Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Vibe of Leviticus

Leviticus has a seriously religious vibe to it. As religious a vibe as you get in the Bible. The vibe is that lots of animal sacrifices have to be made to God but not just any old sacrifices, oh no. There’s a whole rulebook. This for that and that for this as well as lots of hows, whens and whys. There’s very much an ‘only the best will do’ vibe and the general idea is that the dead beast takes on the guilt of the people who sacrificed it. After the sacrifice, the people are clean again and free from all the bad they have done in the past.

This is quite a heavy prophetic vibe – later on in the Bible, Jesus becomes the sacrifice so that all the bad things people have done are wiped away. Which, ultimately, is a pretty good vibe.

General vibe of Leviticus: Stay holy.

Factvibe: The vibe of ‘an eye for an eye’ comes from Leviticus and means ‘not more than an eye for an eye,’ i.e. the punishment should not outweigh the crime.

A bull. To keep the Leviticus vibe going, many of these 'take one for the team'.

The Vibe of the Ark of the Covenant

The Ark of the Covenant is very different to Noah’s Ark. This is no boat filled with livestock, instead it is a box made from acacia wood and plated with gold in which are kept the stone tablets that have the Ten Commandments written on them.

Also in the Ark is a miraculous stick owned by Moses’ brother, Aaron. Along with members of the other Twelve Tribes, Aaron had been asked to plant his stick in the ground. The tribe whose stick sprouted leaves overnight was to be the only tribe whose people could be priests. Aaron’s stick not only sprouted, it produced ripe almonds, which is entry qualification enough to get into the Ark.

For good measure, the Israelites also pop in a jar of manna, the superfood that had sustained them in the desert, before shutting the lid and wrapping it in a veil.

The Ark is carried around the Sinai wilderness by priests and kept in a holy tent called a tabernacle until it finds a permanent home in the Temple built by Solomon in Jerusalem. After the Temple is thoroughly ransacked by Babylonians, the Ark is either destroyed or squirreled away by those loyal to the vibe of Israel. Whichever is true, it has never been traced. Cue conspiracy theories, Indiana Jones movies and all manner of late night vibes on the Discovery Channel.

General vibe of the Ark of the Covenant: God in a box.

Factvibe: The priests who carried the Ark around were called Cohanim, which is where the vibe of the Jewish name Cohen comes from.

The general vibe of the Ark of the Covenant, but made of cardboard.

The Vibe of the Ten Commandments

As you would expect from anything with ‘Commandment’ in the title, the Ten Commandments carry a no nonsense, businesslike vibe with them. This is God pretty much spelling out what is acceptable and what is taboo in his world.

Out are murder, robbery, adultery, coveting, lying that people committed crimes they didn’t do, worshipping gods that aren’t God, worshipping statues, badmouthing parents and badmouthing God.

Keeping the Sabbath special is definitely in, the only thou shalt in a large box of thou shalt nots. It’s all pretty clear and to stress the importance of his Ten Commandments, God writes them in stone which is the Old Testament equivalent of bold, italics, underlined and is about as emphatic a vibe as you can get.

General vibe of the Ten Commandments: These are the rules.

Factvibe: The stone tablets bearing the Ten Commandments that live in the Ark of the Covenant are replacements – Moses smashed the originals in a fit of rage.

If this donkey could speak he would say: 'Covet not my vibe lest ye break Commandment 10'

The Vibe of the Red Sea Crossing

Vibes of epic, widescreen adventure shout ‘action’ in this Old Testament story. The Israelites have been allowed to leave Egypt and have got as far as the shores of the Red Sea. Unfortunately for them, the Egyptian Pharaoh has had second thoughts and comes charging after them with an army of chariots.

The Israelites see the enemy closing down on them in their rear view mirrors and are justifiably terrified. Undaunted, and with God directing the show, Moses lifts up his staff, a strong wind creates a path through the sea and the Israelites walk through to the Sinai peninsula with a wall of water on either side.

The Egyptians make a reasonably good fist of chasing the Israelites until the wheels of their chariots get bogged and the water closes back over them, much to everyone else’s joy. A classic goodies beating baddies vibe.

General Vibe of the Red Sea Crossing: Don’t mess with God’s people.

Factvibe: The water of the Gulf of Suez, the most likely point of the Red Sea Crossing, averages 40 feet (12m)deep.

A boat. A vibe not needed during the Red Sea Crossing

The Vibe of Moses

When the number of Israelite slaves in Egypt is getting so out of control that Pharaoh orders the killing of all two year old Jewish boys, Moses’ family hide him in a basket and float it off down the River Nile. One of Pharaoh’s daughters finds the bub and he grows up living the dream in the royal palace. The dream ends when he kills an Egyptian for bashing an Israelite and, faced with inevitable execution if he sticks around, he flees his life of luxury and lives rough in the desert.

The good vibes start up again when God speaks to Moses from the middle of a burning bush, telling him to lead the Jews out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. Moses does his best to negotiate the Jews’ release with Pharaoh but it’s all in vain as Pharaoh tries to cling onto his cheap source of manual labour. Only after numerous plagues and a visit from the Angel of Death kill vast numbers of Egyptians, are Moses and his army of Jews free to leave. In a moment of epic drama, Moses parts the Red Sea, allowing everyone to cross safely and kick starting a lengthy walkabout in the Sinai Wilderness.

Despite being God’s chosen leader, Moses isn’t a great public speaker, so his brother Aaron does most of the talking. God likes Moses though, and hands him two pieces of stone with the Ten Commandments written on them. Moses meets God regularly in a tent, a vibe that makes his face glow so brightly he has to wear a veil, and he is given the job of getting all the grumbling Israelites to work together as one nation with God in charge.

Moses has more of a kindly grandpa vibe than a Jedi Warrior vibe and often saves the Israelites’ bacon, especially when they decide to worship statues of animals instead of God. Despite not reaching the Promised Land himself, Moses dies knowing he’s done a good job and the leader’s whistle is passed on to Joshua.

General vibe of Moses: The Chosen One.

Factvibe: Moses was born in Egypt making him one of the few Bible heroes who is African.

The vibe of baby cots in Moses' day


The Vibe of Exodus

Roughly translated as ‘Let’s get the heck out of here’, Exodus is packed with action vibes. In the 400 years since Joseph welcomed his family with open arms into Egypt, the Israelites have thrived. Feeling threatened, Pharaoh has enslaved them but this results in an even bigger population explosion. Finally, Pharaoh tries to reduce their numbers by killing all the newborn boys but thanks to the craftiness of his family, Moses is saved.

When he is an adult, God picks Moses to round up the Israelites and head off with them towards the land he promised Abraham. At the last minute, Pharaoh decides that the slaves are actually quite useful and forces them to stick around so God has to send a number of unpleasant plagues to persuade him to let the Israelites go. Only when God kills all the people who were the first ones to be born in their family does Pharaoh sign the Israelites’ exit visas. Even then he has second thoughts and chases after them. God parts the Red Sea just long enough for Moses and his people to pass through and closes it back over the chasing Egyptians.

Fed by manna, a miracle food that falls from the skies, guided by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, and spurred on by having God on their side, the Israelites move on through the Desert of Sinai towards their end destination. God then hands Moses the Ten Commandments and the vibe takes a downward turn when the people get homesick for Egypt and build a giant gold cow to worship. God is about to wipe them out altogether when Moses steps in and negotiates on their behalf. Thanks to this, the end vibe of Exodus is a positive one.

General vibe of Exodus: Out of Africa.

Factvibe: The vibe of the Passover comes from the killing of the firstborn Egyptians. While the carnage is going on, the Jews cleverly mark their doorposts to let God know to ‘pass over’ them.

The vibe of Exodus, in a sign.

The Vibe of Egypt

Vibes of wealth and power flow out from Egypt. When Joseph’s brothers sell him, the slave traders they do the deal with are en route to the bustle and hustle of this cash rich kingdom. Egypt is where Jacob takes his remaining boys when a famine strikes and, happy to be reunited with Joseph, they stick around and make themselves comfortable.

Unsurprisingly, Egypt ends up with a pretty large Jewish population. Quick to make an advantage of the extra head count, Pharaoh forces the Jews to work on construction sites but when the number of Jews keeps increasing, he orders all baby Jewish boys under the age of two to be killed. Egypt finds itself on the receiving end of some terrible plagues when Pharaoh won’t let the Israelites leave and the Egyptians are last seen with their army thrashing around as the Red Sea closes in on them, having parted moments earlier to allow Moses and his Israelites to cross.

The vibes of Egypt pop in and out of the Bible after the Israelites have moved on – King Solomon marries a daughter of Pharaoh and after Jesus is born, Joseph has a dream telling him to take his young family home to Nazareth via Egypt as King Herod wants to kill his small son. All in all, a kind of ‘Evil Empire turns good’ vibe.

General vibe of Egypt: The rich people down the road.

Factvibe: There are no vibes to suggest the Israelite slaves built any pyramids, but they did build the cities of On, Pithom and Ramses for the Pharaoh, Rameses II.

Ramses II, still keeping an eye on Egypt's vibe.

The Vibe of the Jews

The Jews, formerly known as the Israelites, the Twelve Tribes and the Hebrews are the descendents of the twelve sons of Jacob. The vibe is that they are God’s chosen ones and, using the Ten Commandments and various prophets, God shows them how to live properly.

After famine hits Israel, Jacob and his sons head for Egypt and within four generations there are so many Jews that the Pharaoh parks their civil liberties and makes them slaves. After a series of plagues turn the vibe in Egypt ugly, Pharaoh lets the Israelites go and, under the reluctant guidance of Moses, they spend the next forty years grumbling around the deserts of Sinai. Finally, Joshua takes them into the Promised Land of Canaan where they establish Jerusalem, build a Temple and, under Kings David and Solomon, enjoy a golden age.

They then lose their way completely, find other gods to worship, split their country in two and ultimately suffer the indignity of being carted back into slavery, this time by the superpower of the day, Babylon. Once the Persians have given the Babylonians a good kicking, the Israelites are allowed to slope back to Judah and rebuild their Temple.

A few hundred years later, the Jews become citizens of Rome and it is around about this time that Jesus is born. The vibes he teaches divide the Jews like never before and, insulted by his claims that he is the ‘Son of God’ the Jews push for his execution. No sooner than this happens, he comes back from the dead and many Jews decide that he is actually the Messiah who the prophets promised would one day rule Israel. These Jews turn their backs on many of the vibes that the rest of the Jews hold dear – such as circumcision, eating pork and working on Saturdays – and become known as Christians. An adventure but not one you’d pay to go on.

General vibe of the Jews: The Chosen People.

Factvibe: Jew simply means someone from Judea.

The Pig. A beast whose vibe has long been at odds with Jewish culinary tradition.

The Vibe of the Twelve Tribes

The Twelve Tribes are the tribes of Israelites each led by one of the twelve sons of Jacob. That means Joseph and the eleven brothers who beat him up, throw him in a ditch and sell him. Once everyone has kissed and made up, the Twelve Tribes stick around in Egypt and have lots of children.

The original twelve brothers are all long dead by the time Moses leads their grumbling descendants out of Egypt, but their children keep the dream alive. Finally, they are led by Joshua into the country which God promised to Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, centuries earlier.

After some intense military vibes in which the locals are subdued or sent running, the tribes are each given their own bit of land to settle and live happily ever after. Until they can’t agree on who should be their king, go their separate ways and fight constantly.

General vibe of the Twelve Tribes: The first Israelites

Factvibe: Only members of the Levi tribe were allowed to be priests.

The pyramids, a vibe that was already in place by the time the Twelve Tribes reached Egypt