Did the Hebrews believe in one god or many gods?
For a great read on the topic see this brief article: http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/ngier/henotheism.htm
When one asks “what reasons are there for God wanting to do A, but not B?” the reply is usually “because that is Gods nature.”
So why is Gods nature like A, and not like B? What determines Gods nature?
(And if the pat answer is “well God determined his own nature to be Nature-A, not like Nature-B” why did he determine Nature-A instead of Nature-B?”
There are many horrific things in the Bible. This story, however, is my nomination for the most cruel and damnable tale in the Bible.
First some background: The Hebrews recently invaded Canaan, destroyed many cities, killed many people and then, as they were camped near Midianite territory some of the Midianite women “invited” the Hebrew men to join them in sexual exploits and worship of locals gods (Numbers 25:1-2). The Hebrew men were not forced to participate, they chose it themselves. Moses, purportedly at Gods initiative issues the command to be hostile against the Midianites.
Some time passes and the Bible depicts God as urging the Israelites to go back, and wreak revenge on the Midianites for inviting some of the Israelite soldiers to join them. So the Israelites attack and utterly destroy all of the enemy combatants, leaving only the defenseless women (many who are no doubt pregnant or elderly), as well as the little boys and girls. These little women and children are spared to be kept as slaves. (Numbers 32:9-10)
Then Moses angrily commands that these defenseless captives be killed. This includes weeping grandmothers, pregnant women, mothers with their children weeping in their arms. (Numbers 31: 17-18). The little boys, all those who were too young to fight as well as babies, are also to be brutally executed.
And finally, when it comes to the little girls, those that are virgins are given away as booty to the soldiers, while all others are to be massacred. In every single military victory in recorded history, the winning army rapes girls, this is an unchanging historical regularity. And while this is not explicit in the text, it’s more than likely these girls became concubines (sexual slaves) as this is accepted elsewhere in Israelite culture, and there are even biblical laws that permit Hebrews to take captives for sexual purposes (Deut 21:10-11). Little girls given away to the same men who had just brutally executed their families.
Even if these girls are not used for sexual purposes, one must imagine the absolute horrors that these tiny girls experienced. Imagine a tiny seven year old sweetheart, seeing her defenseless pregnant mother being viciously sliced open and falling dead on the ground. Imagine the agonizing screams as she sees her younger brothers, grabbed by calloused soldiers hands, and heartlessly stabbed, beat, pierced until they choke on their own blood.
This, ladies and gentleman, is the Bible you don’t read.
Why is the Old Testament called eternal?
Most evangelicals say that the Old Testament was meant to be temporary covenant, one that was planned to be replaced by a better covenant, if that’s the case, why is this covenant (or series of them) in the Old testament frequently called an “everlasting covenant” not a “temporary covenant”? In fact, in Psalm 19:7 the Law is called perfect, which leads us to wonder, why should a “perfect” Law need replacing? (See below for examples)
Why does OT eschatalogical prophecy of the future include a restoration of Old Testament Law?
In fact Zechariah has a prophecy regarding the end times (Zech14:4-13) which undeniably shows the “the Day of the Lord.” In this prophecy The Lords feet rest on the Mount of Olives, there is eternal daytime, no night, and God ushers his reign of peace for the whole earth. During this eternal kingdom, God commands all nations to obey Old Testament law and celebrate the feast of Booths (Zech 14:16-19). Likewise, we see temple sacrifices continue in this vision of the future (Zech 14:21).
A few examples of Old Testament edicts described as Eternal/everlasting
“The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as an ENDURING covenant” (Exod 31:16)
“The secret things belong to Yahweh our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children FOREVER, that we may follow all the words of this law” (Deut 29:29)
“A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an EVERLASTING covenant.” (Gen 17:13)
“God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an EVERLASTING covenant for his offspring after him.” (Genesis 17:19)
“The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the EVERLASTING covenant.” (Isaiah 24:5)
“it is from the people of Israel as a covenant FOREVER.” (Leviticus 24:8)
“It is an EVERLASTING covenant of salt before the Lord to you and your descendants with you.”(Num 18:19)