At school, Beth was spending her lunch hour sitting on a bench and doing her homework. While she was doing some math, a boy named Goliath came over and hit her for no reason at all. Because Beth's mother hadn't gotten around to telling her the "turn the other cheek" story yet, Beth hit him back. Goliath ran to a teacher crying and said that Beth had hit him, so Beth got in trouble.
When she got home, Beth told her mother what had happened. "Mother," she said, "the teacher told me that I should have come and tattled on Goliath instead of hitting him. What does God say that I should have done?"
"There's a story about that, Dear One," said her mother.
And this is the story she told:
One day, there was a man whose mother was an Israelite and whose father was an Egyptian. One day, he was walking around where the Hebrews live and got in a fight with an Israelite man. While they were fighting, he said God's name in a nasty way.
After the fight, the man was brought to Moses and put in jail until God told them what to do with him. God told Moses, "Get the man who said my name in a nasty way and tell everyone that heard him to put their hands on his head while other people throw rocks at him until he's dead. Tell the Hebrews that whoever says my name in a nasty way is in trouble. If you say nasty things and use my name, then everyone's going to throw rocks at you until you're dead. That goes even if you're parents were born somewhere else, so long as you were born here.
"Anyone that kills a man," God continued, "should die, too. If someone kills an animal, then he should replace it with a new one. If a man gives his neighbor an owie, then someone should give him an owie. If someone breaks part of someone, or takes out their eye, or makes them loose a tooth, then someone should do the same to him. If he kills an animal, then he should replace it. If he kills a man, then he should be put to death."
"I get the idea," said Beth. "Does God have to keep saying the same stuff over again?"
"Now, Dear One," scolded Beth's mother, "God has a good reason for repeating himself."
"We don't know, but I'm sure it's very good indeed."
"You should use the same laws for strangers that you use for yourselves," said God. "I'm God."
Moses went to the Israelis and told them to get the man who had said God's name in a nasty way and throw rocks at him until he died. And that's just what they did.
"So you see," finished Beth's mother, "God would have wanted you to hit the boy just like he hit you."
Beth thought about this for a moment. "But Mother," she said, "if someone who kills a man is supposed to be killed with rocks, what about the people who kill someone with rocks because God told them that they are supposed to?"
"Those people should be killed with rocks, too, Dear One," said her mother. "The reason that you are doing something doesn't make any difference to God, remember? That's why there are not many tribes of Israel left in the world."
Then Beth smiled and hugged her mother. All her questions had been answered.
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