Sunday, February 14, 2010


Leviticus 15-18

Leviticus 15 deals with "bodily discharges" and uncleanness. The specifics of the discharges are left to the imagination, but the discussion tends to deal with things that men and women sit or lie on. In general, the requirements involve cleaning or destroying the things that the afflicted sit or lie on, followed by a period of days which ends with a ritual sacrifice.

In chapter 16, the LORD describes the actions to be taken by Aaron, and the priests, when entering the Holy of Holys behind the curtain in the tabernacle. And a process of purification and sacrifices to be performed once a year as a Day of Atonement. Among the things to be done is the sacrifice of one goat, and the loading of sins upon another, a scapegoat, to be led into the desert and left there. And the LORD said that "this is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites." Chapter 17 deals with more aspects of the ritual sacrifice, and includes, again, the injunction not to eat blood, "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."

Chapter 18 expounds on the 7th commandment, "thou shall not commit adultery." It deals with all sorts of sexual immorality, from incest to homosexuality to bestiality. It also explicitly commands them not to "give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech." The LORD said, "you must not do any of these detestable things, for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you."

Thoughts, questions, issues

  • As already noted, the particulars of the bodily discharges are not specified, and I feel no need to speculate. I will say this, as someone who covered 700 miles on a bicycle one week, that it's easy to imagine that, in the conditions in which they lived, and with the sanitary facilities they enjoyed, open wounds were not all that uncommon.
  • Another thing that's worth noting about chapter 15 is that the advice/recommendations/laws are all practical. OK, mostly practical. The requirement to break a clay pot that a man touches, the requirement of the sacrifices and sin offerings are a little less so.
  • Blood. "For the life of a creature is in the blood." Blood is the overwhelming impression that this book is leaving on me.
  • Chapter 18 contains a fairly extensive list of sexual sins, but there aren't actually any behavioral restrictions, only partner restrictions. That is to say, there aren't any specific acts forbidden other than by implication, by forbidding some possible sexual partners.

Psalms 13

The psalmist is struggling with the silence that sometimes answers prayer. "How long O Lord? ... Look on me and answer!" We want answers, and we want them immediately. And we want them to come clearly, without requiring work or interpretation. "Will you hide from me forever?"

But, in the end, he "trusts in [God's] unfailing love," and "will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me."

Psalm 13
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?

2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;

4 my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.

6 I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me.

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