I assume most of you have figured out I'm a Mormon, and I teach two religion classes each week: Gospel Doctrine (on Sundays) and Institute, which is a college-level class which students can take for credit (on Thursdays).
Now, you should know, I absolutely LOVE the scriptures. I'm the woman who sucks all the fun out of the room in those "Getting to Know You" games by sanctimoniously declaring that, unlike you sissy "Pride and Prejudice" fans, my favorite book is Isaiah. One of these days those fed up Jane Austen lovers are going to take a chapter out of Acts and stone me.
Anyway, last year I taught Old Testament in Institute. And while I was slogging through Leviticus - great stuff, if not a little rules and regs intensive - I came across a verse in chapter 18 that had to do with women and their *ahem* "lady weeks". Specifically, the men were being commanded to stay away from them during, you know, that time.
And I thought, "You know, of all these commandments listed here, I bet that was the easiest one for those Israelite men to keep."
Can't you see them, sitting in their meetings, being instructed by Moses?:
Moses: "OK, now that we have the 10 big ones out of the way, the next agenda item is food."
Israelites: "Watch, he's going to take away our Big Macs."
Moses: "Manna. That's it."
Moses: "Next, we've got stick collecting. Don't do it on the Sabbath. I mean it."
That one guy who always has to pipe up in meetings: "What'll happen if we, like, forget?"
Moses: "I can't emphasize enough the importance of not forgetting."
TOGWAHTPUIM: "Yeah, but..."
Moses: "Seriously. Shut up."
TOGWAHTPUIM: "I just..."
The Israelite sitting next to TOGWAHTPUIM: "Dude, if you forget, God will do to you what I'm gonna do to you if you raise your hand one more time..."
Moses: "OK, next item: Women."
Israelite men (waking up): "That's more like it."
Moses: "When your wives are, you know, having that, you know, that week..."
TOGWAHTPUIM: "Wh--? Ow! Geez, dude, that hurt!"
Moses: "...the Lord wants you to pretty much leave them alone."
(long, thoughtful pause)
Israelites: "That's it?"
Moses: "Yep. Don't touch 'em."
(further pondering, the occasional furtive glance, one or two 'beats me' shrugs)
Tentative Israelite Spokesman: "Ahem. To clarify. The commandment says 'Thou Shalt Not Touch The Shrieking Hormonally Insane Prickly Pear That Possesses Thy Otherwise Lovely And Perfectly Reasonable Spouse One Week A Month'?"
Moses: "Words to that effect, yes."
(understanding slowly dawns)
Israelites: "Well, gosh, that one's EASY!! We were kinda worried about this whole Law of Moses deal, and we gotta admit we're still a little perplexed as to why we would ever covet our neighbor's ass when we know for a fact gyms won't even be invented for another 1500 years. But, heck, we were BORN to keep that last one!"
(fist bumps all around)
So, as I was pondering upon this scene, I began to consider what it must have been like to live in those conditions for forty years.
Remembering that for that week, women were considered unclean (read "scary and kinda mean") and were therefore sent outside the main camp to simmer down and write their apology notes, I started running a few numbers. And let me tell you, the math is downright terrifying:
Assuming there were a million Israelites (and I think that's a low estimate), and assuming that exactly half of them were women, that's 500,000 women, total.
Now, to keep things simple, assume that half of them were either too old, too young, or too pregnant to have 'one of those weeks.'
That leaves 250,000 women eligible for, well, you know.
Now, divide that number by four weeks of the month, and on any given week you would have (are you ready for this?) SIXTY-TWO THOUSAND, FIVE HUNDRED WOMEN ripping their tents apart looking for chocolate and threatening to burn the next pair of socks they found in the middle of the floor when there is a perfectly good hamper right there in plain sight although of course everyone else in this family is freakin' blind and DO YOU ALL HAVE TO BREATHE SO DAMN LOUD??!!
Now, take it a step further, and consider that this also meant that there were 62,500 women PMS-ing, and another 62,500 ovulating, and......well, let's just say these were dark, frightening times in which to live. A war with the Philistines was a walk in the park by comparison, as it gave the men a chance to get out of the house for a few days.
They're saying, "Did your wife send you out for feminine products, too?"
It could be argued that the wisest thing Moses ever did was send these ladies to "Girls' Camp."
In my home, there are three females of hormonal eligibility. Which means the three men in the family have been under siege for years. How nice would it be, these days, to be able to announce to that 14 year-old currently shredding her little brother for walking into the room while she was trying to nap, that it was time to start packing for camp?
"Leave early," you could suggest. "Pick up Shelby on the way. Her mom says she's been bawling since Wednesday."
Yes, there are a lot of inspiring things we can learn from the scriptures. I'd love to share more of them with you, but from the sounds of overturned furniture coming out of my daughter's room, it looks like I need to find a suitcase.
Wonder if the Philistines are in town...