. From dawn until dusk, people brought cases in front of him, and he sat in judgment, making sure to fill the role of caretaker so that God was happy.

After Jethro was done throwing a bitchin’ party for God, he came back to Moses. “Hey man, why are you sitting here alone, doing like ten people’s worth of work?”

Moses mumbled “S’long as I’m talking to people, God leaves me alone.”

“Hm? Sorry Moses, didn’t catch that…”

“Oh, sorry. God has appointed me as the agent of His will. All these people come to me asking what God wants. For some reason, God will talk to me whenever (and as soon as) I am alone, but He won’t share a single word with any of the rest of the Israelites.”

“Ah,” Jethro replied. “Look, I get that God has made you very important, but what about this. What say you teach the people what God wants, then appoint others to judge the simple cases?”

Then that happened, because it seemed like a smart thing to do.

Then God said to Moses, “Hey Moses. I know you’re having a tough time, and the people don’t like you, so here’s what I’mma do for you. I am going to come down to Earth and talk to you in front of everyone, then they’ll know that you’re my boi! So before they see me, here’s what you gotta tell them. First, tell them they are my chosen people, and because they are chosen I am going to put just a ridiculous amount of incredibly cumbersome rules on them that I don’t put on anyone else. I wanna see their face when you tell them that! Then, tell them they aren’t allowed to have sex or masturbate for three whole days before they see me talking to you. That part is important. Then bring them to Mount Sinai, but they aren’t allowed to come up the mountain. If they try to come up the mountain, kill them. Kill them so hard.”

Moses said nothing, but turned and gathered the people and delivered the message. When three days had passed, God came down in a cloud on the top of Mount Sinai, and called Moses to him.

“Heeeey buddy. Go back down and tell the people that they aren’t allowed to come up the mountain.”

“But I’ve already told them that.”

“What, you think I care? You’re 90, I’m like infinity years old. Get down that mountain and tell them they aren’t allowed on the mountain. Then come back up here. Oh, and bring Aaron. I wanna talk to him, too. But anyone else who comes up? I will smite them so hard.

(Now, I would like to think the above conversation was my idea, but it comes directly from Exodus 19 16-25. God tells Moses to come up, then go back down to deliver the same message, God tells Moses to do it anyway. In verse 25, you can almost hear the … Disappointment? Exasperation?… of the original writer. Verse 25, in its entirety, reads “So Moses went down and told them.”

I CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP!)

And so God came down on the mountain to give Moses the Ten Commandments, with the people of Israel watching, and God looked like a giant storm. Everyone was like “Oh man, no wonder Moses is the only one who talks to God directly. Man, God is scary. Hey, Moses! We don’t want to talk to God directly any more. You can be the caretaker, you’ve got our vote now!”

So Moses walked up to God, and God said “Hah! I gave them a good show, didn’t I? I figure if they fear me, instead of love or respect me, that will definitely make them loyal. That’s how that works, right?! Anyway, now that they are good and afraid of me, make sure they never, ever stray from worshiping me or I’ll…”

“Smite the hell out of them,” Moses interrupted. “Yeah, got it.”

“Hey, no. No finishing my sentences for me!”

“Oh, so you weren’t going to say ‘smite the hell out of them’?”

“Well… I was… But just for that, I am going to increase the amount of sacrificing you have to do to me. So that I know you know how awesome I am. And when you build sacrificial altars, don’t use good supplies. If you use any materials that have been tooled, I’ll make sure you get… Tooled… I don’t really know where I was going with that, but just make sure you only use crappy, round rocks when building an altar. That is important to me for some reason. I don’t have to explain myself to you!” (Exodus 20:24-25)

“Also, make sure the altar is on a hill, but that there are no steps leading up to it. When you are walking up the steps, people could see up your robes, and nobody wants to see 90 year old junk.”

“Won’t they be able to see up my robe if I am walking up a hill anyway?”

“Shut up! No steps! Now get ready to write, I’ve got some of those onerous rules that I was talking about earlier all ready to go. And no complaining.”

Some parts of the Bible just stand on their own as … Weird? Without my even having to inject my own characterizations into it. I still have no idea what to make of Moses holding his hands over his head for the duration of a 36 hour battle. Seriously.

Commentary on my Bible Summaries

So as many of noticed, and messaged me about, the style of part 1 of my Exodus narrative and the style of part 3 are very different. I am trying different styles and different approaches, as I decided to make this a much larger project. Originally, I was just going to do Exodus, but now I plan to do the entire Bible — but the Bible is very long. So I need to try a few things, find out what people like and what they don’t, what makes them laugh and what doesn’t.

Of course, in the comments of each post, please let me know what works for you and what doesn’t. I look forward to hearing from you, and making everything more interesting going forward!

Do as I… What Was I Talking About Again? Part 3

The Israelites have been kicked out of Egypt because they have ensured Pharaoh has had a truly bad, truly awful day (largely due to his inability to play poker at even the most basic level). Now that they are free, what lies ’round the bend?

“Hey Moses. Hey. Hey. Hey Moses. Wasn’t that awesome?”

“Yes, God. That was awesome. We are free. And Egypt is in ruins, suffering, diseased, and starving. Thank you.”

“Yeah. Hey, remember. Every year, we are going to have a week long party because of how awesome I am. And you’ll tell your kids that the party is because I am so awesome. Also, this party is not optional. If you do not party, I am gonna be so pissed. And you know what? Maybe some sacrificing is in order. Yeah, for the firstborn, I am gonna need some sacrifices. For every donkey, sacrifice a lamb. If you don’t have a lamb? Break that donkey’s neck. I COMMAND IT! And when your kids are like ‘how come we sacrifice so many lambs,’ tell ’em. Tell ’em that it is because I told you so. Because I am so awesome.”

“Yes, God. We’ll… We’ll make that work. Somehow,” and Moses turned to walk towards the land of the Caananites.

“NO!” God said. “Don’t go the short way. The Phillistines are jerks. We’ll go the long way.”

Moses heaved a sigh. “Alright. We go the long way.”

“One last thing. Remember Joseph? I’m sure you heard of him. He was a cool guy; I liked him. Go get his bones.”

“What?”

“You heard me. Anyway, set up camp once you get to the Red Sea. I’m gonna have Pharaoh come to try and kill you, but wait ’till you see what I have planned. It’s gonna be awesome!”

After walking for some time, the Israelites arrived at the Red Sea, and Pharaoh came after them. When Pharaoh was close enough to be seen, the Israelites cried to Moses thus, “You led us out of slavery to die? The hell is wrong with you?”

Moses looked up at God, and said wearily “You know, God, it would be just… Just so much easier on me if you’d just tell everyone about your plans ahead of time.”

“Stop being a whiny bitch, it’s way more awesome when it’s a surprise! Anyway, tell the people, tell ’em I am gonna protect you. And make sure they are all watching.I want everyone to see this!”

Moses shook his head and shuffled over to a rock overlooking the people. Bracing his body, he threw out his arms and shouted “God is watching over us. Look, look, and watch at the might of God!”

“Hey, Moses. I just had a thought. I am gonna split the Red Sea so you can walk over it. So maybe I shouldn’t have had you set up camp. But still… Splitting the sea, right? That’s pretty awesome, isn’t it? And I am going to make sure Pharaoh follows you, then BLOOOOOSH! Gonna drop a whole sea on him. I’ll bet they’ll talk about how awesome this is for like… 3,000 years!”

“But… But you just had us set up camp. Do you know how long it is going to take us to pack all this stuff up? Do you even care?”

“Hey, stop whining. I’ll buy you time in a way that is as awesome as it is effective. Take a look at the Egyptian army! There’s a pillar of flame all up in their face! BAM! How awesome is that?! Now pack up and get moving, I don’t care how hard you work.”

Moses and the Israelites gathered their belongings, protected by a giant pillar of flame that prevented the Egyptians and Pharaoh from following, and then the Red Sea was split in two. The Israelites crossed the sea on the land, and the flaming pillar died. The Egyptians surged forward, a mighty wave of gold and bronze, down into the chasm of the Red Sea.

Moses looked over his shoulder nervously as he walked towards the far bank. “Hey, God… I don’t mean to complain some more, but the Egyptians are moving pretty fast, hey? Like… Plenty fast enough to catch us.”

“Stop whining! All you do is whine! Fine, I’ll slow them down!” God did as God does, and the ground became wet, and the chariots and horses sank into the mud, slowing their progress. “Happy?”

The Israelites climbed onto the far bank of the Red Sea, looking back as the Egyptian army struggled after them.

“Hey, Moses, make sure everyone is watching! Are they watching, Moses?”

Moses sat down, weary, and replied “Yes, God, they are all watching. It would be hard not to, when an army is still slowly advancing on us. It would still just be fantastic if you would share your plans with everyone instead of just me.”

“Shut up! Watch this!” The waters fell in on the chariots of the Pharaoh, and the army of the Pharaoh, and they all drowned in a crushing torrent, and were never seen again. Some Israelites looked back, and realized that the Egyptians crushed to death by the sea were the lucky ones, as they had found the only possible escape from the starvation, disease, stench, and rot that was now the entire nation of Egypt–but the Israelites then turned and walked, following Moses ’round the bend.

“Hey Moses. Hey, I’m going to give you Canaan, a nation flowing with Milk and Honey. It is gonna be awesome. Hey, I heard milk and honey is actually just the best laxative. It’s gonna be hilari… I mean, you will have lots to eat and won’t suffer!”

Moses just shook his head and walked on. Sometimes, it was just better to let God have his way, and he wished he’d learned that lesson ages ago.

“Hey, don’t be a pouty face. You know what cheers me up when I’m feeling down? Songs. Songs cheer me up when I am feeling down. You should sing a song to me. Make it about how awesome I am. Sing a song about how I killed Pharaoh, I never get tired of that story!”

Moses took a deep, calming breath, and sang a song about how awesome it was that his people had just spent 430 years suffering before God decided to save them from bondage, and about how God left an entire nation in terrible, disease ridden straits, and made sure to mention how awesome God was in at least every verse so that he did not get smote.

Now, the long way to Canaan happened to run through a desert, and the 2 million Israelites could not find any water. They had forgotten that God was with them, and said to Moses “Seriously, it’s like you keep taking us from the edge of death to the next edge of death. At least under Egypt, we knew we’d have food and water, but we have been nearly dead at least once per day since we left. Get us some damn water, or we are going to turn this car around and sacrifice you to God.”

Moses replied “Give me a minute to talk to God. I am sure I can get another miracle out of him.” He walked around until he could find some privacy. “Hey, God? We need water. We need water right now; some of us are going to die of thirst, soon.”

“Oh damn! I forgot! People need to drink! Why didn’t you remind me before you spent three days in a desert? Bro, you are just the worst caretaker. Here, throw this stick in that awful, smelly spring over there. It’ll turn the water clean. Make sure to tell the people I did this for you, and remind them that I am awesome.”

Moses spluttered “But… But… Aren’t you the caretaker? Why am I the caretaker? I told you I didn’t want this job in the first place!”

“What’d I say about all that whining? Now go and give the people water, then get moving. There is lots of space left between you and Canaan, and I don’t see it getting covered. Oh, also tell the people that I am going to give you some laws, and if you break them I am gonna make them just as diseased as Egypt back there. Smelly frog corpses, Moses. So. Many. Frog Corpses.”

Moses shed a single tear, turned, and made the smelly spring run clear so that the Israelites could drink. After they had drank their fill, they moved on into an even larger desert, and wandered there for two months.

“Hey, Moses,” the Israelites said. “We’re out of food, again. And it has been a long time since we had any miracles from God. At least back in Egypt, we didn’t have to worry about whether we’d get a miracle on any given day. And hey, while we’re at it, this gold and silver we stole from Egypt is really heavy, and not very edible. What’s up with that?”

“I think God just likes shiny objects, honestly. But whatever, I’ll go and see if I can get God to miracle us up some food… But I’m going to warn you, he is probably going to put some silly restriction on the miracle for some reason.” So Moses turned, again, to find some privacy to talk with God.

“We need food, to live, and some water wouldn’t hurt. You have had us wandering around in a desert for 2 months, and there isn’t even two months worth of desert here. Have you had us walking around in circles?”

“Hey, hey, hey, what did I say about the whining? And about the food, here’s what I am gonna do. I am going to make it rain bread. Show me another god who can do that, right? There isn’t one! BAM! I’m so awesome. Oh hey, one thing though.” Moses closed his eyes, bracing himself for the conditions on this miracle. “You can only gather as much bread as you will eat. If you gather more bread, the miracles stop, capiche? If you can handle that for six days, then I’ll give you extra bread on the seventh day, because everything should be done in week long cycles, like my parties! And when you tell them about my condition, be sure to remind them how awesome I am, in case they forget.”

Moses opened his eyes and looked skyward. “Ok, I’ll give them the message… But why does it have to come from me? They hate me. They think I have killed them. And why didn’t you give us bread before we were starving to death? Why did you wait so long? Couldn’t you have miracled us up some bread thirty days ago?”

“What did I say about your incessant whining?!”

Moses turned and went to deliver the message. “Hey guys… God said he’d give us some food, just sit tight. And honestly? Please stop getting angry with me. God is the one who has the plan, and who has the power give us food. If you are going to lynch someone, try to lynch God, please? I am just… So tired of this. Anyway, God is going to give us food, but we aren’t allowed to pack extra. I don’t know why, so don’t go asking me. Just… Make sure you don’t store any in your packs, or else the food train stops.”

In the morning, when the bread rain came, many gathered, and some started to fill their packs. Shortly after, their packs were covered in maggots, and smelled of rot.

Moses followed his nose, and raged at those that had gathered too much. “What did I say about storing the food? Look, look at this plague! God said he’d do this, and hasn’t he proven he will follow through on every threat? Are you stupid? Did you forget already what God did to Egypt? HE WILL TOTALLY DO THAT TO US!

“Oh, as part of the condition of getting food from God, incidentally, we are not allowed to pick up food on the seventh day, even if it is right in front of us and prepared, for some reason. So on Friday, we collect double the food, and on Friday you are allowed to store some. But only enough for Saturday. Please, please, don’t be dense this time. God will seriously ruin us if you don’t follow his command. Remember what happened just a few days ago? With the maggots and rot? Seriously, I just don’t want to put up with Him once He gets in a bad mood.”

When Saturday came, a bunch of Israelites went out to gather food, because if there is one thing that is boundless, it is stupidity and short memory.

God went up to Moses, “Hey, hey, what did I say about Saturday? The hell is wrong with you? Why are you breaking my commandments?”

Moses didn’t know what to say. “But God, I didn’t break any, I told them what you said.”

“Moses, don’t be an idiot. You are the caretaker, you are responsible for everything they do. And, given the sin in your ranks that I am seeing right now, you are going to have just like… the worst afterlife at this rate.”

“What?” Moses was startled.

“Oh, nothing. Don’t worry about it. Hey, I am not going to be making bread rain forever, so you should put some in a jar and keep it. When you show it to people, be all like ‘Hey, this is bread rain. Not every god can make it rain bread. Isn’t God awesome?’ Then tell them how awesome I am for making it rain bread when you were hungry.”

Moses shoved some bread in a jar, and put it in the ark of the covenant, which they apparently have for some reason. (Exodus 16:34)

God fed them rain bread for forty years in the desert before they came to the borders of Canaan. The whole time they spent in the desert, they wandered as God bade them, which raises serious questions about God’s navigational skills. But soon, soon they would be in a land of milk and honey!

We have exited the desert of Sin and the forty years of wandering. This seems a good place to take a break, before we enter the next saga.

It turns out it is harder to make fun of the parts that are in the Ten Commandments movie than I thought it would be, but we are nearing the end of the Ten Commandments saga, and then we can spice it up a little. Just have to hold out for 3 more chapters of Exodus, then we are on the other side of the hump.

Do as I… What Was I Talking About Again? Part 2

This one is a little more boring than Part 1, as most are pretty well versed in the plagues, and Part 2 doesn’t go off the rails of the traditional script. But once we’re through Part 2, Part 3 is gonna be a ton of fun (for me).

When we left our intrepid protagonists, Moses and Aaron, Pharaoh had just betrayed them by going back on his word! The plague of flies drove Pharaoh to again promise to set the Israelites free (on the condition that they were only going to go worship their God for a while, then come back), but as soon as the plague was retracted decided that this was a silly thing to do. God had hardened Pharaoh’s heart against the plight of the Israelites, and so nothing could be done to persuade him to let them go. As we enter Exodus chapter 9, God is turning up the dial on plague-craft.

Moses went in front of Pharaoh and told him thus: “Alright, dick move, but you’ve still got a chance. Tomorrow, sometime, our God is going to kill literally all of your cattle, sheep, goats, oxen, camels, and he won’t touch even a single one of the Israelites’. If that doesn’t prove he means business, I don’t know what will.”

Pharaoh, who is probably history’s worst poker player (“He has told me what he has in his hand every time we bet, but this time I’ll be he’s bluffing for sure!”). Protip: God does not bluff. The very next day, the Egyptian food supply became the food supply of the plague of gnats that is probably still flying around there somewhere. And, just like God said, not one of the stock of Israel was killed by whatever unholy disease it is that swept the Egyptian countryside and presumably ruined the livelihood of the Egyptian peasants that had as much control over the Pharaoh as the Israelites did, because they are guilty of the sins of their ruler for some reason. Also, God did not provision for the removal of the frog corpses, so they are bloated and decomposing all over Egypt, as well. Yummy.

Pharaoh, as God knew beforehand, still wouldn’t back down. “OK, he is still playing a perfect game of poker. But he is probably out of cards at this point, and the cattle can’t get any more dead… So no, no the Israelites cannot go.”

Moses thus returns with a handful of soot, and warns them “It’s about to get real ugly. If I throw this soot into the air, you are going to get just… Just the worst boils imaginable, all up in your business, and in your animal’s business. I mean, I know your animals are already dead, but if you bought more they are going to get all full of boils, too.”

“Bullshit,” said Pharaoh, with all the poker sense of … Well, there is no one in the history of the planet that bad at poker.

And so, in a move that surprised no one, BOILS EVERYWHERE! The Egyptian sorcerers at this point could not even stand, as the boils on their feet were so bad that no pressure could be put on them, and obviously the sorcerers could not heal what God hath wrought.

“Alright, alright, alright. Whoever this ‘God’ fellow is, he must be out of cards this time! No dice, you’ve played the last ace up your sleeve. The slaves stay.”

Again, though, we are reminded in Exodus 9:12, “But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron.” Why did the LORD keep Pharaoh’s heart hard? One presumes just because he still had more plagues. Again, following the chain of events, the plague killing the cattle and the massive outbreaks of horrible boils could have been a result of the massive hills of rotting frogs that had nowhere to go.

So God brings out the big guns. “Alright, it’s time to get serious. I could have killed you all already, but I kept you alive just to show you how far I can go. You wouldn’t let my people go, so I am going to have the greatest hailstorm EVER hit Egypt. I know my slaves will be outside when it comes, but the devastation you see will be all the greater for it! HAH!”

And the hail came, and it killed all the cattle outdoors, and all the slaves outdoors, and all the Egyptians outdoors. It didn’t hail on Goshen, where the slaves lived, but you have to remember that some slaves were still out in the thrall of their masters, and were struck down by a hail that “stripped all of the trees bare.” (Exodus 9:25)

Pharaoh was done with this horrible game of poker. “Alright, you win. I’m terrible at poker. Take your people and get out of here.”

Moses, having learned of Pharaoh’s trickery, said “Alright, once I am out of the city, I will make the hail stop.” He did not stop to think that he would be brutally struck down by this hail on his way out of the city, but apparently neither did the writer for Moses leaves and stops the hail. Then… SURPRISE! Pharaoh’s heart was still hardened by God, and he went back on his word. Again. Because he is very, very, very bad at poker. In fact, this is like Moses showing him a royal flush, and then having Pharaoh bet against him for… Reasons?

“Just so you know, Moses,” God says, “I hardened the heart of Pharaoh so I could smite the crap out of Egypt for one purpose; to give you an awesome story to tell your grandkids about how awesome I am. Remember to tell them about me. OR ELSE.” (Exodus 10:1-2)

So God had another plague ready to go. “Your livestock is dead, and your crops ruined. You are going to have an awful winter; I know it. But here’s the thing; I know you have grain stores. So if you don’t let my people go (and I know you won’t, because I commanded it of your heart), I will send locusts, and they will eat your entire grain store.

Perhaps better at poker than Pharaoh himself, his advisers said to him “DAMMIT, MAN! Let the damn slaves go! Seriously, we are already ruined. We can’t take another of these plagues!”

Pharaoh, again, says “Alright. You win. Go and worship God, as long as you come back when you are done with your sacrifices. Oh, also, only men can go. Everyone knows gods hate women and children anyway.”

“Hey, hey, hey, you think I am calling down these plagues for funsies? No, we all go, or you get the locusts!” And so it was that locusts came.

And Pharaoh said “Stop it! STOP IT! Ok, you can go. What is wrong with your God? Why does he love punishing us so?!” But as soon as Moses left, God reminds us that he had hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 10:20) so that MORE PLAGUES! Yay!

So then we get what is actually the most tame plague in days; the plague of darkness. Everything was so dark that no one could even move, except the Israelites because they get light. So Pharaoh, AGAIN, says “Take them away, and I am running out of even sort of funny ways to say this because I have said it so many times my face is stuck in a grimace of displeasure! Except leave your flocks and herds behind.”

“But Pharaoh, how can we sacrifice stunning amounts of cattle and sheep to God if we can’t bring our cattle and sheep? Seriously, you have no idea how bloody things are going to get once we start sacrificing.”

“What? No. I said no flocks!”

“It gives us the flocks or it gets the plagues again!”

And again, God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and Pharaoh said “No dice!!” (Exodus 10:27)

And God said “Ahahahahaha look how mad he is! Isn’t this hilarious?”

Moses replied “Umm… Not really. Millions are going to die of starvation and disease, and I’d like to remind you that it was you who forced Pharaoh to keep the Israelites in bondage.”

God replied “Pfft… You’re no fun. I can hardly get my smite on with you killing my buzz, Buzz Killington. Fine, just one more plague, and I am going to make it a doozy. In fact, I am going to make it so bad that Pharaoh will make you leave and so badass that you will have a feast to remember it by for the rest of eternity! How does that sound for a party?! So here’s the plan; I am going to kill all the firstborn sons of everyone in Egypt, except the Israelites, then you guys can leave Egypt. Also, remember that thing I said about taking everyone’s gold and silver. Don’t forget their gold and silver.” (Seriously, God reminds them to rob the Egyptians blind, and says he’ll make sure the Egyptians are totally ok with it; Exodus 11:2)

“And remember,” God reminds Moses, “I am doing this so that you have cool stories to tell your grandkids. I could have let the Israelites go before all of these plagues, but what fun would that be?” (Exodus 11:9-10)

“Now, it is difficult for me to tell the difference between my chosen people and the Egyptians, so here’s what you’re gonna do. You’re gonna go to all of the Israelites (there’s only… What? A couple million of you? (Exodus 12:37)) and tell them each to prepare a lamb and put its blood on the doorframe. Also, you aren’t just going to cook a lamb, you are going to prepare that lamb, and here’s how you are going to do it: (The below is copied and pasted, because I actually can’t make it more ridiculous than it already is) (Exodus 12:6-11)

6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. 8 That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. 9 Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs and internal organs. 10 Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. 11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.

“Anyway, once that lamb is properly prepared, and your door marked, that’s how I’ll know you are one of my chosen people! Simple, right?”

And in the back of Moses’ head, surely he must have thought “You know, I am starting to have a few reservations about this plan…”

God interrupted Moses’ thoughts, continuing, “You know, I don’t just want stories told to your grandkids. This is too awesome for stories. Every year, you are going to have a bitchin’ party, and you are going to use it to remind everyone how awesome I am! Also, my parties aren’t just for a day, Moses. My parties last a full week!” (Exodus 12:14-16)

God wanted to show he was serious, so he killed the firstborn even of those in prison, because they didn’t have the good sense to go kill a lamb and paint their prison cell with blood. The shame of it!

After every household in Egypt, save for those of the Israelites, had lost a loved one, Pharaoh summoned Moses. “You win! Get the hell out of Egypt! We never wanted you here anyway! Oh, and when you are praying to your God, put in a good word for me, eh? That’d be cool.” (Exodus 12:32)

So the Israelites packed up and left, but not before taking all of the silver, gold, and clothing from Egypt! (Exodus 12:36)

“Remember,” said God. “You were slaves of Egypt for 430 years. Remember to tell your kids that number when you tell them the story of how awesome I am. 430 years! To the day!” (Exodus 12:40) “Oh, also, when eating the lambs for my bitchin’ party? Make sure ONLY circumcised people eat it. Seriously, check their penises. If they aren’t circumcised, no lamb for them. Hey, hey, are you listening to me? I’m serious here.”

Aaaaand we’re done with the plagues, so here is a good time to conclude part 2. In part 3, we find out that the Israelites have really, really, really, really short memories. I would say goldfish short, but studies have shown that goldfishes can be trained to swim through hoops for food, and they remember that trick longer than the Israelites remember (spoilers).

Part 3 is going to be fun.

Do as I… What Was I Talking About Again? Part 1

The Bible is described, by strong Christian believers, as the height of moral teaching. The Golden Rule is touted as one of the greatest pieces of bite-sized wisdom put to paper. Jesus spoke exclusively of love and tolerance of all people. The Bible is, at the very least, inspired by the spirit of God; whether you are a literalist or not, it is a general belief that the things that are in the Bible are there because God wanted them to be.

I know I’ve mentioned before the confused nature of the Old Testament, but I think I need some concrete examples to really drive the point home. Honestly, I felt the need to write this post after I was told to go and read Exodus again–my knowledge of the Bible is, generally speaking, deep, but it is certainly rusty in spots and always in need of updating. So I cracked the book open, and began to read… I am going to give you a paraphrased summary of Exodus, trying to include all of the details of… Well, how weird things get. This won’t be like my usual posts, this will be a combined summary and review, in a very sarcastic style. If you are super familiar with Exodus, maybe you will like the way I paraphrase it, and if your knowledge of Exodus comes almost strictly from The Ten Commandments, maybe you will get a chuckle out of learning what is written in that section of the Bible. Or maybe I am wasting your time. Overall, I am just trying something sort of new here–if it works out, I may make an alternate blog where I paraphrase the Bible in my own irreverent style. Let me know in the comments if that’s something that would interest you.

WARNING: The below is like… SUPER irreverent. If picking apart the Bible will offend you, this is probably not the best thing to read.

One doesn’t have to go very far to start to get an odd picture; in Exodus 2:23-25, the Israelites are slaves of Egypt, and they are not happy about it (why would that be? Slaves are totally justified according to the Bible, as long as they are not Israelite slaves). And so it goes that “The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. 24 God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.”

So… God is basically like “Ugh, what are they complaining about? My chosen people are always on about somethi… Oh crap! They’re slaves now? How long has that been going on? And I promised Abraham stuff like this wouldn’t happen! I’d better do something about it!!”

That being said, instead of using his omnipotence to set his people free, he appears before Moses (who, it should be said, is living in self-imposed exile after having murdered an Egyptian. Lucky for Moses, though, there was literally no law for the Jewish people at this time what with how the ten commandments had not yet been written. At least, with how hard some Christians lean on the ten commandments, one would think they are the only laws that matter). Anyway, at this point Moses is married and has a kid, and lives mostly as a shepherd of his father-in-law’s flock of sheep. So, understandably, he’s like “Ummm… Okay… But here’s the thing, I am a shepherd, I am probably not what you are looking for.”

But whatever, this post isn’t just a summary of Exodus, it is only about the weirder parts, and we don’t have long to wait, friends! Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods is another of the commandments that did not exist yet, thankfully, as through the will of the LORD, the Israelites are compelled to take, as they leave Egypt, the clothes and food and silver and gold of their neighbors. Well, isn’t that nice?

Exodus chapter 4 is rife with examples about how the LORD, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, seems to have little idea what He is doing. First, he transforms a staff into a snake, and says “There. That’ll show ’em that I am God!”

Moses is like “That’s cool, bro, but what if it doesn’t?”

God follows: “You know what, maybe you’re right. Hey, put your hand into your cloak. BAM! Leprosy. Then put it back again! HEALED! There you go, miracles. Miracles will teach them that I am God! But if they still don’t believe you for some reason, take some river water and I’ll turn it into blood. Yeah, yeah this time that’ll definitely show them!”

Moses, full of excuses, complains that he doesn’t know how to speak real gud bruh. God tells them that he is the one who makes men speak or makes them mute, deaf or hear, blind or see (in case you needed reminding that God is the source of all good and the source of all suffering), so Moses should get his ass in line and do as he’s told.

This next bit is fairly well known, so I won’t belabor it, but it bears mention. “Perform these miracles in front of Pharaoh, but I will harden his heart so he won’t let your people go.” Wait. What? Why? Why would that, in any case, be a good thing to do? What purpose does it serve? I have my own personal theories; God was feeling a bit restless, and just wanted to smite some people but wanted an excuse. If Pharaoh didn’t let His people go (and God obviously knew he wouldn’t because He made the choice for Pharaoh. I am sure there is something about free will in there…), he would have his excuse to get up with the smiting! In fact, before Moses ever gets to Egypt, God actually confirms that very thing; “You would not let my people go, and Israel is my Son, so I will smite your first-born son!” And that, before Pharaoh even knew Moses was coming, was decided; without even having a reason, the firstborn son of all of Egypt was going to die.

Now things come off the rails a little bit; no one talks about this part, and it is absent from Charlton Heston’s legendary portrayal of Moses.

On the way back to Egypt, God sees Moses on the road. He is still angry at Moses for talking back to Him, so He goes and wants to kill Moses, that little complaining son of a… But while God was getting ready to kill him, Moses’ wife circumcises their son and … Rubs… the foreskin… On Moses’ feet? And for some reason, God is like “Well, can’t kill him now. Damn.” (Seriously, Exodus 4:24-26. Again, WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO LEARN FROM THIS?!)

Now, God’s action have an unintended side effect (unintended…? Isn’t He omniscient?). Pharaoh is bitter that Moses came to make the slaves stop working, so he basically doubles their labor and has them whipped EXTRA HARD if they fail to meet quota. Boy, sure am glad God is looking out for His people at this point, eh? Things are even worse for the Jewish people at the beginning of Exodus 5 than before God set to have them set free! In fact, the Israelites pray to God to judge Moses and Aaron (they blame the two upstarts for their increased burden and suffering, and want God to smite them. Little do they know, this was God’s plan all along! Why? WHO KNOWS!). Moses then shouts at God “Seriously, dude! What is going on here?! Now people hate us! In fact, right now, this is all your fault!” (Exodus 5:22-23)

But the funny thing is, at the beginning of Exodus 6, God says “All is going according to plan. Now I’m gonna really ruin Pharaoh’s day, and then he will let my people go! Just sit back and watch the show; and by sit back, I mean go in front of Pharaoh and say what I tell you to say. And stop being a little bitch about it.” (Exodus 6:1-12)

In Exodus 7, after Moses and Aaron have performed the miracle of changing a staff into a snake, Pharaoh is like “Yeah, that snake is cool and all, but my men can do the same thing. No dice; the Jewish people will stay slaves.”

God says to Moses “See? I told you he’d say that! I told you Pharaoh would say that exact thing, aren’t I AWESOME?!” (Exodus 7:14) Seemingly, Moses and Aaron forgot that God actually forced Pharaoh into that exact reaction, so it’s less awesome and more “I’m pulling the puppet strings, so of course it all goes to plan.”

In any case, God wasn’t ready to stop plagueing and smiting yet, so Pharaoh’s heart was still hardened (By God. I can’t overstate that.), especially since Pharaoh’s own sorcerer’s were also able to turn water into blood… Which actually raised a question to me; if pagans could change water into other liquids, why is it considered such a miracle that Jesus was able to change water into wine? Sounds like that’s the kind of thing that just happened regularly back then. Weird.

And again, in Exodus 8, God sort of acts like a child with a stink bomb. “Tell Pharaoh this… Heheheh… Tell him, if he doesn’t let my people go (and he won’t, I made sure of it!) I will cover everything in Egypt with frogs! EVERYTHING! Aren’t I awesome?” (Exodus 8:1-6) But guess what? Egyptian sorcerers ALSO made frogs come out of nowhere, again kind of making God’s power seem not so great if Egyptian sorcerers can do the exact same thing that God said, previously, “Will make them believe in me!”

Oddly, though, even though Pharaoh’s sorcerers created even more frogs, Pharaoh could not make the frogs go away; in verse 8 he begs Moses and Aaron to click undo! One would think that his level of blackmail would be enough for God; soften Pharaoh’s heart, and let the people go! But no, God wasn’t done having His fun with the people of Egypt yet; He could have freed his people at this point (I mean, the Nile smelled like rot, and there were piles of rotting frog corpses at this point; living in Egypt had to be pretty awful, whether slave or not, and made all the worse for being a slave). NOPE! LOCUSTS! That’s what we need. More locusts! Now, if you are fighting for the historicity of this (even though the evidence that any of this happened is nearly nonexistent), I have a theory. Flies came to eat of the rotting river Nile, the frogs came to kill the flies, the frogs died of various causes, and then the insects came to clean up the frogs (including gnats, flies, and locusts). BAM! Chain of events. Maybe God didn’t let His own people go yet because once this chain of miracles was started, he just shouted “THERE’S NO BRAKES ON THE CRAZY TRAIN!” and sat back to laugh?

Interestingly enough, this is where God starts to do things that Pharaoh’s sorcerers could not; he turns all of the dust in Egypt into gnats. One may recall that Egypt is both very large and very dusty. Pharaoh told his sorcerers to do this, though one wonders, if all of the dust was gone already, what were the sorcerers trying to turn into gnats? Whatever, they fail. BAM! Score one for God! I think it is worth reminding you, now, that these plagues affected everyone in Egypt. Including his own people. God was never big on targeted destruction, He just goes whole hog in everything He does.

So we’ve got snake staves, river of blood, frogs, and gnats so far. But you know what? It is time for God to start targeting people; after all, if His plagues affected the Israelites as well as the Egyptians, how could they prove that the plagues came from God? So after four miracles, and three major plagues, God says “Incoming flies! And this time, I won’t plague my own people! I AM A GOD OF LOVE!” And so flies came. (Exodus 8:22-24)

And at this, Pharaoh said again “Okokokok, you win. You can sacrifice to your God, but do it here. No reason to leave Egypt to worship, right?”

Moses replies with some level of self-awareness; “Look, our sacrifices are actually pretty nasty, not gonna lie. They are gonna gross you out so badly that Egyptians will probably stone us. Let us head out to the wilderness to make our sacrifices so we don’t gross you out. We won’t run away from your horribly oppressive slavery. We promise.”

“Ugh, fiiiiiine,” replies Pharaoh with all of the honesty of a teenaged girl. “You can. Just don’t go far.”

“Oh, cool beans! But this time, Pharaoh, no funny stuff! If you say we can go, let us go. For realsies!”

“You can trust me, Moses!”

SURPRISE! Pharaoh goes back on his word as soon as the flies left. One thinks an omniscient God would train Moses as a negotiator at least well enough to only pay out on their blackmail price after the Israelites have left Egypt? “The flies stay until my people have left?” No? alright, fine. Take the flies away such that Pharaoh can say “GOTCHA AGAIN!”

This is getting pretty long, and we are only just entering into Chapter 9. I am going to post this as part 1 and continue on with the weirdness and the plot twists of the book of Exodus in part 2!

Thanks for reading, and let me know in the comments if this is entertainment or just unfunny, offensive drivel.