These are just a few jottings of things –some of them trivial- that strike me as I dip into the Hebrew Testament.
Using the title “Hebrew Testament” for this collection of books sounds less patronising than “Old Testament”. It is as if Christians had the new up-to-date model, the “New Testament” and the Jews were left with some obsolete, superseded model, the “Old Testament”. One writer has said “I prefer ‘Hebrew Testament’ to ‘Old Testament’ so as to avoid the charge that Christians have annexed these books and deprived the Jewish people of what really belongs to them.” (i)
The “New” Testament is likewise referred to as the “Greek” Testament in the Zingcreed blog (except in some direct quotes), as that was the language it was written in. I do my best not to cause offence to readers unnecessarily – I expect there are enough things causing offence in Zingcreed already!
There won’t be much here on Leviticus’ purity laws – that merits a section on its own.
This list will be added to when I get new stuff.
(1) Two books don’t even mention God! – Esther and the Song of Solomon.
(2) Two books – Job and Ecclesaistes – explicitly state that there is no afterlife, i.e. no heaven and no hell! Imagine, they got there long before John Lennon!
(3) “The wearing of dreadlocks is extremely widespread among Rastafarians. These are long tresses of hair ordained in the Old Testament , Numbers 6:5, ‘…there shall come no razor upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in which he separateth himself unto the Lord, he shall be holy, and let the locks of his head grow.’“
Harold Barclay “Religious Movements today and yesterday” Freedom Press,(2011) p.34
(4) Watch out all you bastards, no matter how hard you try, you’ll never be accepted in the company of the Lord – and it’s not because of anything you’ve done either! You’re being punished because of what your ancestors did (a common theme in the Hebrew Testament.)
“No-one born of a forbidden marriage nor any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, even down to the tenth generation.” (Numbers 23:2)
(5) I just like this verse – it’s very christian I suppose.
“Speak up for the dumb, for the cause of those left desolate.
Speak up. Judge righteously and defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
(6) Unbelievably gruesome: Judges 19 tells the appalling tale of an un-named concubine who is travelling home with her male partner after a week’s stay at her father’s when she is gang-raped to death. The boyfriend does nothing to help but simply ropes her corpse to the donkey next morning and on arrival at his house chops her up into 12 pieces and sends one to each of the 12 tribes of Israel!
(7) Ecclesiastes (or is it Ecclesiasticus? – I can’t read my own notes!) was written by an agnostic.
(8) The Song of Songs is full of erotic love poetry (or is that Song of Solomon…?) I’d better read both of them!
(i) Ellul, Jacques “Anarchy and Christianity” Eerdmans (1988)