When you stop & think about it ,why would Gods chosen people in the Old testament need an army ?

by smiddy 29 Replies latest jw friends

  • David_Jay


    It is, indeed, mythology. And therein lies the rub.

    The theology is in the Mishnah. The oral tradition of religious catechesis that now makes up the Mishnah came first.

    Evenfually, the mishnaic traditions became "storyized," turned into narrative for liturgical purposes. This dramatization of our religion is the Bible.

    Later, the mishnaic traditions got written down in the book form of the Mishnah itself. That is the theology and doctrine.

    This later became codified into the Talmud because in Judaism adherence to the Mosaic Law as written is wrong. The written form in Scripture is a static snapshot, and it actually violates the Law if you apply it today as how it was understood in the past. Mishnah teaches that Torah is a living breathing thing, adjusting with the times to make "tikklun olam" or service to our neighbors possible. You cannot serve your neighbor in the here and now by forcing them to be as it was long ago.

    The Bible is like the Cecil B. DeMille film "The Ten Commandments." It is a dramatization of the real thing found in Mishnah. The Bible is the dramatized, mythology version, with liberties taken for teaching purposes.

    So the idea that calling the Bible a bunch of myths just makes a Jew say: "Now you're talking like a Jew!" These myths contain our religious truths, but merely the substance transferred from our religion. The Jehovah's Witnesses, on the other hand, told you that the Cecil B. DeMille version is the historically accurate version with doctrine included, and that's just not true.

    By what you said, you validate Judaism. You are finally getting it.

  • blondie

    An interesting question, debated over time with many answers by Christian individuals and groups. That's why today some individuals/groups do not join the military and carry weapons, and others feel that God expects them to defend their nation and religious beliefs. Some even citizens of the same nation.

    So for 2,000 years at least this has been discussed, with no one conclusion.

    One point that jumped out at me is that when the Israelites were commanded to attack other nations such as the Canaanites, they were to kill every breathing thing, including pregnant women, and children....which was used to show why the flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Armaggedon were battles justified by the WTS, where all children died forever for the sins of their parents.

  • David_Jay

    Blondie has shared a perfectly great point.

    Reading the Hebrew Scriptures, especially Genesis 1-11, as factual history and doctrinal theology, warps the image of God that the Jews had and have. This proves true when you read the conquering of Canaan as literal, and then justifies the Watchtower view of a "Jehovah" who slaughters even the innocent at Armageddon.

    A liturgical text is not a doctrinal text. The religions which sprung from the Second Great Awakening in the United States rejected the ideas that God established the great religions personally by Theophany and (for Christianity) Epiphany. They replaced this with Marcion's view he adopted from the Gnostics, namely that written texts were the ultimate form of divine revelation, and that only a select few can understand them (and those who cling to these and accept the "gnosis" from these select). This made "the Bible" the revelation from God greater than the Theophany at Sinai and the Epiphany Christians see in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, at least for these new religious movements.

    The language of the liturgical text is not the language of doctrine, but none of the religions of the Second Great Awakening adopted the liturgical traditions. The Bible was the only form of revelation in their eyes, and thus its words were truth, not the religions that wrote the texts.

    Thus you end up with learning as a Watchtower-ee that God literally sent a flood to kill people, and that the Jews slaughtered the Canaanites instead of merged with them. You essentially make "Jehovah" of the Watchtower, a golden calf of a god that judges and slaughters people with the same whims of the heathen and pagan gods. In doing so, they have reversed everything Judaism has done in introducing the God they worship.

  • scotoma

    It's all basically bound volumes with a shelf life.

  • David_Jay

    No, it's liturgy.

    Liturgy has no shelf life. Liturgical narrative is designed to be repeated and listened to over and over again, with new lessons learned. It is a written form of the ancient practice of sitting around the fire listening to the eldest of the tribe share our most treasured stories.

    I find that almost no one who was exposed only to Jehovah's Witnesses understands what "liturgy" is. Because there are no liturgical practices or liturgical cycles, liturgical celebrations, etc. in Watchtower religion, I think the term meets only with an empty space carved out by the Governing Body in many exJWs.

    The Bible is not a book of history, doctrine, or theology, at least not directly. It is a library of liturgical narratives designed for and used for liturgy. It is almost a calendar of sorts, with sections designed for reading at particular times meant to aid listeners to walk each year through. Bound volumes of Watchtower magazines are not used this way. Liturgy is a worship form that is meant to mark the days and years with specific meaning. The religious movements of the Second Great Awakening are devoid of such a thing and thus turned the Bible into the ultimate Magic 8 Ball of divine revelation that JWs tell the world it is.

  • Vidiot
    David_Jay - "...The written form in Scripture is a static snapshot, and it actually violates the Law if you apply it today as how it was understood in the past. Mishnah teaches that Torah is a living breathing thing, adjusting with the times..."

    I can't help but wonder if that might be a factor in historic anti-semitism...

    ...that Christian leaders who co-opted the OT but insisted it was literal history did so - in part - to deliberately distance themselves from that largely unknown fact.

  • smiddy

    Its been refreshing to read your "Jewish" take on the OP David _Jay , it makes a helluva lot more sense than the literal interpretation that Christianity makes the Bible out to be ,that its all historical fact.

    I should have gone to a synagogue and talked to the people of the book , . before taking the plunge in Watchtower bullshit for 33 years,

    Thanks to everyone else who has contributed to this post it has been very enlightening for me.

    When I think of it , I wonder ,why do Jewish people embrace Christianity ?

    I knew a Jewish family in a congregation I attended in Melbourne Aust.

  • stuckinarut2

    Great thread Smiddy!

    It flys in the face of "god fights for his people" if they still have to go to war...and be injured or killed!

    Does God take delight in seeing his people killed?

    Also, HOW is it EVER OK for little babies and children to be killed in a "god-approved" war??

  • smiddy

    Yes stuck..., you are right, it stands to reason their were deaths and casualties in the wars jehovah approved of, their is nothing in scripture to say the opposite.

    If a JW reads of Women and children being killed in any conflict today around the world , its an evidence of Satans system of things causing it.

    Go figure

  • David_Jay

    If it helps, Stuck,

    Jews understand these details of slaughter as a narrative liberty made for dramatic effect in telling our story. You have to keep in mind that the Bible is is a liturgical text, its stories meant for a yearly reading on a specific annual date in imitation of tribal elder recollection stories of old. This is not the Watchtower 's "doctrine book."

    What archeology, secular and non-biblical Jewish history ( as well as DNA studies) suggest is that we didn't conquer the so-called Canaanites, but we merged with them upon arriving in the Fertile Crescent after the Exodus from Egypt. The various peoples of the land became one, with (eventually) one religion of one God.

    How did we end up telling the story for liturgical purposes, to get a moral lesson out of it? Simple. In the liturgical version we "slaughtered" all the heathens, from parents and children, till not one of these "evil, disgusting people who worshipped heathen gods" remained. So if anyone asks what happened to them, we say that God conquered them because, in a way, he did. The people of the Fertile Crescent did not originally worship YHWH but did so upon meeting with and merging with the Exodus survivors. The resulting people became the Israelites of history.

    This is not say that the Jews never fought bloody wars and never did so in an unjust fashion, attributing even their acts of unjust victories to their God. It's likely not all "liberties taken for dramatic effect." Not all the original inhabitants of the land gladly merged with us.

    Later successful battles under the Davidic dynasty ( which even the Bible describes as being a dynasty that spilled a lot of blood) could have possibly been transferred in narrative form to the liturgical story of the "conquest of Canaan," especially since the written versions of our oral history began to take shape from David's era onward. We were still not innocent of the injustices portrayed in Scripture as we still approved of "penciling in" this explanation and, unfortunately blamed our "bad behavior" on God.

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