Who Wrote The Book Of Love? [re-edit]

The Torah, the first 5 books of the Bible, are attributed to Moses. He either wrote them, edited them, or had them written; some parts were written about him after his death.

He was certainly instrumental, directly or indirectly, in the selection of what was written down and, much more importantly, how it was written down.

See, here’s the fact we keep overlooking:  The first 5 books of the Bible, the basis of Judaism and Christianity, the corner stone of Western civilization, were written by a guy with Profound Anger Management Issues.

Consider:

Moses’ first recorded action is killing an Egyptian overseer abusing Hebrew slaves.

After fleeing the scene of the crime, he hightails it to Midian, where the first thing he does is clobber the bejeebers out of some shepherds giving Jethro’s daughters a hard time.

He comes back to Egypt and gets a front row seat to the 10 Plagues.

He leads his people out to Sinai, gets personally hand inscribed tablets from God, finds his followers worshiping a golden calf, throws a temper tantrum & smashes self-same hand inscribed tablets.

(And he’s not done yet ! ! ! He’s still  got a couple of massacres & a major blasphemy to go through before he can be barred from ever entering the Holy Land.)

Let’s be brutally honest:  Moses was one angry, vicious, nasty guy.[1]

But underneath it all, deep down inside, he had a desire to be just and righteous.

That’s why God tapped him for the job.

However, when left to his own devices, Moses’ gut instinct was to administer two-fisted justice.  He was a big fan -- a huge fan -- of strict legalisms.

Lots of angry people are.  It gives them justification for lashing out at those they perceive to have offended them.

Moses’ various laws are written out in excruciating detail; every possible variation of a theme he could think of.

Now, take a look at the Decalogue (often referred to in English as The 10 Commandments).

They are simple, direct.

And unlike Moses’ elaborations on them, there’s no enforcement mechanism.

No punishments attached.

No hierarchy of who gets to administer justice.

God presents them to us as a guide on how to live.

No coercion whatsoever.  Follow ‘em or don’t follow ‘em.

But if you want to live righteously, this is the way.

Moses, conversely, goes into picayune details over the most trivial of issues.  God issues the Decalogue in Exodus 20: 2-17, while Moses uses 6 chapters (Exodus 25-31) to describe how to build & equip the tabernacle.

(How can we tell God wrote the Decalogue & Moses the rest?  God took only 15 verses to get the core of what humanity needed to do to be just and righteous.  Further, God repeatedly tells us through His later prophets that He doesn’t care one whit about ritual & sacrifice:  He wants us to treat one another the way we want to be treated, not to cheat or steal from one another, and to look after widows, orphans, & the poor.)

But Moses’ laws are crucial & important & without them the world would be a far, far uglier & less pleasant place.

Check back in Genesis 34.  See what Moses’ direct ancestor did and was proud of.

Moses, an angry, spiteful guy in his own right, knew deep down inside this was wrong.

He also knew (& frequently demonstrated) he could be just as mean & as nasty as Levi.

Moses knew if he were capable of such acts, other people were as well.

So he elaborated on the Decalogue, creating the Law by which the Israelites would live.

He did this to put the brakes to himself, to prevent himself from running amok & thinking he was hot stuff[2] & could do whatever he felt like doing whenever he felt like doing it.

That was his objective, in part, tho as we know he still failed miserably at it.

But he gave himself no excuse for failing at it.

He had set a standard of proportional justice, apparently the first that his people had ever encountered.

The first basic steps towards righteousness and justice were taken.

They’d culminate a millennium or so later with "love your neighbor as you love yourself" & “turn the other cheek” but in Moses’ day, it was a major accomplishment just getting people to understand that slaughtering everybody in revenge for a trivial offense was Not Acceptable.

Not much by today’s standards, but it was something.

It was a beginning.

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[1]  Yeah, yeah, Numbers 12:3 says “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.”  Read the rest of the Torah; it’s not that Moses was good, it’s that everybody else was a helluva lot worse.

[2]  i.e., a burning bush.

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