In the previous five posts, I tried to show at least a little of the history of some aspects of the Law Lie (itself part of the God Lie), including the lies
• That morality is defined by the gods,In this post and the next, my goal is to show even less of the history of two additional features of the Law Lie, namely, the lie that laws are dictated by the gods and the lie that order is ordained by the gods. I’ve been forced to set my goals for these two posts even lower than in previous posts (“to show even less of the history”) simply because my time and my knowledge of the subject are limited while the subject is huge.
• That justice is the jurisdiction of the gods,
• That judges are judged by the gods,
• That customs were created by the gods,
• That oaths are binding when sworn to the gods,
• That covenants can be established with the gods,
• That leaders are chosen by the gods…
To give a hint of size of the subject, I’ll just mention that, during the past two thousands years and more, a huge number of books have been written (e.g., by philosophers from Plato and Aristotle to Machiavelli and Hobbs) describing (in some way or another) the “divinity” of law and order; during the past few centuries, a large number of books have been written about specific unsatisfactory aspects of such “divine laws” (e.g., dealing with political authority, slavery, private property, capital punishment, etc.); and especially during the past few decades, still more books have dealt with specific injustices in such laws (e.g., dealing with women’s rights, abortion, sexual orientations, etc.). In addition, many historians have written articles and books that compare law codes of different “divine authorities”.
In an attempt to constrain the extent of my own report (an apparently failed attempt, since the result is so long that I’ve split it into two posts!), I’ve restricted my focus. Specifically, the focus of these two posts is on aspects of the lies that law and order are ordained by the gods that I’m convinced are especially important if humanity is ever able to reduce physical violence and achieve sustainable development. As to how such goals have been thwarted by the God Lie, here I’ll provide only a brief outline of links.
Elsewhere, I’ve written 35 chapters on such subjects, starting here. I’ll summarize those chapters by stating my conviction that three of the most important challenges facing humanity are: 1) to liberate women from patriarchs, 2) to liberate men from tribalism, and 3) to promote children to continue to develop their critical- (or evaluative- or scientific-) thinking skills, skills that every child begins to develop while still an infant, but skills that are later thwarted by the authoritarianism rampant in patriarchy, tribalism, and in all Abrahamic religions, especially now in Islam. I agree with Lloyd deMause that a key to progress toward less violence and more sustainable development is “loving mothers; hopeful daughters”, and in these two posts, therefore, I’ll emphasize some hints that I’ve detected in the history of the God Lie that suggest the cause of the tragedy that’s now rampant in the world (especially in the Islamic world) of hateful mothers and despondent daughters.
I’ll begin by stating the obvious that, in reality, law and order aren’t (and never were) established by any god, because gods have always existed only as figments of people’s imaginations. Instead, law and order were first demanded by leaders of essentially all pack and herd animals: the alpha male “barked” some rule (e.g., “stay away from my females”) and members of the herd or pack that attempted to break the leader’s rule soon learned the meaning of “law and order”. In the case of “the human animal”, perhaps the first demand for law and order was when some human alpha-male similarly barked: “stay away from my females.”
Similar continues today. Yesterday (22 May 2009) a native Canadian living in a Toronto apartment, Matthew Coutts, reported that his immigrant Muslim neighbor demanded that he stop speaking to the Muslim's wife. The Canadian states that he merely exchanged pleasantries, such as "Good morning" as he passed the woman in the hallway. In a heated exchange between the two men, the Muslim "included allusions to my impending death." The Canadian's landlady recommended, in effect, that he should just cringe, adding that the Muslim "could be dangerous"; I'd recommend that he report the incident to the police and, if possible, obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
That the law and order demanded by alpha males dominate the “divine laws” proscribed in the “holy books” of all Abrahamic religions was described well in an article by Davidson Loehr entitled “The Fundamentalist Agenda”, the final paragraph of which is the following.
The only way all fundamentalisms [i.e., the fundamanentalist sects of all religions, be they in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, or whatever] can have the same agenda is if the agenda preceded all the religions. And it did. Fundamentalist behaviors are familiar because we’ve all seen them so many times. These men are acting the role of “alpha males” who define the boundaries of their group’s territory and the norms and behaviors that define members of their in-group. These are the behaviors of territorial species in which males are stronger than females. In biological terms, these are the characteristic behaviors of sexually dimorphous territorial animals. Males set and enforce the rules; females obey the males and raise the children…I therefore suggest that the source of much trouble in the world, the cause of the hateful-mother/ despondent-daughter syndrome, is patriarchy/ tribalism/ male dominance/ fundamentalist religion. For these two posts, therefore, I plan to emphasize how “the divine laws” proscribed in the Old Testament (OT) attempted to cement male dominance. I’ll note, further, that most unfortunately, the attempt was successful, continued for much of the subsequent ~2500 years, and continues in most of the Muslim world almost as impervious to change as ever.
Many authors have suggested reasons ‘why’ and ‘how’ male dominance might have re-emerged from dormancy. That males dominated females during the hunter-gather phase of human development in most environments seems likely, if the strength of males was valuable for hunting animals and defending against marauding tribes. If male strength wasn’t so important (e.g., maybe in communities that gained protein from fish or small game), maybe the rules were more egalitarian. But in either case, as human tribes gained more members, as human societies became more complicated, their laws undoubtedly became more intricate – and more “civilized”, which originally meant simply that the people lived in cities. In addition, evidence suggests that when people initially became more civilized, male dominance diminished.
Possible reasons why the laws of the first civilizations suppressed male dominance seem self evident – and evidence supports the self-evident reasons. Thus, given that the first instances of city life (which, in the West, occurred in Egypt, Crete, and Mesopotamia) required an agricultural base and given that the agricultural revolution was probably led by women (whose gathering during the hunter-gather phase probably evolved into planting and harvesting crops), then it seem likely that, simultaneously, a change in culture occurred, from the male dominance of hunter societies (patriarchy) to cultures that provided more opportunities, freedoms, and respect for women. The result was not necessarily matriarchal societies (in which women would rule), but evidence suggests that many were matrilineal (in which children were named after their mothers and families were led by women). Evidence suggests, also, that during the early part of the agricultural revolution, goddesses (e.g., of fertility, such as Isis in Egypt and Inanna in Mesopotamia) were worshiped – again suggesting that women had earned and received respect from their communities. Given, also, the possibility that women invented writing (perhaps to keep account of their agricultural products), then women possibly defined and wrote the first laws.
That women might have produced the first “civilized” laws is consistent with the following speculation, written in about 50 BCE by Diodorus Siculus (Diodorus of Sicily) in his book The Antiquities of Egypt (translated by Edwin Murphy and partially available at Google Books):
Moreover, they tell how Isis [who may have been an earlier ruler in Egypt and was subsequently “deified” as a goddess] established laws which encouraged men to deal justly with each other and to refrain from unlawful violence and outrage through fear of punishment; for which reason the earliest Greeks called [their earth-mother and goddess of grain; i.e., their Isis] Demeter [called Ceres by the Romans] “Law giver” (Thesmosphorus), since she gave men the first laws.That the Egyptian goddess Isis (sister-wife of the god Osiris, who possibly was also a deified, earlier ruler) was assumed to be the original lawgiver perhaps explains why subsequent Ancient Egyptians (in contrast to the Ancient Hebrews) treated men and women equal under the law. Whether it be myth or history, after Osiris (called by the Greeks Dionysus) was killed by his brother Seth (or Set or Sut, called Typhon by the Greeks), then according to Diodorus, Isis ruled Egypt “in perfect justice and to excel all monarchs in kindness to her subjects.”
Diodorus adds the story that Isis was advised by the trusted, wise friend of Osiris, the god Thoth (or Tut) the “sacred scribe of the gods.” Thoth was called Hermes by the Greeks and possibly was another ingredient in the Hebrews’ myth about Moses. As is said to have been proclaimed by Thoth, himself:
I, Thoth, am the eminent writer, pure of hands… the writer of the truth, whose horror is the lie… the lord of the laws… I teach ma-a-t [order, universal law] to the gods, I test (each) word for its veracity… I am the leader of the sky, the earth, and the nether-world.In other Egyptian myths, ma-a-t becomes Maat, Thoth’s wife and the goddess of law and order, or as Wallis Budge put it in his book The Gods of the Egyptians, the goddess Maat was “…the personification of law, order, rule, truth, right, righteousness, canon, justice, straightness, integrity, uprightness and the highest conception of physical and moral law known to the Egyptians.” In any event, after the deification of Isis, her and Osiris’s son, Horus (if he existed) may have become pharaoh, and as I mentioned in the previous post, essentially all subsequent pharaohs represented themselves as reincarnations or at least representatives of (the god) Horus.
Turning now to less myth and more history, on the left side of “the world’s oldest historical document”, the Narmer Palette shown in the previous post, the pharaoh who united upper and lower Egypt in about 3100 BCE (perhaps named Menes or Mēnēs, Mēnas, Mēnis, Meinis, Meni, Mēn, Mni – or the god Min – or the pharaohs Hor-Aha or Narmer) is shown establishing order with his club (or mace). Thereby, the most obvious information in the Narmer Palette is that a resurgent dynamic was occurring: the strength of men was again becoming “valuable”, in this case, to form a larger political unit. As I’ll mention later in this post, a similar dynamic apparently occurred in Mesopotamian; there, too, male dominance re-emerged, after apparently being suppressed for at least a thousand years before ~3000 BCE.
What laws the first ruler of the united Egypt (Menes) proscribed in about 3000 BCE seems to be unknown. With no available compilation of Egyptian laws, historians have been forced to infer the laws of Ancient Egypt from scattered records. For example, based on the ~2600 BCE Will of Prince Nikaure (or Nik’ure), which I quoted in an earlier post (as well as on other documents quoted in that post), it seems clear that the legal status of men and women in Ancient Egypt was essentially equivalent: women could inherit and dispose of their property, and children would sometimes be named after their mothers (i.e., partially at least, a matrilineal society).
The apparent lack of discrimination against women in the laws of Ancient Egypt is consistent not only with the respect given to the goddesses Isis and Maat but also with the likelihood that women continued to grow grains and work the land. In turn, as I’ve suggested elsewhere, perhaps the continued relative-respect given to Egyptian women and their role in society was based on the agricultural bounty of the Nile Valley. That is, with abundant food (in fact, Egypt was the “bread basket” of even the Roman Empire, thousands of years later), possibly with most of the food produced by women, and with few invaders (at least during the first 1,000 years of the unified Egypt), there was then little need for, first, population control, and later, for men as warriors. The main occupation of men in Ancient Egypt seems to be gazing at stars, concocting ideas of gods, dreaming about an afterlife, building pyramids, serving as administrators, and providing occasional stud services!
Similar seems to have occurred in the Minoan civilization, which is commonly called “the first known European civilization”. The Minoan civilization, named after King Minos, blossomed on the island of Crete. Archeologists date several epochs of the Minoan civilization during the time period from about 3500 to 1000 BCE: it flourished during the approximate time period 2700 to 1500 BCE and decayed relatively rapidly after the eruption of the island of Thera (or Santorini) and the associated ~150 m high tsunami that devastated the north coast of Crete. This eruption was “one of the largest volcanic events on Earth in recorded history” (comparable to Krakatoa in Indonesia) and possibly was the “inspiration” for the OT myth about Sodom and Gomorrah – which might even be mangled Hebrew names of the Minoan cities of Zominthos and Gournia!
My reasons for suggesting that the natural destruction caused by the Thera eruption may have led to the biblical story about a supernatural destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah include not only that the destruction actually occurred and evidence shows that Minoan traders traveled throughout the Mediterranean area (and no doubt told stories about the destruction) but also that, although records of Minoan laws are even more sparse than for the case of Egyptian laws, several lines of evidence suggest that Minoans openly practiced homosexuality. The Minoan society seems to have been much more peaceful than others of its time (or since!), there doesn’t seem to have been a warrior class, more goddesses than gods seem to have been worshipped, women participated in sporting activities, and possibly the limited availability of arable land on the island (plus the physical, economical, and spiritual liberation of the women) diminished desires for children – but not for sexual satisfaction, leading to acceptance of homosexuality. In foreign lands, if Minoan traders combined their stories about the destruction of their cities with invitations to participate in homosexuality, it’s easy to imagine that the result would be foreigners (especially foreign priests) concocting myths with the moral that their god took vengeance on such “immoral” people.
But setting the possible origin of the myth about Sodom and Gomorrah aside, the Minoan experience seems to have parallels in other cultures. Thus, similar to the likely agricultural constraints on Crete, limitations on Mesopotamian lands (especially its salinization caused by irrigation, as opposed to the flooding in the Nile Valley, which replenished the soil) seem to have resulted (by approximately 3,000 BCE) in desires 1) to control birthrates (which as I showed in an earlier post is the moral of the original “Noah” flood myth) and 2) to produce (male) warriors to defend against raiders (who in turn were probably driven by deficiencies of their own land to feed their growing populations). The result seems to have been a reduction in the esteem granted to fertility goddesses [such as Inanna, the Mesopotamian equivalent of Isis, subsequently called Ishtar by the Babylonians and Assyrians, Aphrodite by the Greeks, Astarte by the Phoenicians, and Asherah (Yahweh’s consort) by the Hebrews], an increase in the esteem given to warrior gods (such as Yahweh), an increase in the desire for sons (to serve as warriors), an increase in the assignment of women to bear children, restrictions on women’s sexual activities, and as result, laws that repressed women.
That suggested trend, however, seems to have been delayed in the southern cities of Sumer, since women there apparently fared much better under their laws than did women in the more northern Akkadian cities, until ~2,000 BCE. Around that time, Amorite tribes conquered Sumerian (and Akkadian) cities – and subsequently, they established the first Babylonian Empire. As Elisabeth Meir Tetlow describes in detail in her book Women, Crime, and Punishment in Ancient Law and Society, Vol. 1, The Ancient Near East:
At that time, as Amorite influence began to appear, punishments were determined on the basis of the gender of the victim and the gender of the offender. Women generally received harsher punishments than men. Such laws illustrate the widening gap between the increasing power and authority of men and the decreasing power of women in the late Isin/Larsa period, which developed parallel to the decreasing influence of the land culture of the high urban civilization of Sumer and the increasing influence of Amorite tribal customs.Not incidentally, a similar dynamic may be occurring today, with Muslims attempting to have their tribal laws (called Sharia) supplement or replace the laws of the more civilized West.
The possibility that women in Sumerian cities may have faired better for longer (by ~1,000 years!) in southern than northern Mesopotamian cities may have been caused by the continuing productivity of the irrigated and frequently flooded lands of the south. Also, the migration of the Amorite tribes into Sumer may have been the result of a climatic warm-period that occurred ~2,000 BCE, decreasing agricultural production (also in Egypt, where widespread social unrest occurred) and causing nomadic tribes (such as the Amorites and the Hebrews) to invade other lands in search of better fodder for their animals. Similar migration and its consequences may occur in the near future, especially in Europe, if global warming causes even more economic hardships for Muslims.
In any case, what seems to have occurred in many ancient civilizations is that, after a bountiful time near the beginning of the agricultural revolution (probably led by women, who were then “equal before the law”), agricultural resources became constrained, the might and ferocity of men was needed for warfare, and men regained the dominance that they probably possessed during the much earlier hunter-gatherer period. With such male dominance, men again started to make the rules (establishing “law and order”), more gods (rather than goddesses) were worshipped, and of course, the men claimed that their laws were dictated to them by their gods. Diodorus summarized the result as follows:
For in primitive Egypt, after life had become settled… they say that the first person who convinced the people to use written laws was Menes, a man both lofty in spirit and the most altruistic in his way of life of any lawgiver in memory. He claimed that Hermes [Thoth] had given these laws to him as a source of many substantial benefits; and this, they say, is just what Minos of Crete did among the Greeks and Lycurgos among the Lacedaemonians [Spartans], the former asserting that he had received his revelations from Zeus, the latter from Apollo…Thus, similar to the myth in the OT that Moses received his laws from his god – but much earlier – Egyptians had their myth that Menes received his laws from his god, and Minoans (and then the Greeks) had their myths that Minos received his laws from his god.
In the previous post I showed a little about similar claims by Mesopotamian leaders, including Urukagina’s claim (in about 2400 BCE) that he received his laws from the god Nignisur, Ur-Nammu’s claim (in about 2100 BCE) that he received his laws from the god Enlil, Lipit-Ishtar’s claim (in about 1900 BCE) that he received his laws from the gods Anu and Enlil, and Hammurabi’s claim (in about 1800 BCE) that he received his laws from Shamash. In fact, on the stele containing his law code, Hammurabi added the following figure depicting his receiving his laws directly from the Sun god, Shamash, shown seated:
It’s then incorrect to identify Menes (or Narmer) as the first lawgiver – as is done, for example, on the South Wall Frieze of the U.S. Supreme Court Building: the first human lawgiver was quite likely the first human male. Further, it's incorrect to identify the second and third lawgivers on the same Frieze as Hammurabi and Moses, respectively. Thereby the creators or approvers of the Frieze skipped over literally hundreds of other lawgivers, not necessarily more important than Hammurabi but certainly more important than the mythical Moses – reflecting a not untypical distortion of history by clerics and their dupes. In particular, for reasons to be addressed later in this post and the next, it’s clear that Moses wasn’t the author of the laws given in the OT.
Similar to the case for the laws of the Egyptian Menes, the Indian Manu (who was the alleged author, for example, of the horrible caste system, remnants of which persist in India today), and the Cretan Minos, details of any laws that the Hebrew Moses might have proclaimed are lost to us in mythology and manipulated manuscripts. Further, the similarity of the names Menes, Manu, Minos, and Moses suggests that there may have been substantial intermingling of myths, as has been speculated by many authors (as the reader can attest by searching the internet). In any event, certainly the OT’s claim that Moses received his laws from his God wasn’t a new concept: the same idea had already been widely dispersed in the ancient world for at least 2,000 years! As Diodorus wrote:
Thus it is recorded that among the Arians [Persians] Zathraustes [Zoroaster] claimed that the Good Spirit [the god Ahura Mazda] gave him his laws… and among the Jews Moyses [Moses] referred his laws to the god who is invoked as Iao [Yahweh]. They all did this [i.e., claimed that their laws were given to them by a god] either because they believed that a conception which would help humanity was marvelous and wholly divine, or because they held that the common crowd would be more likely to obey the laws if their attention was directed towards the majesty and power of those [gods] to whom their laws were ascribed.It’s a pity that, ~2,000 years ago, Diodorus didn’t mention a third obvious reason why laws were claimed to be dictated by the gods, i.e., not only because 1) “a conception that would help humanity was… wholly divine” or 2) that “the common crowd” would be swayed by the “power of those [gods] to whom… laws were ascribed” but also because 3) the clerics thereby saw that promoting the lies that the gods dictated laws and ordained order would permit the priests to continue their parasitic existence, living off the producers of the world (as they do to this day). In particular, in the case of the clerics who concocted the Old Testament (OT) [whom I’ve been identifying in these posts as Ezra & Co-Conspirators (Ezra & C-C)], their claim that Yahweh gave Moses any laws is such a blatant lie that it’s amazing not only that the Ancient Hebrews believed it but also that, still today, most fundamentalist Jews, Christians, Muslims, Mormons, etc. still believe such utter nonsense.
The nonsense of the claim that the “Laws of Moses” were given to him by the first symmetry-breaking quantum fluctuation in the original void (i.e., “God”) can be seen from many different perspectives. Below and in the next post, I’ll list illustrations of what I mean. I’ve organized the material into three categories.
1) Whereas the most certain knowledge that we possess (even more certain than the knowledge that we exist!) is that there are no gods (and never were any), then obviously, no god gave any laws to anyone.
I won’t provide further justification for that statement; I’ve dwelt on it (at length!) in my online book and in earlier posts in this blog.
2) Statements within the OT reveal that Moses [who, as I’ve suggested in earlier posts entitled “The Mythical Moses Monster”, is (almost certainly) mostly a fictional character] didn’t write the laws attributed to him; instead, the “Laws of Moses” were (almost certainly) written by Levitical priests centuries after Moses allegedly died.
Readers who desire support for that statement can find literally hundreds of thorough analyses on the internet, each quoting “chapter and verse”. Readers might want to start by examining the 2003 book by Andrew D. Benson entitled The Origins of Christianity and the Bible. Here, I’ll summarize with just a few points (made by Benson and other authors).
The essence of the argument that the OT, itself, demonstrates the “Laws of Moses” weren’t written by Moses but by later priests follows as an obvious, logical explanation for silly mistakes in the time sequencing of OT statements (i.e., anachronisms). Some examples follow.
• Similar to other groups, the Hebrews had their repertoire of myths, which Ezra & C-C modified to enhance the Levitical priesthood. I’ve provided many illustrations of such mangled myths in earlier posts in this series. Still another example is the priests’ silly addition to the Noah myth that Yahweh allegedly told Noah: “You must take with you [into the ark] seven of every kind of clean animal… two of every kind of unclean animal.” The obvious problem with that statement, however (as noticed by Thomas Paine), is that the distinction between “clean” vs. “unclean” animals would make no sense until after the Levitical priests made such a distinction, which even according to the Bible’s chronology was many thousands of years after Noah!
• According to Yahweh’s alleged covenant with Abraham, all Hebrew males were to be circumcised, but Ezra & C-C obviously inserted that requirement at a much later date, because in their fictitious story about the Exodus, neither Moses nor any of the Jews who allegedly wandered in the desert for 40 years were circumcised.
• According to one of the “Laws of Moses” (namely, the Second Commandment) the Hebrews were not to make any carved images (“You shall not make a carved image for yourself nor the likeness of anything in the heavens above, on the earth below, or in the waters under the earth”), but that’s obviously an addition to the OT later than the story about Moses, since in that story, he made an image of a snake, which the people allegedly used to cure themselves of snake bites.
• According to the OT, the Jews were in possession of the “Laws of Moses” (as given in Leviticus and Deuteronomy) centuries before there were kings of Judah and Israel, but in the OT books of Samuel 1 & 2 and Kings 1 & 2, the kings and the people obviously knew essentially nothing of such laws, until the high priest Hilkiah (Ezra's great grandfather) “miraculously” found “the book of the law [of Moses]” in “the house of the Lord” (built by Solomon, approximately three centuries earlier). Hilkiah had “the book of the law” read to Josiah (king of Judah from ~640–609 BCE, beginning his reign when he was only eight years old), who then (no doubt under the high priest's guidance) started laying down the law, executing priests of competing religions and destroying figurines of Yahweh’s consort, the mother goddess Asherah.
In fact, the OT, itself, incriminates the Levitical priests of concocting the “Laws of Moses”. Thus, after the boy-king Josiah started laying down the law, “the prophet” Jeremiah (c.650 – c.585 BCE) recorded his opinions both about such laws and the “prophets” and priests who promoted them, allegedly saying (Jeremiah 8, 8–10):
How can you say, “We are wise, for we have the law of the Lord”, when scribes with their lying pens have falsified it?… For all, high and low, are out for ill-gotten gain; prophets and priest are frauds, every one of them.As to how the “scribes with their lying pen falsified… the law of the Lord”, my relatively superficial studies of the research of archeologists and the writings of other authors (who have spent their lives studying details!) lead me to the following speculations.
I wouldn’t be surprised if some Egyptian priest, whose name was shortened to Moses, did move to the Egyptian colony of Canaan sometime during the time period from about 1400–1200 BCE and did have some influence on the natives, who didn’t know how to write. He might have inscribed on stone tablets some variation of what he remembered from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, e.g.,
Nor have I despised god… Nor have I killed… Nor have I fornicated… Nor have I despoiled the thing of the god… Nor have I defiled the wife of a man… Nor have I cursed god… Nor have I borne false witness.The above “negative confessions” from the Book of the Dead already contain five of the “Ten Commandments of Moses”:
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain… Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery… Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor…As for the significance of having written laws, Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas make a good point in their book The Hiram Key:
The idea of messages materializing out of marks on stone amazed ordinary people and the scribes who could make “stone talk” were considered to be holders of great magic. This is easily appreciated when one realizes that the Egyptians called hieroglyphics “the Words of the God”, a term that would often be repeated throughout the Bible.Centuries after Moses allegedly inscribed the Ten Commandments in stone, the Canaanites who were later called Hebrews learned how to write their language (in about 1000 BCE) and began recording their stories, legends, myths, and chronicles. As given in Chapter 3 (entitled “The Origins and Development of the Laws of Moses”) of Benson’s book (referenced earlier):
The development of the Mosaic law is clouded with obscurity. Other than the Ten Commandments (which were probably written in hieroglyphics), the Israelites began to write parts of the law of Moses in Hebrew after they acquired the Hebrew alphabet from the Phoenicians… Scholars estimate that parts of the first four books of the Pentateuch were committed to writing between about 900 and 800 BCE. Deuteronomy, they believe, was committed to writing in the 7th century… [Probably by or under the direction of the high priest Hilkiah, in about 620 BCE, who then informed King Josiah about the “Laws of Moses”.] They completed it [the Pentateuch] after the exile, sometime after 450 BCE in the time of Ezra the scribe and before the Samaritans separated from the rest of the Israelites (perhaps around 432 BCE).For readers desiring a more thorough analyses of what might have occurred, I’d encourage them to start by reading Wikipedia’s excellent summary of the book by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman entitled The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts.
3) With respect to the “Laws of Moses”, themselves, they contain no internal evidence that the author was an omnipotent and omniscient god; instead, the laws that deal with religious matters are similar to laws already proscribed by other parasitic priesthoods (especially by the Egyptian priesthood) and the laws that deal with civil matters are similar to tribal and community laws that had already been established elsewhere in the Middle East.
Now, under space and time constraints, I’m unable to give a full explanation and defense for the above claim. In an earlier chapter, I’ve illustrated what I mean solely in the case of the Ten Commandments. In addition, elsewhere I’ve gone through a substantial fraction of all the policies advocated in the OT (and in the NT, the Book of Mormon, and the Koran) and if the reader has the perseverance to go through all of that, I really don’t know how he or she could come to any conclusion than to agree that the clerics who wrote the “Laws of Moses” painted the Abrahamic god not as omnipotent and omniscient but as an impotent numbskull – with a bad attitude. Here, therefore, I’ll only outline the justification for my claim – an outline that, nonetheless, will continue for the rest of this post and the next!
In the case of the Ten Commandments, the purpose of the First Four is clearly just to fortify the priesthood, but imagine the insolence of the authors who claimed that an omniscient god would be “jealous” and that an omnipotent god would became tired after snapping his fingers (or whatever) to create the world in six days and therefore “rested” on the seventh? Talk about “taking the Lord’s name in vain”! Then, think of the incompetence of anyone (or any god) who would demand (command) that you love him (when love, like any emotion, can’t be “commanded”). Further, think of the injustice of punishing your children and grandchildren (out to “the third and fourth generations”) for something that you allegedly did wrong – such as “taking the Lord’s name in vain”; if it were true, it could explain why Jewish priests have had so much trouble during the past ~2500 years: anyone (let alone a jealous god) would be insulted by having his name associated with such laws!
As for inadequacies in Commandments Six through Ten:
• What if your father and mother don’t deserve to be honored?And if the above isn’t enough evidence to support the claim that the Ten Commandments weren’t created by an omnipotent, omniscient god, then think of the incompetence of any legislator who doesn’t specify the consequence of breaking a proposed law, i.e., “Thou shalt not… [whatever]” or else… WHAT? He’ll take his ball and go back home?! Would that the little brat would!
• Define ‘murder’, define ‘adultery’, define ‘steal’!
• What if you “give false evidence” to deter someone from killing someone?
• There’s nothing wrong if you ‘covet’ something! What’s important is: what actions (if any) do you plan to then take?
Now, I admit, “defenders of the faith” would probably point out that their god did specify the penalty for breaking his commandments, e.g., in his (alleged) statement at Exodus 15, 26:
“If only you will obey the Lord your God, if you will do what is right in his eyes, if you will listen to his commands and keep all his statutes, then I will never bring upon you any of the sufferings which I brought on the Egyptians…”But as any lawyer worth her fee would tell you: “That statement specifies the consequences if you obey the law; not if you don’t.”
And sure enough (according to the myth), almost immediately after Moses informed the people of “God’s laws”, Moses found that “God’s Laws” were inadequate. As a result, after people had Aaron create a golden calf idol, Moses had to ad lib the missing “punishment part” of the code (Exodus 32, 25):
[After coming down from the mountain] Moses saw that the people were out of control… He took his place at the gate of the camp and said, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Come here to me”; and the Levites all rallied to him [Moses was a Levite; subsequent priests were to be Levites]. He said to them, “These are the words of the Lord the God of Israel [although there’s neither evidence nor even any suggestion that God said such words to Moses!]: ‘Arm yourselves, each of you, with his sword. Go through the camp from gate to gate and back again. Each of you kill his brother, his friend, his neighbor’.” The Levites obeyed, and about three thousand of the people died [i.e., were murdered] that day. Moses then said [to the Levites], “Today you have consecrated yourselves to the Lord completely, because you have turned each against his own son and his own brother [i.e., murdered them] and so have this day brought a blessing upon yourselves.”And thus Moses (allegedly) completed the Ten Commandments, incompetently specified by his god, by defining the punishment for breaking the laws – after the “crime” had been committed!
Fortunately, such “retroactive” or “after-the-fact” or “ex-post-facto” laws are now prohibited in modern societies – and even in Iran and Pakistan! In fact, Article 11, paragraph 2 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights prohibits such evil as was allegedly perpetrated by Moses (or his god) of specifying punishment ex post facto.
Meanwhile, in reality, no evidence supports the above story about Moses defining the punishments for breaking a law after the law was broken, but the story, itself, provides many morals – beyond the hideous moral that the God of the Bible violates human rights by imposing ex-post-facto laws. Some examples include the following.
• To maintain “law and order”, warnings and threats from any tyrant (human or god) aren’t sufficient; instead, force is needed.Aren’t those lovely morals? Then, is there any wonder why, yesterday (22 May 2009), U.S. Congressman Paul Broun (R–Ga.) introduced a resolution to make 2010 “The Year of the Bible”? The resolution states, in part:
• To stay in control, a tyrant therefore needs a loyal police force (Levite priests or SS troopers or…) and needs to apply the law of the jungle: might makes right.
• Do not expect a tyrant to abide by “the law”; thus, even the law “thou shalt not kill” (or “you shall not commit murder”) is a law for the people, not for the tyrant and his police (or priests).
• Priests were (and still are) just primitive lawmakers and police – and, of course, great con artists, magically taming the supernatural for their own benefit.
• Priests will do anything to “protect their turf” (that is, to protect their source of livelihood): if people stray from the system of beliefs that they preach (for their daily bread), history shows that priests will do anything, including murdering “nonbelievers”.
• Never trust the words of any cleric, for with them (as Humpty Dumpty said), words mean whatever they want them to mean, “neither more nor less”. Thus, by murdering people, directly violating a “Thou shalt not…”, they “brought a blessing” on themselves.
• Clerics who follow the Bible (preaching Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, etc.) have chosen an absolutely horrible “manual” to follow. It advocates the most extreme religious intolerance imaginable: worship our god or we’ll kill you.
The president is encouraged… to issue a proclamation calling upon citizens of all faiths to rediscover and apply the priceless, timeless message of the Holy Scripture which has profoundly influenced and shaped the United States and its great Democratic form of government, as well as its rich spiritual heritage, and which has unified, healed and strengthened its people for over 200 years.Glorious! I think that even more glorious, however, would be if a law were enacted requiring everyone to demonstrate to schoolteachers basic competence in evaluative- or critical-thinking before being permitted either to vote or to run for any office!
President Jefferson proposed something similar:
What is proposed… is to remove the objection of expense, by offering education gratis, and to strengthen parental excitement by the disfranchisement of his child while uneducated. Society has certainly a right to disavow him whom they offer, and are permitted to qualify for the duties of a citizen. If we do not force instruction, let us at least strengthen the motives to receive it when offered.But then, imagine the uproar from all religious fundamentalists who, unable to demonstrate rudimentary skills in critical thinking, would no longer be permitted to vote: no doubt they’d start screaming, like Moses and the Taliban, “Kill the infidels!”
In any case, the above example from the Bible is one of the best available to show how power mongers control the people. Setting an example for Constantine, Muhammad, Hitler, and Stalin to follow, this part of the Bible has Moses first form a squad of killers (his Levites were like Constantine’s loyal legionaries, Muhammad’s mujahideen, Hitler’s SS troopers, and Stalin’s Secret Police), who would murder anyone for their leader. And then, the leader “justifies” his actions by claiming that they served some “higher good”. Such power mongers maintain that “the end justifies the means”, ignoring the reality that “means are ends in themselves”.
In their completed form (stripped of nonessentials) the “Laws of Moses” became the simple rule: “Do whatever we clerics say – or die.” For later commandments, however, punishments were specified for breaking the clerics’ laws. In particular (although I’ve not bothered to verify the numbers), of the total of 613 (not Ten!) Commandments in the OT, the penalty for breaking 50 of them is death! Kill, kill, kill – not murder, mind you, because when the priests tell people to kill, then it’s “justified homicide”. It isn’t murder – even if you kill men, women, and children living peacefully on their own land – if they’re such horrible people as to think for themselves and worse: have a different priesthood. As Muslim clerics continue to claim, there’s room for only one con-game at a time.
When the stupidity of most of “God’s laws” is combined with the inappropriateness of the associated penalties for breaking the laws, the result is ripe for ridicule. As a great illustration, consider the following anonymous letter, possibly written by “Kent Ashcraft” and written as if it were a letter to the American “talk-show host” Laura Schlessinger.
Dear Dr. Laura,Still another way to see that no omnipotent, omniscient god dictated the “Laws of Moses” is to compare his alleged laws with laws established earlier in other cultures. When such comparisons are made, as I’ll outline in the next post, then once again it’s seen that the fictitious god of the Bible (and of the Koran and the Book of Mormon) wasn’t omnipotent and omniscient but incompetent and obscene.
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.
I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.
• When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev. 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
• I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
• I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev. 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.
• Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?
• I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?
• A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev. 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?
• Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?
• Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.19:27. How should they die?
• I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
• My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev.24:10-16) Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.
Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.
Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.