A New Nation Through Moses? Deuteronomy 9

I’ve been reading through the books of Moses again, and mot recently, Deuteronomy. I was reading through chapter 9 this morning and noticed something that has never really clicked in my mind before. In Deuteronomy 9:13-14, after the Israelites make the golden calf while Moses has been on the mountain talking to God, God is so angry that he wants to destroy the Israelites, but still keep his promise to Abraham by making Moses into a nation stronger and more numerous than Israel:

13 And the LORD said to me, “I have seen this people, and they are a stiff-necked people indeed! 14 Let me alone, so that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven. And I will make you into a nation stronger and more numerous than they.” (NIV)

For the whole context, read Deuteronomy 9:7-29.

I just find it amazing how every time I read the Bible for a little while, I come across something that I’ve read before but that I’ve never really comprehended before. I mean, this seems like a pretty vital tipping point to both Biblical history and history in general. What if the Israelites were destroyed and God made Moses into a new nation?

Would the new nation still be headed to Canaan? Would they have suffered the same destruction later on at the hands of Assyria and Babylon? I think it says a lot about Moses character though that despite how much the Israelites drove him crazy, he loved them and he begged God not to destroy them, even though it would have made his life a whole lot easier and potentially made him a patriarch comparable to Abraham.

Why A Star?

I started reading through the book of Matthew again recently, and in Matthew 2, it talks about the three wise men (or magi in some translations) that came from the East. Something I’ve heard and read many times, but I got to thinking, why was it a star?

1Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

2Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

It’s also mentioned again in verses 9 and 10:

9When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

Why did they see a star? What does a star mean according to the Bible?

I did a bit of hunting with E-Sword and found some interesting verses.

Amos 5:26

25Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?

26But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.

27Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts.

According to Amos, a star can represent a god.

Acts 7:43

40Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

41And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.

42Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?

43Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.

New Testament confirmation that a star can indeed represent a god.

1 Corinthians 15:41

39All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.

40There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

41There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

Glory varies and comes in different shapes and sizes. In verse 41, one star is different from another in glory. If we think of stars in the sky, it’s clear that some are brighter and more brilliant than others. So if a star is a representation, or a symbol of a god, then it seems that not all gods are equal in glory.

1 Peter 2:19

12Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.

13Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;

14Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.

15Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.

16For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

17For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

18And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

19We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

20Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Something referred to as the day star can arise in our hearts, and when it does, it’s like a light that shines into a dark place and allows us to have a greater understanding of the Bible and prophecy in particular.

Revelation 8

18And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;

19I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

20Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

21And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

22Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

23And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

24But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.

25But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.

26And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

27And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.

28And I will give him the morning star.

29He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

The morning star can be given, according to verse 26, to the people who live according to God’s will (in the NIV the wording is “does my will to the end“).

Revelation 22:16

16“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.

So Jesus is the self-proclaimed Morning Star.

Conclusion

With this in mind, it seems to me to be reasonable to assume that the star the wise men, the magi, saw would have have been brilliant, glorious star outshining all of the other stars and probably would have been visible both day and night.

Further thoughts and passages of interest

There are some other interesting verses to note as well in the Bible relating to stars, however rather than being in the context of Jesus and God, they are referring to angels in general (Job 38:7) and to Lucifer/Satan, even to the extent where in Isaiah 14:12 he is also referred to as a morning star in some translations. The King James Version simply refers to Lucifer as the son of the dawn in this verse, the NIV though refers to him as both a morning star and a son of the dawn.

In Hebrew, it is a bit different again. Note that I don’t actually know Hebrew, so I am going off of the meanings of Hebrew words provided by Strong’s Concordance. The way I understand it is that in Hebrew, this verse simply says: “How did you fall from the sky son of dawn?”. There is one other word in there in Hebrew though between sky and son, in Hebrew according to Strong’s Concordance it is pronounced “Hay-lale”. According to Strong’s, it is based on the Hebrew word which is pronounced “haw-lal”. This word, according to Barnes Commentary and Strong’s Concordance means “to shine”. My understanding based on Strong’s is that haylale in essence is star, thus the sentence would read “How did you fall from the sky, Star, son of dawn?” I have capitalised star as it is used as a pronoun in this sentence. If it is dawn as this verse indicates, then it is a morning star as well.

Anyway, I’m going off on a bit of a tangent there and I’m already well past the conclusion! I would like to look further into where this leads, so I’ll write another blog at some point continuing on from this one, and if it goes where I think it’s going, it will be quite interesting!

Numbers Chapter 1

I found Numbers a really interesting book to read, it elaborates on and explains the law established in Leviticus with real examples. It also provides general information and statistics on the people of Israel, which I thought was interesting too.

The first chapter of Numbers is entirely a census that God told Moses to take and it provides an interesting insight into the tribes of Israel, and subsequently their future divisions.

From verse 6 through to 15 of chapter 1, a man is assigned from each tribe to assist Moses in taking the census, except from the tribe of Levi. This is because the census was primarily to establish the number of fighting men in the tribes of Israel, and Levites were treated separately due to their role in worship. It’s interesting to note though that since Joseph’s sons were both adopted sons of Israel, that there are still 12 tribes with Levi excluded.

At this point, in chapter one, the population of men older than 20 that were able to serve in the army are:

  1. Reuben – 46,500
  2. Simeon – 59,300
  3. Gad – 45,650
  4. Judah – 74,600
  5. Issacher – 54,400
  6. Zebulan – 57,400
  7. Ephraim son of Joseph – 40,500
  8. Manasseh son of Joseph – 32,200
  9. Benjamin – 35,400
  10. Dan – 62,700
  11. Asher – 41,500
  12. Naphtali – 53,400

That’s a total of 603,550 men over the age of 20 that were able to fight.  When you consider how many people are excluded, at this point there must have been well over a million Israelites, more than likely, well over 2 million!

Take note of the population comparison though, particularly of Judah. They are the biggest tribe, with 74,600 fighting men. The closest to that is Dan with 62,700, or, if Joseph’s son’s were not considered separately, Joseph would be 72,700.

I find this interesting to note, considering that in the future of Israel, Judah is separated from the rest of Israel as they follow the king of David’s line, where Israel follows a different king and that Judah is likely the only tribe that by that point is capable of standing on it’s own against all of the others and both of their numerous enemies outside their borders. Though they don’t end up standing alone as Simeon and Benjamin stay loyal to David’s line as well.

Leviticus Chapter 1 to 11

My Bible is a student study Bible, so it has lots of notes here and there and has a brief introduction to each book of the Bible just giving an overview of it and things like that. At the start of Leviticus, it says that many people lose interest in Leviticus when reading through the Bible because it is such a detailed book of rules and procedures, in essence, a law book. I agree with that, it is all about God’s laws for the Israeliets, but I found it really interesting! I had trouble stopping every morning, even when I realised how late it was getting!

There is repetition of a number of points and there is nothing that on it’s own stood out to me until chapter 9, I found it as a whole very interesting though just because I’ve not gone into all the rules on pre-Christ sacrifices in depth before, and I found it really interesting and intrigueing.

Leviticus overlaps slightly with Exodus, not just in the establishment of laws, but in Leviticus chapter 9, Aaron his sons are ordained before the Lord, as in the end of Exodus. There is a reason this is repeated here though, following the ordination, it goes into the start of the roles of the priests and establishes what they are and aren’t allowed to do, as well as what they are required to do for the Israelites.

I particularly like the first offering performed by Aaron in the end of chapter 9, I think this would have been such an amazing sight and experience, to be there when this happened, from the end of Chapter 9:23-24 “the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. 24 Fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.

Of course though, it didn’t take long before people decided to go their own way and in chapter 10, Aaron’s two eldest son’s disobeyed the instructions given to them by God for sacrifices, “contrary to His command.” And they were consumed by fire from the presence of the Lord.

A chapter of particular relevance to me is 11, clean and unclean foods and the laws surrounding them. Now regardless of whether you believe that in Peter’s vision of the unclean animals being lowered down and God saying not to call anything he has made unclean is referring to unclean food being clean or being analagous to saying the gentiles shouldn’t be left out just because they aren’t Jews, or both, this chapter has great advice on meat.

3 You may eat any animal that has a split hoof completely divided and that chews the cud.

4 ” ‘There are some that only chew the cud or only have a split hoof, but you must not eat them. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is ceremonially unclean for you. 5 The coney, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you. 6 The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you. 7 And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. 8 You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.

9 ” ‘Of all the creatures living in the water of the seas and the streams, you may eat any that have fins and scales. 10 But all creatures in the seas or streams that do not have fins and scales—whether among all the swarming things or among all the other living creatures in the water—you are to detest. 11 And since you are to detest them, you must not eat their meat and you must detest their carcasses. 12 Anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales is to be detestable to you.

13 ” ‘These are the birds you are to detest and not eat because they are detestable: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, 14 the red kite, any kind of black kite, 15 any kind of raven, 16 the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, 18 the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, 19 the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat.

God then goes through the birds, insects, then reiterates on the animals that walk on all fours:

26 ” ‘Every animal that has a split hoof not completely divided or that does not chew the cud is unclean for you; whoever touches the carcass of any of them will be unclean. 27 Of all the animals that walk on all fours, those that walk on their paws are unclean for you;

And then goes on to animals that move about on the ground like lizards and snakes.

As I was saying, regardless of what you believe about clean and unclean animals for food, this is very good advice. Why? Look at the animals that are considered unclean, what they eat and how the live. Many of them are scavengers and live off whatever is lying around and live in disgusting conditions. Some of them, such as pigs which are explicitly mentioned here as well, have been found to contain huge numbers of parasites and can also increase the likelihood of heart problems when eaten regularly far more than other red meats like beef or lamb. That was on Ten news a couple months ago I believe, I’ll have to see if I can find a source for that on the net somewhere.

Look at sea creatures for example as well, prawns, no scales or fins, catfish, fins but no scales, regardless of what they are fed if they are bred for consumption, they recycle organic matter including waste from other fish and sea creatures. That in and of itself is a pretty big turn off for me as far as eating them! There are others of course that fit into the unclean category like squid, octopi, sharks etc that are both scavengers and predators and that don’t necessarily live in similar conditions to things like prawns or catfish, but considering how good the advice is on other animals, I’m quite happy to stay away from these things, especially since, even cooked they are quite repulsive looking anyway.

I don’t eat much meat anyway, but just comparing the clean and unclean animals and so on, I just can’t stomach eating those that are indicated here as not being clean. There is obviously a reason God classified them this way, whether we realise it or not.

Exodus Chapter 35 to 40

This last part of Exodus largely covers God’s requirements of the tabernacle and His instructions on how it should be set up. By and large, the things covered here are things I have gone over before, but there were a few little things here and there that I found quite interesting.

Chapter 35 starts off with Moses telling the Israelites the commandments that God went through with him in the previous chapters. However, only one is repeated here in the Bible, Exodus 35:2 “2 For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death.” As it’s the only one repeated here, that tells me it must be pretty important. There was a brief discussion on this on my earlier post about the previous section of Exodus, specifically focusing on the Ten Commandments and the Sabbath. I’m looking forward to some continued discussion there.

From here though, one of the things I found interesting in this section is in the materials used in the tabernacle. It’s mentioned over and over again, that the hides of sea cows are used among the many materials. It’s first mentioned in chapter 35:7, again in 35:23, 36:19 and 39:34.

Whether this is of any significance, I don’t know, but it is logical. Their hides are waterproof, so it would keep out any rain that might come up.

I also was not aware of the way the altars were constructed, unlike the more traditional stone altars, these ones were hollow and were made out of wood (37:25 – 38:7). The Altar of Incense was then overlaid with pure gold (37:26), where the Altar of Burnt Offering was overlaid with with bronze (38:2). They then both had rings in the sides and poles to make them easier to carry. Much more logical than either carrying stones everywhere or having to find them at every place they camped!

Also in Exodus 38, from verse 24 through to 29, there is a brief look at just how much was donated to the construction of the tabernacle. 29 talents and 730 shekels of Gold according to verse 24. To my understanding, thats about 1 metric ton of gold. Verse 25 says there was 100 talents and 1775 shekels of silver donated, roughly 3.4 metric tons! Then the bronze in verse 29, 70 talents and 2400 shekels, about 2.4 metric tons. Not quite as impressive as the silver, but quite a lot nonetheless!

Thats a huge amount of metal for a people that are supposed to have been fleeing! However, in verse 26 it says there were 603,550 men over the age of 20. When you count women and children then, thats probably over a million people! All of a sudden, the amount of precious metals, along with all of the other donations I haven’t mentioned seem very small. According to the references in my Bible, thats about 5.5 grams of silver for each man over 20 of silver. So the other metals would be a bit less, and that is not much at all! In Exodus 12:37, it mentions that there were “about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children.” At this point though, the magnitude of the Israelite people hasn’t really sunk in, not for me anyway.

It is now very easy to see though, why the Pharaoh was getting uncomfortable with their presence!

Finally in chapter 40, Moses is given the final instructions on setting up the tabernacle and it is done. In 40:34, the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

I have previously missed mentioning the golden calf in chapter 32, it is interesting, God used plagues in Egypt, and here again, 32:35 “And the Lord struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.

I think chapter 32 is fairly interesting in general aside from the plague though, at first glance, it seems out of place with the rest of Exodus. Exodus is a book of freedom, and a book of rules. All of the rules provide freedom, they set the Israelites apart from other nations and provide them with freedom from the rest of society at the same time as they have been freed from Egypt.

Yet they fall, the influence of the surrounding cultures and the culture that they knew before fleeing are stuck with them. God is with them, all the time as well, leading and guarding them all along the way, it hasn’t been long since He brought them through a sea, walking along the bottom of it as the waters parted. Yet still, they fall. God gives us a choice though, I could say it is in human nature to find ourselves falling into the habits of those around us or that we have known. It can take a lot of work to set ourselves apart from those things. However, the real problem is not human nature, but Satan throwing everything he can at us to pull us down with him. This is part of the purpose of the rules God laid out, both in His Ten Commandments and their elaborations in Exodus, and in the laws through Leviticus. To try and help us combat the temptations thrown at us and in doing so set us apart from everyone else.

Exodus Chapter 18 to 34 (Ten Commandments)

This part of Exodus is largely based around God’s Ten Commandments, and has some really good life advice in general.

In chapter 18, Jethro, Moses’ father in law and the priest of Midian comes to visit after hearing everything that God is doing with the Israelites. In verses 13 to 26, after seeing how Moses is handling the peoples disputes between each other, he has some advice which is valid for pretty much every walk of life, especially those running a business or managing people.

13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”

15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and laws.”

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. 21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you.

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.

Delegation! Or from my business perspective, outsourcing. I don’t have any real insight to share about this section, it’s just something that really stood out to me at the moment as my business is growing and is keeping me extremely busy. I’ve recently started working with a graphic designer on most of the new graphics work that comes in to reduce my load so I have more time to spend on every other area, including business development which is something I haven’t been able to work on in a while, though I have been wanting to quite a lot.

In chapter 19, the Israelites have reached Sinai, then chapters 20 goes through the Ten Commandments. The end of chapter 20 through chapters 21, 22 and 23 elaborate on what each of the commandments means. After the casting of the golden calf in chapter 32, when Moses throws down the stones the commandments are written on and breaks them, we then get another look at the commandments in chapter 34. Considering the vast majority of Christian denominations now worship on the first day rather than the seventh, these chapters are of particular interest to me. Lets go through and look at each commandment briefly.

Commandment 1

2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

This commandment is first mentioned in Exodus 20:2-3 as above. It is then elaborated on in Exodus 20:22-23 and referred to briefly in chapter 23:32-33 when referring to the gods of other lands.

22 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: 23 Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.

Exodus 23:13

13 “Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.

Exodus 23:32-33

32Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. 33 Do not let them live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you.”

Jump across to chapter 34:14-16

14 Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

15 “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. 16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.

Commandment 2

4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.

The first mention of this one is in Exodus 20:4-6, followed by Exodus 20:22-23

22 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: 23 Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.

And in Exodus 34:17

17 “Do not make cast idols.

Commandment 3

7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

The only mention I found in this section is in Exodus 20:7.

Commandment 4

8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

The first mention within the commandments about keeping the Sabbath day is here in Exodus 20:8-11. Following this, it is then elaborated on multiple times. First in Exodus 23:10-12.

10 “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, 11 but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what they leave. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.

12 “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed.

Then in Exodus 31:12-17

12 Then the LORD said to Moses, 13 “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.

14 ” ‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. 15 For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. 16 The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. 17 It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.’ ”

Again in Exodus 34:21

21 “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.

And in Exodus 35:1-2

1 Moses assembled the whole Israelite community and said to them, “These are the things the LORD has commanded you to do: 2 For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death.

In Exodus 25 when Moses tells the Israelites what the Lord has commanded, keeping the Sabbath day is the only commandment recorded here as being mentioned.

The Sabbath day commandment is also an elaboration on Genesis 2:2-3

2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Commandment 5

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

The only recorded mention of this one in this section is in Exodus 20:12

Commandment 6

13 “You shall not murder.

The first mention of this one is in Exodus 20:13 and the next mention is an elaboration in Exodus 21:12-27

12 “Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death. 13 However, if he does not do it intentionally, but God lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate. 14 But if a man schemes and kills another man deliberately, take him away from my altar and put him to death.

15 “Anyone who attacks his father or his mother must be put to death.

16 “Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death.

17 “Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.

18 “If men quarrel and one hits the other with a stone or with his fist and he does not die but is confined to bed, 19 the one who struck the blow will not be held responsible if the other gets up and walks around outside with his staff; however, he must pay the injured man for the loss of his time and see that he is completely healed.

20 “If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, 21 but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.

22 “If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

26 “If a man hits a manservant or maidservant in the eye and destroys it, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the eye. 27 And if he knocks out the tooth of a manservant or maidservant, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the tooth.

Commandment 7

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

The first mention is in Exodus 20:14 and does not get mentioned again in this section that I found except for related verses on social responsibility in Exodus 22:16-22

16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife. 17 If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.

18 “Do not allow a sorceress to live.

19 “Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal must be put to death.

20 “Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the LORD must be destroyed. [l]

21 “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt.

22 “Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. 24 My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.

Commandment 8

15 “You shall not steal.

The first mention is here in Exodus 20:15 and it is elaborated on in Exodus 22:1-12

1 “If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.

2 “If a thief is caught breaking in and is struck so that he dies, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; 3 but if it happens after sunrise, he is guilty of bloodshed.
“A thief must certainly make restitution, but if he has nothing, he must be sold to pay for his theft.

4 “If the stolen animal is found alive in his possession—whether ox or donkey or sheep—he must pay back double.

5 “If a man grazes his livestock in a field or vineyard and lets them stray and they graze in another man’s field, he must make restitution from the best of his own field or vineyard.

6 “If a fire breaks out and spreads into thornbushes so that it burns shocks of grain or standing grain or the whole field, the one who started the fire must make restitution.

7 “If a man gives his neighbor silver or goods for safekeeping and they are stolen from the neighbor’s house, the thief, if he is caught, must pay back double. 8 But if the thief is not found, the owner of the house must appear before the judges to determine whether he has laid his hands on the other man’s property. 9guilty must pay back double to his neighbor. In all cases of illegal possession of an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or any other lost property about which somebody says, ‘This is mine,’ both parties are to bring their cases before the judges. The one whom the judges declare

10 “If a man gives a donkey, an ox, a sheep or any other animal to his neighbor for safekeeping and it dies or is injured or is taken away while no one is looking, 11 the issue between them will be settled by the taking of an oath before the LORD that the neighbor did not lay hands on the other person’s property. The owner is to accept this, and no restitution is required. 12 But if the animal was stolen from the neighbor, he must make restitution to the owner.

Commandment 9

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

First mentioned in Exodus 20:16 and then elaborated on in Exodus 23:1-8

1 “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness.

2 “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, 3 and do not show favoritism to a poor man in his lawsuit.

4 “If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him. 5 If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help him with it.

6 “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. 7 Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.

8 “Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the righteous.

Commandment 10

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

The only mention I found in this section is in Exodus 20:17 as above.

What’s my point?

What I’m trying to point out here is that the 4th commandment, keeping the Sabbath day is mentioned equally as many times as the 1st commandment, to have no other gods.

It was also mentioned first in the Bible in Genesis 2:2-3. It is also mentioned later in the Bible, but that is for another time. For now though, my question becomes, if keeping the Sabbath day is emphasised as much as having no other gods, then why isn’t it kept by so many people? It was changed to Sunday when Rome adopted Christianity as the state religion. It was changed to Sunday to keep all of the sun worshippers happy who worshipped on, thats right, Sunday. It was an attempt at merging them together so that there would not be religious divisions in the state. It was also the birth of Roman Catholicism.

If God set a day aside to worship, then what right does man have to change the day? It’s like organising a date to go do something with a friend, girlfriend, a work meeting etc, and then turning up a day late. Chances are, the person or people you were meeting won’t still be waiting and they won’t be too happy about it.

Now God is a little different, and there is no reason that we can’t worship Him whenever we want or feel the need to. I see nothing inherently wrong with worshipping Him on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. However, Saturday is the day that God made holy, that he set aside as a day of rest and to worship Him. He emphasised it very clearly in His commandments and elaborated on it considerably. So who are we to say that Sunday is better for us?

Genesis Chapters 48 to 50

Chapter’s 48 to 50 of Genesis are where we get to the end of the recount of Joseph’s life and the end of the book of Genesis.
The life of Joseph is quite well known, but this is where it gets a bit less known.

In chapter 48, we get the second mention of Joseph’s sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Jacob (Israel) considers them to be his own sons (Chapter 48:5), and shows his continued favouritism of Joseph, the first son of his wife Rachel by effectively giving Joseph’s family a double share in the inheritence.

Interestingly as well, Jacob gave his blessing to the younger son, Ephraim first, and the older second (48:14-18) which is unusual, however it does follow the precedent set by Abraham, who blessed Isaac over Ishmael, Isaac who blessed Jacob over Esau, and even Jacob’s own, earlier blessing of Joseph over Reuben.
In chapter 49, we see Jacob on his death bed and he blesses all of his 12 sons, with some very interesting things. The blessings all reflect the sons well, and their transgressions.

Reuben, the eldest who all through his life is seen as honourable and is the only one that does not want to kill Joseph when they were plotting early in his life. However, one of his earlier transgressions caught up to him here (Chapter 49:3-4).

Similarly, Simeon and Levi are caught up with as well and their blessing reflects their earlier slaughter of the town where their sister Dinah was raped by Shechem.

Judah gets the first blessing that is entirely positive, and it is pretty clear here why Judah ultimately separates itself from the other tribes of Israel (Chapter 48:8-12):

8 “Judah, your brothers will praise you;
your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons will bow down to you.

9 You are a lion’s cub, O Judah;
you return from the prey, my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
like a lioness-who dares to rouse him?

10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he comes to whom it belongs
and the obedience of the nations is his.

11 He will tether his donkey to a vine,
his colt to the choicest branch;
he will wash his garments in wine,
his robes in the blood of grapes.

12 His eyes will be darker than wine,
his teeth whiter than milk.

The remaining blessings are fairly straight forward and are largely neither bad or extremely good.
For example, in verse 19, “Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels.”, similarly in verse 20, “Asher’s food will be rich; he will provide delicacies fit for a king”.

When we get to Joseph though it is a very long blessing that reflects Joseph’s past as well as Jacob’s favouritism of him, blessing him as the prince among his brothers (verse 26).

I find the blessing that Benjamin receives to be an interesting one as there is not much mention of Benjamin and his behaviour at all up to this point, in verse 27:

27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
in the morning he devours the prey,
in the evening he divides the plunder.”

It’s an interesting one isn’t it? Especially considering how little we really know about him.
After his blessings are given, Jacob explains that he wants to be buried in the same field and cave that was bought from the Hittites to bury Sarah, and subsequently, Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah and Leah were also buried there, then Jacob died (Chapter 49:29-33).

Now in chapter 50, we get an insight into how influential and high up Joseph really was. It’s mentioned earlier that Joseph was the second to only Pharaoh, but it doesn’t really go into it any more than that.
In chapter 50 verse 2, Joseph has his father embalmed in the same way as the Pharaoh’s, taking the full 40 days as well for the embalming process. Now, in verse 3, not only did Joseph and the rest of the family of Israel mourn, but the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days. Seventy days!

To my understanding, the mourning period of a dead Pharaoh was seventy two days, which means the Egyptians themselves afforded Jacob near Pharaoh status in his death, which is appropriate considering his position as the immediate patriarch of Israel.

If the period of mourning for his father was not enough to solidify just how important Joseph had become in Egypt, look at what happens next in 50:5-11:

5 ‘My father made me swear an oath and said, “I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.” Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’ “

6 Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.”

7 So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him-the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt– 8 besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. 9 Chariots and horsemen also went up with him. It was a very large company.

10 When they reached the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father. 11 When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.” That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abel Mizraim.

So, not only did Jacob’s family attend his funeral back in Canaan, but all of the Egyptian dignitaries, both from the court of Pharaoh and the rest of Egypt went as well as numerous chariots and horsemen! Getting from Egypt to the burial site would have been a bit of a hike, so for that many of Egypts high ranking people to be attending, the importance of Joseph to Egypt, must have been absolutely enormous. Then, after already having a seventy day mourning period in Egypt, another seven days of mourning are spent at the burial site! So, the period of mourning actually in total, exceeded that of a Pharaoh!

The rest of chapter 50, the rest of Genesis, summarises the remainder of Joseph’s life after the burial of Jacob. This is where the forgiveness of his brothers for their evil acts becomes evident, in verse 20 “…you intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

From verse 23 to 26, Joseph meets his grand children and, interesting it sounds like he dies before his older brothers as in verse 24 he speaks to his brothers. There is no mention of whether he only speaks to some of them or all. In verse 26, Joseph died at one hundred and ten and was embalmed and buried in Egypt, however, before he died he made his brothers swear an oath to take his bones from Egypt when God took them back to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

I’m curious to find out whether or not the oath was upheld. I’ve started reading Exodus now, and it was a good four hundred years before they left Egypt, so his brothers would not have been around to uphold it, but did their descendents?

I quite like reading all of the little other things like this and picking up more of the surrounding story than is widely known!

Genesis Chapters 23 to 37

In the 14 chapters of Genesis that I went through this morning, I again noticed a few things I hadn’t picked up on before that I would like to share.

The first thing is that, after Jacob’s 14 years of working for Laban to be allowed to marry his daughter Rachel, after being deceived into marrying Leah, Jacob had 12 sons. However, while we often hear that 10 of them were Leah’s and only two Rachel’s, this isn’t the case. Only 6 of them were Leah’s son’s and two Rachel’s. The other 4 are from both Leah’s and Rachel’s maidservants – 2 belonging to each. This was the result of a constant rivalry and jealousy between the sisters. The full story runs from Genesis 29:31 through to 30:24 and with the final son of Rachel, Benjamin, is in chapter 35:18. The summary of who had what sons runs from chapter 35:23-26.

The next little thing I noticed is that when Rachel gave birth to Benjamin, she named him Ben-Oni, which I believe means “Son of my trouble”. After she died giving birth to him though, Jacob renamed him Benjamin, “Son of my right hand”. This is in chapter 35:18.

I also didn’t realise previously that when Jacob wrestled with God, God gave him the name Israel, which was subsequently what his descendants called themselves, broken down into the 12 tribes of Israel – named after each of Jacob’s (Israel’s) 12 sons.

Now, I’m going through these as I remember them, not in the order they are written in the Bible. So lets jump back to chapter 34. This whole chapter is an interesting story that I don’t think is known too well, but I suspect could have been the start of, or involved in the start of the ongoing disagreements and fighting between the Israelites and the Canaanites.

In chapter 34:30, Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me a stench to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land. We are few in number and if they join forces against me, I and my household will be destroyed. NIV. This is after the two brothers (Simeon and Levi) went into the city and killed every male they found for the rape of their little sister (Dinah) by Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite who ruled the area.