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Live Blogging the Bible: Leviticus Preface

by Noah Lugeons

On the suggestion of a professor that Carl interviewed on the Post Rapture Looting Atheist Podcast, when I set out to read the bible, I purchased the 4th Edition New Oxford Annotated Bible.  It was a bit more of an investment than many of my other bible options, but the annotations, reading guides, maps, apocrypha and summaries made it well worth the investment.

Each book in the New Oxford is preceded by a series of short essays that deal with authorship, interpretation, structure, history and a short “reading guide” aimed to help the student appreciate exactly what they’ll be reading.  Thus far these essays have been rather useful in structuring the discussions we have on the books as well as giving me a bit of a life raft while I’m drowning in the prehistoric insanity of this tome.

The reading guide for Leviticus contained a rather interesting suggestion that basically said the best way to read Leviticus is to not read it.  After a brief and desperate attempt to downplay the raving lunacy of this section of the bible, the scholars offered the following advice:

Because the focus of Leviticus’s narrative is the law and in its divine speeches, the book is most profitably read first according to legal topic rather than from beginning to end.

In keeping with the theme of our “Holy Babble” segment, of course, I ignored this advice and dove right in.  And it didn’t take long to figure out why they discourage such activity.  I would submit that it’s all but impossible to maintain the internal fiction of divine authorship after reading even the first several verses in Leviticus.

It’s also no wonder to me that while most of us our familiar with many of the stories in Genesis and Exodus, we don’t know a damned thing about Leviticus.  It certainly wouldn’t do well for the “divinely inspired” camp to try to rationalize the crazy shit in this book.  Let’s just say it’ll be a long damn time before some creationist group opted for the moniker “Answers in Leviticus”.

I’m sure it’s not the most fucked up book in the bible (I hear tell that Deuteronomy trumps it early and often), but it is certainly the most fucked up thing I’ve ever read.  There can be little doubt that this is a simple amalgamation of horribly misguided, pre-scientific tribal customs codified in a time before we understood medicine, meteorology, biology or succinctness.

Live Blogging the Bible, Exodus 4:24-26

by Noah Lugeons

Even after only a book and 3 chapters, the title of “weirdest part of the bible” is a tough one to earn.  I’m only 100 pages in or so and already I’ve had to stop, scratch my head, re-read, re-scratch my head and sigh in frustrated confusion approximately one time for every 3 chapters.

If pressed, up until this morning I’d have listed the curse Noah lays on his grandson when his grandson’s dad sees his pecker as the weirdest part of the bible, though I’d have hemmed and hawed a bit between that and the part where Jacob wrestles god on the river.

But now there is a brand new contender and I actually think it might remain the bible’s weirdest passage no matter how much of this crap I read.  For those familiar with the bible, this is the part where Moses’ wife gives him magical foreskin powers so he can kick god’s ass.  And for those of you unfamiliar with the bible, that part actually exists and if you don’t believe me, check out Exodus 4:24-26 and tell me what the fuck is going on there then:

On the way, at a place where they spent the night, the Lord met him [Moses] and tried to kill him.  But Zipporah [Moses’ wife] took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched it to his feet and said, “Truly you are a bridegroom of blood to me!”  So he let him alone.  It was then she said, “A bridegroom of blood by circumcision.”

For a little context (and I’m afraid a little is all you’re gonna get), this is shortly after God charges Moses to go to Egypt and free the Israelites in bondage.  God appears in burning bush form, tells Moses to go to the pharaoh, loads him up with a few magic tricks and tells him to meet Aaron along the way.  And then, for no reason the bible bothers to explain, god appears and tries to kill Moses.  But not very hard.  Because of Zipporah’s clever foreskin maneuver.

There are so many fucking questions here, I don’t know where to start.  Why would god try to kill Moses?  How omnipotent is this guy if he can’t handle a Jew and his foreskin wielding wife?  If god can appear in a form that can ineffectually assassinate Moses, why the burning bush crap a few passages earlier?  And, most importantly, what the fuck?

This is some seriously crazy shit and the bible carries on like none of it happened a few verses later.  God just got thwarted by a piece of baby-dick and we’re just supposed to move on like this was no big deal?  And just how many of the early Jewish fathers have defeated god in a wrestling match?

I hoped that the annotations would help, but they just made it worse.  They refer to this whole thing as an “Enigmatic Episode” and point out that when it says that Zipporah touched the foreskin to Moses’ feet, that may have been a euphemism for his nuts.  Seriously.

So as I’m reading it, the scene from Zipporah’s perspective has to go something like this:

  • Awakened in the middle of the night by sounds of a struggle.
  • Wipe the sleep out of her eyes and glances through the moonlight to see her husband getting his ass kicked by God, Almighty.
  • Says to herself, “If only I had something to mutilate my son’s cock with!”  Finds flint.
  • Hastily circumcises her infant with a random, unsanitized stone in the dark.
  • Disrobes Moses’ while he’s fighting god.
  • Touches his cock with bleeding ring of baby genital.
  • God says… “Gross!  I don’t even want to wrestle any more!”
  • Says, “Truly you are a bridegroom of blood to me!”

I’m no closer to understanding this book, but at least now if I’m ever tasked with making an Exodus video game, I know what the power-ups will be.