Beating *the fuck* out of dead horses

This chapter provides one of the most famous Old Testament stories, the parting of the Red Sea and the destruction of the Egyptian army. I have to admit, the imagery is pretty impressive: Moses stretching out his hand to part the sea, walls of water on either side. I remember the illustration of the moment from my picture Bible I had as a kid. Moses’ perfect hair badassedly blowing in the wind while he lifts the staff, showing off his jacked guns like a Semitic Ed Hochuli.

Moses parting the Red Sea

Moses parting the Red Sea

Unsurprisingly, I have some issues with the message underlying the badass story, though. Namely, that it seems like Jehovah engineered the whole situation to satisfy his own vanity. We find in verse 4 that just like Pharoah’s stubbornness during the plagues, his directive that the Egyptians pursue the Israelites comes straight from Jehovah, who “hardened” his heart. For some reason, Jehovah has chosen the Israelites to lavish his attention upon while the Egyptians are merely hapless foils whose only utility is to die in order to make Jehovah seem awesome. Apparently god created all people, but likes some better than others. Like Americans, he likes them too. Brown people? Not so much. It aaaaalmost makes you think that god is just a figment of whatever culture conjures him up in order to justify their atrocities and satisfy their egocentricity. Almost.

Well, God decides that he engineering the near-destruction of Egypt through the genocide of babies and baby animals did not sufficiently demonstrate his super-fucking-awesomeness, so he needs to make a further demonstration with….more genocide! He hardens Pharaoh’s heart again, inciting him to give chase to the Israelites, then wipes them out with a wall of water. The texts makes sure to point out that they are all dead:

28 and the waters turn back, and cover the chariots and the horsemen, even all the force of Pharaoh, who are coming in after them into the sea — there hath not been left of them even one.

I would think that an Almighty being wouldn’t be so needy. If five minutes go by without someone being terrified of him, he starts killing people to try to get them to adore him again. He just can’t stop himself from creating the need for himself. People start to get along OK, so he gets bored and resentful and sends an army after them so he has an excuse to kill a bunch of people to wow them. It reminds me of the shitty sitcom gag where a guy wants to win a woman’s heart, so he gets one of his friends to fake-mug her so he can jump in to the rescue and sweep her off her feet. Except in Jehovah’s version of the grift, he kills his friend and drowns his friend’s puppy, then murders all of his family and friends too.

The story has a happy ending–for Jehovah not for the thousands of newly-fatherless Egyptian children:

31 and Israel seeth the great hand with which Jehovah hath wrought against the Egyptians, and the people fear Jehovah, and remain stedfast in Jehovah, and in Moses His servant.

The TLDR from this chapter: God wants to be feared, not loved. And heaven help you if you look self-sufficient, you’re in for a shitstorm. Oh, and at any moment, your life may be taken from you in order to satisfy God’s vanity.

Amen.

Stopppp. Can't you see they're already dead?

Stopppp. Can’t you see they’re already dead?

Exodus 14

1 And Jehovah speaketh unto Moses, saying,

`Speak unto the sons of Israel, and they turn back and encamp before Pi-Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, before Baal-Zephon; over-against it ye do encamp by the sea,

and Pharaoh hath said of the sons of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut upon them;

and I have strengthened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hath pursued after them, and I am honoured on Pharaoh, and on all his force, and the Egyptians have known that I [am] Jehovah;’ and they do so.

And it is declared to the king of Egypt that the people hath fled, and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants is turned against the people, and they say, `What [is] this we have done? that we have sent Israel away from our service.’

And he harnesseth his chariot, and his people he hath taken with him,

and he taketh six hundred chosen chariots, even all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over them all;

and Jehovah strengtheneth the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursueth after the sons of Israel, and the sons of Israel are going out with a high hand,

and the Egyptians pursue after them, and all the chariot horses of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his force, overtake them, encamping by the sea, by Pi-Hahiroth, before Baal-Zephon.

10 And Pharaoh hath drawn near, and the sons of Israel lift up their eyes, and lo, the Egyptians are journeying after them, and they fear exceedingly, and the sons of Israel cry unto Jehovah.

11 And they say unto Moses, `Because there are no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in a wilderness? what is this thou hast done to us — to bring us out from Egypt?

12 Is not this the word which we spake unto thee in Egypt, saying, Cease from us, and we serve the Egyptians; for better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in a wilderness?’

13 And Moses saith unto the people, `Fear not, station yourselves, and see the salvation of Jehovah, which He doth for you to-day; for, as ye have seen the Egyptians to-day, ye add no more to see them — to the age;

14 Jehovah doth fight for you, and ye keep silent.’

15 And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `What? thou criest unto Me — speak unto the sons of Israel, and they journey;

16 and thou, lift up thy rod, and stretch out thy hand towards the sea, and cleave it, and the sons of Israel go into the midst of the sea on dry land.

17 `And I — lo, I am strengthening the heart of the Egyptians, and they go in after them, and I am honoured on Pharaoh, and on all his force, on his chariots, and on his horsemen;

18 and the Egyptians have known that I [am] Jehovah, in My being honoured on Pharaoh, on his chariots, and on his horsemen.’

19 And the messenger of God, who is going before the camp of Israel, journeyeth and goeth at their rear; and the pillar of the cloud journeyeth from their front, and standeth at their rear,

20 and cometh in between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel, and the cloud and the darkness are, and he enlighteneth the night, and the one hath not drawn near unto the other all the night.

21 And Moses stretcheth out his hand towards the sea, and Jehovah causeth the sea to go on by a strong east wind all the night, and maketh the sea become dry ground, and the waters are cleaved,

22 and the sons of Israel go into the midst of the sea, on dry land, and the waters [are] to them a wall, on their right and on their left.

23 And the Egyptians pursue, and go in after them (all the horses of Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen) unto the midst of the sea,

24 and it cometh to pass, in the morning watch, that Jehovah looketh unto the camp of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubleth the camp of the Egyptians,

25 and turneth aside the wheels of their chariots, and they lead them with difficulty, and the Egyptians say, `Let us flee from the face of Israel, for Jehovah is fighting for them against the Egyptians.’

26 And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `Stretch out thy hand toward the sea, and the waters turn back on the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen.’

27 And Moses stretcheth out his hand towards the sea, and the sea turneth back, at the turning of the morning, to its perennial flow, and the Egyptians are fleeing at its coming, and Jehovah shaketh off the Egyptians in the midst of the sea,

28 and the waters turn back, and cover the chariots and the horsemen, even all the force of Pharaoh, who are coming in after them into the sea — there hath not been left of them even one.

29 And the sons of Israel have gone on dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters [are] to them a wall, on their right and on their left;

30 and Jehovah saveth Israel in that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel seeth the Egyptians dead on the sea-shore,

31 and Israel seeth the great hand with which Jehovah hath wrought against the Egyptians, and the people fear Jehovah, and remain stedfast in Jehovah, and in Moses His servant.

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Jehovah: The Rumplestilstkin of Deities

Like a creepy German fairy tale, Chapter 13 begins with Jehovah laying claim to the first-born children of Israel.

1 And Jehovah speaketh unto Moses, saying,`Sanctify to Me every first-born, opening any womb among the sons of Israel, among man and among beast; it [is] Mine.’

Then, like a commercial break during a Gossip Girls marathon, he goes on another epic rant against yeast. Not only does he want them to avoid eating yeast during the annual commemoration of the slaughter of innocents, but he doesn’t even want that shit in the same country as the Israelites. God must have had a terrible experience with a pH imbalanced woman at some point.

The celebration instructions for future Passovers get odd and violent and specific at this point:

13 `And every firstling of an ass thou dost ransom with a lamb, and if thou dost not ransom [it], then thou hast beheaded it: and every first-born of man among thy sons thou dost ransom.

I’m not quite sure what it means to ransom (or “redeem” as another translation puts it) a donkey with a lamb, but apparently if you don’t take care of that, you’re going to find yourself sawing the head off a baby donkey, so fucking ransom that shit.

Throughout this chapter, God constantly congratulates himself on his slaughter of Egyptian babies, reminding his people to brag to anyone who asks that “by strength of hand hath Jehovah brought us out from Egypt.” Why is the almighty god so concerned with wringing adulation from his creation? Is he that petty that he needs to orchestrate his own praise from humanity? There is something that rubs me wrong about this deity, his utter lack of subtlety and humility, his insecurities and volatility. Do I shout at the red ants in my ant farm to proclaim to their ancestors that it was I that defeated the black ants? Who destroys a supposedly inferior being and then tells other inferior beings to make sure to praise him for it every year at the same time? I think of that sort of sore-winnerness as a purely human emotion, one that would even be embarrassing in humans. I don’t expect that from a perfect being.

God shows some more crippling insecurity just a couple verses later. Although he specifies several times that it was his strong hand brought the people out of Egypt, we find out that upon guiding the people out of  Egypt, he reroutes the cosmic GPS to avoid the land of the Philistines, thinking that if his people encounter another hostile situation, they will turn back into Egypt.

17 And it cometh to pass in Pharaoh’s sending the people away, that God hath not led them the way of the land of the Philistines, for it [is] near; for God said, `Lest the people repent in their seeing war, and have turned back towards Egypt;’

Let’s unpack that. First, how bad was it in Egypt if the very first minor skirmish the Israelites encounter, they want to head back to Egypt? In the United States Civil War, almost 200,000 African Americans fought in the U.S. Army or Navy. Almost 40,000 died. That’s what fighting to escape slavery looks like, not “shit, the Philistines are bothersome, let’s go back to slavery.” So that’s bullshit.

Secondly, if God is powerful enough to single-handedly free the Israelites from Egypt, then why are the Philistines such a bother? If his fucking hand is so fucking strong that their ancestors should brag about it for generations, wouldn’t trouble with the Philistines just be another opportunity for Jehovah to ego-jerk himself off again? It doesn’t make sense. Instead of the direct route, he sends them “the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea” where, spoiler alert, they’ll end up getting boxed in by the angry Egyptians and then wandering for dozens of years in the desert. Seems like the powerful god should be able to handle Philistines instead of doing a thousand-mile end around.

The chapter ends with an interesting, but ultimately unbelievable, visual: God leads the people with a pillar of fire at night and a cloud during the day because, well, fuck physics.

Exodus 13

1 And Jehovah speaketh unto Moses, saying,

`Sanctify to Me every first-born, opening any womb among the sons of Israel, among man and among beast; it [is] Mine.’

And Moses saith unto the people, `Remember this day [in] which ye have gone out from Egypt, from the house of servants, for by strength of hand hath Jehovah brought you out from this, and any thing fermented is not eaten;

To-day ye are going out, in the month of Abib.

`And it hath been, when Jehovah bringeth thee in unto the land of the Canaanite, and of the Hittite, and of the Amorite, and of the Hivite, and of the Jebusite, which He hath sworn to thy fathers to give to thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou hast done this service in this month.

`Seven days thou dost eat unleavened things, and in the seventh day [is] a feast to Jehovah;

unleavened things are eaten the seven days, and any thing fermented is not seen with thee; yea, leaven is not seen with thee in all thy border.

`And thou hast declared to thy son in that day, saying, `[It is] because of what Jehovah did to me, in my going out from Egypt,

and it hath been to thee for a sign on thy hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, so that the law of Jehovah is in thy mouth, for by a strong hand hath Jehovah brought thee out from Egypt;

10 and thou hast kept this statute at its appointed season from days to days.

11 `And it hath been, when Jehovah bringeth thee in unto the land of the Canaanite, as He hath sworn to thee and to thy fathers, and hath given it to thee,

12 that thou hast caused every one opening a womb to pass over to Jehovah, and every firstling — the increase of beasts which thou hast: the males [are] Jehovah’s.

13 `And every firstling of an ass thou dost ransom with a lamb, and if thou dost not ransom [it], then thou hast beheaded it: and every first-born of man among thy sons thou dost ransom.

14 `And it hath been, when thy son asketh thee hereafter, saying, What [is] this? that thou hast said unto him, By strength of hand hath Jehovah brought us out from Egypt, from a house of servants;

15 yea, it cometh to pass, when Pharaoh hath been pained to send us away, that Jehovah doth slay every first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of man even unto the first-born of beast; therefore I am sacrificing to Jehovah all opening a womb who [are] males, and every first-born of my sons I ransom;

16 and it hath been for a token on thy hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes, for by strength of hand hath Jehovah brought us out of Egypt.’

17 And it cometh to pass in Pharaoh’s sending the people away, that God hath not led them the way of the land of the Philistines, for it [is] near; for God said, `Lest the people repent in their seeing war, and have turned back towards Egypt;’

18 and God turneth round the people the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea, and by fifties have the sons of Israel gone up from the land of Egypt.

19 And Moses taketh the bones of Joseph with him, for he certainly caused the sons of Israel to swear, saying, `God doth certainly inspect you, and ye have brought up my bones from this with you.’

20 And they journey from Succoth, and encamp in Etham at the extremity of the wilderness,

21 and Jehovah is going before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them in the way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give light to them, to go by day and by night;

22 He removeth not the pillar of the cloud by day, and the pillar of the fire by night, [from] before the people.

Passover: The Glorious Festival of Vagisil and Indiscriminate Homicide

Gird your loins bitches! It’s God’s first official annual holiday, and it is a doozy. Get your sneakers on, throw on your coat, slaughter a baby lamb, gorge yourself on its entrails, and smear its blood on your door frame, IT’S PASSOVER!

You’re going to be cowering in terror while you scarf this feast because Jehovah himself is going to fly over Egypt like a goddamn Predator drone smiting every single first-born child. Also, animals, even though he has already killed the firstborn animals twice already.

Also, interestingly, there is a clear polytheistic remnant: Jehovah also seems to acknowledge the existence of other gods by asserting his dominance over them. This isn’t a metaphor, either–that Jehovah is asserting his position as one true god and metaphorically “killing” off rivals–it’s as literal as the dead babies and animals:

12 and I have passed over through the land of Egypt during this night, and have smitten every first-born in the land of Egypt, from man even unto beast, and on all the gods of Egypt I do judgments; I [am] Jehovah.

Religious adherents often point to the big three religions as the the inventors of monotheism, but this is another clue that while these religions may have eventually ended up as “one true god” religions, they didn’t start that way. They began in a world where snakes can talk, Pharaoh’s sorcerers can perform real magic, and Jehovah has to purge Egypt of rival gods. You know, Hogwarts.

Although the blood on the door is the principle talisman to protect their houses from the bloodthirsty rampaging Jehovah, there were some other ways they could offend the omniscient god of the universe and invite a massacre in their home. For example, it anybody ate yeast for the first week of passover, they were to be “cut off from Israel.” God fucking hates yeast and goes on a multi-verse tirade against it. Don’t eat yeast, don’t look at yeast, don’t fucking think about yeast.

18 `In the first [month], in the fourteenth day of the month, in the evening, ye do eat unleavened things until the one and twentieth day of the month, at evening;

19 seven days leaven is not found in your houses, for any [one] eating anything fermented — that person hath been cut off from the company of Israel, among the sojourners or among the natives of the land;

20 anything fermented ye do not eat, in all your dwellings ye do eat unleavened things.’

Seriously, don’t fucking eat any yeast.

After the lecture is over. God gets down to the good part, the killing:

29 And it cometh to pass, at midnight, that Jehovah hath smitten every first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh who is sitting on his throne, unto the first-born of the captive who [is] in the prison-house, and every first-born of beasts.

I’m sure that guy in the dungeon, who could not possibly know about the rules laid down by Jehovah let alone comply with them, deserved the death of his first-born child.

And that brings me to another bit of inanity in this whole story. This isn’t the 21st century, where Moses can hit up his tweeple and Facebook friends and rely on social media virulence to spread the news. How the fuck would he pass along those rather significant instructions to literally every single Israelite? Let’s pretend this book is nonfiction again and look at the banality. Every single Israelite without fail, would need to get this message. Unless god is satisfied with substantial compliance, and unconcerned about the people who never get the message. This is a tribal culture of loosely connected people who can’t read and can probably converse with their donkeys better than other people, and we are supposed to accept that every single one of them got the message in time to smear blood on their door. How fucking impossibly stupid is that? You have to assume (if this were real) that some people were out taking a shit when Moses knocked on their door and so their kid ends up dead, or that Moses didn’t have an inventory of every single Israelite in Egypt and took a “meh, I think I warned enough of them” approach, then God killed the shit out of their family. It’s really fucking stupid, but that is basically the same story as Christianity later when Jesus comes along and whether or not you’ve heard the good news, or even if you are a fucking dead baby, you’re still going to burn in hell forever and ever because you didn’t hear the good news about Jesus fucking Christ.

After this wonderful night of death that is still remembered fondly to this day, the Israelites pack up their shit, steal their neighbors’ shit (who are probably still crying over the body of their dead babies), and head out of town. Verse 37 claims that there were 600,000 men and their families and flocks (who, remember, Moses was able to warn individually about the midnight massacre. Right.) who head outta town, and that they had lived in Egypt for 430 years. So more than a million Israelites lived in Egypt for over 400 years and they didn’t leave a trace of their presence there to support any kind of historicity of this silly book.

The chapter ends with a fizzle again, with a list of instructions about how to eat the passover feast in the future. The merciful god of creation makes sure you know that foreigners can’t eat the Passover feast but your slaves can eat it, but only after you ritually cut their penises.

43 And Jehovah saith unto Moses and Aaron, `This [is] a statute of the passover; Any son of a stranger doth not eat of it;

44 and any man’s servant, the purchase of money, when thou hast circumcised him — then he doth eat of it;

Hahahaha. Seriously, how do people base their lives on this shit?

EXODUS 12

1 And Jehovah speaketh unto Moses and unto Aaron, in the land of Egypt, saying,

`This month [is] to you the chief of months — it [is] the first to you of the months of the year;

speak ye unto all the company of Israel, saying, In the tenth of this month — they take to them each man a lamb for the house of the fathers, a lamb for a house.

`(And if the household be too few for a lamb, then hath he taken, he and his neighbour who is near unto his house, for the number of persons, each according to his eating ye do count for the lamb,)

a lamb, a perfect one, a male, a son of a year, let be to you; from the sheep or from the goats ye do take [it].

`And it hath become a charge to you, until the fourteenth day of this month, and the whole assembly of the company of Israel have slaughtered it between the evenings;

and they have taken of the blood, and have put on the two side-posts, and on the lintel over the houses in which they eat it.

`And they have eaten the flesh in this night, roast with fire; with unleavened things and bitters they do eat it;

ye do not eat of it raw, or boiled at all in water, but roast with fire, its head with its legs, and with its inwards;

10 and ye do not leave of it till morning, and that which is remaining of it till morning with fire ye do burn.

11 `And thus ye do eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand, and ye have eaten it in haste; it is Jehovah’s passover,

12 and I have passed over through the land of Egypt during this night, and have smitten every first-born in the land of Egypt, from man even unto beast, and on all the gods of Egypt I do judgments; I [am] Jehovah.

13 `And the blood hath become a sign for you on the houses where ye [are], and I have seen the blood, and have passed over you, and a plague is not on you for destruction in My smiting in the land of Egypt.

14 `And this day hath become to you a memorial, and ye have kept it a feast to Jehovah to your generations; — a statute age-during; ye keep it a feast.

15 Seven days ye eat unleavened things; only — in the first day ye cause leaven to cease out of your houses; for any one eating anything fermented from the first day till the seventh day, even that person hath been cut off from Israel.

16 `And in the first day [is] a holy convocation, and in the seventh day ye have a holy convocation; any work is not done in them, only that which is eaten by any person — it alone is done by you,

17 and ye have observed the unleavened things, for in this self-same day I have brought out your hosts from the land of Egypt, and ye have observed this day to your generations — a statute age-during.

18 `In the first [month], in the fourteenth day of the month, in the evening, ye do eat unleavened things until the one and twentieth day of the month, at evening;

19 seven days leaven is not found in your houses, for any [one] eating anything fermented — that person hath been cut off from the company of Israel, among the sojourners or among the natives of the land;

20 anything fermented ye do not eat, in all your dwellings ye do eat unleavened things.’

21 And Moses calleth for all the elders of Israel, and saith unto them, `Draw out and take for yourselves [from] the flock, for your families, and slaughter the passover-sacrifice;

22 and ye have taken a bunch of hyssop, and have dipped [it] in the blood which [is] in the basin, and have struck [it] on the lintel, and on the two side-posts, from the blood which [is] in the basin, and ye, ye go not out each from the opening of his house till morning.

23 `And Jehovah hath passed on to smite the Egyptians, and hath seen the blood on the lintel, and on the two side-posts, and Jehovah hath passed over the opening, and doth not permit the destruction to come into your houses to smite.

24 `And ye have observed this thing, for a statute to thee, and to thy sons — unto the age;

25 and it hath been, when ye come in unto the land which Jehovah giveth to you, as He hath spoken, that ye have kept this service;

26 and it hath come to pass when your sons say unto you, What [is] this service ye have?

27 that ye have said, A sacrifice of passover it [is] to Jehovah, who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt, in His smiting the Egyptians, and our houses He delivered.’

28 And the people bow and do obeisance, and the sons of Israel go and do as Jehovah commanded Moses and Aaron; so have they done.

29 And it cometh to pass, at midnight, that Jehovah hath smitten every first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh who is sitting on his throne, unto the first-born of the captive who [is] in the prison-house, and every first-born of beasts.

30 And Pharaoh riseth by night, he and all his servants, and all the Egyptians, and there is a great cry in Egypt, for there is not a house where there is not [one] dead,

31 and he calleth for Moses and for Aaron by night, and saith, `Rise, go out from the midst of my people, both ye and the sons of Israel, and go, serve Jehovah according to your word;

32 both your flock and your herd take ye, as ye have spoken, and go; then ye have blessed also me.’

33 And the Egyptians are urgent on the people, hasting to send them away out of the land, for they said, `We are all dead;’

34 and the people taketh up its dough before it is fermented, their kneading-troughs [are] bound up in their garments on their shoulder.

35 And the sons of Israel have done according to the word of Moses, and they ask from the Egyptians vessels of silver and vessels of gold, and garments;

36 and Jehovah hath given the grace of the people in the eyes of the Egyptians, and they cause them to ask, and they spoil the Egyptians.

37 And the sons of Israel journey from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, apart from infants;

38 and a great rabble also hath gone up with them, and flock and herd — very much cattle.

39 And they bake with the dough which they have brought out from Egypt unleavened cakes, for it hath not fermented; for they have been cast out of Egypt, and have not been able to delay, and also provision they have not made for themselves.

40 And the dwelling of the sons of Israel which they have dwelt in Egypt [is] four hundred and thirty years;

41 and it cometh to pass, at the end of four hundred and thirty years — yea, it cometh to pass in this self-same day — all the hosts of Jehovah have gone out from the land of Egypt.

42 A night of watchings it [is] to Jehovah, to bring them out from the land of Egypt; it [is] this night to Jehovah of watchings to all the sons of Israel to their generations.

43 And Jehovah saith unto Moses and Aaron, `This [is] a statute of the passover; Any son of a stranger doth not eat of it;

44 and any man’s servant, the purchase of money, when thou hast circumcised him — then he doth eat of it;

45 a settler or hired servant doth not eat of it;

46 in one house it is eaten, thou dost not carry out of the house [any] of the flesh without, and a bone ye do not break of it;

47 all the company of Israel do keep it.

48 `And when a sojourner sojourneth with thee, and hath made a passover to Jehovah, every male of his [is] to be circumcised, and then he doth come near to keep it, and he hath been as a native of the land, but any uncircumcised one doth not eat of it;

49 one law is to a native, and to a sojourner who is sojourning in your midst.’

50 And all the sons of Israel do as Jehovah commanded Moses and Aaron; so have they done.

51 And it cometh to pass in this self-same day, Jehovah hath brought out the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt, by their hosts.

Fuck Jehovah.

Well, God is a racist. In Chapter 11, he fires up his smiting machine and, through the slaughter of every first-born child, sends the message that “Jehovah doth make a separation between the Egyptians and Israel.” It’s such a wonderfully inclusive and peaceful religion.

He’s not classist though; he kills babies whether they are noblemen or “the first-born of the maid-servant who is behind the millstones.” Because slave women are responsible for the Jews captivity, right? Oh, and for good measure, he kills the first-born puppies, kittens, bunnies, and all the other super-evil cute baby animals whose blood is required to send the message of Jehovah’s “wonders in the land of Egypt.”

Just to add a little pizzazz to this already heartwarming story, the Jews also rob and pillage their Egyptian neighbors of their valuables before they leave, so a bunch of poor and childless victims of a maniacal sociopath’s ego-trip tirade will be the Jews’ legacy in Egypt. Pretty wonderful stuff. God certainly is great.

EXODUS 11

1 And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `One plague more I do bring in on Pharaoh, and on Egypt, afterwards he doth send you away from this; when he is sending you away, he surely casteth you out altogether from this [place];

speak, I pray thee, in the ears of the people, and they ask — each man from his neighbour, and each woman from her neighbour, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold.’

And Jehovah giveth the grace of the people in the eyes of the Egyptians; also the man Moses [is] very great in the land of Egypt, in the eyes of the servants of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of the people.

And Moses saith, `Thus said Jehovah, About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt,

and every first-born in the land of Egypt hath died, from the first-born of Pharaoh who is sitting on his throne, unto the first-born of the maid-servant who [is] behind the millstones, and all the first-born of beasts;

and there hath been a great cry in all the land of Egypt, such as there hath not been, and such as there is not again.

`And against all the sons of Israel a dog sharpeneth not its tongue, from man even unto beast, so that ye know that Jehovah doth make a separation between the Egyptians and Israel;

and all these thy servants have come down unto me, and bowed themselves to me, saying, Go out, thou and all the people who [are] at thy feet; and afterwards I do go out;’ — and he goeth out from Pharaoh in the heat of anger.

And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `Pharaoh doth not hearken unto you, so as to multiply My wonders in the land of Egypt;’

10 and Moses and Aaron have done all these wonders before Pharaoh, and Jehovah strengtheneth Pharaoh’s heart, and he hath not sent the sons of Israel out of his land.

Jehovah Roid Rage Part III: All for the Kudos

Jehovah starts out strong in Chapter 10:

1 And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `Go in unto Pharaoh, for I have declared hard his heart, and the heart of his servants, so that I set these My signs in their midst,

and so that thou recountest in the ears of thy son, and of thy son’s son, that which I have done in Egypt, and My signs which I have set among them, and ye have known that I [am] Jehovah.’

In other words, “I have caused Pharaoh to deny your requests to leave and killed countless animals and people so that you can brag about me to your kids.” Nice guy. Moses and Aaron take the message and run with it, promising Pharaoh a new plague: locusts that will destroy anything that managed to survive the hail storm and previous massacres–I mean, miracles. A conversation follows in which Pharaoh calls Moses and Aaron on their bullshit. He (accurately) guesses that they are not just going out to worship, but that they are planning to leave and never come back, and that they have been lying to him the whole time. Maybe if they had been honest in the beginning this would have all gone differently. Pharaoh says the men can go, but they can’t take their entire families with them, so Moses and Aaron call upon the locust hordes to savage the land.

The results of this latest scourge is thatthe land is darkened; and it eateth every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail hath left, and there hath not been left any green thing in the trees, or in the herb of the field, in all the land of Egypt.” Which is pretty much exactly what was supposed to have happened from the hail plague, unless the greatest miracle of all was to destroy things that didn’t exist anymore.

God “strengtheneth the heart of Pharaoh” again, because he’s not yet done using him as an example and destroying innocent living things.

The next plague–three days of darkness–seems like a de-escalation after all the mass killing, but I suppose it has symbolic significance. Jehovah is metaphorically humping the leg of the Egyptian sun god Ra. Pharaoh offers to let everyone go worship now, as long as they leave their animals (since he needs some fucking food after Jehovah and crew slaughtered everything else), but Moses is not in a mood for compromise.  Pharaoh says “get your fucking stupid face out of here, I never want to see it again” and Moses says “fair enough, I don’t want to see your stupid fucking face” and they part ways and the chapter ends with a suspenseful pall over the story.

EXODUS 10

1 And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `Go in unto Pharaoh, for I have declared hard his heart, and the heart of his servants, so that I set these My signs in their midst,

and so that thou recountest in the ears of thy son, and of thy son’s son, that which I have done in Egypt, and My signs which I have set among them, and ye have known that I [am] Jehovah.’

And Moses cometh in — Aaron also — unto Pharaoh, and they say unto him, `Thus said Jehovah, God of the Hebrews, Until when hast thou refused to be humbled at My presence? send My people away, and they serve Me,

for if thou art refusing to send My people away, lo, I am bringing in to-morrow the locust into thy border,

and it hath covered the eye of the land, and none is able to see the land, and it hath eaten the remnant of that which is escaped, which is left to you from the hail, and it hath eaten every tree which is springing for you out of the field;

and they have filled thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians, which neither thy fathers nor thy father’s fathers have seen, since the day of their being on the ground unto this day,’ — and he turneth and goeth out from Pharaoh.

And the servants of Pharaoh say unto him, `Until when doth this [one] become a snare to us? send the men away, and they serve Jehovah their God; knowest thou not yet that Egypt hath perished?’

And Moses is brought back — Aaron also — unto Pharaoh, and he saith unto them, `Go, serve Jehovah your God; — who and who [are] those going?’

And Moses saith, `With our young ones, and with our aged ones, we go, with our sons, and with our daughters, with our flock, and our herd, we go, for we have a festival to Jehovah.’

10 And he saith unto them, `Be it so, Jehovah [be] with you when I send you and your infants away; see — for evil [is] before your faces;

11 not so! go now, ye who [are] men, and serve Jehovah, for that ye are seeking;’ and [one] casteth them out from the presence of Pharaoh.

12 And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `Stretch out thy hand against the land of Egypt for the locust, and it goeth up against the land of Egypt, and doth eat every herb of the land — all that the hail hath left.’

13 And Moses stretcheth out his rod against the land of Egypt, and Jehovah hath led an east wind over the land all that day, and all the night; the morning hath been, and the east wind hath lifted up the locust.

14 And the locust goeth up against all the land of Egypt, and resteth in all the border of Egypt — very grievous: before it there hath not been such a locust as it, and after it there is none such;

15 and it covereth the eye of all the land, and the land is darkened; and it eateth every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail hath left, and there hath not been left any green thing in the trees, or in the herb of the field, in all the land of Egypt.’

16 And Pharaoh hasteth to call for Moses and for Aaron, and saith, `I have sinned against Jehovah your God, and against you,

17 and now, bear with, I pray you, my sin, only this time, and make ye supplication to Jehovah your God, that He turn aside from off me only this death.’

18 And he goeth out from Pharaoh, and maketh supplication unto Jehovah,

19 and Jehovah turneth a very strong sea wind, and it lifteth up the locust, and bloweth it into the Red Sea — there hath not been left one locust in all the border of Egypt;

20 and Jehovah strengtheneth the heart of Pharaoh, and he hath not sent the sons of Israel away.

21 And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `Stretch out thy hand towards the heavens, and there is darkness over the land of Egypt, and the darkness is felt.’

22 And Moses stretcheth out his hand towards the heavens, and there is darkness — thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days;

23 they have not seen one another, and none hath risen from his place three days; and to all the sons of Israel there hath been light in their dwellings.’

24 And Pharaoh calleth unto Moses and saith, `Go ye, serve Jehovah, only your flock and your herd are stayed, your infants also go with you;’

25 and Moses saith, `Thou also dost give in our hand sacrifices and burnt-offerings, and we have prepared for Jehovah our God;

26 and also our cattle doth go with us, there is not left a hoof, for from it we do take to serve Jehovah our God; and we — we know not how we do serve Jehovah till our going thither.’

27 And Jehovah strengtheneth the heart of Pharaoh, and he hath not been willing to send them away;

28 and Pharaoh saith to him, `Go from me, take heed to thyself, add not to see my face, for in the day thou seest my face thou diest;’

29 and Moses saith, `Rightly hast thou spoken, I add not any more to see thy face.’

God damn it.

God has already conjured and destroyed millions of insects and amphibians, all to make a point, but now he graduates to mammals. There’s something repugnant to me in God’s cavalier destruction of living beings. He supposedly has this wonderful gift of creation, and he uses it to show-off to mortals for the basest reasons, then destroys it all shortly thereafter. His bloodlust has been constant throughout the Bible.  He doesn’t seem to flinch at destroying animals, people, or even the whole Earth. How are we supposed to think life is precious and valuable if the creator snuffs out lives like spent cigarette butts. I have a lot more respect for religions that respect Life: whether it is plant life, animal life, or human life, it seems more morally progressive to respect Life.

God begins chapter 9 by afflicting all of Egypt’s horses, donkeys, camels, and sheep with a “pestilence very grievous.” You know, because the Israelites’ condition is their fault. The bastard kills all of the cattle in Egypt to illustrate his point. Frankly, at this point, I’m not clear on his point. Egypt took in all of the Israelites in a time of famine, kept them alive, and in fact made them prosperous. Their generosity came from humanistic values and an intrinsic desire to help out other humans in need. It did NOT come from Jehovah or his fucked-up code of “ethics.” God did not recognize their generosity or reward them, or even remember it now by offering any mercy in this situation. He is killing people and animals so that his “chosen people” can go tell him how fucking awesome he is: to worship him. Those are extremely perverse morals.

God then blights the Egyptians and animals with boils, making them suffer horribly. I wonder if anyone other than Pharaoh even knew what the punishment was for. The tiny babies and puppies certainly didn’t, but God is indifferent to human suffering (or actually a masochist), so I’m sure the thought wouldn’t have crossed his mind. Also, umm, how did he inflict the animals with boils when he just killed them all with a pestilence? Again, Bible, try to go a chapter without contradicting yourself.

God follows this latest plague with  a victory lap, telling Moses to tell Pharaoh:

16 for this I have caused thee to stand, so as to show thee My power, and for the sake of declaring My Name in all the earth;

In other words, God made Pharaoh refuse to let the Israelites leave to make an entirely selfish point. He removed Pharaoh’s free-will and forced a course of action that killed millions of animals and humans and caused untold suffering, so he could tell everyone how fucking awesome he is. I am truly glad that God doesn’t exist, because if this God existed, I would hate him.

After bragging himself up, Jehovah sends hail and fire from the sky, apparently the worst thing that has ever happened to Egypt “since it hath become a nation.” It kills every man and beast in the field, and every tree on the earth. Indiscriminate, total destruction. How can anyone…ever… defend this? I can’t comprehend how this book became a revered religious foundational text and moral guidepost. This God of the Bible is the most evil character I have ever experienced, or could ever imagine. His entire purpose is to callously destroy life and cause suffering, all to glorify himself and seek recognition. He seems to have created people for the express purpose of giving himself meaning, and thinks nothing of obliterating anything or anyone to get an ego boost. How is the existence of such a creature comforting to billions of people?

EXODUS 9

1 And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `Go in unto Pharaoh, and thou hast spoken unto him, Thus said Jehovah, God of the Hebrews, Send My people away, and they serve me,

for, if thou art refusing to send away, and art still keeping hold upon them,

lo, the hand of Jehovah is on thy cattle which [are] in the field, on horses, on asses, on camels, on herd, and on flock — a pestilence very grievous.

`And Jehovah hath separated between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt, and there doth not die a thing of all the sons of Israel’s;

and Jehovah setteth an appointed time, saying, To-morrow doth Jehovah do this thing in the land.’

And Jehovah doth this thing on the morrow, and all the cattle of Egypt die, and of the cattle of the sons of Israel not one hath died;

and Pharaoh sendeth, and lo, not even one of the cattle of Israel hath died, and the heart of Pharaoh is hard, and he hath not sent the people away.

And Jehovah saith unto Moses and unto Aaron, `Take to you the fulness of your hands [of] soot of a furnace, and Moses hath sprinkled it towards the heavens, before the eyes of Pharaoh,

and it hath become small dust over all the land of Egypt, and it hath become on man and on cattle a boil breaking forth [with] blains, in all the land of Egypt.’

10 And they take the soot of the furnace, and stand before Pharaoh, and Moses sprinkleth it towards the heavens, and it is a boil [with] blains, breaking forth, on man and on beast;

11 and the scribes have not been able to stand before Moses, because of the boil, for the boil hath been on the scribes, and on all the Egyptians.

12 And Jehovah strengtheneth the heart of Pharaoh, and he hath not hearkened unto them, as Jehovah hath spoken unto Moses.

13 And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `Rise early in the morning, and station thyself before Pharaoh, and thou hast said unto him, Thus said Jehovah, God of the Hebrews, Send My people away, and they serve Me,

14 for, at this time I am sending all My plagues unto thy heart, and on thy servants, and on thy people, so that thou knowest that there is none like Me in all the earth,

15 for now I have put forth My hand, and I smite thee, and thy people, with pestilence, and thou art hidden from the earth.

16 `And yet for this I have caused thee to stand, so as to show thee My power, and for the sake of declaring My Name in all the earth;

17 still thou art exalting thyself against My people — so as not to send them away;

18 lo, I am raining about [this] time to-morrow hail very grievous, such as hath not been in Egypt, even from the day of its being founded, even until now.

19 `And, now, send, strengthen thy cattle and all that thou hast in the field; every man and beast which is found in the field, and is not gathered into the house — come down on them hath the hail, and they have died.’

20 He who is fearing the word of Jehovah among the servants of Pharaoh hath caused his servants and his cattle to flee unto the houses;

21 and he who hath not set his heart unto the word of Jehovah leaveth his servants and his cattle in the field.

22 And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `Stretch forth thy hand towards the heavens, and there is hail in all the land of Egypt, on man, and on beast, and on every herb of the field in the land of Egypt.’

23 And Moses stretcheth out his rod towards the heavens, and Jehovah hath given voices and hail, and fire goeth towards the earth, and Jehovah raineth hail on the land of Egypt,

24 and there is hail, and fire catching itself in the midst of the hail, very grievous, such as hath not been in all the land of Egypt since it hath become a nation.

25 And the hail smiteth in all the land of Egypt all that [is] in the field, from man even unto beast, and every herb of the field hath the hail smitten, and every tree of the field it hath broken;

26 only in the land of Goshen, where the sons of Israel [are], there hath been no hail.

27 And Pharaoh sendeth, and calleth for Moses and for Aaron, and saith unto them, `I have sinned this time, Jehovah [is] the Righteous, and I and my people [are] the Wicked,

28 make ye supplication unto Jehovah, and plead that there be no voices of God and hail, and I send you away, and ye add not to remain.’

29 And Moses saith unto him, `At my going out of the city, I spread my palms unto Jehovah — the voices cease, and the hail is not any more, so that thou knowest that the earth [is] Jehovah’s;

30 but thou and thy servants — I have known that ye are not yet afraid of the face of Jehovah God.’

31 And the flax and the barley have been smitten, for the barley [is] budding, and the flax forming flowers,

32 and the wheat and the rye have not been smitten, for they are late.

33 And Moses goeth out from Pharaoh, [from] the city, and spreadeth his hands unto Jehovah, and the voices and the hail cease, and rain hath not been poured out to the earth;

34 and Pharaoh seeth that the rain hath ceased, and the hail and the voices, and he continueth to sin, and hardeneth his heart, he and his servants;

35 and the heart of Pharaoh is strong, and he hath not sent the sons of Israel away, as Jehovah hath spoken by the hand of Moses.

Magical rod-swallowing and other plausible happenings: Exodus 7

Here is confirmation of what I suspected during Chapter 6:

1 And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `See, I have given thee a god to Pharaoh, and Aaron thy brother is thy prophet;

Jehovah has essentially made Moses co-God. This seems to conflict with everything I have ever learned about the sacrosanct monotheistic religions. There is supposed to be one God, and he is supposed to be very, very serious about maintaining his monopoly on god-ness. Almost a third of the ten commandments stress the gravity of this principle. Yet here, God lets Moses hold himself out as God, with his very own prophet. It’s a strange divergence from one of Judeo-Christianity’s central beliefs.

Jehovah-God continues explaining his grand plan to Moses-God, telling him that he is hardening Pharaoh’s heart–making him stubbornly refuse to release the Israelites–so he can show off his supercool magic tricks.

`And I harden the heart of Pharaoh, and have multiplied My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt,

So much for free-will.  Pharaoh and the Egyptians are just victims of a showboating dick of a deity, who needs an anthill at which to direct his magnifying glass. God continues:

I have put My hand on Egypt, and have brought out My hosts, My people, the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments;

and the Egyptians have known that I [am] Jehovah, in My stretching out My hand against Egypt; and I have brought out the sons of Israel from their midst.’

Here’s an interesting question. If Jehovah is God, can’t he figure out some way to show his God-ness that doesn’t involve genocide? All it took to convince Moses was a burning bush, why does he have to engineer a mass killing to show the rest of the Israelites and the Egyptians? Why would he want to do it that way? How about an eclipse? A comet? A personal appearance instead of hiding in the shadows murdering people through a proxy?

Moses and Aaron return to Pharaoh (who has been rendered a stubborn automaton by God) and show off some fucking idiotic magic tricks. There is some really, truly, stupid shit in the Bible, but this interaction is among the worst:

`When Pharaoh speaketh unto you, saying, Give for yourselves a wonder; then thou hast said unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast before Pharaoh — it becometh a monster.’

10 And Moses goeth in — Aaron also — unto Pharaoh, and they do so as Jehovah hath commanded; and Aaron casteth his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it becometh a monster.

11 And Pharaoh also calleth for wise men, and for sorcerers; and the scribes of Egypt, they also, with their flashings, do so,

12 and they cast down each his rod, and they become monsters, and the rod of Aaron swalloweth their rods.

Really God? Really? Turning a stick into a snake-monster (what is translated as “monster” in the literal translation is “snake” in the NIV and most other translations)? God is supposed to be the creator of the fucking universe: breathing into life planets and comets and fucking galaxies and quasars and life itself and his opening gambit is turning a stick into a fucking snake? That is colossally stupid. Secondly, shit, who are these magicians of Pharaoh? If they are not working with the same magic as Moses, then what other force is out there that allowed them to animate a stick? I’m intrigued.

*Also: hehe “Aaron swalloweth their rods.” Hehe.

What follows is an escalating series of magic tricks, which Pharaoh’s magicians are able to replicate for the most part. The last one in this chapter is turning the Nile rier and all the drinking vessels in Egypt into blood, killing all the fish, and bringing Egypt to its knees with dehydration. I’m not sure how anyone made it out alive, Egyptian or Israelite, since it says in verse 25 that it lasted for seven days. But that’s just science, and we all know how the Bible and religion feels about that.

Regardless, Pharaoh’s magicians are able to replicate this trick as well. Unimpressed, and because God took away his freedom to choose otherwise, Pharaoh refuses to let the Israelites leave.

EXODUS 7

1 And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `See, I have given thee a god to Pharaoh, and Aaron thy brother is thy prophet;

thou — thou dost speak all that I command thee, and Aaron thy brother doth speak unto Pharaoh, and he hath sent the sons of Israel out of his land.

`And I harden the heart of Pharaoh, and have multiplied My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt,

and Pharaoh doth not hearken, and I have put My hand on Egypt, and have brought out My hosts, My people, the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments;

and the Egyptians have known that I [am] Jehovah, in My stretching out My hand against Egypt; and I have brought out the sons of Israel from their midst.’

And Moses doth — Aaron also — as Jehovah commanded them; so have they done;

and Moses [is] a son of eighty years, and Aaron [is] a son of eighty and three years, in their speaking unto Pharaoh.

And Jehovah speaketh unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,

`When Pharaoh speaketh unto you, saying, Give for yourselves a wonder; then thou hast said unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast before Pharaoh — it becometh a monster.’

10 And Moses goeth in — Aaron also — unto Pharaoh, and they do so as Jehovah hath commanded; and Aaron casteth his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it becometh a monster.

11 And Pharaoh also calleth for wise men, and for sorcerers; and the scribes of Egypt, they also, with their flashings, do so,

12 and they cast down each his rod, and they become monsters, and the rod of Aaron swalloweth their rods;

13 and the heart of Pharaoh is strong, and he hath not hearkened unto them, as Jehovah hath spoken.

14 And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `The heart of Pharaoh hath been hard, he hath refused to send the people away;

15 go unto Pharaoh in the morning, lo, he is going out to the water, and thou hast stood to meet him by the edge of the River, and the rod which was turned to a serpent thou dost take in thy hand,

16 and thou hast said unto him: Jehovah, God of the Hebrews, hath sent me unto thee, saying, Send My people away, and they serve Me in the wilderness; and lo, thou hast not hearkened hitherto.

17 `Thus said Jehovah: By this thou knowest that I [am] Jehovah; lo, I am smiting with the rod which [is] in my hand, on the waters which [are] in the River, and they have been turned to blood,

18 and the fish that [are] in the River die, and the River hath stank, and the Egyptians have been wearied of drinking waters from the River.’

19 And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thy hand against the waters of Egypt, against their streams, against their rivers, and against their ponds, and against all their collections of waters; and they are blood — and there hath been blood in all the land of Egypt, both in [vessels of] wood, and in [those of] stone.’

20 And Moses and Aaron do so, as Jehovah hath commanded, and he lifteth up [his hand] with the rod, and smiteth the waters which [are] in the River, before the eyes of Pharaoh, and before the eyes of his servants, and all the waters which [are] in the River are turned to blood,

21 and the fish which [is] in the River hath died, and the River stinketh, and the Egyptians have not been able to drink water from the River; and the blood is in all the land of Egypt.

22 And the scribes of Egypt do so with their flashings, and the heart of Pharaoh is strong, and he hath not hearkened unto them, as Jehovah hath spoken,

23 and Pharaoh turneth and goeth in unto his house, and hath not set his heart even to this;

24 and all the Egyptians seek water round about the river to drink, for they have not been able to drink of the waters of the River.

25 And seven days are completed after Jehovah’s smiting the River.

God, just pick a fucking name and stick with it.

This is a strange chapter indeed. It starts out with God really, really trying hard to convince Moses that he is the same God that Moses’ ancestors knew. It’s one of those “thou dost protest too much” situations, where the harder he tries to explain who he is, the more doubt it casts on his identity. He tells Moses that he is the same God of Abraham and Isaac, but that he just didn’t feel like telling them his name for no apparent reason:

2 …I  [am] Jehovah, and I appear unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as God Almighty; as to My name Jehovah, I have not been known to them…

God certainly has a strange hangup about names. He calls himself by about five different names at different points, sometimes in the same sentence, or sometimes he doesn’t have any name at all, like when he was dealing with Moses’ ancestors, or when he asshole-ishly told Moses “I am who I am.” It doesn’t make any sense, unless you think of it in the greater context of this whole book being borrowed and repackaged garbage and fresh bullshit that was changed a thousand times subsequently, then everything is crystal clear.

Anyway, God tells Moses to tell the Israelites:

6 …I [am] Jehovah, and I have brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and have delivered you from their service, and have redeemed you by a stretched-out arm, and by great judgments,

and have taken you to Me for a people, and I have been to you for God, and ye have known that I [am] Jehovah your God, who is bringing you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians;

and I have brought you in unto the land which I have lifted up My hand to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and have given it to you — a possession; I [am] Jehovah.

He doesn’t tell Moses to tell them “I am here on behalf of your God, Jehovah,” he tells Moses to tell them “I am your God Jehovah.” Moses is God to them. God is either an idiot who lacks a grasp of first- and third-person tenses, or he is perfectly OK with the people worshipping Moses as a God. It seems dishonest, and it conflicts with the rage God will have later in the Bible anytime anyone holds themselves out as a God-proxy or idol. The name/identity weirdness is recurring issue. Genesis never could keep straight whether it was God talking to the protagonists, or whether they were conversing with messengers from God. It makes for a confusing and contradictory view of what constitutes God, and undermines the whole “monotheism” thing.

The chapter ends unsatisfyingly (typical) with Moses delivering the message to the people but being completely ignored, and then a random family tree breaks out and the chapter is over. The only interesting tidbit in the genealogy is that Moses and Aaron are the spawn of incest: their father Amram married and repeatedly impregnated his own aunt. Maybe that’s why Moses has the delightful-sounding speech defect of “uncircumcised lips.” Hey kids, don’t fuck your father’s sister, OK? It’s bad for the genes.

EXODUS 6

1 And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `Now dost thou see that which I do to Pharaoh, for with a strong hand he doth send them away, yea, with a strong hand he doth cast them out of his land.’

And God speaketh unto Moses, and saith unto him, `I [am] Jehovah,

and I appear unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as God Almighty; as to My name Jehovah, I have not been known to them;

and also I have established My covenant with them, to give to them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojournings, wherein they have sojourned;

and also I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, whom the Egyptians are causing to serve, and I remember My covenant.

`Therefore say to the sons of Israel, I [am] Jehovah, and I have brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and have delivered you from their service, and have redeemed you by a stretched-out arm, and by great judgments,

and have taken you to Me for a people, and I have been to you for God, and ye have known that I [am] Jehovah your God, who is bringing you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians;

and I have brought you in unto the land which I have lifted up My hand to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and have given it to you — a possession; I [am] Jehovah.’

And Moses speaketh so unto the sons of Israel, and they hearkened not unto Moses, for anguish of spirit, and for harsh service.

10 And Jehovah speaketh unto Moses, saying,

11 `Go in, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he doth send the sons of Israel out of his land;

12 and Moses speaketh before Jehovah, saying, `Lo, the sons of Israel have not hearkened unto me, and how doth Pharaoh hear me, and I of uncircumcised lips?’

13 And Jehovah speaketh unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and chargeth them for the sons of Israel, and for Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring out the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt.

14 These [are] heads of the house of their fathers: Sons of Reuben first-born of Israel [are] Hanoch, and Phallu, Hezron, and Carmi: these [are] families of Reuben.

15 And sons of Simeon [are] Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul, son of the Canaanitess: these [are] families of Simeon.

16 And these [are] the names of the sons of Levi, as to their births: Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari: and the years of the life of Levi [are] a hundred and thirty and seven years.

17 The sons of Gershon [are] Libni, and Shimi, as to their families.

18 And the sons of Kohath [are] Amram, and Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel: and the years of the life of Kohath [are] a hundred and thirty and three years.

19 And the sons of Merari [are] Mahli and Mushi: these [are] families of Levi, as to their births.

20 And Amram taketh Jochebed his aunt to himself for a wife, and she beareth to him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram [are] a hundred and thirty and seven years.

21 And sons of Izhar [are] Korah, and Nepheg, and Zichri.

22 And sons of Uzziel [are] Mishael, and Elzaphan, and Sithri.

23 And Aaron taketh Elisheba daughter of Amminadab, sister of Naashon, to himself for a wife, and she beareth to him Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.

24 And sons of Korah [are] Assir, and Elkanah, and Abiasaph: these [are] families of the Korhite.

25 And Eleazar, Aaron’s son, hath taken to him [one] of the daughters of Putiel for a wife to himself, and she beareth to him Phinehas: these [are] heads of the fathers of the Levites, as to their families.

26 This [is] Aaron — and Moses — to whom Jehovah said, `Bring ye out the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt, by their hosts;’

27 these are they who are speaking unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring out the sons of Israel from Egypt, this [is] Moses — and Aaron.

28 And it cometh to pass in the day of Jehovah’s speaking unto Moses in the land of Egypt,

29 that Jehovah speaketh unto Moses, saying, `I [am] Jehovah, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I am speaking unto thee.’

30 And Moses saith before Jehovah, `Lo, I [am] of uncircumcised lips, and how doth Pharaoh hearken unto me?’

Let’s try Plan B: The Almighty’s plan backfires

Moses and Aaron (a wanted murderer and his brother, both foreigners) somehow immediately get a personal audience with Pharaoh. Plausible. They ask the king to allow the Hebrews to leave to throw a feast in the wilderness for Jehovah, god of Israel. Pharaoh replies, understandably, “who the fuck is that?” Jehovah is such an absentee deity that no one is even aware of him. Given his insistence on being recognized and feared, you can’t help but think that his relative anonymity is due to impotence, not some sort of new-found humility.

Moses and Aaron’s reply is a veiled threat that if they don’t meet Jehovah, he will bring pestilence and sword. Pharaoh doesn’t respond well to the threat, telling Moses and Aaron to get back to work and quit organizing work-stoppages (even though they supposedly went straight to Pharaoh, so it’s unclear how the Hebrews got word of the strike). He also tells his people to stop giving the Hebrews straw to make bricks, so they’ll have to collect it themselves. I understand where he’s coming from here, but that seems counterproductive. “The Hebrews stopped making bricks, make them find the raw materials themselves now.” Yeah, that’ll help. He does give them some good advice though, saying “be not dazzled by lying words.” Given Jehovah and Co.’s track record for deception, that’s very astute advice.

Predictably, they can’t make their brick quota, so beatings ensue. Their union reps go to Pharaoh to ask why the fuck they are being beaten for failing to make targets that are a result of Pharaoh’s no-straw policy, and Pharaoh calls them lazy and points the finger at Moses and Aaron. The angry slaves invoke the very cause of their affliction in condemning Moses and Aaron:

21 `Jehovah look upon you, and judge, because ye have caused our fragrance to stink in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants — to give a sword into their hand to slay us.’

That would be a valid criticism except it was Jehovah’s fault and his idea in the first place. To his credit, Moses (who has been a giant pussy so far) holds Jehovah to task for his shitty plan that backfired.

22 And Moses turneth back unto Jehovah, and saith, `Lord, why hast Thou done evil to this people? why [is] this? — Thou hast sent me!

23 and since I have come unto Pharaoh, to speak in Thy name, he hath done evil to this people, and Thou hast not at all delivered Thy people.’

That’s an accurate assessment, but a bit risky considering this loose canon god recently almost killed him for no reason, and was only dissuaded by penis blood of an infant.

EXODUS 5

1 And afterwards have Moses and Aaron entered, and they say unto Pharaoh, `Thus said Jehovah, God of Israel, Send My people away, and they keep a feast to Me in the wilderness;’

and Pharaoh saith, `Who [is] Jehovah, that I hearken to His voice, to send Israel away? I have not known Jehovah, and Israel also I do not send away.’

And they say, `The God of the Hebrews hath met with us, let us go, we pray thee, a journey of three days into the wilderness, and we sacrifice to Jehovah our God, lest He meet us with pestilence or with sword.’

And the king of Egypt saith unto them, `Why, Moses and Aaron, do ye free the people from its works? go to your burdens.’

Pharaoh also saith, `Lo, numerous now [is] the people of the land, and ye have caused them to cease from their burdens!’

And Pharaoh commandeth, on that day, the exactors among the people and its authorities, saying,

`Ye do not add to give straw to the people for the making of the bricks, as heretofore — they go and have gathered straw for themselves;

and the proper quantity of the bricks which they are making heretofore ye do put on them, ye do not diminish from it, for they are remiss, therefore they are crying, saying, Let us go, let us sacrifice to our God;

let the service be heavy on the men, and let them work at it, and not be dazzled by lying words.’

10 And the exactors of the people, and its authorities, go out, and speak unto the people, saying, `Thus said Pharaoh, I do not give you straw,

11 ye — go ye, take for yourselves straw where ye find [it], for there is nothing of your service diminished.’

12 And the people is scattered over all the land of Egypt, to gather stubble for straw,

13 and the exactors are making haste, saying, `Complete your works, the matter of a day in its day, as when there is straw.’

14 And the authorities of the sons of Israel, whom the exactors of Pharaoh have placed over them, are beaten, saying, `Wherefore have ye not completed your portion in making brick as heretofore, both yesterday and to-day?’

15 And the authorities of the sons of Israel come in and cry unto Pharaoh, saying, `Why dost thou thus to thy servants?

16 Straw is not given to thy servants, and they are saying to us, Make bricks, and lo, thy servants are smitten — and thy people hath sinned.’

17 And he saith, `Remiss — ye are remiss, therefore ye are saying, Let us go, let us sacrifice to Jehovah;

18 and now, go, serve; and straw is not given to you, and the measure of bricks ye do give.’

19 And the authorities of the sons of Israel see them in affliction, saying, `Ye do not diminish from your bricks; the matter of a day in its day.’

20 And they meet Moses and Aaron standing to meet them, in their coming out from Pharaoh,

21 and say unto them, `Jehovah look upon you, and judge, because ye have caused our fragrance to stink in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants — to give a sword into their hand to slay us.’

22 And Moses turneth back unto Jehovah, and saith, `Lord, why hast Thou done evil to this people? why [is] this? — Thou hast sent me!

23 and since I have come unto Pharaoh, to speak in Thy name, he hath done evil to this people, and Thou hast not at all delivered Thy people.’

Moses worries about his tongue when he encounters a fiery bush: Exodus 3

Well, this is a Bible story that even people unfamiliar with the Bible probably know about. It’s the burning bush story, in which God enlists a reluctant Moses to rescue the Hebrews from their mistreatment in Egypt. It’s pretty much how I remember it, kind of repetitive and awkward. When God appears (his first appearance in the Bible since the middle of Genesis), he has to identify himself to Moses, as “God of thy father, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob,” which I still find peculiar. Are there other gods around speaking from burning bushes whom Moses may confuse with the Hebrew god? Has Jehovah been so absent and negligent that nobody even knows he exists anymore? It’s notable that it only took a few generations for the idea of a single god who is active in human affairs to become a watered-down, pathetic deity only mentioned abstractly at births and funerals, and whose appearances must be accompanied by an introduction.

Anyway, God tells Moses that he has heard the cries of the Hebrews and has resolved to do something about it. Well shit, it’s about fucking time. Actually, technically HE is not going to do anything about it, but he wants Moses to do it. To lead them out of Egypt to the “land of Milk and Honey.” What would have been a clever move for the wise God would have been to use Moses’ pedigree as a Prince of Egypt, Pharaoh’s adopted son, to install him in a position where he could enact a more favorable policy toward Hebrews. Or, you know, he could come up with a convoluted plan to visit plagues on thousands of innocents, kill a bunch of babies, wander in the desert for 80 years, and then have to fight a variety of tribes for the promised land that was so shitty that they were forced to leave or starve to death. Oh yeah, that’s a better plan.

Continuing the story, God decides to confuse the fuck out of the situation by giving cheeky responses to Moses’ very reasonable questions, like “who the fuck are you?” God’s answer:

14 “I Am That Which I Am.”

Cool, thanks asshole. I’m sure the Hebrews will be very responsive when an exiled murdering race-traitor conveys that message. There’s tons of credibility in vaguery and riddles.

Let’s pause here to talk again about WHAT THE FUCK constitutes “god” at this point. We’re supposed to believe that there is a consistent, unique, all-powerful entity somewhere in this fucking book. A singular entity. What we actually have are a collection of beings that are sometimes humanoid and sometimes ethereal, sometimes present and involved and sometimes seemingly nonexistent, sometimes wise and sometimes foolish and temperamental, who has been identified by at least four different names (YHWH, Yahweh, I AM, and Jehovah), and who resembles a compilation of about a dozen pagan deities.

Back to the story, I Am cracks an idiotic plan based on horribly incorrect assumptions to “free” the Hebrews. I put “free” in quotations because that’s mien of the narrative, but the historicity is highly questionable. There’s really no mention outside of the Bible of Hebrews being held by force in a country in which they did not want to remain.  There’s also absolutely no explanation in the Bible about how the Hebrews went from being wildly successful in Egypt, thriving and multiplying in Goshen, to being an abused untouchable slave caste.

God’s plan also involves some extremely fucked-up manipulations by the big bully. Check this:

18 `And they have hearkened to thy voice, and thou hast entered, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye have said unto him, Jehovah, God of the Hebrews, hath met with us; and now, let us go, we pray thee, a journey of three days into the wilderness, and we sacrifice to Jehovah our God.

19 `And I — I have known that the king of Egypt doth not permit you to go, unless by a strong hand,

20 and I have put forth My hand, and have smitten Egypt with all My wonders, which I do in its midst — and afterwards he doth send you away.

Suddenly God, who took untold decades to realize that his people weren’t doing so well in Egypt, knows what is going to happen in the future, and predicts that he will have to fuck shit up to get Pharaoh to release the Hebrews. Stay tuned, because [spoiler alert] this is going to get progressively fucked up. It will turn out that God’s “prediction” is not so much bona fide presagacity as a disturbingly violent self-fulfilling prophecy.

This chapter ends on a high note. Not only does this on-again/off-again murderous psychopath deity tell his people to lie to the Egyptians and promise to rain down his fury, but they’re also supposed to steal all of their shit on the way out.

22 and [every] woman hath asked from her neighbour, and from her who is sojourning in her house, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and garments, and ye have put [them] on your sons and on your daughters, and have spoiled the Egyptians.’

Cool!

EXODUS 3

1 And Moses hath been feeding the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, priest of Midian, and he leadeth the flock behind the wilderness, and cometh in unto the mount of God, to Horeb;

and there appeareth unto him a messenger of Jehovah in a flame of fire, out of the midst of the bush, and he seeth, and lo, the bush is burning with fire, and the bush is not consumed.

And Moses saith, `Let me turn aside, I pray thee, and I see this great appearance; wherefore is the bush not burned?’

and Jehovah seeth that he hath turned aside to see, and God calleth unto him out of the midst of the bush, and saith, `Moses, Moses;’ and he saith, `Here [am] I.’

And He saith, `Come not near hither: cast thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place on which thou art standing is holy ground.’

He saith also, `I [am] the God of thy father, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob;’ and Moses hideth his face, for he is afraid to look towards God.

And Jehovah saith, `I have certainly seen the affliction of My people who [are] in Egypt, and their cry I have heard, because of its exactors, for I have known its pains;

and I go down to deliver it out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to cause it to go up out of the land, unto a land good and broad, unto a land flowing with milk and honey — unto the place of the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.

`And now, lo, the cry of the sons of Israel hath come in unto Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them,

10 and now, come, and I send thee unto Pharaoh, and bring thou out My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.’

11 And Moses saith unto God, `Who [am] I, that I go unto Pharaoh, and that I bring out the sons of Israel from Egypt?’

12 and He saith, `Because I am with thee, and this [is] to thee the sign that I have sent thee: in thy bringing out the people from Egypt — ye do serve God on this mount.’

13 And Moses saith unto God, `Lo, I am coming unto the sons of Israel, and have said to them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you, and they have said to me, What [is] His name? what do I say unto them?’

14 And God saith unto Moses, `I Am That Which I Am;’ He saith also, `Thus dost thou say to the sons of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.’

15 And God saith again unto Moses, `Thus dost thou say unto the sons of Israel, Jehovah, God of your fathers, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you; this [is] My name — to the age, and this My memorial, to generation — generation.

16 `Go, and thou hast gathered the elders of Israel, and hast said unto them: Jehovah, God of your fathers, hath appeareth unto me, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, I have certainly inspected you, and that which is done to you in Egypt;

17 and I say, I bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt, unto the land of the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite, unto a land flowing [with] milk and honey.

18 `And they have hearkened to thy voice, and thou hast entered, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye have said unto him, Jehovah, God of the Hebrews, hath met with us; and now, let us go, we pray thee, a journey of three days into the wilderness, and we sacrifice to Jehovah our God.

19 `And I — I have known that the king of Egypt doth not permit you to go, unless by a strong hand,

20 and I have put forth My hand, and have smitten Egypt with all My wonders, which I do in its midst — and afterwards he doth send you away.

21 `And I have given the grace of this people in the eyes of the Egyptians, and it hath come to pass, when ye go, ye go not empty;

22 and [every] woman hath asked from her neighbour, and from her who is sojourning in her house, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and garments, and ye have put [them] on your sons and on your daughters, and have spoiled the Egyptians.’