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Friday, September 17, 2010

Day Seventeen (Regulations)

For February 18-20, the readings include more Leviticus. In chapters 6-10, the rules on sin offering and guilt offering are often referred to as regulations. They begin with relatively minor offenses that are to be made right with offerings of animal and grain (which, at least in part, are eaten by the priests). Consuming blood or the fat from animals found dead, requires banishment. Also, lots of detail about the priestly clothes worn by Aaron and his sons.

Then, from chapter 9-10, we have the story of Aaron's son messing up the ritual. They "offered unauthorized fire before YHWH, contrary to his commands." It is striking to me that the word unauthorized is used because it so matches the language to go with regulation. It suggests the presence of convention rather than universal value. God's response is: "So fire came out of the presence of YHWH and consumed them, they died before YHWH." Lev. 10:1-2.

From this story we have the harshness of violating any aspect of the law, even the rules about which fire to burn. We have also get a rule about not drinking wine before carrying out the rituals. "Then YHWH said to Aaron, 'You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of Meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You must distinguish between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean . . . .'" Lev. 10:8-10.

Interestingly, the Imam who spoke at my church last night mentioned that Mohamed had initially discouraged people from drinking, but when an Imam was to drunk to conduct prayers, he made in wrong to drink any time during the day, and then eventually, wrong to drink period.

The passages from Mark, needless not say, are not so excited about the law. From Mark, we have many stories of healing and casting out demons. We also have three parables about the Kingdom of God related to seeds. One emphasizing not everyone will be able to receive the truth, but the small number who accept it will grow something sufficiently beautiful; one emphasizing that it takes work to grow the Kingdom; and one emphasizing that from a small seed a great thing may grow. The Psalms are back to talking about enemies.

2 comments:

Matt Dick said...

What is to be made of a book of regulations that include the great and important and the trivial and detailed all in the same book? And presented with little to distinguish the two?

How are we to take the important ones seriously when quite literally today everyone blows off the petty ones? Yes, they're petty to us, but to the same writers who have a lot to say about the non-petty ones, the petty ones weren't all that petty.

vallani

JimII said...

That really depends on our perspective I suppose. It certainly highlights the cultural divide. I don't remember if this has the section about culpability for bulls goring people, but I don't know that this is a modern concern.

It does mean that "the Bible says so" cannot be a sufficient justification for supporting a position.

At least for me, the curious mixing points up that I need to read these Hebrew Scriptures with an eye toward themes and underlying values if I hope to get anything out of them.