Jesus Christ, Leviticus is boring! It’s one long list of rules and regulations with an occasional threat thrown in for good measure. I miss the rock’em sock’em good times of the first two books. Really detailed instructions on sacrificing sheep, fowls, etc. Salt makes an appearance in 2:13, we’re veering into recipe territory and it seems god has quite the appetite. The cooking show get sizzling with 6:21 “in a pan it shall be made with oil; and when it is baken, thou shalt bring it in”. But before you get too cozy with eating, chapter 11 tells you what NOT to eat (including camel, coney, hare, swine, things without fins and scales in the water, eagle, ossifrage, ospray, vulture, kite, raven, owl, hawk, cuckow, owl, swan, pelican, stork, heron, lapwing, bat). But feel free to eat locusts, beetles, and grasshoppers.
There’s some real voodoo shit, and specific details about dealing with leprosy and gonorrhea. Oops, we are sorry to inform you that incest is now not permitted (18:6), sorry for those thousands of years of confusion before this. While we’re at it, let’s go ahead and outlaw homosexuality as well (our bad—it just got too popular! 18:22).
Things get real with 19:29: “Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.” And since we like making specific regulations about women, there’s a proclamation that the daughters of priests who commit adultery “shall be burnt with fire” (daughters of regular folk were just strangled, not burned). Know any flat-nosed rabbis? I don’t think you do, according to 21:18.
There are a lot of numbers in this book, but not a lot of action. Numbers, numbers, numbers, and more of those tediously specific instructions you’ve got to follow exactly or suffer the wrath of god. There’s some really graphic torture that god inflicts, like 5:21’s causing thighs to rot and bellies to swell. The patriarchy is in full force here, with women bearing the brunt of all punishment (5:31 – men are guiltless, women shall bear her iniquity).
Yadda yadda yadda about sacrificing, gold spoons, but again don’t complain because that throws god into a tizzy and he burns people up who complain (11:1). Nice reminiscing about all the good food they used to have in Egypt: cucumbers, fish, melons, leeks, onions, garlic. But cry about it? I’ll give you something to cry about, god says, giving you enough meat to “come out at your nostrils” (11:20).
More patriarchal rot in chapter 12 where both Miriam and Aaron are talking shit about Moses for marrying an Ethiopian woman but only Miriam is punished by being turned into a leper and cast out of the community.
More bitching and moaning from the people so god starts killing people again. 21:6-“And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.” Do not mess with pissy- mood god.
More graphic violence: a grandson of Aaron takes a javelin and thrusts it through a man and a woman, through her belly, in order to keep a plague from killing people. Patriarchal bullshit continues in chapter 30 where women’s choices get overridden by their fathers or husbands.
The height of tedium is reached in chapter 33 which reads like directions printed out from MapQuest: “And they departed from Kibrothhattaavah, and encamped at Hazeroth. And they departed from Hazeroth, and pitched in Rithmah. And they departed from Rithmah, and pitched at Rimmonparez.” The whole chapter lulls you to sleep with this singsong list of arrivals and departures.
Is Moses dead yet? Ugh, no. One more book to go.
Hooray! Moses finally dies at the end of this book. But first, lots of reminiscing about god’s greatest hits, some rehashing of the commandments, and god generally acts like an abuser, reminding people that he’s jealous and then pretending he’s merciful.
There’s a lot of weird emphasis here on creating refuge cities in case anyone accidentally kills someone, they can escape to these cities for safety. Also weird to specifically describe that if you accidentally hit your neighbor with an axe, it’s ok to flee to a refuge city.
I guess the vengeful god is more interesting than the nice one. God threatens to send hornets to kill people if they disobey. Not chill.
Also in here is the concept of releasing people from debt every 7 years and helping the poor.
A bunch of bullshit about the patriarchy, like if you want to take a wife from people you capture, go for it, and if you later find you “have no delight in her,” you can let her go but you can’t sell her. Bummer. There’s specific instructions that women can’t wear men’s garments and vice versa. If you take a wife and “go in unto her, and hate her” then pretend she wasn’t a virgin, her parents have to provide “tokens” of their daughter’s virginity and if they can’t provide them, the daughter gets stoned to death.
The whole end of chapter 22 is nuts. If a married woman is raped in the city then they both get stoned to death, but if she’s raped in a field then only the man dies because there was no one to save her. Oh, and if the raped woman wasn’t married then she has to marry her rapist (22:29).
The rules start to get bizarre and arbitrary, like not plowing with both an ox and an ass together, and not wearing clothes that mix wool and linen. If your balls are crushed or your penis cut off you can’t worship god?
Ladies have to marry their dead husband’s brothers. If you try to help your husband in a fight by grabbing the genitals of his assailant, you get your hand cut off!
Chapter 28 is classic—10 verses about how god’ll be nice if you follow the rules, and then 40+ verses on the curses and damnation he’ll bring if you don’t obey. Pestilence, fever, inflammation, burning, sword, blasting, mildew, drought, eaten by vultures, boils, scabs & itches that can’t be healed, madness, blindness, poverty. God will make another man sleep with your wife if you don’t obey. Kill your animals, give away your children, “smite thee in the knees and in the legs, with a sore botch that cannot be healed, from the sole of thy foot unto the top of thy head.” He’ll bring locusts and worms to eat your crops.
God is apparently a lawyer because 28:61 is the kind of cover-your-ass clause you’d find buried in a website’s terms and conditions: “Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the lord bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed.”