Sunday, 9 July 2017
The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale: Numbers: Chapter 14 - God's Hissy Fit Over Doubters
You have to say that this needy, nasty, vain and self aggrandising God and his chosen people deserve each other really. He had taken them out of Egypt and led them to Mount Sinai where for no reason he had delayed their journey to the promised land to stop and tell them to make a tent and to issue them with instructions. Oh, and to count them. Now, it turns out, their promised land is already occupied. And by giants.
So Moses had sent scouts out to have a look at the promised land. They had returned agreeing that it really was a lovely place but that it had people already living in it. And among them were giants. There was no way they would beat them in a war.
The people heard all of this and were understandably upset. They had come all of this way for nothing, they wailed, why had they left Egypt where, okay they had been slaves, but life hadn't been as bad as this, or as bad as being slaughtered by giants.
Caleb, one of the scouts who had come back with his reports and who thought that killing the giants would be no problem, pleaded with them not to provoke God. With Jacob he told them that all would be well but not to doubt God. God would get angry.
Sure enough God had heard all of this and indeed was angry. How dare his people doubt him. He had a good mind to kill them all out of spite and then start again with a new people born of Moses and co.
But Moses told him to calm down and not be such a nasty God. If he killed his admittedly whinging people then the Egyptians and others would hear of it, that the God of the Israelites was not all that great. The Old Testament is obsessed with the Egyptians. It has a very well deserved inferiority complex to this sophisticated people with all of their fancy Gods. That's why they made up their own God and all of these stories about how powerful he is.
So God pouted a little and said 'Oh I suppose so.' I wanted to smite them. But I suppose I won't. I'm going to smite some of them though and anyone over the age of 20 is not going to get to the promised land and he was going to make them wander around in the desert until anyone over that age was dead. Now we know why they inserted that pointless census into the story.
God said that he had performed all kinds of miracles to impress his people and yet they still doubted him. So that was to be their punishment. So there!
And then God started killing people. Not all of them, just some of them. To make himself feel better. He started with 10 of the scouts who had returned from their reconnaissance mission and come back with tales of terrible giants. The 2 scouts who had said all would be well, Caleb and Jacob, were spared. They and their families were okay with God.
Moses then went to the people and told them what God had decided he was going to do. The people were upset by this. Sod it, they said, we're going to go and take the promised land ourselves without need of God. This is a weird and stupid turnaround isn't it. First they were scared to fight for the promised land and wanted to go back to Egypt and now they said they were going to go and fight those giants after all. So Moses said no, you mustn't do that. God will be angrier still.
Nevertheless, off they went, albeit without the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant, and sure enough they were beaten back by the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived there. They're a bit dim these people aren't they. But surely God should have known that before he rescued them. After all he chose them.