Levite Zeal

Fun Bible Fact:

The Tribe of Levi were rewarded with their position as God’s priests for their willingness to kill 3,000 Israelites, specifically each man’s own brother, his companion, his neighbor, and apparently his own son.

Exodus 32:27-29

“And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.’” 28 And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell. 29 And Moses said, “Today you have been ordained for the service of the Lord, each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, so that he might bestow a blessing upon you this day.”

Bonus: Since killing one’s son wasn’t in the first commandment, I have to assume the Levites got carried away in their zeal.

Advertisements

Does God Approve of Slavery: The Omission

This post is a continuation of Does God approve of Slavery: Facts.

Let’s assume verses like Leviticus 25:44-46 don’t exist. Verses where God is explicitly giving permission to the Hebrew nation that it is okay to own slaves. What could we infer from the Bible then?

God rains ten plagues on Egypt killing countless people in order to free his people from the bonds of slavery. God even specifically targets children to be murdered in their beds while they sleep for his grand finale. God is very serious about how he feels about freeing his people from slavery.

Finally free form the bonds of slavery, God could have had his people issue forth out of Egypt abolishing slavery wherever it was found as they conquered Canaan like a dragon-riding, Targaryen queen. God’s people could have shown the ancient world a different way, a better way. God could have really set his chosen people apart from the world around them how does a benevolent God miss that opportunity?

Some people argue that God was limited by the culture of the time. Abolishing Slavery would be too radical of an concept, except for the fact that God is constantly telling the Israelites not to be like the nations around them, particularly when it comes to worshiping him (Ezekiel 20:32Joshua 23:6-7Deuteronomy 18:9-14Leviticus 18:1-5Jeremiah 10:1-5)

To rub salt in the wound four times God tells the Israelites not to oppress and to otherwise be kind to the sojourners living among them because they were once sojourners (temporary inhabitants) in the land of Egypt (I suppose that is one way of looking at 430 years of slavery). But not a single mention of “don’t own slaves, because you were once slaves in Egypt” (Exodus 22:21Exodus 23:9Deuteronomy 10:19Leviticus 19:34).

Moving on to God’s big list of don’ts, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t covet, don’t work on the Sabbath, and so on. Was there no room left over for “don’t own a person?” I mean don’t covet made the list, it seems to me like he was stretching to hit an even ten. Think about it if the Ten Commandments are the top ten things I should/shouldn’t do, it is worse for me to covet my neighbor’s ox then it is for me to actually physically own my neighbor. God once had a man stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-36), but if I beat a slave I own with a stick, so long as he lives and doesn’t lose an eye or a tooth I didn’t do anything wrong, because he is my money (Exodus 21:20-21).

God even hands down completely absurd laws. “Don’t mar the edges of your beard” gets more of a shout out then “don’t own another human being” (Leviticus 19:27). What the hell difference does the shape of a man’s beard make while he is raping some poor girl, probably a teenager, if even that old, after he just killed her father and her mother and her aunts and her uncles and her brothers and any sisters who were married, and then transported her from her homeland for his own sexual gratification, even if he already has two or three wives. That’s fine, but oh no! Don’t touch the edges of your beard, or eat shellfish, or touch a pigskin, or wear a polyester blend shirt, or any of the other asinine laws that God was so busy coming up with he forgot to mention slavery was a bad idea.

So, in light of all that, even if God did not in fact explicitly one could buy slave slaves, even if God didn’t explicitly state you could sell your daughter into slavery, even if God didn’t explicitly command the capture of virgins to be slaves. God thought it was important make sure the Israelites separated themselves from the culture of tha nations around them, but it was not important to have the Israelites separate themselves in terms of owning slaves. God thought it was important to make asinine law after asinine law, but not important to make one law forbidding slavery.

Given God’s omniscience this is a deliberate omission, and I think we can infer a whole lot about God from it. His lack of condemnation is beyond deafening.

Lilith! That Snake!

Fun Bible Fact

The concept of Satan or the Devil as the tempting snake is Genesis 3 is a modern invention with little to no biblical basis

For most of the history of the Bible, particularly those living in during Old Testament times the snake in the Garden of Eden was just that, a snake.

However in the medieval period another curious interpretation arose, particularly in artistic depictions. The snake somehow became synonymous with Lilith, Adams first wife (According to Jewish mythology attempting to reconcile the differences between the creation stories of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2) (C.S. Lewis acknowledges this peice of Jewish mythology in Chapter 8 of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”).

This is why there is a half woman/half snake depicted at the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris and on the on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (completed in 1345, 671 years ago and 1512, 504 years ago respectively).

lilith

Bonus: Michelangelo’s depiction of Moses (and many other renaissance era renditions) included a set of horns due to a poor Latin translation of the Bible. Just goes to show even a genius will believe anything if they think the Bible said it.

horny moses 2

A Withered Tree

Fun Bible fact

Matthew 13:14-21 Jesus feeds 5,000 with two loaves of bread and five small fish

John 2:6-11 Jesus turns 120-180 gallons of water into wine

Mark 11:12-14 Jesus is hungry and sees a fig tree, but it isn’t the season for figs, so naturally there are no figs. Jesus forgets he can make food and curses the fig tree “May no one eat from you ever again.” Because Jesus has faith the fig tree withers.

If Jesus can’t have it nobody can have it.

Bonus: Jesus reveals you can use faith for purely destructive purposes.

Bonus bonus: In Mark 11 the fig tree is withered by the next day. In Matthew 21 the fig tree withers on the spot.

Does God approve of Slavery: Facts

Does God approve of Slavery

I know, I’m hitting this subject hard recently and it isn’t like I haven’t touched on it before (The Moral Commander Series: Part 3) but I was asked for my opinion on this particular piece of apologetics authored by someone named Rich Deem, found here  in response to my A Letter Not Really About Porn Complete

I definitely could have hit slavery harder in “A Letter Not Really About Porn”, but given how long it was I really wanted to focus primarily on just the misogyny found in the Bible. But I am happy to take polite requests and dive deeper into “does God actually approve of slavery?”

In response to this particular piece of apologetics I am confident Deem is intentionally trying to Gas light his readers. If you are not familiar, Gas lighting is a term used, typically in domestic abuse situations where the abuser attempts to manipulate the victim into doubting their own perception of reality. He accomplishes this by which passages they choose to leave out, and cherry picking his verses.

It amazes me how many Christians are susceptible to this when it comes to the Bible, but fortunately the Bible is written down and available for reference to anyone who cares to put in the time and the leg work.

Deem starts off by arguing that slavery as we know it couldn’t exist because you couldn’t buy or sell slaves in accordance with Exodus 21:16 which states “Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death.”

Killing anyone involved in buying or selling slaves would definitely hamper a thriving slave trade to be sure. But there are a number of problems using this verse as the crux of your argument.

First “Man” does not mean “mankind” it specifically means someone with a penis. We know this because Exodus 21:7 (scant verses before) explicitly states you can sell your daughter into slavery. “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do.”

Second it stands in direct conflict with Leviticus 25:44-46, and this is God (the Big Guy himself, see verse 1) speaking directly to Moses “As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. 45 You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property. 46 You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.”

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+25%3A44-46&version=ESV

Again, this is the Big Guy himself explicitly stating that you may own someone as a slave forever.

So clearly God is not expecting the death of everyone who is selling a slave or found in possession of one (I think Leviticus 25:44-46 really should probably end any and all discussion on whether or not God approved of slavery, but I’ll keep going). So the punishment verse 16 refers to has to be for the act of kidnapping specifically a man, not the act of selling a human being.

We see this played out time and time again in the Old Testament, Kill all the men, take the virgin women as slaves. Here are three prominent examples.

Deuteronomy 20:10-15 

This may be a bad one to start with, because it actually conflicts with exodus 21:16. Here God commands the Israelites to force everyone (male and female) into slavery, if that doesn’t work, then they are to kill all of the men women and children, except the virgin women, those you can keep for yourself.

Numbers 31

Kill all of the men, women, and children, Moses is actually furious they originally left the women and children alive and had the POWs executed…except for the virgin women those you can keep for yourself, except for 32 of them, those God wants as tribute, you can give those virgins to the priest.

Judges 21

Kill all the men women and children, take the virgins and give them to the tribe of Benjamin, that isn’t enough for Benjamin, kidnap more virgin women

Deem next argues that while they were rules to govern slavery, those rules were there to protect the slave since “voluntary slavery” was frequently practiced as a social safety net

I have a number of philosophical issues with this line of thinking centered on an Omniscient, Omnipotent God’s best safety-net solution is slavery? I don’t buy that, but this isn’t a philosophical discussion, let’s look at the Bible verses

Deem starts by arguing “injuring or killing slaves was punishable—up to death of the offending party” He uses Exodus 21:20 as his defense which states  “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged.”

“Avenged” seems a little vague to me. Exodus 21:26 gives us some more specifics “When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let the slave go free because of his eye. 27 If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free because of his tooth.”

So the slave just gets to go free, he isn’t really being avenged, the only punishment the offending party receives is he loses his slave, whom he just devalued by maiming anyways. Nobody is being put to death yet.

What I find most telling about Deem (and this is gas lighting at its finest) while he includes verse 20, he leaves off verse 21. The whole thing reads thus “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. 21 But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money.”

How is that for rules protecting slaves?

He has a few more I don’t have too much of an issue with, slaves were not to work the Sabbath, don’t slander your slave, don’t rape someone else’s slave (only rape your own slaves).

We get to Deuteronomy 23:15-16 “You shall not give up to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. 16 He shall dwell with you, in your midst, in the place that he shall choose within one of your towns, wherever it suits him. You shall not wrong him.”

God himself violates this when he sends Hagar back to Abraham and Sarai who were mistreating her (I mean technically God hadn’t made this law yet, but he is God, so he knew he was going to right?) Genesis 16. Paul also violates this when he sends the slave Onesimus back to Philemon in the epistle of Philemon. Paul did put in a good word for Onesimus, but the law isn’t “put in a good word.” Although I imagine Onesimus would be opposed to the “let him dwell with you clause,” seeing as how Paul was in prison at the time. Book of Philemon

Deem argues that while Hebrews could enslave their fellow countrymen (voluntarily of course), they had to be released every 7 years or in the year of jubilee, which ever came first (Leviticus 24:39-43). Deem is being exceptionally disingenuous here. This comes with all kinds of caveats.

Exodus 21:1-6 provides more details, “Now these are the rules that you shall set before them. When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out alone.But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever.

So you could own a male Hebrew slave forever, you just have to bait him with a wife and children first

And once again this once again only applies to men, the very next verse Exodus 21:7 states “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do” which we’ve already looked at.

Deem moves into the New Testament stating the Romans practiced involuntary slavery (like the Jewish people didn’t practice involuntary slavery). I think the Midinite women Moses captured in Numbers 31 or the various Canaanites that the tribes of Israel subjected to forced labor in Judges 1, or all the daughters sold into slavery because of Exodus 21:7 would argue otherwise.

He argues that rules were established for Christians who were slaves or held slaves prior to becoming Christian. The first part I buy, the second part I don’t. Deem says it like slave owners who become Christians freed their slaves, but Deem doesn’t provide any evidence (Biblical or otherwise) that this happened even once. Or that they were even commanded to do so as Christians The closest he comes is Paul encouraging Philemon to release Onesimus, but it isn’t an outright “you should do this because #God” and we’ve already discussed how Paul violated Deuteronomy 23:15, so Paul may not be our best source for God’s will when it comes to slavery, and if he is, God is actually a stepping backwards.

Deem then argues that slaves and freemen are equal in the eyes of God. To which I have to say “so what?” I can’t spread that on my toast and eat it. Sure that’s great to hear for the next life, but doesn’t do anything for them in this life. Slaves and freemen being equal in God’s eyes has nothing to do with condemning slavery. Its like patting them on the back saying “it’s okay, you will do better next time” But of course, the slave owners are equal, so slave owner is going to do just as well in the next life, so the slaves still gets a raw deal.

If the verse had said slaves and freemen are equal, and by the way as Christians you shouldn’t own another human being” then we would have something.

If when God freed the Hebrews from the Egyptians from 430 years of abusive slavery he said “hey, you know what it is like to be slaves, so let’s not enslave anyone” then we would have something.

Instead they are not even out of Egypt before God is discussing which slaves owned by the Hebrews can partake in the Passover. If a Hebrew buys your slave with money (yet another conflict with Deem’s opening argument) and circumcise them, then that slave can participate in the holiday celebrating God’s murder of children in order to free the Hebrews from slavery, a freedom the slave owned by that very same freed Hebrew may never experience. Ironic much? Exodus 12:43-44
Deem closes his piece reemphasizing at best a mistaken belief that slavers were to be executed in the OT (If not a deliberate falsehood).  Leviticus 25:44-46 has God on record explicitly giving the Israelites permission to buy slaves from other nations
Deem reiterates the laws were to protect the health of the slaves. Exodus 21:21 says a slave owner can beat his male or female slave within an inch of his or her life without recompense (for a slave is his money) so long as the slave doesn’t die. Draw your own conclusions
Deem says Paul “virtually orders” Philemon to release his slave, but Paul still falls short of saying it is a moral requirement for Christians not to own slaves, which leaves slavery as maybe not morally good, but still morally permissible. And we have no idea if Philemon ever freed Oneimus.

Deem’s big finish is stressing many verses in the New Testament declare slaves and freemen equal in God’s eyes, which has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not God/the Bible encourages or approves of slavery.
I have to conclude that Deem is either sadly mistaken about how the Bible depicts God’s views on slavery, or he is intentionally trying to mislead his readers to a more favorable opinion than the Bible deserves. And to be honest, in this day and age where anyone can go to an online bible database and type in “Slave” or “forced labor” and read every biblical reference to those subjects for themselves, I do not understand how he could accidentally leave out:Exodus 12:43-44; Exodus 21:7;Deuteronomy 20:10-15; Leviticus 25:44-46, among others.

Iron Chariots and Tanks

Fun Bible Fact: In Deuteronomy 20:1 God commands that when you go to war with your enemies and see horses and chariots and a large army not to be afraid for the lord your God is with you.

But in Judges 1:19 the Lord was with Judah, and he drove out the inhabitants of the mountain; but he couldn’t drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.

Romans 8:31 asks: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Well apparently anyone can if they have an iron chariot

Bonus: If an iron chariot gives God the fits, what does he think about a tank?

Are Modern Day Sex Traffickers Guilty?

Response to a letter not really about porn

An acquaintance of mine on Facebook asked me if I could back up the paragraph below from A Letter Part 2: Enslaves and Trafficks Women with scripture.

Before I dive in, I do want to thank her for her response, she very politely requested clarification and more information about my opinions, in what I hope is an attempt to learn something. Even if we walk away still with different opinions I truly appreciate people who take the time to learn what actual atheists think, instead of relying on what other Christians say atheists think.

The paragraph in question is below, and I will admit it ends with quite a claim

“So I think you can understand my confusion as to why you would be opposed to slavery on any sort of biblical basis. The Ten Commandments does not condemn slavery (or rape). Jesus does not condemn slavery. By all accounts (sex) slavery, is a permissible, morally acceptable, lucrative business to be engaged in. So at worst modern day sex traffickers are guilty of, Biblically speaking, is perhaps not owning slaves the ‘correct’ way.”

Yes I can back this up with scripture, and at the risk of sounding pretentious, I believe I thoroughly did so throughout the course of the complete letter. But I will attempt the short hand version. Real quickly, from your friend and mine Wikipedia, Sex trafficking is defined by three steps: acquisition, movement, and exploitation

Deuteronomy 20:10-15

God commands the Israelites to offer peace with a city, and should they accept it force all of the inhabitants into slavery. Should the city choose to make war instead (I mean who would turn down those terms) the Israelites were to kill all of the males, but to take the women and children as plunder for themselves (acquisition). They are to do this in the cities that are far away from them (movement), the closer cities everybody dies. And they are to enjoy the spoils that GOD has given them (exploitation).

Numbers 31

God speaks to Moses and commands they “execute the lord’s vengeance” on Midean, and so they did, killing every male. They then brought the women and the children before Moses who was angry they were left alive. Moses commands that the women (prisoners of war) be killed as well, except for the virgin women (acquisition). These women were divided among the congregation, the people who fought in battle, and God claimed 32 of the virgins as tribute for himself (movement), which were then given to Eleazar the priest, as was commanded by the Lord to Moses (I wonder if the Lord actually commanded this to Moses, or if it was Eleazar’s idea).

Judges 21

11 of the 12 tribes of Israel seize upon the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead. Every man and non-virgin woman is killed, but they kidnap 400 young virgins (how young is young do you wonder?) These they brought to Canaan and gave to the tribe of Benjamin as an overture of peace (movement) to be their wives (exploitation).

These were not enough so they went to Shiloh and the Tribe of Benjamin hid in the bushes and kidnapped women in accordance to their number (acquisition) took them to their homeland (movement), to be their wives (exploitation). Oh and the settlement they took the women from were supposed to be okay with it, because they graciously didn’t destroy them in battle.

Now verse 25 does state that there was no king and each man did what was right in his own eyes. But it fails to specify what exactly was done what was unacceptable. Based on other Biblical stories/commands we know sex trafficking is permissible. So my conclusion is it wasn’t what they did, but who they did it too that was wrong, or God was upset they in fact didn’t take the women of Shiloh in Battle and consequently kill all the men. Unfortunately the Bible is vague on this point

Exodus 21:7 states you may sell your daughter into slavery

Leviticus 25:43-45 states you may buy male and female slaves from neighboring nations and from strangers who are traveling with you (sounds like a slave trade caravan to me)

Josephs 11 brothers sold him into slavery for 8oz of silver (which converts to 20 shekels of silver, which is the Biblical price for a man his age according to Leviticus 27). And while his brothers most definitely were not supposed to sell their brother into slavery to foreigners, it does provide evidence that there was a flourishing slave trade in Canaan which the Hebrews/Israelites took active part in, that at very least God condoned and regulated, if not actively approved of. But we know from other Biblical sources, Deuteronomy 20 in particular, that God did actively encourage the Israelites taking slaves for manual labor and sex.

So I stand by my original claim that modern day sex traffickers, in the eyes of God, can only be guilty of doing it the wrong way. Between Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Leviticus, there are a lot of verses regulating the slave trade, and I doubt most sex traffickers are Biblical scholars who are actively following all of those laws. But the general practice of acquiring women, moving them from location to location/having them trade hands, for the explicit purpose of exploiting them for sex and/or forced labor is explicitly permissible in the Bible.