I've been reading the Bible lately. This is less an act of faith as it is simple interest. I can't even remember what the reference was that started the whole thing. But, I read something that was a reference to something in the Bible and I began to get curious about the things that I didn't know. I've read Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus before. I petered out in Numbers – it's rather tedious. So, when whatever it was piqued my curiosity, I began with a perusal of Deuteronomy, which is more or less a summary of the first 4 books from what I've read. But, I wanted to know about the things that people talk about. I wanted to read the books of Kings and read about David and about Daniel and understand the context. But, I didn't want to miss anything so I kept going further and further back. Finally, I settled at the end of the Pentateuch.
I wanted to begin with the story part, and not so much with the laws. The laws are tedious and make me think that it was the world's first attempt at socialism. I mean, settle accounts every 7 years and every 7th 7-year span all property reverts back to its original owner. So, I sell you some land; in 49 years it comes back to me or my family. What I get from that is that this would prevent a situation in which most of the property/money rested in the hands of a few powerful families. And the size and shape and decorations of the Arc of the Covenant are only interesting for the first five times you read them. After that they lose some of their flair.
So, I read the end of Deuteronomy and made my way through Joshua. It was interesting – from a historic perspective if nothing else. The Israelites never got along; they were bickering from the get-go. "Why do I have to be on this side of the Jordan? Why does he get to be on that side? Why can't I have my own altar? Why do I have to go use HIS?" Also, the seemingly arbitrary commands that were given. March seven times around the city; don't attack or shout. It recalls their days in the desert. Gather only enough manna for one day; don't try to save for future days. It all seems like God is trying to teach them to be 100% dependent on him. When I feed my dog I make him sit and stay while I put the food down. Then I say, "Release" and he can eat. He has to learn that he's completely dependent on me for food, so that he learns that I am dominant; I am the alpha. Is this what God was doing in the desert? (Is this question sacrilege?)
This is not to say that it isn't interesting. At least I have a better understanding what people are talking about and referring to. And, the bible that I have has notes; it explains the different sources, from the North, from the South and their different perspectives and how those perspectives come into play when putting the stories down on papyrus. (Actually, having read First and Second Kings gives me more insight into that background information as well. But, more on that later.)
I'll close for the moment. I've risked a bolt of lightening enough for one day. I'll write more questions and observations later.