Sunday, 2 April 2017
The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale: Leviticus: Chapter 27 - A Final Summary and God's Bill
What, you thought that the last chapter, Chapter 26, was the end of all of this? Oh no. God comes back for an encore. This is just a final summary, a final reminder. And, surprise surprise, now we get down to brass tacks. Now we get down to money. The whole of Leviticus has been about setting up priestly power and prestige in the Tabernacle with all of that talk of sacrifices and what God, no it really was God, honestly, expected of his chosen people. Now in this last chapter we see what it was all about. It's all about taxes for the priests. Well, who would have thought it!
So, God handed down one last set of instructions to Moses in a manner that is terribly convenient if you happen to be a priest and want a nice easy living. God decreed that people have a value and that, if a special vow to God was made this meant that certain monies had to be handed over. People had a price. How very convenient. This tariff card was dependent upon how old people were and what they were worth. And all of this was to be decided by priests. Whatever price the priests demanded, be it for animals or people, then that was that. No right of appeal. They were the ultimate arbiters. This was essentially a system of tithes, or taxes so as to pay for the Tabernacle and to keep the priests in the manner they intended to come to expect.
We have observed many times in the preceding chapters that the priests expected an awful lot of sacrifices. What if people couldn't afford to spare the animals? Well this is where this tariff came in. People would have to hand over about 10% of their income every year to the priests and the priests were the arbiters of what everything and everyone was worth. Hence that very convenient tariff, which of course God himself had handed down to them. Of course he had. This wasn't written by priests for priests. Oh dear me no.
And it was a lovely racket all of this. The priests were to receive regular donations from the Israelites. But if they then recanted on their donation having realised it was beyond them, they then had to pay a premium to the priests to get their property back. Again this premium was decided by the priests because the priests added 20% to something whose value they decided. And if you didn't pay they told people they had God on their side. It's like the ultimate protection racket.
And that, ultimately, is what Leviticus has been about from start to finish. It was always a nice interval after the made up story of Moses, so that the priests got to tell the people who, they were earnestly informed, were the descendants of these mythical people, what they had to do as a price for something that didn't happen. Can you see why people make up religions? It's a fantastic way to earn a living isn't it.
And just to reinforce this point they rammed the point home once again at the end. These aren't our rules, these are God's rules, handed to Moses at Mount Sinai. Honestly!