Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Adventures of a Bible Transcriptionist, no. 37

Getting close to another election, so the talk of the Ten Commandments is ramping up again. I'm sure this has been done before, but can we get on tape people coming out of various houses of worship to recite the 10 Commandments? On to the adventure, this time Exodus.

God spake all these words (Exodus 20:19). And his secretary was a graduate of the King James Version. And the Secretary annoyeth God to no end.

In a nutshell, God got those stiff-necked people (his words) out of Egypt, and Egypt was plenty glad to see them go. Oh sure, we've already heard the Israelites' version.

After he got them into the desert, he had them just where he wanted them. Flatfooted and hotfooted.

God rattled off 17 statements in pretty quick fashion (King James Version School for Secretaries had a rudimentary form of shorthand, and it didn't mesh well with cuneiform/hieroglyphics). Not only was the secretary flustered, but the Israelites were thrown off their game too. So they tooketh Moses aside and said unto him, "Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die." And if you're wondering, yes, yes they were a bunch of drama queens.

So Moses went back to God, who had retired to a thick darkness. We call them taverns today. And lo and behold, God wasn't done talking. He had only gotten started. It was a long night for Moses.

At this point let me backtrack a little. In his first spouting off, God mentioned "Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands generations of those who love me and keep my commandments."

So say someone loves God (great!) and his thousands generations get steadfast love of God. But say someone in Generation Two hates God (got lots of acne in his teens - so much for the steadfast love) and God visited iniquity onto his descendants to the 3rd and 4th generations. But aren't they supposed to get the steadfast love, being originally covered in the thousands generations covenant? Ed. note: God kicked this to the boys over at Yale Law Review to ponder.

Exodus 21:12 He that smiteth a man so that he shall die, shall be put to death. Ed. note: Exception for war, death of any "outsiders," women (of course), and mean geezers (not including God, of course).
Exodus 21:27: And if he smite out his manservant's tooth, or his maidservant's tooth; he shall let him go free for his tooth's sake. Ed. note: For tooth's sake!

God goes on and on for some time. Ten Commandments - bah! It's more like the Law Bulletin.

The secretary recalls (Exodus 22:24) "
And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless." Groucho was funnier.

Exodus 22:28
Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people. The secretary pressed him on this, "surely you mean 'god,' right God?" God get snappeth and barked a few verses later (23:13) "Make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth." I think God's letting some of those other personalities seepeth through (again).

Secretary further offers, after a sympathetic colleague buys Secretary a beer that God didn't omit the liquor distribution racket (Exodus 22:29) " Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors." And he mentioned liquors TWICE. Oh, and he never buys a round - he doesn't have any pockets to carry his wallet. What a cheapskate.

Sadly, God is a lobbyist for Goldman Sachs (Exodus 23:3) "Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause."

And he was weirdly obsessed with unleavened bread (Exodus 23:15). Have you ever had that stuff? It's gross.

And then, Secretary confided, God had a little too much of the first liquors and barketh at Moses (Exodus 23:21) "Beware of him [i.e. angel] , and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions." So he's sending an emissary with a nice personality combination, hostile and intolerant."

But God's not just a speculator, he's a hedger too. (Exodus 23:28-30) And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee. And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee. I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land.
Ed. note: We'll let the whole hornet thing pass without comment.

Secretary also mentions, in keeping with God's other habits, that he can go on quite a bender. And the hangover that follows is of epic proportions. (Exodus 24:16) And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
Ed. note: "Glory" is code for "hangover." Note it took six days to work off that hangover.

In Exodus 26, God gets all Martha-Stewarty, getting into way too much detail on what wood the ark should be, and the curtains. BORING. Although it is interesting to see that God likes gold as much as we do.

The Secretary was asked about Exodus 26: And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place. Secretary confirmed it was frightening to ask.

For chapter 28, God was out of town so Aaron provided God's dictation. Secretary found this odd, but took it anyway. Strangely, the whole thing revolves around garments "made for beauty and glory" of the priests. Although they do have to wear a bell when Aaron goes into the holy place or God will have to kill him.
Ed. note: That does have the ring of a God commandment.

After yakking for several chapters, God finally finished the tablets (Exodus 31:18) written by the finger of God. So, Secretary, no credit whatsoever for the endless dictation? Secretary smirks and says "Oh, I got my glory a little later."

Secretary continues "Chapter 32 was the 'Aaron' chapter - not dictated by Aaron though. He went crazy with desert fever and made golden calves. And God was not amused. He told Moses (Exodus 32:9-10) ' I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them.'" Moses talked him out of it, by pointing out all the work he had already done just getting this stiffnecked people out of Egypt and to this point.

But then, Secretary says, chapter 33 got a little weird. A little weird, we exclaim! Secretary recounts (Exodus 33:11) that God spake unto Moses face to face. Naturally, we have to take Moses' word for it because a cloudy pillar blocked the entrance to the tent. It's followed up with (Exodus 33:20) "Thou canst not see my face for there shall be no man see me, and live." Secretary comments "I think both God and Moses were dipping into the liquor." But, Secretary says, "I promised you it would get weirder and it does. (Exodus 33:22-23)
"And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen."
Ed. note: So God mooned Moses. And Secretary was there to see it all.