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Updated every weekday.         Please vote!    

 

2014-02-19

Another happy ending as we finish up Numbers 16! What? You donít view the wholesale death of 14,700 innocents as a happy ending? Letís not forget that those people werenít innocent at all! In fact, they were downright ruthless! They were guilty of one of the worst crimes imaginable: protesting the execution of innocent people! Oh sure, some people would view them as martyrs who put their lives on the line and died while trying to correct a great injustice, but we know they were the spawn of Satan!

So, in our story with the happy ending, God causes an unspecified plague to break out and spread like wildfire; and I mean that in the literal sense. The plague defies any understanding of epidemiology and spreads from person to person in a straight line! Luckily, incense-laden Aaron is able to step in between the wave of disease and stop it withÖ the healing power of God? Okay, how stupid is this? Doesnít Aaronís power to cure plagues comes from God? So, if God is the one who sent the plague, why would he grant Aaron the power to thwart him?

Letís imagine ways to reconcile this obvious plot-hole. What if the incense itself had curative powers? This seems unlikely. The ingredient list was written down earlier, and the known ingredients in the list are benign, and of the unknown ingredients, itís doubtful that their smoke would stop a raging disease in its tracks. Perhaps Moses and Aaron have magical superpowers? But that would mean both that magic exists, and that magic wielded by mortals is more powerful than Godís will; I doubt believers will accept that! I can think of one other explanation, that when Moses and Aaron disobeyed Godís command and tried to save the Israelites, God had a change of heart and spared the remainder. This outcome may be the preferred choice of believers, but it carries with it two even deeper problems. First, it presents yet another example of God changing his mind which is supposed to be a no-no. Second, it means that God actually rewards those who disobey him, which is an even worse no-no!

Iíd be interested to hear a believerís interpretation of this passage that actually meshes with the current version of the Christian God, but Iím not holding my breath.

 

Comments

Ladyofthemasque writes:

 

Nope. God only rewards those of his bros who disobey him. Anyone outside the inner circle is toast.

Baughbe writes:

 

Yep, Lady you got it right. It's the Old Boy Network with "god" as the Grand Pubah. Gotta keep that inner circle tight.

HiroOdan writes:

 

It seems strange that this god figure would keep killing his people. Doesn't the fact that they are HIS people mean anything to him? Why didn't he just kill the "heathens" living in the fortified towns?

I mean just kill everyone that would present a problem, instead of having his people do it for him and most likely die in the process.

It seems that this god figure likes his people dying. Kind of gets off on it I would say. It would explain *spoilers!* him having his son get brutally murdered.

Connor writes:

 

While I can't speak for any believers, I think there are two slightly different ways you could interpret this little event.

The first is that this whole chapter was about establishing the legitimacy of the Levitical priesthood spearheaded by Aaron. When Korah & co. challenged Aaron, God killed them & sent a plague on the Israelites, since the authors of the Bible seemed to think guilt by association was totally legit (see original sin). Aaron, as the appointed intercessor between sinful Israel & God, was the only one who could assuage God's wrath. Christians claim this was a model for Jesus would do later, but it's far more likely that the Jewish followers of Jesus built up the mythology surrounding him on the already established concepts of Levitical Judaism.

The second, more cynical interpretation is that this was all a ploy to get the Israelites to fall back in line. The people, discontent with the whole "wandering in the desert until we die & slaughtering our livestock" approach to leadership that Moses & Aaron were taking, were ripe for a coup, & Korah's challenge represented a real threat to God's established order. And so God killed the figureheads of the rebellion-to-be, sent a pestilence, & then allowed his chosen chronie to step in & save the day.

Either way, I'd bet someone a beer this particular story was from the priestly source as yet another attempt to retroactively legitimize the theocratic stranglehold the priesthood on Jewish society - a dark aesop with a simple message: questioning the priests = questioning God = death.

Connor writes:

 

While I can't speak for any believers, I think there are two slightly different ways you could interpret this little event.

The first is that this whole chapter was about establishing the legitimacy of the Levitical priesthood spearheaded by Aaron. When Korah & co. challenged Aaron, God killed them & sent a plague on the Israelites, since the authors of the Bible seemed to think guilt by association was totally legit (see original sin). Aaron, as the appointed intercessor between sinful Israel & God, was the only one who could assuage God's wrath. Christians claim this was a model for Jesus would do later, but it's far more likely that the Jewish followers of Jesus built up the mythology surrounding him on the already established concepts of Levitical Judaism.

The second, more cynical interpretation is that this was all a ploy to get the Israelites to fall back in line. The people, discontent with the whole "wandering in the desert until we die & slaughtering our livestock" approach to leadership that Moses & Aaron were taking, were ripe for a coup, & Korah's challenge represented a real threat to God's established order. And so God killed the figureheads of the rebellion-to-be, sent a pestilence, & then allowed his chosen chronie to step in & save the day.

Either way, I'd bet someone a beer this particular story was from the priestly source as yet another attempt to retroactively legitimize the theocratic stranglehold the priesthood on Jewish society - a dark aesop with a simple message: questioning the priests = questioning God = death.

Conner writes:

 

Oh bloody hell. Fucking refresh.

lhand writes:

 

Oh no! It's divine inspiration! Just like the Bible you say it twice so it must be true.

 

Oh the irony!