Sunday, 4 June 2017
The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale: Numbers: Chapter 9 - Some Rules Regarding Dead Bodies and Cloud Computing
The Bible and Torah are really lots of stories from different times told by different people all edited together. Most of them have an agenda. That agenda is usually to do with money and power. That's why here, in Numbers, the authors suddenly and inexplicably decided to insert a piece of text in flashback to Exodus when Moses was supposedly setting up the Tabernacle for the first time. It has more weight if they can claim that what they are inserting came from when God talked to Moses. So now, as an afterthought, we get some more rules about the Passover. And dead bodies. And clouds.
So back at the end of Exodus the Tabernacle was set up and God gave his rules for the great celebration of Passover, one of Judaism's biggest holidays and feasts. God wanted it known once again when and how his big feast was to be celebrated.
But here is the bit that has been inserted. It has to do with dead bodies. No, really.
So in these bronze age times there was a lot of superstition about the dead. And the authors of this wanted such mumbo jumbo inserted. So they invented this extra part about some men being defiled by their having touched a dead body. Quite why they had touched a dead body is left unsaid. Perhaps they were funeral directors.
But what were they to do about the Passover? Wash their hands would seem a reasonable precaution, although you would hope they would do that before every meal, regardless of their contact or otherwise with corpses. But no. God gave instructions that their touching of a dead body meant that they could not celebrate Passover with everyone else. They had to wait a month and then celebrate it. So that's that cleared up then. Because this was no groovy holiday for people to enjoy themselves. God wanted his holidays observed and by everyone. Failure to do this meant they would be thrown out or killed. Unless they had touched a dead body. But even then they still had to celebrate Passover a month later. God is serious about his meaningless rituals. On the plus side though God was happy for non Israelites to celebrate Passover too. Even though, strictly speaking, they hadn't actually been passed over. But never mind. Pass the unleavened bread.
So that's that out of the way. We are now getting to the point where they were finally about to leave and start their journey. Talk about a long build up. So now we have to talk about clouds.
You see when it was set up, we are now told, the Tabernacle was covered with a big cloud during the day. At night this cloud looked like fire.
This cloud was going to be their guide on their journey. When the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle it was a sign that they had to leave. When it rested it was time for them to make camp. It's so much easier with a smart phone and GPS isn't it. But this cloud was God's guide for them and by following it they were following God. For the Israelites being under a cloud had a completely different meaning.