Just fyi, I’ll be using the New International Version today instead of the NKJV like I normally do. I’m not at home, so I’m making use of a borrowed bible. Not sure what, if any, difference it will make.
Chapter 11- Dietary laws about clean and unclean animals.
Animals with split hooves that also chew the cud, creatures in the water that have fins and scales, and insects with wings and jointed legs for hopping are clean. Everything else: unclean. Well, maybe not everything… there is a very specific list of unclean birds, so I suppose some birds are clean too.
This stuff seems pretty arbitrary.
In the list of birds that are unclean: bats. Seriously you guys, it’s in verse 19. We’re supposed to believe that God is all knowing, but he can’t tell that bats aren’t birds.
If a clean or unclean animal dies and you touch it, you’re now unclean too. If a dead animal falls into you cooking pot, break it! It’s unclean now! “If a carcass falls on any seeds that are to be planted, they remain clean. But if water has been put on the seed and a carcass falls on it, it is unclean for you.” (verses 37&38) How were people expected to remember all these arbitrary rules?
If I lived back then, I’d probably just do whatever I wanted, then offer the requisite sacrifices. Remember, you can be unclean for sins you didn’t even realize you committed, so why bother trying?
Chapter 12- After a woman gives birth, she is unclean for a certain amount of time depending on the sex of the child. Then she is to offer a sacrifice for purification.
If the child is a son, the mother is unclean for 7 days (just like during her monthly period), then she must wait an additional 33 days before being purified. If the child is a girl, the mother is unclean for 2 weeks, then must wait an additional 66 days before purification. Could the bible be any more explicit in its sexism? Girls are filthy creatures that will make you dirty, too!
And anyway, why are women unclean for having natural bodily functions like menses and child birth? God created women to function this way, but yet he thinks it’s dirty? He’s setting people up for failure again, it seems.
To become pure again, a woman must sacrifice a lamb and a pigeon or dove after giving birth. Which got me wondering…
I’ve been enjoying entertainment of the fantasy genre lately- just finished the first Game of Thrones book, and have been watching Merlin. In both stories, they make reference to the rule of witchcraft that in order to save/create a life, another person must die.
Do you see the parallel here? I’m wondering if idea of a death in exchange for a life wasn’t an ancient mythos that worked its way into many different traditions. That would help answer the question I had the other day about why animal sacrifice was necessary in the first place.
The creation story and flood story, as well as the death of a god born of virgin are Biblical stories that show up commonly in other ancient traditions. Maybe sacrifice in exchange for a life was absorbed into the Abrahamic religions from older traditions as well.
Chapter 13- Anyone with a rash or sore is to be brought before Aaron or another priest to be checked for an infectious disease. Symptoms are provided for clean/unclean sores. Rules about mildew, how to recognize it, and what to do with contaminated items.
Let me just say that I’m glad we no longer rely on priests for diagnoses of diseases. The only diagnostic criteria God gives for an infectious disease are if the sore is white, more than skin deep, and if it spreads. I can think of potentially communicable diseases that don’t fit that description: ringworm, measles, chicken pox/shingles/herpes, and impetigo to name a few.
It also says that if a chronic disease clears up, the person is clean until it comes back. With something like genital herpes, we know that isn’t always the case. Some diseases are communicable even if you can’t see it.
(I think in other translations of the Bible, this chapter is more specifically about diagnosing leprosy. Perhaps they didn’t have herpes and ringworm back then?)
There are no instructions given for curing the infection. I skimmed the next chapter which is titled “Cleansing from infectious skin diseases” but it seems to be about how to ritually purify oneself after the rash has healed, not actually about curing it. If the rash doesn’t clear up on its own, you get to spend the rest of your days wearing torn clothes, living alone, and announcing that you’re unclean.
I sometimes hear people praise the Old Testament for providing the Hebrews with dietary/health laws that improved their quality of life and longevity. If God were really looking out for them, couldn’t he have offered some cures for their ailments and/or not allowed them be afflicted in the first place?