My Mum's Ancient Family Bible

My Mum's Ancient Family Bible
Kept in the garage of all places for so many years, it's finally been put to good use.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Top Ten List (i.e., the Commandments) (Exodus 19-20)

The people of Israel are in the wilderness of Sinai near a huge mountain. God wants Moses to remind his people of all the cool stuff he's done for them so they can get on board with obeying him in everything: "You have seen what I have done to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself" (Exo 19:4). I don't remember anything about eagle rides. You made that one up, God. And the rest of it sounds like a threat.

Moses tells his people to clean up real nice because they're going to get a visit from God pretty soon. I guess it's kind of like the day before the big game becuase they're not supposed to have sex: "Be ready by the third day; do not go near a woman" (Exo 19:15). Fair enough.

They're not supposed to go near the mountain either. God makes Moses cordon it off like a crime scene. As if that wasn't enough, he encircles it with a ring of fire and tons of smoke. Overkill. Moses and his brother Aaron are allowed to come up so they can hear his new rules and pass them along to their people. These are the ten commandments, of course.

This scene is much duller than as depicted in the Charlton Heston movie. The ten commandents are dictated quite matter-of-factly to Moses and Aaron, like a business memo. They are:

1) Don't worship other gods
2) Don't worship little statues and trinkets
3) Don't use the name of the Lord in a swear
4) Don't do anything on the sabbath (does brunch count?)
5) Don't be shitty to your parents
6) Don't kill
7) Don't screw other people if you're married
8) Don't pinch stuff
9) Don't fib
10) Don't be jealous

The tenth commandment is pretty specific. You shouldn't be jealous of your neighbour's house, his hot wife, his "manservant" or "maidservant" (so... servants?), his ox, his ass, or - I think it's safe to say - his shapely, defined calves.

On top of all this, God wants an altar built for him so there can be sacrifices galore (so many sacrifices... the differences between Hebrews and Aztecs are rapidly diminishing for me). It's gotta be made of earth, preferably and - oh - no high steps leading up to it. God's worried about all his people flashing their junk to the people behind them in the line: "And you shall not go up by steps to my altar, that your nakedness be not exposed on it" (Exo 20:26). This is before underwear.

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