I feel like both my tests went well today, but I left the second test with a headache. Perhaps I thought so hard that I broke a neuron or two.
Chapter 8- Instructions for placing the lights in the tabernacle. Instructions for ceremonially cleansing the Levites before they begin serving in the tabernacle. Levites serve between ages 25-50.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if everyone could still retire at 50? I wish!
I just had a thought about something that happened a couple chapters ago (chapter 3), so please bear with me while I backtrack a smidgen. Every firstborn male child belongs to God, but He has appointed the tribe of Levi as a whole to serve instead of the firstborns. Chapter 3 explained that one Levite would redeem one firstborn son, and any firstborn sons beyond the available number of Levites had to pay a small fee to be redeemed.
It just struck me to wonder about future generations. Every time a woman has her first son, does she have to seek out a newborn Levite for a metaphorical exchange and would she have to pay a fee to the tabernacle for redemption if there wasn’t one? Or was the exchange of duty from firstborns to Levites in chapter 3 more of a one-time ceremonial business? Inquiring minds want to know.
I am inclined to think it was a one time ceremonial thing, except for the fact that it was a very exact exchange. It wasn’t just a hand-waving “Levites=firstborns”; it was precisely 22,000 Levites = 22,000 firstborns, and the other 273 firstborns owed money.
On another note, I don’t like how God is setting up the Israelites to be inherently classist. Were you born a Levite male? You are now a member of the priest caste; you have no choice. Of course, the Bible is cool with straight up slavery, so what’s a little mandatory service based on heritage?
Chapter 9- God commands the people to observe the Passover. A man who is ceremonially unclean asks if he may observe Passover. God says yes. God appears as a pillar of cloud/fire over the tabernacle. When the pillar is there, the people camp. When it leaves, the people pack up camp and follow it.
It very specifically says here that a person “defiled by a human corpse” may still keep the Passover. What about people who were unclean for other reasons? Verse 13 says a clean man who doesn’t keep the Passover will be cut off from the people, and verse 10 gives the green light to unclean undertakers. But there were myriad ways to become “unclean”, so what should everyone else do? What about men who had an emission of semen (Lev 15:16), or someone who had a dead lizard fall on them (Lev 11:31-32)?
It would drive me absolutely crazy to be an Israelite, and have no idea how long I was going to live in a place. Verse 22, “Whether it was two days, a month, or a year that the cloud remained above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would remain encamped and not journey; but when it was taken up, they would journey.” You just know that the day you finally get all your boxes unpacked and hang the decorations in your tent that the cloud will move and you’ll have to pack it all up again.
Chapter 10- God tells Moses to make 2 trumpets that will be used to communicate to the leaders/people when to assemble for meetings and when to leave camp as they are journeying. They set out for the first time, and Moses invites his brother-in-law along.
As boring as it is to read about the specific rules given to the Israelites about where each tribe should camp, what order they should march in, what signal will mean to leave, etc, etc, etc, I have to give them credit for being well organized. Considering their vast numbers, getting everyone to move out in an orderly fashion must have been a challenge.