Camels and Deuteronomy

Last night I read Mark Ellingsen note that Deuteronomy … rooted in, the sweeping religious reforms under … King Josiah in the late seventh century BC. …  Portrayed in the form of Moses’ farewell address, it is the reaffirmation of the covenant between God and Israel. The legal tradition of the book of Exodus is reinterpreted in contemporary terms of Josiah’s 621 BC religious reforms. [i]  I made a note that relationships with God are always reinterpreted. Text Criticism scholars have provided us with the J, P, E, D sources, interpretations of God’s presence.

This morning I read an article in today’s New York Times, Camels Had No Business in Genesis [ii] radio carbon dating establishes the last third of the tenth century BC as the earliest evidence of domesticated camels. Differences in leg bones of earlier camel bone discoveries show they didn’t carry heavy loads. The scientist said: One should be careful not to rush to the conclusion that the new archaeological findings automatically deny any historical value from the biblical stories. … Rather, they established that these traditions were indeed reformulated in relatively late periods after camels had been integrated into the Near Eastern economic system.

These bits of information remind us that the story of God’s presence is full of paltry human effort to express the fullness of that experience. That these stories have been reinterpreted, that they contain uncertain facts does not diminish the truth of God’s presence among us. After all the stories are icons, what’s significant is the relationship with God they draw us into.

 We can be disturbed by differing sources, unsettled by uncertain fact, or assured by truth of God’s timeless presence. One thing is certain; there has been an endless stream of stories sharing unending divine encounters.


[i] Mark Ellingsen,
Lectionary Scripture Notes, Epiphany 6, February 16, 2014
[ii] JOHN NOBLE WILFORD, New York Times,, SCIENCE, Camels Had No Business in Genesis, FEB. 10, 2014


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