Shit My Bible Says: Numbers 15:32-36

Numbers 15:32-36:

32 While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, 34 and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. 35 Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” 36 So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses.

I’ll let apologetics site CARM explain this one:

Gathering sticks in itself is not wrong. It could be for the purpose of providing a fire for warmth of cooking. The problem is that a man was deliberately and flagrantly gathering sticks in the open on the Sabbath day when God had commanded that no work be done on the Sabbath. This was a direct challenge to God’s authority.

Okay, so a guy was gathering wood instead of telling God how wonderful he is, as God had commanded, and for that he had to be executed. Not fined, not spanked, not ordered to perform community service, but killed. By having rocks thrown at him.

And this isn’t something Moses or one of his flunkies thought would be a good idea. God himself commands it. The same God who is, people tell me, the source of all morality.

Go out on the Sabbath some time (whether you think that’s Saturday or Sunday) and count the people doing work. Aside from firefighters, emergency room staff, police officers, and the like, who are doing truly important work that won’t wait until Monday, you’ll also doubtless find gas station attendants, store employees at the mall, football players, tech support line operators, IT guys doing maintenance on the weekend, ans so on and so forth. All of these people deserve to die violently, according to the word of the unchanging God.

If this doesn’t outrage you, what the hell’s wrong with you? And if you are outraged, doesn’t that mean your morals are better than God’s?

Shit My Bible Says: Numbers 5:11-28

Back in January, the Pennsylvania House passed a resolution naming 2012 “The Year of the Bible”:

WHEREAS, a bunch of pious bullshit, and

WHEREAS, a pile of revisonist history, and

WHEREAS, puppies are cute and stuff, therefore let it be

RESOLVED, something or other blah blah blah this is an easy vote-winner and I can get out of here in time for happy hour, right?


So, yeah. Year of the Bible. Huh. Presumably that means that the good people of Pennsylvania ought to read the Bible to find out what it says, that our country and values are based on. Or, if it’s anything like Black History Month, sit through a bunch of PSAs and maybe, if you’re still in school, go on a field trip to the local museum.

So, as a public service, allow me to present what I’d like to call Shit My Bible Says. For this first episode, let’s take a look at Number 5:11-28 (skip forward for the tl;dr version):

11 Then the LORD said to Moses, 12 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him 13 so that another man has sexual relations with her, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), 14 and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure— 15 then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah[a] of barley flour on her behalf. He must not pour olive oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a reminder-offering to draw attention to wrongdoing.

16 “‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the LORD. 17 Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. 18 After the priest has had the woman stand before the LORD, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. 19 Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. 20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”— 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the LORD cause you to become a curse[b] among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”

“‘Then the woman is to say, “Amen. So be it.”

23 “‘The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash them off into the bitter water. 24 He shall make the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering will enter her. 25 The priest is to take from her hands the grain offering for jealousy, wave it before the LORD and bring it to the altar. 26 The priest is then to take a handful of the grain offering as a memorial[c] offering and burn it on the altar; after that, he is to have the woman drink the water. 27 If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse. 28 If, however, the woman has not made herself impure, but is clean, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children.

(emphasis added, quite emphatically)

To recap: if a man thinks his wife has been cheating on him, the local priest should give her a magic potion that will induce an abortion if she was unfaithful.

Read that again: causing a miscarriage — or, as the pro-life crowd likes to call it, murdering a baby — is considered an acceptable side effect of finding out whether your wife’s been getting some action on the side.

I was going to say that this shows that the God of the Bible doesn’t consider fetuses to be human, but then I realized that he’s quite fond of killing, and ordering the killing of, people who are unambiguously human.

At any rate, I don’t see why the religious right are up in arms about abortifacients, to say nothing of contraceptives. It seems obvious that according to the Bible, killing fetuses is no big deal.

(HT Larry O’Heam, aka Almighty God.)

Secular Bible Study: The Book of Joshua

I’m leading Secular Bible Study today, so here are my notes on the book of Joshua (org-mode version).

More details later, hopefully.

Update, Sat Apr 18 17:42:26 2009:

Well, that went pretty well, I thought. I didn’t get to give my presentation, just give out bits and pieces of it as they became relevant to the conversation. Then again, since I wasn’t really able to turn my disjoint collection of notes into a coherent presentation, it’s probably just as well.

I mentioned Iron Chariots, the counter-apologetics wiki (which is where I got the definitions of henotheism and monolatrism. (Consider this a plug for the site. All of you who attended had interesting things to contribute, so you might as well contribute to the wiki and share with the world.)

The topic of theologians tying themselves in logical knots to justify or rationalize things like the book of Joshua reminded me of this post by Greta Christina, comparing religion to fan fiction.

I’ve probably forgotten some references that I promised people. If so, please speak up in the comments.