I have recently begun re-examining the book of Exodus for an upcoming project and was thumbing through my Hebrew and Christian concordances when I came across this little doozy. In the story of ‘Moses’ Sin,’ where God poorly attempted to kill Moses, his wife, we are told, saved him by cutting off their baby’s foreskin and rubbing it on her husband’s feet. (Ex. 4:24) This is one of the stranger stories in the book of Exodus and given that book’s odd nature, a nature it shares with the other 65 books in that compendium of crazed credulity, that is saying something. A number of questions arise from a reading of this verse and its surrounding passage, and many theologians and textual scholars have tried to answer them, but as they are questions which are immersed within the madness of theology, no satisfactory answer has been proffered. Questions like:
• Why did God try to kill Moses?
• If God attempted something, but didn’t achieve what he set out to do, doesn’t that mean he is impotent, at least to some degree?
• If, during the time in which God was trying to kill his favourite prophet, Moses’ wife had time to find a sharp rock, hack the end of her infant’s penis off and then rub it all over her husband’s feet, how long does it take God to kill someone?
• Why did Moses’ wife have to rub the bloodied baby foreskin on Moses’ feet to prevent his murder?
• Why does God love little boy’s foreskins so much and does this have anything to do with the rampant paedophilia within both Protestant and Catholic churches?
Alright, that last question was facetious. Nevertheless, why did God try to murder Moses? One of the more popular, yet extremely speculative answers to this question, is that Moses failed to circumcise his son, as was the plagiarised practice (from ancient Egypt (1) enunciated by the fictitious covenant between the Jewish god and Abraham (Gen. 17:10-14).
Here is where we arrive at the insanity I encountered within one of my concordances. Within ‘Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible,’ Henry says the following:
“The sin of Moses, which was neglecting to circumcise his son. This was probably the effect of his being unequally yoked with a Midianite, who was too indulgent of her child, while Moses was too indulgent of her.”(1)
Despite this fanciful and highly speculative explanation, most bible scholars are at a loss to explain why Yahweh attacked Moses in this awkward little pericope, particularly since he had just commissioned him to perform upcoming miracles in front of the anonymous Pharaoh.(2)
Based on Henry’s questionable interpretation of this equally questionable narrative, he offers the following advice:
“We have need to watch carefully over our own hearts, lest fondness for any relation (family member) prevail above our love to God…”
As both a humanist and a rationalist, one who regards evidence-based inquiry and my fellow human beings as sacrosanct, I find this advice not only contrary to any kind of evidence-based reason and logic, but completely selfish and immoral. God is a belief and being that such is the case, this advice seeks to encourage one to value their beliefs over and above their family members, whether they be a parent, spouse or even a child. Such a teaching, which is all too prevalent amongst the profane believers in many of the profane religions, as if there is any other kind, may be reasonably argued to be part of the reason why a large portion of our species remains woefully egocentric and selfish.
1. T.W Doane. ‘Bible Myths and Their Parallels in Other Religions.’ The Commonwealth Company. (1882). p. 86; Margaret. R. Bunson. ‘Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Revised Edition.’ Facts on File, Inc. (2002). p. 83.
2. Matthew Henry. ‘Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. Vol. 1.’ Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library. p. 411.
3. Paul. J. Achtemeier. Harper-Collins Bible Dictionary Revised Edition. Harper Collins, (1989). p. 1247; John Barton & John Muddiman. The Oxford Bible Commentary. Oxford University Press. (2001). p. 72.