Dragons? I love dragons! Drinks all around!
Fun fact: I saw a Gutenberg Bible today! I mean, I’ve seen it before, because it lives like a mile from where I do. But this was the first time I actually attempted to sort of read it. A friend from high school was visiting Harvard, so I took him on the obligatory here-are-some-old-things tour, finishing up at Widener Library, where Henry Elkins Widener’s Gutenberg Bible is in a glass case. While we were staring at it, I wondered what part it was opened to. (The Gutenberg Bible is in Latin, which I studied for two years in middle school. I retain just enough of that to make pretty decent guesses at etymology and orthography, and to immaturely tell people “semper ubi sub ubi.” This phrase, incidentally, does not appear in the Bible, so I was rather at a loss.) So I stared at the page for a while, scanning for some words I might know – which was extra difficult because the letters were all fancy and curly and full of themselves. After a lot of squinting, I spotted a “draconem,” a “Judeum,” a “Daniele,” and the phrase “Bel destruxit.” I figured I had enough for Googling, and sure enough, I was not only able to identify the specific passage, but to pretty well read along with it (especially since the friend I’d brought with me knew significantly more Latin than I did, but also not quite enough to read fluently without Google’s help). Apparently the story of Bel and the Dragon is part of an extended version of the Book of Daniel, which not all Christians consider legit. So basically it’s like one of the extra scenes on the special edition of the Return of the King DVD that the hardcore Tolkien aficionados drool over but most people just want to see the cinema version.
I also learned from the story of Bel and the Dragon that there is a prophet named Habakkuk, which I’m pretty sure is the official transliteration of the sound of throwing up.
ANNOUNCEMENT: While doing my usual image-searching routine for this post, I discovered that there is a pub called Bel and the Dragon in Cookham, in Berkshire, England (see the pub sign to the left). I’m not sure if I’ve got any readers over in the UK, but in any case, I am hereby officially announcing the very first Challenge of Biblical Proportions! If you take a picture of yourself at this pub and post a link to it as a comment, I will reward you with 1) everlasting fame and glory, 2) a certificate of accomplishment, and 3) a candy bar. Yes, I will physically mail you a candy bar. It’s your choice whether to eat it or save it for posterity.
I recognize that this is probably never going to happen. But I like the idea of reader challenges, so look out for more! (And if you have any ideas for a future challenge, drop a comment or shoot me an email at BloggingBiblically@gmail.com!)
OT: Exodus 25-28
God commands Moses to collect gifts for him (God) from the Israelites, which I think stretches the definition of the word “gift.” Although he does give specific instructions about what gifts he wants, so maybe this is actually like the world’s first wedding registry. Where God is getting married to the Israelites.
He also gives very specific instructions about how to build the temple where he will come chill with them, and how to build the Ark of the Covenant, which is basically the box that’s going to hold the tablets with the commandments on them. He also explains how to make a table for food and drink offerings, and a special solid gold lampstand for the temple.
Next God tells Moses how to make curtains for the temple-tent-thing that will hold the gold lamp and the special table and the box holding the tablets. For all these things, he specifies exact dimensions, what materials to use, how to decorate them, what color everything should be, etc. It’s basically Trading Spaces in book form. Do you remember that show? I remember that show. Maybe it’s even still on. I don’t know. But I really liked Ty, one of the carpenters. He was friendly. I wish he were a character in the Book of Exodus. It could use some more smiling and also some elegant bookcases.
God explains how to make an altar, and how to make a courtyard for the tent-temple-thing. And he says that all the Israelites for the rest of time will have to provide fresh olive oil to keep the lamp burning constantly.
God tells Moses that his (God’s) brother Aaron and his (Aaron’s) sons will be his (God’s) priests, and then explains in great detail what kind of clothes they are going to wear. We’re leaving Trading Spaces behind and moving into Queer Eye for the Straight Guy territory here. My favorite part of the specified priests’ clothing is the “chest pendant used for making decisions” (described in verses 15-30). How exactly one uses a chest pendant to make decisions is unclear, but it sounds useful and also extremely realistic and not at all like something that teenage girls might learn how to make out of amethysts and faerie dust in a Silver Ravenwolf book. God gives some more fashion advice, and then explains that “Aaron will wear the robe when he ministers as a priest. Its sound will be heard when he goes into the sanctuary in the LORD’s presence and when he comes out, so that he will not die” (35). Does this imply that God is planning to snipe anybody who enters the church silently? Because if so, I’m pretty sure people have been doing this all wrong. I always feel awkward if I even make a sound setting down my backpack when I go into a church (which, as I’ve mentioned before, I frequently do). I guess from now on I’ll roll in singing.
Nat, if you’re reading this: Don’t worry. I won’t actually do that. Usually.
The chest pendant used for making decisions sounds awesome.
I wish I knew how it worked.