Moses the diplomat
At six weeks out of Egypt, they were running out of supplies. The Hebrews were hungry and some were complaining to Moses that
they would have been better off if they had not followed him out of Egypt, at least they would have had food. The Lord became very
impatient with their insolent lack of faith and confided in Moses that He would kill these doubters with a plague. Moses talked the
Lord out of that idea (Num. 14:17-21) appealing to His pride: "What would they think of you back in Egypt?". He then went to the
people and encouraged them by saying a little farther down the road meat would come out of Heaven like a miracle.
Meat from the sky
Several places along the Gulfs of Suez and Aqaba during the spring and fall migrating quail arrive at the peninsula after flying
over a wide stretch of water. They fall exhausted on the shore and can be picked up by hand. This was a spring migration. This
occurrence was a miracle. This was *quot;Manna from heaven" Another incidence refers to the "manna" from Heaven. This is
"Tamarix Mannifera Ehr". The "manna" is a sweet exudation from the skin of the abdomen of a plant louse which feeds on a
tall bush. During the night the droppings fall to the sand under the bush. In the early morning, before the ants get to it, the
local residents can collect it. Its flavor has been described as a wafer and honey. Manna is covered with gritty sand that wears
the teeth (Numb. 21:5).
The promised land
Once in the Sinai Desert Moses gained influence over all the Hebrews who had fled over the previous three hundred years. He promised
to take them to a lush land of plenty, the land promised by The Lord: Canaan. Moses sent emissaries and spies toward Canaan and found
that nobody liked the idea of tens of thousands of new people moving in. Moses would have to keep the people in the desert till they
could fight their way north.
Moses had a problem. He was leading a group of people who had been conditioned to cringe whenever a slaver raised a fist to strike
them. Such people could hardly constitute an army. He would have to wait until he had raised up a new generation who were
conditioned fighters. It would take at least two generations: the first generation gave rise to a transitional phase. From them
came a generation of capable fighters who were brave and aggressive. Moses forbade fraternizing with the local inhabitants and their
idolatry. Moses had to constantly struggle to keep his own people focused on The Lord. Most were. Some continued on with their
polytheistic animism and idolatry. It was difficult for some of the primitive people under Moses to understand anything but animism.
Moses did not know about biological determinism. Then, there were others who just liked the sex and debauchery. Worship to Baal was
a manner of human deportment where the individual follows his desires and appetites without discipline or concern for his own survival
or the survival of the society. Moses knew how he wanted them to act. Moses had to discipline them.
Twelve tribes of Israel
In preparation for his Holy War, Moses divided his warriors into twelve tribes, much as a modern marshal should divide his troops
into divisions. He named each horde according to the most prominent family in the group. These became the twelve tribes of Israel.
Their descendants have traced their lineage for over a thousand years. Cavalry did not occur among the Hebrews till the time of David.
Solomon had great numbers of Cavalry. The hilly territories of Palestine were unsuitable for Chariots. The twelve tribes were lightly
equipped and traveled on foot. Where leadership was weak, the tribes were assimilated and gave rise to the lore of the "lost tribes".
These were the troops. Moses knew he needed more!
The Ten Commandments
When I was nine years old, a Presbyterian Sunday School teacher started a "Ten Commandments Club". Though I was a Methodist, I was
asked to join during the first few days and become a "charter member". I thought that this might help me get into Heaven, so I signed
up. The club never made it through the second week. The grade school principal, several teachers, and parents were involved in its
demise. It seems that several students were hurt in fights! I saw one fight in which one boy wanted to chain up another, and haul him
away to tickle his feet with a feather until he promised not to take the Lord's name in vain any more. This all took place before the
Presbyterian Sunday School teacher had had time to solidify our procedures. I was shocked that anyone would want to break up such a
club with such fine objectives as to get everyone to follow the Ten Commandments. It seemed almost sacrilegious. I promised myself to
look into it some day. I found that such violent results were often associated with the Ten Commandments.
The Israelites believed in magic and Moses was the greatest magician. Moses had access to the greatest magic: The Lord. A man who
claimed revelations through theophany exposed no ground for argument and discussion. The bearer of those revelations is free to
immediately teach and act without the necessity of justifying his pronouncements. Moses went to Mount Sinai and returned after forty
days with the Ten Commandments. Before he had left, he made it very clear that there was to be no idolatry. While Moses was away,
the people became restless. In their excitement they conspired with Aaron to make a golden calf. It was cast from their gold trinkets.
They sang, danced, took off their clothes, and ran around naked, among other things. While they were in the midst of this revelry,
Moses returned down the mountain. When Moses saw all this, a very peculiar, though not incomprehensible, thing happened: he threw
down the tablets and broke them.
Thou shalt not kill
Not withstanding Commandment number six, "Thou Shalt Not Kill," he gathered his tribe, the Levites, to his side. They quietly armed
themselves, and slew about three thousand of the revelers (Ex. 32:28). Moses was selective about who they killed, Aaron was spared.
He was, in his own way, assisting evolution. Furthermore, Moses was thinking of leading his people to war. In this Holy War there
would be no prisoners. Each enemy city would be destroyed and massacred. The only persons understood to be possibly spared were virgin
So, what can we believe about: "Thou Shalt Not Kill"? In the context of the times, and in the text of the Ten Commandments,
"Thou shalt not Kill" is only consistent with Articles of War applicable only to the Israelites in the meaning of: "Thou shalt not
murder". Murder is defined in Numbers 36:9-21. Only this interpretation is consistent with the many "capital" laws prescribing death
by stoning for specific violations or "sins". All of the Ten Commandments were capital laws. The Ten Commandments were meant to rally
and prepare the Israelites, the children of The Lord, for war. "Killing" in the defense of society or for God was excused. The Ten
Commandments are Articles of War. Furthermore, they are the most inciting articles in the history of mankind. They eventually fueled
the mood of the crusades. This, hopefully, differs from your concept of The Ten Commandments. As we would find, this concept differs
from the beliefs of the subsequent Israelites.
This book, and any philosophy, is a consideration of the evolution of thought. We consider, first, the inception of an idea. Then we
consider how that idea was understood and believed by subsequent generations. Finally, and hopefully, we become ready to embrace a new
idea: something that has evolved from what has gone before, and embraces a new thought.
Social bonding and alienation
These first three Commandments gave the Jewish people an identity and promoted a fierce nationalism which motivated them to thrash
the people of Canaan and every one who stood in the way. Without these first three Commandments they might have been absorbed by the
Canaanites. Instead, the Israelites annihilated them. There they were poised on the brink of marching north to what certainly was
to be a campaign of massacres, looting, rapes, and total arson. How are we to understand and justify the apparent contradictions
between The Commandments and the actions of Moses and his armies. In the context of the times, and mood of the people at the moment,
there is only one thought consistent with all factors: The Ten Commandments were solely applicable to the Israelites alone and no
other people. Moses was in effect saying: "This is the way I want you to act while you are in my conquering army!" Moses needed to
rally his people. He happened to find a new, better idea to give them a stronger faith. It was an idea of its time. It made the
Israelites different. It made slaughter a little easier.
Articles of war for an ethical people
I. I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Thou shalt have none other gods
The campaign to the north
II. Thou shalt not make thee graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath,
or that is in the waters beneath the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself onto them, nor serve them: for the LORD thy God am a
jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children onto the third and fourth generations of them that hate me,
and showing mercy onto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
III. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name
[Not only did these Commandments serve the Jewish war machine in good stead, but it served the war machines of the Christians and
Moslems for millennia later as members of both those faiths marched and made war on the "infidels", and "blasphemers" of either side.
The First Commandment designated them as specific monotheists among polytheists of the territory. The Second Commandment designated
them as iconoclasts among idolaters. The Third Commandment made it a mortal sin to mock Yahweh. These three Commandments functioned
figuratively as a litmus to judge whether the Jews could conscionably kill the gentiles. Keep in mind, these were capital Commandments.
That is, anyone would be executed for violating them. I think we can now understand why a Ten Commandment Club was not a good
idea for idealistic preadolescents.]
IV. Keep the Sabbath Day to sanctify it, and the LORD thy God commanded thee. Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: But,
the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it you shalt not do any work, thou, not thy son, nor thy daughter, not thy
manservant, not thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, not thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and
thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God
brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore, the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the
[This Article of War gives the men of the army at least one day a week off for rest, and is probably the practical reason for its
survival. It is by now evident, however, that for reason of this Commandment that any Jew could justify trouncing any person who
might feel that any other day was holy and might be working on the Jewish Sabbath. To the polytheist each day of the week was
dedicated to a different God, and this in itself would put others out of step with the Jews. Even today it causes considerable
contention with blue laws designating a different Sabbath Day. The first generation had left bondage in Egypt and were as slaves.
The second generation tried their strength on the small nomadic bands who resisted the invasion of their desert territory, taking
over their precious wells and water supplies. The third generation did not have the habit of cowering and accepting abuse from
their masters. They became exuberant in their successes and doubting of their parents' authority. Thus, the necessity of
V. Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD and God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be long upon the land which the
LORD thy God giveth thee.
[The immediacy of this article with respect to Moses and his people is revealed in the phrase: "that thy days may be long upon the
and which the LORD thy God giveth thee." They were packing their ruck sacks getting ready to step off to war. They were impatient
to get going. They grumbled at taking along the slow old folks who couldn't fight. In learning the ways of their new found freedom
they overstepped and tended to ignore what their parents considered established vital essentials of life. When they threw off the
fetters of slavery, they tended to forget all rules of self-discipline. They were ruffians who needed to be reminded of the amenities
of family and society lest they blast theirs to pieces. The old folks were slow and a burden. The result was that a flexible young
person who had learned how to slaughter an enemy and who had been habituated to the thrill of victory, rape, and looting, needed to
be reminded that there were still rules to strengthen the cohesiveness of a group. Once this new attitude had reached an effective
percentage of the hordes, it was time to turn north to their goal of conquest and slaughter of Canaan. A marching army had to have
some minimum rules of conduct. The importance of those minimum rules had been emphasized by the slaughter of their own offenders by
VI. Thou shalt not kill.
[In the time of Moses language had not yet developed to where there were distinctive words for "kill" and "murder". There were but
one combination of two glyphs that meant "no kill" or "murder", depending on the context of the time. Here, again, we have to make
a decision as to whether Moses was a hypocrite or a good wise man. There is a fine line of distinction, but for a long time it has
been understood that one can kill for the survival of society, such as in wars and the execution of criminals. On the other hand
murder is to satisfy a personal affair: self-centered reasons of jealousy and greed. Murder would be disruptive to an army which
is formed to slaughter other societies. St. Mark was a linguist who apparently thought in Aramaic and wrote imperfectly in Greek
for a Greek speaking church in Latin Rome. St. Mark never knew Christ. He supposedly wrote after Peter was martyred from recollections
of their conversations as well as other qualified sources. This was forty years after Christ was crucified. There were few living
people who had seen Christ. St. Mark quoted Christ as saying: "Thou shalt not Murder!" It made no sense to say: "Thou shalt not kill!"
There has to be an understanding consistent with the context of the time when it was written. St. Mark appears to have understood
that context, and writing in Greek six hundred years after Babylon when the language made that distinction, he used that option.]
VII. Neither shalt thou commit adultery.
VIII. Neither shalt thou steal.
IX. Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbor.
X. Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbor's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbor's house, his field, or his man servant, or
his maid servant, his ox, or his ass, or anything that is thy neighbor's. (to covet is to gain illegally).
The testaments have further details of the campaign to the north which in some cases are quite specific; and in others , quite
confusing as we look at early maps to track their progress. Much confusion is due to political changes in the geography. Archeology
helps where it is feasible. Both the scriptures and the archeological findings indicate that the route to the east of the Dead Sea
took nearly forty years.
Archeological evidence of the Old Testament
It is evident that in many places that once a city was established with relation to the fields of agriculture around it, its site
was seldom moved regardless of what happened. If the city were burned or destroyed by earthquake, it was rebuilt on the same site
over any rubble that could not be reused. A big factor was that the walls were mostly made from mud bricks. The crumbled bricks were
simply stamped down when a new building was to be built. While people were living there, other trash and refuse accumulated as well.
As a result, the ground level of the city gradually rose until it overlooked the rest of the territory by ten to sixty feet.
Sometimes these city mounds or "tells" were eventually abandoned. These pique the curiosity of archeologists. Sometimes the
archeological surveys confirmed the scriptural descriptions, and sometimes not.
Stopping of the Jordan river
It is known that the Jordan river runs between the steep walls of a canyon to the north of the plains of Moah. During the spring the
raging waters of the Jordan can undermine the walls of its canyon. The cliffs will occasionally fall and dam the river for as much
as a day. This is apparently what happened the day the Hebrews wanted to cross the Jordan into Canaan. They took twelve stones from
the bed of the river and built a monument on the other side to celebrate the event.
The walls of Jericho
The episode of Jericho in which the walls were to have fallen down after the army marched around the city seven times and then blew
their horns is not confirmed. It seems that the walls fell three hundred years previous during another invasion. It also turns out
that there was no town at Ai. One had been there twelve hundred years previously, but at the time of the Hebrew invasion it was
nothing more than a ruin, which is what the word "Ai" means. From these two episodes it becomes obvious that the biblical historians
mixed in some of their ballads and lore with their facts.
At other places are found a strata of ashes confirming the time of passage of the Jewish hordes. When conquered, the population was
massacred, the town was looted, burned, and leveled. In the confusion of such an episode some people escaped to nearby towns to wait
a chance to return. To discourage such returns the graves and sepulchers of their ancestors were opened, looted and destroyed. The
dust of the remains was scattered. This would leave even less to which the people could return. It was a common practice of the
people of those times. It had persisted for thousands of years, and it continued to persist for another thousand years. This is
important to remember for later reference.
For forty years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness. All the warriors who had come out of Egypt died for they had disobeyed
The Lord. Moses was allowed to go to the mountain of Nebo and look over the Jordan to the promised land. Then he closed his eyes
and he died in his sleep. He had trespassed against The Lord at the waters of Meri-bah-Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin (Deut. 32: 51).
There he had shown impatience with his God. The command passed to Joshua. Archeologists' dating and Egyptian references coincide
on the appearance of the Israelites in Canaan in about 1220 BC. There they founded a loose federation of the twelve tribes.
The evolution of G*D
We see in those times evidence of an evolution in theological thinking. Akenaten forced his belief in one God on his people. This
enforcement did not go beyond the Egyptians. Moses, inspired by many of the same things that inspired Akenaten, brought Yahweh,
the invisible and invincible one, to his people. Yahweh in the mind of Moses was one of many Gods (henotheism), but he was especially
for the Jews. Later, writers ascribed a similar belief to Abraham, but this is doubtful. Elisha later advanced the idea
was only on Judean soil. For that reason jars and vials of Judean soil were shipped all over the world, wherever there were Jews
who wanted Yahweh with them. Elisha also claimed that Yahweh was the only true God, and all others were false. Ezekiel advanced
idea that Yahweh was not attached to the soil, but was God of all Jews all over the world wherever they could build a temple.
Stephen, in the New Testament, advanced the idea the Yahweh did not necessarily need a temple to live in. He lived in the
hearts of His people. He was stoned to death for this idea, but his idea lived beyond him.
We have seen how in the Old Testament myth and history has been mixed. We have seen how the Jewish people had carefully tested their
magic. It was almost as though they had put their magic to Scientific analysis. These matters are not of so much importance as what
they said and philosophically concluded. Not only did ideas evolve in the Old Testament, but our ideas of those conclusions have
evolved since. Our concept of the importance of the Ten Commandments and their origin as Articles of War is certainly far afield
of each other.
The role of war
Moses had well understood that the old populations, stabilized for centuries, were giving away to more vigorous, more capable
strains of humanity. He spent some time making brief accounts of the people who lived in the lands that the Hebrews were moving
into. He understood that inferior tribes had been slaughtered by the more capable and wily people living there then, and they, in
their turn, were to be liquidated by the even more righteous and capable Hebrews under Moses' command (Deut.20:18). It was a crude
justification for what they were about to do.
The Hebrews were not alone in this way of thinking. If we trace the course of our moral ancestors, starting with Judaism from
Egypt into Israel, and with Christianity from Israel, Greece, and Rome into Europe now, the course is marked by conflict and
strife and punctuated with massacres, looting, and rapes. What morals and compassions there were seemed to apply strictly to the
conquerors. The downfall of the victims were usually preceded by moral degradation which led to an unwillingness to fight for their
own protection. Egalitarianism (the principle of equality) applied strictly to their compeers, and if it were applied to one's
enemies, that was the first sign of "moral" weakness that marked the beginning of a downfall.
The Hebrews were in conflict with the residents of Palestine. The Christians were in conflict with the Pagans of Rome. The
Protestants were in conflict with the Catholics. The march of Christian nations through Europe was a march of conquest, slaughter,
loot, arson, and rape as conflicting ideologies collided. It doesn't seem to matter as long as there was a believed difference of
opinion. That difference in opinion had to be just and sufficiently real to motivate a person to put his life on the line where
the victory went to the more capable.
Humility for the "ancients"
Some have sneered at the work of former innovators. It is more gracious for us to honor those who have gone before, gratefully
acknowledging them as we gain insight and move on. They paved the way for us. There is no dishonor intended by recognizing their
mistakes and inadequacies as it will be no dishonor to us as our mistakes and inadequacies are recognized and circumscribed in the
name of progress. There is a feeling of family when we love the ancients for what they did though we understand their shortfall of
the Truth. The Truth is a mystery shrouded in the mist of the future.
When they reached the promised land, they were well conditioned in a fervent religion that promised and honored intellectual
capabilities. Religion had been reserved for the aristocrats of Egypt. Among the Jews, religion was for the intellectual leaders.
The eyes of Israel were raised up to those who could fathom the intricacies of Didactic Idealism. The four men who have had the
greatest effect on western history: Moses, Jesus, Karl Marx, and Einstein were all a product of Jewish elitism as initiated by
An unwritten lesson of the Old Testament is to study, understand, grow, and broaden.
Let us go ahead with this thought!
Chapter 20. The New Testament: Christianity