Friday, February 12, 2010


Leviticus 12-14

Chapter 12 deals with purification after childbirth. The process of giving birth leaves a woman "ceremonially unclean" for seven days after giving birth to a boy and two weeks after giving birth to a girl. There is an offering specified at the end of "the days of her purification."

Chapters 13 and 14 deal extensively with leprosy and other infectious skin diseases. The symptoms are described, and the people facing them need to see a priest, who will examine and quarantine the sufferer. Eventually, some will be cleansed, and others will be essentially outcast, forced to wear their hair and clothes in such a way as to make it obvious to all that they are afflicted. In addition to skin diseases, these chapters also deal with spreading mildew, on cloth and in houses.

Thoughts, questions, issues

  • Blood, blood, blood. It is fascinating that, with as much blood as the priests were dripping and draining and sprinkling about, the natural blood flow associated with birth actually would make a woman be considered "unclean."
  • Obviously, medicine was different back then. And certainly, having a set of procedures to deal with infectious disease is vitally important to a small group of people. But it just reads strangely to have the specificity on skin color and depth of discoloration and color of hair growing out of a discolored patch actually come as laws handed down by God. This is the kind of thing that some of us have trouble accepting as coming directly from God. When the priests are the conduit, and they can benefit from saying that something came from God, well, "God says do this" carries a lot more authority than "I say do this."

Psalms 12

The psalmist here is again issuing a call for justice. This is clearly a psalm sung or prayed at a time when the world seems particularly wicked, when the psalmist sees the righteous suffering and the wicked prospering. Many modern Christians tremble at the idea of divine justice, recognizing, as we do, how deep our sins are. But the psalmists are often looking for, pleading for justice. This is a plea to the LORD to take control of the world, to protect the righteous and punish the wicked. "May the LORD cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue..." And it sounds as if it were inspired by some particular person or persons.

Psalm 12
For the director of music. According to sheminith . A psalm of David.
1 Help, LORD, for the godly are no more;
the faithful have vanished from among men.

2 Everyone lies to his neighbor;
their flattering lips speak with deception.

3 May the LORD cut off all flattering lips
and every boastful tongue

4 that says, "We will triumph with our tongues;
we own our lips — who is our master?"

5 "Because of the oppression of the weak
and the groaning of the needy,
I will now arise," says the LORD.
"I will protect them from those who malign them."

6 And the words of the LORD are flawless,
like silver refined in a furnace of clay,
purified seven times.

7 O LORD, you will keep us safe
and protect us from such people forever.

8 The wicked freely strut about
when what is vile is honored among men.

No comments:

Post a Comment