I would like to take a moment to draw your attention to an excellent piece written by the awesome Greta Christina called 9 Questions That Atheists Might Find Insulting (And the Answers). Number 7 in that list is “But have you [read the Bible or some other holy book; heard about some supposed miracle; heard my story about my personal religious experience]?” I’ve heard that question so damn many times that I’m writing a whole blog about it, so nobody gets to ask me that question ever again, okay? But, go read the whole article and Greta’s great responses, and then don’t utter any of those questions ever again, please.
Christians, it’s awesome if you’re really interested in why I’m an atheist, and I’m happy to talk to you about it. But if you don’t do a little research first, it’s hard to believe that you’re actually interested in my experiences and not just trying to mindlessly convert me. I’m taking the time time to read your holy book, do me a favor and learn about my (lack of) beliefs as well.
I promise, it doesn’t hurt too badly. The whole world will be a better place if we take the time to learn about and understand each other.
Now, back on task:
Chapter 16- The Israelites continue on their journey. They complain about being hungry, so God provides quail and manna (a wafer-like, honey flavored bread product) for them to eat. He gives them specific instructions about how much food to gather, and when to gather it.
Geeze, the Israelites are a complain-y bunch. Although, they tend to complain about valid things…like slavery and starvation. So, I guess I won’t judge them too harshly.
They are commanded to gather 1 omer of manna per person per day. Curious what an omer is? From Wikipedia:
It is used in the Bible as an ancient unit of volume for grains and dry commodities, and the Torah mentions as being equal to one tenth of an ephah. The ephah was defined as being 72 logs, and the log was equal to the Sumerian mina, which was itself defined as one sixtieth of a maris;the omer was thus equal to about 12⁄100 of a maris. The maris was defined as being the quantity of water equal in weight to a light royal talent, and was thus equal to about 30.3 litres, making the omer equal to about 3.64 litres.
Well that cleared it up for me. Thanks, Wiki!
I find it interesting that we recently had the story of Joseph, where stockpiling food to prepare for the future was a virtue, but now we have this story where any stockpiled food stinks and sprouts worms the next day. I understand that the message here is that the people were supposed to rely solely on God, but it does seem to conflict a smidge with the story of Joseph.
Chapter 17- The people run out of water again, so God commands Moses to strike a rock with his staff and water comes out. Amalek starts a fight with Moses’s people. Joshua fights them, while Moses holds his hands in the air with the help of Aaron and Hur. As long as Moses’s hands are raised, the Israelites prevail; if he puts them down, Amalek’s people prevail. By the end of the day, the Israelites win.
This Joshua character gets thrown in the mix with zero introduction. I assume he’s going to be important later, seeing as how there’s a whole book of the Bible named after him. Guess we’ll see when we get there.
Verse 9, “And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” I literally laughed out loud when I read “rod of God.” Is that what the kids are calling it these days? (I’m mature, I swear!)
Verse 14, “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” If your goal is to make sure nobody remembers Amalek, you probably shouldn’t write about him in your holy book. Just sayin’
Chapter 18- Moses is acting as arbiter for every single dispute and question the people have about God’s laws. His father-in-law Jethro advises him to make other men rulers as well so they can handle the little disputes and only bring this big questions to Moses. This way Moses won’t get burnt out.
This is a pretty straight forward chapter. The only question I have is about Zipporah. Last we saw her, she was traveling with Moses to Egypt when that unfortunate circumcision business happened. Now in 18:2 it says “Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her back,” and brings her and her sons to see Moses. Wonder when and for what reason Moses sent his wife away.
(It also seems that the bible and I have different views on the proper way to show possession when a name ends in an s. I like the Strunk and White style of always using ‘s because then you don’t have to worry about exceptions. The bible seems to prefer just an apostrophe. Moses’s or Moses’? Yet another thing on which God and I don’t agree, it seems.)