Fortieth. Can it be true that God was afraid to trust himself with the Jews for fear he would consume them? Can it be that in order to keep from devouring them he kept away and sent one of his angels in his place? [Ex. xxxiii, 2, 3.] Can it be that this same God talked to Moses “face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend,” when it is declared in the same chapter, by God himself, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live”? [Ex. xxxiii, 11, 20.]
Forty-first. Why should a man, because he has done a bad action, go and kill a sheep? How can man make friends with God by cutting the throats of bullocks and goats? Why should God delight in the shedding of blood? Why should he want his altar sprinkled with blood, and the horns of his altar tipped with blood, and his priests covered with blood? Why should burning flesh be a sweet savor in the nostrils of God? Why did he compel his priests to be butchers, cutters and stabbers? Why should the same God kill a man for eating the fat of an ox, a sheep, or a goat?
Forty-second. Could it be a consolation to a man when dying to think that he had always believed that God told Aaron to take two goats and draw cuts to see which goat should be killed and which should be a scapegoat? [Lev. xvi, 8.] And that upon the head of the scapegoat Aaron should lay both his hands and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, and put them all on the head of the goat, and send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness; and that the goat should bear upon him all the iniquities of the people into a land not inhabited? [Lev. xvi, 21, 22.] How could a goat carry away a load of iniquities and transgressions? Why should he carry them to a land uninhabited? Were these sins contagious? About how many sins could an average goat carry? Could a man meet such a goat now without laughing?
Forty-third. Why should God object to a man wearing a garment made of woolen and linen? Why should he care whether a man rounded the corners of his beard? [Lev. xix, 19, 27.] Why should God prevent a man from offering the sacred, bread merely because he had a flat nose, or was lame, or had five fingers on one hand, or had a broken foot, or was a dwarf? If he objected to such people, why did he make them?” [Lev. xxi, 18-20.]
Forty-fourth. Why should we believe that God insisted upon the sacrifice of human beings? Is it a sin to deny this, and to deny the inspiration of a book that teaches it? Read the twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth verses of the last chapter of Leviticus, a book in which there is more folly and cruelty, more stupidity and tyranny, than in any other book in this world except some others in the same Bible. Read the thirty-second chapter of Exodus and you will see how by the most infamous of crimes man becomes reconciled to this God. You will see that he demands of fathers the blood of their sons. Read the twelfth and thirteenth verses of the third chapter of Numbers, “And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel,” etc.
How, in the desert of Sinai, did the Jews obtain curtains of fine linen? How did these absconding slaves make cherubs of gold? Where did they get the skins of badgers, and how did they dye them red? How did they make wreathed chains and spoons, basins and tongs? Where did they get the blue cloth and their purple? Where did they get the sockets of brass? How did they coin the shekel of the sanctuary? How did they overlay boards with gold? Where did they get the numberless instruments and tools necessary to accomplish all these things? Where did they get the fine flour and the oil? Were all these found in the desert of Sinai? Is it a sin to ask these questions? Are all these doubts born of a malignant and depraved heart? Why should God in this desert prohibit priests from drinking wine, and from eating moist grapes? How could these priests get wine?
Do not these passages show that these laws were made long after the Jews had left the desert, and that they were not given from Sinai? Can you imagine a God silly enough to tell a horde of wandering savages upon a desert that they must not eat any fruit of the trees they planted until the fourth year?
Forty-fifth. Ought a man to be despised and persecuted for denying that God ordered the priests to make women drink dirt and water to test their virtue? [Num. v, 12-31.] Or for denying that over the tabernacle there was a cloud during the day and fire by night, and that the cloud lifted up when God wished the Jews to travel, And that until it was lifted they remained in their tents? [Num. ix, 16-18.] Can it be possible that the “ark of the covenant “traveled on its own account,” and that “when the ark set forward” the people followed, as is related in the tenth chapter of the holy book of Numbers?
Forty-sixth. Was it reasonable for God to give the Jews manna, and nothing else, year after year? He had infinite power, and could just as easily have given them something good, in reasonable variety, as to have fed them on manna until they loathed the sight of it, and longingly remembered the fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic of Egypt. And yet when the poor people complained of the diet and asked for a little meat, this loving and merciful God became enraged, sent them millions of quails in his wrath, and while they were eating, while the flesh was yet between their teeth, before it was chewed, this amiable God smote the people with a plague and killed all those that lusted after meat. In a few days after, he made up his mind to kill the rest, but was dissuaded when Moses told him that the Canaanites would laugh at him. [Num. xiv, 15, 16.] No wonder the poor Jews wished they were back in Egypt. No wonder they had rather be the slaves of Pharaoh than the chosen people of God, No wonder they preferred the wrath of Egypt to the love of heaven. In my judgment, the Jews would have fared far better if Jehovah had let them alone, or had he even taken the side of the Egyptians.
When the poor Jews were told by their spies that the Canaanites were giants, they, seized with fear, said, “Let us go back to Egypt.” For this, their God doomed all except Joshua and Caleb to a wandering death. Hear the words of this most merciful God: “But as for you, your carcasses they shall fall in this wilderness, and your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years and bear your” sins “until your carcasses be wasted in the wilderness.” [Num. xiv, 32-33.] And yet this same God promised to give unto all these people a land flowing with milk and honey.
Forty-seventh. And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness they found a man that gathered sticks upon the Sabbath day.
“And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.
“And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.
“And the Lord said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.
“And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died.” [Num. xv, 32-36.] When the last stone was thrown, and he that was a man was but a mangled, bruised, and broken mass, this God turned, and, touched with pity, said: “Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a riband of blue.” [Num. xv, 38.]
In the next chapter, this Jehovah, whose loving kindness is over all his works, because Korah, Dathan, and Abiram objected to being starved to death in the wilderness, made the earth open and swallow not only them, but their wives and their little ones. Not yet satisfied, he sent a plague and killed fourteen thousand seven hundred more. There never was in the history of the world such a cruel, revengeful, bloody, jealous, fickle, unreasonable, and fiendish ruler, emperor, or king as Jehovah. No wonder the children of Israel cried out, “Behold we die, we perish, we all perish.”
Forty-eighth. I cannot believe that a dry stick budded, blossomed, and bore almonds; that the ashes of a red heifer are a purification for sin; [Num. xix, 2-10.] that God gave the cities into the hands of the Jews because they solemnly agreed to murder all the inhabitants; that God became enraged and induced snakes to bite his chosen people; that God told Balaam to go with the Princess of Moab, and then got angry because he did go; that an animal ever saw an angel and conversed with a man. I cannot believe that thrusting a spear through the body of a woman ever stayed a plague; [Num. xxv, 8.] that any good man ever ordered his soldiers to slay the men and keep the maidens alive for themselves; that God commanded men not to show mercy to each other; that he induced men to obey his commandments by promising them that he would assist them in murdering the wives and children of their neighbors; or that he ever commanded a man to kill his wife because she differed with him about religion; [Deut. xiii, 6-10.] or that God was mistaken about hares chewing the cud; [Deut. xiv, 7.] or that he objected to the people raising horses; [Deut. xvii, 16.] or that God wanted a camp kept clean because he walked through it at night; [Deut. xxiii, 13, 14.] or that he commanded widows to spit in the faces of their brothers-in-law; [Deut. xxv, 9.] or that he ever threatened to give anybody the itch; [Deut. xxviii, 27.] or that he ever secretly buried a man and allowed the corpse to write an account of the funeral.
Forty-ninth. Does it necessarily follow that a man wishes to commit some crime if he refuses to admit that the river Jordan cut itself in two and allowed the lower end to run away? [Josh. iii, 16.] Or that seven priests could blow seven ram’s horns loud enough to throw down the walls of a city; [Josh. vi, 20.] or that God, after Achan had confessed that he had secreted a garment and a wedge of gold, became good natured as soon as Achan and his sons and daughters had been stoned to death and their bodies burned? [Josh. vii, 24, 25.] Is it not a virtue to abhor such a God?
Must we believe that God sanctioned and commanded all the cruelties and horrors described in the Old Testament; that he waged the most relentless and heartless wars; that he declared mercy a crime; that to spare life was to excite his wrath; that he smiled when maidens were violated, laughed when mothers were ripped open with a sword, and shouted with joy when babes were butchered in their mothers’ arms? Read the infamous book of Joshua, and then worship the God who inspired it if you can.