Numbers 33 is a good review of the events that have taken place from when the first born of Egypt were supposedly killed by Jehovah to the current time in this chapter of Numbers. We are reminded of Jehovah slaying the first born, and get a little more insight on what the aftermath was:
Numbers 33:4 – For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which Jehovah had smitten among them: upon their gods also Jehovah executed judgements.
Take note: Jehovah executed judgement on the gods of the Egyptians. If the gods of the Egyptians were not real/fake/idols, etc. then why would Jehovah need to exact judgement on them? Is the author telling us that these are living gods? Are there more living gods coming up in future verse? (Spoiler alert: Yes)
We get a very specific list of geographical locations where the Israelites camped in their journey from Egypt to Canaan. Here’s some verse to note:
33:5 – And the children of Israel removed from Rameses, and pitched in Succoth
Finally we get some detail on Egypt.
33:9 – And they removed from Marah, and came unto Elim: and in Elim were twelve fountains of water, and threescore and ten palm trees; and they pitched there.
Reminder that Marah was named so because the water there was bitter. When the thirsty Israelites complained to Moses, they were punished (Exodus 15:24).
33:11 – And they removed from the Red Sea, and encamped in the wilderness of Sin.
Note there is a land called Sin. Is there any correlation to the name place Sin and the verb “sin”?
Numbers 33:5 – 22:47 lists a handful of geographical locations. Can these locations be placed on any map, current or historical?
We find that Jehovah spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho (all currently named locations)
Can we be sure the Jordan mentioned in the Bible is the same Jordan we know today?
Same with Jericho?
We get a review of the commands Jehovah gives to Moses to give to the Israelites regarding what they are to do when they enter the land Jehovah has given them, Canaan.
33:52 – Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places.
Note that in the Interlinear Hebrew, “pictures” in verse 52 can also mean “carved images.”
We get a reminder of what happens when the Israelites do not follow Jehovah’s commands and do not wipe out the people they encounter:
33:55 – But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell. Moreover it shall come to pass, that I shall do unto you, as I thought to do unto them.
A stern chastising from Jehovah. He leaves it up to the Israelites to deal with these people, and in a sense, he is telling them to commit complete genocide on them.
More importantly, Jehovah is admitting that as much as he wanted to punish the original inhabitants of Canaan, he didn’t. But the things he “wanted” to do to the Canaanites, he will absolutely do to the Israelites if they don’t follow his orders. Why didn’t he just do these things he “thought” to do on the Canaanites? Is he powerless to do so?
What’s good to know is that the fulfillment of the covenant/promise is coming soon, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Hopefully the repetitious and mundane reviews of the law can come to an end, and we see just how this covenant works out.
In a sort of hat tip to a point I made in the previous blog post regarding the fixed amount of land and an increasing population of people, we find that the families of Reuben and Gad have asked Moses to grant them the land of Jazer and Gilead, as they are cattle men and the land is good for cattle.
Numbers 32:5 – Wherefore, said they, if we have found grace in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession, and bring us not over Jordan.
This is an important point to notice: the plan was for everyone to cross into the land, suddenly, the plan has changed. Where is Jehovah in this matter? The plan already seems to be falling apart, as a whole, as two of the tribes are asking NOT to cross the Jordan into Canaan. What other parts of the covenant/plan are going to falter?
Not sure why there is any doubt regarding the plan, after all Jehovah is supposedly all powerful and all knowing, but Moses reacts:
32:6 – And Moses said unto the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben, Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here? And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which Jehovah hath given them?
So it’s all about war for Moses. Despite all the promises of Jehovah, Moses seems to not want to lose so much of his army moving forward. Moses tries to lay more of a guilt trip on them, reminding them that they should be grateful for Jehovah giving them the land, after all he was angry with their forefathers and kept them from entering the land he promised.
What’s important to note that Moses is still alive while the generation that preceded the current Israelites who were not allowed to enter the land are now gone. Just how old is Moses?
Moses reminds them of the threat Jehovah poses if they go against his will. The children of Reuben and Gad meet Moses halfway: they will stay in and build in the land they want to, but will not return to the land until the Israelites enter the land Jehovah gave them. They will move forward as soldiers.
Note that it is the children of Reuben and Gad that make the conditions. Not Moses. Not Jehovah.
Moses agrees, and Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh take land that once belonged to King Sihon and the Amorites, King Og of Bashan, and build multiple cities as laid out in verses 34 – 42.
A couple of observations:
Does the historical material record show any evidence of:
The Amorites and King Sihon?
King Og of Bashan
Did the original inhabitants of this land completely die off? Or did the remnants scatter out past Canaan and enter the land of other peoples?
If so, is there historical record of this happening?
Just how different were the Israelites, culturally, than the Amorites or the people of Canaan in general?
I really hope future books will go into detail on how the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh being separate from the “inheritance” affect the inheritance over all.
Jehovah tells Moses to speak to the Israelites regarding offerings.
Numbers 29 – Holy Convocation
Jehovah tells Moses to speak to the Israelites regarding a holy convocation on the first day of the 7th month.
Numbers 30 – A review of Vows (again)
Once again we review a woman’s “vows” and how they are to be handled between a man and his wife, and a man and his daughter, and widows. Christian woman’s rights advocates, I’d be curious to know what you think about Numbers 30 (and the OT so far as it related to the treatment of women.)
Numbers 31 – War Against the Midianites
Moses has one more task before “being gathered unto his people”, which now seems to be a euphemism for dying and joining your ancestors who have died before you. Though aren’t the Levites still alive among the Israelites still “his people”? His task: Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites. One thousand of each group of the Israelites are set as soldiers and go to war. The end result:
All male Midianites were killed
The kings of Midian were killed:
Balaam the son of Beor was killed
Wait! What? Balaam, the one who “blessed Israel” was killed? What was the saying:
“He who blesses you shall be blessed…”
So, despite blessing Israel, Balaam was killed? Is this rule just talk? Seems so. So far, there has only been one person who has blessed Israel, and he was killed at their hands. So this rule really has no past precedence of being legitimate.
More casualties: All the women, children, cattle, flocks, and goods were taken captive. The cities and their “castles” were burned.
KJV discrepancy: the word ti*ro*tam (Strong’s Hebrew 2918) is translated as “castle” in KJV. In Interlinear Hebrew it is translated as “camps”. Camps vs Castles. That is a HUGE difference to us today. Were these kings and their people living in camps or castles?
This story worsens. When Moses finds out the Israelites took the women and children captive, ALIVE:
31:14 – And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host (army), with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle. And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?
Moses is angry because the women were not slain in battle. He blames the women for making the Israelites trespass against Jehovah. So here’s Moses solution:
31:17 – Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
That’s right: Kill innocent children. Kill every woman that is not a virgin. What happens to the virgin girls?
31:18 – But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
Disgusting. I felt somewhat sorry for Moses because the way Jehovah treated him. Now I hate him (if he indeed was real and not just a character in a story.)
Today, we can distinguish between innocent and guilty. Back in the days of Moses, this concept was foreign. Today, most civilized people agree that a child of a guilty person should not face the death penalty for a murder the parent committed. This barbaric treatment was sanctioned by Jehovah, as he did not speak out against it. This is the god civil people worship today. The soldiers get to keep the virgin girls. Let’s not fool ourselves here, we are talking about little girls and teenagers. The soldiers get to keep them for themselves. What in the world do you think these soldiers are going to do with them?! Take them in as their own daughters? Or defile them? I hope future verse explains it, but I doubt it.
Why not just send the remnants of the Midianites, who Moses obviously blames for the transgressions of the Israelites, off to a foreign land? How wily and cunning are babies and children that Moses wants them dead so they don’t tempt the Israelites to transgress again? Why not make them slaves and enact heavy rules against their influence on the Israelites? Why is death the only answer for Moses and Jehovah? This is a death cult.
After the spoils of war and combat are done, the priesthood demands that the soldiers go through a series of “cleansing” rituals for themselves and their spoils. Chapter 26 then goes on to quantify the “spoils” in numbers. In a strange offering to a deity that supposedly created the heavens and the earth:
31:54 – And Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold of the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and brought it into the tabernacle of the congregation, for a memorial for the children of Israel before Jehovah.
Why would Jehovah require an offering of gold? Didn’t he create gold and every other thing in this universe?
Chapter 31 was very insightful into the minds and culture of this tribal nation and their patron god. Nothing ethereal, universal, or global about it all. This belongs to a specific people in a specific time in a specific geographical location. This is becoming increasingly clear.
Another census takes place to count an army to prepare for more war.
26 – Equality
Chapter 26 numbers all the men of all the families over age 21. It is also by these numbers that their “inheritance” will be doled out. Does everyone get an equal “inheritance”?
Numbers 26:54 – To many thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to few thou shalt give the less inheritance: to every one shall his inheritance be given according to those that were numbered of him.
Not everyone is equal, and the larger the group, the more land they get. I will go out on a limb and say that this will create problems in the future.
Reiterating my past point: Just what was the end goal of this covenant in a specified chunk of land? We know that Abraham and Lot had a land squabble because both were “great in numbers”. What is going to happen with this land with pre-defined borders as the generations grow and grow in population? What happens when “nations” encroach upon each other, both thinking they have right to land and resources? WAR.
The author ends chapter 26 by reminding the reader that no man, except for Caleb and Joshua, who wandered the desert, were now in the land of inheritance.
Numbers 27 – Inheritance Rules
A new scenario has taken place: The daughters of a man named Zelophehad (notice one of the daughters is named Noah) questions Moses about their inheritance because their father died in the wilderness and he had no sons. Moses speaks to Jehovah on what to do:
27:7 – The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father’s brethren; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them.
A few observations:
Jehovah’s laws are, at this point, still incomplete. Of all the laws he has made in the past, he didn’t make this one until Moses put the scenario forward.
Interesting cultural insight: A daughter is allowed to receive their father’s inheritance. This may be one of the more *fair* choices made by Jehovah in regards to women.
As if realizing this new scenario might bring forth even more questions, Jehovah clarifies his position on this inheritance, who it passes to in the event there are sons or daughters or receivers of said inheritance missing.
27 – Moses’ Punishment Begins
Remembering Moses and Aaron were both punished because the thirsty Israelites complained about water, Jehovah tells Moses to prepare to no longer move forward in the journey.
27:12 – And Jehovah said unto Moses, Get thee up into this mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given unto the children of Israel. And when thou hast seen it, thou shalt also be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered. For ye rebelled against my commandment in the desert of Zin, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify me at the water before their eyes: that is the water of Meribah in Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.
“Righteous and Forgiving”
After ALL Moses has done for this deity, he is not forgiven and now faces his punishment. In a somewhat humiliating request, Jehovah tells him to look upon the land he is NOT allowed to enter and he is going to receive the same humiliating fate his brother Aaron met. Moses seemed to a be a devoted servant who received no reward. And I highly question the motive of his devotion. Was it:
He was truly devoted to serving Jehovah
He was truly devoted to not dying or being punished by Jehovah so he followed instructions
Modern Christians will say the first option is correct. I say it’s the second
After all, Jehovah CLEARLY made an attempt to take Moses life, and he had no problems brutally punishing his brother Aaron and sister Miriam.
27:16 – Let Jehovah, the *elohe* of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, Which may got out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of Jehovah be not as sheep which have no shepherd.
You tell me the Bible is applicable to all people throughout the world at all times. Yet the concept of “sheep” and a “flock” is key to understanding the culture at this time. Not every civilization had sheep and shepherds. I stand by my conclusion that this book, at least to this point, is merely for a group of people in a specific time in a specific location (historic Middle East).
Also note: Moses calls Jehovah the *elohe*/god of the spirits of all flesh.
Also, the concept that these people, with their numbers and organized tribes/families, need a “shepherd” is interesting. The story is telling us there still needs to be an intermediary between the people and their god. Their god is unable to speak to them any other way. There are no councils, no representatives, no other form of organization to speak to a supposedly almighty all knowing god?
Jehovah chooses Joshua to take Moses place, he also instructs Moses:
27:19 – And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient.
In other words, Joshua is going to replace Moses as an intermediary. Moses was a man of magic, with his supernatural staff. Is Joshua going to be the same?
Also interesting to note that Moses is going to give Joshua *some* of his honour… not all of it. Is *honor* some sort of energy source where you can mete it out as needed? A quick look at the Interlinear Hebrew and the word looks to mean more of vigor/splendor. KJV translation in action.
Apparently the Canaanites were quite aware that the Israelites “spied” on them. We have a new character, King Arad the Canaanite, who fought and took Israelites hostage.
Numbers 21:2 – And Israel vowed a vow unto Jehovah, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities.
Why have their not been any other vows between Israel and Jehovah? Just how did they make this vow, was Moses an intermediary? In every verse before this, Moses was always an intermediary. How were the Israelites able to make a vow to a deity that could (or would) not speak directly to them? This vow makes little sense.
Numbers 21:3 – And Jehovah hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities: and he called the name of the place Hormah.
Why didn’t the Israelites make a vow in exchange for food and water? When it comes to WAR, Jehovah “hearkens” to them immediately.
Is Jehovah a war god?
Jehovah Body Count:The entire Canaanite population of Hormah. (Though, it must be noted that it was the Israelites who did the destroying)
So the Israelites have now found favor with their god?
21:5 – And the people spake against *Elohim*, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
Observation: The Narrative style has changed dramatically from previous verse. After studying and analyzing Numbers 21, I believe it was written by a different author and added to the story line. Why?
The Israelites are now vowing/speaking directly to Jehovah
In previous verse, Moses was ALWAYS an intermediary
Jehovah immediately “hearkens” to them as opposed to punishing them
The use of *elohim* instead of *yahweh*/The Lord/Jehovah
The style in which they complain about not being Egypt is different (i.e. no bread and water vs. we had plenty of vegetables and meat to eat)
Despite these differences and my observation, the overall theme stays the same: Israelites complain = Jehovah punishes.
21:6 – And Jehovah sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
Jehovah’s Body Count:“Much” people of Israel at the hands of fiery serpents.
“Fiery” serpents. My word choice would have been “fierce” since “fiery” pertains more to the word “fire”. But the author clearly used “fiery.” Were they blazing serpents? Were they of bright light? Glowing? Burning Are we talking about snakes or other creatures?
A quick look at Strong’s Concordance and we find the word “fiery” to be “Seraphim”. One alternative explanation is that Seraphim were “beings mythically conceived with serpent bodies.” So another way to translate this would be *seraphim serpents*. Not your average snake.
In one verse the people were able to vow to Jehovah, in the next verse, we are back to the part where they have to intermediate using Moses (?)
21:7 – Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against Jehovah, and against thee; pray unto Jehovah, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
Today, when we receive snake bites, first aid requires removal of the venom, other types of aid. What was first aid like for snake bites in the time of Moses?
21:8 – And Jehovah said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
Moses is told to make his own “fiery serpent” aka “seraphim serpent” and place it on a pole so that anyone who looks at it will not die.
So the Israelites (the ones who survived Jehovah’s snake bite punishment anyways) moved on, journeying and pitching their tents in various places. We are introduced to a geographical location named Arnon, which is the border of Moab, between Moab and the amorites (Numbers 21:13)
21:14 – Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of Jehovah, What he did in the Red Sea, and in the brooks of Arnon, And at the streams of the brooks that goeth down to the dwelling of Ar, and lieth upon the border of Moab.
The “Book of the Wars of Jehovah”? I thought the Bible was complete and divinely compiled? Yet we are referenced to a book that is NOT in the bible.
A quick online search reveals that this “book” the bible mentioned is lost to history. Yet the Bible references it. The Bible is not complete, the author clearly meant for the reader to reference it. The reader being a contemporary where the Book of the Wars of The Lord/Jehovah were readily available to them. Yet I am told the Bible is fully applicable today and for all time? This verse clearly shows it is not so, when it references a Book we have no access to.
Tribal cultures are rife with “song”, here we have a song of the Israelites in regards to Beer, the well where Jehovah told Moses “Gather the people together, and I will give them water”:
21:17 – Then Israel sang this song, Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it: The princes digged the well, the nobles of the people digged it, by the direction of the lawgiver, with their staves.
So now we know Moses has a title: The Lawgiver
The Israelites journey further, and as they approach the Amorites, the Israelites sent messengers to a new character: Sihon, King of the Amorites.
They received the same response from the Amorites as they received from their brethren the Moabites: No.
Again, two possible reasons:
The Amorites hated the Israelites and were against everything they did
The Amorites did not want Jehovah’s presence in their lands
Jehovah has already declared his disdain for the indigenous Canaanites
With Jehovah’s track record of punishing his own people, and others, to death, would you want him to walk through your lands?
Israel fought against the Amorites and won, and inhabited their land. What we find out is that, before Sihon owned the land, it was inhabited by the Moabites
Here’s a verse I found interesting:
21:27 – Wherefore they that speak in proverbs say, Come into Heshbon, let the city of Sihon be built and prepared: For there is a fire gone out of Heshbon, a flame from the city of Sihon: it hath consumed Ar of Moab, and the lords of the high places of Arnon.
So just who are *they* that speak in proverbs? Prophets? The proverb continues:
21:28 – For there is a fire gone out of Heshbon, a flame from the city of Sihon: it hath consumed Ar of Moab, and the lords of the high places of Arnon. Woe to thee, Moab! thou art undone, O people of Chemosh: he hath given his sons that escaped, and his daughters, into captivity unto Sihon king of the Amorites. We have shot at them; Heshbon is perished even unto Dibon, and we have laid them waste even unto Nophah, which reacheth unto Medeba.
Just what was this “fire”? Was it a destructive force of fire like what we say with Sodom and Gomorrah?
And who is Chemosh? Notice that his “sons and daughters” are the Moabites. Is he the patron/tribal god to the Moabites the way Jehovah is to the Israelites?
The concept that a deity sells or gives their people into captivity won’t be found only with Chemosh and the Moabites, as we will see in future verse.
Also, note that Chemosh is considered alive and active. A living god, just like Jehovah. Not a wooden idol, like with Terah, but an actual other god. Note at this point we don’t know if he’s good or evil.
Now we have two living gods, and the second one has been given a proper name: Chemosh.
The Israelites are still in the “wilderness”, yet to enter Canaan the land Jehovah has allocated for them.
In preparation for the move, Jehovah demands a census of males, 20 years old and up, to see just how many are able to “war.”
Why would an almighty god, who supposedly created the people and the land which is in question, require an ARMY to enter his own land he created? Why would he need an army to defeat the people he, supposedly, created who are already in Canaan?
These are the results of the census:
Reuben – 46,500
Simeon – 59,300
Gad – 45,650
Judah – 3score and 14,600 (sorry I can’t translate this one)
Issachar – 54,400
Zebulun – 57,400
Joseph/Ephraim – 40,500
Joseph/Manasseh – 32,200
Benjamin – 35,400
Dan – 3score and 2,700
Asher – 41,500
Naphtali – 53,400
The Levites, of course, are excluded because of their priesthood.
Over half a million people in the wilderness in Sinai, ready to enter Canaan, the land Jehovah has allocated for them.
Numbers 2 – Ranking
We learn each “child” or tribe of Israel has it’s own standard (aka flag) with the sign of their house on it. Jehovah, again, speaking through Moses and Aaron tells them exactly which tribe will be in the rankings and locations, and who the ‘captains’ of each house will be.
As you read Numbers 2, you realize this is a militaristic evaluation of an army, complete with instructions on logistic placement and banners. Again I ask, why would the god who created the universe require such things? This information is more applicable to a War General than an almighty creator god.
In a jump from a cultural collection of stories into a history of war and kings, we find 4 kings of cities/nations involved in a war with the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. We previously find out that Sodom was wicked and sinned against Jehovah. Surely they would suffer Jehovah’s wrath in war against their enemies?
The 5 kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Adman, Zeboiim and Bela versus the 4 kings of Elam (named Chedorlaomer), Goiim (named Tidal), Shinar (named Amraphel), and Ellasar (named Arioch).
Two interesting points:
We are not given the names of the 5 kings
The second group smote a list of people not represented by the 5 kings above:
Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim
Zuzim in Ham (descendants of Ham?)
Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim
Amalekites (location not specified)
Amorites in Hazazon-tamar
The 4 kings under Chedorlaomer defeat the 5 kings, sending the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fleeing into slime pits, whereupon the 4 kings take their spoil of Sodom and Gomorrah, which included taking Abram’s nephew, Lot, captive.
Abram is informed about Lot’s captivity.
Genesis 14:13 – And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew: now he dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner; and these were confederate with Abram.
Here is the first mention of the first ethnicity mentioned in the Bible: Hebrew, of which Abram was considered. Remember Abram came from Ur of Chaldea, so does Hebrew point to Chaldea?
The logistics of such a war in 16 verses tells a gigantic story, imagine all the details left out. Does our historical record find evidence of a war of such a large scale? I honestly do not know, and it would be worth investigating. Just investigating Google: “rescue of lot” someone had already done the work of theorizing the paths and locations of this war:
Abram had an army of 318 soldiers and was able to push the 4 armies of Chedorlaomer all the way up to #8, as far as Dan and eventually into Hobah.
A couple of minor observations:
Abram’s nephew Lot is now called his “brother”
The “left hand of Damascus” which is Hobah is west of Damascus
Why not just say “west”? The direction “east” is mentioned multiple times
There is a lot of new information in this Book 14 which begs a lot of questions:
Aren’t all these groups kin if Adam and Eve were the first on earth? Now they are at war? What happened to the “good” Creation of Genesis Book 1?
Is it the devil’s fault these wars exist?
FACT = the devil has not even been mentioned up to this point
Previous books in Genesis focus on small groups of families and peoples, now we are dealing with Kings and Armies. Where is the explanation of the development and evolution of societies to this level? Is it found in other texts?
This is the first time I’ve seen Salem and Jerusalem correlated. Jeru-salem. Is this map historically correct to assume they are one in the same? More research is needed for this question so I will not come to a certain conclusion.
Genesis 14 is a heavyweight in the Genesis collection, and it’s not even complete to this point, as I will address the remainder of Genesis 14 in Part 2.
Also, note that in this case, the wicked Sodom was victorious, thanks to Abram.