Sibble Sunday: Previously on… (Deuteronomy 1:1–3:22)

We’re done with Numbers and into Deuteronomy! Deuteronomy is an interesting book, as it includes a number of thematic elements (such as monotheism, redemption from exile, and explicit legalism) which appeared only sparingly in the earlier books. As a result of both these thematic elements and good archaelogy, Deuteronomy is one of the few Torah texts where we have a pretty solid idea on the time and motivation of authorship. The previous books were presumably at various times cobbled together from old stories, so the “authorship” on them could plausibly stretch back at least to the third millennium BCE. But Deuteronomy was almost certainly written in its entirety during the Assyrian exile, in the comparatively recent eighth century BCE. As a result, Deuteronomy’s a pretty unusual book by Torah standards.

So we start out with פָּרָשַׁת דברים (“Words” portion), which mostly recaps the interesting narrative events of Numbers

The quick snarky summary: You guys suck. No, really. You never do a single fucking thing I tell you, and I work so hard for you. And check out all the battles God and I won for you!

Those stiff-necked people should try liniment or something

Twibble Tuesday: Clip Show (Numbers 33:1–36:13)

I really need to stop putting these off. It’s summer, and I have no excuse.

We finally get out of Numbers with פָּרָשַׁת מסעי (“Travels” portion), which is heavy on recap, light on exposition. The bad news is that this is pretty indicative of the book to follow, too.

The quick snarky summary: we know exactly how big Israel is, and have been ordered to kick outsiders out, so the Palestinians can go get fucked. Also, even though we execute murderers, we’ll create some complicated imprisonment/asylum rules for manslaughter.

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Wibble Wednesday: Don’t Split the Party! (Numbers 30:2–32:42)

This week I’m writing about פָּרָשַׁת מטות (“Tribes” portion), which is a rather short one, in which the Israelite nation finally conquers the first of the lands they intend to settle: namely, Transjordan. I’m back at the family home, so this writing is informed not by my usual JPS Tanakh, but by the Fox translation and WRJ commentary.

The quick snarky summary: A couple of laws are shoehorned in before we get back to the narrative, and then we have a massive, divinely sanctioned genocide. Moses gets pissy that they’re not killing indiscriminately enough, and then we get unusually detailed descriptions of the spoils of war. Finally, in spite of not actually being in Israel, two of the tribes want to settle down immediately, and do.

Formally rescinded by the British Mandate