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Comments on Leviticus, Chapter 1
Comments on Leviticus, Chapters 2 - 4, 8, and 11
Comments on Leviticus, Chapters 12, 13, and 17
Leviticus 18:1-10, 21-30, Incest and abominations.
Leviticus 19:1-4, 11-12, 20:7-10, 23:1-3, 26:1-2, Many commandments, including the Ten.
Leviticus 25:1-22, Rest for the land.
Leviticus 25:23-34, Redemption of property.
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Leviticus, Chapters 18 -20, 23, 26
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Leviticus 18:1-10, 21-30, Incest and abominations. (5/18/2010)
Years ago, we cut out a cartoon to put on the refrigerator; I have the idea that it might have been Frank and Ernest. One prophet was saying to another prophet, "Do you ever have days when everything
seems like an abomination to the Lord?" Certainly the Canaanites had a lot of abominable practices - child sacrifice and assorted sexual perversions top the list - that God wanted the Israelites to have nothing to do with. We see a partial list in this reading.
Furthermore, God forbids a fair number of man/woman sexual and marriage relationships. Such forbidden relationships fall into the general category of "incest taboos." Some form of incest taboo is found in virtually every human society (and in many mammal and bird species, too, so don't go thinkin' that you are special). These taboos range from narrow proscriptions (e.g., father/daughter or brother/sister sexual relationships) to very broad and complicated proscriptions (e.g., marriage between any two persons between whom any sort of genetic or legal relationship can be traced), although the middle ground of "immediate family" (however defined) is probably the most common. Nobody really knows why incest taboos are so universal, although lots of theories have been proposed. Often, but not always, whatever incestuous relationships are defined are also the basis for proscribed marriages.
As a rule of thumb, the incest taboos of Western civilization are those of Leviticus.
Leviticus 19:1-4, 11-12, 20:7-10, 23:1-3, 26:1-2, Many commandments, including the Ten. (5/19/2010)
Leviticus has a lot of rules about the proper way and the appropriate occasions to sacrifice animals for the atonement of sin. It has rules for other kinds of sacrifices and offerings. It has a lot of rules about clean vs. unclean, how to tell the difference, and how to purify a person or thing that has become unclean. It has, as we see below, a lot of the commandments that are summarized in Deuteronomy, including most of the Ten Commandments. But all those rules are is not what Leviticus is really about
. Rather, all those rules are a means to the end of becoming holy
. Leviticus is about holiness.
Leviticus 25:1-22, Rest for the land. (5/20/2010)
You all know that one of the commandments is (roughly) "For six days you will labor and do all your work, and on the seventh day, you will rest." Sabbath is from a word that means cease
, and we all know that this commandment is about the "Sabbath day," on which we rest We saw similar commandments three times yesterday, however, and twice the word used was "Sabbaths." That's because there's actually more than one kind of Sabbath.
There's the Sabbath day that come at the end of every week. Surprise! Sunday is not the Sabbath day. Sunday is the Lord's day. Christians started worshipping (and resting) on the Lord's day instead of the Sabbath day in order to celebrate Easter every week. The Day of Atonement (Lev. 16) is a Sabbath that falls on the same calendar date every year, not on the same day of the week.
Then there is the Sabbath for the land, which comes in the seventh year. You may work your fields for six years, and then you must let them go fallow for one year. It has never been clear to me whether this is field by field, farmer by farmer, or the whole nation at the same time. (The concept itself is perfectly clear to me, though. Where I grew up, the wheat ranchers routinely let half of their fields go fallow every other year; there's not enough rain to produce a crop every year, so they have to let the fields save up water.)
The year of jubilee is a special year in which both you and the land rest, and there is a sort of general debt-amnesty. If you sold your hereditary property, you get it back. If you sold yourself as a slave, you go free.
Even though they are much more cheerful than the earlier chapters, the rules for Sabbaths and jubilee years are a lesser-read part of the lesser-read book of Leviticus. I suspect this is because they are near the end, and we all stop reading around the fifth chapter of instructions for sacrifices.
Leviticus 25:23-34, Redemption of property.
God's take on property rights is that He has them all. The rest of us are renters; however, the terms of our leases vary.
A person who sells hereditary property, which is mostly land, gets it back in the year of jubilee. Property inside a walled city can be bought back for a year after sale, but after that the seller loses all rights. (This must be the origin of title searches.) There are slightly different rules for the houses and fields of Levites, because the tribe of Levi did not get any tribal lands during Joshua's division of the promised land. Instead, they got specific cities scattered throughout the lands of the other tribes.
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