Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Good gracious me

So I am once again preparing ahead. I've been searching for Chanukah/Christmas gifts for the bitties and also Lara. In this search, I came across a book called 50 Things You're Not Supposed to Know by Russ Kick. To be frank, it looks like something that Michael Moore might have written and for the sole purpose of pissing off the Christian Conservatives, something that I enjoy, but only if you get your facts absolutely right with no hyperbole because if you get hyperbolic, those whose heads you're hoping to implode instead get ammunition to use against you... Nonetheless, he points out an interesting thing about the Bible. He says that the Ten Commandments aren't really the Ten Commandments we think they are (but he left out one commandment, probably because he didn't understand what it meant, meaning that there actually should be *11* Commandments... this doesn't surprise me much because I doubt he's Jewish, and he's certainly not a Biblical scholar, *and* he was using the King James version for his translation, which any scholar will tell you is not worth the paper it's printed on for clarity or accuracy of translation).

Read Exodus 20-34 if you don't believe me. I'm not kidding here...

These were the rules written on the 2nd set of tablets by Moses in the Exodus story (paraphrased & with my commentary in the parenthesis):

1. You must not worship any other gods. (The Israelites at this time did not deny the existence of other gods, only that they should worship them... not that it stopped most people...)

2. You shall not make molten idols to worship for yourselves. (Personally, I would take this to mean that one *could* make idols for non-Israelites to worship...)

3. You shall observe Passover. (pretty clear...)

4. The first (male) offspring of every mother belongs to the Lord, whether human or animal. Animals will be sacrificed, human sons will be redeemed from sacrifice by donating money to the priesthood (or by joining it if they are a Levite). (To this day, if the firstborn child of a practicing Jewish mother is a boy, the child's parents will give an inconsequential amount of money - like a dollar or less - to any Jewish man who is believed to be a Levite in order to fulfill this commandment. If the first child is a girl, now, as in Biblical times, nothing need be done.)

5. No one should come to worship without a sacrifice. (pretty much what it says...)

6. Keep the Sabbath day. (no working at all, period, end of story... Building fires is included in this specifically, which is the reason some Orthodox Jewish families and probably all Orthodox synagogues employ a non-Jew - sometimes called a "Shabbos Goy" in Yiddish - in order to turn lights on and off for them during Shabbat. Others probably simply turn on any light they will need before Shabbat begins and keep it on until after it ends. All food is prepared the day before and must be ready to eat as is - no cooking.)

7. Observe Shavuot (also known as Pentecost) and Sukkot (also known as Tabernacles).

8. All the men must go to worship three times a year, at Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot (the Pilgrimage Festivals).

9. The sacrifice cannot be combined with anything leavened, and the Passover sacrifice cannot be left to eat the next morning. (Lack of leavening might recall to mind the Passover matzo - I'm guessing - and the Passover sacrifice could not be saved for eating later, it had to be consumed all in one meal or evening.)

10. The best of the first fruit harvest had to be sacrificed. (Just what it says... From what I understand and remember from class, at one time, the best of the fruit harvest had to be brought to the Temple in Jerusalem. They found that they had problems with shipping though, just as I'm sure farmers have problems today. The fruit from out-lying areas would spoil before they could get it to Jerusalem. The priests allowed these farmers to sell their fruit that they would have been bringing to Jerusalem and then travel to Jerusalem with the money and buy new fruit once they arrived... It was the thought that counted...)

11. You shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk. (This obscure commandment is what has led to the separation of dairy and meat products in modern Kosher dietary laws... Funny thing is that was not what this is referencing. A delicacy of non-Israelites in the area some near 3000 years ago was boiling a baby goat in its mother's milk... This not only grossed out some Israelites, it was also seen as something that made the non-Israelites different from the Israelites, and as a way to separate themselves further, they forbid the consumption of that dish.)

Now, about all these commandments... They are all concerning religious cult matters, not day-to-day living. To me (again, guessing here, I could be wrong 'cause I haven't looked it up - note to self: I really need Who Wrote the Bible by Friedman), they are most clearly from the Priestly tradition (the tradition that comes from the Levite priesthood). Without looking any of this up, just going by what I can remember from my lessons on how to properly criticize Biblical text, these second set of rules are for a sedentary people, not the nomadic Hebrews at the beginning of their wandering. The traditionally known 10 commandments may very well be the *Ten Commandments*, and I would guess they are the older of the two traditions that have been combined in the Book of Exodus et al, but still if you follow what the text says today, they aren't the ones that were to have survived in tablet form way back when... Do ya follow? I would think that the second set of commandments cited by Russ Kick couldn't have come into the oral tradition until the time of the Judges at the *earliest*, possibly not until as late as the reign of Solomon, maybe later... (Didn't research, can't give time periods for sure, these are all educated guesses.)

What Russ Kick should have said was something else from the Bible that's misunderstood or not known by the vast majority of people... like Jesus probably didn't walk *on* water because the preposition used there could be translated as "on" *or* "next to"... and was probably meant as "next to"... but some over-zealous believers misunderstood it and went nutz with that interpretation to the exclusion of all others and it got spread around and pretty soon everyone was interpreting it "on" water. Or he could have used the info about commonly misinterpreted sections of the Prophets' books or Revelations, or even the fact that the story about the adulteress who was about to be stoned and Jesus is quoted to have said, "Let he who is without sin..." yada-yada, didn't appear in the text until more than 500 years after it would have occurred and is in none of the oldest copies, and so is most certainly not original and was made up and added by some scribe or particular Church group... Any of that, and a lot of other things, he could have expounded on for his "the Bible isn't the Bible you think it is" part of his book, but Russ Kick didn't do that. His book looks kinda crackpot to me.

No comments: