Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Bible, Pt. 24: Leviticus, Chapter 9 - 12

This continues my reading of the Bible, as an ordinary layman with no particular expertise, from Pt. 23. The entire series can be found here, and note that all quotes are from the King James Bible.

Chapter 9:
1 And it came to pass on the eighth day, that Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel;

2 And he said unto Aaron, Take thee a young calf for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before the LORD.

3 And unto the children of Israel thou shalt speak, saying, Take ye a kid of the goats for a sin offering; and a calf and a lamb, both of the first year, without blemish, for a burnt offering;

4 Also a bullock and a ram for peace offerings, to sacrifice before the LORD; and a meat offering mingled with oil: for to day the LORD will appear unto you.

5 And they brought that which Moses commanded before the tabernacle of the congregation: and all the congregation drew near and stood before the LORD.

6 And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commanded that ye should do: and the glory of the LORD shall appear unto you.

Well, this is going to be spectacular, don't you think? God is actually going to appear to the hoi polloi?

But they're going to kill seven animals at once, not to mention "a meat offering mingled with oil." How could God fail to be impressed? This will put him in a good mood, I'll bet!
8 Aaron therefore went unto the altar, and slew the calf of the sin offering, which was for himself.

9 And the sons of Aaron brought the blood unto him: and he dipped his finger in the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar, and poured out the blood at the bottom of the altar:

...

12 And he slew the burnt offering; and Aaron's sons presented unto him the blood, which he sprinkled round about upon the altar.

...

15 And he brought the people's offering, and took the goat, which was the sin offering for the people, and slew it, and offered it for sin, as the first.

...

18 He slew also the bullock and the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings, which was for the people: and Aaron's sons presented unto him the blood, which he sprinkled upon the altar round about,

Note that I'm skipping a lot of this - mostly the cutting up and burning of the sacrifices, which we've seen described in chapter after chapter already.
24 And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.

That's it? The fire flares up, on an altar covered with the grease from seven animals? My stove has done that, when I've gotten a bit too exuberant in frying bacon. I guess I didn't realize that was a miracle!

Chapter 10:
1 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.

2 And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.

OK, that has not happened with my stove - not yet, at least.

Note that Aaron is still head-priest, despite that piddling matter of creating a new god, a golden calf, for the Israelites to worship after Yahweh had ignored them for a whole month.

But God doesn't like the particular kind of incense that two of his sons burn for him, and so they're toast. Literally! Well, God has his priorities, I guess.
3 Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.

...

6 And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD hath kindled.

And the family can't even mourn them, lest God get pissed. I guess I can understand why Aaron was looking for a new god, can't you?
14 And the wave breast and heave shoulder shall ye eat in a clean place; thou, and thy sons, and thy daughters with thee: for they be thy due, and thy sons' due, which are given out of the sacrifices of peace offerings of the children of Israel.

Well, would you look at that! "And thy daughters with thee." This is the first we've seen in any chapter that the women of the family can eat the sacrificial leftovers, too!

This is called a "wave offering" here (and in the previous chapter, too), but it's clearly meat. (Admittedly, I don't know what parts of what animal "the wave breast and heave shoulder" actually are.) But it's the fact that women are actually allowed to join the feast, too, that really surprises me.
16 And Moses diligently sought the goat of the sin offering, and, behold, it was burnt: and he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, the sons of Aaron which were left alive, saying,

17 Wherefore have ye not eaten the sin offering in the holy place, seeing it is most holy, and God hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD?

18 Behold, the blood of it was not brought in within the holy place: ye should indeed have eaten it in the holy place, as I commanded.

Moses is angry that Aaron's two remaining sons haven't eaten all of the goat sacrifice, as they were supposed to. But given that they had seven animals to eat - two calves, two rams, a goat, a lamb, and a steer - plus that meat-and-oil offering, and that their two brothers had just been murdered by God in front of their eyes, I think that he could have cut them some slack, don't you?

Chapter 11:
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them,

2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth.

3 Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.

4 Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.

This chapter describes what's clean and unclean to eat (and not just eat, either, since even touching unclean animals - dead or alive - will make you unclean).

Many animals are mentioned specifically. For example, camels, rabbits, and pigs are all unclean. (Rabbits are supposed to be unclean because they "chew the cud," though actually, they don't. Gee, I wonder why God didn't know that?)

And you can eat fish - anything with fins and scales - but no other seafood. There's a long list of birds, too, which are also an "abomination," including:
19 And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.

Um, say what? A bat isn't a bird. Wouldn't you think that the all-knowing creator of the universe would know that?
22 Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind.

23 But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.

OK, so you can eat some insects - locusts and 'bald locusts' (no one seems to know what was meant there), beetles (meaning crickets, apparently), and grasshoppers. However, you can't eat any insects with four feet.

Given that there aren't any insects with four feet, that shouldn't be too difficult, huh?

You can't eat mice, or ferrets, or snakes, or moles - really, most of this isn't too tough. But you can't eat snails, so no escargot for you! Still, God's ban on pork and seafood are the real biggies.
45 For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

46 This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth:

47 To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.

Luckily, Christians don't pay any attention to Leviticus. So far, there's absolutely nothing in this chapter which any Christian thinks twice about - not the blood sacrifices and not the dietary restrictions.

Gee, I wonder if there's any part of Leviticus Christians do think they should follow? :)

Chapter 12:
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.

...

5 But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.

6 And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:

Earlier, remember, these Israelites were required to sacrifice a lamb to redeem their firstborn sons - indeed, to sacrifice the firstborn males of every animal, not just human beings. But now, women are required to sacrifice a lamb, as well as a young pigeon or turtledove, for every single child. What's going on here? Is God just getting more and more bloodthirsty as we go along?

Note, too, that women are "unclean" after giving birth - and giving birth to a daughter makes them unclean for twice as long as giving birth to a son. Just in case daughters started to think they might be as good as sons, you know.

This is a very short chapter, though. I guess there's just not that much to say about women, huh? Well, I suppose I'll stop here, for now, anyway. These posts have been getting pretty long lately - too long. The next few chapters contain a lot of verses (though I'm not sure how much I'll have to say about them), and... well, I'm struggling to stay interested right now.

So we'll save them for next time.

___
Note: Links to this whole series are available here.

2 comments:

Chimeradave said...

Wow, how much of the Bible is about burnt offerings?

Maybe churches should bring burnt offering back as long as the offering is steaks and every parishioner gets to eat some steak.

WCG said...

Oh, no, John. Those steaks would be holy. Parishioners couldn't eat them. And even the priests would be at risk if they got something wrong - held their fork in the wrong hand or something. Note what happened to Aaron's two sons for using the wrong incense!