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05 January 2010

Don't piss Him off, you'll be real sorry

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Deuteronomy (Greek: Deuteronomion, "second law") or Devarim (Hebrew: דְּבָרִים‎, literally "things" or "words") is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible, and the fifth of five books of the Jewish Torah/Pentateuch.


(Jews don't call this "the Old Testament," because that would imply there has been a subsequent Testament -- a new contract between God and humankind -- and Jews don't recognize such a new arrangement.)

Numbers and Deuteronomy are the Books of Laws God expects His followers to obey scrupulously. Moses received the laws from God personally, and explained them to the Jews.

This section follows a long section describing the joys, health and prosperity God promises to bring to those who obey His laws.

So much for the Carrot.

Now the Stick. Here's what God has in store for those who disobey His commandments and stray from his laws.

Emerods are hemmorhoids.

I don't know what the Blotch of Egypt is, but it doesn't sound good. I don't think they sell anything at the pharmacy for it. None of this sounds good.

I would interpret all this as a cautionary: Don't piss off This God. Don't even think about it. You'll be sorry.

This is my favorite English-language translation of this stuff, the King James Bible. Jews in English-language places don't use this, but use their own translation, entirely from the Hebrew original.

When Roman Catholics reach for an English-language Bible, they use the Douay translation, which is a translation from Saint Jerome's Latin Vulgate. The King James Version uses the original Hebrew and the Greek translation made from it in Alexandria, Egypt, called the Septuagint, as sources. Almost nobody in the ancient Mediterranean was familiar with Hebrew or the religion of the Jews, but Greek was the universal Lingua Franca understood everywhere (Alexander the Great had seen to that), so the Septuagint launched the ideas of Judaism, and thus the ideological and theological environment of Christianity, into the Big World.

* * *

Deuteronomy 28

[15] But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:

[16] Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.

[17] Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.

[18] Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.

[19] Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.

[20] The LORD shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me.

[21] The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it.

[22] The LORD shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish.

[23] And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.

[24] The LORD shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.

[25] The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.

[26] And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away.

[27] The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed.

[28] The LORD shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart:

[29] And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee.

[30] Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou shalt build an house, and thou shalt not dwell therein: thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes thereof.

[31] Thine ox shall be slain before thine eyes, and thou shalt not eat thereof: thine ass shall be violently taken away from before thy face, and shall not be restored to thee: thy sheep shall be given unto thine enemies, and thou shalt have none to rescue them.

[32] Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might in thine hand.

[33] The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway:

[34] So that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.

[35] The LORD shall smite thee in the knees, and in the legs, with a sore botch that cannot be healed, from the sole of thy foot unto the top of thy head.

[36] The LORD shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone.

[37] And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the LORD shall lead thee.

[38] Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it.

[39] Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them, but shalt neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them.

[40] Thou shalt have olive trees throughout all thy coasts, but thou shalt not anoint thyself with the oil; for thine olive shall cast his fruit.

[41] Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity.

[42] All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume.

[43] The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low.

[44] He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.

[45] Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee:

[46] And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever.

[47] Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things;

[48] Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.

[49] The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand;

[50] A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young:

[51] And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee.

[52] And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the LORD thy God hath given thee.

[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:

[54] So that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children which he shall leave:

[55] So that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat: because he hath nothing left him in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates.

[56] The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter,

[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.

[58] If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD;

[59] Then the LORD will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance.

[60] Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee.

[61] Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the LORD bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed.

[62] And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the LORD thy God.

[63] And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it.

[64] And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.

[65] And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:

[66] And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life:

[67] In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see.

[68] And the LORD shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships, by the way whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it no more again: and there ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.


patfromch said...

Yeah, right, pull the other one, it's got bells on it

Freddy said...

I agree with you - have to try and avoid that stick.

Vleeptron Dude said...

ANOTHER comment from Commonealth Sports Betting! Hiya Freddy!

Yeah, whatever you do, don't end up with the Blotch of Egypt.

Should I blow my whole wad on Kauto Star in the Cheltenham Gold Cup? I won a Trifecta one time at the Northampton (Massachusetts) County Fair, and when I convinced the ticket lady I really HAD won the Trifecta (at first she tossed my ticket into the trash can, but I objected strenuously), and she gave me my $370, I grabbed that loot and scrammed the hell out of that race track. Lobster dinner that night!

Vleeptron Dude said...

Hey Freddy -- are you an authentic genuine Turf Accountant??? Wow, I never bumped into one of those before. Here in the USA they're called Bookies, and the police try to put them in gaol. (I spelled it that way just for you.)

patfromch said...

Okay, silly question here. If this god thingy made man based on his image and mind and if he/she/it is aware of past, present and future of every being on the planet x must have also created free will, right ? Why then bother about punishing x's apparent servants or giving threats on what happens if you don't follow the path of enlighnement ? Sorry, next canditate for Supreme Intelligent Being, please. I will stick with Hume and free will in the mean time, thank you very much

Vleeptron Dude said...

Since I posted this terrifying Bag of Threats From Heaven, I've discovered that the Portuguese Synagogue of Amsterdam used this section of Deuteronomy as the model for their excommunication of Spinoza.

Oh, thanks for the George Carlin video!

I saw an "ordinary" TV interview with Carlin once. He wasn't making jokes or doing his act, he was just discussing his feelings about Religion and God -- and I was shocked. Not shocked by anything he said. But by his vehemence and anger and outrage against all religion -- clearly Carlin was the most violent anti-religious atheist of our era.

His comedy act was soft and mild compared to his Real Personal Thoughts about these things.

I posted this section of Deuteronomy because it had come up in a little discussion with a friend, so we opened to it, and everybody was unfamiliar with it, and pretty horrified at this Long List Of Punishments & Torments.

The ordinary exposure we get to The Bible tends to be very selective -- we get the wisdom, we get the holiness, we get the pretty psalms, we get the morals and the ethics.

But theologians and religious educators clearly go to great lengths to hide these Scary Parts from the Sunday School kiddies and from everybody else.

Note that there's no mention of Hell or eternal punishment in the Afterlife. That's a later Christian innovation. This stuff threatens everybody with tortures and afflictions (the Blotch of Egypt, etc.) while we're still alive in this life.

* * *

Have you stuck your nose in any Spinoza yet? A lot of historians credit him as the first modern-age atheist, and the inspiration for the growth of modern atheism as a popular and important intellectual movement in Europe.

And yet Spinoza seems not to be a "Carlin"-style atheist, he doesn't have an angry grudge against God.

Spinoza simply invents a heresy: He equates Nature and the Physical Universe with God. In other words, when you learn everything about Nature -- you know everything about God. God has no Will, no Powers, no Magic beyone our ratinal understanding of Nature.

Historically, this was a very frightening heresy, because Spinoza's God DOES NOT ANNOINT KINGS. Until Spinoza, Kings and Princes pointed to God's Blessings as the reason they were Kings. So if you attacked the King, you attacked God (and would burn in Hell forever, etc.).

But after Spinoza, a King was just a powerful political figure with an army -- but no Divine Right to be better than any other human being.

I would never want to pull you or George C. away from Strict Total Atheism. I am certainly not any kind of Evangelist for any kind of God or Religion.

But Spinoza -- this continues to fascinate me, and the more I read, the more I discover how influential his ideas were to the Enlightenment and Western intellectual thought.

Somebody was kind enough to translate Spinoza's Latin into good Hochdeutsch. Get some of his stuff and see what all the controversy was all about, and why so much of it still lingers. Remember the Einstein poem about Spinoza --

O how I love this noble man ...

Spinoza has a God. It's certainly NOT the angry, violent, jealous God of Deuteronomy.

It's a God without churches, a God without bishops and Popes, a God WITHOUT MAGIC. And, troublingly, a God without Will as we understand it. God is Nature, God is the Universe.

But God does not spend his time pulling little kids out of the way of trolley cars. God does not pick Kings to rule over us.

And God does not choose Sarah Palin to be the vice-presidential candidate of the USA Republican party. (But apparently she thought He did and said so.)

Deus Vult! Whatever the heck that is ...

Vleeptron Dude said...

Oh! Congratulations on your Holiday in Oz! Tell Vleeptron all about it!!!

patfromch said...

deus vult means *god wills it", the apparent excuse for the Crusades etc.

I gought Spinoza in 90 Minutes by Paul Strathern some time ago, need to theck it out again tonight. I do remember that he was not an atheist per se, he just asked a lot of annoying questions.

Vleeptron will also get some images & film clips from my recent trip to Centralia

Jim Olson said...

Yah, so the Douay version isn't the one authorised by the NCCB (National Conference of Catholic Bishops) for use in RC churches the United States anymore. They use the New American Standard Bible as the translation.

King James is great English in the old Jacobean familiar form of the language (think Shakespeare) but is actually not so accurate an academic translation. The best modern English version is the New Revised Standard Version. Its publisher (Oxford University Press) is working on a new translation again that is better still.