Monthly Archives: October 2014

On the Psalms up to October 19

“A woman playing a psalterion,” an instrument used to accompany psalms



Welcome to DORScribe, a blog about reading the Bible with an open mind…

In other words, this blog is different.  It’s different because it says that you can get more out of the Bible by reading it with an open mind, and that it was written to liberate people, not shackle them into some kind of “spiritual straitjacket.”

Such ideas run contrary to some common perceptions these days.

Money.  Power.  Rules.  Politics.  Those seem to be the reasons why too many Americans are turning away from the Christian religion, along with the general perception that too many Christians are way too negative.  But Jesus was anything but “negative.”

For more on these thoughts and others see About this Blog, which talks instead about the Three Great Promises of Jesus, and about how through those promises we can live full, rich lives of spiritual abundance and do greater miracles than Jesus, if only we open our minds

In the meantime:

This feature focuses on next Sunday’s psalm, and on highlights from the psalms in the Daily Office Readings (DORs) in the week leading up to that upcoming Sunday.  The general plan is to review next Sunday’s readings on the Wednesday before, and to review the psalms from the DORs for the week ending on the Tuesday just before that “prior Wednesday.”

The Lectionary  psalm for Sunday, October 19, is Psalm 99.  The highlighted DOR psalms are from the readings for Wednesday October 8 up to Tuesday October 14.

Psalm 99 will be discussed below, but here are some highlights from last week.

The DORs for Friday, October 10, included Psalm 143:10, “Teach me to do what pleases you, for you are my God.”  (Always a good idea.)  And the DORs for Saturday, October 11, include the well-known Psalm 137:5, in the King James Version (the one God uses):

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.

For recent examples of the psalm see If I Forget TheeO Jerusalem! | Ken Blackwell – Huffington Post.  Note too it was the title of a William Faulkner novel, If I Forget TheeJerusalem – Wikipedia, which noted the novel “was originally published under the title The Wild Palms, which is the title of one of the two interwoven stories.  This title was chosen by the publishers … over the objections of Faulkner’s choice of a title.” 

For those of us needing to be “taken down a notch,” there’s Psalm 144:3, also one of the DORs for October 11:  “O Lord, what are we that you should care for us?  Mere mortals that you should think of us?”  Verse 9 of Psalm 144 says, “O God, I will sing to you a new song,” not the same old rehash of songs somebody else has done.  (Okay, that was a loose translation, but see also the posts under “sing lord new song” in the Search Engine above.)   Psalm 144:16 reads, “Happy are the people of whom this is so!  Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!”

The DORs for Saturday the 11th also included Psalm 104:27, “There move the ships, and there is that Leviathan, which you made for the sport of it.”  Not only does this show that God has a sense of humor (type in “God sense of humor” in the Search Engine above), it also refers to “a sea monster referenced in the Tanakh, or the Old Testament,” and specifically in the Book of Job (as shown below).  See On Job, the not-so-patient and also Leviathan – Wikipedia:

The word has become synonymous with any large sea monster or creature.  In literature (e.g., Herman Melville‘s Moby-Dick) it refers to great whales, and in Modern Hebrew, it simply means “whale.”  It is described extensively in Job 41 and mentioned in Psalm 104:26 [104:27 in the Revised Standard Version] and Isaiah 27:1. 

On the note of God having a sense of humor, see Psalm 2:4, from the DORs for Monday, October 13, “He whose throne is in heaven is laughing; the Lord has them in derision.”

Then there’s Psalm 2:7, in the KJV, “I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.”  One website said this:

Another psalm utilized often in the New Testament is Psalm 2, particularly verses 7–8:  “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you.  Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage…’”  The apostles even interpret their persecution in light of the “raging of the nations” against Christ, the appointed King, as described in Psalm 2:1–2 (Acts 4:25–28), and Christ Himself, when He commands the apostles to disciple … in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18–20) … claiming the post-resurrection promise of God to the King He has installed in Zion: “Ask of me and I will make the nations your heritage” (Ps. 2:8).  The author of Hebrews utilizes Psalm 2:7 to develop the glory of Christ as the exalted High Priest (Heb. 5:5)…

See Jesus and the Psalms – Ligonier Ministries.  In other words, and as has been stated repeatedly in this format, “It pays to know the psalms!”

And finally, of Psalm 99 – the one for next Sunday the 19th – it has been written, “There are three psalms which begin with the words, ‘The Lord (JEHOVAH) reigneth.’ (Psalms 93, 97, 99.) This [Psalm 99] is the third and last of these Psalms; and it is remarkable that in this Psalm the words He is holy are repeated three times (Psalm 99:3, 5, 9).”  See Treasury of David—Psalm 99 – The Spurgeon Archive, and also Psalm 99 Commentary by James Limburg:

As to genre, this is an enthronement psalm.  There are two types of psalms associated with kingship in ancient Israel.  The royal psalms are associated with events in the life of Israel’s king, such as a royal wedding (Psalm 45) or the installation of a new king (Psalms 2, 72, 101, 110)…   There are seven psalms that speak of the Lord being acclaimed king at some sort of festival.  These are called the enthronement psalms and include Psalms 47, 93, 95-99.

Note too that Psalm 99 begins and ends with a note of proper awe and respect:  “The LORD is King; let the people tremble; * He is enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth shake.”  And verse 9,  “Proclaim the greatness of the LORD our God and worship him upon his holy hill; * for the LORD our God is the Holy One.”


The upper image is courtesy of Psaltery – Wikipedia, with the full caption:   “A woman playing a psalterion.  Ancient Greek red-figured pelike from Anzi, Apulia, circa 320–310 BCE.”

The lower image is courtesy of Leviathan – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, with the caption, “‘Destruction of Leviathan,’ 1865 engraving by Gustave Doré.”

On “guilty until proven innocent”

 Over 200 years ago…

 Welcome to DORScribe, a blog about reading the Bible with an open mind…

In other words, this blog is different.  It’s different because it says that you can get more out of the Bible by reading it with an open mind, and that it was written to liberate people, not shackle them into some kind of “spiritual straitjacket.” Such ideas run contrary to some common perceptions these days.  For example:

I don’t have a problem with God.  I have a problem with religion.  I’ve chosen to live my life without the certainties of religious faith.

See 10 Questions for Sting – TIME.  (But here’s a news flash:  “If your religion makes you ‘certain,’you’re missing the point!”  See for example, On a dame and a mystic.) The comment by Gordon Matthew (Sting) provides an example of some common perceptions today:   1) that too many Christians are close-minded; 2) that too many are way too negative; or 3) that too many think The Faith of the Bible is all about getting you to follow their rules, on pain of you “going to hell.”  (See also my way or the highway – Wiktionary.) For more on such thoughts see About this Blog, which talks instead about the Three Great Promises of Jesus, to all people, and about how through those promises we can live full, rich lives of spiritual abundance and do greater miracles than Jesus, if only we open our minds

In the meantime:

Talk about old-time, conservative sentiments.  That’s William Blackstone all right. Speaking of which, columnist Greg Couch recently wrote an article, Florida State Needs to Suspend Quarterback Jameis Winston , in which he said this:

This is the moment for Florida State when it answers the big question:  What do you stand for?  It’s an opportunity, really.  You do the right thing for the right reasons, and no matter the cost, you can look in the mirror later.  When you stand for something, it’s forever… Suspend Jameis Winston.   Now…    It’s the only thing to do for Florida State;  it must take a moral stand for football and society.  And if Florida State lets Winston play?  Then that makes a statement, too – a dangerous one. (E.A.)

Mr. Couch is right about two things.  There is a basic principle involved, and the idea that we as a people need to err on the side of caution – to chance letting 10 guilty people go unpunished rather than punish one innocent – is indeed a very dangerous proposition. (And a BTW:  Mr. Couch is in good company.  His sentiments were shared by Bismarck, the German dictator, and Pol Pot, the Communist leader of the Khmer Rouge, as noted below.) As it happens, I just wrote about modern-day witch hunts – and/or “vigilante justice” – in On “Gone Girl” and Lazy Cusses – Part I, and On “Gone Girl” and Lazy Cusses – Part II.  However, don’t think this is just about Jameis Winston.  (See also Witchhunt – Wikipedia.) Think about Todd Gurley.  Think about Johnny Manziel.  Those three and others have one thing in common:  They are examples of the twin truisms that “destroying things is easier than building them,” and – as especially today – “the media loves to build somebody up then looks for something to take it away.”  (See It is easier to tear down than to build up – Idioms, and Butter for Paula Deen – Following Today Show, vis-a-vis another witch-hunt victim.) But let’s get back to William Blackstone’s dangerous truism, that it’s better to err on the side of caution when it comes to “convicting people.”   And don’t forget Deuteronomy 19:15-19:

One witness is not enough to convict anyone…   A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.   If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse someone of a crime, the …  judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony … then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party.  You must purge the evil from among you. (E.A.)

But again we digress…   We were talking about Blackstone’s dangerous idea. As Wikipedia noted, “the details of the ratio [may] change, but the message that government and the courts must err on the side of innocence is constant.”  See Blackstone’s formulation – Wikipedia, which added that the principle is much older than Blackstone, and in fact can be seen as early as Genesis 18:23-32.  (Noted in On arguing with God.) Wikipedia also noted the “12th-century legal theorist Maimonides, expounding on this passage as well as Exodus 23:7 (‘the innocent and righteous slay thou not’)” added this to the mix:

…executing an accused criminal on anything less than absolute certainty would progressively lead to convictions merely “according to the judge’s caprice.  Hence the Exalted One has shut this door” against the use of presumptive evidence, for “it is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent one to death.”

Wikipedia also noted “Sir John Fortescue‘s De Laudibus Legum Angliae (c. 1470),” and that in America, in 1692, “while decrying the Salem witch trialsIncrease Mather adapted Fortescue’s statement and wrote, ‘It were better that Ten Suspected Witches should escape, than that one Innocent Person should be Condemned.'”   And finally, Wikipedia noted this:

There are alternate theories:   More authoritarian personalities are supposed to have taken the opposite view; Bismarck is believed to have stated that “it is better that ten innocent men suffer than one guilty man escape;” and Pol Pot made similar remarks.

(Blackstone’s formulation.)   So what we have on the one hand is Mr. Couch saying FSU needs to “send a message.”  But unfortunately, that message would be:  “We don’t need to bother with finding the facts or with actual guilt.  A presumption of guilt is enough for some of us.”

On the other hand we have a bit of wisdom that’s been around for millenia – “thousands of years” – going back to the time of Abraham and lovingly “tweaked” by the likes of Moses, Maemonides, Sir John Fortescue, Increase Mather and Sir William Blackstone:

[Blackstone’s ] Commentaries on the Laws of England … is the best-known description of the doctrines of English law.  The work became the basis of university legal education in England and North America. He was knighted in 1770…  In the United States, the Commentaries influenced John MarshallJames WilsonJohn JayJohn AdamsJames Kent and Abraham Lincoln, and remain frequently cited in Supreme Court decisions.

But of course when it comes to who to believe, the choice is yours…

And there’s one final message, to Mr. Couch and others in the media like him:

Hey, I can pontificate too!

…and now?


The upper image is courtesy of Blackstone’s formulation.  The lower image is courtesy of Lynching – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (as another example of “vigilante justice,” as noted in the “Gone Girl” reviews noted above.)  The caption:  “September Massacres of 1792, in which Parisian mobs killed hundreds of royalist prisoners,” arguably in the old-time equivalent of a “media frenzy.”

(The other images – of lynchings and such – were too gory, while “September Massacres” provides an apt visual metaphor for a modern-day media frenzy…)

And a BTW: I wrote the bulk of this post before reading Jimbo Fisher not concerned over Jameis Winston, in which the coach said “this country is based on being innocent until proven guilty, not guilty until proven innocent.”    Which proves another truism: “Great minds think alike.” 

The final indented quote about Blackstone and his Commentaries was gleaned from William Blackstone – Wikipedia, and Sir William Blackstone (English jurist) — Encyclopedia ….

On “Gone Girl” and Lazy Cusses – Part II

A 19th-century example of vigilante justice… 



Welcome to DORScribe, a blog about reading the Bible with an open mind.

In other words, this blog is different.   (For one thing it includes movie reviews like this to see how “old-timey” Biblical principles can apply to modern culture…)

But mostly this blog says you can get more out of the Bible by reading it with an open mind, and that it was written to liberate people, not shackle them in some kind of “spiritual straitjacket.”

Such ideas run contrary to some common perceptions these days.  For example:

I don’t have a problem with God.  I have a problem with religion.  I’ve chosen to live my life without the certainties of religious faith.

See 10 Questions for Sting – TIME.  (But here’s a news flash:  “If your religion makes you ‘certain,’ you’re missing the point!”  See for example, On a dame and a mystic.)

Sting’s comment gives one example of some common perceptions of Christians today:   1) that too many are close-minded; 2) that too many are way too negative; or 3) that too many Christians think The Faith of the Bible is all about getting you to follow their set of rules, on pain of you “going to hell.”  (See my way or the highway – Wiktionary.)

For more on such thoughts see About this Blog, which talks instead about the Three Great Promises of Jesus, to all people, and about how through those promises we can live full, rich lives of spiritual abundance and do greater miracles than Jesus, if only we open our minds


In the meantime:

 We were talking about vigilante justice, as examined in the movie Gone Girl, and in the Biblical example of the Apostle Paul being nearly “lynched” by a group of rioters in Jerusalem.  (See On “Gone Girl” and Lazy Cusses – Part I.)

As noted, the Daily Office Readings for Saturday, October 11, included Acts 25:13-27, where Paul made his defense before the Roman governor Festus, along with “Agrippa the king” (who ruled as a puppet of Rome).  Again, this all started back when Paul arrived in Jerusalem after this third missionary journey, and got in trouble at the hands of certain “agitatators.”

That is – and as told back in Acts 21:27-32 – some members of the “powers that be” in Jerusalem saw Paul in the Temple accompanied by “infidels,” and totally misconstrued the situation:

They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us!  This is the man who … has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place…  The whole city was aroused, and the people came running from all directions.  Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple…  While they were trying to kill him, news reached the commander of the Roman troops that the whole city of Jerusalem was in an uproar.  He at once took some officers and soldiers and ran down to the crowd.  When the rioters saw the commander and his soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.

Sound familiar?  (I mean, except for the part about soldiers rescuing a person accused of a heinous crime from an angry mob?)   And aside from that, there’s a BTW:  Paul had followed the law and purified both himself and his “guests” before entering the holy Temple.  So “the crowd” got it all wrong but didn’t let a trifling thing like the actual facts get in the way of a good riot.

The upshot was that Paul was arrested and made his defense in several tribunals, including the Sanhedrin, but when the Roman authorities learned that some of the rioters had hatched a plan to kill Paul, they had him taken to Caesarea, where – as noted – he eventually made his defense before Festus and King Agrippa, as told in Acts 25:13-2.

This was after Festus went to Jerusalem to consult Paul’s accusers, but as noted in Acts 25:3, “They requested Festus, as a favor to them, to have Paul transferred to Jerusalem, for they were preparing an ambush to kill him along the way.”  But Festus – in a justified abundance of caution – had them come to Caesarea, where he (Festus) brought King Agrippa up to speed:

Festus discussed Paul’s case with the king.  He said: “There is a man here whom [former Roman governor] Felix left as a prisoner.  When I went to Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges against him and asked that he be condemned.   I told them that it is not the Roman custom to hand over anyone before they have faced their accusers and have had an opportunity to defend themselves against the charges.”

(Acts 25:14-16, emphasis added)   What a concept!  Having a person accused of a heinous crime being able to actually face the person accusing him, and be able to present a defense.  What will they think of next?   (See Sarcasm – Wikipedia, and/or Irony – Wikipedia.)

But seriously, there is cause for concern these days, as explored by the movie Gone Girl.   (And yes – in case I’m being too subtle – I am saying that such media frenzies and/or circuses are indeed a form of modern-day vigilantism…)

There’s a reason why we have things like the Sixth Amendment, which is supposed to guarantee that a person accused of a crime can only be convicted after a public trial “by an impartial jury … and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”  See Bill of Rights Institute: Bill of Rights.

And by the way, these aren’t “new-fangled pointy-headed liberal” legal protections.  They go back to the Bible times of Paul and beyond.  And there’s one big reason for this Biblical protection:  In way too many cases “the crowd” – or in today’s case the media – simply gets it all wrong, as shown in the image below.  But there’s another big lesson here:  the Bible was designed in large part to protect idiots from their own stupidity! 

That is, in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus said, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”   But more importantly, He added this, in Matthew 7:2 (NIV):  “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

So, if you’re prone to make snap judgments based on incomplete information from sources that aren’t always reliable – like today’s mass media – the chances are good that that’s the same method God will use in judging you.  (See also Karma – Wikipedia.)

Now, getting back to the movie being reviewed, Gone Girl:

I don’t want to give away the ironic plot twist or the ending, but here’s a hint:



The upper image is courtesy of Vigilante – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, with the full caption, “A lynching carried out by the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance of 1856.”  The article added:

“Vigilante justice” is rationalized by the idea that adequate legal mechanisms for criminal punishment are either nonexistent or insufficient.  Vigilantes typically see the government as ineffective in enforcing the law; such individuals often claim to justify their actions as a fulfillment of the wishes of the community…   In a number of cases, vigilantism has involved targets with mistaken identities.

The lower image is courtesy Dewey Defeats Truman – Wikipedia: “‘Dewey Defeats Truman’ was a famously incorrect banner headline on the front page of the Chicago Tribune on November 3, 1948, the day after incumbent United States President Harry S. Truman won an upset victory over Republican challenger and Governor of New York Thomas E. Dewey in the 1948 presidential election.”   The full caption:  “President-elect Truman holding the infamous issue of the Chicago Tribune, telling the press, ‘That ain’t the way I heard it!’”


As to the subtle difference between a media frenzy and a media circus, see also Media Frenzy Global, a company that apparently specializes in “frenzy manipulation:”

Whether you’re trying to pique interest, incite sales, stir the market, or fan the flames of controversy, one thing is certain – you need to cause a commotion.  Of course, you want to remain cool and composed in the midst of the excitement…   In other words, you want to harness the media frenzy…    We harness the media frenzy by controlling, managing and exploiting the media platforms…

All of which provides an interesting commentary on modern life.

See also Court of public opinion – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia; “It has been said that the prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse case attempted to try the case in the court of public opinion by making unsupported allegations to the media. In the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case, it was alleged that parties were using court pleadings as press releases.”



“Gone Girl” movie review and Media Frenzy

A still from Gone Girl.   (Note the “askew”camera angle, symbolizing “media frenzy…”)


The movie Gone Girl explores the modern-day phenomenon of media frenzies, and how they can be manipulated by those apparently being manipulated…

As noted in On “Gone Girl” and Lazy Cusses – Part II, this blog is different for reasons including that it has movie reviews like this one, to see how “old-timey” Biblical principles can apply to modern culture.  There’s more on that below, but first let’s begin with this note:

Harry Truman didn’t have much use for the reporters of his day.

“Newspapermen, and they’re all a bunch of lazy cusses, once one of them writes something, the others rewrite it and rewrite it, and they keep right on doing it without ever stopping to find out if the first fellow was telling the truth or not.”

Truman also spoke of plowing a field with a mule as being the “most peaceful thing in the world,” an activity that gave old-time farmers plenty of time for thought.  (Guys like Thomas Jefferson…)   But – Truman added – “there’s some danger that you may, like the fella said, get kicked in the head by a mule and end up believing everything you read in the papers.”

Some 20 years later the president’s feelings were mirrored by a brash young “AFL” quarterback named Joe Namath.   Shortly after Joe signed with the Jets (for a record salary), a wise-guy New York reporter asked what he had majored in, down south at the University of Alabama; “Basket-weaving?”   Joe answered, “No man, I majored in journalism.  It was easier.”

Then in 2014 along came Gone Girl, a film that expresses pretty much the same feelings about “media frenzies” as Harry Truman and Joe Namath, only more so.

*   *   *   *

Which brings up the point that I – the Scribe – did movie reviews for the student newspaper, back in mid-1970s  when I was getting a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications.  It seemed like a good way to go on and make a living, doing two things that I loved; watching movies and writing about them.  But alas, God had other plans for me (that’s my story anyway), and you could say my life that followed had enough twists, turns and betrayals to be made into a movie like Gone Girl.   But my point – if I’m being too subtle – is that in the fullness of time, here I am again, writing in a venue (the blog) that didn’t exist back then.  Somehow it’s like “coming home.”

(Oh, and did I mention that I went on to get a Master’s degree in Journalism?)

*   *   *   *

So anyway, Wikipedia said that the film Gone Girl “examines dishonesty, the media, the economy’s effects on marriage, and appearances:”

On the day of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Affleck) returns home to find that his wife Amy (Pike), is missing.  In the ensuing media frenzy, suspicions arise that Nick murdered her, and his awkward behavior is interpreted as characteristic of a sociopath.

See Gone Girl (film) – Wikipedia (emphasis added).   In other words, the character Nick Dunne was tried in and by the media, who found him guilty, as so often happens these days.  But as it turned out, the process by which he was tried and convicted was “infected by the politicized, media-enabled ‘cult of victimhood.'”  (See the Rothman note below.)

Which in turn brings up the topic of the modern-day media frenzy or media circus:

Media circus is a colloquial metaphor, or idiom, describing a news event where the media coverage is perceived to be out of proportion to the event being covered, such as the number of reporters at the scene, the amount of news media published or broadcast, and the level of media hype.  The term is meant to critique the media, usually negatively, by comparing it to a circus, and is considered an idiom as opposed to a literal observation.  Usage of the term in this sense became common in the 1970s.

See Media circus – Wikipedia.  All of which brings up the New Testament reading in the Daily Office for Saturday, October 11, Acts 25:13-27.  To bring you up to speed, after Paul arrived in Jerusalem after his third missionary journey, he suffered a “media circus” of his own, as shown below in the work by Gustave Dore.  He was arrested and later tried, first in Jerusalem and later in Caesarea, all of which makes for some interesting “compare and contrast.”

For more on that, see “On ‘Gone Girl’ and the Lazy Cusses – Part II.”


The upper image is courtesy of What “Gone Girl” Is Really About, a review in The New Yorker, dated October 8, by Joshua Rothman, which includes this telling tidbit:

[W]e’re fascinated with stories of victimhood – and … especially in tabloid, cable-news culture, we endow victims with specialness, sanctity, and celebrity.   “Gone Girl” asks whether genuine expressions of sympathy or solidarity with victims can ever happen without being infected by the politicized, media-enabled “cult of victimhood.”

Rothman’s review compared the movie with “what I heard” about the book version, and concluded that what’s best about the movie is that it “gets at what is unsettling about coupledom [i.e., marriage or “serious relationships”] : our suspicion that, in some fundamental sense, it necessarily entails victimization.”  See also Gone Girl (film) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  But as noted herein, Yours Truly thinks that the movie is really about the modern media and its role in contemporary “lynchings,” which to this point have generally been metaphoric.

For other reviews of the movie, see Gone Girl – Rotten Tomatoes.

The lower image is courtesy of Wikimedia and/or  See also Gustave Doré – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


The first quote on reporters is courtesy of Plain Speaking[:]  An oral biography of Harry S. Truman, by Merle Miller, Berkley Publishing NY (1973), at page 251.   The “field-mule” quote is at page 258.

The Namath quote is courtesy of famous alabama football quotes – Angelfire.  See also Joe Namath – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which noted that when Namath signed with the Jets, the NFL and AFL were separate leagues, engaged in a “bidding war” for college players. 


On “God’s Favorite Team” – Part III

Moses at Rephidim:  “If I let my arms down, the other team will win!


Here’s a quick response for any ardent football fan – pro or college – who gets a lot of grief for his or her “weird” fan ritual.   You know, that weird little ritual you use to help your team win, or conversely, to help avoid jinxing your team.

You may mute the sound on your TV.  (For example, if your team is on the road, losing, and you can’t stand the home crowd’s obnoxious cheering and/or gloating.)  Or you may wear a particular “good luck” jersey.  Or you may recite a “magic phrase,” over and over, like the guy I overheard at a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game years ago; “knock ‘eem down, knock ‘eem down!!

To all of this the doubting skeptic may say something like:  “Do you really believe you can affect the outcome of that game, by your pathetic little ritual?  Do you really think you have that much power?”  The answer – after ten trips through the Bible, and years of research – is YES!

Which is being interpreted: “Oh, you mean like Moses at the Battle of Rephidim?

Which is being interpreted in turn: Exodus 17 (verses 10-13) described how Moses’ team – the ancient Hebrews – pulled off the functional equivalent of their first upset of the season, long long ago.  That’s when they beat their hated arch-rival, the dreaded Amalekites:

Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.  Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Am′alek prevailedBut Moses’ hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat upon it, and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. [E.A.]

Now that’s a serious fan, sport or otherwise.   First of all, Moses developed the theory of having to hold his arms up in the air, on pain of “jinxing his team.”  More than that, when his arms got tired he got his two buddies – Aaron and Hur – to hold his arms up in the air.  (And by the way, that’s a form of post hoc, ergo propter hoc, the logical fallacy translating literally as “following after, therefore caused by.”  See also On “God’s Favorite Team” – Part II.)

However, as the current advertising meme says:  “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work:”

Football season was in full swing … and everyone knew it, especially Bud Light, who created an advertisement campaign with the slogan “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work,” in reference to the superstitions and rituals every die-hard fan practices when their team is up.

See It’s only weird if it doesn’t work. | Advertising & Society, which noted the TV commercial included a “montage of different superstitions fans [use], whether it be snapping fingers, stomping feet, or” – as in the case of Moses at Rephidim – getting two buddies to hold your arms up, because if you let them down, “the other team wins.”

All of which brings us back to my novel, God’s Favorite Team.  To cut to the chase, it’s about an ardent fan whose ritual included a “sacrifice” in the form of exercise – and especially running long distances – together with the discipline of daily Bible reading.   So, even if his team didn’t win all the time, he still ended up in better shape in the long run, both physically and spiritually.

And as a matter of fact, that’s how this whole blog got started…

Which is being interpreted:  My own horizon-expanding started back in the summer of 1992, in the form of reading the Bible on a daily basis.  Not only did I start in on the Bible, that’s also when I started my aerobic “ritual sacrifice.”  I did all of this in a mystic quest to help my alma mater win college football games.  (Florida State University, where I went to law school.)

But note too that most spiritual pilgrimages start that way.  From a sense of “greed.”  From wanting something good from God.  Or wanting God to keep something bad from happening…  So since 1992, I’ve been engaged in an ongoing search for the functional equivalent of Moses holding his hands up at Rephidim.  Ten trips through the Bible later, I’ve learned some lessons.  In turn it’s those lessons that I’m sharing with you through this blog.

One particularly-hard lesson to learn is that – lots of times – our own particular ritual – sports or otherwise – just doesn’t work.  (See for example:  Week of Upsets Turns College Football Upside Down: Who Is No. 1?)   That in turn leads to a lesson from the Bible on the proper approach to those trying times.   We keep trying – and have faith – as shown in the book of Daniel:

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied…  “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.    If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Now that’s true faith.


The upper image is courtesy of Rephidim – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, with the full caption:  “Moses holding up his arms during the Battle of Rephidim, assisted by Hur and Aaron, in John Everett MillaisVictory O Lord! (1871).”

*  As to the practice of religion being certain:  There is the “certainty” in the life of a Christian that he “has already won” in his “game of life.”  The true Christian knows how his life will end; it’s the time between now-and-then that can be so uncertain, usually because God has a different agenda…

The lower image is courtesy of,  an adaptation of an original work by Gustave Dore.  See Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the Furnace – Gustave Dorea.  The image illustrates Daniel 3:16-18 (NIV), emphasis added, and shows that the proper approach of your ritual sport-sacrifice will never that your favorite team will always win, even though God has the power to do just that.   (If you could find that one “ritually efficacious sacrifice,” you’d just end up spoiled, sloppy and obnoxious, metaphorically or otherwise.)


On the readings for October 12

Moses doesn’t like this.   Moses doesn’t like this one bit…



The readings for Sunday October 12 are Exodus 32:1-14, Psalm 106 (portions), Philippians 4:1-9, and Matthew 22:1-14.  For Psalm 106, see On the Psalms up to October 12.  The full readings are at Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost Proper 23, but here are some highlights.

Exodus 32:1-14 tells  what happened with the people of Israel as Moses was on Mount Sinai – for 40 days and nights – getting the original 10 Commandments.  In brief, they really messed up:

The Israelites feared that [Moses] would not return and demanded that Aaron make them … a “molten calf…”  Aaron built an altar before the calf and proclaimed the next day to be a feast to the LORD.  So they rose up early the next day … and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play…   God told Moses what the Israelites were up to back in camp [and said He would ] destroy them and start a new people from Moses.  Moses argued and pleaded* … and God “repented of the evil which He said He would do unto His people.”

See Golden calf – Wikipedia.  (Incidentally, in the follow-up – Exodus 32:15-20 – “Moses went down from the mountain, but upon seeing the calf, he became angry and threw down the two Tablets of Stone,” as shown in the illustration above.  He then “burnt the golden calf in a fire, ground it to powder, scattered it on water, and forced the Israelites to drink it.”)

In Philippians 4:1-9, Paul followed up on last week’s reading (3:4-14), with an “appeal to rejoice in the Lord.”  He called on his followers to “stand firm in the Lord,” to let their gentleness “be known to everyone,” and to “not worry about anything.”  As the International Bible Commentary noted, this referred to “not being careless but free from the strain which turns so easily to distrust.”  Rather, the proper response is to let your requests be made known to God:

And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.  

In Matthew 22:1-14, Jesus told the Parable of the Great Banquet – Wikipedia, not to be confused with the Parable of the Wedding Feast – Wikipedia, which is only in Luke’s Gospel.  As Wikipedia noted, the “Banquet” parable appears in both Matthew 22:1-14 and Luke 14:15-24.  On the other hand, Luke’s rendition of the “Feast” parable – at Luke 14:7-14 – is designed to teach at least one different lesson, as told in Luke 14:11:  “For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Getting back to today’s parable in Matthew, Jesus told of a king “who gave a wedding banquet for his son,” but the invited guests not only gave lame excuses, they also seized the king’s messengers, “mistreated them, and killed them.”  The king first got his revenge, noting that “those invited were not worthy.”  He then told his messengers go out in the streets and gather “all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests,” but one guest showed up in his street clothes.   As Wikipedia noted (in “Banquet,” above):

The targets of the parable are the already religious who have no time for God; they are represented by the people who accepted an invitation, but when the food is ready, claim they are too busy to turn up…   In Matthew, the parable immediately follows the parable of the Wicked Husbandmen, to which it is linked.  This connection helps to explain the treatment of the man without wedding clothes. (E.A.)

As generally interpreted, the “wedding invitation” symbolized Jesus extending the “Good News” first to His own people, but when they refused His invitation, that invitation was “extended to anyone and everyone, total strangers, both good and bad…   The gospel message, Jesus taught, would be made available to everyone,” to the Hebrews and to the Gentiles.  See What is the meaning of the Parable of the Wedding Feast?, which added:

[I]t is not because the invited guests could not come … but that they would not come…   The matter of the wedding garment is [also] instructive.  It would be a gross insult to the king to refuse to wear the garment provided to the guests. The man who was caught wearing his old clothing learned what an offense it was as he was removed…   This was Jesus’ way of teaching the inadequacy of self-righteousness.

Which is another way of saying that not only “if it was easy anybody could do it,” but that if your spiritual pilgrimage is too easy, you’re probably not doing it right, because:

It is to vigour rather than comfort that you are called.



The upper image is courtesy of   See also On Moses and “illeism”, which showed another version of the image, and is where the caption came from.

Re:  “Moses argued and pleaded…”  See also On arguing with God.

The lower image is courtesy of Parable of the Great Banquet – Wikipedia, with the caption, “Jan Luyken: the man without a wedding garment, Bowyer Bible.”

Re: “It is to vigour…”  See A quick summary, above.

On the Psalms up to October 12

“A woman playing a psalterion,” an instrument used to accompany psalms

This feature focuses on next Sunday’s psalm, and on highlights from the psalms in the Daily Office Readings (DORs) in the week leading up to that upcoming Sunday.  The general plan is to review next Sunday’s readings on the Wednesday before, and to review the psalms from the DORs for the week ending on the Tuesday just before that “prior Wednesday.”

The Lectionary Page  psalm for Sunday, October 12, is Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23.  The highlighted DOR psalms are from the readings for Wednesday October 1 up to Tuesday October 7.

Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23 will be discussed below, but here are some highlights from last week.

The DORs for Thursday, October 2 included Psalm 105 – a psalm I covered in On the readings for August 31- Part II.  That post in turn covered the so-called Curse of Ham – Wikipedia:

[I]n later centuries, the narrative was interpreted by some Jews, Christians and Muslims as a curse of, and an explanation for, black skin, as well as slavery.

But – as I also noted – a strict interpretation of the plain meaning of the Bible would mean “all those years it should have been Egyptians working in those cotton fields.”

The Daily Office Readings for Tuesday, October 7, included Psalm 127:4-6

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.

This passage from Psalm 127 gave rise to Quiverfull, a movement among some conservative Protestant couples, promoting child-bearing and seeing “children as a blessing from God.”  Its followers eschew “all forms of birth control, including natural family planning and sterilization,” and are sometimes known simply as “QF Christians.”  See Quiverfull – Wikipedia.   That movement in turn came under the heading “of taking the Bible too literally, not to mention ‘out of context,'” in the prior post On snake-handling, Fundamentalism and suicide – Part I, which added this:

Further information on the “Quiverfull Movement” can be found at sites including Quiverfull – Wikipedia[;] What Is Quiverfull? [;] 5 Insane Lessons from My Christian Fundamentalist Childhood ;  and/or QuiverFull .com :: Psalm 127:3-5.

The DORs for Saturday, October 4 included Psalm 33:12, as shown in the image below. As to Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23, the one for this upcoming Sunday, here’s what one website said:

This Psalm begins and ends with Hallelujah – “Praise ye the Lord.”  The space between these two descriptions of praise is filled up with the mournful details of Israel’s sin, and the extraordinary patience of God…    It is, in fact, a national confession, and includes an acknowledgment of the transgressions of Israel in Egypt, in the wilderness, and in Canaan, with devout petitions for forgiveness.   

See Psalm 106Commentary – The Treasury of David.  But as always, there is a key point to remember, in this case from verse 1:  “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures for ever.”   Or as noted in the “Commentary” above:

While we are studying this holy Psalm, let us all along see ourselves in the Lord’s ancient people, and bemoan our own provocations of the Most High, at the same time admiring his infinite patience, and adoring him because of it.



The upper image is courtesy of Psaltery – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, with the full caption:   “A woman playing a psalterion.  Ancient Greek red-figured pelike from Anzi, Apulia, circa 320–310 BCE.”

The lower image is courtesy of, and/or may be seen at,

There’s not a whole lot more you can add to that…




On Hosea and the prostitute

The prophet Hosea, whose wife Gomer was a prostitute…


Beginning on Sunday September 21, the Old Testament Daily Office Readings (DORs) have been from the book of Hosea.  Those readings go on until Monday October 6, but the climax of the book came in the reading for Thursday October 2, with this message from God:

I don’t want your sacrifices – I want your love;
    I don’t want your offerings – I want you to know me.

That’s the Living Bible translation of Hosea 6:6.  The Good News translation – with the heading “The People’s Insincere Repentance” – reads like this, “I want your constant love, not your animal sacrifices.  I would rather have my people know me than burn offerings to me.” 

(Which is pretty much the theme of this blog; that and the idea that the best way to get to know Him is to use the brain that God gave you…)

On that note, think of the wife at home who keeps getting wonderful gifts from her husband, but without either his attention or his love.  He may be rich, and likely is very busy, so whether he’s cheating on his wife or not, he’s too busy to give his partner the attention she wants.

In other words, he takes her for granted, which seems to be how some people treat God.

See also the Lesson of the widow’s mite – Wikipedia, where “Jesus explains to his disciples that the small sacrifices of the poor mean more to God than the extravagant, but proportionately lesser, donations of the rich.”

But maybe it wasn’t the fact that the poor widow “gave all that she had” that mattered to God.  Maybe it was the fact that the poor widow paid more attention to God.

Which  brings us back to Hosea and his wife, Gomer.   The prophet “married the prostitute Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, at God‘s command.”  (Hosea 1:2-3.)

Hosea used his own experience as a symbolic representation of God and Israel:  God the husband, Israel the wife.   Hosea’s wife left him to go with other men;  Israel left the Lord to go with false gods.   Hosea searched for his wife, found her and brought her back;  God would not abandon Israel and brought them back even though they had forsaken him.

See Hosea – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and also Book of Hosea – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which put it this way:  God told Hosea to “marry a promiscuous woman of ill-repute, and he did so.”  So Hosea’s marriage to this unfaithful woman came to symbolize the “marriage” between God and Israel.  But Israel was unfaithful, “symbolized by a harlot who violates the obligations of marriage.”

Incidentally, Hosea 8:7 is also known for Reap the whirlwind (phrase), a term “derived from the proverbial phrase ‘They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind.'”   An example of the phrase “used in a sentence” comes from World War II:  “It was famously used by Bomber Harris in response to the Blitz of 1940 when he said:

The Nazis entered this war under the rather childish delusion that they were going to bomb everybody else, and nobody was going to bomb them.  At Rotterdam, London, Warsaw, and half a hundred other places, they put that rather naive theory into operation.  They sowed the wind, and now, they are going to reap the whirlwind.'”

See also Reap the whirlwind – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Some other tidbits:  In English his name would be “Joseph,” and his name is related to “Joshua,” which like the name Hosea translates as “salvation.”   Also:

[F]eminist interpretation regards the story of Hosea and his relations with his wife Gomer as a metaphor for the conflict between a Covenant Theology (Israel violating the covenant relationship with YHWH) and a Creation Theology (YHWH will undo the fertility of the earth in response to Israel following other fertility gods).

See Gomer (wife of Hosea) – Wikipedia.  There was another Gomer in or related to the Bible, “the eldest son of Japheth (and of the Japhetic line), and father of Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah, according to the ‘Table of Nations’ in the Hebrew Bible.”  See Gomer – Wikipedia.

(Japheth is one of three sons of Noah, “listed in the order ‘Shem, Ham, and Japheth’ in Genesis 5:32, 9:18 and 10:1, but treated in the reverse order in the remainder of chapter 10.”

And finally, “gomer” has a different meaning in the medical field.  See Urban Dictionary: gomer:

Medical slang for a patient who “has lost – often through age – what goes into being a human being” (quote from Samuel Shem’s “The House Of God”).  Typically an old demented noncommunicative patient.  Stands for “Get Out Of My Emergency Room” [as in:]  I wish that gomer in room 3820 would stop moaning.


    So who knew there were so many gomers in the world?



Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. - The Complete First Season

“But no, not that Gomer…”


The upper image is courtesy of Hosea – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  See also the blog But Not Yet, and/or…, the name of which apparently comes from a quote attributed to St. Augustine, “As a youth I prayed, ‘Give me chastity and continence, but not yet…’”  

The post with the upper image – Being a Prophet Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be – included a review of a speech given by Rick Santorum, in which he asked if there was “such a thing as a sincere liberal Christian?”  The blogger noted that the gist of the speech was that “unless you believe exactly as he does, you’re not a Christian.”  See above, “too many think The Faith is about following their rules.”

The lower image is courtesy of, Gomer Pyle, USMC – The Complete First Season.

For further information on the prophet Hosea, see Hosea Facts, information, pictures | …, and/or Overview of Hosea: The Prophet and the Prostitute.


On the readings for October 5 – Part II

One take on the “Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen,” as told by Jesus in the Gospel…



Welcome to DORScribe, a blog about reading the Bible with an open mind.


In other words, this blog is different.

It says you can learn more by reading the Bible with an open mind, and also that the Bible was written to liberate, not shackle you it into some kind of “spiritual straitjacket.”

Such ideas run contrary to some common perceptions: 1) that too many Christians are close-minded; 2) that too many are negative; or 3) that too many think The Faith is about following their rules on pain of your “going to hell”.   (See my way or the highway – Wiktionary.)

For more on such thoughts see About this Blog, which talks instead about the Three Great Promises of Jesus, to all people, and about how through those promises we can live full, rich lives of spiritual abundance and do greater miracles than Jesus, if only we open our minds


In the meantime:

As noted in On the readings for October 5 – Part I, next Sunday’s readings are from Exodus 20, Psalm 19, Philippians 3:4b-14, and Matthew 21:33-46.   “Part I” covered the Old Testament reading, and here are some highlights from the New Testament and Gospel.  (The full readings are at Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost Proper 22. )

The New Testament reading is Philippians 3:4b-14, where Paul first gave his credentials; “a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”  But he added that he gave all that up “because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ.”  (See also Epistle to the Philippians – Wikipedia.)

Here’s a take on this week’s New Testament reading from Atlanta Bishop Robert Wright, using the metaphor of football teams specializing in either offense or defense:

Many sports have two components: offense and defense.  Defense means you do everything you can to prevent your opponent from scoring…  Offense is different. On offense you use your wits, experience, athleticism and skill to score…    In response to the advance of modern culture some in the church have locked into a defensive mode…  But the Bible says God is always on offense…   God dispatches truth-telling men and women; that’s offense…    God defeated death with love on the Cross…   With this insight into God’s character, [it’s] no surprise Paul said, “I press on toward the goal for the prize….”   Philippians 3:14

See Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, Georgia (GA), under “For Faith,” for October 3, 2014.

In the Gospel reading, Matthew 21:33-46, Jesus told another parable, the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen – Wikipedia.   This parable was about the chief priests and Pharisees, given in Jerusalem “in the Temple during the final week before the death of Jesus.”

Wikipedia noted the “description of the vineyard is from Isaiah 5” (see the notes below), while Isaac Asimov said the passage demonstrated Jesus’ quick wit and/or His Talmudic reasoning.  Asimov added that it became increasingly clear to the “powers that be” that Jesus was a threat; “Galilean backwoodsman or not, He had a quick wit and a fund of ready quotations.   Yet He had to be stopped…”  (Asimov, 865-67)   Then Wikipedia added another interesting tidbit:

There also seems to be a direct historical reference by Jesus to Sennacherib, king of Assyria, some 700 years previous.  Sennacherib conquered Babylon at the time that Hezekiah was king of Judah, and set up several rulers over the city, all of whom were overthrown.  Finally, he sent his son and heir apparent Assur-nadin-sumi to rule, but after a short time, he was also killed.  Finally, Sennacherib himself went to Babylon and destroyed the city stone by stone, and placed a curse on it that it should not be rebuilt for seventy years.

At any rate, the passage ends like this:  “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them.  They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.”

In other words, Jesus’ time here on earth was running out…


The upper image is courtesy of Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen – Wikipedia, with the caption, “The Wicked Husbandmen from the Bowyer Bible, 19th century.”

The lower image is courtesy of Book of Isaiah – Wikipedia, which included this visual interpretation of Isaiah, by Michelangelo, circa 1508-12), at the Vatican; “Vatican CitySistine Chapel ceiling.”

As to Isaiah Chapter 5, the New International Version (NIV), labels it “The Song of the Vineyard,” while the Expanded Bible (EXB) uses the phrase, “Israel, the Lord’s Vineyard.”   The English Standard Version calls it “The Vineyard of the Lord destroyed.”  Here’s the Living Bible (TLB) translation of Isaiah 5:1-2:  

Now I will sing a song about his vineyard to the one I love.  My Beloved has a vineyard on a very fertile hill.  He plowed it and took out all the rocks and planted his vineyard with the choicest vines.  He built a watchtower and cut a winepress in the rocks.  Then he waited for the harvest, but the grapes that grew were wild and sour and not at all the sweet ones he expected.

So whether Jesus was referring to Isaiah 5 or King Sennacherib in His parable today, He certainly knew His Scripture, or His history, or both.  See also George Santayana – Wikiquote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”


For more on the “Talmudic reasoning” demonstrated by Jesus in the Gospel, see articles including see Talmudic Humor and the Establishment of Legal Principles, and/or Talmudic Reasoning: From Casuistics to Conceptualization ….

The Isaac Asimov quotes are from  Asimov’s Guide to the Bible (Two Volumes in One),  Avenel Books (1981), at pages 865-67.

On the readings for October 5 – Part I

Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments holding the tablets of the covenant

Moses – also known as “Charlton Heston” – holding the original 10 Commandments...


The readings for Sunday October 5 are Exodus 20:1-4,7-9,12-20, Psalm 19, Philippians 3:4b-14, and Matthew 21:33-46.   For Psalm 19, see On the Psalms up to October 5.  The full readings are at Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost Proper 22.

Here are some highlights from the Old Testament reading.  For highlights from the New Testament and Gospel readings, see On the readings for October 5 – Part II.

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20 includes the first rendition of the 10 Commandments.  A second restatement came later on in Deuteronomy (from the Greek for “second law”):

Deuteronomy 5:4–20 consists of God’s re-telling of the Ten Commandments to the younger generation who were to enter the Promised Land.  The passages in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 contain more than ten imperative statements, totalling 14 or 15 in all.

(E.A.)  Incidentally, Dueteronomy is a set of sermons given by Moses to this younger generation, as a result of the older generation showing a lack of faith, 40 years earlier.

That is, not long after God gave the Hebrews the original 10 Commandments, He also gave them a chance to demonstrate their faith and enter the Promised Land quickly.  But that older generation failed that test, and the result was their having to literally wander in the wilderness, for another 40 years, until that older generation died off and a new generation took its’ place.

Moses reviewed this history in the first chapter of Deuteronomy, to instruct that new generation about to enter the Promised Land.  The review included a second version of the Ten Commandments, after Moses told of God’s pronouncement in Deuteronomy 1:34-36:

“And the LORD … was angered, and he swore, ‘Not one of these men of this evil generation shall see the good land which I swore to give to your fathers, except Caleb the son of Jephun’neh; he shall see it, and to him and to his children I will give the land upon which he has trodden, because he has wholly followed the LORD!’ 

(See also The Twelve Spies – Wikipedia, about Numbers 13, where Moses sent out 12 men to spy out the Promised Land.   Ten men said the land was too hard to conquer, while Joshua and Caleb said it would be easy, with God’s help; “the Israelites believed the majority’s conclusions.  All of the spies except Joshua and Caleb were struck down with a plague and died.”  That led to the Hebrews having to wander in the wilderness another 40 years.  So much for majority rule.)

And that’s why we have two versions of the 10 Commandments in the Bible…

Getting back to the original 10 Commandments, it is “a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and Christianity.”  See also, Ten Commandments – Wikipedia, which said they address “matters of fundamental importance in both Judaism and Christianity.”  The article then added:

The Ten Commandments are written with room for varying interpretation, reflecting their role as a summary of fundamental principles…  [T]hey provide guiding principles that apply universally, across changing circumstances.  They do not specify punishments for their violation.  Their precise import must be worked out in each separate situation.

Note those words like “varying interpretation,” and “guiding principles that apply across changing circumstances.”   Of course Fundamentalism and/or interpreting the Bible literally is much easier to do, mostly because you don’t have to think or use the brain God gave you.  (But see also On broadminded, spelled “s-i-n”.)   Anyway, here are the original Big 10:

1)  “I am the LORD your God[;] you shall have no other gods before me;”  2)  You shall not make for yourself an idol;”  3)  “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God;”  4)  Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy;”  5)  “Honor your father and your mother;”  6)  “You shall not murder;”  7)  “You shall not commit adultery;”  8)  “You shall not steal;”  9)  “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor;”  10)  “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house … or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”  [RSV]

As noted, for more highlights from the New Testament and Gospel readings, see On the readings for October 5 – Part II.



The upper image is courtesy of Never-before-seen slides from The Ten Commandments starring , about a January 2014 auction of a “collection of items from Cecil B. DeMille films, including The Ten Commandments…   The highlight of the collection is 15 previously unpublished 35mm color slides from the set of the 1956 classic.”  The article added, “Charlton Heston was one of the iconic film stars of the 20th century…  His instantly recognizable features, seen in these paintings have become synonymous with his commanding performance as Moses.”

The lower image is courtesy of the Wikipedia article, The Twelve Spies – Wikipedia, with the caption, “The Grapes of Canaan by James Tissot.  Although the spies brought back a cluster of grapes so large that it took two men to carry it (Numbers 13:23), only two of the twelve brought back a good report of the land.”   Wikipedia added the following note:

When ten of the twelve spies showed little faith … they were slandering what they believed God had promised them. They did not believe that God could help them, and the people as a whole were persuaded that it was not possible to take the land.  As a result, the entire nation was made to wander in the desert for 40 years, until almost the entire generation of men had died.   Joshua and Caleb were the two spies who brought back a good report and believed that God would help them succeed.  They were the only men from their generation permitted to go into the Promised Land after the time of wandering.


Re: “My way or the highway.”  See Matthew 13:52 (ERV), where “Jesus said to the followers, ‘So every teacher of the law who has learned about God’s kingdom has some new things to teach.  He is like the owner of a house.  He has new things and old things saved in that house.   And he brings out the new with the old.” (Emphasis added.  See also On Jesus: Liberal or Fundamentalist?)

As to Deuteronomy as a restatement, see Restatements of the Law – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, regarding “a set of treatises on legal subjects that seek to inform judges and lawyers about general principles of common law.”