Sunday, 17 July 2016
The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale - Exodus: Chapter 29 - Slaughtering and Burning Animals for God
If you were in any doubt what this whole boring section about priests and the Tabernacle and altars is all about, here it is made explicit. It's about power and the priesthood. It is also about creating an hereditary priesthood. Priests wrote all of this stuff and inserted it into the text. For no particular reason, God favoured Aaron, supposedly Moses' brother. But, since both of these men never really existed, that means that later priests could claim a lineage to him. In the ancient world having a direct line to people, even mythical people, counted for a lot.
Chapter 29 is all about priestly power and of God decreeing that Aaron was to be his anointed priest from then on and his sons and descendants thereafter. Given what Aaron was about to do, this shows a stunning lack of judgement on the part of the supposedly omniscient god. But we'll get to that later.
So this chapter, even more than the others, was probably inserted into the text to make Aaron look powerful, and remember they have been doing that from nearly the beginning of this story when they inserted him, entirely gratuitously, into the story of Mose, the Pharaoh and the plagues. Aaron was the smooth talker in this tall tale. How convenient for a would-be priest.
Now we get all of the details that God supposedly decreed for Aaron and the priests that came after him. There was to be a ceremony to make them holy and respected. For this yet more animals had to be killed and sacrificed for the greater glory of a god. More pagan rituals.
God wanted the very finest, unblemished animals for this ridiculously wasteful ceremony. I'll remind you again, the Israelites were complaining of lack of food only a few chapters ago. Now they have plentiful supplies of animals to be slaughtered, burnt but not eaten.
God goes into detail about all of this. There was to be a bullock and two rams. There was to be unleavened bread. There were to be unleavened cakes and olive oil, wafers and flour. Where they were getting all of this from is a mystery.
All of this was to be brought to the Tabernacle and Aaron was to be dressed in all of his finery. Now we see the true purpose of the Tabernacle. It wasn't for God at all. It was for the Aaronite priests to reside in in luxury and with lots of nice food supplied free of charge along with gold and jewels. It's a living.
Once Aaron was in his full regalia he was to put his hands on the bullock which would then be killed. Then the blood and horns of the bullock had to be put on the altar. All of the organs and innards of the bullock had to then be burnt on the altar. They then did much the same with the rams, except they didn't have to be disembowelled first. They had to be burnt whole. But the blood of the rams had to be taken and some of it put on Aaron's ear, some of it on the big toe of his right foot. I'm not making this up. Then blood had to be sprinkled around the altar. Then some of the blood had to be sprinkled on Aaron and on his nice new clothes. Maybe they had a very good laundry there in the desert. Or maybe they just liked smelling of offal.
Then they had to take the bread and put it into the hands of Aaron and of his sons and waved it before God. This was a wave offering. I wonder if there was much giggling while this was going on.
And then they were allowed to eat some of the food. Aha! But of course, and who would have thought it, only the Aaronite priests were allowed to eat this food because it was holy.
And there was to be a bullock offered every day for this daft ceremony as an offering to God. And a lamb too. With bread. A bullock and lamb sandwich a day keeps God at bay. And gives very good eating to his priests too.
This is all supposed to be symbolic of something, possibly that God was a halfwit. Seriously, any half intelligent person listening to this gibberish would have gone into the desert and found himself another god, or possibly decided that these gods just weren't worth bothering with at all. They seem to be a bunch of genocidal, contradictory, narcissists with terrible tastes in clothes and interior decoration. And they waste food.