Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale: Numbers: Chapter 6: God's Laws for the Nazarites and a Blessing for his Chosen People

So the Children of Israel were all ready to go on their journey to the Promised Land, the place God had been promising them for hundreds of years and had freed them from Egypt to go to. Except first he had given them his commandments and lots of rules in Leviticus. Now, just before they got going, he had thought of a few more rules and regulations. And taxes.

Next then God had some rules about the Nazarites. The Nazarites were like a kind of monk or nun: people who took vows of piety and devoted themselves to God, possibly because they had run out of animals to sacrifice to him . Or something.

Anyway, God had some rules for them too. First of all there to be no drinking wine. Not even grapes. There was to be no booze, no vinegar, nothing that was made from grapes. Oh and they had to grow their hair too. No cutting or shaving of hair was permitted. It's a sign of piety apparently. No, me neither.

And while they were cut off from the people so that they could be at one with God they were to have no contact with dead bodies. None. That must have been a disappointment. Who doesn't want to have contact with dead bodies from time to time?

If, however, by accident they were to come into contact with a dead body, you know how they can leap out of you all of a sudden, then God had a remedy. Inevitably it involved a sacrifice. First he had to shave that part of the body that had come into contact with the dead body. Then, 7 days later, he was to bring a couple of dead birds to the priest and as if by magic he was purified. Brilliant!

Fortunately this life of not touching dead bodies and being at one with God did not have to be permanent. Once they wanted to return to normal life they could do so. How? With some sacrifices yet again. In order to stop being a Nazarite all you had to do was take a couple of lambs, male and female and a ram. And then with this, the priests, sorry, God, wanted some unleavened bread and some nice cakes for pudding. This purifying people and converting them from being Nazarites must have really built up their appetite.

This was the law. As given to Moses. Of course it was.

Finally God told Moses to tell Aaron that he was to bless all of the people. Yes, he was so pleased with them he gave them a blessing. They would probably have preferred that he gave them some of their dead animals and cash back but still.

The blessing is a famous one: The Lord bless thee and keep thee;

The Lord make his face shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee;

The Lord lift up his countenance to thee and give thee peace.

And they shall put my name upon the Children of Israel, and I will bless them.

Isn't that nice! It's just a pity about his being such a nasty, illiberal, sadistic, vain, jealous and bigoted God.

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