The Force in Scripture?

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18 Dec 2018 21:49 #331233 by Alethea Thompson
Good questions :). I have a personal answer to this one, but I'll have to wait a bit until we hit the point I can tie things together. :)

Also...darned...in the slowness of the cafe's internet I forgot to add the Ichthys!!! XD
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20 Dec 2018 12:08 - 20 Dec 2018 12:10 #331322 by Loudzoo
Replied by Loudzoo on topic The Force in Scripture?
I couldn’t quite make out the question for this section so instead I’ll pick-up on something Alethea emphasised: Pharoah’s heart.

At various points in Exodus, Pharoah’s heart goes through various moods. It is hardened, it is stubborn, it is strengthened and it becomes heavy. Apologies if this is jumping ahead by this is the timeline:

Blood: Pharaoh’s heart “became hard” (7:22)
Frogs: Pharaoh “hardened his own heart” (8:15)
Gnats: Pharaoh’s heart “was hard” (8:19)
Flies: “Pharaoh hardened his own heart” (8:32)
Livestock die: Pharaoh’s heart “was hard” (9:7)
Boils: “The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (9:12)
Hail: Pharaoh “hardened his own heart” (9:34)
Locusts: God announces that he has “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (10:1,10:20)
Darkness: God “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (10:27)
Death of the firstborn: God “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (11:10)

The pattern here is interesting. During the first five plagues Pharoah is choosing to be stubborn and arrogant (or that is his state already): he hardens his own heart, despite multiple opportunities to back-down.

By the plague of boils he is so invested in his pattern that he loses the ability to choose - he has lost his freewill. God (The Force) completely takes over here.

Despite this - redemption is still available - Pharoah has another chance, another choice. He chooses poorly again however and during the final three plagues he again becomes an agent, an NPC if you like. He acts as if there was no choice, he is blind to the options.

Eventually it takes the death of his son in the final plague to jolt him out of his selfish, power-craving, stubborn arrogance. Pharoah literally brought these plagues on himself and the Egyptian people - they could have been avoided. How much easier would it have been if he had learnt this lesson a little earlier!

The arc of this story, for me, isn’t about magic spells and miracles. It’s about choices, evidence, seeing another’s point of view and the traps of arrogance, stubbornness and failure to see choices where they exist. Any human behaviour can become habitual over time - and when it does we fail to appreciate what is actually going on, the fact that we have choices.

To this end, the Force can help us make good choices or bad - depending on our state of mind. If we are selfish and power hungry then it will help us make poor choices. When we feel like we have “no choice” but to act a certain way - The Force has largely taken over, for good or ill. When we don’t even notice that there is a choice, when we are acting automatically, The Force has completely taken over.

In this theologically dualistic paradigm the advice of this story is to choose good over bad, the light over the dark. Our choices and decisions can train our intuition and lead to the habituation of certain mindsets and certain behaviours. When we have completely let ourselves go, the Force is able to work through us. This story is of how the dark side (sin) will ruin us and the light side (God) will lead to union.

Moses is also being controlled by God here- he isn’t choosing to act the way he is either. I’ll leave you to decide whether he is acting well or poorly but, to me, it looks more like two Sith fighting than two Jedi . . .
Last edit: 20 Dec 2018 12:10 by Loudzoo.
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21 Dec 2018 19:55 #331380 by ZealotX
Replied by ZealotX on topic The Force in Scripture?

Loudzoo wrote: I couldn’t quite make out the question for this section so instead I’ll pick-up on something Alethea emphasised: Pharoah’s heart.

To this end, the Force can help us make good choices or bad - depending on our state of mind. If we are selfish and power hungry then it will help us make poor choices. When we feel like we have “no choice” but to act a certain way - The Force has largely taken over, for good or ill. When we don’t even notice that there is a choice, when we are acting automatically, The Force has completely taken over.

In this theologically dualistic paradigm the advice of this story is to choose good over bad, the light over the dark. Our choices and decisions can train our intuition and lead to the habituation of certain mindsets and certain behaviours. When we have completely let ourselves go, the Force is able to work through us. This story is of how the dark side (sin) will ruin us and the light side (God) will lead to union.

Moses is also being controlled by God here- he isn’t choosing to act the way he is either. I’ll leave you to decide whether he is acting well or poorly but, to me, it looks more like two Sith fighting than two Jedi . . .


First off, very impressive break down of the progressive state of pharaoh's heart throughout the text. Secondly, I like the observation at the end. If anything, I concur.

I'm going to push back on one point just from my own opinion.

When it comes to choice and free will I think there are different schools of thought that include whether the Force has a mind/will of its own that is setapart ("holy") from all creation. I apologize to Alethea because I know this is way off topic, but I believe choice always exists as human will creates pathways like veins and arteries through which the Force flows. The Force is what animates us in the first place. The Force doesn't write books about itself. We do. Even when we think it is speaking through us it is our voice and our minds as the pathways through which it flows. When we don't even notice there is a choice in when we are blinding ourselves to the totality of the Force and how else it can manifest. Instead of opening ourselves to more possibilities we simply retreat into our shells, our bubbles, our tents, etc. and we demand that The Force moves in the direction that we ourselves desire to go.

And that includes whoever is writing this. They are telling their own story using their own cast of characters. Each character is shaped and molded into the story according to the direction the writers wants us, the readers, the observers, to go and to believe. If the writer was Egypt I have no doubt the same story would be perhaps unrecognizable because Moshe would be a terrorist. Think about it. Moses comes back after having left after murdering an Egyptian. He comes back, making a demand and Pharaoh's all like "I don't negotiate with terrorists" and then there are all these events that build up to their own 9-11. And Pharaoh, as the hero in this alternate reality story that I'm imagining, is the last line of defense to protect his people from this foreign god.

And it's not just about whether or not this foreign god can do harm to them but whether or not that god is true or false. If true, it could upset their whole religion. After all, in Christianity there are technically allowed to be more than one person as God and in Judaism only one God but in both there are no true or real gods outside of their religion. The closest Christians get is Satan.

This construct was most often the very premise for king's authority so who was Moshe to come in, claiming that his god was going to cause plagues to come against their nation? So therefore it was a much more revolutionary act than it is portrayed in the bible. I'm sure Muslim extremists are like: "if the president of the US would just listen we wouldn't have to commit these destructive acts of violence. It's clearly his fault." And because the "other side" can always use this justification is it every righteous or okay to use it in favor of whoever your god/God happens to be? Is it simply wrong on its face? I'm not trying to make a final judgment here. I just want to recognize that there are 2 sides to every story. Did they really have to kill people in order to leave? And did they really have to "borrow" gold and other valuables on their way out?
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23 Dec 2018 02:17 #331451 by Alethea Thompson


Exodus 8:18-19
Now the magicians so worked with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not. So there were lice on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, just as the Lord had said.


1) It may be more appropriate to say they stated it was the figure of A god, rather than God Himself. However, over at Force Academy, my friend Luciana (who majored in Anthropology with an Abrahamic focus) notes that it is quite possible the selection of the word "elohim" was meant to relay that the magicians acknowledged what was happening as the "Finger of Creation". With that in mind- If you were one of these magicians, what would you think of this situation?

2) If you were Pharaoh, what would you think of your magicians? If you have grown up with them this entire time, and then saw how a man unaligned with your gods had greater command over nature, how might your understanding change?
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29 Dec 2018 04:55 #331692 by Alethea Thompson
I wanted to include an observation of my own given the circumstances in the Biblical Story:

I've seen a LOT of speculation that the magicians were simply performing parlor tricks. A number of scholars believe that what the magicians were doing involved theatrics.

To me, this doesn't really jive well. Because we are not explained the scale, it would not be difficult for skilled magicians to craft a well-done ritual to bring up the lice. With an abundance of lice they could capture in secret, they could have easily figured out a way to have them release upon their command as they did all the previous plagues. In fact, if what some people assert (that they ran out of materials to perform the ritual), the magicians ability shouldn't have run out until the boils later down the line- when they would need some sort of chemical that could reproduce the same effect.

It just seems to me that if you can replicate what happened to the Nile, which appears to be the most difficult of the three tricks they did replicate, why was this the one that stopped them? Furthermore, I bring up again, that we are not told the scale by which the magicians were able to replicate two of the three either. The only thing we know for certain is that every last one of them produced a snake, and Aaron’s snake swallowed them all up.

We also know that the text of 18 and 19 explicitly states the magicians thought they could do it- otherwise they wouldn’t have tried or admitted something much higher was behind the plagues.

Whether the story is true or just a myth, this is one point I (personally) feel mainstream Christianity has gotten wrong. In terms of what the story is saying, it would very much appear to mean that the magicians were absolutely not working stuff you'd get at a magic show shop, and were working with something supernatural.
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29 Dec 2018 10:45 #331709 by Loudzoo
Replied by Loudzoo on topic The Force in Scripture?
Many biblical scholars see an evolution of Yahweh through the early chapters of the Old Testament. Early Israelites were polytheistic and Yahweh was their god of metallurgy, and war – one god among many. Over time Yahweh becomes more powerful and is eventually revered as the Creator God and the one true God, as the Israelites adopt a monotheistic world view. The stories in Exodus are an important part of this elevation: Yahweh demonstrates his superiority over (the divine) Pharoah and this served two important narrative purposes. First it liberates the Israelites to allow them to return to their homelands and second, it augments Yahweh’s claim to head the Israelite pantheon.

Again, Moses was not an alien in Pharoah’s court – quite the opposite. He was part of Pharoah’s family and was using the same magical/supernatural knowledge and expertise as Pharoah’s magicians. The stories show that he (and Aaron) were more adept and the source of this power is attributed to their alignment with Yahweh.

If you were one of these magicians, what would you think of this situation?

I’d realise that that Moses / Aaron’s magic was stronger than mine and, to coin a biblical term, I would “be afraid”. Second, I would face a decision. Should I stick with Pharoah as my divine leader or should I join the Israelites? In any case I would have to deal with the reality that the apprentices (Moses and Aaron) had superseded the abilities of the masters who had taught them. This is an age-old story and one that we will all hopefully have to deal with at some point in our lives. It is an important lesson!

I agree with Alethea (if I understood her post correctly!) that if we take the use of magic at face value, the magicians’ magic and Moses / Aaron’s magic are not materially different in type, merely different in power. If we are to grant Moses / Aaron’s magic as real – we have to grant that of Pharoah’s magicians as real too.

If you were Pharaoh, what would you think of your magicians? If you have grown up with them this entire time, and then saw how a man unaligned with your gods had greater command over nature, how might your understanding change?

I’m not sure we can say that Moses / Aaron were unaligned with the Gods of Egypt. Pharoah could have explained their power away with any number of excuses. He evidently did this quite successfully as the Pharoaic lineage was not broken by these incidents – he retained power in Egypt despite these events. If I were Pharoah I would expel the lot of them – or ‘allow’ them to escape from bondage. A small price to pay given the threat of their power to Pharoah. The narrative in Exodus is consistent with this pragmatic, logical response from Pharoah. Pharoah’s private understanding may well have been altered by these events but he certainly wasn’t about to let that affect his public position.

What is interesting is that the Egyptians do not record these events themselves, as far as I’m aware. The Bible is the only source we have for these stories which at least suggests that these events were a big deal for the Israelites, but not for the Egyptians. The Egyptians were pretty good record-keepers and storytellers and although its possible that these events were expunged from their record it seems just as likely that the Israelites created these myths to meet their own backstory requirements!

I should add that the observation of God hardening Pharoah’s heart in different ways (from my last post) was taken from The Abingdon Introduction to The Bible (Kaminsky, Lohr & Reasoner). I couldn’t remember where I’d seen it but found it eventually! However, the interpretation was my own.
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29 Dec 2018 22:12 - 29 Dec 2018 22:13 #331726 by Rex
Replied by Rex on topic The Force in Scripture?
There isn't a well-defined writer of Genesis and Exodus (although Moses is ascribed them traditionally). If your claim is true that YHWH was one among a pantheon after Abrahamic times, what sort of evidence would be proving that?

The call of Abram narrative states that up until that point, his tribe was polytheistic. The Semitic peoples were nomadic until they settled in Egypt. It seems like it would be incredibly hard to find descriptions of the Semitic people in that period which you say was still fundamentally polytheistic.

The Genesis account has been read in opposition to many polytheistic myths (the enuma elish off the top of my head), but would be hard to read doubtfully given how frankly and poorly the author treats Abram (the pivotal figure) pre and post-covenant.

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Last edit: 29 Dec 2018 22:13 by Rex. Reason: Autocorrect added apostrophes lol

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30 Dec 2018 08:24 #331734 by Loudzoo
Replied by Loudzoo on topic The Force in Scripture?
Rex - I don’t have any evidence of when precisely the Semitic tribes became monotheistic and I wasn’t saying they were still polytheistic in Egypt. The Bible infers it wasn’t a clean transition e.g.

“the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger” (Judges 2:11-12).

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30 Dec 2018 15:12 #331741 by Alethea Thompson
Several times over. They even chased after a goddess for some time- and God got angry. They set up an idol (golden calf) to be a god right after they were liberated.

What they proved is that faith is fickle. And even in their monotheistic times they couldn’t adhere to the law.

We’ll get to it later- but it’s of note that there is good reason Christ said that those which ask for a sign are evil and adulterous. It wasn’t that God wanted to send prophets, it’s that Israel needed them, lest they disbelieve their ancestors and chase after gods that didn’t have their best interests at heart.
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30 Dec 2018 18:06 #331744 by Kasumi
Replied by Kasumi on topic The Force in Scripture?
No one seems to have pointed out that as far as Pharaoh is concerned (a) he is the hero of this story - the protector of order and the status quo - and (b) Moses and Aaron are clearly servants of some evil desert god.

No, really.

He has no evidence for this god having powers other than the destructive. It could be a relief that his magicians can't replicate these signs, because what sort of god do you have to worship in order to be summoning lice and darkness? It's not a sign of Moses' god having more power: From Pharaoh's point of view, it's a sign of that god being malevolent.

And that may be why Pharaoh continues to harden his heart against the request to go into the desert to pray. If this is what two of these people do when they happen to not get their way, what is the lot of them going to do out there in the desert with no supervision?

+++
I do not fight for gain or loss, am not concerned with strength or weakness, and neither advance a step nor retreat a step. ~Takuan
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