Would you stone the man described in Numbers 15?

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Mithrae
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Re: Would you stone the man described in Numbers 15?

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rikuoamero wrote: [Replying to post 248 by Mithrae]
I wonder if Rikuo is still reading the thread? Since he's a fan, I wish I'd thought to remind him of a particularly relevant Star Trek Next Generation episode in which the crew visit a virtual paradise world, full of lovely people and no crime; accomplished by having a death sentence for all offenses, no matter how seemingly trivial, a deterrent so powerful that obeying all laws became truly second nature for its people. You might call that kind of justice system 'murder,' but if it actually worked it would in the long run be a far more moral approach in utilitarian terms than weighing punishment against the crime and (by inescapable implication) leaving criminals to weigh their crime against the mere risk of getting caught and convicted and receiving a proportional punishment.
Yes I am still reading, and as I recall, Picard didn't let the people of that planet kill Wesley, even though there was some sort of all powerful god thing in that episode.
Yes, he's a little inconsistent our friend Picard; in that case he was concerned about mens rea, but on another occasion he subjected Riker to a murder trial without presumption of innocence.
I ask you a question - DOES the threat of capital punishment actually work as a deterrent? Do places that practice capital punishment have a lower rate of relevant crimes than places that don't practice it?
I've seen claims that it has little effect on the relatively small proportion of folk who are criminals in modern countries, though it's hard to imagine how that could be the case all else being equal and when desperation is not a driving factor. It's beside the point in any case, unless it were intuitively overwhelmingly obvious that deterrence doesn't work, which it isn't: If ancient peoples thought it would work, as they did (and we cannot disprove), then incorporating that into their judicial systems was neither senseless nor barbaric.
You've done nothing to justify your opinion that a more deterrent-oriented approach in less advanced cultures than our own constitutes 'brutality,'
and you've done nothing to justify your own opinion that a god (seemingly) commanding this approach is actually the best approach it could take or could have taken, when faced with this problem of keeping the culture united etc.
As I've said several times, I don't much like the virtue signalling apparent in baseless attacking and insulting an ancient culture (well... there's the emotional basis, I suppose), but don't care either way whether a god was involved. Those making the claim on that subject have the burden of proof, and I've even explained some ways that could be met, but so far all we've seen is a resounding silence... besides the steady flow of insulting rhetoric, I mean.

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Re: Would you stone the man described in Numbers 15?

Post by rikuoamero »

[Replying to post 250 by Mithrae]

Do you know why Picard is inconsistent?
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Your life is your own. Rise up and live it - Richard Rahl, Sword of Truth Book 6 "Faith of the Fallen"

I condemn all gods who dare demand my fealty, who won't look me in the face so's I know who it is I gotta fealty to. -- JoeyKnotHead

Some force seems to restrict me from buying into the apparent nonsense that others find so easy to buy into. Having no religious or supernatural beliefs of my own, I just call that force reason. -- Tired of the Nonsense

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Re: Would you stone the man described in Numbers 15?

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[Replying to post 241 by Mithrae]
Jagella wrote:I suppose I'm different and possibly in the minority in that I do not want any person killed who poses no danger to me.
William wrote:I think your basic mistake here is that you appear to be defining yourself as you presently are and conflating it with being the exact same person you THINK you would be in another time and space.

The best you could do is to HOPE you would be the same person. but the reality is you live in a time where the social system is already set up and that is what helped shape you to think of your self as the person you think of as your self NOW.
There's a touch of irony here, in that I suspect the authors of the Numbers story may have been assuming something similar to Jesus' comment that those faithful in little will be faithful in much while those unfaithful in little will be unfaithful in much.
Perhaps. It may or may not be a good device for use of ascertaining reliability, especially when there is a consistency of behavior in relation to any individual.

We are not told are we, that the man working on the Sabbath did so consistently thus adding to the evidence that he was a threat to the Tribe?

This does happen a lot with biblical stories narrated as they are - to give a sense of urgency and impress upon the listener/reader that if one wishes to be a member of the Tribe/Group/Sect/Cult/etc...one has to abide by the rules the Tribe insist upon or one will suffer the consequences of breaking those rules.

Given that life on Earth is a harsh environment, often violence is seen as the best deterrent.
As a child I lived in a household where violence was used as a deterrent and in a neighborhood where violence was used as a deterrent and I was the least violent personality I knew - and in that spent much time in my own wee corner of life - in my 'own little world' daydreaming about another world which would be more suitable for the likes of me as that child.

I have spent most of my life learning that daydreaming that reality could be made different, did not change reality very much. It did insulate me from having to deal with the human drama in those moments where it wasn't in my face distracting me from my daydreams about desiring more appropriate (to my personality) alternatives.

In that, I can clearly empathize with what Jagella is writing about when speaking of what he knows about himself in relation to the world which is not so much delivering the things he may feel it should or could be delivering in relation to the kind of personality he self identifies as being.

What's that popular saying? "The world owes you nothing."?

Yet we are mostly all generically predisposed to inject our ideas into said world for the purpose of trying at least to make that world more accommodating to our personal needs, wants, desires, preferences, hopes, wishes, dreams, etc...

This equates to identifying the "monster(s)" which are set against us achieving said purposes in relation to said personal needs etc.

Hence, the non-Theist against Theist/Theist against non-Theist human drama - centuries old fighting dynamic.

Add to this the present day Theists who tend toward the idea that "The Law (of the Tribe) is The Law" and if such a Law as "Stoning those who won't obey the Law" and "Not working on the Sabbath" were still current or reintroduced to be current, those Theists would support such laws without hesitation.

Thus, folk who feel that this is dangerous (a monster) to their preference, [strike]do[/strike] would have reason for concern.

Perhaps a poll could be taken, but a quick scan of the thread posts indicate to me that most Members who have responded to the OPQ, agree that such Laws the ancient Cultures had invoked in order to keep their Tribes in line, have evidently moved on with the times and allowed those Laws to be non-applicable in more modern times due largely to the fact that the Laws have served their purpose and the Tribes have adapted...grown up...etc...

To me that is seen as kind of a good sign. Something I can place my daydreaming wishful thinking hopefulness in.

So while we can all ascertain to some degree, the 'monster' in others whom we feel have a position in opposition to our own, and are therefore - in reality - dangerous to us, we need to keep an even keel in relation to that type of ascertaining.

Are we out to eradicate the monster, or tame it?

Because the monster will know which is which and respond accordingly.

Through the eyes of the ancient Tribe, the 'monster' was the one outwardly defiant and happy to break the Tribes Law, and for the one who was punished by that law, the Tribe was the 'monster'.

The two monsters simply wouldn't exist in the same place at the same time. Such is the environment we all exist in. It is monstrous.

I could list, as an example, all those Christian Theists on this board to whom I share a pathway connection with in relation to Theist beliefs as well as identify where the pathway splits and the connection is lost.

The same applies to non-theists and agnostic Members - where the pathways converge and connection is gained, and where they split and connection is lost.

IF the overall dynamic of this Message Board as a whole and its participating Members can be realistically viewed as an accurate example of a micro reality to the macro reality in a mirroring sense, THEN I can shift my position to accommodate that reality.

For me that would mean simple accepting that there is going to be no same-page position agreed upon between the different 'monsters' that make up the world of the Theists vs non-Theist/non-Theists vs Theist warfare, and my daydreams of a better world that I can be completely comfortable with are a waste of hope, and I can focus my attention elsewhere.
Taking their own views as a litmus test for what they imagine 'they' as essentially a different person in a different era would be like, they nevertheless brutally attack any notion of the Sabbath being used as a considerably less speculative litmus test for the Israelites to deal with criminals before they rob or rape or kill someone.
"The Tribe has spoken"

Still, I empathize with what Jagella and others who have expressed their concerns.

When I read what Jagella wrote;
I tend to "buck the system" preferring my own way of thought
and;
I'm different and possibly in the minority in that I do not want any person killed who poses no danger to me.
I agree that is also my position and our pathway merges on that point but separates where the conflation between past and present occur, largely because I recognize that if not for all the past, my present ability to lean toward the understanding that "I am basically a decent person even that I buck the system where I see the system is not in support of assisting me in my dreams of a better world", and "I do not want to see people killed in order for my dream-world to have any chance of becoming a reality."

I can hold this position BECAUSE of the past which shaped the present AND because of those who were unfortunate victims of all dark ancient Tribal Laws - not just the ones reported in the tribal accounts of Israel, as presented in their scripts.

I am obligated in that regard, to at least make an effort to find ways of dealing with the "Dragons" whom may want to destroy my hopes and dreams of a better world.

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Re: Would you stone the man described in Numbers 15?

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Mithrae wrote:
You're adding your assumptions and value judgements about the supposed triviality of the crime and how a justice system 'should' work. The fact that you don't even realize that makes your position seem weaker, not stronger.

If the crime is breaking the Sabbath we can accept that if this means deliberately defying the Almighty, the crime is non-trivial. The scenario you describe where people eventually do no wrong because they have been conditioned into that state is not necessarily a desideratum. One of man's greatest assets is his ability to challenge.


If a society has a god whose law is inviolable, then obviously any attempt to break it suffers extreme punishment. But the next question should be: Is such a society worth living in? The automatons who live without crime are happy in a sense, but then those who have have been lobotomised might spend their days smiling too. It is the mark of civilisation that people challenge accepted thought, and sometimes at risk to themselves, they change things for the better. Paradoxically it may be that the existence of transgressors illustrates the rule of law, not their complete absence.



The problem is with the identification of the prohibiting force, the god behind the curtain who can call for the fresh hearts of young virgins with never a word of refusal. If such exists, we are ants waiting for a foot to crush us, and perhaps the best move is to believe he does not exist, until the foot proves his awful presence. God help us then.

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Re: Would you stone the man described in Numbers 15?

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marco wrote:
Mithrae wrote:
You're adding your assumptions and value judgements about the supposed triviality of the crime and how a justice system 'should' work. The fact that you don't even realize that makes your position seem weaker, not stronger.

If the crime is breaking the Sabbath we can accept that if this means deliberately defying the Almighty, the crime is non-trivial. The scenario you describe where people eventually do no wrong because they have been conditioned into that state is not necessarily a desideratum. One of man's greatest assets is his ability to challenge.

If a society has a god whose law is inviolable, then obviously any attempt to break it suffers extreme punishment. But the next question should be: Is such a society worth living in? The automatons who live without crime are happy in a sense, but then those who have have been lobotomised might spend their days smiling too. It is the mark of civilisation that people challenge accepted thought, and sometimes at risk to themselves, they change things for the better. Paradoxically it may be that the existence of transgressors illustrates the rule of law, not their complete absence.

The problem is with the identification of the prohibiting force, the god behind the curtain who can call for the fresh hearts of young virgins with never a word of refusal. If such exists, we are ants waiting for a foot to crush us, and perhaps the best move is to believe he does not exist, until the foot proves his awful presence. God help us then.
Where on earth did you get your fresh young virgin hearts from? If I didn't know you better I'd say this was the mother of all emotive hyperbole. Yet another interesting thing portrayed in the Pentateuch are the scenes in which both Abraham and Moses confront or resist God in defence of sinful, earthly human life. The name 'Israel' itself if memory serves means 'wrestles with God,' which depending on the commentator or situation may be taken as either a positive or negative thing. The Tanakh certainly condemns any attitude of arrogant assumption that we mere humans know better than God, but it also provides numerous lessons or examples against blind submission flying in the face of our deepest convictions - Ezekiel and Job are another couple of examples.

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Re: Would you stone the man described in Numbers 15?

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rikuoamero wrote: [Replying to post 250 by Mithrae]

Do you know why Picard is inconsistent?
I expect that it is because it is just a story with each episode more concerned with building and resolving the dramatic tension than developing a cohesive character...
PCE Theology as I see it...

We had an existence with a free will in Sheol before the creation of the physical universe. Here we chose to be able to become holy or to be eternally evil in YHWH's sight. Then the physical universe was created and all sinners were sent to earth.

This theology debunks the need to base Christianity upon the blasphemy of creating us in Adam's sin.

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Post by Elijah John »

[Replying to post 122 by Mithrae]

Isn't it interesting how Jews today manage to uphold "societal cohesion" of their community without resort to the death penalty for Sabbath violations. Perhaps the Rabbis are far more compassionate, humane and enlightened than was Moses?

I'll try to give you more detailed responses when I get more time. But for now, consider this. The OP isn't really concerned with whether stoning was appropriate (for whatever reason) for the time, but rather is the passage evidence that the foundation of Judaism/Christianity is a cruel one. (from my perspective, cruel like tempting Abraham to murder his son as a demonstration of his "great faith" and the slave beating passage of Exodus 21.20-21)

Disproportionate punishment, in whatever era, is an intrinsic evil.

Or are we supposed to marvel at the "wisdom" of Moses such as Solomon with his remedy of the disputed baby? If Moses was really clever and wise, why not simply whip the offender with the very sticks he was picking up? Instead of cruelly hurling stones until he died. To put it bluntly, Moses was acting more like a monster than a Divinely enlightened ruler, at least in this case.
Last edited by Elijah John on Sun Mar 10, 2019 1:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
My theological positions:

-God created us in His image, not the other way around.
-The Bible is redeemed by it's good parts.
-Pure monotheism, simple repentance.
-YHVH is LORD
-The real Jesus is not God, the real YHVH is not a monster.
-Eternal life is a gift from the Living God.
-Keep the Commandments, keep your salvation.
-I have accepted YHVH as my Heavenly Father, LORD and Savior.

I am inspired by Jesus to worship none but YHVH, and to serve only Him.

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Re: Would you stone the man described in Numbers 15?

Post by marco »

Mithrae wrote:
Where on earth did you get your fresh young virgin hearts from? If I didn't know you better I'd say this was the mother of all emotive hyperbole.

My earthly souces are the various races who offered human sacrifices to their gods. I wrote: "the god behind the curtain who can call for the fresh hearts of young virgins with never a word of refusal." I was not singling out Yahweh but looking at the situation where people set up a deity and do whatever they think the deity wants. I got the fresh virgin hearts from something I read about a old religious ceremony in France, I believe, where maidens were placed in a ring and one was chosen. Child sacrifices are mentioned in the Bible. I believe 140 skeletons of sacrificed children have been unearthed in Peru. Gods can make people do brutal things. I understand that many of the Aztec sacrificial victims felt honoured to be chosen. Young Isaac too might have been thrilled to be Yahweh's choice.
Mithrae wrote:

Yet another interesting thing portrayed in the Pentateuch are the scenes in which both Abraham and Moses confront or resist God in defence of sinful, earthly human life.

You are skilled at extracting virtue from something of dubious merit. Abraham's bargaining with the Almighty just strikes me as silly, as if God were a wise King seeking human counsel. Muhammad, who was craftily able to pick and choose from the Biblical fruit trees, used the same idea to describe his bargaining with Allah when the winged horse brought him to Paradise. It is no less puerile.


I confess to being over harsh, perhaps, in my critiques of Bible tales whereas you have found in them a rich source of inspiration and good sense and you make generous allowance for time and custom. My concern is that across the centuries people have died needlessly because of what was prescribed in the Bible. The 21st century need not seek atavistic remedies for modern ills in old stories that might once have served a good purpose.

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Post by William »

[Replying to post 256 by Elijah John]
Isn't it interesting how Jews today manage to uphold "societal cohesion" of their community without resort to the death penalty for Sabbath violations. Perhaps the Rabbis are far more compassionate, humane and enlightened than was Moses?
Whereas once upon a time Moses was the ideal example in relation to enlightenment and other members of the Tribe who followed after him.
I'll try to give you more detailed responses when I get more time. But for now, consider this. The OP isn't really concerned with whether stoning was appropriate (for whatever reason) for the time, but rather is the passage evidence that the foundation of Judaism/Christianity is a cruel one. (from my perspective, cruel like tempting Abraham to murder his son as a demonstration of his "great faith" and the slave beating passage of Exodus 21.20-21)

Disproportionate punishment, in whatever era, is an intrinsic evil.
But alongside the argument is the inevitable necessity of taking into account that the stories are concerned with what the GOD YHWH 'tells' individuals to do, regardless of the reasons.

In this case the GOD is called YHWH, and those who wish to honor YHWH have to explain why YHWH gave those intrinsically evil orders that were then carried out by those individuals, or they have to explain why that was not really the case at all, and YHWH had (nothing?) to do with it...

Or are we supposed to marvel at the "wisdom" of Moses such as Solomon with his remedy of the disputed baby? If Moses was really clever and wise, why not simply whip the offender with the very sticks he was picking up? Instead of cruelly hurling stones until he died. To put it bluntly, Moses was acting more like a monster than a Divinely enlightened ruler, at least in this case.


It doesn't matter. It is in the stories attributed to the GOD YHWH.

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Post by Elijah John »

Mithrae wrote:
Elijah John wrote: If the punishiment should fit the crime, (an ideal professed even by human judicial systems), how does the death penalty for picking up sticks fit this crime?

All this tells me is that Moses seemed incapable of making fine moral distinctions, with his "one punishiment fits all" (or most), retributions. Evidence not of enlightenment, but of barbarism.
I'm interested in your thoughts on my post #63 (explaining why punishment/deterrence was necessarily harsher in less sophisticated societies) and particularly post #101 (theorizing why dishonouring the Sabbath was viewed not merely as 'picking up sticks' - obviously not, since the author/s presumably had a vested interest in not pointlessly killing off their own people - but rather directly undermining/dishonouring the pillars both of social cohesion and holiness on which the depicted society's law and order was built).

Is it possible that folk who dismiss the incident as mere 'barbarism' (or worse, from some other people, 'stupidity') run the risk of seeming incapable of recognizing fine distinctions in social order and sophistication?
I believe my previous answer (post # 256) can serve as an adequate response, but just a few more observations.

Your posts here seem a very well-considered apologetic, even at times from a "devil's advocate" perspective? Hard to say, since your defense of the incident seems so, earnest.

Regarding your post # 65, yes, perhaps such severe measures were needed to govern an evolving, but still savage people. But a heavy handed ruler undermines his own authority, and does little to foster respect for his law. One would think a benevolent, compassionate and just God would have delivered to Moses a more benevolent, compassionate, and yes, just sanction. This leads me to conclude that the decision was not from YHVH Himself, but rather from the completely fallible and at times barbaric Moses. Yes, "remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy" is from YHVH, but it's interpretation, implementation and enforcement it seems, was, sadly, left up to Moses.

And in your post # 101, you mention "two pillars" of the Hebrew theocracy. Forgive me for missing it, but where did you get those? Seems to me the first "pillar" (Commandment) is to accept and recognize YHVH as their God, and the second "pillar"/commandment is not to make or bow down to idols. The Sabbath commandment is there, the fourth Commandment, but it is not spelled out in much detail. And the penalties are certainly not mentioned at Sinai.

And it really seems an over-reaction to consider such a minor infraction against the Sabbath "treason" against the theocracy, or a complete rejection of God. Tyrants think that way, but I doubt very much Divinely inspired rulers do, in their more lucid moments. As Jesus said, "the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath". Jesus and Moses seem at odds here, as do Moses and the Prophet Micah who said, "he has showed the O man, what is good, and what doth YHVH require of thee but to do justly, to love love kindness and to walk humbly with thy God"?

How is such a severely disproportionate punishment "just"? Or kind? Seems too, that Moses and Micah were on different pages.

Perhaps Jesus and Micah were more in tune with YHVH, than was Moses.

And in your concluding sentence of this current post which I quote, you mention "fine distinctions in social order and sophistication". Surely, you are not citing death by stoning a "sophisticated" remedy or the product of a finely tuned sense of moral justice and proportional punishment, are you? On the contrary, stoning is (literally) a blunt instrument, and a brutal and barbaric solution.

I would expect such and attempt to defend the indefensible from a Fundamentalist, and am surprised to read this coming from you. Or perhaps I am missing something?
My theological positions:

-God created us in His image, not the other way around.
-The Bible is redeemed by it's good parts.
-Pure monotheism, simple repentance.
-YHVH is LORD
-The real Jesus is not God, the real YHVH is not a monster.
-Eternal life is a gift from the Living God.
-Keep the Commandments, keep your salvation.
-I have accepted YHVH as my Heavenly Father, LORD and Savior.

I am inspired by Jesus to worship none but YHVH, and to serve only Him.

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