03 February 2010

Feb 3

Can a man scoop a flame into his lap and not have his clothes catch on fire? Proverbs 6:27

Reference links:
New semi-regular feature! Quote of the day. I probably will not have one every day, but when something strikes my fancy, I will stick it up at the top.

Old Testament

The Amalekites attack the Israelites today. Joshua leads the army, and Moses climbs a hill and holds his staff in the air. As long as the staff remains up, the Israelites win. When it goes down, the Amalekites win. Eventually, he gets tired enough that Aaron and Hur have to hold up Moses' arms. I wonder if this was a God approved use of Moses' magic stick (okay, it was blessed, but Moses' magic stick is more fun to say).

Apparently, God really hates the Amalekites for attacking Israel. God tells Moses that he will
erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven.
and Moses, after talking with God said,
They have raised their fist against the Lord's throne, so now the Lord will be at war with Amalek generation after generation.
That seems harsh. How were the Amalekites to know they were attacking God's chosen people? Rumor of God's cruelty in Egypt probably had not yet reached them. From the Amalekites point of view, a mass of a million people was invading their land. No wonder they felt threatened.

Jethro visits to return Moses' wife and sons (apparently, Moses had sent them to Jethro at some point). He gives Moses some advice. Moses had been judging all of the disputes of the 600,000 Israelites by himself (I assume the women did not come to Moses with their problems). Jethro points out that such a solution is unscalable, and advises Moses to assign people to take care of the day to day disputes. There would be separate leaders for groups of 10, 50, 100, and 1000 with Moses at the top.

I wonder if the Biblical author forgot there were (modulo the war with the Amalekites) 600,000 men. The gap between 1000 and 600,000 seems rather large.

Today we read about how the Isrealites left Rephidim and arrived at the wilderness of Sinai, setting up camp at the base of Mount Sinai. This is slightly confusing since yesterday that we read
At the Lord's command, the whole community of Israel left the wilderness of Sin and moved from place to place. Eventually they camped at Rephidim, but there was no water there for the people to drink.
If we grant that the wilderness of Sin and the wilderness of Sinai are different places, the two accounts are consistent in their ordering (Rephidim then Mount Sinai). So are we going through a non-linear narrative (the battle with the Amalekites happened before the water from the rock even though it is placed later in the narrative) or did the Israelites go back to Mount Sinai?

God decides that he will talk to the people from a cloud, but first they have to spend three days consecrating themselves. Not an unreasonable request on God's part.

New Testament

The Pharisees ask Jesus which is the most important of Moses' commandments (don't worry, we'll get there soon). Jesus says the most important ones are

  • Loving God
  • Loving your neighbor as yourself
Additionally, he claims that the rest of the law is based on these two commandments. Not a bad of base assumptions, although I would throw out one of them (guess which one!).

Jesus criticizes the religious teacher some more. I think Jesus would have made a good Fox News commentator.

Psalms and Proverbs

Today's psalm is another that I read as the author willing himself to believe God is there.
Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!

My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me."
And my heart responds, "Lord, I am coming."

Do not turn your back on me.
Do not reject your servant in anger.
You have always been my helper.
Don't leave me now; don't abandon me,
O God of my salvation!
Most people, as near as I can know, occasionally experience the sense that there exists something greater than one's self. However, it seems unnecessary to anthropomorphize that feeling and assume that it is a distinct consciousness.

Proverbs continues to tell us adultery is bad.