Debby asks …
Why would God have demanded that his people obey certain strict rules that seemed rather “hocus pocus” and construct the strangest accoutrements when He is ordinarily so practical? Reading the Old Testament left me with more questions than answers, most relating to the reasons God would have the Israelites perform (what I saw as bizarre) rites so meticulously, usually with the punishment of death if they didn’t.
My book may clarify some of this for you. First of all, the purpose of the book is to delineate what the words in the Five Books actually say. As I explain in the introduction, I was originally faced with an unfinished puzzle. I researched word after word, using many related ancient languages to get at their true meanings. It turns out that they each pertained to the Ark of the Testimony and critical details surrounding it. Eventually, all the pieces of the puzzle came together and resulted in a fascinating finished picture.
As I say in the book, “I found there is a logical, unvarying flow throughout the Bible when it comes to the description of the phenomena surrounding the ark.” The description was originally transmitted orally by observers at the time, and later written down. I cannot know if the observations were accurate, but “something happened and was duly reported … Communication between God and man adhered to strictly natural laws.” These laws pertaining to the Ark were so technical that they couldn’t really have been understood by the observers, so they only described them as best they could, using words that have largely been mistranslated.
The original Hebrew words describe a system of communication between God and people affected through a substance in a cloud. The Bible explains that when communication was necessary, the cloud would settle on the Ark in the inner sanctuary of the Israelites’ tent of meeting. Unfortunately the cloud was highly radioactive, and those who dealt with the Ark needed careful protections, which are clearly described in Exodus and Leviticus. At times, the cloud would drift beyond the sanctuary, and its effect on people and things was exactly the same as the radiation effects we see today. The symptoms are described in detail in the Bible. The radioactivity was purely a byproduct of the transmission system.
A professor of linguistics has written me asking,
Would the radioactivity have been part of God’s plan, or would it have been something not under His control and his only role would be to warn the people?
I answered that while I couldn’t give a definite answer, one might conjecture that it was analogous to any other radiation phenomena with which we are familiar today. For example, consider x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, air travel, and in the area of transmission, the television tube. They all have dangers that we maneuver for the positive tradeoffs.
(Incidentally, in answer to your question, since danger from the cloud was a natural phenomenon, it would follow that no punishment was intended.)
So, Debby, this is what my research tells me about what the words in the Bible actually say. As I write at the end of Talking With God,
Either I have offered a description of a system that is accurate and actually operated or inaccurate and just another myth. If accurate, then at the least the interrelated, institutionalized religions as practiced today (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) become quite untenable. If inaccurate, then each is left to continue to float about aimlessly, bumping up against evermore enlightening new knowledge of our universe and against the other competitive religions, each with its firm belief in its own veracity and rejection of any others.