Monday, December 27, 2010

Exodus 24-31: Even MORE commandments

Right, so God is still not done. So far he's gone over the 10 commandments, and a whole extensive rulebook regarding what to do in every possible scenario involving bull-goring.

Moses goes and tells all this to everyone, and they agree to follow it all. Then Moses builds an alter and sacrifices some stuff, throws half of the blood on the alter, and sprinkles the other half on the people. Eww.

Then Moses and the elders go up the mountain and see God (even though God told the elders not to come...but he decides not to kill them all anyway, what a nice guy). So they are seeing God, but all the bible has to say about it is that the ground was paved with lapis lazuli. Seriously, who wrote this shit?

Then "the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai" for 6 days, in the form of a cloud, which also looked like fire somehow. On the 7th day, Moses goes back up there (either with Joshua or alone...seriously, the details of this story are so confusing), and stays up there for 40 days.

Now God goes on for 7 chapters about how to build the tabernacle, which is “a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them." I can't help but wonder why this warrants 7 full chapters, while the creation of the entire universe gets only one. Oh well.

First, God gives Moses a shopping list of building materials, which he is to obtain by donations from the Israelites. Mostly gold, silver, and a bunch of other fine metals and fabrics. I have to wonder why they would have any of this stuff at all. I mean, these people were much gold and silver do slaves really have? Even so, these people had to flee their homes. I know when I'm fleeing for my life, I go straight past useful things like food to be sure to grab all the gold and silver, just incase God wants to build something in the middle of the desert. Really?

Anyway, then God gives horribly detailed instructions for building the following objects (seriously, if you thought Noah's ark was boring, don't even bother with this).

First the ark of the covenant, basically a wooden box with carrying poles, for holding the "tablets of covenant law." And it has to be decorated with cherubs.

Then a table, also with carrying poles, and a bunch of gold dishes. And they are to put bread on it whenever God is around. I thought God didn't want to be offered anything with yeast in it...

Then a fancy lampstand.

The oil for the lampstand is olive oil, and it is to be kept burning from evening to morning. "This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come." Right then.

Then a fancy wooden alter with bronze utensils.

The tabernacle itself seems to be a series of curtains and a wooden basically a tent. There is to be a fancy curtain splitting the tent in two parts... the "Holy Place" and the "Most Holy Place." Lol, great names. The ark goes in the "Most Holy Place" and the lampstand and table go in the "Holy Place."

There's also instructions for another fancy alter specifically for burning incense. It sounds like this also goes in the tabernacle, possibly conveniently right in the middle of it, blocking the dividing curtain.

More stuff to go inside the tabernacle: a bronze bowl of water, so Aaron can wash his hands and feet. If he doesn't, he dies...God must love purell.

Also, the tabernacle is to have a courtyard.

Aaron and his 4 sons will be priests, and extremely detailed descriptions of how to make their priestly garments are given, including linen underpants! Also gold bells, so that "The sound of the bells will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before the LORD and when he comes out, so that he will not die." Weird. Apparently God will kill you if you don't jingle in his presence.

Then there is instructions on how to consecrate the priests... a bunch of really weird stuff involving a young bull, 2 rams, and some bread, of which certain parts must be burned on the alter, others waved in the air, and others eaten. And they have to do this for 7 days. I don't know if they have to do that just once, or every time they want to enter the tent (tabernacle). Though they have to go in the tent every day to tend the lamp. I dunno.

Also, God expects a routine sacrifice twice a day... some strange concoction of lamb, olive oil, and wine.

God wants the Israelites to give him money at each census, otherwise they will get a plague; God is all about the coercion of his chosen people.

Then there is a recipe for anointing oil to smear on all this stuff, so it can be holy. I don't get why we need oil to make it holy...can't God just do that? Oh well.

There is also God's favorite recipe for incense.

Also, God was kind enough to magically beam the knowledge of how to make all of this stuff into the minds of the most skilled workers, so I'm not sure why he's bothering to tell Moses about it.

God also goes on about the sabbath some more. To desecrate the sabbath is death, if you work on the sabbath you get "cut off from your people." But wait, 2 sentences later working on the sabbath is also death. Hmm.

Now, it seems that God is finally done talking, and gives Moses the 2 tablets of "covenant law" ... "the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God!" Oooo, fancy. I wonder how he fit all of this on just 2 tablets. I know he wrote on both sides, but still... I guess that's omnipotence for you. Ooo.

So, do they have to make all of this stuff right now, and then haul it around the desert with them? Is that why it takes them 40 years to get to Canaan? If that is true, then God is a total asshole (but then, he was already).