Now we’re movin’.
The first part of Exodus is the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt, Moses steps up, the plagues hit Egypt until the Pharaoh until he lets them go only to change his mind and then Yul Brynner drowns in the Red Sea. Most of us who went to Sunday School remember this but now I read this as an outsider looking in it really leaves me wondering about the Old Testament God again. The Pharaoh is manipulated back and forth and the first born sons of Egypt are slaughtered for no ethical lesson that I can see other than “Don’t fuck with Yahweh.”
As the Isrealites cross the desert there’s the stop at Mount Sinai to make the first Covenant, the Decalogue or the Ten Commandments. (Well the first Ten Commandments I believe that’s another version coming up in Deuteronomy.)
Just like my 21st century mind has a hard time relating to the Bronze Age God I don’t understand Contemporary Christians who believe that the Ten Commandments are the basis for our legal system.
- You shall have no other gods before me.
Not a law anymore, though there were plenty of times in the past that it was.
- You shall not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters under the earth. [At first I said, “Really? Carving is against the rules?” but it continues.] You shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God…
Redundant with the first commandment, also not a law.
- You shall not misuse the name of Yahweh your God, for Yahweh will not leave unpunished anyone who misuses his name.
Rude, but not a law.
- Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
Everybody’s working for the weekend. -Loverboy
- Honour your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land that Yahweh your God is giving you.
No exception clause for abusive parents, also not a law.
- You shall not kill.
Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding! Our first law!
- You shall not commit adultery.
A law in some sates but rarely prosecuted. I’m looking at you John McCain
- You shall not steal.
Law number two.
- You shall not give false evidence against your neighbor.
Against the law when under oath but that’s it.
- You shall not set your heart on your neighbor’s house. You shall not set your heart on your neighbor’s spouse, or servant, man or woman, or ox, or donkey, or any of your neighbor’s possessions.
Are you kidding? This drives our consumer economy.
But it goes on. There’s a lot more in the covenant beyond the big ten. I won’t nit pick anymore because Jesus created a new covenant. But this is the first time that laws are dictated for the commerce and treatment of slaves but never says that enslaving another human being and treating them as property is wrong.
But that’s the Bronze Ages for you.
Exodus 23:9 You will not oppress the alien; you know how an alien feels, for you yourselves were once aliens in Egypt.
You don’t hear that one much these days do you?
And then there’s a whole lot on the construction of the Sanctuary, furnishings and such, about six pages.