A Little Bible Study

Last night I saw this posted on social media. I probably would have skimmed right past it, but that first quote jumped out at me and I thought “Wasn’t that Abraham lying to his son, whom he was getting ready to murder?”

So I did a little bible study and looked up each of those references.

I’ll be pulling quotes from the King James Version, but if you’d like to compare different English translations BibleGateway will show you a whole page of the same verse in different versions.

And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

Genesis 22:13

So here Abraham was looking around for a sacrifice and found the world’s stupidest ram. Alternately, God decides to make it look like Abraham wasn’t lying to Isaac in verse 8, when he said “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering”. Because, again, when he said that Abraham fully intended to murder Isaac.

It’s amazing to me that this story is told as something positive, Abraham passes the test of obedience but fails at fatherhood and moral courage in a big way. And of course, if you look outside the narrative, we have Abraham hearing a voice telling him to kill his son and he’s just like “Okay, sure.” He doesn’t even question it at the “Did I hear you right?” level. This does fit into the overall message of the Old Testament, which seems to be “Do as you’re told or God will kill you.”

Also, I find it profoundly creepy that Isaac is repeatedly referred to as “your son, your only son”, when just in the last chapter we see Abraham kick out his first son, Ishmael. Although I guess Abe really has no reason to believe that Hagar and Ishmael are still alive at this point, after he sent them out to die in the desert.

Anyway, Abe calls the place where he nearly murdered his kid Jehovah-jireh and I wonder who the protagonists are in this book. Moving on.

And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.

Exodus 15:26

This one is the reason I’m writing this post. I had to keep double checking to make sure it was the right verse, I couldn’t accept that anyone trying to present God as the good guy would want to draw attention to this. God’s just straight up abusive here. “Do exactly as I say and I won’t hurt you like I did them” is the very clear message. The “healing” bit is providing water, in this place that God sent them to that didn’t have drinkable water, so fixing a problem He created.

This is after the Israelites spend most of the chapter singing God’s praises to a downright comical degree, going on and on in detail about how badass God was in fucking up the Egyptians. They do that, and then there’s no water, and then God gives them water and tells them to be perfectly obedient, or else. God is abusive.

As an aside, verse 23 of that chapter is “And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.” and I’m assuming that sentence works better in Hebrew. Nothing important here, it’s just such a weird read I had to mention it. Moving on.

It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The Lord is there.

Ezekiel 48:35

This is the very last line of Ezekiel, after the denouement where the tribes are dividing up land and naming the city. Not much to say about it really, Jehovah-Shammah is just the kinda pretentious name they give the city.

Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

Judges 6:24

I kinda suspect that altar isn’t still there to this day. I wasn’t able to find it with a quick Google, and it would be a tourist attraction if it still existed.

Anyway, there’s not much to say here except that the conversation Gideon has with the angel before building this altar is weird as hell. Gideon doesn’t know he’s talking to an angel, which makes me wonder what was happening in Gideon’s mind. Some random guy shows up, tells him, basically, “God is with you, you can totally kick the Midianite’s collective ass and you should go do that!” And Gideon… just starts getting ready to go? I mean, it makes sense if he knows it’s an angel, but the text is very clear that he doesn’t. Could any random dude just easily talk someone into getting themselves killed back then?

8 Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
9 And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.
10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
12 But Moses hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
14 And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.
15 And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi:

Exodus 17:8-15

This is a weird one. I’m quoting the entire section within the two references given, but the comma makes me think they’re just citing verse 8 and verse 15. I don’t know why someone would do that, unless maybe they were embarrassed by the image of Moses struggling to hold up his hands for the entire battle. Verse 15 provides the name, maybe it was just important to them that we knew who the war was against?

It’s also worth mentioning that this cuts off the last line in the chapter, which is “For he said, Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” That’s a pretty weird thing to say right after verse 14, which is a little confusing but I read it as the Lord telling Moses that he needs to write a memorial about this or nobody will remember the Amalekites ever existed.

Weirdly, most translations say it as though God’s intent is to wipe out all memory of Amalek, in which case, dude, why are you telling Moses to write it down? I mean, here I am thousands of years later reading about them, so my interpretation makes way more sense.

However you interpret that, it’s just bizarre to follow it up with a promise to war with generations of people you just said will never exist.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Psalm 23

Even I recognized this one. Just someone droning on about how helpless they are without God. Too dull to be offensive, really.

In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness.

Jeremiah 23:6

So in context here, God is talking about a king who will be descended from David that will have this title, The Lord Our Righteousness. Maybe it’s that Emmanuel guy who never showed up?

Honestly though I have to talk about this chapter because it’s really just God ranting like a meth-head on the subway. It just goes on and on about the pastors and prophets who aren’t doing or saying what God wants, and how cool and smart and strong God is. It’s actually really weird to see this positive tantrum from a being who throws around plagues over the wrong person lighting incense. God apparently can’t do anything about it but yell in impotent rage this time.

So there we are. The names of God, which are actually names of two altars, a city, a place where a ram got stuck in a bush, two things kinda implied by the text if you squint, and one case of God giving a title to someone who doesn’t exist yet. Depending on your view of the trinity that last one might actually be God giving the name to himself, assuming it’s about Jesus.

About Leo Tarvi

Mostly fictional.

Posted on September 12, 2020, in Daily Post and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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