We were once told and re-told that obedience to YHWH and his side-kick would save our lives.
So how about this bit of real-life research that's currently emerging in academic circles?
There were strict rules in the law code about how and where you could sh*t.
Now one of those commandments is inscribed at Deuteronomy 23:14-15
Just why is explained in the associated verses, and discussed by Dr Robert Cargill on his blog.
Interestingly, of the above reasons given in support of the command to the Israelites to cover their poo, it is the latter (not wanting to step in it) and not the former (hygiene) that is given as the theological reason for burying one’s foul:
Deut. 23:12 You shall have a designated area outside the camp to which
you shall go.
Deut. 23:13 As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement.
Deut. 23:14 For the LORD your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you.
God steps in poo. This must be avoided.
You read that correctly. God WALKS IN THE MIDST OF YOUR CAMP (Hebrew:
מִתְהַלֵּךְ בְקֶרֶב מַחֲנֶךָ = “paces/walks in the midst of your
camp”), and you don’t want God to step in it! In fact, God doesn’t even want to
see (Hebrew: ראה) anything indecent (Hebrew: עֶרְוַת דָּבָר = “any
God stepping in your poo. This must be prevented
This is the reason given for why Israelites must go outside of
the camp to go, and then cover their poo: because God walks
around the camp and they don’t want God to step in their poo, and if he even sees it,
he’ll “turn away” from the camp (as it stinks and is no longer “holy”), and
will stop protecting/delivering them and will stop handing their enemies over
to them in battle.
Apparently, if you want God in the midst of your camp, he can’t be in the midst of your crap.
So in the end, the rationale for covering one’s poo is not hygienic, nor is it public health, but rather the Israelites are to cover their poo so that God doesn’t step in it or see it,because if he does, he’ll leave them and they’ll start losing battles.
Now it so happens (and maybe you never thought that we could find some ancient Jewish crap) that we can still find a place where faithful and obedient Jews did precisely what the Law code commanded.
The Jews who lived at Qmran (quite possibly they belonged to the Essenes sect) were noted for their strict adherence to the Mosaic law. These are the people associated with the dead sea scrolls, and their Qumran ‘camp’ has been the focus of a huge archaeological search for more information.
In the next post, we can find out what happened when these faithful Jews obeyed the law, 'shat' outside the camp, and made it possible for YHWH to walk around their camp without getting poo on his sandals.