Can the Bible be God's Word?
You are reading Can the Bible be God's Word? by Steve McRoberts
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Chapter 4: Numbers

Num:3:9: And thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons: they are wholly given unto him out of the children of Israel.
Num:3:10: And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest's office: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.

Here, God instituted a master and slave class. Aaron and his sons were to own the Levites. The Levites were doomed to be the slaves of Aaron and his sons!

There have been numerous eyewitness accounts by explorers and anthropologists relating the extremely generous hospitality shown to strangers amongst many of the people of the Middle East. The Israelites, however, certainly cannot be numbered amongst these loving people; they had strict orders: "the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death"!

Num:3:40: And the LORD said unto Moses, Number all the firstborn of the males of the children of Israel from a month old and upward, and take the number of their names.

This is just one of the many censuses that God commanded Moses to take. Why would an all-knowing God need a man to count for him?

Num:3:41: And thou shalt take the Levites for me (I am the LORD) instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel; and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstlings among the cattle of the children of Israel.

You may recall that God had previously given strict orders on this subject. He ordered that after the Israelites arrived in Canaan, henceforth all firstborn male cattle had to be killed as a sacrificial offering to himself (with the exception of an ass, for which they could kill a lamb in its stead) and that all firstborn Israelite boys had to be redeemed:

Ex:13:11: And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, as he sware unto thee and to thy fathers, and shall give it thee,
Ex:13:12: That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD's.
Ex:13:13: And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem.
Ex:13:14: And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage:
Ex:13:15: And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.

Later, these very same laws were incorporated into the "ten commandments" (Ex. 34:19,20) and were written in stone (see the chapter on Exodus for proof of this). But here, the God who doesn't change (James 1:17), changed his mind. He decided he would be satisfied with just the killing of animals belonging to the Levites, and with just the Levites instead of the firstborn males of every tribe. Why would a perfect, all-knowing God ever change his mind? Wouldn't such a being always come up with the best plan the first time? Such a plan would never need revising, much less reversal. By making this change, God was in effect saying that he was wrong in the first place: the sacrifices he had originally required were erroneous! Too bad he didn't figure this out before all of those innocent animals had been killed.

I wonder if Moses went back to the stone tablets and did some re-chiseling to reflect this change?

Num:3:46: And for those that are to be redeemed of the two hundred and threescore and thirteen of the firstborn of the children of Israel, which are more than the Levites;Num:
3:47: Thou shalt even take five shekels apiece by the poll, after the shekel of the sanctuary shalt thou take them: (the shekel is twenty gerahs:)
Num:3:48: And thou shalt give the money, wherewith the odd number of them is to be redeemed, unto Aaron and to his sons.

Once again, we see that redemption can be bought with cash!

Num:4:14: And they shall put upon it all the vessels thereof, wherewith they minister about it, even the censers, the fleshhooks, and the shovels, and the basons, all the vessels of the altar; and they shall spread upon it a covering of badgers' skins, and put to the staves of it.

How odd to find flesh-hooks counted amongst the sacred items of worship!

In a more enlightened era, ethical people reached the conclusion that killing animals for the sake of fur coats (a luxury item) is immoral. But here, the all-loving God, who supposedly cares about the death of every sparrow (Mt. 10:29-31), ordered that his flesh-hooks and other implements of 'worship' be covered with fur!

Num:5:1: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Num:5:2: Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that hath an issue, and whosoever is defiled by the dead:
Num:5:3: Both male and female shall ye put out, without the camp shall ye put them; that they defile not their camps, in the midst whereof I dwell.
Num:5:4: And the children of Israel did so, and put them out without the camp: as the LORD spake unto Moses, so did the children of Israel.

Another ethical idea, which people came up with long ago, is to care for the sick, diseased, and injured. Hospitals were built and staffed with people who underwent extensive training to learn to care for them. But the all-loving God had a much better idea: throw the sick people out of the camp and let them fend for themselves! The only thing that seemed to matter to God was that his presence not be "defiled". If God created everything, then he created leprosy, and it's difficult to fathom how his own creation could somehow "defile" him. Since the Bible gave a graphic demonstration of God instantly causing and curing leprosy (Ex. 4:6-7), wouldn't it have been a more loving thing to have healed these people instead of banishing them?

Num:5:12: Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man's wife go aside, and commit a trespass against him,
Num:5:13: And a man lie with her carnally, and it be hid from the eyes of her husband, and be kept close, and she be defiled, and there be no witness against her, neither she be taken with the manner;
Num:5:14: And the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be defiled: or if the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be not defiled:
Num:5:15: Then shall the man bring his wife unto the priest, and he shall bring her offering for her, the tenth part of an ephah of barley meal; he shall pour no oil upon it, nor put frankincense thereon; for it is an offering of jealousy, an offering of memorial, bringing iniquity to remembrance.
Num:5:16: And the priest shall bring her near, and set her before the LORD:
Num:5:17: And the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel; and of the dust that is in the floor of the tabernacle the priest shall take, and put it into the water:
Num:5:18: And the priest shall set the woman before the LORD, and uncover the woman's head, and put the offering of memorial in her hands, which is the jealousy offering: and the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that causeth the curse:
Num:5:19: And the priest shall charge her by an oath, and say unto the woman, If no man have lain with thee, and if thou hast not gone aside to uncleanness with another instead of thy husband, be thou free from this bitter water that causeth the curse:
Num:5:20: But if thou hast gone aside to another instead of thy husband, and if thou be defiled, and some man have lain with thee beside thine husband:
Num:5:21: Then the priest shall charge the woman with an oath of cursing, and the priest shall say unto the woman, The LORD make thee a curse and an oath among thy people, when the LORD doth make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell;
Num:5:22: And this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels, to make thy belly to swell, and thy thigh to rot: And the woman shall say, Amen, amen.
Num:5:23: And the priest shall write these curses in a book, and he shall blot them out with the bitter water:
Num:5:24: And he shall cause the woman to drink the bitter water that causeth the curse: and the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter.
Num:5:25: Then the priest shall take the jealousy offering out of the woman's hand, and shall wave the offering before the LORD, and offer it upon the altar:
Num:5:26: And the priest shall take an handful of the offering, even the memorial thereof, and burn it upon the altar, and afterward shall cause the woman to drink the water.
Num:5:27: And when he hath made her to drink the water, then it shall come to pass, that, if she be defiled, and have done trespass against her husband, that the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter, and her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall rot: and the woman shall be a curse among her people.
Num:5:28: And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean; then she shall be free, and shall conceive seed.

This instituted a trial by ordeal. Fortunately for the woman involved it was one of the less harmful of such rituals; she only had to drink dirty water. In the Middle Ages such trials by ordeal reached the pinnacle of harm and absurdity. For example: the accused was made to reach into a boiling cauldron and remove a coin. If their hand and arm remained unburned they were declared innocent. Witches were tried by throwing them into a body of water to see whether they would float or not. Jousting and duels were also forms of legally trying a case. It was assumed that God would miraculously decide such cases by protecting the innocent. By following this Biblical precedent, European courts were little more than a ridiculous mockery of justice for centuries. It was only when enlightened people looked back in time to the "pagan" Roman judicial system that our "modern" system of justice developed.

Num:10:9: And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies.

God got it backwards: this was not their land; it was the Canaanites' land. The Israelites were the oppressors: an invading horde, slaughtering the native people, raping the women, destroying everything in their path, and stealing the land.

Once again, God admited to forgetfulness. He forgets about his "chosen people" and they have to remind him of their existence by blowing a trumpet!

Num:10:29: And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Raguel the Midianite, Moses' father in law, We are journeying unto the place of which the LORD said, I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good: for the LORD hath spoken good concerning Israel.

Due to the poor writing, it is unclear from this whether Moses' father-in-law is Hobab or Raguel, but certainly the passage tells us that it was one of these two men. Elsewhere, we were told that Moses' father-in-law was neither of these two men, but rather one "Jethro":

Ex:3:1: Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.

Num:11:1: And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.
Num:11:2: And the people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the LORD, the fire was quenched.

Doesn't it seem a trifle harsh to you to exact the death penalty (by burning alive) for the crime of "complaining"? Wouldn't you revolt against a government with laws so unjust and cruel? Yet, we are to believe that this was the action of the "God of love"!

Num:11:11: And Moses said unto the LORD, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?
Num:11:12: Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?
Num:11:13: Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they weep unto me, saying, Give us flesh, that we may eat.
Num:11:14: I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.

The way Moses speaks of "this people" and "their fathers" is exactly what one would expect if Moses were not one of these people, but rather an Egyptian with an Egyptian father. This makes his legendary origins, as given in Exodus, suspicious.

Num:11:31: And there went forth a wind from the LORD, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, as it were a day's journey on this side, and as it were a day's journey on the other side, round about the camp, and as it were two cubits high upon the face of the earth.
Num:11:32: And the people stood up all that day, and all that night, and all the next day, and they gathered the quails: he that gathered least gathered ten homers: and they spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp.
Num:11:33: And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague.

God killed millions of birds to satisfy his "chosen people's" craving for meat. But then, just as they were starting to eat what he had provided, he killed them too! Why didn't he just kill the people to begin with and save the birds lives? Remember, this is the God who cares about the life of every sparrow (Mt. 10:29-31)!

Num:14:11: And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?
Num:14:12: I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.
Num:14:13: And Moses said unto the LORD, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;)
Num:14:14: And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou LORD art among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.
Num:14:15: Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying,
Num:14:16: Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness.
Num:14:17: And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,
Num:14:18: The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
Num:14:19: Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.
Num:14:20: And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word:

Once again God was ready to go back on his word and kill all of the Israelites except Moses. He emphatically stated that he would do this. If God is the omnipotent being we are told that he is, then nothing could possibly avert his will. Yet Moses warned God of what people would say if he destroyed his chosen people. Evidently God hadn't thought of this (Moses was smarter than the all-knowing God), and he actually worried about what people would say about him! In the end God's will was changed by a mere man!

Num:14:30: Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.

Here, God unashamedly admitted that he was not going to keep his promise.

Num:14:31: But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.
Num:14:32: But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness.
Num:14:33: And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.
Num:14:34: After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.
Num:14:35: I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.

God said that the Israelites (except for Caleb and Joshua) were "evil". If that were true, why had he chosen them? Why did he bother carrying out the slaughter of the "evil" Canaanites only to replace them with the "evil" Israelites?

Num:15:32: And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.
Num:15:33: And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.
Num:15:34: And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.
Num:15:35: And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.
Num:15:36: And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.

The text does not state whether or not the man was an Israelite. Normally, whenever an Israelite is referred to, his name, and often his lineage is given. So, the implication is that this man was not an Israelite, and so was unaware of, and not subject to their laws. Yet the God of love and justice ordered that the man be stoned to death for gathering sticks on a certain day. This was a travesty of justice. But, even if this man were an Israelite, could we honestly say that the punishment fit the crime?

Num:16:19: And Korah gathered all the congregation against them unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the congregation.
Num:16:20: And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
Num:16:21: Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.
Num:16:22: And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?
Num:16:23: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Num:16:24: Speak unto the congregation, saying, Get you up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.

Once again, God intended to kill the innocent along with the guilty (although in this case, the "guilty" were only guilty of challenging Moses' authority). Once again, a mere mortal man had to give Almighty God a lesson in ethics: pointing out that it was unjust to kill everyone for one man's sin. Too bad Moses wasn't around to instruct God in this simple matter when God was formulating the idea of Original Sin!

Num:16:28: And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind.
Num:16:29: If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD hath not sent me.
Num:16:30: But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.
Num:16:31: And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them:
Num:16:32: And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.
Num:16:33: They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.
Num:16:34: And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also.
Num:16:35: And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.

Num:16:41: But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the LORD.
Num:16:42: And it came to pass, when the congregation was gathered against Moses and against Aaron, that they looked toward the tabernacle of the congregation: and, behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared.
Num:16:43: And Moses and Aaron came before the tabernacle of the congregation.
Num:16:44: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Num:16:45: Get you up from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment. And they fell upon their faces.

And yet again, on the following day, God forgot his lesson in ethics! Once again he was ready to "consume" his "chosen people" "in a moment"! This time, Moses didn't bother arguing with God, but resorted to ritual to counteract God's will:

Num:16:46: And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun.
Num:16:47: And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people.
Num:16:48: And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed.
Num:16:49: Now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah.
Num:16:50: And Aaron returned unto Moses unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the plague was stayed.

14,700 people were killed by God just for having objected to his murdering of Korah and his men (the very same objection I have made'I, however have not been struck with a plague, so God must not be quite so sensitive about criticism these days).

Num:18:11: And this is thine; the heave offering of their gift, with all the wave offerings of the children of Israel: I have given them unto thee, and to thy sons and to thy daughters with thee, by a statute for ever: every one that is clean in thy house shall eat of it.
Num:18:12: All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine, and of the wheat, the firstfruits of them which they shall offer unto the LORD, them have I given thee.
Num:18:13: And whatsoever is first ripe in the land, which they shall bring unto the LORD, shall be thine; every one that is clean in thine house shall eat of it.
Num:18:14: Every thing devoted in Israel shall be thine.

Maybe I have a suspicious mind, but it has occurred to me that just maybe the priests themselves made this all up so that they could live, as the saying goes, "off the fat of the lamb".

Num:18:15: Every thing that openeth the matrix in all flesh, which they bring unto the LORD, whether it be of men or beasts, shall be thine: nevertheless the firstborn of man shalt thou surely redeem, and the firstling of unclean beasts shalt thou redeem.

Well, now God contradicted himself again. This was the original understanding, as given in Exodus: the firstborn animals were to be killed as a "sacrifice" to God. But God had previously countermanded this order in Numbers 3:41:

Num:3:41: And thou shalt take the Levites for me (I am the LORD) instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel; and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstlings among the cattle of the children of Israel.

But here God changed his mind once again, and went back to the original law.

Num:19:2: This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke:
Num:19:3: And ye shall give her unto Eleazar the priest, that he may bring her forth without the camp, and one shall slay her before his face:
Num:19:4: And Eleazar the priest shall take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle of her blood directly before the tabernacle of the congregation seven times:
Num:19:5: And one shall burn the heifer in his sight; her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn:
Num:19:6: And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer.
Num:19:7: Then the priest shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp, and the priest shall be unclean until the even.
Num:19:8: And he that burneth her shall wash his clothes in water, and bathe his flesh in water, and shall be unclean until the even.
Num:19:9: And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them up without the camp in a clean place, and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a water of separation: it is a purification for sin.
Num:19:10: And he that gathereth the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: and it shall be unto the children of Israel, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among them, for a statute for ever.

One might expect to find such a magical ritual in an occultist's book of spells, or in a book of voodoo practices. A perfectly innocent animal was to be murdered and burned. This would purify the children of Israel of their sins. But it seems to me that killing our fellow creatures for no good reason is probably a worse sin than (for example) picking up sticks on the "Sabbath" (but that sin was evidently too horrendous even for a heifer's death to purify, since God ordered the man's death by stoning).

God stated that this ritualistic murder of an innocent animal as a purification for sin was to be a "statute for ever". Forever means that there will never come a time when this ritual is not a law for the children of Israel. Yet, we read elsewhere in the Bible:

Heb:10:4: For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
Heb:10:11: And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:

Both statements simply cannot be true. Therefore it is not possible to believe both Numbers and Hebrews. Since these are both books of the Bible, it is not possible to believe the Bible.

Num:20:12: And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.

This was immediately after Moses had stood up in front of "the congregation" and declared that water would issue forth from a rock (as God had told him). If this didn't demonstrate that Moses believed God, I don't know what would. I would have to have a pretty firm belief in something like that before I stood up in front of a "murmuring" horde of frustrated, thirsty people who had previously plotted to kill me! Yet God decided that Moses and Aaron (after having witnessed countless spectacular miracles, including the transformation of all water into blood, and the parting of the Red Sea) didn't believe that he could bring water forth from a rock! This was evidently a sin of such great magnitude that God felt justified in going back on his word and breaking his promise to them that he would bring them into the "promised" land.

Why would anyone choose to worship a God who breaks his own promises?

Num:21:1: And when king Arad the Canaanite, which dwelt in the south, heard tell that Israel came by the way of the spies; then he fought against Israel, and took some of them prisoners.
Num:21:2: And Israel vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou wilt indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities.
Num:21:3: And the LORD hearkened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities: and he called the name of the place Hormah.

Once again, the invading horde of Israelites, not content merely to conquer the native people, vowed to "utterly destroy" them and their cities. This evidently sat well with God who "hearkened" to their vow and "delivered" the Canaanites to them. This meant that the "God of love" not only approved of the murder of innocent children, babies, and pregnant women, he actually helped carry it out!

Num:21:5: And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
Num:21:6: And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
Num:21:7: Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
Num:21:8: And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
Num:21:9: And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

Once again, God responded to legitimate grievances with murder.

He had watered his "chosen people" recently (from the rock), and evidently felt that should be enough to satisfy them. He must've forgotten that his creation required water every day: why else would he consider such a request sinful?

In order to counteract his own punishment, God ordered Moses to break one of his own commandments:

Ex:20:4: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

A bronze serpent is certainly a likeness of something in the earth. Why couldn't God simply have removed the serpents, rather than resorting to a method which involved the breaking of his own law? Could this be yet another instance of sympathetic magic?

Num:21:35: So they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left him alive: and they possessed his land.

This is describing what the invading Israelites did to the native Amorites. Would you describe such actions as ethical and humane, or as immoral and inhumane?

Num:22:2: And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.Num:22:3: And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel.
Num:22:4: And Moab said unto the elders of Midian, Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time.
Num:22:5: He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me:
Num:22:6: Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed.
Num:22:7: And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him the words of Balak.
Num:22:8: And he said unto them, Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word again, as the LORD shall speak unto me: and the princes of Moab abode with Balaam.
Num:22:9: And God came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these with thee?
Num:22:10: And Balaam said unto God, Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, hath sent unto me, saying,
Num:22:11: Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt, which covereth the face of the earth: come now, curse me them; peradventure I shall be able to overcome them, and drive them out.
Num:22:12: And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.
Num:22:13: And Balaam rose up in the morning, and said unto the princes of Balak, Get you into your land: for the LORD refuseth to give me leave to go with you.
Num:22:14: And the princes of Moab rose up, and they went unto Balak, and said, Balaam refuseth to come with us.
Num:22:15: And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honourable than they.
Num:22:16: And they came to Balaam, and said to him, Thus saith Balak the son of Zippor, Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me:
Num:22:17: For I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people.
Num:22:18: And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more.
Num:22:19: Now therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the LORD will say unto me more.
Num:22:20: And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.
Num:22:21: And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.
Num:22:22: And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.
Num:22:23: And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.
Num:22:24: But the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side.
Num:22:25: And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall: and he smote her again.
Num:22:26: And the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.
Num:22:27: And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.
Num:22:28: And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?
Num:22:29: And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.
Num:22:30: And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay.
Num:22:31: Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.
Num:22:32: And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me:
Num:22:33: And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive.
Num:22:34: And Balaam said unto the angel of the LORD, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again.
Num:22:35: And the angel of the LORD said unto Balaam, Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.

I have quoted this at such length to ensure that we don't miss a single detail, and so that you can judge for yourself whether the following summary is fair and accurate.

Balak, representing the Moabites and Midianites, saw what atrocities the Israelites had committed against the Amorites. Naturally, he sought to prevent such wholesale slaughter of his own people (if you were in his shoes, wouldn't you do the same?) So Balak sent men to ask the seer Balaam to come and curse the Israelites.

But Balaam didn't immediately accept the offer. He made the entourage wait overnight while he consulted with God. God told Balaam not to go, so in the morning, he dismissed the men with these words: "Get you into your land: for the LORD refuseth to give me leave to go with you."

Balak was determined, and so he sent another entourage, consisting of "more honorable" princes. He also increased the reward to a position of power in his kingdom for Balaam. But once again, Balaam's piety exceeded his greed. He told the princes: "If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more."

But this time God told Balaam to "rise up, and go with them" (evidently the first group just weren't "honorable" enough for God to assent, since we know that God can never change his mind). So, Balaam dutifully went with the men.

But now, to our utter amazement we read: "And God's anger was kindled because he went"! This is similar to when God tried to kill Moses immediately after telling him to go to Pharaoh (Ex. 4:24). In both cases God acted contrary to his own plan, and in both cases God's attempted murder was thwarted by some lesser force! In Balaam's case, an ass thwarted the Almighty God's intention to kill him. The angel clearly stated that "unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee".

Why was the ass able to see the angel immediately, while God had to "open the eyes" of Balaam (after permitting him to mercilessly beat the ass) before he could see the angel? Wouldn't an all-knowing, merciful God have foreseen the beating, and opened Balaam's eyes before it could occur? Since the angel intended to kill Balaam, wasn't the ass thwarting God's purpose? Since Balaam was doing exactly what God told him to do ("rise up, and to with them"), it seems the wrong creature was being chastised here.

Finally, we know that "opening the mouth" of an ass would be insufficient to enable it to speak. An ass simply doesn't possess the proper equipment (cheeks, lips of sufficient flexibility, vocal cords') to utter the sounds of human speech. God would have to have worked several additional miracles by physically transforming the ass in such a way that it would be able to make such sounds. Then God would've had to teach it whatever language Balaam spoke. Then God would've had to teach it the concepts of ownership and time (since knowledge of these concepts is implicit in what the ass says). I wonder if God transformed the animal back again after its little speech, or if Balaam later went on tour with his "wonderful talking ass" to sell-out crowds.

But, even more amazing than a talking ass is what happened next. After attempting to kill Balaam for doing what God told him to do, and after having been thwarted in the murder attempt by a talking ass, the angel told Balaam: "Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak." This was the understanding all along. Back in verse 20 God had told Balaam to go with the men but to only do what God would instruct him to do. It seems as though God had neglected to inform this hot-tempered angel of the situation, and it nearly jeopardized the whole mission! That would indicate a communication problem in God's "organization"; the left hand didn't know what the right-hand was doing. It also demonstrates that God's angels can work contrary to God's will and actually kill people through their own ignorance!

Balak tried three times to get Balaam to curse Israel, but each time Balaam told him that he would only say what God would tell him to say, and he ended up blessing Israel and prophesying Israel's conquest of the Canaanites.

Num:24:10: And Balak's anger was kindled against Balaam, and he smote his hands together: and Balak said unto Balaam, I called thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast altogether blessed them these three times.
Num:24:11: Therefore now flee thou to thy place: I thought to promote thee unto great honour; but, lo, the LORD hath kept thee back from honour.
Num:24:12: And Balaam said unto Balak, Spake I not also to thy messengers which thou sentest unto me, saying,
Num:24:13: If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the LORD, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the LORD saith, that will I speak?

I think it would be fair to say that Balaam took a very firm stand for his faith, and resisted the strong temptation to act contrary to God's orders. Contrast this with Aaron, who made a graven image just because the people asked him to!

Now, let's read what is written about Balaam in other parts of the Bible:

2Pt:2:15: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
2Pt:2:16: But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet.

Jude:1:11: Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.

Rv:2:14: But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

How could anyone, having read the story of Balaam as recorded in Numbers, conclude that Balaam "loved the wages of unrighteousness" or that he "ran greedily after error"? How could anyone conclude from reading Numbers that Balaam taught Balak to somehow induce Israel to sacrifice to idols and commit fornication? After being chastised by Balak, Balaam went home. We don't hear a word more about him until we read of the following righteous and holy action by God's chosen people:

Num 31:8 ' Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.

The account in Numbers concerning Balaam is clearly contradicted 3 times in the New Testament. Which part of the Bible shall we believe?

Num:25:1: And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.
Num:25:2: And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
Num:25:3: And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.
Num:25:4: And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel.
Num:25:5: And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baal-peor.
Num:25:6: And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
Num:25:7: And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;
Num:25:8: And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.
Num:25:9: And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.
Num:25:10: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Num:25:11: Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.
Num:25:12: Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace:
Num:25:13: And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.
Num:25:14: Now the name of the Israelite that was slain, even that was slain with the Midianitish woman, was Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince of a chief house among the Simeonites.
Num:25:15: And the name of the Midianitish woman that was slain was Cozbi, the daughter of Zur; he was head over a people, and of a chief house in Midian.
Num:25:16: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Num:25:17: Vex the Midianites, and smite them:
Num:25:18: For they vex you with their wiles, wherewith they have beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a prince of Midian, their sister, which was slain in the day of the plague for Peor's sake.

From this account we can gather that it wasn't the Israelites' fault that they took Midianite "wives" and worshipped the god Baal. The Midianites were to blame for this for tempting them. This is in direct contradiction to another part of the Bible which plainly states that God doesn't allow anyone to be tempted past what they can resist, and that the fault lies with the sinner, not the tempter (1 Cor. 10:13; Jms 1:14).

The Israelite's atoned for their sin and stemmed God's anger by brutally murdering a man and his new wife who were peacefully sitting in their own tent. Phinehas murdered both of them by piercing them with a lance. After that, God couldn't seem to find enough good things to say about Phinehas, and rewarded him with an "everlasting priesthood" for himself and his sons (but being the grandson of Aaron, he already possessed this "reward").

Now we see the kind of moral actions this God of the Bible approves of and rewards. This barbaric action also convinced the God of love to stop the plague that he was inflicting upon his chosen people for having worshipped Baal and taken foreign wives. After killing off thousands of Israelites by the plague, he decided to have the Israelites kill the Midianites instead, so he told Moses to raise an army against them, after which God would kill Moses himself.

Num:31:1: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Num:31:2: Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people.

Num:31:7: And they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males.
Num:31:8: And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.
Num:31:9: And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods.
Num:31:10: And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire.
Num:31:11: And they took all the spoil, and all the prey, both of men and of beasts.
Num:31:12: And they brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and unto the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by Jordan near Jericho.
Num:31:13: And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp.

Because the Israelites had found the Midianite women attractive, and also found their religion attractive, they killed all the males, burnt all the cities, and took all the women and children captive. But, brace yourself; you haven't heard anything yet:

Num:31:14: And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle.
Num:31:15: And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive?
Num:31:16: Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.
Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
Num:31:18: But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
(emphasis added.)

Think long and hard about these words of Moses. This "hero of the Bible." This "meekest of men." Do these words sound like something a Nazi war criminal might have said? Moses ordered the cold-blooded murder of women and children. He was evidently acting as God's spokesman when he did this!

Why did Moses commit this atrocity? The reason is steeped in layers of error:

1.      Error number one: Moses stated that these women caused Israel to sin. According to the Bible this is an error because no one can cause you to sin. If you sin, it is your own fault because God doesn't allow anyone to be tempted beyond what they can bear (1 Cor. 10:13; Jms 1:14).

2.      Error number two: The reason Moses gave for murdering the women did not give any reason for murdering the children.

3.      Error number three: Moses stated that these women had acted under the counsel of Balaam. As we've seen, the Bible relates that Balaam blessed Israel and then departed. After that he is not heard of again until the Israelites murdered him. Besides: the Bible says that it was the Israelites who "began to commit whoredom" with the Midianites: it doesn't say that the Midianite women deliberately set out to entice them.

4.      Error number four: Moses evidently believed that interracial marriage was a sin. Yet, elsewhere in the Bible we are told that "there is neither Jew nor Greek".

5.      Error number five: Moses evidently believed that murdering innocent children was a holy act.

6.      Error number six: Moses stated that the reason the women had to be murdered was because the Israelites had "committed whoredom" with them. Yet he tells his men to spare the virgin women for themselves! Why do you suppose virgin women were kept alive for these men? What do you suppose these Israelite men (who seemed so easily to fall for the charms of the Midianite women) did with these women? Doesn't it seem that by this action Moses allowed the very thing he was railing against? Having sexual relations with the Midianites is what caused the plague and the war. Yet, in the end what are we left with? Thousands of people dead, and the Israelite men having sexual relations with Midianite virgins!

After reading these words of Moses, and this horrific act of the Israelites, how can we ever again call Moses "meek", or the Israelites "God's chosen people and a nation of priests"? How can we ever again call the Bible "holy" or "the good book"?

There have been practical consequences to referring to this book of atrocities as "God's Word". During the centuries following the "discovery" of the Americas by Europeans, the genocide of the Native Americans was justified by Biblical accounts such as this. The attack on the Pequot tribe in 1736 -- which consisted primarily of setting women, children, and feeble old men on fire as they lay asleep in their tents -- was described by the two leaders of the attack as follows:

"The Lord was pleased to smite our enemies in the hinder parts, and to give us their land for an inheritance' God was above them, who laughed his enemies and the enemies of his people to scorn'Thus did the Lord judge among the heathen, filling the place with dead bodies!" (John Mason, "A Brief History of the Pequot War" p. 21, 9-10)

"'great and doleful was the bloody sight to the view of young soldiers that never had been in war, to see so many souls lie gasping on the ground, so thick, in some places, that you could hardly pass along' sometimes the Scripture declareth women and children must perish with their parents." (John Underhill, "Newes from America," p. 7, emphasis added)

Following the Midianite massacre, the Bible next relates the dividing up of the "booty":

Num:31:32: And the booty, being the rest of the prey which the men of war had caught, was six hundred thousand and seventy thousand and five thousand sheep,
Num:31:33: And threescore and twelve thousand beeves,
Num:31:34: And threescore and one thousand asses,
Num:31:35: And thirty and two thousand persons in all, of woman that had not known man by lying with him.
Num:31:36: And the half, which was the portion of them that went out to war, was in number three hundred thousand and seven and thirty thousand and five hundred sheep:
Num:31:37: And the LORD's tribute of the sheep was six hundred and threescore and fifteen.
Num:31:38: And the beeves were thirty and six thousand; of which the LORD's tribute was threescore and twelve.
Num:31:39: And the asses were thirty thousand and five hundred; of which the LORD's tribute was threescore and one.
Num:31:40: And the persons were sixteen thousand; of which the LORD's tribute was thirty and two persons.
Num:31:41: And Moses gave the tribute, which was the LORD's heave offering, unto Eleazar the priest, as the LORD commanded Moses.
Num:31:42: And of the children of Israel's half, which Moses divided from the men that warred,
Num:31:43: (Now the half that pertained unto the congregation was three hundred thousand and thirty thousand and seven thousand and five hundred sheep,
Num:31:44: And thirty and six thousand beeves,
Num:31:45: And thirty thousand asses and five hundred,
Num:31:46: And sixteen thousand persons;)
Num:31:47: Even of the children of Israel's half, Moses took one portion of fifty, both of man and of beast, and gave them unto the Levites, which kept the charge of the tabernacle of the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses.

So there were 32,000 virgins which Moses had told the Israelite men to "keep alive for themselves". Of these, 352 were given to the priests as the "Lord's tribute". What do you suppose the priests did with these "women children"? As it turns out, we don't have to wonder. The Bible relates that God gave specific orders as to what must be done with such people:

Lev:27:28: Notwithstanding no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the LORD of all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto the LORD.
Lev:27:29: None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed; but shall surely be put to death.

So, after they murdered thousands of innocent men, women, and children, and raped thousands of women, God's chosen people sacrificed 352 virgins to their God Jehovah, as he had commanded them through his spokesman Moses. Aren't you thankful for this holy book of moral instruction, which acts as a guide on how to conduct our lives in a manner pleasing to the God of love?

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