24 March 2010

Mar 24

Reference links:
Old Testament

In today's reading, we review, amongst other things, the victories of the Israelites over Sihon of Heshbon and Og of Bashan. In the process, we learn a few things we did not know before.

With respect to the attack against Sihon of Heshbon, first God says,
Look, I will hand over to you Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and I will give you his land.
Then Moses sends ambassadors,
I [Moses] sent ambassadors to King Sihon of Heshbon with this proposal of peace
Then God causes Sihon to refuse the proposal of peace.
But King Sihon of Heshbon refused to allow us to pass through, because the Lord your God made Sihon stubborn and defiant so he could help you defeat him 
In short, Sihon of Heshbon attacked the Israelites because God hardened his heart. Furthermore, the proposal of peace that Moses sent to Sihon was never serious; God had already told Moses that the Israelites would conquer Sihon's land. Lovely.

Not surprisingly, the victory was brutal,
We conquered all his towns and completely destroyed everyone—men, women, and children. Not a single person was spared. We took all the livestock as plunder for ourselves, along with anything of value from the towns we ransacked.
Today's reading also provides support for the hypothesis that Deuteronomy was compiled from multiple documents, possibly coming from multiple traditions. First we read,
“Then as we turned north along the desert route through Moab, the Lord warned us, ‘Do not bother the Moabites, the descendants of Lot, or start a war with them. I have given them Ar as their property, and I will not give you any of their land.’”
(A race of giants called the Emites had once lived in the area of Ar. They were as strong and numerous and tall as the Anakites, another race of giants. Both the Emites and the Anakites are also known as the Rephaites, though the Moabites call them Emites. In earlier times the Horites had lived in Seir, but they were driven out and displaced by the descendants of Esau, just as Israel drove out the people of Canaan when the Lord gave Israel their land.)
Just a couple of paragraphs later, we read,
“When all the men of fighting age had died, the Lord said to me, ‘Today you will cross the border of Moab at Ar and enter the land of the Ammonites, the descendants of Lot. But do not bother them or start a war with them. I have given the land of Ammon to them as their property, and I will not give you any of their land.’”
(That area was once considered the land of the Rephaites, who had lived there, though the Ammonites call them Zamzummites. They were also as strong and numerous and tall as the Anakites. But the Lord destroyed them so the Ammonites could occupy their land. He had done the same for the descendants of Esau who lived in Seir, for he destroyed the Horites so they could settle there in their place. The descendants of Esau live there to this day. A similar thing happened when the Caphtorites from Crete invaded and destroyed the Avvites, who had lived in villages in the area of Gaza.)
The parenthetical comments are not even consistent! The first one says that Anakites are Rephaites, but the second says that the Rephaites were "as strong and numerous and tall as the Anakites", so they cannot be the same people.

Finally, we learn that the ancient Israelites (and/or the authors of Deuteronomy) really did mean giants, and not just above average sized people,
(King Og of Bashan was the last survivor of the giant Rephaites. His bed was made of iron and was more than thirteen feet long and six feet wide. It can still be seen in the Ammonite city of Rabbah.)

New Testament

Luke lists the twelve apostles. However, his list is inconsistent in one member from Matthew and Mark's lists (Thaddeus verses a second Judas) (Matthew's list, Mark's list, Wikipedia discussion).

We also read Luke's version of the beatitudes today. Again, Wikipedia discusses some of the inconsistencies in the setting of the delivery between Matthew and Luke. We do not need to go into much detail about that though, since we already know that Luke is writing historical fiction.

Instead, I want to point out this particular statement,
when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back
I point this out so that I can make the admittedly snarky comment that when people say that the U.S. legal systems are based on the Bible, they certainly are not referring to this passage.

Psalms and Proverbs

Nothing particularly noteworthy in today's psalm, just another psalm of praise. Today's proverb is good though,
If you search for good, you will find favor;
but if you search for evil, it will find you!