Thibble Thursday: Curtain Call (Deuteronomy 33:1–34:12)

To my shame, I’m slightly late with this one. But it’s been a busy week, full of excitement and fun!

Wow. At long last, we’ve come to the end of the Torah. It took longer than expected (I’d figured on a year), but here we are. The series isn’t ending here, though, and we’ll more into the Neviim next week, but this really is the end of an era. These final few parshot are a lot shorter, and this one, פָּרָשַׁת וזאת הברכה (“And this is the blessing” portion), is the last.

The quick snarky summary: I’ve spent the last 32 chapters verbally abusing you, so I’ll wind down by blessing you, not only collectively, but tribe-by-tribe. Except for the Simeonites. Seriously, fuck those guys. Anyways, time for me to die happily now, looking at the land you’re about to make run red with blood.

Seriously, it’s about time.

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Sibble Saturday: Swan Song (Deuteronomy 32:1–32:52)

Sorry, I’ve been on the road! I should have written this up and slotted it out to go before I set out, but I didn’t.

We are in the penultimate parsha—pretty soon we’ll get to Joshua. This one’s another short one, with פָּרָשַׁת האזינו (“Listen” portion) consisting of a mere 43 verses of poetry with 9 more of narrative.

The quick snarky summary: I’ll forget that assimilation and exile are in the future, and talk in the past tense about how the Israelites, having achieved plenty and contentment, rebelled against God and were punished for it.

Poetic devices abound

Sibble Saturday: Two for the Price of One (Deuteronomy 29:9–31:30)

This week you get twice as much Torah as usual, firstly because I’m behind and I’m ready to be done with Deuteronomy, and second because פָּרָשַׁת נצבים (“Standing” portion) and פָּרָשַׁת וילך (“And he went” portion) are both very short.

The quick snarky summary: You’re entering a covenant now. You might’ve thought you already did that a couple times, but this is the Real Deal. All you have to do to not fuck it up is not worship idols. Really it’s very simple, and I’m writing it down so that you can’t possibly forget it. Look, I’m leaving Joshua in charge. You’ll listen to him, right? Hey, God’s got a message for me. And that message is: y’all are gonna screw this one up. In spite of me, in spite of what I’m writing down, and in spite of Joshua. Seriously, I don’t know why I bother.

You’d think omniscience would include knowing when to stop

Wibble Wednesday: Responsive Readings (Deuteronomy 26:1–29:8)

The end is nigh! Well, the end of the Torah, at least. We’ve gotten to פָּרָשַׁת כי תבוא (“When you enter” portion), the part right before the preantepenultimate parsha.

The quick snarky summary: Make sure that you do all the right things with your agricultural products. You might not have gotten the gist the last two times I gave you these rules, so we’ll reiterate them, and demand that you swear you’ve followed them correctly. Also, once I’m dead and y’all go into Israel, write stuff down and proclaim curses just the way I would do. Here, let me show you by proclaiming a few curses right now.

I gore your ox, I drink your milkshake

Wibble Wednesday: Extra Virgins (Deuteronomy 21:10–25:19)

We’re still keeping it pretty interesting, as we go into פָּרָשַׁת כי תצא (“When you go” portion), which has a lot of civil laws.

The quick snarky summary: Jews are enjoined, in several ways, to be excellent to each other. Yay! There are occasional horrifying bits to remind us that we’re discussing an ancient culture here, like killing kids for being uppity and keeping stained sheets around for skeevy proof-of-virginity purposes.

More good than bad here

Wibble Wednesday: Kings and Things (Deuteronomy 16:18–21:9)

No excuse for this being late. Yes, I’ve had other interesting things going on, but I should have the time to devote to this properly. Particularly since for once we have something more interesting than dire warnings against idolworship, here in פָּרָשַׁת שפטים (“Judges” portion).

The quick snarky summary: Your nation needs to be a just and well-organized one, so set up a bunch of local tribunals, and defer to the priests, And you can have a king too, if you really want one. This kind of love of structure is what sets you apart from the common ruck of humanity. Well, that and not worshipping idols and performing divinations. No, really, you better not worship idols. I’m afraid you might’ve forgotten it since the last time I warned you, so let me tell you a couple more times how awful idolworship is.

This is actually one of the more civilized parshot of Deuteronomy

Thibble Thursday: Everybody must get stoned (Deuteronomy 11:26–16:17)

It’s hard to get too excited about Deuteronomy, and I just couldn’t muster the enthusiasm last night. But today I have פָּרָשַׁת ראה (“See” portion), which finally gets into some legalities instead of the interminable repetition of blessings and curses.

The quick snarky summary: You’ve already heard all this before, but there are complicated civic laws pertaining to tithes and meat consumption and debt remission. Also, go to the Temple a few times a year. And, just in case you forgot which book you’re reading, I’ll pepper the entire set of rules liberally with admonitions against idolworship.

Festivals and feasts