30 November 2012

Terry Jones, The Innocence of Muslims, and Leviticus 24:16

Earlier this week, an Egyptian court sentenced seven people to death for their involvement in the anti-Islam film, The Innocence of Muslims.
"The seven accused persons were convicted of insulting the Islamic religion through participating in producing and offering a movie that insults Islam and its prophet,'' Egyptian Judge Saif al-Nasr Soliman said Wednesday.
The convicted blasphemers are living outside of Egypt and so are unlikely to be executed.

Another person accused of insulting Islam is the Quran-buring Florida pastor, Terry Jones. His case is scheduled for December 29.*

The strange thing about all this is this: The Quran does not specify the death penalty for blasphemy. (Not directly, anyway.**)

But the Bible sure as hell does.
He that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him. Leviticus 24:16
 God commands believers to kill blasphemers -- by stoning them to death.

Why are Muslims the only ones who obey him? ***

* I've spent a fair amount of time at this blog and the SAQ insulting Islam and its prophet (peanut butter and pig's fat be upon him). How come there's no death sentence out on me? I'm kind of insulted.

** There is a verse in the Quran that is applied in blasphemy cases.
The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom. Quran 5:33
Blasphemers "make war on Allah and His messenger" so they should "be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off" and then, of course, be tormented by Allah in hell forever.

*** I've tried to get an answer from Bible believers about this, but without success.

Here are my questions.
  1. Would it be wrong to obey God's command in Leviticus 24:16 today?
  2. Was it ever right to obey it?

26 November 2012

Mosiah 7: A Nephite Family Reunion

Hello everyone!  This is Philip, Steve's son.  I have been working on editing the SAB book these last 8 months, and now I'll be blogging the Book of Mormon.  With my help, we're hoping to get the Book of Mormon out in 2013.  Steve will be continuing with the Apocrypha and his regular posts.

The last chapter ended with King Benjamin appointing Mosiah as the new King.  Well, things were going pretty good for King Mosiah II (his grandfather was also named Mosiah, remember?), and the first three years of his reign were peaceful.  But he was getting a little bored, and was wondering about his brethren who had left Zarahemla years ago  
7.1 And now, it came to pass that after king Mosiah had had continual peace for the space of three years, he was desirous to know concerning the people who went up to dwell in the land of Lehi-Nephi, or in the city of Lehi-Nephi; for his people had heard nothing from them from the time they left the land of Zarahemla; therefore, they wearied him with their teasings.
So he sent a search party to the land of Lehi-Nephi to go looking for them.  He sent 16 of his finest men, and  Ammon (a strong and mighty man) was to be their leader. 
7:2 And it came to pass that king Mosiah granted that sixteen of their strong men might go up to the land of Lehi-Nephi to inquire concerning their brethren.
7:3 And it came to pass that on the morrow they started to go up, having with them one Ammon, he being a strong and mighty man, and a descendant of Zarahemla; and he was also their leader.
After 40 days of wandering around, they set up camp on a hill north of Shilom, in the land of Nephi.  Maybe next time they'll pick a leader with a good sense of direction.
7:4 And now, they knew not the course they should travel in the wilderness to go up to the land of Lehi-Nephi; therefore they wandered many days in the wilderness, even forty days did they wander.
7:5 And when they had wandered forty days they came to a hill, which is north of the land of Shilom, and there they pitched their tents.
The next morning, Ammon and three of his best men went down into the land of Nephi to explore.  They promptly got thrown in jail by the king's guard.
7:6 And Ammon took three of his brethren, and their names were Amaleki, Helem, and Hem, and they went down into the land of Nephi.
7:7 And behold, they met the king of the people who were in the land of Nephi, and in the land of Shilom; and they were surrounded by the king's guard, and were taken, and were bound, and were committed to prison.
After two days in jail, the king brought them out for questioning.  He told them that he was Limhi (the son of Noah, who was the son of Zeniff, who came up out of the land of Zarahemla) and then asked them to explain why they were there, or else be put to death.  Seems fair.
7:8 And it came to pass when they had been in prison two days they were again brought before the king, and their bands were loosed; and they stood before the king, and were permitted, or rather commanded, that they should answer the questions which he should ask them.  
7:9 And he said unto them: Behold, I am Limhi, the son of Noah, who was the son of Zeniff, who came up out of the land of Zarahemla to inherit this land, which was the land of their fathers, who was made a king by the voice of the people.  
7:10 And now, I desire to know the cause whereby ye were so bold as to come near the walls of the city, when I, myself, was with my guards without the gate?  
7:11 And now, for this cause have I suffered that ye should be preserved, that I might inquire of you, or else I should have caused that my guards should have put you to death. Ye are permitted to speak.
Ammon bows and thanks King Limhi for not already killing him, and for letting him explain himself.  There is so much to be thankful for!
7:12 And now, when Ammon saw that he was permitted to speak, he went forth and bowed himself before the king; and rising again he said: O king, I am very thankful before God this day that I am yet alive, and am permitted to speak; and I will endeavor to speak with boldness;
After Ammon tells his story, Lemhi is pleased.  As it turns out, right now his people are being forced to pay a high tribute to the Lamenites, and he figures that his long-lost brethren in Zarahemla will help him out of the mess.
7:13 For I am assured that if ye had known me ye would not have suffered that I should have worn these bands. For I am Ammon, and am a descendant of Zarahemla, and have come up out of the land of Zarahemla to inquire concerning our brethren, whom Zeniff brought up out of that land.
7:14 And now, it came to pass that after Limhi had heard the words of Ammon, he was exceedingly glad, and said: Now, I know of a surety that my brethren who were in the land of Zarahemla are yet alive. And now, I will rejoice; and on the morrow I will cause that my people shall rejoice also.
7:15 For behold, we are in bondage to the Lamanites, and are taxed with a tax which is grievous to be borne. And now, behold, our brethren will deliver us out of our bondage, or out of the hands of the Lamanites, and we will be their slaves; for it is better that we be slaves to the Nephites than to pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites.
So King Lemhi set Ammon and his men free, and allowed them to eat, drink and rest in the city.  He even sent a few guards to collect the rest of the men who were still camping on the hill.
7:16 And now, king Limhi commanded his guards that they should no more bind Ammon nor his brethren, but caused that they should go to the hill which was north of Shilom, and bring their brethren into the city, that thereby they might eat, and drink, and rest themselves from the labors of their journey; for they had suffered many things; they had suffered hunger, thirst, and fatigue.
Then King Lemhi sent a proclamation to all his people, telling them to gather together for a speech (oh boy!).  Once everyone gathers around, he gives them the good news: "The time is at hand, or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies."

He then preaches for a little while about how the tribute was their fault in the first place; that it was a punishment sent from the Lord because of their iniquity.  Luckily, God is now giving them a second chance.
7:18 And it came to pass that when they had gathered themselves together that he spake unto them in this wise, saying: O ye, my people, lift up your heads and be comforted; for behold, the time is at hand, or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies, notwithstanding our many strugglings, which have been in vain; yet I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made.
 7:25 For if this people had not fallen into transgression the Lord would not have suffered that this great evil should come upon them. But behold, they would not hearken unto his words; but there arose contentions among them, even so much that they did shed blood among themselves.
7:33 But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.

23 November 2012

The Machabees brothers (Simon, Judas, and Jonathan) slaughter the heathens

After the Hanukkah killings. the Gentiles gathered together to fight the Israelites, who sent messengers "with their garments rent" to Judas asking for help.
The Gentiles ... assembled themselves together against the Israelites ... to destroy them. 1 Machabees 5:9
There came other messengers out of Galilee with their garments rent. 5:14
And they asked the right guy.

Judas and his brothers (Simon and Jonathan) attacked the Gentiles in Galilee and Galaad.
Judas said to Simon his brother: Choose thee men, and go, and deliver thy brethren in Galilee: and I, and my brother Jonathan will go into the country of Galaad. 5:17 
Simon killed 3000 Galilean heathens and took their wives and children captive.
Simon went into Galilee, and fought many battles with the heathens: and the heathens were discomfited before his face." 5:21
And there fell of the heathens almost three thousand men, and he took the spoils of them. 5:22
And he took ... their wives, and children, and all that they had." 5:23
Judas and his army went to Bosor and "slew every male with the edge of the sword, took all their spoils, and burnt it with fire."
Judas and his army suddenly turned their march into the desert, to Bosor, and took the city: and he slew every male by the edge of the sword, and took all their spoils, and burnt it with fire. 5:28
Then they retreated to their fortress.
They ... went till they came to the fortress. 5:29 
The next day they saw "people without number" preparing to attack.
And it came to pass ... when they lifted up their eyes, behold there were people without number, carrying ladders and engines to take the fortress. 5:30
So they sounded their trumpets and cried out in prayer, which scared the hell out of Timotheus' army, who fled away in terror as Judas' men killed "almost eight thousand."
The cry of the battle went up to heaven like a trumpet. 5:31
And they sounded their trumpets, and cried out in prayer. 5:33
The host of Timotheus understood that it was Machabeus, and they fled away before his face: and they made a great slaughter of them: and there fell of them in that day almost eight thousand men. 5:34
Then Judas did unto the city of Maspha as he did to Bosor -- burning it to the ground after killing every male "with the edge of the sword."
And Judas turned aside to Maspha, and assaulted, and took it, and he slew every male thereof, and took the spoils thereof, and burnt it with fire. 5:35
Then he went and did likewise to "Casbon, and Mageth, and Bosor, and the rest of the cities of Galaad." (I guess he slaughtered Bosor again just for the heck of it.)
From thence he marched, and took Casbon, and Mageth, and Bosor, and the rest of the cities of Galaad. 5:36
Although Timotheus and his army ran away from Judas a few verses ago (5:34), he's back now with an "exceeding great" army. General Tim comes up with a great plan: if Judas is afraid to come near, Tim's army will win; if Judas isn't afraid to come near, Judas will win. Judas wasn't afraid, so Judas won.
But after this Timotheus gathered another army ... exceeding great 5:37-38
And Judas went to meet them. 5:39
And Timotheus said to the captains of his army: When Judas and his army come near ... if he pass over unto us first ... he will certainly prevail over us. 5:40
But if he be afraid to pass over ... we ... shall prevail against him. 5:41
Now when Judas came near ... he passed over to them first ... and all the heathens were discomfited before them, and they threw away their weapons, and fled to the temple that was in Carnaim. 5:42-43

All the heathens were discomfited before them, and they threw away their weapons, and fled to the temple that was in Carnaim. And he took that city, and the temple he burnt with fire. 5:44
Next Judas commands his soldiers to attack the great city of Ephron, kill every male, and then burn it.
They came as far as Ephron: now this was a great city. 5:46
Then Judas commanded proclamation to be made ... that they should make an assault. 5:49
They slew every male with the edge of the sword, and he razed the city, and took the spoils thereof, and passed through all the city over them that were slain. 5:51
To thank him for helping them slaughter the Gentiles, Judas and his brothers killed some animals for God. 
And they went up to mount Sion with joy and gladness, and offered holocausts, because not one of them was slain, till they had returned in peace. 5:54
Then Judas and his brethren attacked the children of Esau, burned walls and towers in Chebron, destroyed the all the altars and statues in the land of the aliens and strangers, and took the spoils of their cities.
Then Judas and his brethren went forth and attacked the children of Esau, in the land toward the south, and he took Chebron, and her towns: and he burnt the walls thereof and the towers all round it. 5:65
And he removed his camp to go into the land of the aliens, and he went through Samaria. 5:66

And Judas turned to Azotus into the land of the strangers, and he threw down their altars, and he burnt the statues of their gods with fire: and he took the spoils of the cities. 5:68

So how heathens did God help the Machabees brothers kill?
  • 3000 from Galilee
  • Every male in Bosor (1000 estimate)
  • 8000 soldiers in Timotheus' army
  • Every male in Maspha (1000 estimate)
  • Every male in Casbon, and Mageth, and Bosor, and the rest of the cities of Galaad (5000 estimate)
  • All the heathens in Timotheus's army (10,000 estimate)
  • Every male in Ephron (5000 estimate, since Ephron, as skanksta noted below, was "a great city")
  • The children of Esau (1000 estimate)
  • Chebron (1000 estimate)
  • Samaria (1000 estimate)
  • Azotus in the land of the strangers (1000 estimate)
So there were at least 11,000 victims, with a total estimate of 32,000

20 November 2012

All the fat is the Lord's: The Bible's guide to Thanksgiving dinner

There are some things that God cares deeply about -- sex, foreskins, menstruation, and animal sacrifice, for example.

And food.

Most Christians forget about that. They prepare and eat food on Thanksgiving that God abhors, while thanking him for it. And it really pisses him off (insofar as an imaginary being can be pissed off, that is).

Don't make that mistake this Thanksgiving.

Here are some suggestions for a biblically correct Thanksgiving dinner.
  1. Some things are abominations to God. Don't eat them. This includes:

    pork (No Thanksgiving ham),
    The swine ... is unclean to you ... their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch. Leviticus 11:7-8
    clams, lobsters, shrimp,
    All that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you: Leviticus 11:10
    four-legged creeping fowls,
    All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you. Leviticus 11:20
    most four-legged flying creeping things with legs above their feet (grasshoppers, locusts, and beetles are exceptions)
    All other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you. Leviticus 11:21-23
    Every creeping thing that flieth is unclean unto you: they shall not be eaten. Deuteronomy  14:19
    whatever crawls on its belly, goes on all four, or has lots of legs
    Whatsoever goeth upon the belly, and whatsoever goeth upon all four, or whatsoever hath more feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth ... are an abomination. Leviticus 11:42
  2. Don't eat anything with blood. (No goddamned Thanksgiving blood sausage)
    Ye shall eat no manner of blood, whether it be of fowl or of beast. Leviticus 7:26

    Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood. Leviticus 19:26
  3. Don't eat anything with fat (God loves fat and he doesn't like to share. So no animal fat or gravy.)
    All the fat is the Lord's. Leviticus 3:16

    Ye shall eat no manner of fat. Leviticus 7:23
  4. Don't eat any uncircumcised fruit.
    When ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten Leviticus 19:23
OK, but what can be eaten on Thanksgiving without upsetting God too much?

Here are a few biblically-based suggestions.
  1. Invite your family, friends, and neighbors over for Thanksgiving.
    And eat them.
    Ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat. Leviticus 26:29

    Thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters. Deuteronomy 28:53

    I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend. Jeremiah 19:9

    The fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of thee, and the sons shall eat their fathers. Ezekiel 5:10
  2. Eat the flesh of your own arm and get drunk on your own blood (as with sweet wine).
    They shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm. Isaiah 9:19-20

    I will feed them ... with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine. Isaiah 49:26
  3. Spice things up a little. Eat your own dung and drinking your own piss.
    Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you? 2 Kings 18:27, Isaiah 36:12
  4. Bake some Ezekiel 4:12 bread.
    Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof. Ezekiel 4:9

    And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man. Ezekiel 12
But what about turkey? Is it OK to eat turkey on Thanksgiving?

Well, that is a disputed topic.
I'll let the Bible believers fight it out.

17 November 2012

Mosiah 2-6: The King's Speech

In the last chapter, King Benjamin waxed old, selected his son Mosiah to succeed him, and gathered all of his subjects to hear his speech so he could rid his garments of their blood.
And it came to pass that after Mosiah had done as his father had commanded him, and had made a proclamation throughout all the land, that the people gathered themselves together throughout all the land, that they might go up to the temple to hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them. Mosiah 2:1
I say unto you that I have caused that ye should assemble yourselves together that I might rid my garments of your blood. 2:28
But there were just too many of them. They had multiplied exceedingly. There were so many, in fact, that they couldn't be numbered or fit in the temple, so a tower had to be erected so that everyone could hear King Benjamin's exceedingly boring speech.
There were a great number, even so many that they did not number them; for they had multiplied exceedingly and waxed great in the land. 2:2
For the multitude being so great that king Benjamin could not teach them all within the walls of the temple, therefore he caused a tower to be erected, that thereby his people might hear the words which he should speak unto them. 2:7
Mosiah goes on for five chapters, saying all the usual stuff: Jesus is coming and everyone must pre-believe in him or be tortured forever in hell.
If he ... dieth in his sins, the same drinketh damnation to his own soul; for he receiveth for his wages an everlasting punishment. 2:33
Mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment. 2:39
A state of misery and endless torment, from whence they can no more return; therefore they have drunk damnation to their own souls. 3:25
Their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever. 3:27
And Mosiah isn't just making stuff up. An angel of the Lord visited him and told him all about Jesus (who would be born in another 120 years or so). This is the umpteenth time Jesus is prophesied in great detail in the Book of Mormon. It's almost as though the whole thing was written using language that mimicked the King James Version of the Bible by someone living in nineteenth century America.

But we do learn a few new things about Jesus.

He will suffer so much that blood will come out of every pore of his body. And he is not only the Son of God, he is also the Father of heaven and earth.
The things which I shall tell you are made known unto me by an angel from God. And he said unto me: Awake; and I awoke, and behold he stood before me. 3:2
For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that ... the Lord Omnipotent ... shall come down from heaven among the children of men. 3:5
He shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men. 3:6
And lo, he shall suffer ... blood cometh from every pore. 3:7
He shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth ... and his mother shall be called Mary. 3:8
When King Benjamin quit speaking, everyone in Zarahemla fell down.
And now, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had made an end of speaking the words which had been delivered unto him by the angel of the Lord, that he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and behold they had fallen to the earth, for the fear of the Lord had come upon them. 4:1
And they all spoke in unison the following words:
O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men. 4:2
When the crowd was finished with their speech, the king started speaking again.
And king Benjamin again opened his mouth and began to speak unto them, saying......... 4:4-30
After King Benjamin's speech, he sent his officials out to ask the people if they believed the stuff he told them.
It came to pass that when king Benjamin had thus spoken to his people, he sent among them, desiring to know of his people if they believed the words which he had spoken unto them. 5:1
He didn't need Nate Silver to do the analysis.

Everyone believed everything he said and they all cried out together, "Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken to us...."
And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. 5:2
And we, ourselves, also, through the infinite goodness of God, and the manifestations of his Spirit, have great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things. 5:3
And it is the faith which we have had on the things which our king has spoken unto us that has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby we do rejoice with such exceedingly great joy. 5:4
And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God. 5:5
And, by golly, those were just the words King Benjamin hoped they'd say!
These are the words which king Benjamin desired of them. 5:6
Then King Benjamin broke into one of his boring speeches again.
And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ........ 5:7-15
After King Benjamin finally finished speaking (God, I hope he's really done this time), he decided to make a list of all the born-again Christians. It turned out that everyone had been saved, except for maybe the little children -- 120 years before Jesus was born!
King Benjamin thought it was expedient, after having finished speaking to the people, that he should take the names of all those who had entered into a covenant with God. 6:1
And it came to pass that there was not one soul, except it were little children, but who had entered into the covenant and had taken upon them the name of Christ. 6:2
Benjamin made his son Mosiah king and appointed priests to instruct the people. Mosiah walked in the ways of the Lord and everything was peachy in Zarahemla, just like it was when his dad was king.
King Benjamin ... consecrated his son Mosiah to be a ruler and a king ... and also had appointed priests to teach the people." 6:3
And it came to pass that king Mosiah did walk in the ways of the Lord, and did observe his judgments and his statutes, and did keep his commandments in all things whatsoever he commanded him. 6:6
And there was no contention among all his people for the space of three years. 6:7

15 November 2012

Mosiah 1: King Benjamin teaches his sons Reformed Egyptian

Remember how, back in the Book of Omni, the Nephites discovered the land of Zarahemla while fleeing from the evil Lamanites? Well, that's where the Book of Mosiah takes place between 130 and 92 BCE (except for a flashback to 200 BCE in chapters 9-22, which I'll cover in a later post).

King Benjamin was the son of the Mosiah from the Book of Omni. He was a perfect king and the land of Zarahemla was perfectly peaceful and happy during his entire reign.
And now there was no more contention in all the land of Zarahemla, among all the people who belonged to king Benjamin, so that king Benjamin had continual peace all the remainder of his days. Mosiah 1:1
Benjamin taught his sons Reformed Egyptian so they could read the brass plates. Good thing, too -- otherwise they'd suffer ignorance and dwindle in unbelief.
King Benjamin ... had three sons ... Mosiah, and Helorum, and Helaman. And he caused that they should be taught in all the language of his fathers. 1:1-2
And he also taught them concerning the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, saying: My sons ... were it not for these plates ... we must have suffered in ignorance. 1:3
Lehi ... having been taught in the language of the Egyptians. 1:4
Were it not for these things ... our fathers would have dwindled in unbelief. 1:5
The king told his sons that all the sayings, records, and  plates are true, along with lots of other true stuff that didn't make it into the Book of Mosiah.
These sayings are true, and also that these records are true. And behold, also the plates of Nephi ... are true. ... And many more things did king Benjamin teach his sons, which are not written in this book. 1:6-8
Then it came to pass that the king waxed old, made an end of teaching his sons, and got ready to go the way of all the earth. So he figured he'd better choose one of his sons to succeed him.
And it came to pass that after king Benjamin had made an end of teaching his sons, that he waxed old, and he saw that he must very soon go the way of all the earth; therefore, he thought it expedient that he should confer the kingdom upon one of his sons. 1:9
He chose Mosiah. (Just to confuse you, Mosiah's grandfather was also named Mosiah.)
Therefore, he had Mosiah brought before him. 1:10
And gave him all his special things: the plates of Nephi, the sword of Laban (that Nephi used to decapitate Laban), and the magic ball of curious workmanship that was made by God himself.
And it came to pass that ... king Benjamin gave him ... the plates of Nephi; and also, the sword of Laban, and the ball or director, which led our fathers through the wilderness, which was prepared by the hand of the Lord. 1:15-16
Then the king called everyone in his kingdom to hear his speech, which I'll tell you about in my next post.

13 November 2012

A Challenge to Christians

It's been three years since I posted this and there is still no response from Bible believers. So I thought I'd try again. (Thanks for reminding me, Brucker!)

I have always been amazed with how untroubled believers appear to be with God's killings in the Bible. It's good to know that I am not alone.

Here are Zinnia Jones' thoughts on the subject.

I had expected that everyone would easily recognize that ... all genocides were clearly wrong. But this was not the case. Instead, I was surprised to see that Christians were defending these genocides and claiming that they were justified. One of the reasons they offered was that the victims were so evil that they all deserved to be killed. Others said that the Israelites were in need of land, so God allowed them to conquer neighboring territories. And some even claim that anything God commands is morally right by definition and that we have no standing to question this or disobey his commands.
It was really quite startling that these excuses were so similar to the justifications used by the perpetrators of genocide. The victims were simply unworthy of life, or they needed to acquire more territory for themselves, or they were just following orders. Even more unnerving is how indifferent these people are to the realities of genocide. They apparently have no problem with killing defenseless children and treating even infants as too evil to live. It's like none of this seems real to them.
But perhaps the most disturbing aspect is that of all the Christians I've discussed this with, not one of them has been willing to condemn these genocides. Not a single one. They have all tried to defend this.
So, I'd like to issue a challenge to Christians. Can you acknowledge that genocide is wrong even if God commands it? Can you agree that genocide is never acceptable including the genocides of the Bible? Are you capable as a Christian of condemning genocide without equivocation?
And I'll add another challenge to Zinnia's: If you refuse to condemn God's genocides in the Bible, then defend them. Right here on this blog. Just pick your favorite and tell us why you like it so darned much.

Maybe you think it was especially cool that God burned people to death for complaining. Or that he sent fiery serpents to bite and kill people (again for complaining -- this time about the lack of food and water). Just pick one and tell us why you love God so much for doing it.

You can have a guest post right here and become as famous as Brucker!

11 November 2012

The Hanukkah killings

A year after God's slaughter of Georga's army, Lysias attacked Judas with army of 60,000.
The year following Lysias gathered together threescore thousand chosen men, and five thousand horsemen. 1 Machabees 4:28
Judas asked God to deliver the Syrians like he did the mighty and the strangers to David and Jonathan.
Judas met them with ten thousand men ... and he prayed, and said: Blessed art thou, O Saviour of Israel, who didst break the violence of the mighty by the hand of thy servant David, and didst deliver up the camp of the strangers into the hands of Jonathan the son of Saul and of his armourbearer. 4:29-30
He asked God to scare the hell out of them.
Strike them with fear ... and let them quake at their own destruction. 4:32
And kill them with the sword of those that love him.
Cast them down with the sword of them that love thee: and let all that know thy name, praise thee with hymns. 4:33
And it worked. 

God helped Judas kill another 5000.
And there fell of the army of Lysias five thousand men. 4:34
After God "discomfited" the Gentiles, Judas and his brethren went to clean up the Temple.
Then Judas, and his brethren said: Behold our enemies are discomfited: let us go up now to cleanse the holy places and to repair them. 4:36
They found the Temple to be a bit of a mess.
And they saw the sanctuary desolate, and the altar profaned, and the gates burnt, and shrubs growing up in the courts as in a forest, or on the mountains, and the chambers joining to the temple thrown down. 4:38
So they did the usual things that Jews do when they get upset: they rent their garments, put ashes on their heads, and  fell on their faces.
They rent their garments ... and put ashes on their heads ...And they fell ... on their faces. 4:39-40
Then they cleaned things up at the Temple and killed some animals for God.
They made new holy vessels, and brought in the candlestick, and the altar of incense, and the table into the temple. And they put incense upon the altar, and lighted up the lamps ... And they offered sacrifice. 4:49-53
And everyone fell on their faces once again. (You just can't do that too many times.)
And all the people fell upon their faces . 4:55
When the Gentiles found out that the Jews had cleaned up the temple, they were exceedingly angry.
Now it came to pass, when the nations round about heard that the altar and the sanctuary were built up as before, that they were exceeding angry. 1 Machabees 5:1
And began to persecute and kill the Jews.
And they thought to destroy the generation of Jacob that were among them, and they began to kill some of the people, and to persecute them. 5:2
Which got Judas (and God) in a killing mood once again.

He slaughtered the children of Esau.
Judas fought against the children of Esau in Idumea, and them that were in Acrabathane ... and he made a great slaughter of them. 5:3
Burned to death the children of Bean.
He remembered the malice of the children of Bean ... And they were shut up by him in towers, and he ... burnt their towers with fire, and all that were in them. 5:4-5
And smote the children of Ammon.
Then he passed over to the children of Ammon ... and they were discomfited in their sight, and he smote them. 5:6-7
God helped Judas kill the Gentiles because God likes the Jewish people more than other people, likes the Jewish religion more than other religions, and likes Jews to kill sacrifice animals to him in the Temple.
Judas, and his brethren, and all the church of Israel decreed, that the day of the dedication of the altar should be kept in its season from year to year for eight days, from the five and twentieth day of the month of Casleu. 1 Machabees 4:59
That is what Hanukkah is all about, Charlie Brown.

So how many did God and Judas kill?

Well, there were 5000 soldiers in Lysias' army, maybe 10,000 or so from the "great slaughter" of the children of Esau, 1000 burned children of Bean, and another 1000 of the children of Ammon -- for a grand total of 17,000 Hanukkah victims.

09 November 2012

Words of Mormon - whispered by the Spirit of the Lord to Mormon Jr.

"Words of Mormon" is a single-chapter, 18-verse "book" in the Book of Mormon. It was engraved on golden plates by a Mormon prophet named Mormon (whose father was also named Mormon) about 385 CE. Mormon Jr. entrusted the golden plates to his son Moroni, who buried them on a hill in what is now Wayne County, New York. 1400 years later, after being resurrected as an angel, Moroni delivered the golden plates to Joseph Smith.
And now I, Mormon, being about to deliver up the record which I have been making into the hands of my son Moroni ... many hundred years after the coming of Christ. Words of Mormon 1
Mormon found and abridged the plates of Nephi, which were written over a period of about 1000 years. He wrote down less than one percent of all the stuff that was written, for which we should all be grateful. What he wrote he thinks is choice; he wrote it while the Spirit of the Lord whispered to him. And he knows it will be preserved because it's such great stuff.
I speak somewhat concerning that which I have written; for after I had made an abridgment from the plates of Nephi ... I found these plates. v.3
I cannot write the hundredth part of the things of my people. v.5
Behold, I shall take these plates ... for they are choice unto me; and I know they will be choice unto my brethren. v.6
I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. v.7
I know that they will be preserved; for there are great things written upon them. v.11
Mormon prays that the Nephites will once again become a delightsome people.
My prayer to God is concerning my brethren ... that they may once again be a delightsome people. v.9
And I guess his prayer was answered since God helped the white and delightsome Nephites kill "many thousands" of evil, dark-skinned Lamanites.
In the strength of the Lord ... they had slain many thousands of the Lamanites ... until they had driven them out of all the lands of their inheritance. v.14
But not all the Nephites were delightsome; there were lots of false Christs, false prophets and teachers, whose mouths had to be shut and who were punished according to their crimes. (Were they executed as required by Deuteronomy 18:20?)
There had been false Christs, and their mouths had been shut, and they punished according to their crimes. v.15
And after there had been false prophets, and false preachers and teachers among the people, and all these having been punished according to their crimes. v.16
Luckily, though, King Benjamin was holy, and there were many other holy men, and the holy men used much sharpness against the sticknecked people.
For behold, king Benjamin was a holy man ... and there were many holy men ... and they did use much sharpness because of the stiffneckedness of the people. v.17
So everything worked out well in the end and there was peace in the land.
Wherefore, with the help of these, king Benjamin, by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land. v.18 
And that's all the Spirit of the Lord whispered to Mormon Jr.

08 November 2012

Look what came in the mail today!

We just approved the mockup. Printing begins next week.

03 November 2012

Judas and his unarmed men kill 3000 of Gorgias' soldiers

In Judas Machabeus' first set of God-assisted killings, He told his men not to worry about large opposing armies. Because success in war depends not on numbers, but on God. "The Lord himself will overthrow them." And that seemed to work well enough, though Judas and his men still had to do at least some of the killing.

This time, though, Judas doesn't even pretend to fight. He and his men didn't have a single sword among them. They didn't need any; God did it all for them.

Here's the story.

Judas and the Israelites prepare for war by putting on haircloth, putting ashes on their heads, rending their garments, blowing trumpets, and crying together with a loud, long, boring prayer to heaven.
The assembly was gathered that they might be ready for battle ...They ... put on haircloth, and put ashes upon their heads: and they rent their garments. 1 Machabees 3:44-47
They cried with a loud voice toward heaven, saying: What shall we do with these, and whither shall we carry them? v.50
For thy holies are trodden down, and are profaned, and thy priests are in mourning, and are brought low. v.51
And behold the nations are come together against us to destroy us: thou knowest what they intend against us. v.52
How shall we be able to stand before their face, unless thou, O God, help us? v.53
Then they sounded with trumpets, and cried out with a loud voice. v.54
And the war rituals worked like magic. 

Judas and his completely unarmed valiant men defeated 5000 well-armed soldiers. He told his men not to do anything; God would do the killing for them. And he did.
Gorgias took five thousand men, and a thousand of the best horsemen: and they removed out of the camp by night. That they might come upon the camp of the Jews, and strike them suddenly. 4:1-2
And Judas heard of it ... he and the valiant men.  v.3
Judas shewed himself in the plain with three thousand men only, who neither had armour nor swords. v.6
Judas said to the men that were with him: Fear ye not their multitude. v.8
Remember in what manner our fathers were saved in the Red Sea, when Pharao pursued them with a great army. v.9
Let us cry to heaven: and the Lord ... will destroy this army. v.10
Judas blew the trumpet and God killed 3000 Gentile soldiers.
They that were with Judas sounded the trumpet ... and the Gentiles were routed. v.13-14
All the hindmost of them fell by the sword ... and there fell of them to the number of three thousand men. v.15
 Then Judas and his men enriched themselves with the booty.
Judas returned to take the spoils of the camp, and they got much gold, and silver, and blue silk, and purple of the sea, and great riches. v.23
As they left bodies of God's victims, they sang a hymn to God, praising him for his mercy.
And returning home they sung a hymn, and blessed God in heaven, because he is good, because his mercy endureth for ever. v.24
And prepared for God's next killing.

02 November 2012

The Book of Omni: The Nephites discover the Mulekites and Jaredites (who also sailed from Israel to America)

The Book of Omni gets off to a great start for a book in the Book of Mormon with the words "Behold, it came to pass" but it goes downhill quickly from there. The purpose of Omni's little book is the same as the purpose of his father's book (the Book of  Jarom) -- to preserve their genealogy. Exciting stuff.
Behold, it came to pass that I, Omni, being commanded by my father, Jarom, that I should write somewhat upon these plates, to preserve our genealogy. Omni 1
It turns out that Omni's little book wasn't written by Omni, at least most of it wasn't. Omni only wrote the first three verses, from which we learn the following things: Omni fought a lot with Lamanites, he was a wicked man, and he had a son named Amaron, who received the plates from Omni when he died.
I fought much with the sword to preserve my people, the Nephites, from falling into the hands of their enemies, the Lamanites. But behold, I of myself am a wicked man ... and I had kept these plates according to the commandments of my fathers; and I conferred them upon my son Amaron. And I make an end. 2-3
Amaron was a bit more prolific than his father, writing five verses. From them we learn that after 320 years the more wicked part of the Nephites were destroyed, but the Lord saved the righteous ones. Then Amaron passed the plates to his brother Chemish.
And now I, Amaron, write the things whatsoever I write, which are few, in the book of my father. Behold, it came to pass that three hundred and twenty years had passed away, and the more wicked part of the Nephites were destroyed. ... Nevertheless, he did spare the righteous that they should not perish, but did deliver them out of the hands of their enemies. And it came to pass that I did deliver the plates unto my brother Chemish. 4-8
Chemish wrote a few things in a single verse in the same book, from which we learn that his brother Amaron wrote what he wrote with his own hand (not somebody else's) and he wrote his five verses in a single day, after the manner that the Nephites kept there records, according to the commandments of their fathers.

And with that, Chemish made an end.
Now I, Chemish, write what few things I write, in the same book with my brother; for behold, I saw the last which he wrote, that he wrote it with his own hand; and he wrote it in the day that he delivered them unto me. And after this manner we keep the records, for it is according to the commandments of our fathers. And I make an end. 9
After Chemish made an end, his son Abinadom took over. Abinadom wrote two verses with three beholds, saying that he killed many Lamanites with his own sword. But he didn't know of any new revelations, "wherefore, that which is sufficient is written."
Behold, I, Abinadom, am the son of Chemish. Behold, it came to pass that I saw much war and contention between my people, the Nephites, and the Lamanites; and I, with my own sword, have taken the lives of many of the Lamanites in the defence of my brethren. And behold, the record of this people is engraven upon plates which is had by the kings, according to the generations; and I know of no revelation save that which has been written, neither prophecy; wherefore, that which is sufficient is written. And I make an end. 10-11
After Abinadom's end, his son Amaleki took over. He spoke somewhat concerning Mosiah, the king of Zarahemla, which was a new land that the Nephites discovered while fleeing from the evil Lamanites.
Behold, I am Amaleki, the son of Abinadom. Behold, I will speak unto you somewhat concerning Mosiah, who was made king over the land of Zarahemla; for behold, he being warned of the Lord that he should flee out of the land of Nephi ... into the wilderness ... until they came down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla. 12-13
When the Nephites arrived in Zarahemla, they found the land already inhabited by the people of Zarahemla, who rejoiced exceedingly when they saw the Nephites because they had the plates of brass with the genealogies of the Jews.
And they discovered a people, who were called the people of Zarahemla. Now, there was great rejoicing among the people of Zarahemla; and also Zarahemla did rejoice exceedingly, because the Lord had sent the people of Mosiah with the plates of brass which contained the record of the Jews. 14
Now you might be wondering where these mysterious people of Zarahemla came from. It turns out that they were also long lost Israelites  That's right! They were seafaring Jews that, with God's help, sailed over "the great waters" from Israel after it was attacked by Babylon in 586 BCE. (The people of Zarahemla are called "Mulekites" later in the Book of Mormon. See Helaman 6:10)
Behold, it came to pass that Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon.
And they journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth.15-16
After arriving in the New World, the people of Zarahemla (aka the Mulekites) became exceedingly numerous. But from time to time they had wars and whatnot. And because they didn't write stuff on brass plates, they became atheists and their language (Reformed Egyptian) became corrupted. So the people of Zarahemla and the people of Mosiah couldn't understand one another.
And at the time that Mosiah discovered them, they had become exceedingly numerous. Nevertheless, they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time; and their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator; and Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them. 17
But these problems were easily solved. Mosiah taught the people of Zarahamla how to speak in Mosiah's language (Reformed Egyptian -- like all indigenous Americans speak), so they could write down their genealogies too. (Although they didn't get to write them on the plates of Nephi.)
But it came to pass that Mosiah caused that they should be taught in his language. And it came to pass that after they were taught in the language of Mosiah, Zarahemla gave a genealogy of his fathers, according to his memory; and they are written, but not in these plates. 18
After that, it came to pass that the people of Zarhemla and of Mosiah united together and made Mosiah their king.
And it came to pass that the people of Zarahemla, and of Mosiah, did unite together; and Mosiah was appointed to be their king. 19
Then someone found this big rock with engravings on it. Mosiah, with the help of God, interpreted the engravings and found that they were written by a guy named Coriantumr, who lived with the people of Zarahemla for the space of nine moons. ("Nine moons" is "Indian talk" for nine months.)
And it came to pass in the days of Mosiah, there was a large stone brought unto him with engravings on it; and he did interpret the engravings by the gift and power of God. And they gave an account of one Coriantumr, and the slain of his people. And Coriantumr was discovered by the people of Zarahemla; and he dwelt with them for the space of nine moons. 20-21
Okay, so where did this Coriantumr fellow come from?

Well, Israel, of course, silly! All the indigenous people in the Western Hemisphere came from Israel at one time or another. The Nephites sailed over in 600 BCE, the people of Zarahemla (aka the Mulekites) did likewise in 586 BCE, as did Corantumr's people (aka the Jaredites) at the time of the Tower of Babel. (You can read more all about the Jaredites in the Book of Ether.)
It also spake a few words concerning his fathers. And his first parents came out from the tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people; and the severity of the Lord fell upon them according to his judgments, which are just; and their bones lay scattered in the land northward. 22
After Amaleki finished telling stories about the Mulekites and Jaredites, he began to be old and having no seed, he passed the plates to King Benjamin, who succeeded King Mosiah, and who drove the Lamanites out of the land of Zarahemla.
Behold, I, Amaleki, was born in the days of Mosiah; and I have lived to see his death; and Benjamin, his son, reigneth in his stead. And behold, I have seen, in the days of king Benjamin, a serious war and much bloodshed between the Nephites and the Lamanites. But behold, the Nephites did obtain much advantage over them; yea, insomuch that king Benjamin did drive them out of the land of Zarahemla. And it came to pass that I began to be old; and, having no seed, and knowing king Benjamin to be a just man before the Lord, wherefore, I shall deliver up these plates unto him...23-25a
King Benjamin told everyone to believe in prophesying, revelations, speaking in tongues (which, according to the Bible, no one did until the day of Pentecost), and getting saved through Christ (who wouldn't be born for another couple centuries).
...exhorting all men to come unto God, the Holy One of Israel, and believe in prophesying, and in revelations, and in the ministering of angels, and in the gift of speaking with tongues ... And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ ...  and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved. 25b-26
Before Amaleki makes an end of his speaking, he tells us about a certain number of Nephites who leave Zarahelma and to return to the land of Nephi. They were led by a stiff-necked guy that got all of them killed, save fifty. After that, it came to pass that there was another attempted migration to the land of Nephi, with Amaleki's brother among them, and no one has heard from them since.
And now I would speak somewhat concerning a certain number who went up into the wilderness to return to the land of Nephi ... And their leader being a strong and mighty man, and a stiffnecked man, wherefore he caused a contention among them; and they were all slain, save fifty, in the wilderness, and they returned again to the land of Zarahemla. And it came to pass that they also took others to a considerable number, and took their journey again into the wilderness. And I, Amaleki, had a brother, who also went with them; and I have not since known concerning them. 27-30a
 And with that bit of news, Amaleki makes an end of his speaking, and with the plates full, goes down in his grave.
And I am about to lie down in my grave; and these plates are full. And I make an end of my speaking. 30b

01 November 2012

Mitt Romney helps us understand his faith (before he gets angry and walks out)

From the WhatMormonsBelieve.com

Question: Do Mormons believe that when Jesus returns, he will rule Earth from Jackson County, Missouri?
Prior to Christ’s Second Coming we know certain events will take place. Among the many signs of His coming, scriptures teach that prior to Christ’s return the 12 tribes of Israel and the saints of God will be gathered together both spiritually and physically (Jeremiah 23:3).  The city of Jerusalem will be rebuilt and the Lord will then bring again Zion, the New Jerusalem, down from heaven (Rev. 21:2Rev. 3:12Moses 7:60-64).
Latterday revelation revealed to Joseph Smith in 1832 teaches us that this Zion, the New Jerusalem, will be built upon the American continent. In Doctrine and Covenants 84:2-3 the Lord reveals: “Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of this prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem.  Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri….”  This is the region known as Jackson County.
Following Christ’s return, Jerusalem and Zion (the New Jerusalem) will exist as two great capitals where Christ’s people will live and where Christ will dwell and reign personally on the earth (Micah 4:2) in some sort of divine government (D&C 45:59Dan. 7:13-14). Thus the scripture, “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem”(Isaiah 2:3) will be fulfilled. While we do not know the details of how this divine government will work, we do know that Zion, the New Jerusalem, will be located in Missouri and will be a central place for the ruling and running of the Lord’s Kingdom during the Millennium.
(So, I think the answer to the question is Yes.)