A few days ago, in the Today Programme on Radio 4, veteran newsman John Humphrys asserted, while discussing religion with a Christian minister, that the Old Testament is a load of rubbish. Well, here are a few examples of such rubbish taken from last week’s parsha of R’eih and this week’s, Shof’tim:
When you come to the land that God your Lord is giving you, so that you have occupied it and settled it, you will eventually say, “We would like to appoint a king…. He, however, must not accumulate many horses…. He must not have many wives, so that they do not make his heart go astray. He shall likewise not accumulate very much silver and gold.
Appoint yourselves judges and police for your tribes in all your settlements that God your Lord is giving you, and make sure that they administer honest judgment for the people.
Do not bend justice and do not give special consideration (to anyone). Do not take bribes, since bribery makes the wise blind and perverts the words of the righteous.
Social welfare rubbish
Therefore, make every effort to give to him (your impoverished brother), and do not feel bad about giving it, since God you Lord will then bless you in all your endeavours, no matter what you do. The poor will never cease to exist in the land, so I am commanding you to open your hand generously to your poor and destitute brother in your land.
Among you there shall not be found anyone who passes his son or daughter through fire, who practises stick divination, who divines auspicious times, who divines by moments, who consults mediums and oracles, or who attempts to communicate with the dead.
The lower officers shall then continue speaking to the people and say, “Is there any man among you who is afraid or faint-hearted? Let him go home rather than have his cowardliness demoralise his brethren.
When you lay siege to a city and wage war against it a long tome to capture it, you must not destroy its trees, wielding an axe against any food producing tree.
And finally, from the Haftorah for Shoft’tim, some poetic rubbish
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger of good news, who announces peace, the harbinger of good news, who announces salvation; who says to Zion: “Your God reigns!” Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices and sing together; for eye to eye they will see God’s return to Zion. Break forth joyously together, you wasted places of Jerusalem. For God has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem. God has bared His holy arm before the eyes of the nations; and all the ends of the earth will see God’s salvation.
To hear some more such rubbish come along this Saturday at 10:30, when Pat Lipert will show us piles of the stuff.