Tuesday, March 4, 2008
The Ten Commandments - a psychedelic delusion?
According to Professor Benny Shanon, Moses "was on psychedelic drugs when he heard God deliver the Ten Commandments".
Let me tell you a few things to your advantage, Professor. I've worked with drug addicts who've been hopped-up on everything from marijuana to morphine and from hemp to heroin. I've learned to recognize a few signs of their condition.
First, if Moses had been hopped-up he wouldn't have come down from the mountain carrying heavy tablets of stone and speaking gravely about God's Will. He'd have slid down the mountain on top of the tablets screeching, "Yo! Y'all ain't gonna believe dis, but I seen Da Man! I s*** you not!"
Second, you claim that Mount Sinai was "an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics". I have news for you. If they were hopped-up, the last thing on the minds of the people of Israel (individually and collectively) would have been issues such as "Thou Shalt Not Kill" or "Thou Shalt Not Steal" or "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery". If they were hopped-up, killing wouldn't bother them (because they wouldn't remember it afterwards); theft is how they would get the money to become hopped-up in the first place; and committing adultery (irrespective of marital status) is what they would do (repeatedly, indiscriminately and sometimes without bothering to obtain permission) as soon as they'd succeeded in becoming hopped-up.
Third, in their hopped-up state neither Moses nor his people would be in any condition to debate moral imperatives or discuss commandments with one another, let alone their Creator. Some would be jiving to a tune in their heads (that only they could hear); others would be trying to stomp on the fluorescent psychedelic spiders crawling all over them (that only they could see); and still others (the older ones who started this crap back in the BC equivalent of the '60's) would be lying back, watching the first two groups and murmuring "Cool, man! Like, far out!" in ancient Aramaic.
If such people "witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking" (Exodus 20:18), and saw that the skin of Moses' face "shone" (Exodus 34:30), their first reaction would be that Moses must have been smoking some heavy s*** and why hadn't he shared it with them? In the ensuing violence the tablets would have been smashed, Moses would probably have been killed, and next day not a soul would have remembered even one Commandment, much less ten.
The fact that the Commandments have survived to this day (albeit honored more in the breach than in the observance) suggests to me that there was perhaps a little more to their creation than a drug-induced hallucination.
Sorry, Professor Shanon, but your theory is as full of it as are the brains of most drug addicts.