This will be a shorter entry, because Leviticus is boring as toast and nothing happens in it. The whole book is just, here’s all about burnt offerings, and also, don’t eat any fat or blood. 

As we begin, Moses again dresses up Aaron and his sons, according to God’s specifications: 

And Moses brought Aaron’s sons, and put coats upon them, and girded them with girdles, and put bonnets upon them; as the LORD commanded Moses.

My, how male fashions have changed. 

Then, there’s a big sacrifice that goes on for nine chapters and it all ends in a spectacular fiery pageant, and then as a footnote at the end, two of Aaron’s sons get into the spirit of the thing and they decide to improvise a bit: 

And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.

Died in their bonnets! The moral here is, DO NOT upstage the LORD. 

Then, Moses gets mad at the remaining two sons of Aaron for burning the leftover goat instead of eating it in the holy place, but Aaron tells him to chill out. It’s kind of unclear what Aaron says here, but it seems like he says that, given that they’d just seen their brothers burned alive in front of them and been expressly forbidden from mourning them by the LORD, it was understandable that they missed a few steps in the rest of the elaborately choreographed ceremony. After all, it was their first time doing it, and it had not exactly gone smoothly. 

Then Moses and God go through the list of all the animals and parts of animals that the children of Israel are allowed to eat, again, and this takes some time. Here’s a partial list of birds that no one is supposed to eat: the eagle, the ossifrage, the ospray, the vulture, the kite, the raven, the owl, the night hawk, the cuckow, the hawk, the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, the swan, the pelican, the pier eagle, the stork, the heron, the lapwing, the bat, any bird that has four legs. Then, there’s a long section on proper sanitation in food prep, hygiene, and a long discourse on diagnosis and treatments for various ailments (the treatments mostly consisted of isolating the patient until they died or got better). 

Some interesting notes: women are unclean for seven days after having a boy baby, but for two weeks after having a girl baby. Also, women’s periods are referred to as their “flowers” which is very pretty, except even GOD was apparently like, “ew, periods.” Riding the red wave was a big no-no. 

There’s quite a lot about how to distinguish whether people have acne and freckles or leprosy, and how you can tell the difference between male pattern baldness and leprosy: 

And the man whose hair is fallen off his head, he is bald; yet is he clean. And he that hath his hair fallen off from the part of his head toward his face, he is forehead bald; yet his is clean. And if there be in the bald head, or bald forehead, a white reddish sore; it is a leprosy sprung up from his bald head, or his bald forehead. 

At which point, the priest would look at it, declare the man unclean, and have him rend his garments, call “Unclean, unclean!” before him wherever he goes, and be exiled to live outside the camp. Which is all to say, if you were a balding man, you’d best pray to the LORD that you didn’t get an ingrown hair, or you might do well to just keep your bonnet on. Although, you could also apparently heal leprosy by doing a long, involved ritual involving sacrificing some birds and a lamb and doing a bunch of stuff with water and oil and blood and so on, so I’m not sure why it was all such a big issue. 

Just when it seems like we’re going to move on from leprosy, the LORD then starts talking about once they have come to the land of milk-and-honey and have houses and so forth, how to handle leprosy when it infects a house. Surely no one will remember! All these people will be long dead by then, so you’d think the LORD could wait and tell them this stuff when it actually applies.  

Then, there’s a lot more on sacrifices and burnt offerings. Again, don’t eat blood, God really means this. Do not have sex with your close family members or their spouses. Don’t have sex with women when they have their flowers. Don’t jerk off into a fire.  

And then we get this: 

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. 

This comes in the midst of a long list of regulations about sexual behavior. Up until this point in the Bible, almost anything has gone, but now that the Earth is fully populated, God wants everyone to get themselves in hand. Here, he tells them all to stop fucking their kids and their grandkids and their parents and their aunts and uncles and their in-laws and their neighbors and menstruating women and other men and cattle, and stop trying to get a rise out of your wife by sleeping with her sister in front of her, and also stop jerking off all over the place. What’s done is done, but we’ve since salted the Earth about it, and moved on, and in the NEW PLACE, every man is to have vanilla sex with his wife and his concubines, and that is IT. Fresh start. Refocus on the approved vaginas. 

Then, we go back through all the usual good-practice morals that were already listed several times in Exodus

And then, we get into a passage about the proper obtaining and selling of slaves, which includes this: 

And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free.

So there you go: feel free to rape all the female slaves you want and then beat them up, too! Go nuts, you holy men. 

Also, of note: 

Ye shall not round the corners of your heads.

Per Google, this means don’t shave your head in the pattern that pagans of the time were doing. And it’s the reason some Orthodox Jewish men have payot. I read up on this and some other stuff, and for the regulations that do not seem easily explainable by health and safety standards of the time, most of this was about distinguishing the Israelites from the pagans surrounding them who all shaved their heads in cool patterns and jerked off into campfires to please Moloch, and at this point, I would much rather read a 5,000 page ancient text about the pagans. 

Next, the LORD begins to list the various punishments for all these crimes and sins. If you curse your father or mother, you should be put to death. You will also be put to death for adultery, certain types of incest, sodomy, beastiality, being a witch or wizard, blaspheming the lord, and murder. However, should you practice paganism or witchcraft, or commit certain other types of incest, or have period sex, you will only be exiled or afflicted with barrenness. The punishment for killing animals or injuring someone is eye-for-and-eye retribution. Do not marry sex workers or divorced women. Priests may only marry virgins, and if the daughter of a priest charges for sex, she should be burnt to death. No disabled or ugly sons of priests may stay in the priesthood — God does NOT want a man with a flat nose approaching his altar. 

Then, we get into the proper celebration of feasts, holidays, and sabbaths. The Israelites are to observe a sort of economy based on 50-year-cycles of borrowing capped by a jubilee festival of repayment. The LORD establishes their agricultural practices, including that they are not to sew for a year out of every seven. We get into property transactions, renting, debt management, common property, and who you may enslave (heathens and the children of visiting guests), and how, and how to treat them. 

There’s a brief digression (thank God) in which the son of an Israelite and an Egyptian woman gets into a fight with a man in the camp (?) and blasphemes and curses. They stone him. Then it’s right back to the rulebook! 

God ends all this by saying that if the people do not keep his statutes, he will absolutely destroy them in every possible way. He’ll plague them with “terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.” And he’ll have their enemies rule over them and torment them and punish them seven times over, and have wild beasts devour their children, and starve them until they eat their own children, and raze their cities and land to the ground. This goes on for PAGES. At one point, the LORD is like, if you don’t keep the Sabbath, I’ll murder all of you and burn your villages to the ground, and then the land will enjoy its Sabbath in your absence! But at the same time, for all that, he says he will remember the covenant he made with their ancestors, and for the few who survive his wrath, he will not turn away from them as they starve in slavery to their enemies. It’s unclear what this means, or what good it is. 

Then he explains what different ages of men and women are worth in cold, hard cash, which I find interesting: 

Men 20-60: 50 shekels
Women 20-60: 30 shekels
Men 5-20: 20 shekels
Men 60-death: 15 shekels
Women 5-20; 60-death: 10 shekels
Men birth-5: 5 shekels
Women birth-5: 3 shekels

Imagine what God would have said if he could have foreseen the earning potential of this 38-year-old woman right here! Eat your “all-seeing” eyes out, God

But if anyone thinks a person is not worth their list price, you can appeal to the priest, and he can reappraise them. The priests also appraise animals, land, property, and so on. If you were so unfortunate as to be trapped in the Israelites’ eternal desert orientation session, you definitely wanted to be a priest, even if you did have to go around in a girdle and bonnet. 

And then Leviticus abruptly ends, and not a moment too soon, in my opinion. 

I’m hoping Numbers will have a little more action, but given how accurate the book titles have been so far, I’m not holding my breath.

1 Comment

  1. Jim Roche says:

    I have always wondered, “Who reads Leviticus”, so now I know!

    Liked by 1 person

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