07 July 2009

A man gathering sticks on the sabbath day

This one is pretty simple.

A man is caught gathering sticks on the Sabbath day.
While the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the Sabbath day. Numbers 15.32
The people ask Moses what to do about it.
They … brought him unto Moses and Aaron … because it was not declared what should be done to him. 15.33-34
God tells Moses that everyone must stone the Sabbath breaker to death.
The LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones. 15.35
So that's what they do.
All the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses. 15.36
Immediately after the stoning, God gets down to some more important business -- like instructing the people on how to make fringes on their garments.
The LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue. 15.37-38
You see, God wants us to put fringes on our garments so that when we see the purple fringes we'll say to ourselves, "Oh yeah, I'm supposed to follow all of God's laws."
It shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them. 15.39a
That way, when we see someone working on the Sabbath, we'll remember to stone him or her to death, on the spot, instead of following our own heart.
That ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes. 15.39b
People who follow their hearts seldom stone people to death.

God's next killing: The opposing party is buried alive (along with their families)


Brian_E said...

But if I walk around in a garment with purple fringes, then everyone will think I'm gay, and they'll stone me to death because of Leviticus. You just can't win!

busterggi said...

When I was a couple of decades younger I used to work regularly for 13 days straight, only had every other Sunday off.

Yahweh worked for 6 days and had to crash.

Damn, I must have been in better shape than him.

Matthew Blanchette said...

You know, that poor guy could have been gathering sticks for his family! You stone him, just like that?

Were this to happen in modern times, somebody would get some serious jail time.

I Am said...

The purple fringes illustration reminds me of Towelie from South Park! Not that I condone such things, but I don't think there was a prohibition against getting high on the Sabbath, was there?

matt311, in modern times, they apparently just attack people who work on the Sabbath these days instead of stoning them. A female Australian reporter was repeatedly assaulted (spitting, screamed at, kicked or hit with something heavy) for using a tape recorder on the Sabbath.

I guess that's better than being killed, but some orthodox Jews still believe that anyone (including non-Jews) breaking the Sabbath should be punished.

James said...

Yeah... some things are tough. What is curious (& really quite marvelous) is that some things are tough on purpose...& are meant to divide, particularly to divide the proud from the humble.

Pride demands a logical & satisfying answer even in regard to things that are not so immediately accompanied by understanding. Pride is impatient & wants an answer now for difficult matters, unwilling to invest time & energy that is required.

Humility brings about a tender attitude that consists of patience, & a sincere willingness to be teachable. It stems from a meek perspective that "I am careful how much confidence I place in how I see things, for after all I really know so very little of all that could be known."

& these things are so especially true when it comes to the things of God. It is an elementary principle that God resists the proud, but deals generously with the humble. One of the things He deals generously in is understanding.

Oh, the "poor" proud & blasphemer! Always learning & never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.

So the proud are confounded. & arrogantly dismiss the validity & beauty of the ways of God. & this is their just "reward" for their pride: they don't understand the ways of God. Of course, the proud will probably not see that as a consequence... as God's wrath being dealt out to him.

You might find John 6:22-69 quite interesting. Especially 54-61. Although I do fear that in giving you this passage it may give you more ammunition. But perhaps... perhaps it may have a more profitable effect.

To close out, I can imagine that maybe you will surmise my comment here with the response that I am coping out & that I don't have a good explanation for your issues. Well, that would certainly be convenient for you so as to avoid taking to heart the truth of what I have shared.

Steve Wells said...


"What is curious (& really quite marvelous) is that some things are tough on purpose...& are meant to divide, particularly to divide the proud from the humble."

Oh I get it! And you're right it really is quite marvelous!

Only humble people stone people to death for saying "Jesus Fucker" or whatever. Proud people don't. It's as simple as that. Thanks, James!

Open Eyes Productions said...

I believe that this man picking up sticks could have been trying to tempt God, or put God to the test.

He probably knew the law very well except took it lightly and didn't care. Keep in mind that these people had no excuse for ignorance in this situation, they were alive and saw and knew of many miracles that were done through Moses.

Also, keep in mind that God was establishing a holy people, and was giving guidelines for everyone to follow, or they will face the punishment for sin. So many people ask these days,"Why doesn't God strike people down with lightening the moment they do something bad?," it's because of his mercy, and patience toward us and our unbelief. That man would've known very well of the law and consequences for breaking it. God was the Government of the people. How many of you complain about how politians always lie, be thankful that when God commands something he means it; He can not lie.

So now that this is established, just imagine what the people would have thought if God went back on his word? This man who broke the sabbath took the gamble and was caught in it, and was an example to the people how serious sin is. God gave him clear warning, and what we know about God's character is that he did not want that person to die, however that person put the Lord to the test and he does not lie.

These are my thoughts, hopefully you can see it the way I do, because it's all for your benefit to know Jesus Christ and be forgiven for your sins. God Bless you all!

Unknown said...

Assuming that these people 'took' the man (you could say the 'arrested' him) and stoned him the very same day, I'd argue that they 'worked' a hell of a lot harder than the poor stick gatherer. Heck, even Yahweh violated his mandatory day off by issuing his swift judgement.

Unknown said...

Assuming that these people 'took' the man (you could say the 'arrested' him) and stoned him the very same day, I'd argue that they 'worked' a hell of a lot harder than the poor stick gatherer. Heck, even Yahweh violated his mandatory day off by issuing his swift judgement.

Annita Rackley said...

The man in the Old Testament was not stoned just for "picking up sticks." He was stoned for sinning "presumptuously," with an attitude of total disregard for Law in general. He did not do this IGNORANTLY, but did it in a manner that showed that he "DESPISED the word of the LORD . . . " To DESPISE the word of the Lord is a seriously bad attitude when that Lord has shown you miracle after miracle after miracle to prove His love and to preserve your very existence, with the Hebrews, as a race, and with all of us, as a species.

The question arises: How much evil and rebellion can be tolerated in a community or society without creating anarchy and mayhem? Stoning to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath? That seems unreasonably authoritarian and cruel to those of us who cut our teeth on the democratic ideal. Most modern people do not even understand the concept of sovereignity. One definition of sovereignity is "supreme power." Most monarchies and theocracies were supposedly rendered obsolete with the rise of democracy. Look again. We still have monarchies and theocracies, and those of us born into a "nominally" democratic society take umbrage at any stone-age monarchy or theocracy as being a remnant of the now defunct "Divine Right of Kings." The irony is that this concept of "sovereignity," which is the basis for monarchies and theocracies, is foreign to most modern minds. It is ironic because anyone who has been paying the least bit of attention to history is aware that we are living under shadow governments that demonstrate "supreme power" on a daily basis, killing at will, starting wars with impunity, executing victims and their families clandestinely, and justifying these atrocities as necessary evils to preserve the "greater good," etc. But a God, a Supreme Being, who gives the death penalty for DESPISING THE WORD OF THE LORD, now that, the modern mind would declare to be cruel and capricious. Consider this: The example of this "stick-gatherer" was placed in the middle of a passage about the danger of committing "presumptuous" sins . . . sins that are done with full knowledge that they are wrong and with an attitude of BOLD IMPUDENCE.

Even if the atheist for whom I wrote this essay is right and it was a made up story by the early Hebrews to establish a Sabbath, I ask that atheist to please explain: How would mankind learn to obey "justified" Law if there was no Lawgiver, and there were no consequences for law-breakers?
I Thessalonians 5
9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

Like the old-timers used to preach: The question is not, "Do you accept God?" The question is, "Does God accept you?" . . . or me?

Unknown said...

You are acting like you are the One who lead the Hebrew out of Egypt with your big mouth

Unknown said...

I contend that the reason God killed a man for gathering sticks on the Sabbath is not because he gathered the sticks, but because of what he was going to use those sticks for. There is nothing wrong with picking up sticks to build a fire on the Sabbath. However, if you are going to build a fire in order to worship Molach or another pagan god, and offer blood sacrifices to those pagan gods, then there is a problem. I suggest that that is what the man was wanting to do. He was picking up sticks to build a fire; that's ok, but he was going to build a fire in which to sacrifice to a pagan god or entity. That is what is forbidden and why God Yahweh had the man killed.

Anon said...

Why wouldn't the Bible say this here, then, so we can realize how important it is not to worship and make sacrifices to other deities?It's not like there was a space limitation and they just couldn't fit it in.

Why not try to convert the poor man instead (by sending an angel, etc)? It would be just as good a moral lesson if we found out he was about to make a sacrifice to the wrong God but then Yahweh had a chat with him and he converted. Moses didn't have to actually kill his son, right? Why couldn't God have made his point and saved the man?

The story doesn't make sense unless God killed him just for gathering wood to build a fire, and even then it only makes sense if God is cruel and believes in punishment above easily sparing a life.