Sunday, 19 February 2017
The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale: Leviticus: Chapter 21 - Rules About Priests and Their Need for Virgins
There are few things that are beyond the consideration of this very prescriptive God. Leviticus is about him and his very close attention to detail. Thus far though it's all been about rules for worshipping and a lot of rules about how ordinary people must lead their lives. Now here are some rules about priests. At last!
So, as you will be aware, priests were to be the sons and descendants of Moses' brother, Aaron. They can only come from that family, which presents a problem because Aaron never existed. Aaron was created and inserted into the narrative so as to establish a precedent for the role and powers of priests. Moses never existed either of course, but we won't worry about that for now.
So priests had to try and create a lineage back to the fictitious Aaron in order to claim their right to be priests and all of the privileges that went with those roles. They got to dress up in all kinds of daft finery and got to eat an awful lot of sacrifices. Oh and of course they had an awful lot of power. Not that this was why they did it. Oh god no.
Anyway, now comes the quid pro quo. It's not that bad though.
The priests for a start, said God, had to be extra holy. This, for some reason, meant that they could not grieve in the same way as ordinary people. They could mourn certain key relatives said God but not their wives. The people they could grieve were their father, brother, mother and daughter. They could also mourn their sister but only if she was a virgin. But, when they did mourn, they must not make an exhibition of themselves by shaving their heads or part of their beards. There was to be no cutting into the flesh to show their grief. Funerals for non priests must have been very hairy and bloody mustn't they. Nearly as hairy and bloody as the Tabernacle after a few sacrifices.
God has a thing about virgins. Not only were they only allowed to mourn their sister if she had not slept with a man, God then revealed that priests were only allowed to marry women who were virgins, in other words they were not permitted to marry women who were widows, or divorcees.
Oh and if a daughter of a priest became a prostitute then they should be burnt alive. It's interesting this. This holy and moral God does not disapprove of prostitution per se. He just disapproves of his priests marrying prostitutes or their daughters becoming prostitutes. So is prostitution okay with God for everyone else? It seems so.
Priests were to be extra holy and very pure. Purity in this sense means that God would not allow priests who had deformities of any kind or who were disabled, ugly or had blemishes of any kind. These were impurities and so they were not to be priests. There were to be no dwarf priests, no one lame, no one with a flat nose or anything superfluous. They were to be perfect in every way. Did they have to have a full medical and inspection before becoming priests? Were the priests all male models with perfect bodies? No wonder they married virgins only. Virgin super models presumably.
God only wanted the best looking people in his house. Well, they did get to wear the best and most colourful clothes after all. Although what happened if they burnt or cut themselves whilst dealing with all of the animal sacrifices is something God clearly never thought of.