Chapter 28- Very detailed instructions for the garment that Aaron will wear as priest in the tabernacle. Brief instructions on what Aaron’s sons will wear as the other priests.
Aaron’s outfit was extravagant! Fine woven fabrics with embroidered pomegranates, breastplates, gold cords, gemstones, etc.
Verses 17-20, “And you shall put settings of stones in it, four rows of stones: The first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and an emerald; this shall be the first row; the second row shall be a turquoise, a sapphire, and a diamond; the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; and the forth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They shall be set in gold settings.”
My first thought was, “How in the world do fleeing slaves, who are wandering in the desert, have all these precious gemstones?” But, then I remembered that the Hebrews plundered the Egyptians before they left, so…
Also, “beryl” is a vague term. Aquamarines and emeralds are both types of beryl, along with a few other colorations that aren’t as widely known. I wonder if it mattered what color beryl they used?
Verse 30 makes reference to the Urim and the Thummim, with which I am familiar because of my interest in the Mormon religion. In Mormon tradition, those are the “seer stones” Joseph Smith used to interpret the Book of Mormon from the gold plates God provided him. For curiosity’s sake, I Google’d them, and the Wikipedia article is rather interesting. It is thought that Aaron, or other priests, used the Urim and Thummim to determine guilt or innocence of a convicted person, to settle disputes, cast lots, and other such divination. Those sound like quite pagan things for priests of the early Abrahamic religions to be doing.
Also interesting here are verses 35 and 43 which state that the priest must wear these garments that God is describing so that “they do no incur iniquity and die” when they approach the holy place of the tabernacle. Apparently God can’t recognize His people unless they are decked out in the finest of stolen Egyptian goods.
Chapter 29- Instructions for making offerings to consecrate new priests.
Verse 2 says that unleavened bread used as offering should be made of wheat flour. But, where are they going to get wheat, I wonder? They’re traveling in the desert, and God is only providing them manna as grain. Did they bring large stores of wheat with them when the left Egypt?
Verse 20 says that some of the blood from a bull used as a burnt offering should be put on Aaron and his sons’s right ears, thumbs and toes. I don’t really understand the emphasis on blood and sacrifice in the bible, but I’m just plain grossed out by this growing trend of spreading it onto people (It happened in chapter 24 as well.)
I just learned that “wave offerings” and “heave offerings” are a thing, where you slaughter an animal and wave their body parts around, or thrust them into the air instead of burning them as a burnt offering. It seems that the point of wave/heave offerings is to make food holy before the priests eat it. Makes sense, I guess- as much sense as these rituals can make to a vegetarian atheist.
The process of consecrating a new priest takes 7 days and “you shall offer a bull every day as an offering for atonement” (vs 36) as well as “two lambs of the first year, day by day continually. One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight.” (vs 38-39) That seams hugely wasteful. 7 bulls and 14 sheep, along with some bread products as well, just to make a priest holy? Where are they getting all these animals? They must have maintained gigantic flocks to support the massive amount of offerings God requested of them– We haven’t quite gotten there yet, but many more requirements for offerings are forthcoming, especially once we get to Leviticus.
There are starving people in the world, but God seems more concerned with using animals in rituals instead of trying to help the needy. Of course, verse 45 says “I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God” so, I guess he wasn’t concerned with all the starving people in the world. He was giving his people quail and manna to eat, so they were free to waste myriads of animals. Forget those needy non-Hebrews!