Chapter 5: Deuteronomy
Deut:2:9: And the LORD said unto me, Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle: for I will not give thee of their land for a possession; because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot for a possession.
In recounting their forty-years of wandering in the wilderness, Moses recounts only one battle: a battle against the Amorites (a battle which God did not approve of, and which the Israelites lost Deut 1:42-44). Regarding all the other people, on whose land the Israelites trespassed during this time, the first two chapters of Deuteronomy relate that God said basically the same thing as in the verse above: donít fight with them; Iím not giving you their land.
However, the Biblical book of Numbers recounts many battles during this time which were ordered by God. The one that stands out as particularly atrocious is the battle against the Midianites in which all of the men, women, and children were slaughtered except for the virgins (some of whom were sacrificed to God and most of whom were raped) (Num. 31). Reading the first two chapters of Deuteronomy, however, one would think none of this ever happened. Letís hope that Deuteronomy is true in this respect, and the book of Numbers is a lie.
Deut:2:26: And I sent messengers out of the wilderness of Kedemoth unto Sihon king of Heshbon with words of peace, saying,
Deut:2:30: But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day.
Once again God was up to his old tricks of "hardening" peopleís hearts. Youíll recall how he repeatedly did this to Pharaoh in order to show off his power. So speaking "words of peace" to Sihon was an exercise in futility. God the puppet-master intended to pull Sihonís heartstrings and make him refuse the offer of peace. If Sihon had somehow managed to resist Godís manipulations and accepted the offer of peace, Godís plan of giving the land to the Israelites would have been thwarted. So, the "words of peace" were simply for show: a deception intended to remove the blame from the Israelites for the ensuing bloodshed.
Deut:2:33: And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people.
Once again, the Israelites proved to be murderers of children. We have seen where the Israelites have frequently lamented, "It would have been better for us to have died in Egypt". I agree wholeheartedly: think of all the innocent Canaanite children that wouldíve been spared!
Today we can look at such stories and say they were probably fabricated in an effort to increase patriotism amongst the Israelites. But what sort of a person would take pride in his country for having murdered innocent children? The answer has to be: only a barbarian. Shall we take this book -- written by barbarians for barbarians -- as our moral guide?
Deut:3:6: And we utterly destroyed them, as we did unto Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children, of every city.
More murder of the native people by the invading horde.
Deut:3:22: Ye shall not fear them: for the LORD your God he shall fight for you.
This makes it clear that all of these murders were sanctioned by and assisted by the God of the Bible. This means that these stories are not related in the Bible in order to serve as bad examples. Despite the commandment, "thou shalt not kill", the Bible repeatedly relates how God helped his chosen people kill. They didnít just kill the "evil" Canaanites (who were accounted "evil" for having done the same things the Bible tells us that the Israelites did); they murdered innocent children and babies.
Deut:3:23: And I besought the LORD at that time, saying,
Moses might well have added: ĎAnd what God was ever so cruel?í The gods of the Greeks and Romans were certainly no moral paragons, but none of them came close to the level of injustice and cruelty of this God of the Israelites!
Deut:4:2: Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
This is very important! Moses said here that the commandments he gave were it. No additions, no amendments, no subtractions. These commandments were from the Almighty and were "cast in stone". In contradiction to this, Jesus later tried to add to these commandments, and Paul tried to do subtract them all! (Mt. 5:21-22; 19:3-9; Gal. 5:2-4)
Deut:4:5: Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.
Moses stated that the other nations would judge Israel as "great," "wise," and "understanding," with righteous judgements and statutes.Ē As we have seen, though, most of their actions have been anything but just, righteous, or wise. In Deuteronomy we will be exposed to yet more details of their "statutes and judgements", and will be able to judge for ourselves just how "righteous" they were.
Deut:5:9: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,
Here is our first lesson in justice: God promised to punish the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of anyone that hated him. Justice or injustice? You decide.
Deut:5:17: Thou shalt not kill.
Deut:5:19: Neither shalt thou steal.
These two are certainly just laws, however, God and Moses had already commanded the Israelites to break these laws many times by killing the native inhabitants and stealing their land. The Law also required the killing of countless animals.
Deut:5:22: These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.
This contradicts Exodus. In Exodus, the commandments written on stone were very different (see the chapter on Exodus for a complete discussion of this).
Deut:5:23: And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders;
This contradicts Exodus. In Exodus it is related that while Moses was on the mountain receiving Godís commandments, the Israelites asked Aaron to create a golden calf which they worshipped as an idol. Yet here they are described as having been awe-struck by the voice from the mountain, and asking Moses to intercede on their behalf to learn all Godís commands so that they could follow them. Which account do you think is true? They canít both be true, so one (or both) of them must be false.
Deut:6:4: Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
Can you order someone to love you? Donít you just have to be lovable and then people will naturally love you? Can the human heart respond with love to someone who issues the ultimatum: "Love me or elseÖ"?
Deut:6:13: Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.
I wonder if love and fear are truly compatible emotions?
Jesus tried to "subtract" this law about swearing by Godís name:
God told us to swear by his name, Jesus said not to swear at all. Who shall we obey: God or Jesus?
Deut:6:16: Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.
How could God -- the ultimate being -- ever be "tempted" by anything mere mortals could do?
Deut:7:2: And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:
So God commanded his people to be merciless. Another great ethical lesson for us all.
Deut:7:14: Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle.
In contradiction to this, we shall read, in due time, of many instances of barrenness, sickness, and disease amongst the Israelites.
Deut:7:16: And thou shalt consume all the people which the LORD thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them: neither shalt thou serve their gods; for that will be a snare unto thee.
So the God of love commanded his "holy" people to be pitiless. Another lesson in moral conduct from Godís guidebook for our lives!
Deut:7:21: Thou shalt not be affrighted at them: for the LORD thy God is among you, a mighty God and terrible.
Here, God described himself as "terrible". I couldnít agree more.
Deut:7:23: But the LORD thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed.
Deut:9:3: Understand therefore this day, that the LORD thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the LORD hath said unto thee.
There can be no doubt, after Godís repeated bragging, that the Israelites were not acting contrary to Godís wishes in all of the destruction which follows. God wanted to take all the credit for delivering the native inhabitants of these lands over to the Israelites for destruction.
Deut:10:4: And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the LORD spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the LORD gave them unto me.
Here, Moses said that the replacement tables were written on by God himself. In the account in Exodus, however, Moses was the one who wrote on the tables:
Ex:34:27: And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.Ex:34:28: And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
Deut:12:15: Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee: the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck, and as of the hart.
This would indicate that the prohibition on eating "unclean" animals ended as the Israelites crossed the Jordan River. This would render the notion of "kosher" foods today superfluous (other than for blood drainage).
Deut:13:1: If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
Evidently God is not all-knowing since he had to resort to trickery in order to test people to find out whether or not they loved him.
Deut:13:6: If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;
Here God ordered people to murder their own children, their own spouse, or their close friends if they attempted to introduce them to another religion! "Tolerance" is not a word you will find in the Bible.
Deut:14:3: Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing.
And God here went on to enumerate the "clean" animals which may be eaten and the "unclean" animals which must not be eaten (a duplication of Leviticus chapter 11). This completely contradicts what he said just a couple of chapters ago about how the Israelites were permitted to eat any type of flesh they "lusted" after: clean or unclean (Deut. 12:15, 20).
Deut:17:5: Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.
All it would take would be for two people to conspire together and state that they saw you picking up sticks on the Sabbath for you to be stoned to death. You wouldn't be given the chance to speak in your defense, or have your case heard by a jury of your peers. You would simply be condemned, and then brutally murdered, on the say-so of two individuals. I think it would be fair to say that most civilized countries have come up with better systems of justice than this. Doesn't it strike you as paradoxical that mere mortal men could design a better system of justice than Almighty God -- the supposed designer of the universe?
Deut:20:10: When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it.
One simply does not march an army up to a foreign city to offer "peace"! Peace does not mean enslavement! Can you imagine a foreign army rolling up to your city and demanding that you "serve" them and that your city henceforth pay them tribute? Can you further imagine them calling this act of war: "proclaiming peace"?
But for the native inhabitants of the "promised land" God ordered no pretensions of peace. They were all to be murdered: men, women, children, babies, and non-human animals. "Thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth" was the commandment of the "God of love".
Deut:21:1: If one be found slain in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it, lying in the field, and it be not known who hath slain him:
Instead of investigating the cause of the personís death, God told the Israelites to behead an innocent animal and wash their hands over its corpse in order that God would forgive them for something they hadnít done!
Wouldnít the all-knowing God know if an Israelite had murdered the person? Why would he demand that they cut off an animalís head? Why should the mysterious death of a man lead to the purposeful death of an animal? Nothing in this account harmonizes with the idea of an all-knowing, loving God or that the Bible is a guide to ethical conduct.
Deut:21:18: If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
Today, we know that there comes a phase in all childrenís lives when they rebel against their parents. This is a natural and necessary phase in order to prepare for moving out on their own and taking charge of their own life. But God evidently saw this as a problem, and his solution was to stone the child!
Note that, even though the son was merely "stubborn, rebellious," and wouldnít listen to his parents, the parents are ordered to add that he is a "glutton and a drunkard" whether or not this is true.
I can only imagine that this law resulted in some very repressed individuals.
Deut:22:5: The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.
This would rule out the wearing of pants by women, or pantyhose by men (as some football players like to do).
Deut:22:11: Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together.
This would rule out any cotton/polyester blends as well. It is hard to imagine what purpose could be behind such a law.
Deut:22:13: If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her,
If a woman was not a virgin at the time of marriage, she would be stoned to death. This is the punishment Joseph knew awaited Mary if he made her pregnancy public. But because he was a "just man", he sought to "put her away privately" (Mt. 1:18-19) This means that both Joseph, and the writer of the Gospel of Matthew thought that this law in Deuteronomy was not just. How then, could the same God have inspired the writing of both Deuteronomy and Matthew?
There was no law stating that a man should be stoned to death if he wasnít a virgin at the time of marriage. It seems the "perfect" law of God had a double-standard.
Deut:22:22: If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.
This fails to take into account the fact that the woman might have been raped by the man. According to this law, a married woman should be murdered if she was raped!
Deut:22:23: If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;
This passage explicitly tells us that a raped woman should be stoned to death (if she was an engaged virgin who was raped in the city). However, if such an incident were to occur in a field, then nothing further would be done to the woman. The deciding factor seems to be whether or not the woman screamed. If she were in a field and screamed no one would hear her, but if she were in the city and screamed, then someone wouldíve heard her and rescued her. So, the fact that she was raped in the city means that she must not have screamed, and the fact that she didnít scream must mean that she wanted to have sexual relations with the man, and so was not raped.
Now, itís possible that the woman was not raped. But the logic here is too full of holes to establish that. It could be that the woman was too afraid to scream, or that the man held his hand over her mouth. It could be that she did, in fact, scream and no one was close enough to hear her, or if they did hear her, no one bothered to help her. To convict someone on such flimsy reasoning would be grossly unjust, and is certainly not what weíd expect from a just Godís "perfect" law!
Deut:22:28: If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
Here we have the same set of circumstances in which one or both individuals were required to be murdered according to the previous verses. The only thing different here is that the woman is not engaged (and the location of the attack, which dictated the life or death of the engaged woman, has seemingly become irrelevant for the unengaged woman). The difference in outcome is enormous: neither individual is killed in this case. Instead, the father is forced to sell his daughter for fifty silver shekels, and the woman is forced to marry the rapist! I wonder whose fate was worse: the engaged woman who was raped and then murdered by law, or the unengaged woman who was raped and then forced to spend her life as her attackerís subservient wife! I think itís fair to say that in either case the women involved got a raw deal from Godís law.
Deut:23:13: And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:
How nice that Godís Holy Word contains instructions on how to bury oneís excrement. According to this passage, though, this was not done so much for hygiene as it was so that God, "walking in the midst of the camp" would not step in it, and turn away from his chosen people on account of the natural process which he himself designed.
Deut:24:16: The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
This is certainly basic, common-sense justice: you never put the innocent to death for the crime of a relative! Such a law should go without saying. Yet, this simple truth is contradicted in several places in the Bible:
Ex:20:5: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
Ex:34:7: Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
We see an example of this brand of injustice in Godís killing Jehuís great-great-great-grandson Zechariah for Jehuís "sin" (Jehuís "sin" was killing the people God ordered him to kill!) (2 Kings:9-10; Hosea 1:4; 2 Kings 15:10).More importantly, Deuteronomy 24:16 contradicts the entire notion of Original Sin, and hence the basis for Pauline theology:
Rom:5:12: Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Paul held that due to the "Original Sin" of Adam, "death passed upon all men." In other words, the sin of the father (Adam) resulted in the death of all of his descendants. Paul taught that this is why God had to sacrifice his son in order to counteract the effects of Original Sin. But if Deuteronomy 24:16 is correct, then death could never have been passed on from father to son. If this verse of the Bible is true, then we can pretty much throw away the New Testament (and a lot of the Old Testament too, for that matter).
Deut:25:2: And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number.
I always thought that the idea of inflicting "forty lashes" on someone was cruel, and I wondered where the notion came from. Now I know: it comes from the Bible! I donít know why it seemed to the author that 41 stripes were vile, whereas 40 were just. Today, our sense of justice and morality has progressed (at least in enlightened countries), to the point where we donít torture criminals. How odd to think that Godís sense of justice is inferior to our own!
Deut:25:5: If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her.
This contradicts Godís own law as recorded in Leviticus:
Lev:18:16: Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it is thy brother's nakedness.
Yet, here, the man is ordered to take his brotherís wife and have children by her. So, if I wanted to follow Godís law, and my brother died, should I marry his wife or not? Since the punishment for not marrying her was just to be spat upon and henceforth be known as "The house of him that hath his shoe loosed", I guess Iíd go that route.
Deut:25:11: When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets:
God ordered that a womanís hand should be cut off for touching a manís penis, even if the man was injuring (or possibly killing) her husband. No punishment is mentioned for the man who started the fight. This seems to be another glaring double-standard!
Deut:27:22: Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.
I wonder if the Israelites realized that they were cursing their own patriarch Abraham with these words! You will recall that he married his fatherís daughter and the children he had by her were the Israeliteís ancestors.
Gen:20:11: And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake.
Deut:28:53: And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the LORD thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee:
Deut:28:57: And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.
God promised to punish the Israelites (if they didnít obey his laws) by forcing them to eat their own children! Would you say that such a punishment would be the type of just act you would expect from the "God of love"? If anything ever deserved to be called "demonic", I would say it would be this idea of innocent young children being eaten by their parents!
Deut:31:16: And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.
According to this, God knew for a fact, ahead of time, that the Israelites would turn to worshiping other gods. He knew that they would do evil, and he would be angry with them and forsake them, and that they would be "devoured". If God knew all of this ahead of time, why did he continue with the genocide of the native inhabitants of the land? The usual excuse given for the atrocities committed by the Israelites against the Canaanites is that the latter were "evil" worshippers of false gods. Yet here God foretells how his "chosen people" will do the same thing. So why engage in all the bloodshed? If God was attempting to replace the "heathens" in Canaan with his worshippers, and yet he knew the people he had chosen to be his worshippers would, in the end, turn to false gods, why did he bother? He would end up with the same situation he started out with, after hundreds of thousands of brutal murders.
Deut:32:3: Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God.
As we have seen again and again, nothing could be further from the truth! The majority of this God's laws and actions, as recorded in the Bible, have been anything but just.
Deut:32:23: I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them.
Here, God promised to murder the babies of his "chosen people" if they neglected to obey his orders! What was that about being "a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he"? I rather think not! Murdering babies -- no matter what your quarrel might be with their parents -- could never be right or just!
Deut:34:1: And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan,
At the supposed time of the writing of Deuteronomy, there was no land called "Dan":
Judg:18:29: And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born unto Israel: howbeit the name of the city was Laish at the first.
So, whoever wrote this account in Deuteronomy wrote it much later. The author certainly couldn't have been Moses. But we have even more clear-cut evidence that Moses did not write the book of Deuteronomy:
Deut:34:5: So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.
Few of us could write the account of our own death, and what happened after it. So, I think it is fair to say that Moses could not have written this.