I’m Pretty Sure Tolkien Wrote Exodus

Oh god. Okay, the Old Testament looks like it’s about to get really boring. I am not going to summarize every single freaking nitpicky commandment about the thread count of the priest’s robes and the altitude of the temple and what not. Otherwise I will never make it to the end of Exodus – and oh, boy, am I ready to be done with Exodus. Except that I know Leviticus awaits me – and then, even worse, Numbers.

God give me strength.

OT: Exodus 35-39

Exodus 35

“THOU SHALT NEVER WEAR GREEN PANTS ON ODD-NUMBERED DATES.”
“Okay yes whatever you say!”

Moses tells all the Israelites about God’s crazed hostage-crisis demands sacred and perfectly just commandments.

Work six days a week but rest on the seventh. If you do any work or even start a fire on the Sabbath, you will be executed.

You are encouraged, though not strictly required, to give God jewels, precious metals, spices, oils, fancy woods and leathers, the hairs of specific animals, and/or yarn in one of God’s preferred colors. In case you’re wondering, it turns out God’s favorite colors are “blue, purple, and deep red” (6). You know, in case you’re struggling with what colors to use for the Christmas sweater you’re knitting for him. I know you like to get a head start on things like that.

If you’re good at building stuff, come build the temple.

Everybody hops to it and starts making and finding stuff to donate. According to whoever is writing this book, people bring all these things as “a spontaneous gift to the LORD” (29), because they clearly had no prompting or external incentives whatsoever.

Then Moses goes on,

Look, God picked these two dudes, Bezalel and Oholiab, to make pretty things for him, and magically gave them special crafty ability.

Exodus 36

Bezalel and Oholiab, and everybody else that God gave special crafty abilities to, use all the “spontaneous gifts” (2) to build the sanctuary.

Then something mildly interesting happens. The workers tell Moses, “We have a problem. People are giving us way too much stuff.” So Moses is like, “Listen up Israelites! Stop donating things, effective immediately.” So people stopped donating things. This is how you know you’re reading fiction: when the hypothetically historical book claims that there was a time when everybody was too generous and communally minded.

Then again, these people are more or less acting under a death threat, so maybe this shouldn’t be seen as charity so much as ransom.

Now we get six paragraphs of details about the construction of the sanctuary, because it is critical that we know that “each curtain was forty-two feet long and six feet wide” (9) and that they were held together by “loops of blue thread” (11) and “fifty gold clasps” (13) and that the tent was covered with “rams’ skins dyed red” (19) and that all the wooden boards in the frame “had two pegs” (22) and that “there were eight boards with their sixteen silver bases” (30) and oh my god kill me now. This is some Tolkien shit. “And then, at approximately 2:42:19 post meridien on the sixth day of the month of Gormaron, Legolas carefully lifted his left horse-leather-boot-clad foot some five or seven inches off the leaf-strewn floor of the Forest of Parnilliad, slid it forward through the heavy and humid afternoon air, and lowered it again, delicately but deliberately crunching the fallen plant matter beneath in order to signal his locomotion to his fellow warrior, the greatest fighter of the Race of Men, Lord Malachorean, called Strong-Bow, by virtue of his noble and fearless victory in the historic Battle of the Foggy Valley, in the Land of Thorliaxedomigor, during the War of Silmarilladingdong, as recorded in the well-known Ballad of the Cerulean Serpent which has long been sung by the Bard of the Lengthy and Scraggly Beard in the taverns of Worcesteradcliffeheathingtonshire…”

Exodus 37-39

SSDC.* Like, literally, these chapters have subheadings like “Constructing the table and lampstand” (37:10-24) and “A listing of the materials used” (38:21-31). Also about half the paragraphs end with “just as the LORD had commanded Moses.” I feel like I’m reading the chalkboard in the classroom where Moses had detention.

Highlights

There is only one chapter left in Exodus!

Lowlights

Blind and unconditional subservience!

*Same Shit Different Chapter

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