28 December 2014

The Book of Mormon Broadway Review

Hello! My name is Elder Wells. And I would like to share with you this show I saw recently. 

You may have noticed that I've been making quite a few references to the Book of Mormon musical in my blog posts. That's because it is actually very accurate Well, now that I've seen it a couple of times on Broadway, I feel qualified to give a review to everyone here.

Overall, it's great, and you should see go see it the next chance you get. 

But if you don't have the chance to, simply listening to the soundtrack is a pretty great substitute. And, you can do that for free, song-by-song, on Youtube

If you get a chance to see it on Broadway, there is a great low cost option that I took advantage of. If you don't mind not having a seat, and standing for the entire show, you can get to the show 2 hours early and buy a Standing Room Only ticket for $28. Tickets to the show tend to run $150-500, so this is quite a deal. The view from the Standing Room Only spots is great. You are right behind the Orchestra seating, so you have a great view of the whole stage. I have now seen the show twice this way, and I really didn't even notice the standing. You have a little railing to lean against, and the show is so good that it really captures your attention. That said, wear some comfortable shoes if you plan to get a SRO ticket. 

There is also a way to get really good, cheap seats by doing the lottery. For most shows on Broadway they raffle off a certain amount of great seats for $30 or so. It's a tradition that was started with the show "Rent" and has continued on today with most shows... but, it's pretty unlikely your name will get drawn out of all of the people who try it,  so have someone waiting in the SRO line as a backup. 

The Eugene O'Neill Theatre, complete with the angel Moroni

My favorite parts of the show were the Ugandan's play for the church leaders, "Hasa Diga Ebowi", "Turn it off", which had an amazing dance number, "I believe", and "Baptize me". All of these songs were great songs themselves, but also had really funny jokes throughout them that really kept the energy of the show going.

I need to make one of these. 

Outside of the songs, the story played out like a long South Park episode, and that is not a complaint. The script stayed exactly where it wanted to be -- either lingering on a scene to make a joke, or skipping ahead quickly to get to where the action was. You notice this particularly in the beginning of the show, where the young elders are quickly paired up, given their mission destination, and then all of the sudden in the airport saying goodbye to their families. Since we don't really know the characters very well yet, there is no need to hang around.

The characters really felt like Mormons, which I felt was the strongest part of the show. They snuck in a lot of jokes about coffee, swearing, and irrational thinking into the script, and each of these jokes were hits.

One of my favorite running jokes was when Elder Cunningham couldn't remember Nabulungi's name, so he kept calling her "Nutella", "Neutrogena", and other words starting with N. It's a runnning joke that just keeps getting funnier as the show progresses. 

Technically, everything was amazing. But I would expect no less from a Broadway show that has been running for more than a year. 

Here are a few of my complaints about the show. First off, I question the use of voiceovers in telling the Mormon story in the very beginning. I think that it is clear that the angel Moroni, and Jesus are not actually speaking the words, and I think that it puts the audience on edge that the whole show may be done this way (which of course it won't). Since you are already paying actors to play these roles, why not make them speaking roles? Next would be the length of the "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" song, which drags a bit, and the continued, somewhat overdone joke about the doctor having maggots in his scrotum. It was an okay joke as a one-off line, but it wasn't good enough to warrant its continued reference throughout the show. I also think that the last "Orlando" reprise was a bit stale, and could have been eliminated. I think that the whole show could have used a really sharp editor who was willing to not be a yes-man to Matt and Trey. Of course they were going to write a good show, but some of the script should have undergone a little more scrutiny than a 22-minute show typically gets, because it will probably be on Broadway for 20+ years, and everyone will have to give pity laughs to any mediocre joke that slips in there. 

Also, ask the people at the box office if the roles of Elder Price and Elder Cunningham are being played by understudies that night. One of the times I went, the role of Elder Cunningham was played by an understudy, and honestly, he was much worse. It really took away from the show, because he is such a critical role (and so hard to play). 

The show is touring around the country, so you'll probably have a chance to see it soon. If you've already seen it, let me know what you thought of the show in the comments. Did you like the maggots joke? 

27 December 2014

Possibly Gay Bible Stories: There's something about Joseph

(From Chapter 4 of Strange Flesh: The Bible and Homosexuality by Steve Wells)
Joseph was Jacob’s favorite child whom he loved more than all his other children, and he made no attempt to hide it from his other sons. He even made a special “coat of many colors” just for his favorite son. Because of this special treatment, Joseph was hated by his brothers.
Now Israel [AKA Jacob] loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him. Genesis 37:3-4

Joseph’s coat of many colors

Jacob famously gave Joseph a “coat of many colors,” which, according to the argument that I will be calling Gay Joseph Theory (GJT),1 was actually a dress or robe with long sleeves, like that of David’s daughter, Tamar -- a dress that kings made for their virgin daughters.
And she had a garment of divers colours upon her: for with such robes were the king's daughters that were virgins apparelled ... And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colours. 2 Samuel 13:18-19
According to the GJT, Jacob, dressed his favorite son in fancy girls’ clothes,2 in opposition to the law in Deuteronomy 22:5, which says: “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.” If so, Joseph was a transvestite and an abomination to God.

Joseph’s Dreams

Be that as it may, one thing was certain: Joseph was annoying. He kept telling his brothers about his dreams where they all worshipped him.

And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. Genesis 37:5-9

The plot against Joseph

So Joseph’s older brothers decided to get rid of him.

They got their chance one day when Joseph came to meet them while they were taking care of the flocks.3

Joseph went after his brethren.... And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams. Genesis 37:17-20
But before they killed him, one of the brothers, Reuben, talked the others out of it. He suggested that they just throw Joseph in a pit and leave him there. (Reuben planned on coming back and rescuing him later. See the NIV translation)
Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again. 37:22

“Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father. 37:22 (NIV)

So the brothers stripped Joseph of his girlish robe and threw his highness into a pit.
When Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him; And they took him, and cast him into a pit. 37:23-24
A little later, while they were eating lunch, a caravan of Ishmaelites passed by on their way to Egypt.
And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. 37:25
Judah suggested that they sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites, and his brothers said, “OK.”
And Judah said unto his brethren ... let us sell him to the Ishmeelites.... And his brethren were content. 37:26-27
Then the story gets confusing. Some Midianites pass by and remove Joseph from the pit and sell him to the Ishmaelites.
Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt. 37:28

Reuben went to the pit and saw that Joseph was gone, so “he rent his clothes.” (Tore his clothes.)

And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes. 37:29
The other brothers weren’t upset, though. They just took Joseph's coat, killed a goat, dipped the coat in the blood, brought the bloody coat back to Jacob, and said, “Hey, look what we found. It looks like Joseph’s gay coat, doesn’t it?”
His brethren … took Joseph's coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son's coat or no. 37:30-32
Jacob recognized the coat and assumed that an animal ate Joseph. So he rent his clothes and put sackcloth on his loins. (This is the first stage of biblical grief. The next is putting ashes on your head and falling on your face.)
And he knew it, and said, It is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces. And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins. 37:33-34
Then the Midianites sold Joseph to the captain of Pharaoh’s guard, Potiphar.
The Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard. 37:36
(I know, the Midianites sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites in 37:28, but I guess the Ishmaelites sold him back again to the Midianites who then sold him to Potiphar.)

But then, just when you thought you had the whole Midianite/Ishmaelite thing straightened out, there’s this verse to confuse you again.

And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. 39:1
So I guess the Midianites sold Joseph one more time to the Ishmaelites.

(The GJT says that one of the main reasons that Joseph was hated by his brothers was that he was gay.4 The Midianites/Ishmaelites took a liking to Joseph because they too were gay, and were, therefore, attracted to Joseph.5)

Joseph in Egypt

Be that as it may, Potiphar found Joseph attractive too.

Joseph found grace in his [Potiphar’s] sight … He left all that he had in Joseph's hand ... And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured. 39:4-6
There was more to it than that, though, according to the Gay Joseph Theory:
[W]e are returned to Joseph’s initial career as one who ‘found favor’ in the eyes of Potiphar (39:1-6). … While we may suppose that finding favor in the sight of someone is but a metaphor, it also … is suggestive of erotic attraction.6
Potiphar’s wife also thought Joseph was quite attractive.
His master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. Genesis 39:7
But Joseph didn’t like sex with women7 (or he didn’t find Potiphar’s wife attractive, or he didn’t want to commit adultery, or....), so he ran away from her.
And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled. Genesis 39:12

Girolamo Forabosco (1605-1679) Story of Joseph & Potiphar's Wife

Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of trying to rape her, so he was thrown into prison. But the jailer took a liking to him. (GJT: He was gay, too.)8

But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. Genesis 39:21
Later, when Joseph was called to interpret Pharaoh’s dream, he shaved and dressed up a bit. (Which according to the GJT is something only gay men like to do.)9
Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh. Genesis 41:14
And Joseph became Pharaoh’s favorite guy.
Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck. Genesis 41:42

Abraham Bloemaert, Joseph and his brothers in Egypt, ca. 1600

Pharaoh gave Joseph a wife who gave him two sons. According to Jennings, he did this to hide his continuing homosexual affair with Joseph.

The attempted reheterosexualization of Joseph occurs again in relation to Pharaoh, who gives Joseph a wife.10
But later, Joseph’s father (Jacob/Israel) took his children from him, as though he was their father, not Joseph. This made Joseph (according to the GJT) the surrogate mother and wife to his own father.
Now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine. Genesis 48:5
Here’s a Jennings quote to clarify that for you:
Jacob functions as the father in the place of Joseph. Quite dramatically, the sons born to Joseph become instead sons born to Jacob. Insofar as Joseph has any role here it is that of ‘wife’ of Jacob and ‘mother’ of the two sons.11

  1. For details on the Gay Joseph Theory (GJT) see Theodore W.Jennings, Jr., Jacob's Wound, pp. 177-196.

  2. “We seem to be left with the rather astonishing bit of news that Joseph is wearing (‘classy’) girls’ clothes.” Ibid., p. 181.

  3. Jacob sent Joseph to check up on his brothers who were tending flocks in Shechem, which was about fifty miles north of Hebron. When Joseph arrived in Shechem, he found out that his brothers weren't there, but were another thirteen miles away in Dothan. The entire trip must have taken poor Joseph a week or so.

  4. “Jacob/Israel has produced the queer Joseph, transvested him…. And the progeny of Israel have engaged in the first instance of queer bashing.” Ibid., p. 182.

  5. “But what is remarkable about Joseph’s subsequent career is that he survives by being taken under the wing of a succession of more powerful males. … Thus it seems that at every phase of his career, Joseph is carried upon a wave of masculine desire.” Ibid., pp. 183-4.

  6. Ibid., 183.

  7. “Joseph has no apparent desire for the woman [Potiphar’s wife] who throws herself at him.” Ibid., p. 188.

  8. “[H]e seems to do well on account of his benefactor, the chief jailer. In this, Joseph’s experience seems not too unlike that of men in prison even today; survival depends upon a powerful male benefactor, who may exchange protection for sexual favors.” Ibid., p. 184.

  9. “When Pharaoh summons Joseph to himself to undertake the interpretation of a dream, he takes the precaution of presenting his notorious beauty to best advantage: ‘When he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh.’ (41:14). … Joseph’s being made once again the favorite of a more powerful male.” Ibid., p. 184.

  10. Ibid., p. 189.

  11. Ibid., p. 189.

26 December 2014

Alma 37: "I got de Golden Plates..."

After Alma finished his speech to Helaman, he gave him the plates of Nephi, which were the records of their forefathers that went all of the way back to Lehi. I'm sure Helaman was pretty excited. He must have been feeling a bit like this:

And now, my son Helaman, I command you that ye take the records which have been entrusted with me; Alma 37.1 
And I also command you that ye keep a record of this people, according as I have done, upon the plates of Nephi, and keep all these things sacred which I have kept, even as I have kept them; for it is for a wise purpose that they are kept. Alma 37.2

Except these plates were brass. Not quite as cool, but they were pretty important, at least according to the prophecy of their forefathers. Apparently these plates would be handed down from one generation to another, and be preserved by God, until every nation knew "the mysteries contained theron". So they were pretty important.  

And these plates of brass, which contain these engravings, which have the records of the holy scriptures upon them, which have the genealogy of our forefathers, even from the beginning— 37.3 
Behold, it has been prophesied by our fathers, that they should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, that they shall know of the mysteries contained thereon. 37.4
But with great power comes great responsibility. Helaman was put in charge of keeping the record going, and of keeping the plates shiny. Alma insisted that this wasn't a silly detail. God was very particular, and sometimes he would confuse the wise with very small details. So keep them plates shiny, boy! 
And now behold, if they are kept they must retain their brightness; yea, and they will retain their brightness; yea, and also shall all the plates which do contain that which is holy writ. 37.5 
Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. 37.6 
And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls. 37.7
After telling Helaman how to take care of the plates, Alma just can't help himself. He launches back into his speech, telling him over and over again to keep God's commandments... even though sometimes it's hard to see the reasoning behind them. 

O remember, remember, my son Helaman, how strict are the commandments of God. And he said: If ye will keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land—but if ye keep not his commandments ye shall be cut off from his presence. 37.13
But if ye keep the commandments of God, and do with these things which are sacred according to that which the Lord doth command you, (for you must appeal unto the Lord for all things whatsoever ye must do with them) behold, no power of earth or hell can take them from you, for God is powerful to the fulfilling of all his words. 37.16
Therefore I command you, my son Helaman, that ye be diligent in fulfilling all my words, and that ye be diligent in keeping the commandments of God as they are written. 37.20
Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day. 37.37
But then things get interesting, and confusing. Apparently God made a special stone that he gave to Gazelem, which shined light on darkness (metaphorically, it seems) so that the wicked secret works of these people (the Jerodites) could be seen. But, even once their abominations were brought out into the open, they still didn't repent. So God destroyed them. 

For behold, the Lord saw that his people began to work in darkness, yea, work secret murders and abominations; therefore the Lord said, if they did not repent they should be destroyed from off the face of the earth. 37.22
And the Lord said: I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover unto my people who serve me, that I may discover unto them the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness, and their wickedness and abominations. 37.23
And now, my son, these interpreters were prepared that the word of God might be fulfilled, which he spake, saying: 37.24
I will bring forth out of darkness unto light all their secret works and their abominations; and except they repent I will destroy them from off the face of the earth; and I will bring to light all their secrets and abominations, unto every nation that shall hereafter possess the land. 37.25 

And now, my son, we see that they did not repent; therefore they have been destroyed, and thus far the word of God has been fulfilled; yea, their secret abominations have been brought out of darkness and made known unto us. 37.26

But Alma wanted Helaman to keep quiet about these wicked things that the Jerodites did, because he was concerned that the people might be attracted to the lifestyle if they found out about it. Alma wanted Helaman to just teach them normal church doctrine, and then everyone would be protected from iniquity. 

You know how the police sometimes don't want the media to sensationalize violent crimes, because they are worried about people "copycatting"? Yeah, it's kind of like that. 

And now, my son, I command you that ye retain all their oaths, and their covenants, and their agreements in their secret abominations; yea, and all their signs and their wonders ye shall keep from this people, that they know them not, lest peradventure they should fall into darkness also and be destroyed. 37.27
For behold, there is a curse upon all this land, that destruction shall come upon all those workers of darkness, according to the power of God, when they are fully ripe; therefore I desire that this people might not be destroyed. 37.28
Therefore ye shall keep these secret plans of their oaths and their covenants from this people, and only their wickedness and their murders and their abominations shall ye make known unto them; and ye shall teach them to abhor such wickedness and abominations and murders; and ye shall also teach them that these people were destroyed on account of their wickedness and abominations and their murders. 37.29
For behold, they murdered all the prophets of the Lord who came among them to declare unto them concerning their iniquities; and the blood of those whom they murdered did cry unto the Lord their God for vengeance upon those who were their murderers; and thus the judgments of God did come upon these workers of darkness and secret combinations. 37.30
Don't explain to the members of the church why the Jerodites were evil, just keep repeating it, and teach the church to hate sin. Then call the Jerodites sinners -- the people will believe you, even without proof. And, of course, keep the commandments of God. 

And now, my son, remember the words which I have spoken unto you; trust not those secret plans unto this people, but teach them an everlasting hatred against sin and iniquity. 37.32 
O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God. 37.35
Then Alma gives Helaman the magic ball of curious workmanship. It has almost as many names as Gandalf: 1.) A ball 2.) director 3.) Liahona 4.) Compass [interpreted]. God made the ball, and it only works if you really believe in it. So remember that if you ever have to use it, Helaman! 
And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director—or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it. 37.38 
And behold, there cannot any man work after the manner of so curious a workmanship. And behold, it was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness. 37.39 
And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day. 37.40
And, after warning Helaman not to lose all of his new cool stuff, Alma said goodbye to Helaman and moved on to his next son, Shiblon. 
And now, my son, see that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God and live. Go unto this people and declare the word, and be sober. My son, farewell. 37.47

EJ&T - Deuteronomy 26: First-fruit baskets, third-year tithes, and holy speeches

In the Every Jot and Tittle project, I am listing all of the Bible's commandments from Genesis to Revelation, in accordance with Jesus's words in Matthew 5:18-19. I have no idea how many commandments I'll find, but Jewish tradition claims there are 613. See here for a list of those that I've found so far.

  1. When God gives you some land, put all of its first fruits in a basket and take the basket to the place that God chooses to place his name.
  2. And it shall be, when thou art come in unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and possessest it, and dwellest therein; That thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his name there. Deuteronomy 26:1-2

  3. Take your basket of first fruits to the priest and say to him, "I profess this day unto the Lord thy God, that I am come unto the country which the Lord sware unto our fathers for to give us."
  4. And thou shalt go unto the priest that shall be in those days, and say unto him, I profess this day unto the Lord thy God, that I am come unto the country which the Lord sware unto our fathers for to give us. Deuteronomy 26:3

  5. The priest shall take your basket of first fruits and set it down before the altar.
  6. And the priest shall take the basket out of thine hand, and set it down before the altar of the Lord thy God. Deuteronomy 26:4

  7. After the priest puts your basket on the altar, say the following words to God:
  8. A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous: And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage: And when we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression: And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders: And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O Lord, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the Lord thy God, and worship before the Lord thy God:

    And thou shalt speak and say before the Lord thy God, A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous: And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage: And when we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression: And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders: And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O Lord, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the Lord thy God, and worship before the Lord thy God: Deuteronomy 26:5-10

  9. Rejoice in the Lord.
  10. Thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee. Deuteronomy 26:11

    Rejoice with trembling. Psalm 2:11

    Rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. Psalm 32:11

    Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous. Psalm 33:1

    Rejoice before him. Psalm 68:4

    Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous. Psalm 97:12

    Rejoice. Psalm 98:4

    Be glad and rejoice. Joel 2:21

    Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God. Joel 2:23

    Be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. Zephaniah 3:14

    Rejoice, O daughter of Zion. Zechariah 2:10

    Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion. Zechariah 9:9

    Rejoicing in hope. Romans 12:12

    Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4

    Rejoice evermore. 1 Thessalonians 5:16

  11. When you finish giving your tithe in the third year, give it to the Levites, strangers, fatherless children, and widows.
  12. When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled; Deuteronomy 26:12

  13. After after you finish giving your tithe, say the following words to God:
  14. I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them. I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, neither have I taken away ought thereof for any unclean use, nor given ought thereof for the dead: but I have hearkened to the voice of the Lord my God, and have done according to all that thou hast commanded me. Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou swarest unto our fathers, a land that floweth with milk and honey.

    Then thou shalt say before the Lord thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them. I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, neither have I taken away ought thereof for any unclean use, nor given ought thereof for the dead: but I have hearkened to the voice of the Lord my God, and have done according to all that thou hast commanded me. Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou swarest unto our fathers, a land that floweth with milk and honey. Deuteronomy 26:13-15

25 December 2014

Strange Fire Before the Lord

(From Chapter 4 of Strange Flesh: The Bible and Homosexuality by Steve Wells)

During the Exodus, Moses took seventy elders up to the mountaintop to see God, along with Aaron and his two sons, Nadab and Abihu.

Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink. Exodus 24:9-11
Little else is said about Nadab and Abihu until Leviticus 10, where God burns them to death for offering “strange fire before the Lord.”
And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. Leviticus 10:1-2
The Bible provides no clue about what this “strange fire” might have been, but Howard Eilberg-Schwartz suggests in God’s Phallus (pp.189-193) that it was some type of sexual offense against God -- either failing to avert their gaze while viewing God’s nakedness, exposing their own nakedness to God, or making some type of sexual advance to God.

Sort of puts the strange in "strange fire" now, doesn't it?

EJ&T Deuteronomy 25: Forty lashes, sex with your dead brother's wife, cutting off a woman's hand without pity, and remembering Amalek

In the Every Jot and Tittle project, I am listing all of the Bible's commandments from Genesis to Revelation, in accordance with Jesus's words in Matthew 5:18-19. I have no idea how many commandments I'll find, but Jewish tradition claims there are 613. See here for a list of those that I've found so far.

  1. Settle disputes with judges who will justify the righteous and condemn the wicked.
  2. If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked. Deuteronomy 25:1

  3. When a judge decides that someone is wicked, make him lie down and beat him with up to forty lashes.
  4. If the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number. Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee. Deuteronomy 25:2-3

  5. Don't muzzle an ox while it is treading the grain.
  6. Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. Deuteronomy 25:4

    Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. 1 Corinthians 9:9

  7. If a man dies before his wife has a child, the widow must marry her dead husband's brother.
  8. If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her. Deuteronomy 25:5

  9. When a man marries his dead brother's wife, the firstborn son receives the dead brother's name.
  10. And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel. Deuteronomy 25:6

  11. If a man refuses to "go in unto" his dead brother's wife, she shall loosen his shoe and spit in his face.
  12. And if the man like not to take his brother's wife, then let his brother's wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband's brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband's brother. Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her; Then shall his brother's wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother's house. Deuteronomy 25:7-9

  13. A man who refuses to have sex with his dead brother's wife shall be called "him that has his shoe loosed."
  14. And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed. Deuteronomy 25:10

  15. If two men fight and the wife of one grabs the "secrets" of the other, "then thou shalt cut off her hand" and "thine eye shall not pity her."
  16. When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets: Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her. Deuteronomy 25:11-12

  17. Remember what Amalek did to you.
  18. Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt. How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. Deuteronomy 25:17-18

  19. Don't forget to blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.
  20. Thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it. Deuteronomy 25:19

    Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. 1 Samuel 15:2-3

24 December 2014

Possibly Gay Bible Stories - Ishmael and Isaac: What did Sarah see?

(From Chapter 4 of Strange Flesh: The Bible and Homosexuality by Steve Wells)
Sarah (she was called “Sarai” back then) was the first of a long line of barren women who were desperate for children.1 (In the Bible, it is always the women who are barren, never the men.) So she sent Abraham (“Abram”) “in unto” her slave, Hagar, so that she could "obtain children by her." Abraham did as he was told and impregnated Hagar.
Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. Sarai ... took Hagar her maid the Egyptian ... and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived. Genesis 16:1-4
Soon Sarah became jealous of Hagar, treating her so badly that Hagar ran away. Then an angel appeared and told Hagar to return to her abusive mistress. So she did, and amid this messed up family life situation, Ishmael was born.
When Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face. And the angel of the LORD found her ... And he said ... Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands ... Behold, thou art with child and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael. 16:6-11
Fourteen years later, God helped Sarah get pregnant, and Isaac was born.2 Then one day, after Isaac was weaned, Sarah saw the teenage Ishmael “mocking” his two-year-old brother.
The child [Isaac] grew, and was weaned ... And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Genesis 21:8-9
The Bible doesn’t say what Ishmael did to “mock” his little brother Isaac. But whatever it was it upset Sarah so much that she told Abraham to abandon Ishmael and his mother Hagar.
Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son. Genesis 21:10
Some have suggested that Ishmael’s “mocking” of his younger brother Isaac was of a sexual nature, noting that the same word (tzahak) is used to describe the behaviour in this verse is used in Genesis 26:8 to describe Isaac's fondling of his wife Rebekah.3
Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife. Genesis 26:8
If so, that might explain Sarah’s hostility toward Ishmael. But whatever it was, God agreed with Sarah, telling Abraham to abandon Hagar and Ishmael.
And God said unto Abraham ... hearken unto her voice. Genesis 21:12
Maybe God saw what Sarah saw.

'The Expulsion of Hagar', Adrien van der Werfft

  1. Barren women in the Bible: Sarah (Genesis 16:1); Rebekah (Genesis 25:21); Leah (Gen 29:31); Rachel (Genesis 30:1); Manoah’s wife, Samson’s mother (Judges 13:2); Hannah, Samuel’s mother (1 Samuel 1:5); Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mother (Luke 1:7).

  2. Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael was born.
    And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram. Genesis 16:1
    And he was 100 years old when Isaac was born.
    The Lord visited Sarah ... and ... did unto Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age. And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac…. And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. Genesis 21:1-5
    So, according to the Genesis story, Ishmael was 14 years older than Isaac.

  3. The Hebrew verb tzahak … can mean ‘to laugh with’ as well as ‘to fondle sexually,’ as it does in the story about Rebecca and Isaac fondling each other in Gerar (Gen. 26:8)” Gerald Larue, Sex and the Bible, p. 99; See also Jonathan Kirsch, Moses, p. 48-51.

22 December 2014

EJ&T Deuteronomy 24: Divorcing and remarrying hated wives, cheering up new wives, and helping the poor

In the Every Jot and Tittle project, I am listing all of the Bible's commandments from Genesis to Revelation, in accordance with Jesus's words in Matthew 5:18-19. I have no idea how many commandments I'll find, but Jewish tradition claims there are 613. See here for a list of those that I've found so far.

  1. If you take a wife, and you find some uncleanness in her, then divorce her and kick her out of your house.
  2. When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. Deuteronomy 24:1

  3. A divorced wife may marry another man, but if her new husband divorces her because he hates her too (or if he dies), then her former husband must not remarry her. That would be an abomination to God.
  4. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD. Deuteronomy 24:2-4

  5. When a man takes a new wife, he shall not fight in war or do any business; he shall be free for one year to cheer up his new wife.
  6. When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken. Deuteronomy 24:5

  7. Don't take a man's millstone as collateral in a loan. That would be like taking his life.
  8. No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge: for he taketh a man's life to pledge. Deuteronomy 24:6

  9. Kill anyone who steals and then sells another person from your community.
  10. If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that thief shall die Deuteronomy 24:7

  11. If you get leprosy, do whatever the priests tell you to do.
  12. Take heed in the plague of leprosy, that thou observe diligently, and do according to all that the priests the Levites shall teach you: as I commanded them, so ye shall observe to do. Deuteronomy 24:8

  13. Remember what God did to Miriam. (He gave her leprosy for criticizing Moses.)
  14. Remember what the LORD thy God did unto Miriam by the way, after that ye were come forth out of Egypt. Deuteronomy 24:9

  15. If you lend someone something, don't go into his house to collect the collateral. Ask him to bring it out to you.
  16. When thou dost lend thy brother any thing, thou shalt not go into his house to fetch his pledge. Thou shalt stand abroad, and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge abroad unto thee.Deuteronomy 24:10-11

  17. If you loaned something to a poor person who used clothes as collateral, bring the clothes back in the evening so the poor person can sleep in them.
  18. And if the man be poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge: In any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down, that he may sleep in his own raiment. Deuteronomy 24:12-13

  19. Don't oppress the working poor, whether they are members of your community or strangers.
  20. Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates: Deuteronomy 24:14

    Neither oppress the afflicted. Proverbs 22:22

  21. Don't kill fathers for things their children did, and vice versa.
  22. The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin. Deuteronomy 24:16

  23. Don't misjudge strangers.
  24. Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger. Deuteronomy 24:17a

    Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger.... And all the people shall say, Amen. Deuteronomy 27:19

  25. Don't misjudge fatherless children.
  26. Thou shalt not pervert the judgment ... of the fatherless. Deuteronomy 24:17b

    Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the ... fatherless.... And all the people shall say, Amen. Deuteronomy 27:19

  27. Don't take a widow's clothing for collateral in a loan.
  28. Thou shalt not ... take a widow's raiment to pledge. Deuteronomy 24:17c

  29. If you forget to harvest some of your field, leave it for strangers, fatherless children, and widows.
  30. When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. Deuteronomy 24:19

  31. Only beat your olive trees once; leave what's left for strangers, fatherless children, and widows.
  32. When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. Deuteronomy 24:20

  33. After you pick your grapes, don't pick the ones you missed. Leave them for strangers, fatherless children, and widows.
  34. When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. Deuteronomy 24:21

  35. Remember that you were a slave in Egypt.
  36. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt. Deuteronomy 24:22

19 December 2014

Alma 36: Alma's Message To Helaman (Part 1)

In the last chapter we are promised details of the war, Alma's speech to the multitude, and then the details of his individual speeches to each one of his sons. From the first verse in Alma 36 it seems clear which one we are going to get: his speech to his eldest son, Helaman. This comprises chapters 36 and 37, but since it's long I'm going to split it into two posts. 

And in case you think these speeches are boring, they're not. Just look at this quote from John W. Welch, a professor of law at Jay Reuben Clark law school at Brigham Young University:

The speeches of Alma in the Book of Mormon are among the very richest chapters of the entire book. I think it is fair to call them a doctrinal epicenter of the Book of Mormon. Alma’s words bear repeated dissection, and they reward persistent pondering. I know that, like most of the Book of Mormon, the words of Alma will wear me out long before I wear them out. Source
I can agree with that. Thirty-seven chapters in, Alma's words are starting to wear me out. But, onward!

Alma begins by telling Helaman to listen up, because if you keep God's commandments, you'll prosper.
My son, give ear to my words; for I swear unto you, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land. Alma 36.1
Alma wishes that his son believes this stuff right from the beginning, without having to go through the painful ordeal that he did. Remember back in Mosiah 16, when Alma was first convinced of the truth of God by Abinadi? Before that, he was running with the wrong crowd, and trying to take down the church with the rest of the sons of Mosiah. But then something amazing happened. They were visited by an angel!

Now, behold, I say unto you, if I had not been born of God I should not have known these things; but God has, by the mouth of his holy angel, made these things known unto me, not of any worthiness of myself; 36.5 
For I went about with the sons of Mosiah, seeking to destroy the church of God; but behold, God sent his holy angel to stop us by the way. 36.6 
And behold, he spake unto us, as it were the voice of thunder, and the whole earth did tremble beneath our feet; and we all fell to the earth, for the fear of the Lord came upon us. 36.7 
But behold, the voice said unto me: Arise. And I arose and stood up, and beheld the angel. 36.8

The angel told Alma that he could destroy himself if he wanted to, but that he had to stop trying to destroy the church.
And he said unto me: If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God. 36.9
Alma fell down to the ground for three days, and he couldn't move. Apparently the angel kept talking to him, but Alma couldn't even hear what the angel was saying. He was racked with all of his sins and was "tormented with the pains of hell".
And it came to pass that I fell to the earth; and it was for the space of three days and three nights that I could not open my mouth, neither had I the use of my limbs. 36.10 
And the angel spake more things unto me, which were heard by my brethren, but I did not hear them; for when I heard the words—If thou wilt be destroyed of thyself, seek no more to destroy the church of God—I was struck with such great fear and amazement lest perhaps I should be destroyed, that I fell to the earth and I did hear no more. 36.11 
But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins. 36.12 
Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments. 36.13
This 3-day punishment was because he had led so many of the people away from the church. Alma describes this as "I had murdered many of his children", but then he quickly clarifies that he actually just "led them away unto destruction". So he was scared to face God. But after three days, he decided to ask Jesus for forgiveness, and to stop with all the tormenting.
Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror. 36.14 
Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds. 36.15
And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul. 36.16 
And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world. 36.17 
Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. 36.18
And, as luck would have it, Alma's pain went away the very second he asked Jesus! Nice.

And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. 36.19 
And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain! 36.20 
Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy. 36.21

But, right before his limbs started working, Alma saw God! Or he thought he did, just for a second. He was hanging out with a bunch of angels up in heaven! But he didn't really get a good view, because all of the sudden he was healed and up on his feet.
Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul did long to be there. 36.22 
But behold, my limbs did receive their strength again, and I stood upon my feet, and did manifest unto the people that I had been born of God. 36.23
And those three days were more than enough to convince Alma. He worked tirelessly for the church for the rest of his days.
Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 36.24
Alma finishes up his speech by telling Helaman all of the great things that God has done for him, and that he will do for Helaman, as long as he follows the rules.

And I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea, and in all manner of afflictions; yea, God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me. 36.27 
And I know that he will raise me up at the last day, to dwell with him in glory; yea, and I will praise him forever, for he has brought our fathers out of Egypt, and he has swallowed up the Egyptians in the Red Sea; and he led them by his power into the promised land; yea, and he has delivered them out of bondage and captivity from time to time. 36.28 
Yea, and he has also brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem; and he has also, by his everlasting power, delivered them out of bondage and captivity, from time to time even down to the present day; and I have always retained in remembrance their captivity; yea, and ye also ought to retain in remembrance, as I have done, their captivity. 36.29 
But behold, my son, this is not all; for ye ought to know as I do know, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land; and ye ought to know also, that inasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be cut off from his presence. Now this is according to his word. 36.30

17 December 2014

EJ&T Deuteronomy 23: Damaged testicles, bastards, wet dreams, defecation, whores, sodomites and dogs

In the Every Jot and Tittle project, I am listing all of the Bible's commandments from Genesis to Revelation, in accordance with Jesus's words in Matthew 5:18-19. I have no idea how many commandments I'll find, but Jewish tradition claims there are 613. See here for a list of those that I've found so far.

  1. Men with damaged genitals shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord.
  2. He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD. Deuteronomy 23:1

  3. A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord.
  4. A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD. Deuteronomy 23:2

  5. To enter into the congregation of the Lord you must prove that there were no bastards among your ancestors for at least ten generations.
  6. A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD. Deuteronomy 23:2

  7. An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.
  8. An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD. Deuteronomy 23:3

    The Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever. Nehemiah 13:1

  9. To enter into the congregation of the Lord you must prove that you have no Ammonite or Moabite ancestors for at least ten generations (and perhaps forever).
  10. An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever: Deuteronomy 23:3

  11. Don't seek the peace or prosperity of filthy nonbelievers.
  12. Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever. Deuteronomy 23:6

    The land, unto which ye go to possess it, is an unclean land with the filthiness of the people of the lands, with their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness. Now therefore give not your daughters unto their sons, neither take their daughters unto your sons, nor seek their peace or their wealth for ever. Ezra 9:11-12

  13. Don't abhor Edomites.
  14. Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother. Deuteronomy 23:7a

  15. Don't abhor Egyptians.
  16. Thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land. Deuteronomy 23:7b

  17. The grandchildren of Egyptians (and maybe Edomites) may enter the congregation of the Lord.
  18. The children that are begotten of them shall enter into the congregation of the LORD in their third generation. Deuteronomy 23:8

  19. When you go to war, stay away from wicked things.
  20. When the host goeth forth against thine enemies, then keep thee from every wicked thing. Deuteronomy 23:9

  21. If you have a wet dream, you must go to the special wet dream place and wash with water the next evening before returning to camp.
  22. If there be among you any man, that is not clean by reason of uncleanness that chanceth him by night, then shall he go abroad out of the camp, he shall not come within the camp: But it shall be, when evening cometh on, he shall wash himself with water: and when the sun is down, he shall come into the camp again. Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad: Deuteronomy 23:10-12

  23. When you defecate, cover up your excrement (so that God doesn't step in it).
  24. And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee: For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee. Deuteronomy 23:13-14

  25. Don't return runaway slaves to their masters. Let them live with you in peace and freedom.
  26. Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee: He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him. Deuteronomy 23:15-16

  27. Make sure there aren't any whores or sodomites in your community.
  28. There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel. Deuteronomy 23:17

  29. Don't bring the hire of a whore or the price of a dog into the house of the Lord.
  30. Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God. Deuteronomy 23:18

  31. Don't charge interest when loaning money. (Unless they are strangers. Then it's okay.)
  32. Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury: Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury. Deuteronomy 23:19-20

    If a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, and ... hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase. Ezekiel 18:5-8

  33. If you make a vow to the Lord, you must keep it.
  34. When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. ... That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth. Deuteronomy 23:21-23

    When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Ecclesiastes 5:4

  35. You may eat grapes from your neighbor's vineyard, but don't put any in your basket.
  36. When thou comest into thy neighbour's vineyard, then thou mayest eat grapes thy fill at thine own pleasure; but thou shalt not put any in thy vessel. Deuteronomy 23:24

  37. You may pluck kernels of grain from your neighbor's farm, but don't cut any stalks down with a sickle.
  38. When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour's standing corn. Deuteronomy 23:25

15 December 2014

Exodus: Gods and Kings -- Leaving out the best parts of the story

I was inspired to see the movie by Christian Bale's comment on Moses, the character he played in the movie.
I think the man was likely schizophrenic and was one of the most barbaric individuals that I ever read about in my life.
He said that he prepared for the role by reading the stories about him in the Bible and the Quran, along with Jonathan Kirsch's excellent book on Moses.

And Christian Bale was certainly right about that. It's hard to find a more barbaric individual than Moses, outside of the Bible anyway.

But that wasn't how Moses was portrayed in the movie. And Gods and Kings completely left out the most interesting parts of the Exodus story.

The movie was supposedly based upon the first 32 chapters of the book of Exodus. Here are some of the exciting details that were left out of the movie:

  1. God teaches Moses some magic tricks (Exodus 4:2-9)
    Moses worried that the Pharaoh wouldn't listen to him when he told him to let his people go. So God taught Moses some magic tricks to impress the Pharaoh. First, throw your rod on the ground; it will become a snake. Then grab the snake by the tail and it will become a rod again. Next, make your hand appear leprous, and then cure it. And finally, pour water on the ground and it will turn into blood. None of these instructions were included in the movie.

  2. "Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips." (Exodus 6:12, 30)
    In the biblical story, Moses's brother Aaron plays a major role. Moses has a speech defect (uncircumcised lips), so Aaron becomes God's spokesman and magician. In the movie, Aaron says and does nothing at all.

  3. God hardens the Pharaoh's heart eight times
    (Exodus 4:21; 7:3, 13; 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10)
    (Some hearts are hard even for the God of the Bible to harden.)
    There was no mention of this in the movie.

  4. God tries to kill Moses. (Exodus 4:24-26)
    In the movie, Zipporah (Moses's wife) and Gershom (Moses's first son) play important roles. In the Bible, they are rarely mentioned. About the only time is in Exodus 4:24-26, where God tries to kill Moses. Zipporah saves him by cutting off Gershom's foreskin and throwing it at Moses's feet. Now that would have been a great scene in the movie!

  5. Aaron has a magic competition with Pharaoh's magicians.
    (Exodus 7:9-12)
    God tells Moses and Aaron that when Pharaoh asks for a miracle just throw your rod down and it will become a serpent. So Aaron throws down his rod and it becomes a serpent. But the Egyptian magicians duplicate this trick, too. Luckily, for Aaron, his snake swallows theirs.

  6. "And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments." (Exodus 7:22)
    In the Bible, the first plague begins when Aaron smites the Nile with his rod, turning it into blood. The movie skips Aaron's rod and begins the plague with a crocodile attack. And it completely leaves out the "fact" that Pharaoh's magicians successfully repeated the rivers-to-blood trick.

  7. "And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt." (Exodus 8:7)
    In the movie, the second plague is frogs, just as it is in the Bible. But, once again, the movie doesn't give the Pharaoh's magicians credit for repeating the frog plague. This competition between God and the magicians is a major theme in the book of Exodus.

  8. "Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God." (Exodus 8:19) Only one of the ten plagues isn't mentioned in the movie: the plague of lice. Yet this is the plague that convinced the Egyptian magicians. They couldn't repeat God's lice trick, so they gave up and said, "This is the finger of God."

  9. "All the firstborn of cattle" (Exodus 12:29)
    In the movie, as in the Exodus story, God killed the firstborn Egyptian children. But the movie didn't show God killing the firstborn animals as well, as he did according to Exodus 12:29.

  10. "They borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment." (Exodus 12:35)
    In the Bible (Exodus 11:2), God tells the Hebrews to steal the Egyptians' valuables as they leave. (Later Aaron uses the stolen gold to make a golden calf.) This "borrowing" isn't shown in the movie.

  11. "The LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire." (Exodus 13:21)
    In the movie, God was invisible during the Exodus. In the Bible, God is in a cloud in the daytime and a fire at night.

  12. "The Lord ... took off their chariot wheels." (Exodus 14:24-25)
    What a great scene this would have made! God (maybe as a little boy) getting out there with his wrenches and whatnot taking off the wheels of the Egyptian's chariots.

  13. "Be ready against the third day: Come not at your wives."
    (Exodus 19:15)
    The night before going up on Mount Sinai to receive the commandments, Moses tells the men not to have sex with their wives. This would have been a fun line in the movie.

  14. "And they saw the God of Israel: and ... under his feet ... a sapphire stone." (Exodus 24:10)
    In the Bible (but not in the movie), Moses, Aaron, and seventy elders saw God on Mount Sinai. (They even got a peek at his feet!)

  15. Aaron's golden calf (Exodus 32:1-4)
    Aaron makes a golden calf (out of the gold the Israelites stole from the Egyptians) and tells the people to take off their clothes and dance around naked. (There is only the slightest hint of this in the movie, when it shows campfires along with some dancing.)

  16. "Let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them." (Exodus 32:10)
    God tells Moses that he wants to kill all of the Israelites for dancing naked around the golden calf that Aaron made.

  17. "Wherefore should the Egyptians speak." (Exodus 32:12)
    Moses talks God out of killing everyone by using the age-old argument, "What will the neighbors think?".

  18. Who is on the LORD's side? (Exodus 32:26)
    God tells Moses, Aaron, and the other Israelite leaders to kill their family and friends for dancing naked around Aaron's golden calf. "And there fell of the people that day about 3000 men." This would have been a fitting ending for the movie.

Ultimately, I agree with Eric D. Snider's review of Exodus at GeekNation.com:

This big dud isn’t blasphemous enough to be outrageous, emotional enough to be inspiring, or interesting enough to be good.

It would have been a lot more blasphemous, emotional, and interesting if it had of stuck to the biblical story. It might even have been good.