Sunday, 16 July 2017
The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale: Numbers: Chapter 15 - Yet More Rules About Sin
So in the previous chapter the people doubted God and he very nearly killed the lot of them. Fortunately Moses stepped in and talked him out of it. Now God uses this as an excuse for yet more demands for sacrifices.
The people, following the terrible sin of doubting God, were wandering around in the wilderness as a punishment. While they were doing this God took the opportunity to demand some more animal sacrifices from them.
Essentially this was just another form of taxation. God got all specific. He wanted, or at least his ever hungry priests wanted, a tenth of all of the food that the people ate. Oh and wine too. They needed something to wash all of the food, sorry, sacrifices down. This whole chapter sounds like a menu. I won't bother you with the details. Suffice to say that offerings of lots of dead animals and bread were required.
Interestingly God said it was possible to commit a sin even if you don't know you are committing a sin. Break God's rules and strict liability was demanded. Oh and a sacrifice to atone for it.
If a stranger stayed with them then that was okay with God. But he had better make offerings too. This is odd of course because in previous chapters God had said that strangers were forbidden. Not if they came bearing gifts it would seem.
Breaking the rules deliberately and not caring meant that the sinner was cast out.
And then, almost by design, as they were wandering around in the desert, they came across a man who was gathering sticks. But, shock horror, it was the Sabbath. As a side note how did they come across a stranger if they themselves were not wandering and thus working on the Sabbath? But never mind. Anyway, they took this terrible sinner into custody and asked Moses what should be done with him. Sure enough God wanted him killed. And so he was stoned to death.
Then God told Moses that the people must decorate their clothes with a snazzy blue fringe around the hem. This was to serve as a reminder to keep God's rules.