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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Imagine There`s No Moses

You know, there`s always somebody trying to tear down things which have been accepted for generations. In some instances it`s good (ending cannibalism, for example) but often it is gratuitous. The Left is particularly eager to destroy tradition, to toss the baby out with the bathwater, and their attempts to be ``realistic`` frequently lead to outrageous folly.

Recently, the Encyclopaedia Judaica issued an updated version in which they claim Moses was mere folklore. This argument has been very popular of late in (liberal) Jewish intellectual circles.

According to Rabbi S. David Sperling, Moses was the product of overactive imaginations:

"analogy would have required postulating him; and that is probably what happened" when ancients wrote the Bible.

The introduction to the Encyclopedia has this to say:

"we cannot really reconstruct a biography of Moses. We cannot even be sure that Moses was a historical character."

Here I want to comment on an interesting fact about the Bible; the Israelites do not come off all that well in their own sacred text. The Bible shows them, as someone once put it, warts and all:

Abraham cheated on his wife with a concubine, then sent the woman and his son into the desert to die. He also was prepared to let another man have sex with his wife, because he was afraid to tell the man he was married to her.

Jacob was a conniver and swindler who stole his brother`s birthright through trickery. He also played favorites with his sons, leading to a breech in the family.

Jacob`s sons became jealous of their daddy`s darling Joseph, and decided to kill him. One son talked the others out of it, and they sold him into slavery instead.

Judah visited Canaanite temple prostitutes, despite worshipping Yahweh.

Prior to Moses, the Israelites were held as slaves by the Egyptians, who were prejudiced against the ``lazy, shiftless shepherds``. Being delivered from bondage by God alone is hardly a flattering picture of them, and it is doubtful that a folk heritage would include such detail.

Furthermore, their behavior in the desert was less than exemplary; they fashioned an idol to worship while Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments, and so had to be punished, they repeatedly complained and whined so much that Yahweh decided at one point to kill them off at start fresh with Moses` children (Moses pleaded with God, who relented for His servants` sake).

Moses himself was not the usual legendary hero; he had a bad temper, (probably) a speech impediment, complained frequently, and tended to disobey orders. He was kicked out of Egypt because he murdered a man, and was not allowed into the Promised Land because temper-and pride-got the better of him.

The list goes on and on. King David? The ``man after God`s own heart`` was an adulterer, a murderer of the husband of his mistress, and his children would commit such wholesome acts as incestuous rape, fratracide, and rebellion against their father/king. We have the repeated worship of false gods, the refusal to obey direct commands from Yahweh through the Prophets, etc.

Why would a people make themselves appear so poorly in the annals of history if it were not true? Why, if Moses and the rest of this were mere folklore, didn`t the Israelites clean their texts up, scrub the pimples off the historical face of the Chosen People?

Most national literature does precisely that, but the Jewish literature keeps the bad with the good. The only logical explanation is that it comes close to the mark for what actually happened. People don`t want to be thought of as weak, or whiney, or disagreeable, and will hide these unpleasant truths about themselves if possible. That is human nature, and we all do it. Yet, the Hebrew sacred texts leave it all out in the open for everyone to see.

But, of course, liberals never want to hear that. If we admit that these texts are true in any real way we admit that they may be true in all ways-and that cannot be allowed if you are an atheist. If the atheists can get us to accept the idea they may be made up stories, then it is impossible to defend their validity. That is, of course, the whole point. Rabbi Sperling and his ilk may not want to toss Judaism out, but their eagerness to be accepted into modernity will have that effect; they are ``useful idiots`` for the atheist and agnostic.

Ultimately it is up to the individual to decide what he or she believes, but there is nothing useful or truthful about this kind of iconoclastic revisionism.

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1 Comments:

Blogger William said...

For the longest time Arthur King of the Britains was considered a myth—just a ‘neat’ story like Robin Hood. But over time, Arthur has become someone. There are those who do believe he did exist as a warlord in those long forgotten times, and those that think he did exist have less data to work with than the whole of the Torah. Also consider the fact that Sodom and Gomorrah were also considered mythical—until someone found a clay tablet which mentioned the cities as part of the economic life of the ancient world. Then the great scramble started to find excuse for their destruction which of course excludes the wrath of God thing.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what the destructors of tradition do. They can’t defeat God.

6:41 PM  

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