Sunday, August 24, 2014

RYBS: Which Two Tablets?

Read Your Bible Series - Week 16

Which Two Tablets?


Since there seems to be a perpetual pursuit of displaying the, "Ten Commandments" in many of the Southern states, I thought it prudent to review what it is these political and religious zealots are pushing.

First, let's look at the original set outlined in Exodus 20, given to Moses after he spent 40 days and nights on Mount Sinai (because there's no way a man could carve two stone tablets in 40 days):
And God spoke all these words:
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
* You shall have no other gods before me.
* You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 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 parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
* You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
* Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 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 male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 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.
* Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
* You shall not murder.
* You shall not commit adultery.
* You shall not steal.
* You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
* You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
You'll note that I placed an asterisk beside the verses that contain the commandments.

So we have two of these "laws" that make perfect sense - don't steal and don't kill.  We have three that should be done out of respect for your loved ones - don't lie, don't cheat on your spouse, and treat your parents respectfully - but none of these three are enforceable, much less reliably determined.  Plus, what about all these parents lying to their kids about Santa or the Tooth Fairy?  Or what if a person has horrible and abusive parents, or likewise a person with an abusive spouse?  In my opinion, people are perfectly justified at times to break any one of these three commandments if they have a legitimate reason to do so.

The other five?  Nothing.  Zilch.  The rest of the "laws of god" are nothing but victimless crimes invented with the sole purpose of unnecessarily burdening people with artificial guilt.  Nothing about rape, nothing about slavery, nothing about torture, and nothing about discrimination.  Nope, these human atrocities are simply not important enough to a loving, omnipotent god to be included in his top ten.

And as horrible as this list is, isn't everyone already aware that these ten were destroyed by Moses?  Hasn't everyone seen the white-bearded Charlton Heston chuck those two tablets at the golden calf in, "The Ten Commandments"?  (If you're interested, all this happens in Exodus 32.)  Those two tablets were lost when Moses threw a temper tantrum like a 3 year-old.

So what does god do?  Moses tells us that he ascended Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights AGAIN so god could create a second set of tablets for him.  What a patient and forgiving god... am I right?!?!?

Now you might think that the second set would match the first set, but you'd be wrong.  Oh, would you be wrong.  Exodus 34: 1-3:
The Lord said to Moses, "Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain. No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain."
One quick comment on these verses.  Isn't it hilarious that religious men that receive "messages" from the almighty creator of the Universe never seem to have or even want any witnesses?  For some reason, these guys always need to be alone to receive the word of their god.  Isn't that right, Joseph?

Moving on to the second set of ten...  Exodus 34: 14-26:
* Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.  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. 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.
* Do not make any idols.
* Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. For seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv, for in that month you came out of Egypt.
* The first offspring of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock. Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem all your firstborn sons. No one is to appear before me empty-handed.
* Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.
* Celebrate the Festival of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering at the turn of the year. Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord, the God of Israel. I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the Lord your God.
* Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast, and
* do not let any of the sacrifice from the Passover Festival remain until morning.
* Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God.
* Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.
Yeah.  You guessed it.  Nobody likes to talk about this set of ten because they're all completely worthless and even more stupid and empty than the first ten.  He even left out the only two from the original that had any worth at all!

Nice.

Plus, if Moses was the guy that wrote both of these, you'd think he would have the wherewithal to make sure that the second list actually matched the first one.  I mean, he was the only one that ever set eyes on the first set of tablets before he destroyed them.  Even if he forgot the first ten, just write down that both lists matched and nobody would've ever been the wiser!  I admit that I'm no holy man, but it seems to me that the most important thing to religious folks is consistency.  But who am I to argue with perfection.

All sarcasm aside, if these idiots are going to argue that the, "Ten Commandments" is a historical document and can be displayed, "...along with other historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Magna Carta," then why is it then, that they are ignoring the second set of ten?  Aren't these two tablets the ones that really matter, since Moses destroyed the first two tablets and god took the time to carve it into stone AGAIN?

The answer is simple - they don't bring up the second set of commandments because the new commandments are unconditionally stupid and they make reference to events we no longer observe.  Plus, the first set of ten are much easier for laypeople to grasp because there are at least two or three points that still bear any consequence in our society.  But if you're really honest with yourself, eight of those original ten really don't matter that much.  As a matter of fact, I think my ten are much better than either of these sets, and I've never even created a universe.

Let's face it, your local pastors and religious politicians don't like the second set of ten.  They never have.  It makes no sense for them to muddy the political waters with the real story behind the commandments.  So they continue to do what they do best - they cherry-pick the parts that win them votes, they gloss over the uncomfortable topics that might isolate a voting block, and they conveniently obfuscate any discussion that might educate their constituency about what's really written in that book.

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