Saturday, February 27, 2010

Leviticus Chapters 21 & 22

Priestly standards of conduct.

Chapter 21

Priests may not touch the dead bodies of anyone except close family members, otherwise they are unclean. Close family does not include in-laws.

Priests may not shave their heads, have goatees, or tattoos. Nor can they profane the name of their God (v. 6).

They cannot marry ex-prostitutes or heathens or divorced women. Ironically, I know a divorced Anglican priest who is married to a divorced Presbyterian minister. Jerry has no insight as to why this rule is no longer applicable. I may have to find a respectful way to ask them about that.

Members of the congregation must respect priests.

If a priest has a daughter who profane herself by playing the whore (v. 10) she is to be burnt to death. This is just thrown in there, in between the verse on respecting the priests and another on how they can never uncover their heads or wear torn clothes. And how many preacher's daughters rebel that way? Lots, I'm thinking.

A priest cannot go into places with dead bodies, or make himself unclean, even for his parents. In fact, he can't leave the temple at all, otherwise it will be unholy.

The list is obviously in no particular order, because the next couple of verses are back to sex, only now a priest has to marry a virgin from his own tribe.

God then instructs Aaron only to take perfect specimens as priests, so no blind or lame men, no one with a flat nose or anything superfluous (v. 18), which might mean deformities or disfigurements, no one broken-footed or broken-handed (v. 19) which I'm going to read as missing fingers or toes, no hunchbacks or dwarves, no one with eye defects, which would seem to bar priests with glasses, no? no scurvy or scabs, or people with defective testicles. Anyone with these, even if they are a son of Aaron, is disqualified from the priesthood, and some of those rules even today would make recruitment difficult.

These people can, however, be members of the congregation. Aw isn't that nice.

Chapter 22

Rules for sacrifices.

God reminds Moses that priests are subject to the same rules as everybody else, and can be banished just like the others. Then it's a long repetition of the rules for lepers, people who touch creeping things, and people who eat non-sacrificial animals.

Non-members of the priest's family are forbidden from eating the sacrificial food, though purchased slaves may. Daughters who marry heathens are no longer family members, unless they're divorcées or widows and don't have children.

Anyone who eats an offering by mistake has to pay the priest back, plus 20 percent. So much for usury being illegal.

Then a repetition of which animals should be sacrificed: perfect male specimens. You can offer imperfect ones, but only as freewill offerings, not as vows.

No castrated animals can be sacrificed, not even those bought from foreigners. We will find out apparently that eunuchs also couldn't worship. Offerings had to be at least 8 days old, and you couldn't kill a mother animal and its offspring in the same day.

Thanksgiving sacrifices had to be eaten on the day. That's right, no delicious hot turkey sandwiches the next day, people!

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