The scholars break down weekly Torah reading portions minutely over the Passover holiday. Day 3 aka Saturday this year brings the “intermediate” portion Exodus 33:12-34:26. A ton has just happened, and this is the first break our heroes are getting. They take advantage!
PREVIOUSLY ON THE BIBLE: Not two days ago the Jews were still enslaved by Egypt’s pharaohs. G-d tells Moses, “Remember to tell the story of what’s happening. Make a holiday out of it. I’m dropping my 10th and final plague: death of the firstborn. Meet me at Mt. Sinai.” So the Jews break out during the chaos and are like “Yeah!” and Moses goes up the mountain to rendezvous with G-d and bring down the first two tablets with the main laws of how to live… and comes back to see his Jews worshipping a golden calf, which is just completely contrary and ridiculous. Moses smashes G-d’s tablets in dumb rage.
TODAY’S EPISODE: After a crazy day, Moses wends his way back up the mountain ashamed and frustrated. He tells G-d “You singled me out to lead these people, but realistically you’d better come with and help because they’re ‘stiff-necked’ and need a lot of help.”
G-d by now had been irked by people’s frailties in the Garden of Eden, in Noah’s age and in Abraham’s, and so completely relates. G-d promises to take an intensive role (probably knowing 40 days in the desert lie ahead) and further to be merciful and compassionate in helping lead these hoople-heads.
Hearing such agreeable news, Moses blurts out to G-d, “I have to see you, all of you!” To this proposition G-d replied, “If you saw me from the front it’d kill you, but if you stand on that rock I’ll pass by and use my hands to shield my face from you, and then you can see me from behind.” After enough of that sort of thing, G-d tells Moses not to crash up on the mountain but head back down and bring stone tablets in the morning, since he broke the last ones. But to come alone again.
In the morning G-d pledges 13 specific attributes of mercy and compassion. Moses is hyped and suggests “Come on down in your cloud form and meet the extended family, but just remember they’re jagoffs.” G-d says nah, we’re going to make a Covenant together and do wonders, like driving out other peoples* and smashing their altars and idols*, affording them security and resources to live a healthy balanced righteous lifestyle based on the G-d is who is one’s rules.
END CREDITS *NOTE: Just because G-d once asked Noah to build a very specific arc (in the unquestionably figurative first book of the Bible) we don’t all need to be building arcs all the time. There’s obviously a situation and time, not just a place. Therefore no other peoples need be harmed in the creation of Judaism anymore, nor any of these Abrahamic religions.
NEXT TIME ON THE BIBLE: Moses yells, “Oh no, the Pharaoh’s slave catchers are gaining fast, and the Red Sea is right in front of us. What do we do?”
DISCUSSION QUESTION: Have you ever been close to winning anything like freedom, independence, power or sovereignty? How did it make you feel? Carried away? Frustrated over small difficulties? Exhausted or second-guessing? Craving bonding or grounding experiences? Were you ready for what you were expanding into right away, or did you still need to gear up and seek help?