I’m currently reading through the Bible again, and although the New Testament went pretty quickly, the Old Testament is going much slower. For this, I blame Moses. Apparently he was the one who wrote the first five books of the Bible. Despite having the creation of the entire universe, the exodus out of Egypt, and God smiting people left and right, it sometimes reads like the back of a shampoo bottle. There’s a reason for this:
Moses needed a good editor.
I realize that some of his poetic writing was probably lost in translation, but there are other parts which are clearly his fault. The number one example is his propensity to repeat the excruciating details multiple times. I’m not sure if it was because he liked to hear himself write or because he just thought the Israelites were so dense they needed to read it multiple times. At the end of Exodus, Moses gives all the details of the tabernacle, tent of meeting, the ark, etc as he received the instructions from God. That’s all fine and good. But then he feels the need to repeat them verbatim as he describes how the Israelites built them. It apparently wasn’t good enough to say “And the Israelites built the tabernacle, tent of meeting, ark, etc just as God had commanded them.” No. Moses had to list the very detailed plans of each one all over again. Maybe its just the engineer part of me offended at the inefficiency of his writing.
I was also amused at one of the verses in Numbers. More precisely, Numbers 12:3 (NIV):
(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)
Now I firmly believe than the Bible is the inspired word of God, but I’m personally wondering how much “inspiring” Moses needed to write that verse.
I’m not implying Moses wasn’t humble. Not at all. After listening to Israelites complain all the time, I would be stripped of all ego as well. Moses served as their intercessor to God the entire time in which they witnessed the plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, had seen manna come from heaven, and seen water come from rocks. Despite this, the Israelites continued to doubt Moses’ ability as a leader and often had uplifting feedback such as “Why have you lead us into the desert to die?”
Not that I would have been any better as an Israelite during that time. They were traveling through deserts. The first thing I would have been complaining about is the lack of A/C. And why, for the love of all things noble and good, did we have to walk there? Its so unnatural.
Despite the complaining, Moses never gave up on the Israelites. He was always willing to go to God on their behalf to make sure they had what they needed. If it had been me, I would have given up on them not long after leaving Egypt. I would have prayed to God: “Just between you and me, maybe you should leave these people in the desert, and get yourself some new people. I hear the Midianites are nice.” But Moses put the needs of the Israelites before his own. There’s a word for that.
Before Moses even got started on this journey out of Egypt, he spent about forty years in Midian tending the flocks of another man, his father in law. That had to be a humbling experience. Seeing Moses’ entire life seems to be a lesson in humility, maybe its not that hard to believe that he really was the humblest man on the face of the earth.