26 February 2015

EJ&T - Ezra and Nehemiah: Abandon your strange wives and their strange children

In the Every Jot and Tittle project, I am listing all of the Bible's commandments from Genesis to Revelation, in accordance with Jesus's words in Matthew 5:18-19. I have no idea how many commandments I'll find, but Jewish tradition claims there are 613. See here for a list of those that I've found so far.

  1. Don't tax priests, Levites, singers, porters, Nethinim, or ministers of the house of God.
  2. Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them. ... Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart. Ezra 7:24-27

  3. Set magistrates and judges to judge and teach the people according to God's commandments.
  4. And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not. ... Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart. Ezra 7:25-27

  5. Kill, banish, imprison, and/or confiscate the goods of anyone who refuses to obey the commandments of God or the law of the king.
  6. Whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment. Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart. Ezra 7:26-27

  7. If you wrongly take any strange wives, abandon them, along with your sons and daughters that were born of your strange ex-wives.
  8. Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. Ezra 10:3

  9. Don't buy any food on the Sabbath or holy day.
  10. If the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy it of them on the sabbath, or on the holy day. Nehemiah 10:31

  11. Give one third of a shekel each year for the service of the house of God.
  12. Also we made ordinances for us, to charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God Nehemiah 10:32

  13. Cast lots to determine who will bring the wood offering to the house of God.
  14. And we cast the lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for the wood offering, to bring it into the house of our God, after the houses of our fathers, at times appointed year by year, to burn upon the altar of the LORD our God, as it is written in the law: Nehemiah 10:34

24 February 2015

EJ&T - 2 Chronicles: Don't love those who hate the Lord

In the Every Jot and Tittle project, I am listing all of the Bible's commandments from Genesis to Revelation, in accordance with Jesus's words in Matthew 5:18-19. I have no idea how many commandments I'll find, but Jewish tradition claims there are 613. See here for a list of those that I've found so far.

  1. Kill whoever will not seek the Lord.
  2. Whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. And they sware unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets. And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the LORD gave them rest round about. 2 Chronicles 15:13-15

  3. When you are sick, ask God (not physicians) to cure your illness.
  4. And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians. 2 Chronicles 16:12
    The moral of the story about Asa's foot disease is that sick people should ask God (not physicians) to heal them. But when it's combined with the following verse from James, it becomes a commandment.
    Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick ... pray one for another, that ye may be healed. James 5:14-16

  5. Don't help the ungodly.
  6. And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly? ... Therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD. 2 Chronicles 19:2

  7. Don't love those that hate the Lord.
  8. And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou ... love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD.2 Chronicles 19:2

  9. Take away the groves out of the land.
  10. Nevertheless there are good things found in thee [Jehoshaphat], in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land. 2 Chronicles 19:3

  11. Prepare your heart to seek the Lord.
  12. Nevertheless there are good things found in thee [Jehoshaphat], in that thou hast ... prepared thine heart to seek God. 2 Chronicles 19:3

  13. Only priests may enter the house of the Lord to burn incense. Anyone else who tries it shall be killed (or given leprosy by God).
  14. Let none come into the house of the LORD, save the priests ... whosoever else cometh into the house, he shall be put to death. 2 Chronicles 23:6-7

    He [Uzziah] transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense. And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men: And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God. Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead ... behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him. And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death. 2 Chronicles 26:16-21

  15. Don't sacrifice or burn incense in high places, on hills, or under green trees.
  16. He [Ahaz] sacrificed also and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree. Wherefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria; and they smote him. 2 Chronicles 28:4-5

    In every several city of Judah he [Ahaz] made high places to burn incense unto other gods, and provoked to anger the LORD God of his fathers. 2 Chronicles 28:25

  17. Sanctify the house of the Lord.
  18. Sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers. 2 Chronicles 29:5a

  19. Remove the filthiness from the holy place.
  20. Carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place. 2 Chronicles 29:5b

  21. Don't trespass against the Lord.
  22. Our fathers have trespassed ... Wherefore the wrath of the LORD was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes. 2 Chronicles 29:6-8

    Be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the LORD God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see. 2 Chronicles 30:7

  23. Don't do evil in the eyes of the Lord.
  24. Our fathers have ... done that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD our God. ... Wherefore the wrath of the LORD was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes. 2 Chronicles 29:6-8

    Manasseh ... did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. ... For he ... wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. 2 Chronicles 22:1-6

  25. Don't forsake the Lord.
  26. Our fathers have ... forsaken him. ... Wherefore the wrath of the LORD was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes. 2 Chronicles 29:6-8

    Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place ... Because they have forsaken me. 2 Chronicles 34:24-25

  27. Don't turn away your face (or back) from the habitation of the Lord.
  28. Our fathers have ... turned away their faces from the habitation of the LORD, and turned their backs. ... Wherefore the wrath of the LORD was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes. 2 Chronicles 29:6-8

  29. Don't shut up the doors of the porch or put out the lamps.
  30. Our fathers have ... shut up the doors of the porch, and put out the lamps. ... Wherefore the wrath of the LORD was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he hath delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as ye see with your eyes. 2 Chronicles 29:7-8

  31. Minister unto the Lord.
  32. My sons, be not now negligent: for the LORD hath chosen you ... to minister unto him. 2 Chronicles 29:11

  33. Yield yourself to the Lord.
  34. Yield yourselves unto the LORD ... that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you. 2 Chronicles 30:8

  35. Enter the Lord's sanctuary.
  36. Enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever ... that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you. 2 Chronicles 30:8

  37. Return to the Lord.
  38. For if ye turn again unto the LORD, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him. 2 Chronicles 30:9

  39. Don't build high places.
  40. Manasseh ... did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. ... For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down. 2 Chronicles 33:1-2

  41. Don't build altars for Baalim.
  42. Manasseh ... did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. ... For he ... reared up altars for Baalim. 2 Chronicles 33:1-3

  43. Don't worship the host of heaven.
  44. Manasseh ... did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. ... For he ... worshipped all the host of heaven. 2 Chronicles 33:1-3

  45. Don't serve the host of heaven.
  46. Manasseh ... did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. ... For he ... worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. 2 Chronicles 33:1-3

  47. Don't build altars for the host of heaven in the house of the Lord.
  48. Manasseh ... did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. ... For he ... built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. 2 Chronicles 33:1-5

  49. Don't set a carved image in the house of God.
  50. Manasseh ... did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. ... For he ... set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God. 2 Chronicles 33:1-7

  51. Burn the bones of priests upon their altars.
  52. Josiah ... did that which was right in the sight of the LORD ... And he burnt the bones of the priests upon their altars. 2 Chronicles 34:1-5

  53. Don't burn incense to other gods.
  54. Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place ... Because they ... have burned incense unto other gods. 2 Chronicles 34:24-25

Alma 45: The End Of Alma (The Guy, Not The Book)

Alma had a prophesy to share with his son, Helaman. But first, he had to make sure that he trusted him. 

And it came to pass in the nineteenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, that Alma came unto his son Helaman and said unto him: Believest thou the words which I spake unto thee concerning those records which have been kept? Alma 45:2 
And Helaman said unto him: Yea, I believe. 45:3 
And Alma said again: Believest thou in Jesus Christ, who shall come? 45:4 
And he said: Yea, I believe all the words which thou hast spoken. 45:5 
And Alma said unto him again: Will ye keep my commandments? 45:6 
And he said: Yea, I will keep thy commandments with all my heart. 45:7

Once he was sure he could be trusted,  Alma told his son a pretty amazing prophesy. Four hundred years after Jesus was going to manifest himself to the people of Nephi, the people will dwindle in unbelief and either join the Lamanites or die.

But behold, I have somewhat  to prophesy unto thee; but what I prophesy unto thee ye shall not make known; yea, what I prophesy unto thee shall not be made known, even until the prophecy is fulfilled; therefore write the words which I shall say. 45:9 
And these are the words: Behold, I perceive that this very people, the Nephites, according to the spirit of revelation which is in me, in four hundred years from the time that Jesus Christ shall manifest himself unto them, shall dwindle in unbelief. 45:10 
Yea, and then shall they see wars and pestilences, yea, famines and bloodshed, even until the people of Nephi shall become extinct—45:11 
Yea, and this because they shall dwindle in unbelief and fall into the works of darkness, and lasciviousness, and all manner of iniquities; yea, I say unto you, that because they shall sin against so great light and knowledge, yea, I say unto you, that from that day, even the fourth generation shall not all pass away before this great iniquity shall come. 45:12 
And when that great day cometh, behold, the time very soon cometh that those who are now, or the seed of those who are now numbered among the people of Nephi, shall no more be numbered among the people of Nephi. 45:13 
But whosoever remaineth, and is not destroyed in that great and dreadful day, shall be numbered among the Lamanites, and shall become like unto them, all, save it be a few who shall be called the disciples of the Lord; and them shall the Lamanites pursue even until they shall become extinct. And now, because of iniquity, this prophecy shall be fulfilled. 45:14
Alma said that the Lord said that the land will be cursed, and every nation, kindred, tongue and people who do wicked things will be destroyed. And since everyone will either be a Lamanite (wicked) or dead, then God will pretty much curse and destroy everyone 400 years after Jesus came.

And he said: Thus saith the Lord God—Cursed shall be the land, yea, this land, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, unto destruction, which do wickedly, when they are fully ripe; and as I have said so shall it be; for this is the cursing and the blessing of God upon the land, for the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. 45:16

Then Alma blessed everyone, and left as if he was going to the land of Melek. But he was never heard from again!

And now, when Alma had said these words he blessed the church, yea, all those who should stand fast in the faith from that time henceforth. 45:17 
And when Alma had done this he departed out of the land of Zarahemla, as if to go into the land of Melek. And it came to pass that he was never heard of more; as to his death or burial we know not of. 45:18
After Alma was gone, it seems Helaman was kind of in charge. He appointed priests and teachers throughout the land, and established churches in every city.
And now it came to pass in the commencement of the nineteenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, that Helaman went forth among the people to declare the word unto them. 45:20

Therefore, Helaman and his brethren went forth to establish the church again in all the land, yea, in every city throughout all the land which was possessed by the people of Nephi. And it came to pass that they did appoint priests and teachers throughout all the land, over all the churches. 45:22
After setting up all the churches, though, Helaman couldn't maintain control over his priests and teachers! There was a "dissension" among them, and they wouldn't listen to Helaman's words. Sounds like trouble!
And now it came to pass that after Helaman and his brethren had appointed priests and teachers over the churches that there arose a dissension among them, and they would not give heed to the words of Helaman and his brethren; 45:23
I'm guessing that exciting times are ahead, because the rebels grew proud and rich.
But they grew proud, being lifted up in their hearts, because of their exceedingly great riches; therefore they grew rich in their own eyes, and would not give heed to their words, to walk uprightly before God. 45:24

16 February 2015

Alma 44: A Scalping And A Surrender

In the last post, the Nephites and the Lamanites were fighting, but the Nephites had the better end. Before too many of the Lamanites got slaughtered, though, Moroni called them off. He told the leader of the Lamanite army, Zerahemnah, that he didn't want to kill anymore.
1 And it came to pass that they did stop and withdrew a pace from them. And Moroni said unto Zerahemnah: Behold, Zerahemnah, that we do not desire to be men of blood. Ye know that ye are in our hands, yet we do not desire to slay you. Alma 44:1
But Alma didn't want to just let them go, either, because then they would only end up fighting again. So Moroni commanded Zarahemnah and his army to lay down their weapons, and to agree to leave and not fight them again.
And now, Zerahemnah, I command you, in the name of that all-powerful God, who has strengthened our arms that we have gained power over you, by our faith, by our religion, and by our rites of worship, and by our church, and by the sacred support which we owe to our wives and our children, by that liberty which binds us to our lands and our country; yea, and also by the maintenance of the sacred word of God, to which we owe all our happiness; and by all that is most dear unto us— 44:5
Yea, and this is not all; I command you by all the desires which ye have for life, that ye deliver up your weapons of war unto us, and we will seek not your blood, but we will spare your lives, if ye will go your way and come not again to war against us. 44:6
And if not, of course, they would kill them --by inflicting "wounds of death" in their bodies until they became "extinct".

And now, if ye do not this, behold, ye are in our hands, and I will command my men that they shall fall upon you, and inflict the wounds of death in your bodies, that ye may become extinct; and then we will see who shall have power over this people; yea, we will see who shall be brought into bondage. 44:7
When Zarahemnah heard this, he came forward and handed in his weapons. He had a lot: a sword, a Scimitar, and a bow. He gave up his weapons, but told Moroni that he wasn't going to swear that they  were not going to attack again, because they would just break that promise. He was basically saying: "What's the point, Moroni? We're just going to lie to you. Let's just fight it out right now, or let us go."
And now it came to pass that when Zerahemnah had heard these sayings he came forth and delivered up his sword and his cimeter, and his bow into the hands of Moroni, and said unto him: Behold, here are our weapons of war; we will deliver them up unto you, but we will not suffer ourselves to take an oath unto you, which we know that we shall break, and also our children; but take our weapons of war, and suffer that we may depart into the wilderness; otherwise we will retain our swords, and we will perish or conquer. 44:8
"And by the way, it wasn't God that won you the battle. It was your fancy breastplates and shields."

Behold, we are not of your faith; we do not believe that it is God that has delivered us into your hands; but we believe that it is your cunning that has preserved you from our swords. Behold, it is your breastplates and your shields that have preserved you. 44:9
Alma gave back Zarahemnah's weapons and said, "Okay. Let's end this now, then."

And now when Zerahemnah had made an end of speaking these words, Moroni returned the sword and the weapons of war, which he had received, unto Zerahemnah, saying: Behold, we will end the conflict. 44:10
When Zarehamnah got his sword back, he rushed at Moroni, and tried to kill him. But before he could, one of Moroni's soldiers broke Zerahemnah's sword and then scalped him.

And now when Moroni had said these words, Zerahemnah retained his sword, and he was angry with Moroni, and he rushed forward that he might slay Moroni; but as he raised his sword, behold, one of Moroni’s soldiers smote it even to the earth, and it broke by the hilt; and he also smote Zerahemnah that he took off his scalp and it fell to the earth. And Zerahemnah withdrew from before them into the midst of his soldiers. 44:12
As if scalping Zarahemnah wasn't bad enough, the soldier took his scalp and put it on the tip of his sword and taunted the rest of the Lamanite army with it.
And it came to pass that the soldier who stood by, who smote off the scalp of Zerahemnah, took up the scalp from off the ground by the hair, and laid it upon the point of his sword, and stretched it forth unto them, saying unto them with a loud voice: 44:13
Even as this scalp has fallen to the earth, which is the scalp of your chief, so shall ye fall to the earth except ye will deliver up your weapons of war and depart with a covenant of peace. 44:14
A lot of the Lamanite army surrendered and threw down their weapons at Moroni's feet. They made a quick promise not to fight again and then ran off into the wilderness. The rest of the army rallied, though, behind Zarahemnah, who was (understandably!) pretty angry.
Now there were many, when they heard these words and saw the scalp which was upon the sword, that were struck with fear; and many came forth and threw down their weapons of war at the feet of Moroni, and entered into a covenant of peace. And as many as entered into a covenant they suffered to depart into the wilderness. 44:15
Now it came to pass that Zerahemnah was exceedingly wroth, and he did stir up the remainder of his soldiers to anger, to contend more powerfully against the Nephites. 44:16
Moroni was also pretty angry, because the Lamanites were being so stubborn. He commanded his people to start killing the Lamanites. Since they didn't have any armor on, they were pretty easy to kill.
And now Moroni was angry, because of the stubbornness of the Lamanites; therefore he commanded his people that they should fall upon them and slay them. And it came to pass that they began to slay them; yea, and the Lamanites did contend with their swords and their might. 44:17
But behold, their naked skins and their bare heads were exposed to the sharp swords of the Nephites; yea, behold they were pierced and smitten, yea, and did fall exceedingly fast before the swords of the Nephites; and they began to be swept down, even as the soldier of Moroni had prophesied. 44:18
Zarahemnah, seeing that they were all about to die, finally agreed to promise not to attack again. Moroni accepted, and the Lamanites surrendered. The Nephites took the weapons, made them enter into a covenant, and then let them go into the wilderness.
Now Zerahemnah, when he saw that they were all about to be destroyed, cried mightily unto Moroni, promising that he would covenant and also his people with them, if they would spare the remainder of their lives, that they never would come to war again against them. 44:19 
And it came to pass that Moroni caused that the work of death should cease again among the people. And he took the weapons of war from the Lamanites; and after they had entered into a covenant with him of peace they were suffered to depart into the wilderness. 44:20
There were a lot of deaths on both sides. They Nephites threw the dead bodies into the waters of Sidon, and then returned to their cities. This was the end of the eighteenth year of the judges, and also of the record of Alma. I wonder what's coming next!

Now the number of their dead was not numbered because of the greatness of the number; yea, the number of their dead was exceedingly great, both on the Nephites and on the Lamanites. 44:21 
And it came to pass that they did cast their dead into the waters of Sidon, and they have gone forth and are buried in the depths of the sea. 44:22 
And the armies of the Nephites, or of Moroni, returned and came to their houses and their lands. 44:23 
And thus ended the eighteenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi. And thus ended the record of Alma, which was written upon the plates of Nephi. 44:24

11 February 2015

God is as strong as a unicorn!

God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn. Numbers 23:22

God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows. Numbers 23:22

Unicorns are mentioned nine times in the King James Bible. (Numbers 23:22, 24:8; Deuteronomy 33:17; Job 39:9, 39:10; Psalm 22:21, 29:6, 92:10; Isaiah 34:7) Modern versions prefer to translate the Hebrew word re'em as "wild ox" to avoid the embarrassment having mythical creatures in the holy book. And I am often criticized (by believers and skeptics) for highlighting the "unicorns" in the SAB.

But now the issue has been settled by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell of Answers in Genesis. The unicorns in the Bible were real, and God is just as strong as they were (maybe even stronger).

As evidence for this, Dr. Mitchell points to God's speech to Job, after God and Satan finished tormenting Job to settle their bet. God lectured Job about unicorns, saying that they were too wild and strong for anyone to tame.

Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib? Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee? Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? or wilt thou leave thy labour to him? Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring home thy seed, and gather it into thy barn? Job 39:9-12

God, she says, wouldn't use "an imaginary fantasy animal" to make his point (whatever that may have been).

Further, Dr. Mitchell points out "that The Bible describes unicorns ... bleeding when they die (Isaiah 34:7)." Here's the quote, in context, from Isaiah:

For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment. The sword of the Lord is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the Lord hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea. And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness. Isaiah 34:5-7

God's sword is made with fatness and filled with blood; someday God will soak the ground with unicorn blood and turn the dust into unicorn fat.

And then, as if we needed any more proof, there are the quotes from Numbers. God will "eat up the nations ... break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows." If we don't believe in unicorns, how can we believe that God will eat nations, break bones, and pierce people with his arrows?

So the Bible is clear: God is every bit as strong as a unicorn. Heck, I bet he's even stronger.