Now, we’re to Chapter 19 and three months since the big splitting the sea scene. Moses, plus hundreds of thousands, if not millions, are camped at the base of Mount Sinai. Moses goes up to Y (assumed on the mountain) and Y says that he carried all of the people on eagles’ wings here (as opposed to giant eagles just flying them to Mount Doom). If the Israelites just keep the covenant and obey this god, things will be just great for them. The people promise to obey.
Y then says he’ll come chat with Moses where the people can hear it. They have to wash their clothes and no sex for three days. They also can’t touch the mountain. If they do, they are to be killed by the rest of the people.
There’s some conjecture that this whole episode is just a volcanic eruption, and that Y is just one more mountain/storm god.
Moses does as Y asks. Then Y says again to not allow the people on the mountain and Moses say “Yes, Y, we know. You said this already.” Moses can get snippy. Then Moses and now Aaron go up the mountain.
Here’s where the commandments start. One is evidently to assume that everyone can hear this being spoken. We get that first one, where Y says that he’s the only god to be worshipped, which puts a crimp into the claims of some Christians that other gods are just their god in different clothing. And where we get people damned for other people’s sins. But you can read about the silliness of the commandments elsewhere.
The people then get afraid of hearing this god voice. Moses says that they should be afraid so they won’t sin. The commandments continue, including don’t walk up steps or people might see your unmentionables. There is nothing that says the first ten commandments are any more important than the rest of them.
After a bunch of commandments, we have that this god promises to send an angel in front of the Israelites that will make their enemies turn their backs and run. This doesn’t happen. Y also makes the excuse that he won’t just allow the angel to drive the former owners of the land away; he’ll take his time since there would be just too many wild animals for the Israelites to handle if he did. So much for an omnipotent god, eh? Egyptian army, no problem. Bears, lions, etc, oh that’s just too much.
In Chapter 24, Y invites Moses, Aaron and some elders up the mountain. Moses writes down everything that Y has said so far. Everyone with Moses sees Y, and no one dies. Y has feet and stands on something blue.
Moses and Joshua then go higher on the mountain. This takes six days. Then Moses spends another 40 days and nights (very important number evidently) on the mountain. We don’t hear about Joshua again until later. Y then requires all of the really nice stuff the Israelites have, gold, fancy dyed fabric, etc. Here’s where we get the Ark of the Covenant, all glittery Indiana Jones artifact. Y also needs a gold covered dining table as well as gold plates. And a lampstand. Y is quite the interior decorator. Per the NIV, at least 75 pounds of gold (33 kg) is to be used.
We even get directions on how to weave the curtains. These curtains are to have cherubim on them and that doesn’t mean those little fat baby angels. No, these are the ones guarding the Garden of Eden with flaming swords. Now, if we are to believe the bible, a cubit is around a foot and a half or so. These 10 curtains are to be 28 cubits long, 42 feet long and 6 feet wide. We get similar ridiculous measurements for the rest of the decorating. This seems to be little more than trying to make believe that their temple is the best one ever.
We also get directions on how to make priest garments and how to make sacrifices to this god, of course of the best meat and bread, and that the priests get to eat this share, after waving it at Y. We also have that this god needs money for each Israelite needs to ante up a half shekel. Amazing on how many earthly goods this god supposedly needs.
Finally, Y reiterates the command to keep the Sabbath holy, and to kill or shun anyone who works on it. Then he gives Moses the stone tablets that he wrote the laws on. Which is in either very tiny writing or there are whole lot more than 2.
So, it’s been 40 days since the people saw Moses and evidently Joshua (who is forgotten as soon as a mage’s familiar is in D&D). In this time, the Israelites, supposed eyewitnesses to this god, have decided to make an idol and worship it. Y doesn’t really stick with a crowd, does he? Not even with Aaron who is the instigator of all of this idol making. If this god is omniscient, then it knows that this will happen. But he doesn’t act like it. So he relents after Moses points out it would be pretty pointless to kill them all.
But then Moses goes back to camp, and has some of the Israelites (the tribe of Levi) murder the others, around 3000 of them. He also breaks *both* tablets of the law. Y also hits the Israelites with a plague. And finishes with saying that he won’t go with the Israelites because they are kvetching idiots and he might kill them on the way. This again shows a less than omniscient god.
In Chapter 33, it discusses Y chatting with Moses “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.” So here’s poor Joshua again.
But at the end of this chapter, it’s a bit odd. Moses and Y are talking. Moses asks to be taught the ways of this god. Which has been happening since we started reading Exodus? Y says his presence will go with the Israelites and in the next sentence Moses asks for this to be done as if he hadn’t heard a thing. Then Moses asks to see Y, whom he has been chatting with face to face for months. Y says he can’t show Moses his face, which indicates he has one and that the verses before are either wrong or this part is wrong.
This is the famous “god mooning Moses” scene. Depending on the translation, God shows Moses his back, or his backside. Some Christians say that it’s neither, because they need a vague non-human god with no body parts at all.
The stone tablets get remade in chapter 34. And the ten commandments get told. No, not the first ten of the law given; these are the real ten commandments of the covenant. These are the only ones called the ten commandments in the bible. And I’m pretty sure that most Christians have no desire to see these in any public building.
Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
15 “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. 16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.
17 “Do not make any idols.
18 “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. For seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv, for in that month you came out of Egypt.
19 “The first offspring of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock. 20 Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem all your firstborn sons.
“No one is to appear before me empty-handed.
21 “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest
22 “Celebrate the Festival of Weeks with the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering at the turn of the year.23 Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord, the God of Israel. 24 I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the Lord your God.
25 “Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast, and do not let any of the sacrifice from the Passover Festival remain until morning.
26 “Bring the best of the first fruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God.
“Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.”
Doesn’t take much to see that Christians who take fits about the “ten commandments” don’t know what they are talking about.
To finish up Exodus, we get déjà vu because several chapters are devoted to repeating exactly what was said before about the super special ark, tent, curtains, etc. This entire selection of objects, literally tons of precious metals, is going to be carted around by these people for 40 years. Moses places the tablets of the covenant law into the ark.
That is Exodus, my readers. Not much at all to do with the Heston movie or what is taught to most Christians. If you’d like to see another book considered in the same matter, I take requests.
Addendum: It seems that some Christians think that the Exodus movie is about how bad religion is. Might be worth watching after all. 🙂