Chapter 30- Instructions for building an altar for burning incense. Description about what offering the people will give during a census. Instructions for building a washing basin, and that people must wash when entering the tabernacle. A recipe for the specific incense to be used in the tabernacle.
Verse 12- “When you take the census of the children of Israel for their number, then every man shall give a ransom for himself to the lord, when you them them, that there may be no plague among them when you number them.” The required donation is a half-shekel, so it seems that regular contributions to God can keep you from getting sick. Who needs ObamaCare? God has provided for all the healthcare we need…now…to find a shekel…
On a side note, I just learned that the shekel is the currency of the modern state of Israel. Interesting. Wonder what their general level of health and well-being is?
Verse 15- “The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when you give an offering to the Lord, to make atonement for yourselves.” It seems that the Bible is in favor of a flat tax.- yet another thing upon which we don’t agree.
Verse 20&21- “When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by first to the Lord, they shall wash with water, lest they die. So they shall was their hands and their feet, lest they die. And it shall be a statue forever to them– to him and his descendants throughout their generations.” I wonder if they had any notion at all of germs, or if this is just another instance where God will smite you if you don’t follow his prescribed rituals. If it were for health reasons, I would suspect the more important time for hand washing would be *after* slaughtering bulls.
Then we have things like verse 33- “Whoever compounds any [incense] like it, or whoever puts any of it on an outsider, shall be cut off from his people.” And verse 38- “Whoever makes any like it, to smell it, he shall be cut off from his people.” So, God was pretty fond of of forcing people to follow his every demand or face dire consequences, so I bet the hand washing wasn’t an ancient breakthrough in germ theory.
Chapter 31- Bezalel and Aholiab are named as the chief artisans to make everything for the tabernacle as God has described to Moses. God repeats his commands for resting on the Sabbath, and gives Moses 2 stone tablets “of the Testimony.”
So the penalty for working on the Sabbath is death, according to verses 14 and 15. That seems extreme. Yet again we see God threatening to smite those who don’t do exactly as he says. Glad we don’t keep that law anymore! I have things to do on the weekends.
Chapter 32- Moses was gone a long time, and the people began to wonder if he would ever come back. In his absence, the people went to Aaron and asked him to make gods for them. He used the people’s earrings to melt and fashion a golden calf that they worshiped. God was mad, and planned to consume them with his wrath, but Moses talked Him out of it. But when Moses got down from the mountain and saw the calf worship himself, he broke the stone tablets from God, burned the calf (and made the Israelites drink the ashes), then had the Levites murder 3 thousand people. Then he asked God to forgive the people who remained. God gave them a plague.
Chapter 24 said that Moses was on the mountain 40 days and 40 nights. Considering that God had threatened to kill anyone who touched the mountain, I’m not surprised the people started to wonder if Moses was coming back. But, it is surprising just how quickly the Israelites, especially Aaron, started doubting the God who has performed serious miracles for them.
They had more direct evidence for God than anyone in modern times could possibly hope for: miracles like the parting of the Red Sea, manna and quail in the desert, seeing the presence of God on the mountain. If they started questioning God after fewer than 40 days, well, I don’t feel badly about my skepticism, since He hasn’t made a peep for 2000+ years now (accepting that He really came to earth as Jesus, which I don’t).
This also makes me wonder what kinds of things were happening in the name of other gods back then. If captial-G God did those awesome things, but the people still wanted golden statue gods, that means they had some expectation of idols working for them as well. Maybe they witnessed Amun and Horus doing amazing things back in Egypt?
Verses 10, 11 & 14- “‘Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, And I will make of you a great nation.’ Then Moses pleaded with the Lord God…….So the Lord relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.” But then in verses 27&28, “And [Moses] said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Let every man put his sword on his side and go in and out from entrance to entrance throught the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neightbor.'” So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day.”
I’m reminded of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. God shows his wrathful side, a human intercedes and makes a bargain, but in the end the people God wanted dead end up dead. So much for grace and atonement.
I was amused by Aaron’s excuse for his behavior. Verse 4 says he made the golden calf with an engraving tool. But when Moses asked him about it verse 24, he basically says, “I threw some gold in the fire, and this calf just came out!” Nice try to cover your ass, Aaron.
I’m also surprised that there were no consequences to Moses for angrily smashing the stone tablets God gave him. The bible emphasizes that they were written by the very finger of God, but I guess it’s no big deal to destroy the words of God if you’re mad at people