The Bible: Exodus
Well, it’s finally time for Part 2 in my series of posts on the King James Bible. This time around, I read the Book of Exodus, which is chock full of stories about Moses, Pharaoh, and the Israelites. Unfortunately, nearly a third of this book is taken up with tedious details about how the Lord wants his numerous gold-plated altars and artifacts to be constructed. It’s a bit odd, to say the least.
Before I get to the verses, I want to elaborate a bit on my motive for this little project. The Bible has been on my “books to read” list for a while now, because I can’t stand it when people are critical of things about which they have little or no real knowledge. I decided that, since I’m going to be reading it anyway, I might as well document the process and make note of any bits that jumped out at me, for whatever reason. I chose the KJV because, from what I’ve seen here in the States, it seems to be the translation that is most often declared to be the One True Word of God, whereas all other translations are Wicked Lies from The Devil. I realize this might not be the most flawless of logic, but hey, you gotta start somewhere. Anyway, enough exposition.
Ahh, the infamous burning bush. At least it’s not a singing bush.
And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
Here, we get a preview of the back-and-forth magic show that Moses and Pharaoh have in store for us.
And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.
There certainly seems to be an unusually high amount of incest taking place in the first two books of the Bible.
And Amram took him Jochebed his father’s sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years.
Ok, time for a little backstory for those who aren’t as familiar with the Bible. The book of Exodus primarily follows Moses and his brother Aaron as they attempt to convince the Pharaoh of Egypt to release God’s chosen people (the Israelites) from their years of bondage. Moses and Aaron approach Pharaoh about this several times, and every encounter follows a fairly predictable pattern. Moses asks Pharaoh to free the Israelites, Pharaoh tells Moses to fuck off, and more often than not, the negotiations end with God unleashing a plague upon the lands of Egypt. Things start off fairly benign though, just your run-of-the-mill magic snake fight.
When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent. And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.
“Hey Pharaoh, I need you to release all those Israelite slaves, because the LORD wants them to be His slaves.”
And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me.
Up to this point, Pharaoh’s sorcerers have been able to match Moses and Aaron curse-for-curse. They can turn a staff into a magic snake, change water into blood, and bring about a horde of frogs. But turning dust into lice? That’s an entirely different story.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt. And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man, and in beast; all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there were lice upon man, and upon beast. Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.
I’m skipping ahead to the tenth and final plague of Egypt, because it is truly repulsive beyond words. Pharaoh has once again refused to free the Israelites, so God decides to retaliate by killing every firstborn child in Egypt. All of them. Dead. Just for living in Egypt.
And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more.
And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.
Now we come to the story of the parting of the Red Sea. Apparently, the wanton butchery of all the firstborn in Egypt (including Pharaoh’s son) was enough to finally convince Pharaoh to release the Israelites. The Israelites flee across the desert, but after a while, Pharaoh changes his mind, and he decides to chase after them with his Egyptian army. Moses and the Israelites eventually reach the Red Sea, but by this point, Pharaoh and his army are not far behind. God then parts the waters of the Red Sea so his chosen people can safely cross on the exposed sea floor. By the time the Israelites have made it to the opposite shore, the Egyptians have started to cross as well. At this point, God decides to take the shotgun approach again, and restores the Red Sea to normal, drowning the entire Egyptian army. Apparently we’re supposed to be impressed by this.
And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.
And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses.
This is a rather bizarre order from on high, but if means that the creators of Big Mouth Billy Bass are doomed to eternal hellfire, I think I can live with it.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
Here’s yet another example of the Bible promoting slavery.
If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.
If you have a child, and that child is disrespectful, the Bible says that that child is to be put to death.
And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.
If you own an unruly ox that gets loose and kills someone, the Bible says that you are to be put to death.
But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death.
Ahh, now here’s a famous one:
Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
With one short sentence, the Bible says that 1) witches are real, and 2) witches are to be put to death. Now you might think that the Salem Witch Trials were an isolated incident in a dark period of human history, but no, this shit is happening today. African children are being tortured and executed because local Christian pastors think witches are real, and they’re doing it because the Bible tells them to. Yet another example of how education and economic opportunity are the cure for the infectious mental disease that is religion.
Hope you don’t have any gods other than the Christian God of Abraham, because if you do, you’ve got some utter destruction headed your way.
He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed.
Fast forward to Exodus 25, where things go off on a bit of an odd tangent. That’s because this is the first of seven chapters that God spends telling Moses and Aaron the exact specifications of dozens of golden artifacts that they must create for Him.
Have you ever done anything on a Sunday that could be considered work? The Bible says that you are to be put to death.
Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
Here’s a weird one. God is telling us that, not only is he jealous, his name is, in fact, ‘Jealous’. I was really surprised to find this line. Surprised that it’s not more widely quoted, given how bizarre it is.
For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God
Well, that pretty much does it for Exodus. Now it’s on Leviticus, a veritable minefield of Biblical brutality. But before we go, let’s finish things off with four more chapters of golden artifact instructions.