Sunday, 7 May 2017
The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale: Numbers: Chapter 5 - Chuck Out the Lepers and Discover the Wanton Women
God was about to lead his chosen people to the promised land; to the land of milk and honey. They had done all of their packing and even got a tribe of packers and carriers to take on the special task of transporting the Tabernacle. Now, before they left, God had one last set of instructions and some people to dump before the road trip. Oh and he had some black magic to detect adulterous women too. Useful!
So the build up to this trip to the promised land is taking some time isn't it. The Bible does like to drag its feet. Really they were just using this as an opportunity to tag on some more rules and regulations to the story. The Bible is one long copy and paste job.
Now though they were about to make their progress easier by dumping the sick. No, really. God told Moses that before they left Mount Sinai they should expel from the camp, that's the camp they were packing up and readying for their journey, the lepers and other sick people God didn't want defiling his camp. Why didn't he just cure them, or give them antibiotics? He's God after all. And anyway earlier, in all of the ridiculous rules in Leviticus, God had given them instructions about what to do with lepers. They had to be expelled from the camp until they got better. So why did they have to be expelled now? Strange!
And God also laid out the penalties for anyone who did wrong. Why now? Hadn't all of this been gone through in tedious detail in Leviticus? Still anyone who sinned against this community had to confess before them all, what all 2 million of them? Then they had to make atonement, financial atonement. Plus 20%. God liked to add his 20%. And if there was nobody to receive this fine? Well the priests got it. How convenient.
Then we move on to errant wives. If a man suspected his wife of having committed adultery God had a bit of hocus pocus to find it out. The man had to bring his wife to the priest along with a small offering to pay for it obviously. The priest would then take some holy water and some dust from the floor of the Tabernacle and he would mix it all up and pour it over the wife's head. This, along with a curse would cause an errant woman to have a terrible affliction of the womb. Essentially she would have a kind of sudden and tragic hysterectomy just because the priest splashed her with some water and uttered a strange incantation. Obviously this would be unlikely to work and the woman would walk away unharmed but equally obviously this is the sort of thing people wanted just before a long journey.
Note that adulterous men were just fine with God. Then again so were women because his silly black magic made about as much sense as finding a witch by weighing her. But this was apparently the law of jealousies. Very important.