Tuesday, July 14, 2009

LEVITICUS: Chapter 22

Chapter 22
Summary:God speaks to Moses, telling him that he is to relay more rules to Aaron and his sons concerning the priesthood.

The priests are to separate themselves from the "holy things" given by the people of Israel (meaning animal sacrifices) and are not to "profane" God's name by mishandling the sacrifice procedure - which God deems "holy". Whomever of Aaron's sons or descendants that performs any sacrifice for the people of Israel while being "unclean" or "defiled" himself, that priest will be "cut off from God's presence".

A priest who has contracted leprosy or "hath a running issue" (meaning an STD, sore, or infection) may not eat any of the "holy" animal sacrifices until he is "clean". A priest who has defiled himself by touching a dead body, seminal emission, or by touching any creeping thing or a "defiled" person, the priest shall be "unclean" and may not eat any "holy sacrifices" until the evening, after bathing himself in water before that evening. Once the sun has set (and after he bathes) he shall be clean, and may eat the "holy sacrifices", because they belong to the priests. A priest may not eat an animal that has died by other means - including an animal that dies naturally or that has been torn apart by other animals - or he will "defile" himself. The priests are to follow all of God's rules, or else they will bear "sin" for it, profane themselves, and God will have to kill them for that - as God himself is the one who "sanctifies" the priests.

Only priests are to eat the "holy sacrifices", they may not share this food with visitors or hired servants. If the priest buys a slave with his own money, or if a slave is born in the priest's household, then those slaves may eat from the "holy sacrifices".

If a priest's daughter is married to a foreigner, she may not eat any of the "holy sacrifices". However, if the priest's daughter is a widow, divorced, and has no children - therefore has returned to live with her father like she did in her childhood - then she may be allowed to eat from the "holy sacrifices". No one who is not a member of the priest's family, or their household, may eat from the "holy sacrifice".

If a regular person should eat any of the "holy sacrifice" unknowingly, that person "shall put the fifth part unto it" (meaning that he will have to replace what he had taken, plus 20% more in interest) and must return it to the priest. The "holy sacrifice" is not to be "profaned" by ordinary people eating it, because it was a gift given to God; anyone doing so will bear the "sin" of trespass.

God now tells Moses to speak to the priests as well as to the people of Israel about animal sacrifices. Whether a person is a descendant of the tribe of Israel, or a foreigner, their animal sacrifices must be carried out in God's specific way - regardless of whether they are done as an obligation or from freewill.

Only male animals without physical defects will be accepted whether it is a bull, sheep, or goat to be sacrificed. Animals with physical defects will not be accepted. Blind, lame, or maimed animals will not be accepted, nor will any animal having a wen, that is scabbed, or having scurvy be accepted. Imperfect animals shall not be offered to God, or as "burnt offerings". A bull or a lamb that has anything superfluous or is lacking any parts, one may offer for out of free will, but not for an obligatory sacrifice. An animal which is bruised, crushed, broken, or cut (alluding to castrated animals) may not be offered for sacrifice at any time. An animal belonging to a foreigner will not be accepted, as their corruption and blemishes are in their animals.

When a bull, sheep, or goat is born it is to remain with its mother for seven days. From the eight day forward, the animal may be offered for animal sacrificing. However, both the animal and its mother may not be sacrificed in the same day.

When an offering of "thanksgiving" is to be made, it is to be offered at one's own will and eaten on the same day, none of it is to be left over for the following day.

Therefore, says God, all should keep his commandments and do them as he is the ruler of the people. Nor shall anyone "profane" God's name, and he is to be "holy" among the people of Israel. God also rubs it in again that he was the guy who got them out of their slavery in Egypt.
Thoughts:Yet another chapter devoted to animal sacrifices, we begin with continuing on with the focus of the last chapter by focusing on the laws governing priests.

First off, the priests are not to "profane" God's name by messing up any procedure that concerns sacrificing animals. If the priest has defiled himself by contracting leprosy, getting an STD, has any sores or infections he is not to perform animal sacrifices until he is completely healed and considered "clean". If he has defiled himself by touching dead bodies, ejaculating (or anything connected with semen, as specifically laid out in Chapter 15), touching an "unclean" animal, or an "unclean" person, then the priest is not allowed to eat any animal sacrifices until the evening - and he must bathe beforehand as well. Once the sun sets, he's okay again and can chow down on God's animal meat.

However, priests are not to eat any animal that has died by other means (including natural death or having been torn apart by wild animals) or he will "defile" himself by doing so. The priests have to follow God's instructions or else God could be forced to kill them - and it's the priest's fault, because it's God who has "sanctified" them to begin with. Death threats mean that God's law is *really* important to follow - just look at what happened to Nadab and Abihu for using the wrong fire when lighting God's incense.

Only priests and their immediate family members, except for any of their daughters married to foreigners, are allowed to eat any sacrificial animals. If the daughter married to foreigner doesn't have any children and gets divorced or is widowed, then she can again eat some sacrificial animal meat, as she is no longer angering God and the priest by her interracial marriage and by raising mixed race children. The only exception to the rule of the immediate family is for slaves that a priest has bought, or those that were born in the priest's household. If the slave was given a gift or inherited then they'll have to find something else to eat.

If a regular person eats any of God's "holy sacrifice" unknowingly, they'll have to replace what they eat and tack on 20% of the amount of the animal as well as interest. Regular people are not to eat any of God's food and will be guilty of "sin" for doing so.

God now reinforces his demand that all animals to be sacrificed have to be perfect - God does not want any broken bones, blindness, scabs, or scurvy afflicting the animals being sacrificed to him. An animal belonging to a foreigner will also not be accepted, as their "corruption" apparently taints the animal in some way.

God also repeats his rule from Exodus Chapter 22 about not sacrificing a baby animal until it is eight days old. He tacks on that the baby animal's mother may not be sacrificed on the same day as the baby is. He also reminds everyone that "thanksgiving sacrifices" must be eaten on the same day and that none is to be leftover to be eaten for the following day.

God closes the chapter by again that the people have to obey his laws since he is their leader, and he reminds them all again that it was him who freed them from their slavery in Egypt. I think the numerous threats God repeats about killing them all probably do a better job towards extorting their obedience than having to remind them about him freeing them their slavery.

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