Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Exodus, Chapters 30 & 31

Chapter 30

Instructions for a new altar: this one for burning incense on. There's the usual blah blah about making it out of wood, then overlaying it with gold. Aaron is to burn incense every morning when he lights the lamps. It has to be one particular sort of incense, and the altar cannot be used for burnt sacrifices, meat or drink offerings. Picky, picky. He does have to make yearly atonement offerings.

Then, because building this temple out of expensive linens and wood and gold and precious stones is bloody expensive, god imposes a tax on all healthy men over 20. Everyone, rich or poor, has to give half a shekel. Hey! God's a flat-tax advocate! The money will also serve as an atonement. Buying your way out of sin, love it!

Next is a basin, for ritual washing by priests to wash their hands and feet. The penalty for forgetting to do so: death. Well, that will get the kids to wash their hands before dinner. Of course Jerry says that we no longer have to do this because of the New Testament. My father-in-law explained this to me over the weekend: biblical literalists deal with contradictions by deciding that if something is different between the Old and New Testaments, the New Testament shall be taken as correct. Never mind that this is interpreting, and they don't interpret because every word is literally true.

Anyway, Moses is then told to gather herbs and make them into anointing oil, which they have to pour over everything. Ordinary men cannot be anointed, lest they become holy, and anyone who pours it on a stranger will be exiled. Finally, they have to make perfume and leave it in the sanctuary, but if they wear it, they'll be banished.

The temple must have been a disgusting, stinky place what with the blood and the burnt offerings and the oil and the perfume everywhere.

Chapter 31

God names the craftspeople to make everything he just listed. It doesn't say, but I'm thinking they were Moses' brothers and sons-in-law.

Then we are told to keep the Sabbath. The penalty for insulting it (presumably by working): death. I wonder what happened to members of Jerry's congregation who broke this particular rule?

All of this is written on stone tablets and given to Moses.

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