Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bible Books 4 and 5: Numbers and Deuteronomy

Jan. 19-Jan. 25. Finished reading Numbers in 7 days.

Some numbers
It seems as if Numbers picks up 2 years after the people left Egypt, and this book is quite appropriately named, because a lot of it deals with statistics! I won't give you all the numbers, because they're pretty meaningless, but God tells Moses to poll how many men that are 20 years old and up there are in the entire congregation, and there were well over 600,000 of them! That's not counting all the women and the children younger than 20! Also, the Levi tribe doesn't get counted, because they're God's servants or something, so there's much more than that! (Actually later they do count the Levis, but they count all the males from a month old upwards, so it's not the same. About 22,000.) Imagine, over 600,000 people were rescued from slavery in Egypt! Nothing short of miraculous, I'd say.

After the polling was done, there were actually some interesting stories to read. You find out that all these Jews are sadly a bunch of ungrateful whiners. After a while they get tired of only eating manna, wishing for meat and vegetables. You know, a proper varied diet. So God makes it rain quail. Are the people happy? No.

Miriam and Aaron complain that God only talks to Moses, so God gives Miriam leprosy for a few days, and then heals her, which should've taught them a lesson. Did they learn? No.

Apparently they reached the land meant to be Israel, I think, so the 12 "princes" of Israel go do some recon work. They find the land to be great and rich, but are scared of the people already living there. Some of the princes claim there are fierce giants living there, so all the other people get scared, once again wishing they hadn’t left Egypt and doubting whether God will really protect them (as if all his previous miracles weren't enough!). God decides to kill off all the people who doubt him, and let the rest wander in the wilderness for 40 years, since the princes spied for 40 days. Unbelievable. They were so close to the prize, and they chickened out!

Korah and the rebels
There was a pretty exciting story where this Levite, Korah, and some of his friends think Moses is being too high and mighty, and they don’t believe he’s talking to God. They confront him, and Moses says (basically) “What, it’s not enough that you’re servants of God, doing holy work for him?” They complain that he took them out of Egypt with promises of a great land, but they’re in the wilderness, and he’s lording it over them, giving all these stupid rules. Sacrifice this, don't do that, etc... who cares about being holy anyway?!

So Moses tells Korah and his 250 friends to light incense sticks so he can talk with God, who initially wants to burn them all for their rebellious intentions. Moses makes God change his mind though, so instead the rebels all get swallowed up by a God-made earthquake that closes up instantly. Everyone starts freaking out that God killed these 250 people (well, who wouldn't?), and God gets angry with them and starts a plague, killing loads of people off, 14,700 of them! Then Aaron and Moses step in and intervene. God tells them to take a wooden rod for each tribe, plus Aaron, to see which rod will bring forth flowers, so the people will know who God is backing. Aaron’s rod blossoms while the others stay rods. I don't know if this gives the people any more confidence in God, though...

I don't know why this Bible story isn't talked about more. It was quite entertaining. Sure, it's kinda grim, but that shows you what happens when you miss with the big guy upstairs. :P

Balaam and the Donkey
There are a couple more small stories about people complaining, but not important to get into. Mostly the book describes of where the 600,000 people (I'll just collectively call them Israel) go, the route they took through the wilderness, the cities they overtook. Then you find another nugget of an interesting story...
This city thinks about driving out Israel, but God spoke to this guy Balaam and said the people are holy and he shouldn't attack them. I don't think Balaam listens, so God sends an angel to distract his donkey when he goes riding out. Balaam doesn't see the angel, so he gets annoyed, and keeps hitting his donkey. The 3rd time this happens, God makes the donkey talk and say "why are you hitting me?" (Yeah, God can cause animals to talk! His powers are limitless!) Balaam strangely doesn't show surprise, he just says "because you keep going the wrong way, you dumb ass!" (Lol. Pun intended. ^,~)

Then the angel shows himself and Balaam sees that his donkey wasn't to blame, and the angel tells him to go back to his friend, Balak, who wants to fight and curse Israel. Balak doesn't believe Balaam's God nonsense when he recounts what happens. Balaam keeps repeating what God tells him, that they should bless Israel, not curse them. Balak gets really upset, thinking they were going to take on Israel together.

Other stuff
It's hard to categorize everything that happens later. The stories are short and don't have much weight. The people lose their morals a bit and start committing harlotry and bowing to other gods, so God gets angry and jealous, but one of Aaron’s sons makes it better. They do a recount of their people and it seems that they have nearly less 2,000 fewer 20+ year old males. Then there are some more rules... God sets Joshua in charge of Israel after Moses, then more rules... Then 1000 men go to war against Midian, kill all the men, and bring back the women and lots of spoils, like livestock and gold and such. Interesting...

Then there's a story where certain descendants of Reuben and Gad have lots of cattle, and they come across land that is good for keeping cattle, so they ask Moses if it's okay for them to make cities there instead of the promised land. At first Moses is all, "What, that's not good enough for you? We've all been wandering for 40 years because your parents were ungrateful. You want to do another round of that?" They clarify and say "No, we just want to return here after we've let our kids into Israel and inherited it, and then we want to go back to this land later, if that's okay." I think that's the gist of what happens...

Chap. 33 is basically a record that Moses kept of how he and the people made their way across the wilderness, every single place they camped out. Aaron dies in the fortieth year of their wanderings, and he was 123 years old! The congregation makes it to Canaan, which God says is their inheritance, the country called Israel in the future, and everyone's happy. Yay!

I'm including the Deuteronomy review here, because it's so short, and doesn't really need it's own post if I can put it on here.

Jan. 26-Feb. 1. Finished reading Deuteronomy in 7 days.

Deuteronomy seems to start on a recap. Moses tells the people what they've done to get there, all the wars, all the men they lost because god got angry with them. Moses isn't allowed to follow the congregation over the Jordan river, so God set Joshua over the people, and Moses dies in the wilderness. He basically wishes the people good luck, remember that they're a special people, since God was with them the entire 40 years.

Moses then goes on to remind the people of the 10 commandments, and how rebellious they have been to God, since the very beginning. Making the gold calf, being to scared to go into Israel in the first place, etc. He warns them not to forget that their inheritance was brought about by God's doing, so they should love him, fear him, be thankful to him. Don't let anyone distract you and make you worship other Gods.

There's lots of other rules and things besides that. In Deuteronomy, chap. 22, verse 5, I noted that it says you can't be a cross-dresser, or you'll be an abomination. That made me sad. Then there's a few chapters that basically say if you follow God and his rules, you'll be eternally blessed in every way. If you don't, you'll be eternally cursed in every freaking way possible.

Finally, when Moses is done actually writing this big law book (I thought he was lecturing everyone!), and he's 120 years old. God tells him he's not meant to cross with the people over the Jordan River, so Moses stays behind while Joshua takes them instead. If my math is correct, the year was about 2780 AC by the end.

And that my friends, was the first 5 big books of the Bible! I can hardly believe it only took me a month to read them. I'm kind of thinking maybe I won't review all of the books in such great detail anymore, because it's a whole lot of work. I'll try to let you know at the end of the month how many books I read in February. Bye!