Remember how, in part one of Numbers, God was dividing the Israelites up and was having some issues because of it? Well, He isn’t done trying that approach. Just to make sure that everyone understands that Moses and Aaron are in charge, God has Moses collect a staff from the leader of each tribe. On the staffs, the leaders inscribed their names. The staffs were taken into the Tabernacle overnight with the understanding that God would cause the staff of the leader He chose to bloom. The next morning, probably no one was surprised to see that Aaron’s staff, representing the Levites, had blossomed and sprouted almonds. God had Moses put the staff at the entry to the Tabernacle to remind everyone who the boss was going to be. He hoped it would end the constant whining about who was in charge. Then God reiterated that Aaron and the Levites had been chosen as a gift to Aaron. And nobody else could come near His holy stuff, or they would die. This seems stupid, but the Israelites do a fair amount of moaning and tearing their clothes because of the staff thing.
Then God told Aaron that He would give him the best of everything. And everything that was brought to the Lord as a tithe would belong to Aaron and the Levites. Except for some specific animals, those still need to be burnt up. However, in return, the Levites could not inherit from other Israelites.
When it was time for the tribe to move again, Moses sent out messengers to the city of Edom to ask for passage through their lands for his people. Edom was like Fuck no. So Moses said Please, but Edom said Not only fuck no, but if you try we’ll kill you. So, no. So the Israelites went a different way, which is fairly anticlimactic.
Then God warned Moses that Aaron would “be gathered to his people.” AKA, dead. So Moses took Aaron up onto a mountain, stripped him of his clothes, and gave them to Aaron’s son, Eleazar. Then Aaron died, naked I’m assuming. Which seems like a strange end to God’s first priest. The people mourned for 30 days. Afterward, the city of Arad found out the the Israelites were passing through their land, so they attacked them and carried some of them off. This pissed the Israelites off. So they asked God to “deliver” the city to them. God did. They completely destroyed the people and town of Arad. Slaughtered them.
The Israelites are complaining again, as usual. This time God found a better alternative to the plague, he sent poisonous snakes amongst the people. Many were bitten and afraid to die, so they asked for forgiveness for being whiny shits. God listened and told Moses to make a bronze snake on a pole. Anyone who had been bitten could look at the snake and be cured. It worked! (I give God a lot of grief for killing off the Israelites so often and in such high numbers, but seriously, I’m not doing justice to how annoying these people are. Every other section is about them whining. And they do it in the most annoying ways possible. Oh, you should have just left me in Egypt to die of the whip instead of out here to die by the sword. Imagine the most stereotypical old Jewish lady you’ve ever seen in a movie, that’s what they sound like.)
Then Moses sent out another letter, this time to Sihon, king of the Amorites. Again, the Israelites were turned down. Not only that, the Amorites marched out against the Israelites and attacked them. But the Israelites won, put Sihon to death and captured the Amorite cities. Then the army of another king attacked the Israelites, but God was like Don’t worry, you got this. And they won and took that king’s land as well.
After these victories, the Israelites shared borders with the Maobites and the Midians, who were both worried about their new neighbors. They were terrified of them. So the kings of Moab and Midian went to Balaam (Balaam is a diviner from the Torah) to ask that he curse the Israelites so that they might defeat them. But God told Balaam not to do it, so he didn’t. But the elders tried again, and this time God told Balaam ok, but do only what I tell you. While Balaam was on his way to “help” the Medians and Moabites, there is another weird aside story, kind of like the wrestling with God one that doesn’t make a lot of sense. God got cranky and put an angel in Balaam’s path. The donkey that Balaam was riding on saw the angel and turned to the side, so Balaam beat her brutally, then the angel was like, Why the hell are you beating your donkey, stop it. Completely useless story right? Once Balaam gets to where he is going, he blesses the Israelis instead of cursing them, as the kings had asked him to do. That pissed the kings off. To which Balaam replied that he had to do what God told him to do. Then Balaam talks about how Israel is a lioness who will drink the blood of its enemies, which doesn’t make the kings any happier. And is also gross. Balaam gives this bad news to the kings three separate times and then tells the elders that they gonna die. The Israelites are going to kick their asses.
Meanwhile, the Israeli dudes starting gettin’ it on with Medianite women, who seduced them into sacrificing to Medianite gods. Obvisouly, God didn’t take this very well. Plague time. One of the priests followed an Israeli tribal leader into his tent where he was gettin’ it on with a Medianite woman. The priest put a spear through both the Israeli and the woman, killing them obviously. Then God was happy again, because of the priest’s “zest” for carrying out God’s wishes. This also stopped the plague, but 24,000 had died by this time. God also decided it was time to let the Medianite bodies hit the floor. War time.
So God once again had Moses count all the Israelis who could fight in the army. The only two who were left form the first count were Joshua and Caleb. Just as God had promised, the generation who had questioned God and Moses had died in the desert. All the land and inheritance of the Israelis was split amongst the tribes depending on their census count. At which point, some ladies got pissed off because their father had died leaving behind no sons and demanded that they be given his inheritance. God said ok, women can inherit. As long as there aren’t any sons to inherit it first. Women can’t be given their rights all at once, or they would go absolutely drunk with power, am I right? Stupid Bible.
Then God told Moses that he was going to die and that Joshua was to take his place as the shepherd of the Israelis. Then we have to repeat all the damn offerings and feasts and crap because Moses is teaching Joshua. Dead animals, blah blah blah, blood, blah blah blah, aromas. A new one. Guys can give vows to God freely. But ladies? You only get to give vows if daddy says you can. Or if you hubby says you can.
Then the Israelis make war on the Midianites. They slaughtered them. Seriously. They killed every man. Even Balaam, that prophet that refused to curse them. They burned the cities and took the women and spoils back to their own camp. At which point Moses was pissed, because they had let them women live. So then they killed the women too, except the virgins. Oh, and everyone in the army was unclean, because they had been near dead bodies and had to stay outside of the camp for seven days. Then the spoils were split up amongst the Israelis who had fought in the war. But half of all of their spoils went to God. And 1/50 of their spoils went to the Levites who hadn’t fought (don’t worry it was still a lot.)
A couple of the tribes wanted to stay in the land they had just conquered, to build cities and keep their flocks. But Moses said Hell no, you have to fight in the army. If you don’t, God will get mad and kill everybody. Do you want to be the cause of that? No really, Moses played the mom card. Hard. So the guys promised to go and fight with their fellow Israelis if they could keep the land. So Moses compromised and gave it to them. But if the broke their promise, death.
And inexplicably, we then get a run down of every stop on the forty-year journey from Egypt. Followed up by pep talk from God about killing everybody and taking their land. No more of that, be nice to aliens bullshit. Kill them, take their land, or I’ll kill you. That pretty much sums up God’s speech.
Then God explains where the boundaries of their land will be. It mostly matches where Israel is today. Then we throw out some new rules about killing and stuff. If you kill on purpose, you have to die. Obviously, we’ve been over that one. But now you have to able to convict the murderer with multiple witnesses. You can’t sentence someone to death with one witness. But if was an accident, the killer can flee to one of six refuge cities. They have to stay there though, because someone will probably be out seeking revenge, and if the killer goes outside of the refuge city, he can be killed legally.
God also says that blood makes the land unholy, and they shouldn’t live where blood has been shed. But I guess the thousands they killed taking their land don’t count. Also, inheritance cannot be go from tribe to tribe. Remember those ladies earlier, who lobbied for their inheritance and won? They only got to keep it so long as they married their cousins, so that the inheritance could stay within their tribe. Two steps forward, and you step in dog shit.
The end! Of Numbers. Remember when we started this, and we discussed how violent everyone says the Koran is? I have no idea whether or not that’s true, but holy shit, the Bible sure as hell is violent. And we’re nowhere near done with the warring and the slaughtering. Up next, Deuteronomy. You’ll see more war, more whiny Israelis, and of course more of our vengeful God!
I am going on vacation, so I will not be posting this coming week. My next post will be on Sunday, July 10th. I’m sure you’re very distraught and will be waiting with bated breath.