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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Jesus is a Trope.

I’m taking the unusual step here of breaking in my progression through the Bible to lay out some more of my personal philosophical observations. I laid out my intent in taking on this project in my  previous posts and comments, including why I would approach the Bible from a literal perspective with secondary interpretations of the content. However, some of those explanations seem to be lost on some of my readers, so they deserve hashing out again.

(1) The Bible is literally ridiculous.

There are hundreds of translations of the Bible, not simply in different languages, but with various editors who liberally exercise their pens to make the text more approachable, more contemporary, more aligned with modern culture, better for every imaginable demographic, including children via cartoon Bibles, or whatever their audience calls for. Words convey meaning. Different words convey different meanings, so words are important–critically important. Reading the Bible as literally as possible, meaning in English but as close to literal as translation allows, gives a more accurate view of the original, intended content. We can never know how accurate any Bible is, thanks to centuries of tinkering, the Council of Nicaea, and other events, but we can at least minimize the impact of more recent divergences.

The Bible read literally, without softening for palatability, is fucking ridiculous. It is a poorly written, internally inconsistent, superstitious, bloody, primitive, sexist, racist mess. As some have suggested, I could ignore these indicia of the primitive roots of the Bible. Or I could, as every single textual interpretation philosophy would endorse, consider the author and cultural context of the text as an important part of the interpretation. When I say I am reading the text literally, and when I write my posts, I am not simply picking apart outdated cultural artifacts; I have also been looking behind the text at the morality and theology behind the text. What I refuse to do is what has been suggested as the “smart” approach by some readers: ignore all the parts that don’t fit with the current cultural norms, and simply pick the parts that can be interpreted in this day and age. Why? Because if your religion is entirely dependent on your specific cultural norms, then it is a lazy and shoddy basis for your morality. As I said in response to a comment a few months ago:

If God wrote a book (or inspired people to write a book) that was central to their theology, he should have either (1) made it timeless and relevant to more than just its contemporary culture (in which case you should read it literally), or (2) he should have continued to supplement it or supplant it to keep it relevant to evolving cultural norms. Is his morality universal and repugnant or is it evolving with cultural standards? If the former, what kind of God anchors a static morality in an undeveloped and savage past? If the latter, then why do we need God if he is just codifying things that we humans innately, biologically feel, and he hasn’t bothered to update his outdated morality? The morality of the Bible retards the progression of human morality, it doesn’t advance it.

(2) What makes anyone qualified to parse the literal from the figurative? What makes the cut?

If the Bible is metaphorical and adaptive to cultural norms, who is qualified to parse the literal from the figurative? Some critics say that these stories in the old testament are so far beneath our current understanding of the world that they are unbelievable as anything but metaphors. But are they that much more ridiculous than the New Testament? Is it more believable that a woman became spontaneously pregnant with god’s baby, who grew up to perform strangely petty “miracles” like turning water into wine and multiplying fish? Who says that heaven isn’t metaphorical? What if Jesus is a trope? As humanity progresses and morality evolves, which of your  beliefs survives the march of progress? Just those central to your dogma? Do any?

Is a religion in which you ignore other potential sources of morality, and you in fact actively avoid some, a sound basis for a world view? As I said before, if you have to separate the sublime from the ridiculous in the Bible because it was written thousands of years ago when you could rape a woman as long as you paid her father for it, wouldn’t your time be better spent thinking intelligently about your own personal ethics and morals rather than trying to tease them from the noise of this silly ancient book? For that matter, if the Bible is a product of a certain ancient culture, then why is it still relevant at all? Why wouldn’t I consult a contemporary source of moral instruction? One of my biggest problems with the Bible is that it distracts people from thinking about what is right and good and what maximizes human happiness, because they are trying to divine from this conflicted external source whether or not God says they can eat ham.

You have a text that is the foundation of your religion, the source of morals and ethics that is central to billions of people on this planet. People base their lives and deaths on this text. Wouldn’t you rather have something that doesn’t have so much hate, fear, anger and slaughter in it? The thing about religion, and religious texts, is that they carry a premium: that they are sacrosanct and unimpeachable. They are inflexible. People will literally die and kill based on what they find between the covers, and so no, I don’t want to skip over the nasty parts. I am airing all this shit, and if you want to consider that a naive or lazy way to read the Bible, then I can’t help you.

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.

They’re illusions, tricks are what a whore does for money.

Cue “The Final Countdown” because in Chapter 8 a battle of illusions breaks out between Jehovah and Pharaoh’s magicians. They’re relatively stupid magic tricks too, despite their continuing notoriety as the “plagues” of Egypt. First, there are a lot of frogs, courtesy of Aaron’s magic stick. Pharaoh’s magicians are also able to conjure frogs. Those guys are really doing great so far. Pharaoh asks Moses and Aaron to talk to get Jehovah rid of the frogs, and promises to let the Israelites go free, but then reneges when the “plague” is lifted. Somehow, Pharaoh is no longer under the impression that Moses and Aaron are gods, but thinks that he’s dealing with Jehovah, despite the fact that last chapter Moses held himself out as god. Continuity is not a strong point for the Bible.

Next, Aaron conjures gnats. Apparently, gnats are advanced magic, because Pharaoh’s magicians can’t match Aaron this time. It seems like checkmate, but Jehovah wants to beat the dead horse. Not satisfied with a victory, he decides to start killing people instead of graciously taking the victory. He also starts doling out plagues more selectively, avoiding the Israelites, whom he decided to afflict with the first couple plagues just for the fuck of it. When he sends beetles, Pharaoh relents and says the Israelites can go sacrifice to their god, but then changes his mind again after Moses makes the beetles disappear. These guys are both morons.

EXODUS 8

1 And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `Go in unto Pharaoh: and thou hast said unto him, Thus said Jehovah, Send My people away, and they serve Me;

and if thou art refusing to send away, lo, I am smiting all thy border with frogs;

and the River hath teemed [with] frogs, and they have gone up and gone into thy house, and into the inner-chamber of thy bed, and on thy couch, and into the house of thy servants, and among thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneading-troughs;

yea, on thee, and on thy people, and on all thy servants do the frogs go up.’

And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy hand, with thy rod, against the streams, against the rivers, and against the ponds, and cause the frogs to come up against the land of Egypt.’

And Aaron stretcheth out his hand against the waters of Egypt, and the frog cometh up, and covereth the land of Egypt;

and the scribes do so with their flashings, and cause the frogs to come up against the land of Egypt.

And Pharaoh calleth for Moses and for Aaron, and saith, `Make supplication unto Jehovah, that he turn aside the frogs from me, and from my people, and I send the people away, and they sacrifice to Jehovah.’

And Moses saith to Pharaoh, `Beautify thyself over me; when do I make supplication for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to cut off the frogs from thee and from thy houses — only in the River they do remain?’

10 and he saith, `To-morrow.’ And he saith, According to thy word [it is], so that thou knowest that there is none like Jehovah our God,

11 and the frogs have turned aside from thee, and from thy houses, and from thy servants, and from thy people; only in the River they do remain.’

12 And Moses — Aaron also — goeth out from Pharaoh, and Moses crieth unto Jehovah, concerning the matter of the frogs which He hath set on Pharaoh;

13 and Jehovah doth according to the word of Moses, and the frogs die out of the houses, out of the courts, and out of the fields,

14 and they heap them up together, and the land stinketh.

15 And Pharaoh seeth that there hath been a respite, and he hath hardened his heart, and hath not hearkened unto them, as Jehovah hath spoken.

16 And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the land, and it hath become gnats in all the land of Egypt.’

17 And they do so, and Aaron stretcheth out his hand with his rod, and smiteth the dust of the land, and the gnats are on man and on beast; all the dust of the land hath been gnats in all the land of Egypt.

18 And the scribes do so with their flashings, to bring out the gnats, and they have not been able, and the gnats are on man and on beast;

19 and the scribes say unto Pharaoh, `It [is] the finger of God;’ and the heart of Pharaoh is strong, and he hath not hearkened unto them, as Jehovah hath spoken.

20 And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `Rise early in the morning, and station thyself before Pharaoh, lo, he is going out to the waters, and thou hast said unto him, Thus said Jehovah, Send My people away, and they serve Me;

21 for, if thou art not sending My people away, lo, I am sending against thee, and against thy servants, and against thy people, and against thy houses, the beetle, and the houses of the Egyptians have been full of the beetle, and also the ground on which they are.

22 `And I have separated in that day the land of Goshen, in which My people are staying, that the beetle is not there, so that thou knowest that I [am] Jehovah in the midst of the land,

23 and I have put a division between My people and thy people: to-morrow is this sign.’

24 And Jehovah doth so, and the grievous beetle entereth the house of Pharaoh, and the house of his servants, and in all the land of Egypt the land is corrupted from the presence of the beetle.

25 And Pharaoh calleth unto Moses and to Aaron, and saith, `Go, sacrifice to your God in the land;’

26 and Moses saith, `Not right to do so, for the abomination of the Egyptians we do sacrifice to Jehovah our God; lo, we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes — and they do not stone us!

27 A journey of three days we go into the wilderness, and have sacrificed to Jehovah our God, as He saith unto us.’

28 And Pharaoh saith, `I send you away, and ye have sacrificed to Jehovah your God in the wilderness, only go not very far off; make ye supplication for me;’

29 and Moses saith, `Lo, I am going out from thee, and have made supplication unto Jehovah, and the beetle hath turned aside from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people — to-morrow, only let not Pharaoh add to deceive — in not sending the people away to sacrifice to Jehovah.’

30 And Moses goeth out from Pharaoh, and maketh supplication unto Jehovah,

31 and Jehovah doth according to the word of Moses, and turneth aside the beetle from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people — there hath not been left one;

32 and Pharaoh hardeneth his heart also at this time, and hath not sent the people away.

Angry god? Smear some baby dick-blood on your feet. Presto, happy god. This is your bible people.

This chapter starts right in the middle of Moses’ conversation with God (or his messenger) inside the burning bush. Literally, in the middle of it. The first words are “And Moses answereth.” That’s some shoddy chapterizing there. Moses continues his awkward conversation with God, and it veers into the bizarre. After Moses expresses his skepticism again that the people will believe that he talked with THE Jehovah, God performs a magic trick (I’m sorry, illusion) in which he turns Moses’ rod into a snake. Wow, thanks Jafar, I mean, Almighty God. Why don’t you use your magic fucking powers to do something useful, like rescue the fucking people yourself? Also, why does he have to ask what is in Moses’ hand? Isn’t he supposed to know that, along with everything else in the universe?

I think God is missing the point. Moses is worried that people won’t believe him, that he lacks credibility, so God gives him a private showing of a stupid little party trick. How does that lend him any ethos whatsoever? God’s not done being a magician though, he’s having too much fun with balloon animals. He performs another illusion where he gives Moses leprosy. He really is an asshole. Supposedly infinitely powerful, yet his amazing deeds on Earth consists of giving a guy a communicable disease. If God is not opposed to intervening in human affairs and performing supernatural deeds on Earth, why the fuck doesn’t he just go liberate people himself? Instead of fulfilling his end of the covenant he made ten times, he is playing games like a child burning an ant with a magnifying glass, and putting the onus back on humans to carry the burden of getting their reward. He promised them the land of milk and honey, now he’s making them beg for it and jump through hoops. Ridiculous.

Moses is still skeptical after all this, and reluctant to bring the message to the Hebrews. While he’s usually painted as a doubting Thomas, he seems to have a very healthy, accurate view of Jehovah. He probably thinks there’s a decent possibility that even if he delivers the message, God will not deliver on the promise. It’s a very pragmatic and justifiable approach given Jehovah’s track record.

God is completely unsympathetic though, and apparently holds a very inaccurate idea of himself as trustworthy and reliable, despite never having done a damn thing for anyone to which he made promises. His anger “burneth against Moses” (his one consistent character trait) and he decides to send Moses’ brother Aaron with Moses. Maybe he was pissed because he realized he was wrong and a human was right, again. When Moses finally acquiesces, God has some more disturbing information. He tells Moses that he will “strengthen” Pharaoh’s heart when Moses asks for the Hebrews’ freedom, so that God can show off and use his magical powers to kill people. I haven’t found any more objectionable morals in existence than this: God is going to cause someone to do something, and then punish him for it. Not only that, he is going to direct Pharaoh’s hand and then kill all the male first-born children for it. How can this perverse morality ever be defended? It’s reprehensible and inexplicable. If Pharaoh made a choice with his own free will and was punished for it, then OK, I can understand it. Perhaps I don’t agree with a death sentence, or the fact that it is visited upon people who didn’t make the free choice that led to the punishment, but I can accept the choice > consequence syllogism. What I cannot accept is that God is removing free will, and then punishing Pharaoh for a “decision” that God himself made. That is absolutely indefensible.

Then, as has become my consistent refrain, it gets weird.

24 And it cometh to pass in the way, in a lodging place, that Jehovah meeteth him, and seeketh to put him to death;

25 and Zipporah taketh a flint, and cutteth off the foreskin of her son, and causeth [it] to touch his feet, and saith, `Surely a bridegroom of blood [art] thou to me;’

26 and He desisteth from him: then she said, `A bridegroom of blood,’ in reference to the circumcision.

After finally talking Moses into going, and after Moses has hit the road, albeit reluctantly, God the fucking highway bandit decides to kill him. Let me bullet the ways this is bizarre:

  • God is a person again? Walking around like a regular human, intercepting people at meeting houses?
  • God changed his mind? Isn’t that be impossible? If he knows everything and is perfect, then he can never make a decision that he later regrets or reconsiders. He has perfect knowledge and perfect reasoning. It makes no sense.
  • Why is the all-powerful God poking around a hotel looking for Moses? Doesn’t he know exactly where he is and have the ability to strike him down remotely?
  • How the fuck does Moses’ wife know what God is up to? Did God tell her he was going to kill Moses? Did she guess? Did she just bump into an angry god at the waffle machine in the lobby?
  • Gross, just gross. Woman grabs son’s penis, cuts it, and ritualistically marries the child’s father to him by smearing the kid’s dickblood on his feet? Jesus fucking Christ that’s barbaric and nonsensical.

What the literal fuck is wrong with this book. How is anyone religious when this shit exists in the Bible? Unbelievable. Simply inconceivable.

EXODUS 4

And Moses answereth and saith, `And, if they do not give credence to me, nor hearken to my voice, and say, Jehovah hath not appeared unto thee?’

And Jehovah saith unto him, `What [is] this in thy hand?’ and he saith, `A rod;’

and He saith, `Cast it to the earth;’ and he casteth it to the earth, and it becometh a serpent — and Moses fleeth from its presence.

And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `Put forth thy hand, and lay hold on the tail of it;’ and he putteth forth his hand, and layeth hold on it, and it becometh a rod in his hand —

`– so that they believe that Jehovah, God of their fathers, hath appeared unto thee, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob.’

And Jehovah saith to him again, `Put in, I pray thee, thy hand into thy bosom;’ and he putteth in his hand into his bosom, and he bringeth it out, and lo, his hand [is] leprous as snow;

and He saith, `Put back thy hand unto thy bosom;’ and he putteth back his hand unto his bosom, and he bringeth it out from his bosom, and lo, it hath turned back as his flesh —

`– and it hath come to pass, if they do not give credence to thee, and hearken not to the voice of the first sign, that they have given credence to the voice of the latter sign.

`And it hath come to pass, if they do not give credence even to these two signs, nor hearken to thy voice, that thou hast taken of the waters of the River, and hast poured on the dry land, and the waters which thou takest from the River have been, yea, they have become — blood on the dry land.’

10 And Moses saith unto Jehovah, `O, my Lord, I [am] not a man of words, either yesterday, or before, or since Thy speaking unto Thy servant, for I [am] slow of mouth, and slow of tongue.’

11 And Jehovah saith unto him, `Who appointed a mouth for man? or who appointeth the dumb, or deaf, or open, or blind? is it not I, Jehovah?

12 and now, go, and I — I am with thy mouth, and have directed thee that which thou speakest;’

13 and he saith, `O, my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand Thou dost send.’

14 And the anger of Jehovah burneth against Moses, and He saith, `Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I have known that he speaketh well, and also, lo, he is coming out to meet thee; when he hath seen thee, then he hath rejoiced in his heart,

15 and thou hast spoken unto him, and hast set the words in his mouth, and I — I am with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and have directed you that which ye do;

16 and he, he hath spoken for thee unto the people, and it hath come to pass, he — he is to thee for a mouth, and thou — thou art to him for God;

17 and this rod thou dost take in thy hand, with which thou doest the signs.’

18 And Moses goeth and turneth back unto Jethro his father-in-law, and saith to him, `Let me go, I pray thee, and I turn back unto my brethren who [are] in Egypt, and I see whether they are yet alive.’ And Jethro saith to Moses, `Go in peace.’

19 And Jehovah saith unto Moses in Midian, `Go, turn back to Egypt, for all the men have died who seek thy life;’

20 and Moses taketh his wife, and his sons, and causeth them to ride on the ass, and turneth back to the land of Egypt, and Moses taketh the rod of God in his hand.

21 And Jehovah saith unto Moses, `In thy going to turn back to Egypt, see — all the wonders which I have put in thy hand — that thou hast done them before Pharaoh, and I — I strengthen his heart, and he doth not send the people away;

22 and thou hast said unto Pharaoh, Thus said Jehovah, My son, My first-born [is] Israel,

23 and I say unto thee, Send away My son, and he doth serve Me; and — thou dost refuse to send him away — lo, I am slaying thy son, thy first-born.’

24 And it cometh to pass in the way, in a lodging place, that Jehovah meeteth him, and seeketh to put him to death;

25 and Zipporah taketh a flint, and cutteth off the foreskin of her son, and causeth [it] to touch his feet, and saith, `Surely a bridegroom of blood [art] thou to me;’

26 and He desisteth from him: then she said, `A bridegroom of blood,’ in reference to the circumcision.

27 And Jehovah saith unto Aaron, `Go to meet Moses into the wilderness;’ and he goeth, and meeteth him in the mount of God, and kisseth him,

28 and Moses declareth to Aaron all the words of Jehovah with which He hath sent him, and all the signs with which He hath charged him.

29 And Moses goeth — Aaron also — and they gather all the elders of the sons of Israel,

30 and Aaron speaketh all the words which Jehovah hath spoken unto Moses, and doth the signs before the eyes of the people;

31 and the people believe when they hear that Jehovah hath looked after the sons of Israel, and that He hath seen their affliction; and they bow and do obeisance.