Chapter 1 – Moses recounts the Israelites’ journey from Mount Horeb to Kadesh. After departing from Mount Horeb they come upon the land of the Amorites. Moses assured them that God will fight on their side and defeat the Amorites, but the Isrealites fear that He will not and that the Amorites will destroy them. Moses chastises them for not trusting God. The Isrealites repent and prepare for war. Moses dissuades them this time, saying that God is angry with them because they did not trust Him. The Israelites disregard Moses’ warning and are swiftly defeated by the Amorites. They retreat to Kadesh.
The Israelites did not wholly believe that God was with them. Thus, they failed. This often happens in other contests of life. For example, an athlete who is not wholly confident that he will defeat his opponent, will more often lose than win. Confidence breeds success.
Chapter 2 – Moses continues to recount the Isrealites’ journey. After departing from Kadesh they travel through friendly lands owned by the descendants of Esau and Lot, among others. However, when they arrive at Heshbon, the city’s king leads an army against the Israelites. With God on their side, they defeat the army, kill all the women and children within the city, and take the cattle and spoils from the city.
The Israelites are ruthless, slaughtering all the inhabitants of Heshbon, including the women and children. This is not an unusual practice during that time period and region of the world. The Ancient Greek historian Thucydides recounts how the Athenians slaughtered the inhabitants of the entire island of Melos. Before the carnage, the Athenians sent an embassy to Melos to persuade them to submit to Athenian terms in order to avoid bloodshed. The Melians rejected the Athenian terms of peace, claiming that God and Justice was on their side. The Athenians scoffed at the idea, saying that the Gods favor the strong and that “the strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must.”
Chapter 3 – After plundering Heshbon, the Israelites arrive in Bashan. Again, they slaughter their enemy and plunder the city. Then Moses gives land to a few of the tribes of Israel, but commands them to aid the other tribes of Israel until all of them have land of their own – i.e. until they possess the promised land.
The Israelites remind me of a crime family.
Chapter 4 – Moses urges the Israelites to remember the wonders that they have seen. They are the chosen people, which is proven by the many favors bestowed upon them by God during their exodus from Egypt. Moses also asserts that God will never forsake them, even if they worship other gods, as long as they repent for their wickedness and give obedience to God.
The Israelites are very proud of their special place in the world and in God’s eye. I understand why they are very xenophobic and exclusionary.
Chapter 5 – Moses recalls the time on Mount Horeb when God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments.
Chapter 6 – Moses proclaims that there is only one God and that the Israelites must worship Him and tell their children about Him. Moses warns the Israelites not to forget God when they arrive in the Promised Land and become wealthy lest God grow wroth with them and smite them form the face of the Earth.
Men often turn to God and the supernatural when they are in dire straits. When men are delivered out of their wretched conditions, they often turn away from the supernatural and the resolutions that they made during their predicaments. Montaigne urges us to remember, in health, what we have resolved to do in sickness. Yet ’tis often proved that the resolution made during a bout of passion dies when that passion dies.
Chapter 7 – God commands the Israelites to commit genocide upon the people who currently dwell in the Promised Land. Moses reassures the Israelites that although the people who dwell in the Promised Land are mightier than they are, the Israelites will prevail because God will destroy their enemies like he destroyed the Pharaoh’s Egyptians.
Does God play favorites? According to the Hebrews – yes. Equality before the eyes of God is a myth according to the Hebrews.
Chapter 8 – Moses again urges the Israelites to remember God in their prosperity lest God destroy them for not worshiping him.
Chapter 9 – Moses tells the Israelites that God will conquer the people who dwell in the Promised Land because of their wickedness and the covenant established between God and Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, not because of the Israelites’ righteousness; for the Israelites are a stubborn people who have rebelled against God ever since departing from Egypt.
Moses recalls the Israelites past transgressions against God, inspiring feelings of guilt in his listeners. He also recalls how he saved them from the wrath of God by interceding on their behalf. Moses’ rhetoric is a despicable form of persuasion. He relies solely on pathos and ethos. Logos is non-existent.
Chapter 10 – Moses recalls placing the stone tablets in the ark. He again urges the Israelites to love and worship the one true God.
Chapter 11 – Moses tells that the Israelites will either worship God and earn a blessing or worship other gods and earn a curse.
Chapter 12 – Moses commands the Israelites to offer God sacrifices after they defeat the Canaanites.
Chapter 13 – God will test the Israelites love for Him by sending prophets who will prophesy true things and entice them away from God. God commands the Israelites to slay anyone who entices them away from Him, even their own brothers, sons, daughters, wives, and friends.
This is perhaps the most repulsive Bible chapter that I have read. God commands the mass extermination of anyone who questions the veracity of the Hebrew’s beliefs.
Chapter 14 – God decrees which animals are clean (i.e. which animals the Hebrews may eat) and which animals are unclean (i.e. which animals the Hebrews may not eat).
Moses wants to control every aspect of Hebrew life. He is conditioning the Hebrews to follow orders so that they do not need to think. He is creating automatons. He is creating copies of himself – a transformation and intensification of the biological imperative to produce offspring. Moses is producing clones that will behave and think exactly as he does.
Chapter 15 – God commands the Israelites to help their poor brethren. He also orders the Israelites to release their servants after they have performed 6 years of service. If the servants wish to remain with their master, then an awl must be driven through their ear to indicate that they will be a servant to their master forever.
Chapter 16 – Moses gives rule for the observance of Passover
Chapter 17 – God commands the Israelites not to sacrifice animals with defects. He commands that all heretics be stoned to death. He requires that two or more witnesses are required to sentence a man to death. He orders that any King must be of the Israel clan.
Having more than one witness corroborate an accusation is sound judicial policy. But it’s not an innovation of the Hebrews.
Chapter 18 – Moses tells the Israelites that they must offer certain parts of their sacrifice to the priests. He also states that another prophet will soon take his place as the intermediary between God and the Israelites.
Chapter 19 – Moses tells the Israelites to construct three cities when they have gained possession of the Promised Land. These three cities will be safe zones for people who have committed involuntary murder, such as killing a neighbor while chopping wood because the blade of the ax fell from the handle. Moses reiterates the need for more than one witness to testify against an accused person. He also decrees that any man found to be a false witness ought to receive the punishment he wished to inflict on the falsely accused.
As saying runs: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Although there are instances in which an eye for an eye type of punishment is just. When?
Chapter 20 – God commands the Israelites to first seek peace with an enemy city. If they submit to peace, then they shall be servants to Israel forever. However, if they reject peace, then Israel shall besiege them and slaughter every inhabitant.
Chapter 21 – God commands that if a dead man is found near one of the Israelites’ cities, then the elders of the city shall sacrifice a heifer to God so that the blood of the dead man does not fall upon them. God commands that Israelite men marry women that they take captive during war. God commands that the Israelites stone men who disobey their parents and who are drunkards and gluttons.
Harsh penalties for trivial faults. Being a drunkard and glutton is a punishment itself. Disrespect for one’s parents is a symptom of ill breeding.
Chapter 22 – God prohibits cross-dressing, calling it an abomination. If a husband discovers that his wife is not a virgin, then she shall be stoned to death. If a man lies with another man’s wife within the city, then both the man and the woman shall be stoned to death – the woman because she did not cry out and the man because “he hath humbled his neighbor’s wife.”
This is utterly ridiculous. I will finish reading this book only because I said that I would.
Chapter 23 – God prohibits certain people from entering the congregation of the Lord. God gives further laws governing the lending of money, food, etc.
Chapter 24 – God allows the Israelites to divorce wives who are unclean. God prohibits the Israelites from selling their brethren into slavery.
Chapter 25 – God commands that criminals not be whipped more than 40 times. A brother shall marry his dead brother’s wife and raise children in his name. If he refuses, then the widow shall spit in his face and take off his shoe in front of the entire city. If a wife tries to intervene in a physical altercation between her husband and another man, then she shall have her hand cut off.
Chapter 26 – Moses swears the Israelites to obedience of God’s commands.
Chapter 27 – The Israelites curse those who sleep with beasts, their sisters, their father’s wives, and their mother-in-laws.
Chapter 28 – Those who fulfill God’s commands will be blessed. Those who disobey God will be cursed.
The description of the affliction that will befall those who disobey God is vivid and lengthy. The writer seems to relish the thought of wicked people suffering. On the other hand, the list of blessings is very short. Fear is a greater motivator than reward is.
Chapter 29 – Moses again warns of the dangers that will befall the Israelites if they do not obey God.
Chapter 30 – Obedience to god means life and prosperity, disobedience means death and evil.
Chapter 31 – Moses foresees his impending death. He assures the Israelites that they will conquer the peoples dwelling in Canaan. He appoints Joshua as his successor and the next leader of the Israelites. God tells Moses that, after Moses’ death, the Israelites will turn away from Him. He will grow angry and smite the Israelites. He commands Moses to write a song about the Israelites foretold wickedness.
Chapter 32 – Moses delivers his song, which prophesies the rebellion and punishment of the Israelites. God commands Moses to ascend Mount Nebo, view the land of Canaan, and die atop the mountain.
Chapter 33 – Moses blesses the children of Israel, much like Israel does on his deathbed.
Chapter 34 – Moses dies on Mount Nebo. The Israelites bury him and mourn his death for 30 days. Joshua assumes his vacated position as head of Israel.
This day will I begin to put the dread of thee and the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the whole heaven, who shall hear report of thee, and shall tremble, and be in anguish because of thee.
For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for?
When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;
(For the Lord thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
And it shall be, when the Lord thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not,
And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full;
Then beware lest thou forget the Lord, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
And thou shalt consume all the people which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them.
Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.
Ye have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew you.
For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.
Every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.
If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;
Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;
Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:
But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.
And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.
This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die.
If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;
Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife.
He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord.
I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh.
And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.