Sunday, 21 May 2017
The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale: Numbers: Chapter 7: God Acquires Some Transportation
I'm sure as a keen reader of the Bible you have often said to yourself: You know, the Bible is a great book, lots of lovely stories, some really great rules and regulations about leprosy and nasty issues emanating from orifices, but there aren't nearly enough flashbacks; you know, the sort you find in other works of fiction. Well fear not. This chapter and the next few chapters are going to be right up your street.
So for some reason, just as we thought that God was about to lead his chosen people off on their quest for the Promised Land, we suddenly get a flashback. The narrative takes us back to the end of Exodus when Moses first set up the Tabernacle. This supposedly happened a month previously. It's just that Leviticus was so deadly dull that it feels like a lifetime.
Anyway, we are reminded of this because the authors, who don't have an agenda here, oh dear me no, wanted to talk about sacrifices again. Yes, not content with all of the different sacrifices throughout Leviticus, they just want to ram the point home again. God requires lots and lots of sacrifices. He demands them in fact.
So apparently, though it hadn't thought to mention it at the time, when the Tabernacle was set up the heads of each of the tribes of Israel made offerings unto God. Fortuitously, given that they were about to go on a journey, they brought gifts of wagons and oxen. It should be pointed out once again that this was a tribe of people who had been in the desert for a year having escaped servitude. And yet they just happened to have lots of gold and fine decorations for the Tabernacle plus some oxen and some nice wagons for transportation. Not so long ago they were starving and needed manna from heaven. Now they had enough food to kill it and burn it gratuitously. Oh and a couple of dozen oxen too. They probably found them down the back of the sofa or something.
The whole of this chapter is taken up with all of the heads of the tribes going to Moses and making these very convenient offerings. It lists them one at a time. Don't worry, I'll spare you the detail. Suffice to say that by the end of proceedings they had given 24 oxen, 60 rams, 60 goats and 60 lambs. And some wagons.This was the dedication of the altar.
After this Moses went into the Tabernacle for a quiet chat with God. And possibly for a really really big barbecue.