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, February 3, 2011

No S'mores on the Sabbath (Exodus 35-40)

Finally I'm done Exodus. I've been looking forward to the next book, Leviticus, because I hear tell that it's got some of the weirdest, most obscure prescriptions. I'm pretty sure it's entirely devoted to what you can eat and who you can have sex with (and when). This is precisely what any religion boils down to.

Exodus 35 starts out with Moses yammering on about the importance of the sabbath. We get it, already. Rest on the seventh day. He also says to "kindle no fire in all your habitations," (Exo 35:3) which I think is the reason why orthodox Jews don't use electricity in their homes on the sabbath. I don't know. This seems like a dumb rule to me. Here's why:

Electricity = a physical phenomenon associated with stationary or moving electrons and protons

Fire = the phenomenon of combustion manifested in light, flame and heat

So, they're two different things. Electricity is not fire. So enjoy your Lite Brites on the sabbath, Jews!

Okay, in all honesty, I wasn't as fully engaged in reading the last chapters of Exodus. The reason being that they're mostly devoted to how God scams his people for their gold ("I want your gold!") so he can get Moses to use it to build some of the fancy stuff he wants; in particular, "the tabernacle, its tent and its covering, its hooks and its frames, its bars, its pillars, and its bases; the ark with its poles, the mercy seat, and the veil of the screen..." (Exo 35:11-12).

The Israelites are poor to begin with, and there aren't that many of them left after Moses called for a moderately-sized slaughter. So it seems a tad insensitive on God's part to expect them to cough up their valuables so he can have all these flashy things. The worst of it is that God wants Moses and Aaron to have "holy garments" to wear when they're tending to his shrine. There is extensive description of the jewel-laden breastplates they're supposed to wear. They must weigh fifty pounds each. Their robes are also hemmed with bells (to warn bears of their approach...?) and pomegranates, which aren't light either.

At the very end of Exodus, Moses blesses his people, in what I consider to be a smug, self-satisfied gesture. Since when does he go around blessing people?

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