YMMV / Book of Exodus

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Some theorize that the "crime" in Leviticus 20:13 is not homosexuality, but emasculation. Others point out that the wording in the verse certainly refers to sexual acts, with some contention on the subject of which sexual acts are referred to.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The "Zipporah at the inn" episode. After God sent Moses in Egypt to deal with the Pharaoh, HE sends his angel to kill His prophet for unexplained reasons. Then Moses' wife Zipporah takes a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of their son. This apparently saves Moses. It's pretty obscure and no wonder why this is often ignored.
  • Broken Base: Many people don't like talking about Leviticus 20:13 very much, especially following the LGBT social movements. In fact most of the rules given in Leviticus are completely ignored by most Christians, being seen as anything from needlessly vicious (stone children who disobey their parents to death) to just silly (don't wear mixed fabrics).
  • Fair for Its Day:
    • While there were laws on how to deal with slaves, said laws did give slaves of the Hebrews much better lives. Fellow Hebrews who were slaves were expected to be freed after 6 years of work and generously paid at that time. Foreigners could be slaves for life but if they experienced violence at the hands of their masters they were automatically declared free under the law and a master who killed their slave/s would (under some circumstances) be charged with murder. Slavery in that context was quite different from the slavery in Egypt or the slavery in America before the Civil War and closer to indentured servitude.
    • While the rape laws were definitely unfair to actual rape victims, they also apply in the case of an unwed couple having consensual sex. One wonders how many girls used this to override any parental objections to marrying their sweethearts. "Oh, Daddy, I know you don't like Yaakov, but he ravished me last night, and now the law says we HAVE to get married!" Also, Deuteronomy 22:25-27 mentions that the punishment for a man raping a woman who is betrothed to another man is death and that their victim is innocent; a refreshing instance showing rape is condemned, even being a capital offense, compare to some cases today where rapists can get less than fifteen years in jail in the US.
    • The verses concerning a rapist paying their victim's father 50 shekels and marrying her (Deuteronomy 22:28-29) could also be intended as a type of punishment for the rapist; they likely intended a vicious one-off encounter, but now they have to pay the father and be forced to marry someone they don't want to marry, and if they try to avoid the marriage they could be considered to "hate her", as per Deuteronomy 22:13-19, which could also lead to the rapist being whipped. While it may or may not be a fitting punishment and be difficult for the woman, there are a few deterrents for rapists and the rapist IS NOT getting off scot-free.
    • If a man dies without sons, but has unmarried daughters, they can inherit his wealth/land/titles/etc., On One Condition: namely, that they marry men from their own tribe. Which was pretty radical, considering that most other societies around them wouldn't let women be inheritors under any circumstances.
    • All the rules concerning ritual purity (i.e. not mixing meat and milk products, abstaining from pork, shellfish, and meat from animals without cloven hooves, avoiding dead bodies, sequestering menstruating women, and all the ritualized bathing) might seem over-the-top today, but back then, they would have been an excellent way of preventing sickness and cross-contamination of foods. They knew that all of those things could make them sick, though they chalked it up to a vague concept of "uncleanliness" because they didn't understand germ theory yet. Keeping people clean in this way ensured that people didn't get sick, and that when they did, that sickness didn't turn into The Plague that could wipe out all or most of their burgeoning community.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: The Egyptians come off this way to many modern audiences who feel the punishments all of them suffer is unwarranted, especially considering the crime of enslaving the Hebrews doesn't come off as particularly heinous compared to acts of genocide the Hebrews commit that are supposed to be in the right.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Yes, there are laws about how to deal with slaves. These would almost be hilarious (if not for the slavery), considering they're given to escaped slaves. More specifically, a slave owner who beats the slave so hard the slave dies, as mentioned above, is not considered guilty if the slave dies three days of more after being beaten.
    • There are also laws saying that the penalty for rape is marrying the victim and paying her father 50 shekels. And if a woman wasn't a virgin when you married, or has been unfaithful, you can have her executed.
    • Leviticus 19:19, however, which commands us not to wear clothing made of two different kinds of material, is often held up as the Up to Eleven of absurd religious commandments, at least by Christians. Observant Jews still follows it, and even use microscopy to make sure a garment isn't shatnez.
    • If you have a son or daughter who's disobedient, doesn't help with household chores (or tending crops and livestock), won't get a job, or whatever other pattern of repeated bad behavior, you can have him or her stoned to death.
    • Homosexual sex would get the parties involved publicly executed.
    • Women who are menstruating are considered ritually unclean, and must sequester themselves from the rest of the household and from society at large, lest they "contaminate" other people, or things like furniture.
    • If a man dies without any male heirs, his widow is to be legally married to his brother, and he will perpetuate the deceased man's lineage via the first son he has with her. No, the widow does not get a say in this...and if her brother-in-law refuses, she can publicly humiliate him and all his descendants.
    • Marriage requires the payment of a sum of money and/or goods to the father of the bride-to-be. Without this payment, the marriage would not be considered valid.
    • Only men can initiate divorce, and they could do so for any reason, good or bad. Women could not initiate divorce, even in cases of Domestic Abuse.
    • After the wedding night, the parents of the bride would go into the nuptial tent/hut/whatever, and retrieve a sheet or garment stained with blood (thought to be proof that the bride was a virgin), just in case the groom (or his family, or anyone else) tried to dishonor her (and her family) by Slut-Shaming her. If they are able to produce such "evidence,", and it is the groom or his family trying to impugne her in this way, he is to publicly receive A Taste of the Lash, and loses his right to divorce her.
    • If a man suspects his wife of cheating, but can't absolutely prove it, he can take her to the Temple, remove her head-covering (and possibly some or all of her clothes) in front of the priests, and force her to drink "bitter water" as a Fidelity Test. If she's been faithful, the "water" will not harm her, but if she hasn't, she'll suffer a miscarriage or prolapse or something. (And if she didn't die an instant Undignified Death, she could be publicly executed.) There was no such test for a man accused of cheating, because a) for a man, it was only cheating if the woman he slept with was married to someone else and b) it helped prevent him from going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and having her executed when it was all a big misunderstanding. (The woman could confess if she had been cheating, or find a way to produce evidence that she hadn't, or her husband could just divorce her, rendering the test moot. Whether or not she was tested in this way was up to him.)
    • People with various disabilities (visual impairments, missing or injured limbs, etc.), or men whose testicles were crushed or cut off, were not permitted to worship in the Temple.
    • Not only were the Israelites supposed to abstain from the practices of various Pagan religions found in the Promised Land, or worship of Pagan gods and goddesses, they were supposed to utterly exterminate all of those peoples (and overtake their land), with the belief that their God said so.


Alternative Title(s): Exodus

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/BookOfExodus