Northwest of Eden # 8 – THE WILDERNESS KINGDOM (Gen.- Deut.; IDB.)

It all began with a dream.  Abraham had grown wealthy with no heir.  He fell asleep and in his dream God made a covenant with him, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates” (Gen. 15:18).  The “Covenant” was similar to a “Will” or Last Testament of a dying man.  The “Will” was hijacked and altered by one child that had a shrewd attorney.  In this case, it was the grandson Jacob with the help of his mother Rebekah.  Together, they swindled the older son, Esau, out of his birthright.  Jacob’ grandmother Sarah did the same with Ishmael when she, and not Abraham, decided who was to inherit the land.  She gave it to Isaac.  The writer that was, no doubt a descendant of Jacob, led this branch of Abraham’s seed to believe that it was God’s intention to assign the covenant to Jacob.  During the time of David, the same covenant was taken over by Judah.  Jacob fled from his brother to Laban, the place where his grandfather Abraham came from.  Jacob stole his uncle’s daughters and sheep and got away with it because Jacob had become the chosen one of God.  While he fled from Laban, Jacob had a dream about climbing a ladder to heaven.  From that point on, he became the penitent Israel, founder of the chosen people of God.  Esau forgave Jacob and Jacob fathered twelve sons.  His sons sold their brother Joseph into slavery.  He ended up in Egypt and his family followed him.  Jacob’s stay in Canaan was brief and the writer did not bother to ask what entitlement Abraham’s seven other sons had on Canaan?   They were the ones that turned the land into milk and honey. 
Jacob or Israel’s descendants became the wilderness people, again by God’s choice.  There were enough natural disasters that supported the idea that God favored Israel.  They were welcomed to Egypt because of Joseph their brother and four hundred years later, they ended up as slaves building pyramids for dead Pharaohs.  No explanation has been given as to the cause that turned the loving Egyptians into enemies.  If Jacob behaved the way he did with Esau and Laban, then his predicament in Egypt should not be a surprise.  The comment that the Egyptians no longer remembered Joseph could also mean that his brothers did not behave the way Joseph had.  When Jacob arrived in Egypt he was offered to become part of the Egyptian culture and land.  He preferred to remain distinctly different and prospered way too much as a foreigner.  This tendency has caused much pain and suffering to the offspring of Jacob and particularly to Judah.  I happen to come from a people that lived in Russia and Poland and did not assimilate with the culture and the land; yet, we prospered by not giving all we could.  Only two men from our people were soldiers in a Polish army, my father was one of them.  It was our isolation that caused the Poles to hate us.  And this was especially true of the Jewish people all over the world.  Their ability to grow and multiply became threatening to the Egyptians.  Even when they were forced into slave labor they multiplied.  That is when Jewish baby boys had to be killed and Moses was spared and kept alive by Pharaoh’s daughter.  She raised and educated him as an Egyptian with his mother as his nurse.     
Moses grew up with his mother at his side.  One day, he went to check up on his people and what he saw caused him to kill an Egyptian that was hurting a slave.  He fled to Midian where he stayed with Jethro or Reuel a priest of the “Most High God” for forty years.  During this time, the priest gave Moses his daughter Zipporah to be his wife and she bore him two sons, Gershom and Eliezer.  He also received Jethro’s insight of the nameless “Most High God” and he became acquainted with the terrain of the Sinai Mountains where he would encounter God, receive His orders to deliver his people from Pharaoh and spend forty years educating the delivered Israelites to become a self – sustaining nation.  It began while Moses tended the flock of his father-in-law that he was attracted to a burning bush that spoke to him, warning him that he was in The Most High’s territory who was non other than the God that had made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and that Moses was the one to make the promise a reality.  Moses insisted that the voice identify or name itself, but all he received was an “I Am.”  In the Hebrew it has four letters YHWH and it was God’s assurance that He would be with Moses until his mission was completed.  Shortly after the birth of Christ, Jewish teachers added two vowels and created a name “Yahweh” for God and then it became Jehovah.  At long last, the creature had identified and named its Creator.
To convince Moses, the “I Am” endowed him and his staff with power using natural phenomenon to convince Pharaoh to let Israel go and worship the God of Abraham.  During this delivery period, Moses was given the role of a god whose message was spoken through his brother Aaron to Pharaoh.  After ten severe devastating plagues and the loss of the first born, Pharaoh and the Egyptians begged the Hebrews to leave.  Jacob’s children did not leave empty handed.  They plundered the Egyptians.  When Pharaoh was informed that the slaves were not worshipping but leaving his country, he was blinded by rage, ordered his army to bring back his slaves and the army drowned in the Red Sea.  The Egyptians were stripped of their power and Israel could easily march North into Canaan, instead they kept going Southeast into the mountains to become acquainted with the God of their fathers and His ten principles that would turn Israel into a nation non like it in the world. 
The Ten Commandments were to be the basis for the management of Israel (Ex. 20).  The first three were intended to free these slaves from polytheism.  These many gods required many idols, shrines, structures like the costly pyramids and glorious names.  The “I AM” freed Israel from such costly waste.  Abraham’s God wanted the people to know that He was with them without financial destructive burdens.  The fourth law demanded that man stop being a slave on the seventh day.  It was not intended to serve God all day and tire one out but give man and beast a break.  In captivity, they were not allowed to rest.  The last six laws honored God by respecting and treating each other without stepping on each other.  Children were to honor their parents.  Murder was not to be allowed.  Adultery was not an option. Stealing and lying were out of the question.  Greed or covetousness was to be avoided at all cost.  No debt could last more than fifty years.  And how much did this system cost when it was implemented?  It would cost one tenth.  One tribe, the Levites would receive the ten percent for the necessary services, the other eleven tribes would need.  No economic system in the world has ever come close to the Mosaic deal.  These people were to keep ninety percent of their income.  I do not think I have ten percent left after I pay my bills.  
Moses was a bit anxious to complete his mission.  He began to move his people North and send twelve men to spy on the land of Canaan.  Ten of the men had a grasshopper mentality and the people listened to them.  It resulted in living on manna and quails for forty years.  All those with a slave mentality had to die before a new generation was re-educated and brave enough to apply God’s laws to them selves.  Even then, the people were unable to live without some visible evidence that God was with them.  The arch of the covenant in a tent and some sacrifices were satisfactory.  Under Salomon, this simple rite would grow into financial bankruptcy.  The breaking up of the union was one more example of cause and effect.