Monday, October 7, 2013

Deuteronomy: The Day The Music Died

Hey, I just realized that my last entry was my 50th post! Wow, am I full of hot air or what?!

And since that only gets me to about 17% of the way through the Bible, that leaves me with an estimate of about 295 total posts (245 to go from here) to complete the whole thing. And at my current pace, that would be sometime in October of 2015. That’s… a long way to go. Probably best not to think about it, and just focus on one post at a time.

We’re approaching the end of Deuteronomy, and Moses has just invested a lot of time and creative effort in enumerating the many horrific curses God will delight in inflicting on the Israelites should they choose to disobey him. Now he goes on to talk about making a covenant between the people and God.

He talks about it as if it’s some new covenant, but it really seems to be the same one he’s been going on about since Sinai. The Israelites will be God’s people, worship him, and follow his laws, and as long as they do then he’ll bless them with good stuff. And if they turn away to worship other gods, he’ll fuck them up like nobody’s business. It’s the same line, really, that’s been getting repeated over and over since way back in the Abraham stories, although back with Abraham there was far less emphasis on the “he’ll fuck you up,” portion of the deal.

Actually, come to think of it, I don’t recall God ever saying to Abraham that there was an “I’ll fuck your descendants up if they don’t obey me” portion of the deal at all. That just seems to have been added after Moses entered the picture. I’m kinda reminded of what Darth Vader said to Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back when Lando protested that he hadn’t agreed to have Han Solo turned over to Boba Fett: “I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.”

Was Darth the hero, or the villain in this story? And was this behavior consistent with his hero/villain status? It’s OK to say the answer if you know it.

Anyway, back to Moses and his Covenant. After going on at great length about how anyone who violates the covenant will have Bad ShitTM happen to them, he gets on to a part about how after all those horrors happen, the people turn back to God, then he will forgive them, bring them back to the promised land, and start blessing them again. Then he’ll start pouring out all the same curses he had been inflicting on the disobedient Israelites on the people who persecute them instead. How swell.

He repeats this bit, with variations, over and over (any lie repeated often enough, and all that), before getting on to telling people that since God won’t let him cross the Jordan with them, Joshua will be taking his place as their leader.  Afterwards, he writes down the law and gives a copy to the priests, ordering them to read it out loud to all the people every seven years when they gather at the temple for the Feast of Booths.

So then God summons Moses and Joshua to the tent of meeting so that he can “commission” Joshua as the new leader. The meeting starts off with God appearing as a pillar of cloud, and telling Moses that he already knows that the people will turn away from following his laws once they have taken over the promised land. But fear not, God has a solution: he wrote a song to rebuke them with, which Moses is to write down and teach to them before he dies.

The song is… not particularly inspiring. It kisses God’s bum for a little bit, then gives a brief and fanciful history of things God did for his people before getting to the “but then you spurned him,” part. From there it kinda devolves into a violent rant filled with insults and threats of blood-drenched vengeance.

After Moses taught everyone the song, it was time for him to die. So God told him to go up Mount Nebo so he can look out from it and see the promised land before he dies. Before departing, Moses gives Israel his final blessing. This is long and drawn out, blessing each of the tribes uniquely and individually. You can read Deuteronomy Chapter 33 if you’re really interested in the details.

With the blessing done, Moses climbs the mountain, sees the promised land, and dies. God supposedly buried him in a valley, though no one know his exact resting place. So Joshua took charge, the people spent thirty days in mourning, and Deuteronomy comes to an end.

Wasn’t that a fun book? Next post, we’ll dive into the Book of Joshua, which is much like a fantasy novel about an invasion by an evil horde, as told from the horde’s perspective. There’s war, sex, betrayal, defeat, and triumph… should be a blast!
Until then, be well!

No comments:

Post a Comment