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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Lev. 18 (forbidden sex)

This is how we do it in Arizona.  Under A.R.S. § 25-101:
A. Marriage between parents and children, including grandparents and grandchildren of every degree, between brothers and sisters of the one-half as well as the whole blood, and between uncles and nieces, aunts and nephews and between first cousins, is prohibited and void.

B. Notwithstanding subsection A, first cousins may marry if both are sixty-five years of age or older or if one or both first cousins are under sixty-five years of age, upon approval of any superior court judge in the state if proof has been presented to the judge that one of the cousins is unable to reproduce.

C. Marriage between persons of the same sex is void and prohibited.
Subsection C is unenforceable based on the holding of the holding of federal courts.

Section 1: The first clobber scripture.

The law in Leviticus is not much different.  It addresses sex not marriage.  It is also addressed solely to men, and I would argue straight men.  Leviticus 18:7-20 are all about women with whom the mad should not have sex with.  Then, 21 says don't sacrifice your children, then 22 says don't have sex with a man, then 23 says don't have sex with animals, and finally the second half says don't let women have sex with animals.

With that in mind, let's look at Leviticus 18:22 for analysis.  "Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable."  Note it is a command.  What if an adult woman reads this.  She, the adult woman, is commanded not to have sexual relations with a man as she does with a woman.  Huh.  The point is more well made by the NIV's addition of "sexual relations" to what is more traditionally translated as "lie with."  If a woman reads this, she is literally commanded to be a lesbian.

Now, stop, because I hear you.  The Bible does not command women to be lesbians because--as I just said--it is directed to male readers.  My point is this: It is also directed toward straight readers. 

I am fully on board with directing straight men not to have sex with men. I think that would be deviant and wrong, possibly exploitative.  But, what are those other than straight men to do with this scripture?  Do they apply it blindly and get the result of gay men and straight women being commanded to avoid sex with men?  Or do the adapt it to who they are?  Seems obvious to me.

Section 2: A fun look at who in the Bible violated these laws

There is not a major point here, except I wanted to show (1) how these laws compare with our laws and (2) how frequently folks broke these--which, maybe that's why they needed to be so explicit.
  • 18:7 Do not have sex with your mother.  Also illegal in Arizona.  No examples in the Bible, although, Lot's daughters had sex with him.Gen. 19:36.
  • 18:8 Do not have sex with your father's wife.  Legal in Arizona--assuming the wife is not your mother.  Rueben basically did this by having sex with Bilhah, his father's concubine/mother's hand maid. Gen. 35:22.
  • 18:9,11 Do not have sex with your sister or your half sister.  Also illegal in Arizona.  Abraham explicitly violated this one by marrying Sarah.  Gen. 20:11-12.
  • 18:10 Do not have sex with your granddaughter.  Also illegal in Arizona.  I think we're good on this one.
  • 18:12-13 Do not have sex with your aunt. Also illegal in Arizona.  I think we're okay here.
  • 18:14 Do not have sex with your uncle's wife.  Legal in Arizona.  No examples.
  • 18:15 Do not have sex with your daughter-in-law.  Legal in Arizona.  Yeah, Judah breaks this one.  Although, in his defense, he thought she was a prostitute, right?  Gen. 38:12-26.
  • 18:16 Do not have sex with your brother's wife.  Legal in Arizona.  Obviously while he's still alive, Onan get's killed for not finishing the act of having sex with his brother's wife.  Gen. 38:1-10.  
  • 18:17 Do not have sex with both a woman and her daughter.  Legal in Arizona.  I'm not aware of any violations of this one.
  • 18:18 Do not have sex with your wife's sister.  Two wives illegal; sex with wife's sister okay in Arizona.  Israel, aka, Jacob explicitly violates this one.  Gen. 29:15-30.
  • 18:19 Do not have sex with a woman on her period.  Legal in Arizona.  Not sure if there is a biblical story about this.
  • 18:20 Do not have sex with your neighbor's wife.  Legal in Arizona.  King David violated this one, although not without consequences.  2 Sam. 11.

Honorable mention, both Isaac and Jacob married their first cousins, in Isaac's case once removed.  So that would be illegal in Arizona--because they were not both 65 at the time--but seems okay to Biblical authors.



So, I guess I am questioning whether an honest reading of these passages can lead one to hate gay people.  I dare say that if someone comes to that conclusion, he or she had it in mind when they opened the book.


Lev. 16-17

Chapter 16 returns to a discussion of the death of Aaron's sons.  God tells Moses he doesn't want Aaron just walking around the Holy Place like he owns the place.  He has to bring in an offering and make the sacrifice for atonement, etc.  With the knowledge that this record was written centuries after the events are to have occurred, it is interesting to read the details of Aaron's personal failings.  This is a myth not a fairy tale.  This is a cultural story that has ambiguity.  [It also has bunches of stuff about what to do with the fat and intestines of the bulls, male goats, etc.]

Chapter 17 is about not eating blood.  It reveals that there was still a problem with offering sacrifices to other idols.  But it also has this line, "For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life."  Lev. 17:11.  My thought is that my substitutionary atonement brothers and sisters would find this pretty significant for later gory theatrical productions and such.

Chapter 18 will get its own entry.  In the meantime, consider this from Salt-n-Peppa.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Lev. 14 -15 (even more skin disease)

It's chapter 14 of Leviticus that discusses what to do if leprosy is cured.  But as my Bible points out in a footnote, this old school rendering of the Hebrew word is probably wrongly specific.  As such, the term is just translated "defiling skin disease" or in the NVI just "su enfermedad" or reference to the "persona infectada".  

It was confusing to me at first because the chapter begins by this weird ritual of killing one bird and dipping the other in its blood and releasing it, but then goes on to describe a sacrifice to be made clean--including a pauper's exception, btw.  But then I realized that there is a difference between healing of the physical illness and being retored to ritual cleanliness.  It is probably not insignificant that the latter has a pauper's exception, but not the former.  The same two steps is true for the home.  After the mold is gone then you purify the house.  Lev. 14:48-49.

Chapter 14 also has a bit of awkwardness revealing its non-contemporaneous authorship, "When you enter the land of Canaan, which I am giving you as your possession, and I put a spreading mold in a house in the land ..."  Lev. 14:33.  This reads like a bad sitcom where the Pilgrims land on Plymoth Rock and say, "Thankfully this land will remain always pure and never be ruled by a woman or reality tv star."

Then, finally, with Leviticus 15 we get to the good stuff.  What to do when (1) a man has an unusual bodily emission, (2) a man has an emission of semen, and (3) a woman has her regular flow of blood.  **Spoiler Alert** all of these make one unclean.

Most interesting is that having sex also makes you unclean, although the restoration is no big.
16 “‘When a man has an emission of semen, he must bathe his whole body with water, and he will be unclean till evening. 17 Any clothing or leather that has semen on it must be washed with water, and it will be unclean till evening. 18 When a man has sexual relations with a woman and there is an emission of semen, both of them must bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.
Lev. 15.  huh.

[UPDATE 3/7: I discuss these chapters a bit with my pastor in this podcast.]

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Lev. 11-13

Leviticus 11 spells out the unclean animals.  There are justifications given, like because the animal has a cloven hoof or whatever, that I find interesting because they remain arbitrary--which most acts of obedience are.  It is not at all clear to me that these laws are about health or food safety as has been suggested, possibly by me, elsewhere.

Leviticus 12 spells out the ritual for a woman made unclean by childbirth.  Note, she is necessarily unclear.  Becoming unclear and being restored seems a necessity.

Leviticus 13 tells you what offerings to make when you are cured of illnesses including Leprosy.  So, people are cured of Leprosy frequently enough that you need a ritual for it?  I am not sure what this means, but it seems worth pausing for.  Okay, so I was a little rushed when I was writing this, and a little overconfident in my Spanish.  A reading in English reveals chapter 13 just tells you want is clean an unclean and reads like a medical journal about puss.  [Update 2/17/17]

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Lev. 8-10 (Aaron's Kids)

So, in chapters 8 and 9, there is a heck of a lot of talk about kidneys and fat and intestines and how it should be burned etc.  But, then we go back to some actual plot when Aaron's sons mess up.  First Nadab and Abihu offer "unauthorized fire before YHWH."  Lev. 10:1.  So, the fire comes out and consumes them.  And then Moses, being super helpful, explains to Aaron how this is good because God, "will be proved holy."  "Y Aaron guardo silencio//Aaron remained silent."  Lev. 10:3.

This is some good writing. Or at least a great use of short declarative sentences to convey a powerful message. 

The other two kids, Eleazar & Ithamar, messed up another offering in a way that is not clear to me.  Perhaps they were supposed to no fully burn up the goat, but they did.  This exchange goes like this,
and at least ends well.

When Moses inquired about the goat of the sin offering and found that it had been burned up, he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s remaining sons, and asked, 17 “Why didn’t you eat the sin offering in the sanctuary area? It is most holy; it was given to you to take away the guilt of the community by making atonement for them before the Lord. 18 Since its blood was not taken into the Holy Place, you should have eaten the goat in the sanctuary area, as I commanded.”

19 Aaron replied to Moses, “Today they sacrificed their sin offering and their burnt offering before the Lord, but such things as this have happened to me. Would the Lord have been pleased if I had eaten the sin offering today?” 20 When Moses heard this, he was satisfied.
Lev. 10:16-20.

It is kind of interesting to read about this.  It's like, hey these rituals are frickin' complicated.  And Aaron is not super fond of God or Moses getting all demanding with his boys.  Very weird to encounter in the midst of several chapters of describing animal sacrifices over and over again.

Just for fun, here's something from the internet about what Aaron's outfit would look like.  Seems real enough to me.  The Umim and Thummim are tucked behind that jeweled breast plate.


Lev. 5-7

This passage offers something interesting about the structure of the rules for atonement.  For the most minor of sins, touching something unclear, it appears culpability only attaches "al darse cuenta,/when they become aware."  See, e.g., Lev. 5:1-5.  The slightly greater transgression of unintentionally being unfaithful to the Lord by breaking his commands, require a greater sacrifice and don't seem to have the realization requirement, which seems like a bummer.  Lev. 5:14-19

Unlike the half shekel that all males pay, these sin offerings have a paupers exception allowing the use of birds, or even grain.  Lev. 5:7-13. (Reminds me of, "If you haven't got a penny, a half penny will do; if you haven't got a half penny then God bless you.")

Grain is definitely the lowest form of offering.  This brings me back to:

 Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” 

Leviticus 6 & 7 are details about actually making the guilt offering, the burnt offering, the communion offering, the fellowship offering.   I did not find much to move me in those bits.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Lev. 1-4 (sacrifice, literally)

The split between Exodus and Leviticus, even as acknowledge in the introduction found in my NIV Bible, is pretty arbitrary.  Leviticus essentially keeps rolling with the law that was being given in Exodus.  And this first bit is about sacrifices.  Burnt offerings, grain offerings, fellowship offerings, and several different types of sin offerings.

I'm not going to pretend I get a lot out of this.  As far as the procedure, I will note that phrase, "Pondrá su mano sobre la cabeza de la vĂ­ctima/You are to lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering," is repeated through out the selection.  It reads to my like an interestingly intimate gesture.  Kind of like the difference between a farmer or hunters relationship to an animal and mine.  [Warning: Potential Projection of Modern Sentiment onto Ancient Writing.]

The only other thing is that if a priest sins the sin offering is greater, a bull, than if a member of the community sins, a goat or a lamb.  The only distinction between leaders & members is whether the goat is male (leader) or female, with the option of a lamb (member).  For full listing of what animals you should kill for your sins based on your station see Lev. 4.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Ex. (final chapters)

This is priestly garments for the most part.  My reflection is that it would make a neat Project Runway challenge.  It is also kind of cool that Bezalel gets many shout outs by name in the Scripture. 

Recalling that the book was actually collected centuries after the people described in the book are to have lived, the intense detail is curious.  Descriptions of the rings and blue cords used to connect the ephod to the breastplate so that it would not swing out, Ex. 39:21, seems like maddening detail if the garment never actually existed.  Although, I suppose there is plenty of genre fiction that would strongly rebut that.

I am cautioned by my readings yesterday of the various sources not to project too much attention to it, but the passage listing all of the work done by the Israelites in exact compliance with the orders from God via Moses seems to be making up for the whole Golden Calf thing.

Finally, it looks like God will go with the Israelites on their journey after all, as the book ends thusly.
34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

36 In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; 37 but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. 38 So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.