Thursday, July 16, 2009

LEVITICUS: Chapter 24

Chapter 24
Summary:God speaks to Moses, telling him to command the people of Israel to bring pure olive oil to make an "eternal flame" for the golden lamps outside the veil in the tabernacle. Aaron is to supply these lamps with fresh oil each morning and evening to keep the fire burning continuously, which is to be maintained by all future generations.

Also, twelve loaves of bread are to be baked from two tenth deals* of fine flour. The bread shall be placed in two rows, six in each row, upon the golden table in the tabernacle. Pure frankincense shall be sprinkled along each row, and the bread will be a memorial offering by fire made to God each sabbath as an everlasting covenant between God and the people of Israel. Aaron and his sons shall eat this bread in a "holy place", for it is most "holy" being made by fire, and this shall be a permanent statute.

Moving back into a narrative, a son of an Israeli woman (whose father was an Egyptian* and got into a dispute with an Israeli man within the camp. The Israeli woman's son "blasphemed" God's name and cursed. He was then brought before Moses by the people of Israel (it is mentioned that his mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan) and he was jailed until God's judgment of him could be decided.

God tells Moses to bring the blasphemer outside of the camp and have everyone that heard him blaspheme to place their hands upon his head - before having all of the congregation stone him. God tells Moses to relay to the people of Israel that whomever curses God shall bear his "sin", and that anyone who blasphemes God shall surely be put to death - all of the congregation shall certainly stone him. This applies to any Israeli or foreigner in the land - he who blasphemes God's name shall be put to death.

God adds that "he who killeth any man shall surely be put to death" and "he that killeth an animal" shall replace it. God also states that any man that injures another shall be injured the same himself - "breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth". God repeats that he that kills an animal shall replace it, and he that kills a man shall be put to death.

The people of Israel shall keep the same law for those who are born in the land and for foreigners to the land as well.

Moses spoke to the people of Israel that they should bring the one who blasphemed out of the camp and to stone him to death. The people of Israel did as God had commanded Moses.
Notes:1.) Approximately a fifth of a bushel.
2.) Most likely the mention of an Egyptian father is to remove any possible sympathy for the Israeli woman's son - as the Egyptians are typically portrayed as villainous heathens throughout the bible.
Thoughts:God tells Moses to have the people of Israel gather some pure olive oil to light an "eternal flame" in the golden lamps hanging outside the veil in the tabernacle. He tells Moses that Aaron is (as well as his future descendants are) to supply the lamps with fresh oil twice a day - once in the morning, once in the evening - to keep the fire continuously burning.

Twelve loaves of bread are to be be made every week on the sabbath and placed on the golden table in the tabernacle as well. Arranged in two rows of six, frankincense is to be sprinkled on the loaves of bread and this somehow is to symbolize the covenant between God and the Israeli people. Aaron and his sons, of course, get to eat the loaves of bread - but only in a "holy place". This tradition is also to be a permanent statute.

Strangely, this chapter of Leviticus now shifts away from God decreeing laws to Moses and turns into a narrative story about the son of an Israeli woman, who we can tell is going to end badly when it is mentioned that he is also the son of an "evil" heathenistic Egyptian. It is not stated how old this son of the Israeli woman (who is given the name Shelomith, and is noted to be the daughter of Dibri, whom apparently descended from the tribe of Dan) might be, but God seems rather indifferent towards whether children should be tried on the same terms as an adult anyways.

The half-breed child (note that half-breed children are also usually frowned upon in the bible) gets into a dispute with a full blooded Israeli and during the conflict apparently curses God. The blasphemer is now brought before Moses and jailed while Moses consults God on how to deal with him - which should already be apparent to Moses considering he's the one who supposedly brought the "ten commandments" down from Mount Sinai.

God's punishment for improperly or irreverantly using his name is of course a vicious brutal death by stoning. Simply because someone was using his name improperly and "insulting" him. Now, of course God admits many times (including within the ten commandments itself) that he is a vengeful and jealous God, but to place so much self-importance on someone incorrectly using or "insulting" your name that you have to impose a brutal death sentence of being stoned to death upon them, and then not even doing the killing yourself, but making the people of Israel do it for him?

In the United States of America one of the greatest freedoms we have is the First Ammendment of the Constitution which guarrantees the right to free speech. While it protects the rights of people to criticize their government and its leaders, it also allows people with messages of hate to also voice their opinion, such as the charming Westboro Baptist Church who picket funerals of gays, the U.S. Military, and others with picket signs proclaiming that "God hates Fags" and "God hates America". As ugly and ignorant as these people are, I support their rights to be idiots as long as they can remain peaceful. The late George Carlin said it best, proclaiming that "there are no bad words" only bad intents in their meanings and expression. Language should never be punished and certainly never by death, and especially when it's some "benevolent" leader who's somehow offended that someone used his name in a manner in which he doesn't approve of.

It often confuses me when people describe the God of the bible as a "loving", "just", and "benevolent" supernatural being when we're confronted with such stories such as this one. I often wonder how we could possibly be reading the same bible and seeing completely different viewpoints on the nature of God. Perhaps my idea of "benevolence" just doesn't include having a bunch of people stone somebody else to death for using God's name in a way that he disapproves of.

God hammers the point home by stating that anyone - not just half-breed people of partial Egyptian heathen bloodlines - who "blasphemes" God's name is to be put to death - presumably, just as brutally by a good ol' stoning. He tacks on that "he who kills any man shall surely be put to death" - presumably there is an exception for people that kill on God's command.

He follows up his vengeful logic with that any man that injures another should be injured the same way - "an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth", which is quite different from the message Jesus will later preach, concerning "turning the other cheek" (however, Jesus also has some pretty vengeful things to say later on, as we'll come across much later).

So, Moses delivers God's message to the people of Israel and the people drag the blasphemer out to the outside of the camp and stone him to death - simply for uttering God's name in a manner that God found offensive.


  1. please publish this sometime. seriously. :)

  2. I've had a few people tell me that they'd like a physical copy someday. Once I'm done with this experiment I'll certainly look into what options are out there and how much interest there would be in physical copies.

    I don't really want to profit off of this, but I certainly wouldn't want to lose too much money either. My intent from the outset was to get people regardless of faith, including myself, to think about and better understand what is really being said in the bible.

    That being said, it will be something I'll consider and look into once I'm finished.