Sunday, January 10, 2010

Biblical near-death experiences

First, HaShem sends Moshe/Moses back to Egypt to "spring" the descendants of Yaakov/Jacob from slavery to Par'oh/Pharaoh. Then, HaShem tries to kill Moshe while he's en route back to Egypt to fulfill HaShem's own command. Tzipporah, Moshe's wife, takes flint in hand and circumcises their son on the spot, thereby allegedly saving her husband's life. (See Parshat Sh'mot, Sh'mot/Exodus chapter 3 verse 1-4, verse 26.)

A few books later, HaShem reluctantly gives Bil'am permission to go to Balak, king of Moav, but attempts to slay him when he actually sets out. Only the intervention of Bil'am's talking donkey saves Bil'am's life. (See Parshat Balak, Vayikra/Numbers, chapter 22, verses 2-36.)

What kind of vindictive G-d would try to slay G-d's own messengers?

And why is it that, in the three instances (of which I can recall) in which G-d threatens to kill someone--namely, the two above plus Akeidat Yitzchak/the Binding of Isaac, a being other than G-d (an angel, the daughter of a heathen priest, and a donkey) prevents the slaying? Why doesn't G-d G-dself come down and stay Avraham's hand?


Blogger rogueregime said...

The events related in 4:24-26 are indeed truly strange. They seem almost tacked on afterwards. Weird.

Mon Jan 11, 04:15:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

"Tacked on," indeed. Did the story of the near-death of Moshe and of Tzipporah circumcising their son come from a different "source?" Score another one for the Documentary Hypothesis?

Mon Jan 11, 09:45:00 PM 2010  

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