The Force in Scripture?
The baseline needs to be established before one can truly dissect the text at all. And everything has to be explainable for it to work. If you cannot explain one part in the story so that it matches with the rest, then it just looks like you're trying to fit the evidence into your mold rather than letting the evidence spell out the picture for you.
I actually have no issues with him looking at Moses as toting snake oil. But we have to get everything straight before we can even dive in that direction.
The best we can hope to do is analyse the book in different ways and learn the lessons that emerge.
I think the idea of this thread was to find evidence of The Force, in scripture. To me that means searching for examples in which love, compassion, empathy, sacrifice and fortitude lead to positive narrative outcomes. On the flip side it means discussing the times when hate, revenge, selfishness and the abuse of power lead to negative narrative outcomes. Whether those narratives make sense scientifically, theologically, magically, morally etc is interesting but sort of misses the point of what we’re trying to find, doesn’t it?
What I find fascinating about the early books of the Old Testament is that the Israelites (through Moses) seem to be trying to work all this out - over time. Yahweh is meant to be good, but he is also Chaotic, vengeful and sadistic. He even makes self-diagnosed mistakes.
It’s like God is learning to understand the Force too . . .
You yourself have made the assertion that the Egyptians were not nearly as superstitious as Christians are led to believe. And in fact, it would be more appropriate for the magicians to chalk up each plague to the natural occurrences over the whim of an angry god.
Actually, you're conflating the magicians with the Egyptian people. In any culture there is always gap between the wealthy who tend to be the best educated and common folk who run the rat race trying to survive. The magicians/priests serve a political role because they are advisers to the king. Their advice is valuable to the people because they speak for the gods. The king needs the illusion that the gods support his rule because as long as the people believe this they will not rebel or assassinate him. But this illusion isn't necessarily unknown to the ruling class, especially not the king. Think about, for example, the Roman emperor Constantine. Did he switch religions because he actually believed in the God of the Hebrews and in their messiah, Yeshua/Jesus? Or did he simply read the political tea leaves and didn't want to lose support from his people? Furthermore, if his conversion was genuine, why did he call the bishops together to force out a unified version of Christianity so that everyone could be on the same page? Was he interested in the truth, or merely on the effect of seeming to have the truth; the unity of having one religion and one church?
I'm proposing that the person shoveling BS is the one who knows its BS. And if BS is your business and if it is passed down to you from king to king, then you go along with it even though you know what it is. So I think that even if the magicians thought it was all science that doesn't mean they could expose the science to the common folk because their whole mystic as being priests was based on the foundation that they were exploiting people's superstition. Without this it would be like the DOD not being able to do research because tax payers were no longer funding them. The priests would have to get "real jobs". In order for them to practice "science" they had to play the game of fitting it inside the realm of superstition and gods. Like you both said... it was a different time. Even today, many superstitious and ultra religious people still persist in rejecting scientific theories.
When you strip the gods from the narrative, it loses power altogether.
Not exactly. In my view they were not stripping the gods away; rather they didn't use gods the same way certain religions do today. Case in point... is Buddha a god? If by god you mean divine being then Buddha is a god. Many gods were myths and legends. Some of them I'm sure had real origin stories while others were thought up in order to represent a certain part of nature. I believed these gods were used by ancient scientists as symbols/variables for concepts where this god mating with this god equals this new god which represents a synthesis of the parents. So basically, in their understanding they didn't necessarily regard them as real beings but the common folk were more likely to. An example of this is what happened when Pharaoh Ahkenaton tried to innovate on their religious system and bring in monotheism. He may not have thought it was a big deal because for him maybe it was an intellectual question according to his education. But that doesn't mean the people were ready to swallow it. Every major government today has "state secrets" that they do not trust their citizens to have. We accept this because we understand why this need exists. What I'm proposing to you is that there were "state secrets" at play in the Egyptian religion because of the superstitions of the common people. If they knew those secrets they would have less fear of the king. This is why many kings claimed to be gods as it protected them from being challenged. Even if the challenger was completely atheist they would have to think twice because the support of the people would follow their own beliefs. So this uses religion as a political weapon.
Pause: Just want to offer a reminder that what I say is but my humble opinion and I'm not trying to push an agenda or make these views seem like facts. They're not facts.
At this point, ZealotX, you’re theories only work if this story is that Moses is as real as Paul Bunyan (which is to say, he’s not real at all).
I hate disagree but I don't feel this way at all. First of all... I don't believe us humans are really that inventive; meaning that elements of any story, fact or fiction, are usually based in fact. These true elements make the story relatable. Paul Bunyan is a lumber jack. Lumber jacks exist. Cows exist. Axes exist. Even giants to some degree, exist. Most of comedy is exaggeration. We're entertained by exaggerations. We assume that people have a need for their stories to be 100% factual. But that is an assumption. The people who originally read Exodus may have known it belonged more in the fiction section of the library because the events were more contemporaneous to them and they had a better sense of what happened to divide out the things that likely did not, were exaggerations, etc. Hercules was probably inspired by a real person but that doesn't mean he had super strength. And people did in fact worship other humans as gods and demigods. So it wasn't outside the box to take a certain figure, give them xmen powers, and say they were a son of a god. This is why the story of Jesus is very similar to other stories of other people. We are assuming that we're supposed to take it literally even though the intention or idea is to gain a spiritual product. And this is where I absolutely agree with Loudzoo, does it matter if the story is real or not? No. Most of the shows we actually watch on TV are dramatizations of fictional stories based in real world situations. Why are we allowed to do this and not the writers of the ancient world?
And if it’s nothing more than folklore, then I have to say, you’re coloring Moses too much by your modern interpretation of progressive society.
You're right. The question is why? The answer is that I say this man in a completely different light when I was part of his religion. He was a hero. It's hard to imagine why Adolf Hitler was so popular... and still is so popular to so many people... What I see is not just Moses but the ability of humanity to perceive a different Moses based on our situation. But were there two Moseses? Or was there one? Did his actions change? Or did my perception of his actions change? You could say Moses wasn't MLK and I can accept that. I'm African American so a large number of us understand both the MLK and Malcom X perspective. Our optimism loves MLK but our pessimism loves Malcom X. X thought violence was necessary for our protection and did not soften until he experienced people from every race taking part in his religion. But there's a big big difference between X and Moses. X never advocated genocide against his own people. When we say Moses how many think of the word genocide? Genocide is something tyrants do, is it not? And yet, did he not preside over that very thing? It is only because the reader attributes the genocide to God that it is "whitewashed".
Palpatine started as a senator fighting for the protection of Naboo. If you eject the DVD at that point and toss it in the garbage Palpatine is a champion for Justice. And those around him helped him to higher position because they only saw him in that positive light. He operated under the very noses of the Jedi who could only see the good in his actions and did not question his motives. We all know what happened as a result. Now if you knew that Palpatine was going to become the Emperor... if you knew that he was a Sith and that he manipulated people to get into that position... then you can look back in hindsight and say wow... he really manipulated and deceived everyone and he was (the whole time) the "bad guy".
If you see Moses as fighting against slavery I feel you. My people were enslaved for nearly 400 years and still (to lesser degrees) suffer under white supremacy. So it's not that I don't see that. I'm now choosing to see Moses in the greater context of his life, his rule, his laws, the totality of his actions. Israel had laws establishing slavery. Israel's slaves were treated as property. Literally, the bible says the slave is his master's money. The mosaic law talks about how to treat one's slaves and perhaps this was an upgrade over Egypt but perhaps it wasn't. Men could have multiple wives because women were also treated as property. I don't need to make excuses for them because of the time. Why? Because they claimed that their God was real. So I judge their version and representation of God. Was their God evolving along with them? Were the morals of God developing along with his creations? Because if God was morally on the same level as they were then why did they need him? What difference did it make? They still conquered and enslaved and demanded tribute. They still counted women taken in battle as spoils of war. They still took land that belonged to others and prioritized their own survival above other people. Do I blame God for this? Or do I blame the people who claimed they were speaking for God as Moses did? So no... I do not give Moses a pass. I think he was extremely dishonest and deceptive and he wanted power even at the cost of human life; even at the cost of the lives of his own people who had no choice but to believe (or at least say so publicly) in Moses's God. They had no choice. If they rejected God the verdict was death. The purpose was to make them live in fear of God via Moses. They were freed from Egypt only to be enslaved to Moses and forced to fight other nations for their land. So long story short, Moses was a Sith and Israel was his Galactic Empire. They lived by the sword and were eventually conquered by a better sword.
The story though... is so powerful that it makes them look like Jedi serving the Force. The truth is, my mother is a devout Christian and if I listed the actions of Moses and gave him a different name should would say the man was evil. But as a central bible character... well, you know.
In my own opinion, if we were to reduce this to a story about a man vs. another man, no gods at all, then I believe Moses was right to fight for his people. But I don’t believe he went about it the right way. He could have changed it from the inside, if he had not killed the taskmaster.
One of the most fundamental human temptations (maybe the only one) is power. Perhaps he started with good intentions and was twisted over time into a religious dictator but he seemed arrogant enough to speak for God from the very beginning. And in that case it was a strategic battle for control of an uneducated population (who must have stolen weapons from the Egyptians?? How did they get enough weapons to fight the people they were just slaves to?) where everyone fighting knew the "state secrets". I believe Moses was smart enough to understand that the Golden calf was a challenge to his authority. If the people gave credit to that god instead of Moses's invisible God Moses would lose all of his power. But hold on. At this point the people were already free. Mission accomplished! So why did he still need to control them and force them to accept his God which he spoke for? Why not just let them go and do whatever their hearts desired? He had an opportunity to avoid genocide but he couldn't take it. It was his own brother that fashioned the idol so his own brother was willing to give them what they wanted. Why not Moses?
But if it’s the story of gods going at each other, then I cannot daily either party for their actions. Moses, despite having committed a sin (murder) was still the only person who could carry out the mission because of who he was to Pharaoh. It’s rather reminiscent of “Arjuna’s Dilemma” from the Bhagavad Gita.
Hmmm... sounds like you are limiting the power of God to require that a man had to be born and educated in Pharaoh's house, so that he was basically an Egyptian, had to be the savior. Why not have Jesus born to Mary and a Roman centurion rapist, not being funny, raised in a roman house, educated in roman state affairs, and do miracles in Rome to show that his God was the true God and that the Israelites should be released from Roman occupation? I mean, God hardened pharaoh's heart which means that none of the conflict was at all necessary. He could have just did a ventriloquist act on the king and ordered that the Israelites go free. But instead he used Egypt as a pawn to turn the Israelites into believers. And then threatened them with death (which is arguably much worse than slavery) if they legitimately didn't believe he existed or wanted to serve a different god. This is like 2019 Zealot X going to the indigenous people of some previously undiscovered part of the world with my laptop and a solar panel all to get them to believe that my way was better for them because I am righteous. And then I threaten them to give me 10% of everything they have, build me a city to live in, kill other tribes, and worship me, or else I will instruct their fellow natives to kill them. I'd rather think that Moses was a power hungry dictator than to think that a divine being far more mature, would do such a thing or even pick such a person. And at the end of the day that God was willing to kill every last one of those people he was supposed to save except for Moses and Joshua. That says a lot. The story is too human for me to believe that gods were involved.
I think we can and absolutely should apply 21st century critical analysis to these ancient stories so that we don't end up accidentally reinforcing immorality on others based on the idea that God said it was okay. Slavery was never okay. Treating women as property (slaves of a different kind) was never okay. Stealing lots of land from lots of people at once was never okay. In order for these things to change our perception must change.
I just want consistency. In one view he had it that it was terrorists cells doing all this stuff, then when challenged he switched gears to the scientific phenomena.
This point is more than fair.
The story of Noah's ark is written from a 3rd person omniscient viewpoint. How does the writer know the extent of the flood? The writer isn't even one of the people in the story. And what do we know about these people in general? We know that they weren't always monotheistic. We know, even from the text, that they were often seduced by other cultures. So we can surmise that as cultures collided the stories mixed together. We don't live in Mexico but we can get Mexican food from businesses that aren't owned by Mexicans. All it takes is for someone to like something that came from somewhere else. Add to this the fact that if I believe in my gods and not yours then I must explain every natural event based on my own theology, not your local theology because in my theology your gods aren't real. So if something happens in your city then it must be the judgment of my God and you must have been sinful because those are the rules. If something supernatural happened in Sodom and Gomorrah we don't need to play Clue to know that it was my God who did it. Could it have been an asteroid or comet? Nope! I deny all scientific explanations because in my theology (putting myself in ancient sandals) all the things that are strange and out of the ordinary are the work of God. Again... Jonah... storm on the water = divine intervention. Even in America a lot of religious people were saying that major flooding was God judging those places. If that's how humans think today with science at the level that it is... can you imagine the amount of superstition used to explain things that their priests and philosophers hadn't seen yet.
Considering how everything in (my) theology must be the work of my God(s)... Is it impossible that this story was combined with other stories? In other words... the same way that I might adopt, adapt, appropriate my own creation story that features my God (not yours) as the Creator... the same way I might appropriate a flood story and other stories to provide continuity for the idea that my God is choosing to intervene in human affairs. It is absolutely necessary that my God gets credit for events that seem supernatural if for no other reason than to say it wasn't your gods, their gods, any other gods. In order to convince a population that their god is THE GOD... you have to establish your story as THE STORY.
So, is it impossible that this story, written after the fact, could have included elements of real events that happened and gave credit for those events posthumously to Moshe? You certainly wont find an Egyptian version of this story that matches the Hebrew version. Of course, would they have reason to cover it up? "State secrets"? Sure. Absolutely. But if there was a massive volcano they would have to say something about that.
It is only when the Israelites leave Egypt.... that these natural miracles jump in orders of magnitude to things that simply cannot happen in science. The parting of the red( or reed) sea for example. How do we explain that? We can't. So what I propose is that artistic license was used to achieve the purpose of the whole story.
21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.
19 Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night.
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23 The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 And in the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, 25 clogging[c] their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians.”
what is the purpose of the whole story?
4 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.”
at this point fact-checking is out the window. They're in the middle of the desert so there isn't a whole population to testify against whatever the writer creates in this space. And now God does miracles that Israel will never again witness throughout its entire history.
But Zealot X... that's not fair. The Israelites were also witnesses to these events.
Were they? After wandering in the desert for 40 years to purposefully kill off a generation (or 2 depending of lifespan and disease) who could really claim these things never happened if they never saw what happened and never read the story of what happened? I'm just saying... Israel had "state secrets" too. And we are under no pain or law that says we must not question the writer of the story.
Before I close this segment (I'll start the next segment next week):
That word "kabad" in the Hebrew is interesting- because "glory" and "honor" are certainly associated with it- but so is the word "Heavy". It's in the Niphal Imperfect.
Actually the whole "upon" thing throws it off. I will be "heavy" upon Pharaoh makes a great deal more sense in the whole verse. It's basically God saying that he's going to prove himself to Pharaoh just before his downfall that Pharaoh indeed was dealing with God himself, and that his fate was written before time.
But here's the thing, something most people won't even consider- the Egyptians had every shred of evidence then that YHWH was powerful....and yet further down the line of their story in the Bible...they didn't turn to God. So it seems to me, that God failed in bringing honor to himself in this instance. But being heavy upon them certainly did happen in the context of the story.
We all know the last plague. The death of the firstborn happens. Now, up to this point God has demonstrated that He can protect Israel. Nothing is required of them for this to be the case….So why was it important that the Israelites use the blood of a blemish-less lamb or goat to mark their homes?
We rushed through the Plagues, but I encourage each of you to go back and read the whole of the story- because there is at least one more interesting point of reference in all of this I hope you will find.
But for now, as we are closing out, let me leave you with this: The theological significance of the 10 Plagues has been linked to an epic supernatural battle to establish the difference not only between God’s People and the Egyptians, but also between God’s Force and his opposition which the Egyptians worshipped. In the beginning we see that the Pharoah’s magicians have the initial ability to perform the same miracles as Aaron. Though, if the first miracle- a staff into a snake- is any indication, the other miracles performed by Aaron are much greater in scale than that of the magicians. Then we see that the magicians are stripped of all ability, as though their gods have abandoned them, or someone- god or magician- has been completely cut off from their power source, yet the source has not been withheld from Aaron or Moses.
Thank you for joining us and we hope to see you again next week.[/b]
Welcome back! We are in the next segment of “Finding the Force in the Bible”. Today’s study will carry us into the desert following the 10 Plagues. I wanted to start this study off with an observation from the last study. Last week I asked you to go back over the 10 Plagues and see if there was anything else to be observed from the text. This week, I want to share with you what I noticed- at least in the context of this study. If you look at the miracles, you’ll see that Aaron is responsible for the rod to a snake, waters to blood, the frogs and the lice. If you recall, the lice was set off in a less than public display as well. From what we can glean from the text, this is only one of the instances when God does not have Moses go before Pharaoh to make a grandstanding entrance of the plague.
Then we look at the flies and diseased livestock. In these two plagues, we do not see God tell anyone to stretch out their hand and cause something to come about. Moses is just told to deliver a message that it will happen. We know for a fact that these two plagues did not reach Goshen. In the next set, God switches from Aaron doing this stuff, to Moses being responsible for the ritual. We are not explicitly told that the Boils did not reach Goshen, but it seems implied by the fact that the Hail did not reach Goshen. Though, again, with the Locusts, it is not explicitly stated that Goshen was protected. And finally there was the Darkness, which we do know invaded Goshen, as they specifically had light within their dwellings to combat the darkness.
The final plague is one we can be led to believe was solely executed by God, as He again, does not ask for anyone to stretch out their hand, though He did instruct Moses on what to tell the Israelites to do so they could be saved from the plague.
Although the evidence to suggest a transition between three players may be a mere neglect of the author, there is certainly something to be said of the transition from Aaron to Moses as ritual bearer. As Moses grew in his own faith towards God, he was given more responsibility to enact God’s Will. And this is where we pick up our study today, please turn with me to Exodus 14 verse 10.
And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”
And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”
Before I hit the next two verses, let’s just take note of the amount of faith Moses demonstrates before the congregation.
'And the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. ‘
Now look at this whole passage. In your opinion, what just happened?
NOTE: Scholars agree that verse 15 denotes that Moses, having been told earlier in the chapter that this whole thing was going according to plan, offered up a prayer to God. Some believe that the prayer may have been to ask God to forgive Israel for their disbelief, to prove to them that God was worthy. This theory is based on the word “cry” in the verse.
'And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night. Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. ‘
Picture this scene in your head. What do you see as going on here? And why do you think each of these pieces are important?
Before I move on, I wanted to add my personal comment to the segment just above:
The first thing is what leads me to believe that the ninth plague was definitely executed solely by God. The angels will only obey God. No man can ask for them to do anything- they simply will not respond. Christ mentions something very similar to this in
'But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”'
Christ states in this passage that he will need to ask God to dispatch the Angels on his behalf, he does not say he can dispatch them himself.
So, it seems to me, God commands the Angels, and by parallel, God uses Moses ritual over the Red Sea to demonstrate Moses is meant to command Israel. By delegating authority, and even power, to a trusted prophet, God can be assured that He has secured His ability to rule as He sees fit.
'Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” So he cried out to the Lord , and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.
We know that we can change the properties of water by adding something to it. The taste can change when you put in tea, or honey or lemon or sugar, whatever has some flavor to it. So the question I pose to you now: Do you think this was a geniune miracle? Or do you feel like maybe the tree was full of Maple syrup which could swiftly change the taste of the water?