Religious hypocrites (Isa 1:13-1:16)

“I cannot endure

Solemn assemblies

With iniquity.

I cannot endure

New moon convocations.

I cannot endure

Sabbath convocations.

My soul hates

Your new moon celebrations.

My soul hates

Your appointed festivals.

They have become a burden to me.

I am weary of bearing them.

When you spread forth your hands,

I will hide my eyes from you.

Even though you make many prayers,

I will not listen.

Your hands are full of blood.

Wash yourselves!

Make yourselves clean!

Remove the evil

Of your doings

From before my eyes.

Cease to do evil!”

Yahweh via Isaiah continues to reject all convocations and assemblies for the new moon and the various festivals, even for the Sabbath because of their iniquity. What a striking turn of events! The kings and priests loved these assemblies for fulfilling the law in the Torah. Isaiah and Yahweh seem to be calling out the hypocrisy of these worship assemblies where evil iniquitous people gathered for these festivals. Yahweh could not endure them any longer. His soul hated them. He was weary of their burden on him.   He was going to hide his eyes and not listen to their prayers. Then in surprisingly priestly language he talks about the unclean bloody hands that need to be washed. Somehow the idea of clean and unclean was acceptable. However, these worshippers had to change their evil habits. They had to cease to do evil. Maybe, this rebuke against offerings and festivals was not absolute.

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.

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.

Conclusion (Lev 15:31-15:33)

“Thus you shall keep the people of Israel separate from their uncleanness, so that they do not die in their uncleanness by defiling my tabernacle that is in their midst.  This is the ritual for those who have a discharge: for him who has an emission of semen, becoming unclean thereby; for her who is in the infirmity of her period; for any one, male or female, who has a discharge; and for the man who lies with a woman who is unclean.”

The children of Israel need to be separate from their uncleanness, so that they do not defile the tabernacle.  If they defiled the tabernacle, they would die.

This is the ritual for discharges:

1)      An emission of semen;

2)      The infirmity of the menstrual period;

3)      Those who have a discharge, male or female;

4)      Men who lie with a woman who is unclean.

There is a negative attitude towards the male semen emission and the female period as though anything connected with sex was unclean.  A lot of this had to do with the attitude that flowing blood was unclean.  However, there are not serious consequences.  The real problem was death occurred to you if you appeared in an unclean state by the tabernacle.  The leper and the house were in worse shape.

 

Male sexual impurity (Lev 15:1-15:18)

 “Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron.  ‘Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, when any man has a discharge from his member, his discharge makes him ceremonially unclean.  The uncleanness of his discharge is this.  Whether his member flows with his discharge, or his member is stopped from discharging, it is uncleanness for him.   Every bed on which the one with the discharge lies shall be unclean.  Everything on which he sits shall be unclean.  Anyone who touches his bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until the evening.  All who sit on anything on which the one with the discharge has sat shall wash their clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until the evening.  All who touch the body of the one with the discharge shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until the evening.  If the one with the discharge spits on persons who are clean, then they shall wash their clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until the evening.  Any saddle on which the one with the discharge rides shall be unclean.  All who touch anything that was under him shall be unclean until the evening.  All who carry such a thing shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until the evening.   All those whom the one with the discharge touches without having rinsed his hands in water shall wash their clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until the evening.  Any earthen vessel that the one with the discharge touches shall be broken.  Every vessel of wood shall be rinsed in water.”

Once again Yahweh spoke to both Moses and Aaron.  However, it was intended for the people of Israel.  When a man has a discharge or flowing excretion from his body, he is unclean.  Therefore any bed on which he lies and everything he sits on shall be unclean.  Anyone who touches his bed or sits where he sat shall be unclean until evening and they need to wash.  Anyone who touches him, his saddle, or any seat he was on, or was spit upon by him shall be unclean until the evening.  Then they need to wash.  Earthen vessels need to be destroyed if touched by him.  However, wood products only need to be washed, not destroyed.

 “When the one with a discharge is cleansed of his discharge, he shall count seven days for his cleansing.  He shall wash his clothes.  He shall bathe his body in fresh water and he shall be clean.  On the eighth day, he shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons and come before Yahweh at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and give them to the priest.  The priest shall offer them, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering.  The priest shall make atonement on his behalf before Yahweh for his discharge.”

When the discharge has cleared up, he must wait 7 days, wash his clothes and bathe in order to be clean.  He never was a leper.  On the 8th day, he has to bring 2 turtledoves and 2 pigeons to the priest at the entrance to the tent so that there can be a sin offering and a burnt offering.  Thus the priest makes atonement for his discharge before Yahweh.

“If a man has an emission of semen, he shall bathe his whole body in water and be unclean until the evening.  Everything made of cloth or skin on which the semen falls shall be washed with water.  He will be unclean until the evening.  If a man lies with a woman and has an emission of semen, both of them shall bathe in water, and be unclean until the evening.”

If a man has an emission of semen, he has to bathe and be unclean until the evening.  Anything the semen falls on is unclean until evening.  He needs to be washed with water.  The same is true if the semen falls on a woman.  Both of them shall bathe in water, and be unclean until the evening.  This seems like a minor penalty, wash and be clean in the evening.  However, it still shows a slightly negative attitude towards sexual activity of any kind.

Statutes about lepers (Lev 13:45-13:46)

“The person who has the leprous’ disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head be disheveled.   He shall cover his upper lip and cry out ‘Unclean, unclean.’  He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease.  He is unclean.  He shall live alone.  His dwelling shall be outside the camp.”

Here is the main problem.  As a person with a leprous disease, you are a leper.   Certainly all kinds of skin diseases are included in this, particularly what we would call skin cancer.  Therefore, there are consequences to being unclean.  First, you have to wear torn clothes and let your hair be disheveled.   I can understand not taking care of your hair, but why the torn clothes?  Next, you had to cover your upper lip and cry out ‘Unclean, unclean.’  You had to self disclose that you were unclean.  Finally, you had to live alone.  You had to live outside the camp in a mini leper camp.  To get sick was to be an outcast, much of what we do with mentally ill people today.  You were not ritually pure.  However, it was not permanent if the disease went away, you could be purified.  Thus, even until the twentieth century, there were leper colonies, particularly in Hawaii on the island of Molokai. The idea of quarantine for people with polio and other infectious diseases is still common today.

Rashes and baldness (Lev 13:38-13:44)

“When a man or a woman has spots on the skin of the body, white spots, the priest shall make an examination.  If the spots on the skin of the body are of a dull white, it is a rash that has broken out in the skin.  He is clean.  If anyone loses the hair from his head, he is bald but he is clean.  If he loses the hair from his forehead and temples, he has baldness of the forehead but he is clean.  But if there is on the bald head or the bald forehead a reddish-white diseased spot, it is a leprous disease breaking out on his bald head or his bald forehead.  Then the priest shall examine him.  If the diseased swelling is reddish-white on his bald head or on his bald forehead, which resembles a leprous disease in the skin of the body, he is a leprous.  He is unclean.  The priest shall pronounce him unclean.  The disease is on his head.”

If a man or woman has dull white spots on their skin, it is a rash that is clean. The same is true of baldness on the forehead and temples.  Being bald does not make you unclean.  An ordinary rash and baldness are not a problem.  However, if there is a reddish-white swelling on the bald head, it is leprous and unclean.  The priest, who is the medical person, shall make the decision about clean and unclean.