You Can't Escape God, 1978
Thirteen Centuries from Exodus to the time of Christ
GOD'S THIRD PERIOD OF DRAMATIC INTERVENTIONS IN HUMAN AFFAIRS continued during some 13 centuries following the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt, as will be corroborated and clarified by our further correlating of modern science with the salient portions of the Bible.
In the first 40 years after their escape from Pharaoh, the Hebrew ex-slaves wandered in a Wilderness region where, according to the Scriptures, "the Lord went before by day in a pillar of a cloud to lead them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire." But does this imply that the Deity was concealed within the so-called pillars, as some eccentric Christians have stoutly believed to the embarrassment of others?
Obviously, the true meaning of these metaphors is simply that with a multitude of people spread over a considerable area to permit grazing by their cattle and sheep, while moving toward a succession of destination chosen by Moses, it was necessary for directional signals to be provided by means of columns of smoke in the daytime and by the glow of fires at night. On the other hand, the wisdom of Moses had been so enhanced by an extraordinary quantity of the Holy Spirit in the cells of his brain that he not only was attuned to God's desires but also, in practical terms, was a good selector of travel directions and timing. Moreover, this greatest of the Hebrew patriarchs realized it would be necessary to keep his followers in the Wilderness, responding to his signals, for as long as 40 years, the time that would be required to produce two new generations among the wanderers. He knew these new generations would be needed because they would be free from the mentality of ex-slaves and thus would be capable of success in conflict with the enemies who would be encountered when the Wilderness Hebrews finally arrived in Canaan, the homeland which God had promised for his Chosen People.
Accordingly, we perceive that -- because of his fortified wisdom -- Moses was actually responsible to God's leadership; thus, it was simply a metaphor of the Exodus compilers to depict that leadership as having been displayed by flame and smoke signals.
Another detail of the Wilderness experience which has fascinated theologians and scientists is the Bible's record of God having provided "manna" as a mysterious food for the Hebrew wanderers to eat. It is obvious, of course, that a multitude of people traveling in barren country would normally have found it impossible to obtain sufficient edibles. Yet, until the time of modern science there was no way for the mystery of manna to be solved. Hence, many atheists and other skeptics have charged that the Bible's reference to such a food was merely a fiction. Other critics have compounded such disbelief by offering "explanations" which do not jibe either with the Biblical details or with the knowledge which modern science now possesses.
According to Exodus, God had said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread (i.e. food) from the sky for you, and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate each day." In greater detail, God promises that for each of five successive days each week he would provide a sufficiency of manna to last 24 hours. On the sixth day there would be enough for 48 hours, but there would be none supplied on the seventh day. Accordingly, Exodus says, for 40 years the Hebrews found the mysterious food on the ground in the mornings as soon as the nightly accumulation of dew had evaporated.
Now the Hebrews knew very well that this food on the ground was not some crop they had grown or a food self-grown by nature. Likewise, our logic notes there are no crops that double their yield one day and that skip another day in every seven. Also, there are no food-producing creatures that operate on such a schedule. Thus, it was because the Hebrews themselves were mystified that they went to great pains to record the considerable details of the manna experience. According to Exodus, the manna was gathered just before the warmth of daytime began, and it was "like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made in honey. Further description says it melted in the heat of mid-day.
Hence, in conjunction with further details to be presently analyzed, modern science can easily deduce that manna was simply an almost pure form of carbohydrates, of the many chemically-possible varieties of flavored sugar.
Such identification of manna is supported further by the fact that almost all carbohydrate foods are less complex in molecular structure than fats and proteins. Thus, composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, manna was simply the easiest food that God could synthesize while drawing only upon the atmosphere for its components. In the atmosphere, hydrogen and oxygen are plentiful; as for the relative scarcity of carbon there, this may have been offset in the sky above the camping places of the Hebrews by the breathing of the people and their animals and by the smoke from the campfires; also, it could have been offset by the practical limitlessness of the atmosphere itself. Thus, to form wet droplets of sugar in the sky, God needed only too provide an electronic catalyst -- perhaps of the Holy Spirit itself -- to draw together the three elements of which such a carbohydrate food is composed. Moreover, he could vary the quantity from one day to another by varying the amounts of radiation to get the same effect that occurs when variations of sunshine affect the photo-synthesis process of Earth's plant life.
We conclude, therefore, not only that it was God who supplied the know-how by which the manna was produced but also that it was synthesized by an electro-chemical process rather than, as theologians have commonly assumed, by some magical abracadabra. Indeed, in today's World, even human know-how has been sufficient -- by processes more complicated that God required -- to extract oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and other elements from the atmosphere, and to gather carbon from ordinary smoke.
There remain some additional corroborations for our conclusions concerning manna, however. Thus, from the Bible's mention of a taste "like wafers made in honey," we perceive that the manna included traces of some added components, in particular, some forms of yeast. These additions would have been picked up by the sugar-vapor as it condensed and descended or after it had settled on the ground.
The Biblical record that on the first five days of the week any manna kept for a following day "bred worms and stank," whereas the sixth day's gathering could be kept two days without deterioration, is also corroborative of the whole breadth of our related conclusions. What this detail shows is that the moist globules absorbed some microscopic organisms or spores while descending or after settling on the ground, and that these matured to appear as worms whenever the food was not consumed with adequate promptness. Yet, the number of such organisms would have been only half as great, proportionately, when the amount of manna on the sixth day was doubled, thereby retarding the maturing of the "worms" and accounting for the fact that the sixth day's gathering was doubly resistant to spoilage.
Our conclusions that the manna was divinely supplied by a process that originated in God's know-how does not imply, however, that the Deity needed to be physically present in the atmosphere above the Wilderness to accomplish this result. Instead, it has been made abundantly clear herein that even from considerable distances he could cause vast quantities of electronic particles to become concentrated in any area he chose. On the other hand, recalling our earlier conclusion that there has been available to God an Annex of Heaven which could be controlled to orbit Earth at 24-hour intervals, for example, it could be that he delegated the producing of manna to other heavenly beings stationed upon some kind of space-platform.
The Ten Commandments-
THAT THE DECALOG WAS SUPPLIED BY GOD HIMSELF, rather than having been humanly devised, is easily demonstrated by analysis -- in the light of modern science -- of the details which the Scriptures provide.
Thus, we have earlier perceived it was God's manipulating of events that steered the Hebrews into their experience with slavery. But since the slavery objective was to teach them a lesson concerning earthly conduct it is obvious that the lesson could not be complete until the ex-slaves were placed in possession of the rules of moral conduct which would be the opposite of slavery. Moreover, the hurried need of the Hebrews to get such rules in a single ready-reference collection was too great for God to have taken the risk of human delays. Thus, the Scriptural record showing that the Decalog was given to the Chosen People almost immediately after their escape from Egypt is an initial point of corroboration for our conclusion that God himself was the author of that ten-point code.
Further to appreciate the significant timeliness of the giving of the Ten Commandments, we note that during four centuries as many as twenty generations of Hebrews had been subject to the rules of Egypt's Collectivism. Thus, they had become accustomed to an involuntary surrendering of property possession to whomever had sufficient force to require it. Correspondingly, they had not learned how to manage property that was individually owned; neither had they learned that there is a moral right as well as a necessity to defend such ownership. Hence, there were two critically immediate dangers for the Hebrews when their escape from Egypt had been accomplished. The first of these was that the ex-slaves would revert to the amoral anarchy of Proto-men, stealing bodily or non-bodily property from each other. The second of the dangers was that they might drift into a Collectivist State of their own.
Accordingly, God moved swiftly after the Exodus to give the Hebrews ten amplifications of the basic attitude of love to guide them in all forms of economic-social-political conduct; to serve them as a ready-reference yardstick for distinguishing between good and evil. This did not mean that God was unaware that many men would violate those rules or would need to be forcibly restrained by their intended victims from so doing. It did mean, however, that to the extent that Mankind demanded its own obedience to the Commandments there would be no reverting to the amoral anarchy of Proto-men; neither would there arise again the slavery of a Collectivist State.
Thus, having perceived that even the timeliness of the Decalog -- following the Exodus -- testifies it was God who supplied its rules, let us specifically refute the charges or innuendoes of some possessors of erudition to the effect that Moses derived the Commandments from other humans, particularly from Hammurabi, who was the ruler of Babylon at about the time of Abraham. Of course, it is true that the Babylonian king made an admirable attempt, several centuries before the time of Moses, to get his people to live in the orderliness of codified laws. The distinction between the Ten Commandments and Hammurabi's Code is, however, that the Babylonian rules were a system of truce, not a system of love. For example, Hammurabi's "eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" assumed that human conduct should rely on the negative motivations of fear of defensive or retaliatory punishment; in contrast, the Ten Commandments imply that conduct should be guided by the positive motivations of love -- even as Jesus summarized them some 13 centuries later.
The divine origin of the Decalog becomes apparent also by noting its priority concerning the relationships of Man toward God. First is the Commandment that Man must know there is only one God. The second is a warning that Man must not worship idols; thus, the second reinforces the first not only by emphasizing that graven images cannot be true deities but also by clearly implying that we must not engage in idolatrous devotion to such other false gods as wealth, power, sex, or beauty. The third Commandment forbids us to use God's name profanely, and the divine wisdom in this is that we, rather than the Deity, are the real victims of such misuse of his name. In other words, the truth of monotheism and the importance of God's love and plans for Mankind are down-graded in our minds by demeaning God's name. Emphasis on the importance of comprehending God's love and his truths is provided in the fourth Commandment that Man, one (at least) one day in every seven, should participate in a special acknowledgement of the reality and relevance of God.
Now in perceiving the divine wisdom of the Ten Commandments let us note that all of them recognize that all forms of evil are forms of stealing. The first four tell us not to steal what is owed to God; the other six tell us not to steal from our fellow men.
Of course, the Commandment that states specifically "Thou shalt not steal" meant to the ancient Hebrews the same that it means in our modern World: That it is evil to violate another person's individualistic right of ownership as applied to non-bodily property. Thus, the meaning was understood to refer primarily to such tangible items of wealth as a man's sheep, his house, or the land rightfully staked-out for the grazing of his sheep -- in other words, to whatever property a man had produced by his own labor or had purchased from the ownership by others. In a similar application in our modern World, it also refers to such items as a man's automobile, his self-made or self-purchased tools of production, and the money in his wallet.
Let us further note that the anti-stealing Commandment makes no distinction concerning the size of a theft. It does not suggest, for example, that although it would be evil to steal ten sheep it would not be evil to steal just one or two. Similarly, it does not suggest that it is evil to steal sheep from a man who has only one or two but that it is not evil to steal sheep from a man whose skill and thrift have allowed him to accumulate a larger number. Neither does this Commandment imply that ten men can rob nine men without being guilty of evil; that such a robbery can be deemed moral on the grounds that it was sanctioned by a "majority decision." Finally, the non-stealing rule makes no provision for exempting from guilt a man who does not participate in a robbery action but who knowingly shares in the loot.
Now, in perceiving that all forms of evil are forms of stealing, let us note that the Commandment which forbids murder simply relates to a specific form of stealing. Thus, in theological terms, murder steals the body from the soul. However, it was because Man ordinarily thinks of stealing in terms of non-bodily rather than bodily property that God separately listed murder and four other specific kinds of stealing which human minds might otherwise assume were not forbidden by the non-stealing Commandment alone.
Thus also, let us note that the Commandment forbidding murder has a broader meaning than murder alone. For example, it is evil not only to steal the total value of a body from its owner but also it is evil to steal even a fractional part thereof. Hence, to cut off a man's ear (called "mayhem" rather than murder in legalistic terms) is actually a fractional violation of the no-murder Commandment. Similarly, "assault and battery" are forbidden within the meaning of the no-murder Commandment because they also steal a fractional value of the body from its owner, the value of its unimpaired use, the value of the pleasure of good health.
In turn, the Commandment which forbids adultery likewise applies the principle that all forms of evil are forms of stealing, regardless of whether it is a tangible or intangible kind of property involved. In its most basic meaning, of course, adultery consists of a sexual act in which one or both of the participants is married to another person. Thus, in this sense, adultery steals a body value from the rightful co-owner thereof. Moreover, by logical extension, the same Commandment also forbids sexual intercourse by an unmarried person because this pre-steals from a future husband or wife by doing a psychological damage to the body of such a participant. On the other hand, the no-adultery Commandment leaves the status of divorce somewhat ambiguous. (Thus, although Jesus spoke of marriage as being insoluble, we shall submit the subject of divorce to a special analysis in an appendix to these chapters, within a topical framework of so-called "situation ethics.")
Next, let us observe that the Commandment against "false witness" also involves a process of stealing and has meanings often misunderstood or overlooked. Obviously, to testify falsely against an innocent person is comparable to stealing his body from his soul as by causing a jury to condemn him to death. It can also steal even if it merely deprives the victim of part of the value of an otherwise good reputation. What has been much less noted, however, is that the sin of false witness can be committed even by silence. Thus, to withhold testimony that could save an innocent person from injury is as bad as doing injury to him by the more direct form of false witness. Likewise, it is implicit in this Commandment that evil is committed if a man fails to testify against an evil-doer. Hence, it is amazing how common it has been among people to practice -- and even to teach their children -- the concept that testimony against an evil-doer is "squealing," as though it was dishonorable to fulfill the moral responsibility to give true witness when silence would actually be an instance of false witness.
The Commandment to "honor thy father and mother" is another which involves the avoidance of stealing and which is often grossly misunderstood. Certainly it doesn't mean an obligation to condone or copy instances of parental evil; it does mean, however, that progeny of any age should generously accept the merely harmless eccentricities which their parents may occasionally display. It also means "honor" in the sense of that fulfilling of a contract; in other words, the materialistic relationships between parents and adult progeny should not be regarded only as a one-way street with all goods moving in the progeny's direction but rather that any needed assistance either by parents or progeny should freely flow in either direction. In turn, this Commandment also means that all progeny should not steal from the totality of all previous generations an admiration and respect due them for "the great advancements of civilization which -- albeit blunderingly -- they have actually achieved. In other words, this Commandment includes a meaning that no younger generation should ever assume that all wisdom has originated or will originate with itself, ignoring the fact that most of whatever wisdom it may already possess or may subsequently acquire will actually be built upon the wisdom it has inherited from innumerable earlier generations which, once upon a time, were even the "younger generations" themselves.
The final Commandment of the Decalog is probably the one that has been the least understood and the most under-rated. It forbids us to "covet" the possessions of others. It means we should not allow ourselves to be consumed with envy for possessions which may be beyond the reach of our abilities to rightfully acquire. It means we should not persuade ourselves that we deserve materialistic benefits which we have not earned. It means we should not steal from ourselves a happiness concerning the blessings that we already possess. However, it also concerns a matter even of stealing from others. Thus, as distinguished from honest ambition, envy gives birth to thoughts of stealing whatever is envied; in turn, even if it does not lead to a tangible form of stealing, it nevertheless steals from the possessor of whatever it is that is envied, by cutting him off from the friendliness or at least the neutrality which he actually or presumably deserves.
Significant also of God's wisdom are the facts of what the Commandments did not forbid. In this connection, let us note that all forms of stealing, of evil, involve the use of either overt force or force-by-deception to overcome resistance by the intended victim. Thus, the stealing of a non-bodily value may be preceded by stealing his body from his soul -- murder. On the other hand, deception (or its offshoot, called seduction) is also a form of force in that it makes the victim's potential defenses inadequate to cope with the aggression intended against him. Hence, even as murder or assault which stops short of murder a sin even if no theft of non-bodily property follows, we perceive that any evil use-of-force is itself a sin. Moreover, even intimidation alone is a form of robbery when it is used to reduce a victim's resistance to a second stage of robbery. Likewise, propaganda or other processes of mis-education which encourage potential aggressors by concealing the true nature of acts of stealing, or which tend to make potential victims submissive to "white-washed" processes of stealing, are themselves forms of first-stage stealing -- sins against both God and Man.
Let us note, therefore, that none of God's Commandments forbids humanity from defending itself from acts of stealing. Thus, the right to resist any form of robbery by the use of appropriate force is a right which every person spontaneously and individually possesses; it has God's own sanction, and it requires no legislative act or political approval as a condition for its application. In turn, the right of individual defense against evil includes the privilege and duty of each person to associate himself with others for the advantage of group strength in resistance against evil -- and this is the basis on which rightful governments are rightfully formed. Conversely, a government is unrightful if it fails to defend its people against the various forms of stealing or if it becomes a perpetrator of stealing itself. In such case, as America's Declaration of Independence declared many centuries subsequent to the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt, "it is the right of the People to alter or to abolish" an unrightful government.
It is significant, therefore, that when God delivered the Ten Commandments to the Hebrews he did not require them -- or subsequent humanity -- to rely merely on "passive resistance" to violations of the principle of individualistic ownership such as had been the case when the Hebrews were slaves in Pharaoh's Collectivist State. Instead, in his wisdom he knew that people would need good governments (as well as individualistic defenses) not only to perform certain kind of non-defense group services but also to suppress evil-doers whether of foreign or domestic origin. Hence, the fact that the Ten Commandments accept as truth Man's spontaneous right to defend himself from evil with appropriate defensive measures, and that this acceptance was provided at a time when the ex-slaves possessed no previous experience with such defensive measures, is a final testimony that the Ten Commandments were supplied by God himself rather than having been of human origin. Indeed, in the following section of our study we shall find corroboration not only that the Decalog came from God but also that it came from him in person.
WORD-PICTURES OF THE GOD-PERSON, as he appeared on Earth, are provided in two accounts in the Book of Exodus, and both of these are in mutual corroboration with our earlier conclusions of independent logic that the Deity is primarily anthropomorphic and that his body possesses a radiance which varies in intensity according to his choice. In addition, both of these descriptive passages tell of the Ten Commandments having been supplied by God himself rather than having been merely the work of human intelligence.
According to Exodus, God summoned Moses to the top of a mountain in the Wilderness area and there gave him two stone tablets on which the Commandments were inscribed. On returning to the nearby encampment of the Hebrews, Moses found the people had decided to forsake God and to worship a golden idol. In anger, Moses smashed the tablets but later ascended the mountain again and returned with a new set of stones on which the Decalog was inscribed.
In later centuries, even the new tablets were lost. Some historians believe they were stolen and destroyed by Shishak, an Egyptian ruler who plundered Jerusalem about 950 BC, or by soldiers of Nebuchadnezzar about 586 BC. The words were remembered by the Hebrews, and by the time the stones disappeared had already been copied onto scrolls. Yet, it is highly significant that God did not intervene to prevent the loss of the tablets. It is significant because the inescapable conclusion of logic is that God wanted the Decalog stones to be destroyed to halt a tendency of the Hebrews to treat the stones themselves as idols. In other words, the Hebrews had come to think of the Decalog tablets as though they possessed magic powers (much as some Christians have tended to make a fetish of the Bible.) On the other hand, God knew it would be poor psychology to let the Hebrews do the destroying: hence, he allowed "foreigners" to accomplish this purpose.
Now let us correct an almost universal mental picture of the tablets themselves. That concept pictures Moses as staggering down the mountain-side, clasping two stone slabs that were two or three inches thick, longer than his torso, and weighing as much as two hundred pounds each. In contrast, even the simplest of logic is sufficient to show that the stones must have been neatly rectangular pieces of thin slate or its equivalent, weighing probably no more than five pounds apiece, and with the words upon them having been inscribed by a sharp metal stylus. As to whether it was the hand of God or of Moses that used the stylus, this is unimportant; in either case, what is of first importance is that the wisdom of the words was God's.
Concerning God's visible appearance at the conferring of the Decalog, let us recall how the principles of modern science have shown that his body in Heaven has a radiance emanating from its composition. Accordingly, we have also comprehended that his body would continue to possess whatever degree of radiance that he permitted on the occasions when he was seen by human eyes on Earth. We deduce, therefore, that when God talked with Adam, Noah, and Abraham, he did not want to frighten them by displaying more than a small degree of radiance. In the case of Moses, however, it is significant that God prepared him gradually for acceptance of a higher degree of radiance; hence, the experience of the "burning bush" was the first step of that preparing.
In turn, however, it is precisely what modern psychology would independently expect that when God presented the Decalog he chose to demonstrate a greater amount of his radiance -- to convince a considerable delegation of Hebrews that it was surely the Deity, not merely Moses, who guaranteed the importance of obedience to the Decalog's rules. Thus, it is not surprising that after Moses had been in conference with God, while the inscribing was in process, the face of the patriarch himself became so glowing (with a radiance his skin had absorbed from the radiance of God) that Moses covered his own countenance with a veil to avoid frightening his fellow Hebrews, and continued to use that covering until the glow faded and finally disappeared.
When we think of the electronic nature of God's radiance and of how its higher ranges of intensity would be expectably greater than our earthly bodies can withstand, we find still another cryptic corroboration of our related conclusions. Thus, Exodus reports that Moses once asked the privilege of seeing God's face while they were together on the mountain and that God said such a look at that time would be fatal (to an earthly body.) It would have been fatal, as modern science can now comprehend, because the human eye apertures would have admitted too great an intake of radiance into the cells of an earthly brain. Hence, the Bible's mention of this incident is especially meaningful because the ancients had no knowledge of the manner in which their report would be found to jibe with modern knowledge of a great variety of electronic rays, some of which are lethal if received in too large a dosage, even as God's words to Moses gave warning.
Also indicative of God's appearance is the testimony of Exodus concerning an occasion when he invited into his presence not only Moses but also Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy elders of the Hebrews, whereupon "they saw the God of Israel beneath whose feet there was, it seemed, a sapphire pavement pure as the heavens themselves." What does our logic make of that description of what was seen by more than seventy persons? First, we deduce that what they saw was only out of the "corners" of their eyes. In humility and in fear of being blinded by radiance, they naturally bent forward so that the main direction of their view was downward, a conclusion made obvious by the emphasis on what they saw beneath God's feet. Second, we perceive that the radiance of God was so intense on this occasion that it accounted even for a coloring of ordinary mountain stone to the beautiful hues of sapphires. In other words, the ordinary atoms of ordinary stone were transmuted or isotopic. Third, we note that the reference to God's feet is added corroboration that God's body is primarily anthropomorphic.
The final earthly contact between God and Moses, as related in the Scriptures, also has a significant consistency. It occurred at the conclusion of the 40 years in the Wilderness -- when Moses, having been fortified by the Holy Spirit, had lived to the ripe old age of 120 years and had completed the specific purpose for which he had been divinely chosen. So it was that God summoned him to ascend a mountain, this time to gaze upon the Promised Land of Canaan and to be informed the time had come for the leadership of the Hebrews to be passed on to a successor.
Thus, when Moses did not return to his followers they assumed he had died and made a search for his body. Accordingly, there is a cryptic meaning in the Scriptural assertion that, "But no man knoweth of his sepulcher onto this day." Why didn't they find the body, the sepulcher, of Moses? The answer, we perceive (as others have also), is that Moses did not experience an earthly death; instead, his body as well as his soul were taken directly to Heaven -- using the same means of transportation that were also employed by God and by such others as sundry angels. Yet, Moses would be seen again on Earth, some 13 centuries later.
THE TURBULENT EXPERIENCES OF THE HEBREWS in the remainder of the pre-Christian era give further testimony of God's intent that the souls of Mankind should become qualified for admission to Heaven by a process which would include many hard-knock lessons to be learned by human intellects on Earth.
The Bible's record of those experiences reflects an attainment by the Hebrews of further theological enlightenment even though this continued to be mixed with a residue of voids and errors which traced back to the time when the Proto-men of our species were still characterized by a theological and moral zero. Yet, to say the Chosen People progressed does not imply their progress was steady or that all of the nominal followers of Yahweh shared equally in it. Thus, there were many of the Hebrews and even some of their kings who, in this period, worshiped pagan idols rather than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
As a result of such back-sliding, a long line of prophets arose -- mentally inspired by the Holy Spirit -- to exhort the Hebrews to abandon evil conduct and to teach them advancements of truth about the real God and about his relationship to Man. The most eminent of these prophets included Amos, Hoses, Isaiah, Joel, and Jeremiah. Among the new or clearer teachings by such as these was the fact that God is the God of all men, not just of the Hebrews. Another teaching insisted that piety is not an adequate substitute for good conduct by Man toward his fellow men. Especially important was the teaching that God's conduct toward Mankind is motivated by love.
Now the most complex lesson-of-conduct which would be taught by God's contrivings in the 13 centuries subsequent to Moses was a sequel to the lesson of slavery's evil. Thus, the sequel was to teach that a political despotism headed by Hebrews could be just as lacking in justice as had been the despotism of an Egyptian Pharaoh. But before we analyze the experiences of the Chosen People with a series of Hebrew kings we shall need to observe that God's genetic maneuverings had established two branches of the Adam-Jacob lineage, one of which would have a primacy over the other. The major group would stem from Jacob and Leah. The minor group would trace back to Jacob and Rachel.
Thus, we find it significant that the Jacob-Rachel strain produced both of the two greatest "problem-introducers" among the Hebrews; these were the Joseph who paved the way for slavery in Egypt, and Saul who became the first of the Hebrew monarchs. Likewise, we find it of companion significance that the Jacob-Leah strain led both to Moses and to King David (and thence onward to the couple who served as the earthly "parents' of Jesus.)
Accordingly, let us examine one of the most intricate episodes of God's genetic maneuvering in the Jacob-Leah lineage, concerning the couple known as Boaz and Ruth who were the parents of David's grandfather, Obed. The lineage which led from Jacob and Leah had begun with their son, Judah, and then included - in successive generations -- Phares, Earom, Aram, Amindab, Naason, Salmon, Boaz, Obed, and Jesse, the father of David. Thus, even the fact that a record of this lineage, as well as of the earlier generations going back from Jacob all the way to Adam, was preserved by the Hebrews is evidence they had an inspired realization of a divine purpose within it. Of immediate significance to our logic, however, is only the case of Boaz and Ruth.
We proceed, therefore, by noting that Ruth was a descendant of Moab -- the son who had been born to Lot and one of Lot's daughters. Hence, we further perceive that even the Moabite nation at the time of Ruth was comprised of cousins of the Hebrews and had a reinforced genetic inheritance tracing back to Adam (by way of Nahor and Haran, the brothers of Abraham) even as there was a reinforced genetic inheritance tracing back to Adam in the main-stream lineage of Boaz who was to become her husband. Thus, it is apparent that God's program of genetics for the lineage that would lead to David -- and beyond -- was just as assiduous at the time of Ruth and Boaz as it had been for many previous centuries.
Moreover, the intricate maneuvering that became necessary to permit the union of Boaz and Ruth, as one link of a long chain of such maneuvering, was far too complicated to have been merely a human contriving. Thus, as the Bible records it, a Hebrew couple named Naomi and Elimelich, with their two sons, had gone to live among the Moabite people. There, one of the sons married the Moabite Ruth while the other son married another Moabite woman named Orpah. Thereafter, the husbands of Ruth and Orpah as well as the husband of Naomi died, whereupon Naomi returned to the land of the Hebrews, accompanied by the widowed Ruth but leaving the widowed Orpah behind.
Still more complications were ahead, however, before Ruth could fulfill God's obvious intent that this woman of the Moabites should marry Boaz, a man of the Hebrews. In the first place, custom required that Ruth should marry whoever purchased a certain plot of ground that was to be an inheritance of Ruth from Naomi and Elimelich; yet, there was a kinsman of Boaz who had a prior right to make that purchase. In the second place, the only way the kinsman could be caused to relinquish his claim would be by pressure applied by Boaz, and this made if necessary for steps to be taken to cause Boaz to fall in love with Ruth. Accordingly, Naomi instructed Ruth to spend a night in the tent of Boaz, sleeping at the foot of his bed. Thus, when Boaz discovered her there, he arranged to confront his kinsman with a demand for an immediate property purchase decision. As a result, the negotiations caused the kinsman to relinquish his prior right to the land, thereby enabling Boaz to become Ruth's husband.
From the fact that Boaz and Ruth did become the parents of Obed, the grandfather of David, we perceive that God's intent was fulfilled by the related genetic maneuvering. It will also be instructive, however, to note that this case illustrates how God's purposes, as often as not, are accomplished by persons who superficially seem to be merely of secondary importance in the related details and who, almost invariably, are wholly unaware of their own contributions to the ultimate result. Thus, although Ruth appears as the "star" of this particular drama, let us note that it was Naomi who was the real prime mover. Likewise, it will be instructive to note that this case illustrates how a specific chain of events which serves God's purpose may begin with its cast of characters involved in an already-existing situation -- with the result that, instead of them moving directly to the ultimate conclusion, it is first necessary for them to be subject to some highly complex preliminary maneuvering. For example, instead of sending Boaz directly to the land of the Moabites for a contrived meeting with Ruth, the already-existing human circumstances made it necessary for Naomi first to go with her son to Ruth's homeland, so that Ruth's first marriage and subsequent widowhood would bring Ruth to the place where she would meet the man who would become her second husband.
Now, having perceived in the case of Boaz and Ruth how the genetic reinforcing process continued in the topmost lineage of the Hebrews, we can next turn to see how Saul -- of the Jacob-Rachel (Benjamin) strain -- became the first of the Hebrew monarchs. Thus, we note that for some centuries following Moses the Hebrews had lived without any formal governmental structure. In a rudimentary status of Individualism, they submitted routine disputes to men who were informally chosen as "judges." Similarly, the Hebrews occasionally formed rather disorderly volunteer armies to be commanded by informally chosen leaders who were not always possessors of any military skill.
For a considerable time, however, there were neither any kings to rule the Chosen People nor any political structure to impose a collective ownership of property upon the Hebrews. Yet, an almost continuous need to defend their lands from foreign armies finally caused the Hebrews to realize that this aspect of their lives would be best served by setting up a formal government.
Thus, the Hebrews' experience with governments of their own began when a man named Samuel, noted for his wisdom, was requested by public clamor to do the selecting of a Hebrew king. Samuel responded first by warning of the danger of entrusting a totality of power to any human, but when the Hebrews insisted on having a monarchy he acceded to their wishes. Thus, we are told that Saul had been searching for some strayed animals when a servant suggested consulting Samuel for advice where to find them. But as soon as Saul approached, Samuel decided this should be the man who would be the first king of the Hebrew nation. To the ancients, it appeared that Samuel was divinely guided in this choice -- and our logic agrees because, in recognizing that Saul was a descendant of Jacob and Rachel, we comprehend that he was of the "secondary" Adam lineage and had been chosen by God to be one of the "problem-introducers" (like Joseph) for the learning process of the Hebrew people.
To perceive the lessons which the Hebrews poorly-learned from the successive reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon, however, we shall need to make the next step of our logic an examination of another intricate case of God's genetic contrivings in the "primary" Adam lineage of David. Thus, what we are about to perceive is that the circumstances by which Bath-sheba,--the wife of Uriah, an officer in David's army -- became David's wife and then became the mother of Solomon were another product of God's own genetic maneuvering.
The first hint of a divine genetic purpose in the conduct of David and Bath-sheba is found in what happened when he earlier married one of King Saul's daughters. Superficially, that potential blending of the lineages of Saul and David can appear to have been God's intention because it united a descendant of Rachel with a descendant of Leah. The error of such a supposition can be seen, however, by observing that whereas David was of a lineage chosen to serve a superior genetic objective, Saul's daughter was of a lineage of paralleling but inferior purpose. Also, there was still another reason which our logic will presently encounter that Bath-sheba, rather than Saul's daughter, would contribute progeny to the mainstream of Adam's descendants. Thus, we cannot be surprised that Saul -- obviously subject to a divine compulsion -- took his daughter away from David and gave her to a different husband.
Subsequently, David saw Bath-sheba bathing nude and was overwhelmed by her beauty. Hence, David used his kingly power to possess her while she was still the wife of Uriah. Later, when Bath-sheba found herself pregnant, David had Uriah furloughed from an embattled Hebrew army, assuming it would then appear that Uriah was the father of the child to come. Let us note, therefore, the highly significant fact that Uriah's response, on home-coming, was definitely mystical in that he chose to sleep at David's door instead of with Bath-sheba. Indeed, just as Saul had been subject to a divine compulsion to take his daughter away from David, we now perceive that Uriah was also under such a compulsion, one which would hasten his own soul to Heaven at the same time that it ensured that Bath-sheba would become the wife of David.
As a result of Uriah's strange conduct, Bath-sheba's progeny exposed her to a risk of being condemned for adultery. Hence, David arranged for Uriah to be killed in battle, whereupon David established Bath-sheba as his own wife -- to become the future mother of King Solomon (and of a brother of Solomon by the name of Nathan.) The death of Uriah was denounced, however, by a certain prophet as having been a sin committed by David, and the same prophet foretold that the first child both to David and Bath-sheba would die in infancy, a prophecy which was soon fulfilled. Thus, it is significant that although David had several sons by several wives, it was he and Bath-sheba who were the parents not only of Solomon who would be the next king but also of the son named Nathan who would be of the lineage which, through several centuries, led to the earthly "parents" of Jesus.
Why didn't God simply arrange for Bath-sheba to become David's wife without her first having been the wife of Uriah? An oblique response to that question would be that -- as in the case of Ruth having been previously married before she wed Boaz -- even God must build upon existing human situations and sometimes must follow a devious pattern. A more specific response, however, begins by perceiving that David originally assumed that his marriage to Saul's daughter, uniting the strains of Leah and Rachel, would be a perfect match. Quite plainly, however, David had not realized that God did not desire those strains to be united in this matter. Moreover, David's limited human wisdom had not realized there was some genetic defect in Saul himself, shown especially by spells of insanity in Saul's later years; thus, if a healthy child had been born to David and Saul's daughter this not only would have placed that child upon the throne as David's successor but also would have introduced Saul's defects into David's chief lineage, whereas God wanted that lineage to retain a genetic perfection.
The termination of his marriage to Saul's daughter was nevertheless a painful experience for David. Hence, as Saul's successor on the throne, David felt free to take any woman for himself, even if she were already married, as was the case with Bath-sheba. Yet, Bath-sheba's beauty alone is sufficient to suggest she had a genetic perfection which even God could approve for David's descendants, in contrast to Saul's daughter and to numerous other women who gave birth to some of whom David was the father. Moreover, while David a condition of mental turmoil as an excuse for taking Bath-sheba -- and then finding it necessary to marry her to protect her from condemnation -- Bath-sheba had no need for any excuse. In her time, it was simply assumed that any woman desired by the king
had no choice but to be obedient to his orders.
Thus, we are led to an inescapable conclusion that Bath-sheba was simply the only woman David happened to choose who was compatible with God's genetic objectives. As for Uriah, let us perceive the added theological significance to be found in his goodness-of-heart which he displayed when he chose to sleep at David's door-step instead of returning to Bath-sheba. In other words, Uriah's soul was qualified for an immediate admission to Heaven; hence, his violent death not only spared him from an awareness of his loss of Bath-sheba but also provided him with a maximum compensation received by his soul.
During the reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon, however, God was concerned not alone with matters of genetics but also with his intention to teach the Hebrews certain new points of morality related to economic-social-political systems. Thus, whereas the Hebrews had been slaves to a non-Hebrew king in the Collectivism of Egypt, the time had come for the Chosen People to be taught that the morality of individualistic property ownership -- bodily or non-bodily -- could be violated by a political despotism of their own just as surely as it had been violated by a succession of Egyptian rulers. Likewise, the experience with the Hebrew kings was to be a reinforcement of the Egyptian experience, showing that in all aspects of economic-social-political life, the individual cannot deal justly on behalf of the welfare of either himself or his fellow men if, to avoid cerebral effort of his own, he thereby makes himself an unquestioning supporter of whatever good-or-bad mixture of decisions that may be set forth by surrogate leaders.
Thus, in the reign of King Saul, the God-planned lesson was two-fold in its specifics. First, it taught that even a man who had been of good character could, after being given despotic powers, become a doer-of-evil even against his own people; for example, many acts of Saul in his final years as ruler were tragic consequences of his not-yet recognized spells of insanity. Second, the experience taught that when a man is made king-for-life with absolute power, so that he can overwhelm or side-track any actual or potential opposition, the absoluteness of his power will corrupt his character with a result that the subjects of such a despotism cannot reform or escape it except by paying a terribly bloody price to do so.
Under King David, the Jebusite fortress of Jerusalem was captured and was made the capital of the Hebrew nation. David then systematized the governmental machinery and welded the people into a political unity. On the other hand, his rule acquainted the tax-payer with the high costs of supporting a monarch who was almost continuously engaged in expansionist ambitions. Moreover, the reign of David taught the inevitability, the unreliability, and yet the high cost of palace revolutions seeking to supplant one imperfect ruler with another who would be unlikely to be any better.
Under King Solomon, the folly of a people determined to evade the self-responsibilities that would have applied if they could have contrived a system of Individualism was driven home with still greater force. Under this third of the Hebrew kings there was much construction of palaces and public buildings, much extravaganza to glorify the throne and its occupant, and much propaganda to picture Solomon as all-wise. Thus, it was Solomon who ordered the construction of Jerusalem's famed Temple, even though in so doing he used captive peoples impressed into a slavery that was just as odious as the earlier Hebrews had experienced in Egypt. Yet, even with slavery and heavy taxation at his command, Solomon bequeathed a bankrupt treasury to his successor.
Let us perceive, therefore, that even while God was contriving the genetics of a central core lineage of the Hebrews for an as-yet undisclosed ultimate purpose, he was also teaching his Chosen People a moral lesson which included the fact that no human being can be infallible or be trusted with irresistible political power. Thus, also, as a corollary, God was teaching that humanity cannot successfully dodge individual responsibility for morality in economic-social-political relationships by presuming to delegate such responsibility to others than their individual selves.
THE CONCEPT OF A MESSIAH TO RESCUE MANKIND from the economic-social-political confusion of ancient times began its principal development among the Hebrews soon after the reign of King Solomon.
For a time, the Hebrews continued to be ruled by other Hebrew kings. Gradually, however, the Chosen People lost their capacity to defend themselves from foreign invaders. About 725 BC, King Sargon of Assyria conquered them and deported thousands of Hebrews, replacing these with other ethnic groups. In 586 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar deported still other thousands to Babylon, although he did not require them to abandon the Hebrew religion. Later, King Cyrus of Persia set the Babylonian Hebrews free, but some of those chose to remain in Babylon where they developed the practice of describing themselves as Jews rather than as Hebrews.
Subsequently, the Jews in the Jerusalem area became subject to a succession of Greek rulers and suffered immensely as the Greeks attempted to make them abandon the Hebrew religion. After the Greeks came the Romans who made Herod the Great king of the Jews about 37 BC. Significantly, he was of Idumean lineage, a descendant of Ishmael and Essau. That Herod was succeeded in 4 BC by his son, Herod Antipas, not as king but as tetrarch of Galilee. In 26 AD, the Romans appointed Pontius Pilate as procurator in Judea while Herod Antipas continued to be Rome's representative in Galilee until 39 AD.
Yet, through all of the centuries of rule by foreigners, there were always some of the Jews who preserved the teachings of the Hebrew religion. Those teachings gradually came to include prophesies of the coming of a Messiah who would be sent by God to rescue the World -- beginning with the Chosen People -- from the residue of the Proto-man animalism which was still afflicting Mankind. The Messiah, according to the prophesies, would be born to descendants of King David in the village of Bethlehem.
The theological truth which the Jews had not learned in connection with their expectation of a Messiah was that it would have been contrary to God's plan for Mankind for the rescue to have been accomplished by military force. In other words, what the Messianic hope failed to perceive was that the peace and happiness of the World can be obtained only by Mankind becoming motivated by love, and that love cannot be a product of a compulsory process. Accordingly, the Jews of those times, although possessed of more theological and moral enlightenment than any contemporary peoples, were unprepared for the concept that the Messiah would be a gentle teacher rather than a conquering warrior. Moreover, they were unprepared to believe that a gentle-teaching Messiah would be no less than God's own Son.
Yet, even as our own logic independently perceived in earlier chapters, it was inevitable that God would send his Son to Earth under precisely the conditions which existed when he actually arrived. The Son was sent, however, not to establish a World rule-by-force and thereby to terminate the process of learning the attitude of love by which our souls become qualified for admission to Heaven; instead, he was sent simply to prevent that learning process from bogging-down as a human failure. Thus, he was to be Mankind's "savior" from a potential reversion to the total amorality of Proto-man's animalism. As for the training process for humanity, this would need to continue for an untold number of ages -- even after the Messiah's mission on Earth had been wholly fulfilled.
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