Bad Book Reviews: Leviticus
Leviticus really writes it’s own bad review.
I write this to save you the time. And let’s be honest. I could write anything here about Leviticus and no one would know any better because no one reads it. No one reads it, that is, until they need ammunition to fire at someone sinning differently than themselves.
Leviticus reads like an employee handbook… because it’s an employee handbook. For priests. So unless you’re a 12th century BCE newly liberated Hebrew priest, you’d have no reason to read it, except for the fact that someone thought it should be in a tiny book in a 21st century hotel bedside table and the guilt trip your pastor put on you to read it. My guess is you haven’t even read the employee handbook for the job you’re currently avoiding to read blogs on Facebook.
HR nerds, enjoy.
Leviticus opens describing five reasons to burn food, other than because you’re my wife. The Grain and Fellowship Offerings were ways to express gratitude to the divine. The Burnt, Sin, and Guilt Offerings were ways to express penitence. If you like blood you’ll love this section. Don’t worry, y’all who love other bodily fluids. You’re time’s coming.
Next the author turns to the ordination of priests, which involves giving them a public bath and a company uniform: new white linens, an ephod, urim and thumim, an infinity gauntlet and a new turban, then showering them with buckets of blood like something out of Twilight.
Of course Leviticus wouldn’t have made the cut into the Torah if someone didn’t get smote for committing a seemly arbitrary and indistinct sin. Enter Aaron’s sons. Their sin? Offering “unauthorized fire” before the Lord, which in turn consumed them like a Nazi in an Indiana Jones film.
New guy take note.
This brings us to the middle third of Leviticus that we all know and love: regulations concerning skin disease, mold, bodily discharges, and what to do if you experience any of them. Most of the cleansing rituals include a bath, more blood and all of your mom’s friends talking about you at the salon. It also describes what you can eat, who you can eat with and roughly two whole chapters dedicated to who you can have sexual relations with.
This section also describes a ceremony involving two goats and a coin toss. The goat who flips tails is sacrificed. Heads gets the sins of all Israel prayed into their spiritual report card and sent to bed with no dessert. Literally Israel’s scapegoat.
Between all the Thou Shalt Nots there’s a notable Thou Shalt that some guy who pops up way later in the Bible said was the second most important half sentence in the Torah… but love your neighbor as yourself. It shines like an ephod in a smoke pit.
Like all good employee handbooks, Leviticus ends with mandatory paid time off for all laborers. First is the weekly day of rest, the Sabbath. It’s followed by seven paid holidays scattered around the agricultural cycle. All of them involve lots of barbecue and no FDA officials. It totals something like ten weeks paid vacation for everyone. Liberals all want something for free.
Don’t forget to sign your timesheet.