The Sabbath and the rituals of the year (Lev 23:1-23:4)

“Yahweh spoke to Moses.  Speak to the people of Israel and say to them. ‘These are the appointed festivals of Yahweh that you shall proclaim as holy convocations, my appointed festivals.  Six days shall work be done.  But the seventh day is a Sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation.  You shall do no work.  It is a Sabbath to Yahweh throughout your settlements. These are the appointed festivals of Yahweh, the holy convocations, which you shall celebrate at the time appointed for them.’”

Yahweh once again spoke to Moses.  These are the appointed festivals of Yahweh.  First there is the Sabbath, once every week when no work is done.  Then there are the holy convocations on the appointed festivals. 


 

Final exhortation (Lev 22:31-22:33)

“Thus you shall keep my commandments and observe them.  I am Yahweh.  You shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel.  I am Yahweh.  I sanctify you. I brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God.  I am Yahweh.”

Like many other exhortations, this is simple.  Keep my commandments and observe them.  I am Yahweh.  You shall not profane my holy name.  I sanctify you because I brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God.

Sacrificial animals (Lev 22:17-22:30)

“Yahweh spoke to Moses.  Speak to Aaron and his sons and all the people of Israel, and say to them, ‘When anyone of the house of Israel or of the aliens residing in Israel presents an offering, whether in payment of a vow or as a freewill offering that is offered to Yahweh as a burnt offering, to be acceptable on your behalf, it shall be a male without blemish, of the cattle, or the sheep, or the goats. You shall not offer anything that has a blemish, for it will not be acceptable in your behalf.’”

Once again, Yahweh spoke to Moses to tell Aaron, but not directly to Aaron.  The burnt offering sacrificial animal must be a male without blemish, whether bull, sheep, or goat.

“When anyone offers a sacrifice of well-being to Yahweh, in fulfillment of a vow or as a freewill offering, from the herd or from the flock, to be accepted it must be perfect.  There shall be no blemish in it.  Anything blind, injured, maimed, or having a discharge or an itch or scabs, you shall not offer to Yahweh or put any of them on the altar as offering by fire to Yahweh.  An ox or a lamb that has a limb too long or too short you may present for a freewill offering.  But it will not be accepted for a vow.  Any animal which has its testicles bruised, crushed, torn, or cut, you shall not offer to Yahweh.  Such you shall not do within your land.  Nor shall you accept any such animals from a foreigner to offer as food to your God.  Since there are mutilated, with a blemish in them, they shall not be accepted in your behalf.”

Here is the list of unacceptable animals. Those with blemishes, blind, injured, maimed, or with a discharge, itch, or scab cannot be accepted.  An ox or lamb whose legs are too short or too long can be a freewill offering, but not a vow offering.  Any animal with bruised, crushed, torn or cut testicles is not acceptable.

“Yahweh spoke to Moses.  ‘When an ox, a sheep, or a goat is born, it shall remain seven days with its mother.  From the eighth day on, it shall be acceptable as Yahweh’s offering by fire.  But you shall not slaughter, from the herd or the flock, an animal with its young on the same day.   When you sacrifice a thanksgiving offering to Yahweh, you shall sacrifice it so that it may be accepted on your behalf.  It shall be eaten on the same day.  You shall not leave any of it until morning.  I am Yahweh.’”

All animals must be at least eight days old to be acceptable.  However, you cannot slaughter a mother animal with its young on the same day.  You have to eat the animal on the same day and not the next day.

 

Lay people (Lev 22:10-22:16)

“No lay person shall eat of the sacred donations. No bound or hired servant of the priest shall eat of the sacred donation.  But if a priest acquires anyone by purchase, that personal slave may eat of them.  Those that are born in his house may eat of his food.  If a priest’s daughter marries a layman, she shall not eat of the offering of the sacred donations.  But if a priest’s daughter is widowed or divorced, without children, and returns to her father’s house, as in her youth, she may eat of her father’s food.   No lay person shall eat of it.  If a man eats of the sacred donations unintentionally, he shall add one-fifth of its value to it, and give the sacred donation to the priest.  No one shall profane the sacred donations of the people of Israel, which they offer to Yahweh.  This causes them to bear guilt by eating their sacred donations, requiring a guilt offering,.  I am Yahweh.  I sanctify them.”

No lay person shall eat the sacred donations.   A hired servant of the priest cannot eat the sacred donations, but a purchased slave and any person born in his house may eat his food.  However, if the daughter of the priest marries a lay person, she and her husband cannot eat this food.  The exception would be if she is widowed or divorced without children, and returns to her father’s house.  If a man eats the sacred donations unintentionally, he had to add one-fifth of its value to it, and give the sacred donation to the priest.  The 20% rule comes into effect.  They must make a guilt offering since this is the sacred food only for the priests and not any lay person.

The holiness of the sacred priests (Lev 22:1-22:9)

“Yahweh spoke to Moses.  ‘Direct Aaron and his sons to deal carefully with the sacred donations of the people of Israel, which they dedicate to me, so that they may not profane my holy name.  I am Yahweh. Say to them. `If anyone among all your offspring throughout your generations comes near the sacred donations, which the people of Israel dedicate to Yahweh, while he is in a state of uncleanness, that person shall be cut off from my presence.  I am Yahweh.’  No one of Aaron’s offspring, who has a leprous disease or suffers a discharge, may eat of the sacred donations until he is clean. Whoever touches anything made unclean by a corpse or a man who has had an emission of semen, that person who touches any such shall be unclean until the evening.  He shall not eat of the sacred donations unless he has washed his body in water.  Whoever touches any swarming thing, by which he may be made unclean, or any human being by whom he may be made unclean, whatever his uncleanness may be, that person who touches any such shall be unclean until the evening. He shall not eat of the sacred donations unless he has washed his body in water.  When the sun sets he shall be clean.  Afterward he may eat of the sacred donations, for they are his food. That which died or was torn by wild animals he shall not eat, becoming unclean by it.  I am Yahweh.  They shall keep my charge so that they may not incur guilt and die in the sanctuary for having profaned it.  I am Yahweh.  I sanctify them.’”

Once again Yahweh speaks to Moses to tell Aaron, rather than to both of them.  Aaron and his sons are not to profane the holy name of Yahweh, by not dealing carefully with Israel’s sacred donations.  The sacred donations are the burnt offerings and grain offerings to Yahweh.  If anyone comes near the sacred donations, while they are unclean, that person shall be cut off from Yahweh. If any of Aaron’s descendents has a leprous disease, suffers a discharge, touches a corpse, has an emission of semen, or touches a swarming thing, they are unclean until the evening, the mild punishment. They cannot eat the sacred donations until they are clean. They only have to wash their body and wait until evening. Of course, they cannot eat anything that died or was torn by wild animals because that is unclean.  Yahweh alone sanctifies them.

Infirmity as an impediment for the priests (Lev 21:16-21:24)

“Yahweh spoke to Moses.  Speak to Aaron and say, ‘No one of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the food of his God.  No one who has a blemish shall draw near.  One who is blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long,  or a man who has a broken foot or a broken hand, or a hunchback, or a dwarf, or a man with a blemish in his eyes, or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles shall draw near. No descendant of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer Yahweh’s offerings by fire.  Since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the food of his God.  He may eat the food of his God, of the most holy and of the holy.  But he shall not come near the curtain or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuary.  I am Yahweh.  I sanctify them.’  Thus Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons and to all the people of Israel.”

No one who has a blemish may approach to offer the food of his God.  The priest had to be perfect, like the 20th century astronauts.  Physical abnormalities were a big deal.  The blemishes include the following:

1)      being blind;

2)      lame;

3)      mutilated face;

4)      a limb too long;

5)      broken foot or hand;

6)      hunchback;

7)      dwarf;

8)      blemish on the eyes;

9)      itching disease;

10)  scabs;

11)  crushed testicles.

These physically challenged priests could not make an offering near the curtain or at the altar because that would be profanation of the sanctuary.  However, they could eat the holy food.    There was to be no offering actions for the Levite priests with disabilities.           

The high priest (Lev 21:10-21:15)

“The priest who is exalted above his followers, on whose head the anointing oil has been poured.  He has been consecrated to wear the vestments so he shall not dishevel his hair, nor tear his vestments.  He shall not go where there is a dead body.  He shall not defile himself even for his father or mother.  He shall not go outside the sanctuary and profane the sanctuary of his God.  The consecration of the anointing oil of his God is upon him.   I am Yahweh.  He shall marry only a woman who is a virgin.   A widow, or a divorced woman, or a woman who has been defiled, or a prostitute, these he shall not marry.  He shall marry a virgin of his own kin, so that he may not profane his children among his kin.  I am Yahweh.  I sanctify him.”

This is the priest who is exalted above his followers, the high priest.  He has been anointed and consecrated to wear the holy vestments.  He takes the place of Aaron.  Thus he has special restrictions so that he does not profane himself:

1)      No disheveled hair;

2)      No torn vestments;

3)      Not go where there is a dead body, not even his mother or father;

4)      Not go outside the sanctuary;

5)      Marry a woman who is a virgin of his own kin, a Levite;

6)      Not marry a widow, a divorcee, defiled woman, or a prostitute.

Holiness of the priests (Lev 21:1-21:9)

 “Yahweh said to Moses. ‘Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them that no one of them shall defile himself for a dead person among his relatives, except for his nearest kin, that is his mother, father, son, daughter, and brother.  Likewise this goes for a virgin sister, close to him because she has had no husband.  He may defile himself for her.  But he shall not defile himself as a husband among his people and so profane himself. They shall not make bald spots upon their heads, or shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any gashes in their flesh.  They shall be holy to their God, and not profane the name of their God.  For they offer Yahweh’s offerings by fire, the food of their God.  Therefore they shall be holy.  They shall not marry a prostitute or a woman who has been defiled.  Neither shall they marry a woman divorced from her husband.  They are holy to their God.  You shall treat them as holy, since they offer the food of your God. They shall be holy to you.  I Yahweh, who sanctify you, am holy.  When the daughter of a priest profanes herself through prostitution, she profanes her father.  She shall be burned to death.’”

If Yahweh and the people are holy, obviously the priests are holy.  This time, God tells Moses to speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, as if Aaron is not around.  In fact, at this point there are two alive.  Obviously this refers to the future.  As the dead body was impure, priests should not defile themselves, except for their nearest kin, father, mother, son, daughter, and brother. There was a big difference between a virgin sister and a married sister.  They were not to defile themselves for their wife.  On top of that, they shall not make bald spots upon their heads, shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any gashes in their flesh. Somehow these things were not considered holy.  They are to be holy like their God.   They have to marry clean unspoiled virgins to remain holy.  They cannot marry:

1) a prostitute;

2) a defiled woman;

3) a divorced woman.

If the daughter of a priest gets involved in prostitution, she should be burned to death.  This is a very severe punishment.

Holiness of Yahweh (Lev 20:26-20:27)

“You shall be holy to me.  I Yahweh am holy.  I have separated you from the other peoples to be mine.  A man or a woman who is a medium or a wizard shall be put to death.  They shall be stoned to death.  Their blood is upon them.”

In case there is any doubt, you are holy because Yahweh is holy.  He has separated you from the other peoples to be his.  Any other medium or wizard shall be stoned to death.  The Israelites are the chosen ones and must remain separate and holy with no one other deity except Yahweh.  Any deviation by any kind of magicians shall not be tolerated.

Clean and unclean (Lev 20:22-20:25)

“You shall keep all my statutes and all my ordinances.  Observe them, so that the land to which I bring you to settle in may not vomit you out.   You shall not follow the practices of the nation that I am driving out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them.  But I have said to you. You shall inherit their land.  I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey.  I am Yahweh, your God.  I have separated you from the peoples. You shall therefore make a distinction between the clean animal and the unclean, and between the unclean bird and the clean.  You shall not bring abomination on yourselves by animal, bird, or anything with which the ground teems, which I have set apart for you to hold unclean.”

Yahweh says that you should follow all his statutes and ordinances, and not the practices of the nation that he is driving you to.   If you do not do as Yahweh asks, this land may vomit you out. This is a stark classical metaphor. Yahweh is leading them to the other classical metaphor, the land flowing with milk and honey.  Because he is Yahweh, your God he has separated you from the other peoples.  Therefore you will make a distinction between the clean and the unclean animals, birds, and other things.