Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Book of Leviticus: Cliff Notes Edition

The Book of Leviticus is seen as one of the more 'boring' books in the Bible, but I just happen to be painfully autistic and love it, mostly because I find it's breakdown of the rules for the Israelites interesting.

Below is a simplified summary of the book, with some trivia explained:

(Unless otherwise specified, all offerings had to be without defect)

Burnt Offerings: Compulsory offerings where an animal was totally cooked to ashes on the altar for God alone. Only male goats/lambs or bulls were acceptable.

Grain Offerings: Semi-compulsory offerings by themselves, though sometimes required alongside other offerings. Either unleavened bread or wafers of bread, prepared with oil and salt, with a portion sprinkled with incense before burned on the altar. The priests could eat the rest. No honey or yeast could be mixed in. Newly harvested grain was sacrificed at the start of the harvest season, same general rules otherwise.

Fellowship Offerings: AKA "Peace offerings". Semi-compulsory by themselves, compulsory during certain times of the year as part of certain events. Priests could eat certain portions, but the rest was burned on the altar for God. Fat and blood had to be drained out and not eaten, so the meat had to be well done and as lean as possible.

** Thankfulness Offerings: Same as above but with a grain offering mixed in, offered as an expression of gratitude.

Sin Offerings: Offered for breaking a commandment of God's without intentional malice. Offerings ranged from young bulls to female goats, depending on the stature of the party who committed the offense.. Same general rules otherwise for fellowship offerings. The poor could offer birds like doves or fine flour as alternative sacrifices. If prepared in clay pots, they had to be broken afterwards, but bronze pots were to be rinsed and scoured.

Guilt Offerings: Unlike sin offerings, these were offered when God was specifically displeased, rather than just for sinning in general. Hefty penalty of a ram as demanded as payment. Priests could keep the hide of the animal for themselves.

Vow Offerings: Offerings made as a promise: Whatever the sacrifice was, rules mentioned above apply depending on type of offering.

Freewill Offerings: Offered for no particular reason than wanting to. Only offering where animals could be deformed or stunted and it would still be accepted.

Firstfruits Offerings: Offered at the beginning of harvest season, all first harvested plants and animals had a portion sacrificed as a wave offering. Often a drink offering of a quart of wine was poured on the altar as well.

Drink Offering: Often a supplementary offering added to other offerings, generally a quart of wine was poured on the altar.

Wave Offerings: A sacrificed item had a portion waved before the altar. These portions could be eaten by the priests unless otherwise stated by God.

No Fat or Blood Provision: The fat of herd/flock animals was forbidden to eat. Blood was forbidden because it was the animals lifeforce, and eating it was considered bloodshed by God. Essentially, meat had to be well done or not eaten at all.

Clean and Unclean Food:

Animals: Had to have a split hoof completely divided and a herbivore. Otherwise, could not be eaten.

Seafood; Had to have fins and scales.

Birds: Pigeons, quail, and doves could be eaten.

Insects: Locusts, grasshoppers, and katydids could be eaten.

Unclean animals could not be eaten or have their carcasses touched, or the one who did so would be unclean and need to be cleansed.

Purification Offerings: Offered by women due to having a child. After a waiting period, they had to offer a lamb and dove, or two doves or two pigeons if poor. One was a burnt offering, one was a sin offering.

Skin Diseases: Priests were to inspect various diseases of the flesh, and were to either isolate the affected party or pronounce them clean. Until pronounced clean, they had to live outside the camp and announce they were unclean to passerby's.

Cleansing required a burnt, grain, and guilt offering after a week of confirmed cleanliness.

Mildew: Clothes and houses with it were to be isolated, cleaned, and reused after a certain period, unless it kept coming back, in which case the articles were destroyed.

Cleansing required two birds. One killed, their blood mixed in a pot of fresh water, then it was sprinkled over the live bird which was set free after the mildewed item was cleaned.

Unclean discharges: Sexual fluids or bleeding wounds. Same rules of skin diseases, cleansing required two birds, one for sin, one as a burnt offering.

Day of Atonement: All day ritual where multiple animals for sin and burnt offering were sacrificed, with a goat led outside the camp to carry away all sin of the people. Where the term "scapegoat" is derived.

Unlawful sexual relations; Incest, adultery, or sleeping with a woman having her period. Homosexuality and bestiality were also forbidden, with these two carrying an instant death penalty, all others had various penalties, generally revolving around exile from the other people.

Various laws: People had to leave grain for the poor and show respect to the disabled and elderly, among other various laws like prohibitions against practicing magic, not getting tattoos, not encouraging prostitution, using honest weights and measures, as well as showing hospitality to foreigners.

Rules for priests: Had to marry virgins, could not marry a divorced woman. All members of the priesthood had to be without physical infirmity or they could not be priests, though they could still eat the offering portions. Ordinary priests could make themselves unclean to attend to dying or ill family members, but the high priest could not even do that.

Sabbaths: On the seventh day of the week, no regular work could be done.

Passover: Began at midnight on first month of Jewish calendar. For seven days people had to eat bread without yeast. A burnt offering had to be prepared as well and no work could be done on the first and seventh days.

Feast of Weeks: Seven weeks and fifty days after Firstfruits were sacrificed, this began. No work was done on this day, two loaves of bread and seven male lambs were sacrficed, along with a young bull and two rams. A mix of burnt, grain, sin, and fellowship offerings were made on this day.

Feast of Trumpets: On the first say of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar no regular work was done on a day commemorated with trumpet blasts. A burnt offering was made on this day to God.

Feast of Tabernacles: Began on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, lasted eight days.No regular work was done on days one and eight. Multiple types of all offering were required to be made each day. Also, all Israelites had to live in tents like they did before the Promised land was theirs as a reminder of their former status during this time.

Oil and Bread Before The Altar: Oil for the lamps had to be changed out regularly for the altar lights, made of pressed olives. Bread was to be set on the altar table regularly for each Sabbath as a burnt grain offering.

Blasphemy: A capital offense, punishable by stoning.

Sabbath Year: On the seventh year after initial sowing of the fields, the seventh year they were to lie fallow.

Year of Jubilee; Every forty-nine years. On the fiftieth year, it was not only a Sabbath year, this meant all Israelites could reclaim any property they had leased out (family property could not be permanently sold) and be freed from any bondage by debt. Houses could be redeemed one year after their sale in this time, while lands was always to be redeemed.

Rewards and Punishments for Obedience and Disobedience: God promised blessings for obeying him and curses for disobeying him.

Redemption of the Lord's property: If any property was set aside for God by a vow, it would be given a special value and it would be added to until the Year of Jubilee, when it was tallied up. No thing consecrated to God could be switched out in this interval, it would only be added to the existing vow, and could not be redeemed back from God later.

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