Columns - 2008

    The Bible 2.0

    by Doug Brook
    Deep South Jewish Voice columnist

    Ever since Eve gave Adam his first Apple, computers and the internet played a recurring and sometimes pivotal role in the Bible.

    Of course, bandwidth was far more limited back then as was the overall speed of computers. As a result everyone's connection speeds were much slower than today. Most people would anxiously spend hours in front of an hourglass or other icons.

    Not until Abraham did people realize they could quit these old ways. Cutting out the need to sit and wait anymore, people gradually copied him and made idle worship a thing of the past.

    If Abraham's faith ever wavered he did a good job of not letting it show. Even when faced with sacrificing Isaac, his long-awaited and only son, he avoided the tragedy at the last second thanks to the sudden delivery of a RAM.

    Yes, the Bible is sometimes considered brutal, with many people killed by various pestilence. But the truth is much more PG, if not PC. Computers, and not people, were the victims of every virus mentioned in the Bible.

    Admittedly, technical components were more primitive in biblical times. In fact, instead of the keyboards and screens that are ubiquitous today, most people were using tablets.

    It should be noted therefore that the episode where Moses came down from Mount Sinai and saw his people worshiping the Golden Calf resulted in the first two tablets known to crash.

    Thankfully, Moses had apparently filled out the warranty card because he went right back up the mountain and received a free replacement.

    This became a hot topic for the Israelites who waited on line to discuss it in their sukkahs, the original chat rooms.

    Of course, the exodus from Egypt is remembered every year during Passover. The liberation is celebrated, the suffering is recalled. But the actual suffering that the seder was originally intended to recall is different than you might think.

    Early in the seder we eat a green vegetable to celebrate spring, dipped in salt water to symbolize the tears of the slaves in Egypt. We eat parsley or its like for what in Hebrew is called Carpas. However, Carpas was originally intended to recall the ages of suffering due to carpal tunnel syndrome.

    In the beginning of the fourth book of the Torah, Numbers, a census tallies the twelve tribes as they languished in the desert for forty years waiting for Microsoft's promised and long-delayed Global Positioning System.

    Each tribe's tally is presented individually, indicating the exact number of adult men for each descendant of Jacob. Most scholars believe they were counted to assess the number of fighting men the Israelites had available when entering The Promised Land.

    This is a misinterpretation. It was simply an extension of information gathering. The Hebrew after each count says "l'goolgelotam," which simply means "to Google you."

    Scholars also believe that the Israelites were in the desert for forty years as some kind of punishment, or perhaps as a generational cleansing so nobody entering the land would have experienced slavery in Egypt.

    These are more misinterpretations. The real reason they were in the desert for forty years? Three weeks into the exodus, the Israelites contacted technical support.

    Nevertheless, as computers and the internet developed, these innovations crept into biblical tales as well. For example, Jonah late in the Bible goes through the turmoil of recapturing his own identity due to the first big phishing incident on record.

    The forty-nine days between Passover and Shavuot are called the Omer. Traditionally there are certain restrictions on what people are allowed to do during the Omer. But one day in the middle, the thirty-third day, was designated as an exception.

    Today, Lag B'Omer is observed with picnics and other late spring festivities. But while people believe this day was named for being the thirty-third day, it's actually named for being the day reserved for clearing all log files.

    To demonstrate that this is not merely a Jewish interpretation of computers and the internet in the Bible, it should be noted that other religions have obvious examples of their own.

    There are many examples, including each religion's own beliefs regarding the world beyond and resurrection, or Second Life. But the most obvious example is that Catholicism has operated for centuries under Paypal rule.

    Doug Brook is a writer in Silicon Valley who apologizes for any technology jokes that got too baudy. For more information, past columns, other writings, and more, visit

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.