Sunday, 28 May 2017
The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale: Numbers: Chapter 8 - Rules for Purifying Levites
The Israelites were about to go on their long journey from Sinai to their promised land. But God was still worrying about his Tabernacle. He wanted a few more ceremonies performed before they started off. God does love his ceremonies and ritual.
Almost as if this is an a bit of an afterthought, we are told that these events actually happened a month previously when the Tabernacle was first set up. It's like they said, you know what, we should have put that in when we wrote that part. And whoever was writing it said that they weren't writing out the whole thing again and so they just tagged it on here instead. If only God had invented word processors for them.
So yes, God had told Moses that he wanted things just so in his Tabernacle. He wanted candles arranged in a very precise way.
Then he wanted his Levites cleansed. The Levites were a tribe of people, men actually, that had been donated to the Tabernacle. In fact they were just a way of getting some free servants for the priests. The Levites were to do all of the fetching and carrying and cleaning and so on. But obviously to do this and be around all of that gaudy holy furniture, they had to be pure. For this they had to be cleansed. So they had to shave all of their hair off and take a bath. Then, inevitably, another animal had to die. And then another one. This time they were bullocks. You have to wonder where the hell they were getting all of these animals from.
Then the whole community, that's supposed to be about 2 million people by the way, but let's brush over that inconvenient detail, the whole community had to gather around the newly cleansed Levites and lay their hands on them. That's 4 million hands. That must have taken some time.
God was giving this tribe of men to the priests as their servants. But men of a certain age were qualified to do the jobs. They had to be between the age of 25 and 50. After that they were allowed to retire. Although after being touched by all of those hands they were probably glad of that.
Anyway, God's commands were carried out to the letter. He must have been so pleased.