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Chapter 3. The Altar of Abraham

Part 2 The Altar of Sin

altars

In the days of Joseph’s famine, the people had given their gold, their animals, their land, and themselves in exchange for provisions. So, what did they use for money in everyday business transactions? They used a small stone or clay scarab given out by the City Treasury. The priests of Egypt administered this financial system, living through the famine on a donation from the Pharaoh. They grew wealthy while others toiled. They had vast stores of grain which they controlled as an utility, loaning it out at interest.

In their temple “granaries… priests became bankers through the loan of seed grain. In many societies the main temple and dependent structures were the most important buildings, although many smaller, often isolated, temples existed as well.”1 These temples were the centers of commerce and control and the depositories of records and contracts.

Give me control over a nation’s currency and I care not who makes its laws”2

The High Priests knew the arts of the temple, which was, at the least, a central bank. They had control of the flow of currency which could be redeemed by foreign traders through the gates of the city, but was a regulated fiat money for the subject citizenry.

It was the greed and envy of Joseph’s brothers that had brought all of Israel under the power of the Pharaohs and at the mercy of the priests of Egypt. They were to be the Altar of God as ministers in His kingdom on earth, but instead they became the bricks and stones of a ruling elite.

In Egypt, two-and-a-half month's worth of labor each year went to the government. All the gold and silver was in the treasury and the people held a mere legal title to their land and their possessions.

Moses became the son of the daughter of Pharaoh by adoption, but he saw himself becoming a tyrant and murderer like Cain and Lemech. He fled from this temptation and sought the ways of God.

God saw that the people, too, were corrupted by this bondage and He sent Moses back to lead the people out of Egypt and desired that they never return to such a system.

But he shall not… cause the people to return to Egypt … Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.” Deuteronomy 17:16

God chose His people from Abraham’s seed of faith and led them out of the civil powers of Egypt. He would be their God and Ruler through their hearts and minds, but they did not have the faith of their forefather, nor of Moses. They feared for their lives and sought strength in their own numbers and bound themselves together by surety and sacrifice, placing the wealth of their families in Aaron’s altar of the golden calf.

“… And all the people brake off the golden earrings which [were] in their ears, and brought [them] unto Aaron. And he received3 [them] at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These [be] thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” Exodus 32:2, 4

What possessed them to make that golden calf? It was not mere superstition that motivated them, but a practicality and a lack of faith. The people literally deposited their gold, as well as other goods and sacrificed their rights to them on the altar of the golden calf. They took, in turn, some sort of exchangeable token and the promise of social security.

Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse: My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood. Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird. And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives. So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.” Proverbs 1:14-19

Gold was deposited into a large statue for all to see. The wealth and the community was melded together into a common purse. No one person could leave in the face of an enemy without leaving behind the golden depository of their wealth. Moses could take the people out of Egypt, but only God, time, and repentance could take Egypt out of the people.

“… I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.” Zec 13:7

Without men of faith like Moses, David, or Jesus Christ, the people become frightened. In their fear, they reach out for something else other than God to secure their safety.

In Egypt’s central banking system, the temple issued clay and stone scarabs as a substitute for commodity money like gold and silver. Those scarabs, or tokens of exchange, were worthless except in that monetarily-bound community. The priests of the temple in Egypt had kept track of all the complexities of their centralized monetary system and, of course, they profited from its management. Allegiance was assured with no true wealth in the hands of the people.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:34

Was the sin the golden statue or the lack of faith it represented? Men gave away their God-given rights and liberty in exchange for the promises of men. The altar upon which they now sacrificed was hewn with the hands of men and regulated by a ruling elite of that central depository or national bank. They had returned to Egypt with a new god.

They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These [be] thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” Ex. 32:8

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Footnotes:

1Temple Microsoft ® Encarta. © 1994 Ms. Corp.& F & W’s Corp.

2Baron M.A. Rothschild (1744 - 1812)

3“Receive” is from laqach, which includes the idea of “acquire, buy” and is sometimes translated “buy” in the Old Testament.

 

   
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