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Be Kind, Rewind


Be Kind, Rewind by Flickr User Charles Hope, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Be Kind, Rewind by Flickr User Charles Hope, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike
Click image to open new tab/window to view original image and to access user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Be Kind, Rewind, isn’t something most of our younger generation is likely to hear anymore since video cassette tapes have been replaced by DVDs and Blu-ray discs. But there was a time in the not-so-distant past that a random act of kindness was simply to rewind the movie you had just rented before you returned it to the rental store. Audio cassettes were still in use then too, and this reminds me of the time I found an LP record of Queen’s greatest hits for my husband and decided to play it for my nephew. I think he was about 13 or 14 then, but I figured it would be good for him to hear the music his uncle grew up on, and I was pretty sure he would like it. I was right. As soon as it got to the end, he told me he liked it, and he asked me how to rewind it. 😉

In today’s reading from Exodus 34:1 through Exodus 34:9, we have God telling Moses to meet Him on the mountain top, so they can rewind their earlier activity of inscribing God’s laws onto stone tablets. If you can see God as having a sense of humor, you should be able to laugh at the way He speaks to Moses in verse 1… “Adonai said to Moshe, “Cut yourself two tablets of stone like the first ones; and I will inscribe on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.” In future readings, God will make more statements about “the first tablets” and “the ones you broke.” I don’t know if it’s just the way the scribes wrote it, or if God really did say these things to Moses more than once. I think the latter, and I think it was to remind Moses that even he got fed up with how the people acted when there was no one around to watch them.

So Moses climbs the mountain with the two new stones, cut like the first, and goes to meet God as He requested. This meeting was to include ONLY Moses, to the extent that God didn’t even want the animals grazing near the base of the mountain. When Moses gets up there, God descends in the cloud to meet him, and the first thing He does is pronounce His memorial name–Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh (YHVH aka Yahveh, also written in modern language as YHWH aka Yahweh)–just as He had done with Abraham. This is a big deal, and it speaks of just how Yahveh felt about Moses.

Next, God repeats His name again, and this time He frames it with a statement that He, Yahveh, is The Lord who is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in grace and truth, showing grace to the thousandth generation. He goes on, I believe as a precursor to the laws He is about to give again, and tells Moses that He is God who forgives offenses, crimes, and sins, yet does not exonerate the guilty but causes the negative effects of the parents’ offenses to be visited on future (even to the third and fourth) generations.

I want to point out here that I’ve heard people make statements about the unfairness of God visiting effects on future generations, but it’s just the law of the harvest in action. If I plant bad seeds, it is not only me that is affected. Everyone who eats the bad plants, or who can’t eat because crops won’t grow, will be affected. The ground can be affected and cause future crops to not grow. And even when people don’t care enough for themselves, they will often change for others, so God was just using the same psychology as social service workers who threaten parents with a loss of their children if they don’t change their own behaviors–such as drinking or drug use. And while negative effects are visited to the third and fourth generations, as God says at the first, His mercy is given to the thousandth generation.

When God finishes speaking, Moses bows his head and prostrates himself before God. Moses then speaks and asks God that if he has indeed found favor in His sight, would He please stay with the people of Israel. He admits that the people are stubborn, but he asks that Yahveh will pardon their offenses and sin, and that He will take them as His possession once again. So, we started with God telling Moses to be kind, rewind, with the tablets, and now we have Moses asking God to be kind and rewind in His forgiveness and favor of Israel.

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February 19, 2014 - Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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