Read my latest article exploring the puzzle of the word “glory.” In it I ask how the biblical glory changed from a dangerous substance to “praise for the Lord.” I’d enjoy reading your thoughts.
This question came to me from Debby, and it’s an interesting one. See what you think.
I’m still reading your book but very often while looking up specific passages in my Bible, I get sidetracked. Case in point: After consulting Lev. 13 to see the NIV translation compared to your account of radiation burn, I ended up continuing through Lev. 14 to find the treatment for it. And though I agree that radiation burn symptoms as you describe them are similar to what’s described in the 13th chapter, the cleansing process in the 14th chapter fall back into the “hocus pocus” category for me. That’s where guilt offerings, wave offerings or sin offerings, come into play – with priests required to dip one finger into oil and then touch an earlobe, or kill one bird and let the other one fly away. These things seem irrational in my rational world and I don’t see how this procedure would cleanse anyone of anything…
Here’s my answer.
Once again you wonder about a significant question. Are the various sacrifices mentioned in my Chapter 10 pp 228-274, which are part of the cleansing (protection) process simply irrational “hocus pocus?”
My answer would be to suggest more “hocus pocus.”
Believe it or not a tiny white sphere, taken into your stomach:
- Will stop nausea caused by a mysterious radioactive machine (x-ray for radiation therapy). (Ondansetron).
- Will protect your body from heart attack (Lipitor).
- Will bring down your high blood pressure (Furosemide).
- Will make your blood more normal (Potassium, prevents low levels).
- Will return your arrhythmic heart to an even rhythm (Amidarone).
- Will make your head stop hurting (Aspirin).
Will protect you from radioactivity!! See this recent article.
A tiny white sphere (pill)? Impossible!
And think of all those clear liquids that get squirted into your arm to protect you from so many terrible diseases. Miracles?
So just because we don’t know the mechanics of how the biblical systems worked doesn’t mean they didn’t (or did). Maybe someday it will all come clear!
Now also, in case you feel that answer is unsatisfactory, take a look at the incense study I did (Chapter 9, pp. 184-201). It shows how what many have understood to be only hocus pocus and “smell goods” was actually chemically designed for protection against radiation burn. I believe other such studies, say into your Leviticus 14 question, may clear up longstanding misunderstandings. And the powerful tool of etymology might again come to our aid in getting to the facts.
Thanks, Debby, for another excellent question!
Blog Sparks Interest in Anger Management, Control and Causes
Friends, I’m pleased to report that my latest article, “Was ‘the Anger of the Lord’ a Natural Phenomenon?” has attracted much interest online. I’m also curious. Why such a strong interest? Are readers drawn to the topic of the Lord’s anger or just anger in general? Do we fear the anger of the Lord or the anger that lurks within us? Are we seeking the causes of anger? Or the management of it?
This topic brings to mind the well-known story of Cain and Abel. The sons of Adam and Eve, these two brothers just couldn’t get along. Cain had a terrible anger management problem, and for reasons that are detailed in Genesis, he murdered his brother. (By the way, I talk about this incident on page 170 of Talking With God as it relates to the dangerous atmosphere that Cain created by spilling his brother’s blood.)
And then there’s the story of Moses, who came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of stone containing the Lord’s words after spending 40 days there. When he saw that the Israelites had become corrupt and rebellious, thinking he would never return, he became so angry he smashed the tablets.
Anger Management – Is that the Issue?
I suspect my article touched a nerve because anger, while a normal human emotion, is difficult to contain and control. It can be used for both evil, as in the case of Cain, or good, i.e., a righteous anger against injustice, corruption, etc. as in Moses’ case.
We both fear and are fueled by anger. Indeed, from human conflict to road rage, we certainly seem to be engulfed by anger in the world today. Even the weather seems enraged as we’ve seen recently in Missouri, Japan, and the almost biblical floods along the Mississippi basin.
I offer no answers. Just pondering the puzzle of our humanity…
What do you think? Are people morbidly fascinated by anger? How much does anger influence our actions today, individually and globally, for right or wrong?
In my book, Talking with God: The Radioactive Ark Of The Testimony, I explore several key biblical terms associated with the ark that have either been mistranslated or not clearly understood over time. One phrase found in several verses of the Old Testament is “the anger of the Lord.” There has never really been a satisfactory explanation as to how the Lord’s “anger” worked as it is described in the Bible.
In the Old Testament there certainly are instances when anger (Hebrew verb, kawtsaf, noun, ketsef) means just that, anger, but often, when the word is used in relation to the Lord, it is followed by a strange reaction relating to the verb to glow, or more specifically, glowed. When the anger of the Lord glowed, the result was that the person(s) at whom this phenomenon was aimed contracted a “plague.”
Old Testament Examples
Num. 1:53: When the tabernacle was constructed in the Wilderness the Bible says the Lord appointed the tribe of Levi, the Levites, to “camp around the tabernacle of testimony so there will be no anger [ketsef] on the Israelites.” Later (Num. 8:19), the Lord told Moses to have the Levites serve there so that “there will not be a plague among the Israelites for coming near [the tabernacle].”
Something happened to automatically trigger plague when the people came too close to the tabernacle. When Moses ordered the Levites to “camp around” the ark, it was to protect the people from a natural reaction, the plague.
Num. 16:46; Hebrew Bible 17:11: At one time in the Wilderness a small group of men rebelled against Moses and Aaron. They were killed, and this caused all the Israelites to turn on the two leaders. The Bible says the Lord told Moses and Aaron to “get away from the midst of the congregation and I shall consume them in a moment.”
Then, instead of pleading with the Lord on behalf of the people, “Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take the censer, and put fire on it…and lay incense on it and go, hurry to the congregation, and make atonement for them for the anger has gone forth from the Lord, and the plague has begun” (emphasis added). Aaron did as he was told “and stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stayed.” In other words, a chemical procedure, caused by the burning of incense, had taken place. The chemicals in the burning incense eventually stopped the plague.
By the way, “atonement” is a mistranslation, and I will discuss this piece to the puzzle in another article.
Num. 11:33: While in the Wilderness the people complained that they had no meat to eat. The Lord brought them quails, but when he saw them “lusting” after the meat, His anger “glowed among the people while the meat was still between their teeth…and the Lord struck among the people a very great plague.” It took two days for the people to gather the quails, so one might assume that the “glow” may have hastened their rotting, causing deadly illness.
Num. 12: 9–10: When Miriam and Aaron, Moses’ sister and brother, “spoke against Moses, because he had married a Cushite woman, the anger of the Lord glowed against them and Miriam’s skin turned white as snow.” (To understand the chemical reason why Aaron’s skin wasn’t affected, read pp. 86–88 in my new book, Talking With God.)
Num. 14:11–12: In the Wilderness the Israelites complained bitterly when the spies, who had been sent out to survey the land the people were about to enter, brought back an “evil report.” Although the story does not specifically say that the Lord’s anger glowed, it does warn that He would strike the people with “pestilence.” However, He recanted but said He would fill the whole earth with His glory. (Glory, too, is a word that has two totally separate meanings, one being part of the process that involved the plague. I intend to write about it in my next discussion.) As for those 20 years and older, their “dead bodies shall fall in the Wilderness.” That plague played a part in this episode is made clear by the fact that it killed the spies who had brought the evil report (Num. 14:37).
The “anger” that glowed and led to plague indicates a cause-effect relationship. Why was this? Was the glowing anger something more than just the Lord losing His temper? If so, exactly what was it? And what really was the reaction translated as “plague?”
I believe there are clear answers to these questions, and I have put together the pieces to this puzzle in Talking with God: The Radioactive Ark Of The Testimony. Available at Amazon. Join our ongoing investigation of the Old Testament’s puzzling questions at TalkingWithGod.net.
Debby’s comments on the Jericho-connected battle of Ai story. (Joshua 7:1–8:28) (I discuss this on pages 313–316 of Talking With God.) Ai was another city that the invading Israelites attacked.
Their first attempt ended in disaster. The inhabitants of the Ai chased a small army of 3,000 Israelites and killed 36 of them. Achan, a man from the tribe of Judah, took the blame for this defeat He stole some items during the destruction of Jericho, when the people were expressly ordered to give them to “the treasury of the Lord.” The Lord told Joshua that he wouldn’t be able to capture Ai until the guilt was expiated. Achan confessed and he, his family, and his animals were stoned to death.
Then the Lord told Joshua it was alright to attack Ai. So Joshua assembled an army of 30,000 soldiers, and they succeeded in capturing and destroying the city. After prohibiting the people from taking loot from Jericho, the Lord now permitted them to take it from Ai.
Debby feels that this story is a lesson “learned that there was no room for even a single bad apple among the Israelites and that God meant business.” She contrasts this with the Jericho story where Rahab, the prostitute, hid the Israelite spies so they could safely return from Jericho to give their reports to Joshua.
Debby concludes: “I think the point of the story is this: The contrast [is] between Achan and Rahab of Jericho, whose reward for relinquishing Canaan to the Israelites actually won Canaan back for her in the form of The Promised Land, while Achan’s disloyalty to Israel brought him the same type of execution reserved for Canaanites at the same time his family lost its inheritance. Once … the lesson was learned… God told Joshua to take his whole army for a second attack-30,000 men, proving what a gross miscalculation they’d made the first time when the Lord wasn’t helping them. And as their reward, contrary to the usual rules, the Lord would allow them to keep all the plunder for themselves.”
The rabbis and scholars have worried over this story for centuries. There are countless explanations for the misdeeds of one man, which ended in killing 36 Israelite soldiers and the perpetrator’s whole family. I have given my opinion in the book in one of the few times I make a conjecture.
I believe that the entire Achan story was inserted into an original, simple explanation of the attack on Ai. I explain why it never should have been there in the first place. If it is omitted, there remains a smooth story detailing that Joshua sent spies to Ai. They miscalculated what it would take to capture the city. Then, and only then, after the too small army was defeated, did Joshua use the communications device, the Ark, to ask the Lord what to do. Then, omitting the Achan story, the normal procedure took place.
The Lord said to Joshua, “Up! Condition the people, and say ‘condition yourselves against tomorrow.’” (Where?) Why? For communication to work, the dangerous cloud had to be on the Ark, and the people had to protect themselves from it. The orders to send the full army now came directly from the Lord through the Ark.
Finally, while the details of the story could well be historical, when it was finally written presents a problem. Once again, as with so much of the Bible, we find that it was perfectly possible that the event took place, and the observers passed the details on orally as accurately as they could. However, when it came to the writing, the scribes no longer knew the technical aspects. I conclude this for several reasons.
(1) The concept of Ark of the Testimony (Ark of communication) isn’t mentioned. Here it is not even called the Ark of the Covenant, as it was later known, but only “ark [of the ] Lord.” So while observers explained that Joshua “fell down before the ark,” they didn’t seem to know why any longer.
(2) Whether or not it is true that the Achan story was inserted, this too was at a later date. Joshua said to Achan, “My son…, give glory to the Lord…and make confession to him.” (Joshua 7:19) This is a use of the word “glory” in its later sense. There is no understanding that it was the radioactive substance in the cloud. One could hardly give that to the Lord!
(3) Third, scholars have pointed out that Ai means “ruin.” To call it a “ruin” before it was destroyed is strange. It makes one suspect that the writer gave it the name after the fact.
As an aside I must mention that scholars have long felt the whole Ai story was just that— a story. They reason that archaeologists have found no trace of a city or destruction at the level dating to the attack in a place thought to be Ai, called et-Tell. However, very recently a nearby location called Khirbet-el-Maqatir has turned up evidence of a city that was destroyed at least partially by fire at the exact time of Joshua’s attack and in the perfect place where the event could have occurred. It even produced a child burial urn, indicating that there were women at the site. This, it is felt, could well be the city of Ai.
So, while Debby’s explanation of the contrast between Achan and Rahab is most ingenious, I feel that a study of the original word meanings don’t indicate they were actually meant to show a comparison between good and evil people.