Monday, February 14, 2011

Numbers 5-9 God and the Levites

Numbers 5-9

God gives more rules to the Levites.

"Oh, did I mention?  Keep the Sabbath."
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  1. @Bruce,

    You know i have heard that the French tried to get away from the 7 day week and went to 10 days. It did not work out that well for them, so they came back to the 7 day week. P.S Remember the Sabbath :-D

  2. @Bruce,

    In 9:12 it says "nor break any bone of it:" This is also about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, how his bones should not be broken. He is the passover sacrifice for all men everywhere throughout all time.

  3. I've looked into the magic adultery potion thing (aka 'Ritual of Sotah' or 'Trial of Bitter Water') without much success. Wikipedia has an article that is the most informative. Seems it's never mentioned again in the bible. It strikes me as very pagan in nature (and possibly origin?).

    Of course only women were subject to the 'trial' - surprise, surprise!!

    Chapter 7 - apparently silver plates weighing 130 shekels were a dime a dozen in those times!

  4. Ch. 6- the Nazarite vow is where Mormons get the prohibition against "strong drink", which they interpret as caffeinated beverages.

    Samson, the famous folk-hero, was a Nazarite, and the hair-cutting precepts play a big role in his story.

    On Ch. 7 my bible says: "the length and detail of the narrative which follows suggest the importance of financial support for the cult, and encourage imitation of the generosity of the tribal leaders."

    The Priestly text really is ingenious propaganda. And they get to retire at 50! (Well, that's plenty late considering the time period.)

    There's a major chronology goof here: Numbers 1:1 begins in the 2nd month of the 2nd year post-exodus; 9:1 takes place in the 1st month of the 2nd year. (Apologists: "It's just a literary technique! Haven't you seen Memento?")

    Just to give anyone interested a forecast: Our long national nightmare is over. There's some J in the next chapter. The horrific P-only section of the Torah is DONE.

    Seems it's never mentioned again in the bible. It strikes me as very pagan in nature (and possibly origin?).

    The early Israelite religion is absolutely pagan. When and how they developed monotheism I'm not certain, but it was no doubt a gradual cultural evolution.

  5. @ Edward, I have many french friends and they are looking for a 4 day work week!!! Life is so tough over there! ;-)

    Also, you wrote "In 9:12 it says "nor break any bone of it:" This is also about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, how his bones should not be broken."

    This statement seems to be retro-fitting. We know that Jesus will be killed/sacrificed in the NT. Are you suggesting that this statement predicts the event or just shows a correlation between the events?

  6. I've tried to keep up with comments and I apologize if this has already been discussed but what's the significance of all this unleavened bread?

    Is it that they would see it as more fresh? (Since I assume the difference back then between the two types is if you let it sit around to get some wild yeast rather than that being an actual added ingredient)

  7. Vt Teacher, does the Vt stand for Vermont? I'm in Burlington.

  8. John Calvin has some insightful things to say about chapter 6, starting in verse 2:

    2 When either man, or woman shall separate themselves. God recently appointed a tribute for every soul, whereby the Israelites were to acknowledge that they were His children. By that profession, then, he bound them all to Himself from the least to the greatest. A closer tie of obligation is now treated of, when any should voluntarily devote himself to God for a season. These were called Nazarites, which is equivalent to separate or select, because there was greater dignity or excellence in them than in the common people. For they were as ornaments to the Church, and God willed that His peculiar glory should shine brightly in them. When, therefore, Amos expostulates with them (Amos 2:11) because they had prevented the prophets from exercising their office, and had corrupted the Nazarites with wine, he says, in amplification of their crime, that they had been honored with a special blessing, when God had created of their sons Nazarites and prophets. And when Jeremiah deplores the desolation of the Church, he insists on this corruption, that their Nazarites no longer appeared as of old, “purer than snow,” etc. (Lamentations 4:7.) Nor is it to be doubted, that when Jacob distinguished Joseph his son by the title of a Nazarite among his brethren, (Genesis 49:26,) he alluded in the spirit of prophecy to that degree of honor in which afterwards, under the Law, they stood who separated themselves unto God, as the lights of the Church. Therefore, although this consecration pertained not to the whole people, yet it should be deservedly reckoned amongst the exercises of piety, because the Nazarites were like standard-bearers to shew others the way; and though they did not attract all to follow their example, yet the ardor of their zeal was of no little advantage to the weak and inexperienced, exciting them forwards according to their capacity.

    Now, because God abominates all fictitious worship, he put a restraint on their licentiousness, by giving them a clear and certain rule. And, from the testimony of Amos which I have just quoted, it is gathered that God alone was the appointer of the Nazarite vow. We must remember, then, that the Nazarites shone among the people of God like precious jewels, and although few imitated them, yet that they were as standard-bearers and leaders to awaken zeal amongst the multitude for the service of God. We must observe, by the way, that Samson was a Nazarite of another kind, because he did not take the vow upon him only for a season, but was sanctified from the womb for his whole life, and separated from the rest of the people; in which respect, too, he was a type of Christ, and represented Him, as it were. And surely whatever is here taught should be referred to the sole Fountain of sanctity, as if the image of Christ had been set before the eyes of the Jews in a mirror. For the nearer any one under the Law approached to God, the more did Christ shine forth in him. We know that the whole priesthood of the Law was nothing but His image. The same may be said of the Nazarites, whose purity and abstinence ornamented them with peculiar dignity.

  9. And here is Calvin on verse 13, emphasizing that man cannot attain the holiness required of him by God his creator and by type, shadow, and promise the Old Testament is pointing forward to the Messiah. We are broken by the law and healed by the Gospel:

    13. And this is the law of the Nazarites. Moses now shows at last how, after the full period of the vow, the Nazarites must return to their common life. And, first, he commands them to place themselves at the door of the tabernacle; then, to offer there a lamb without spot for a burnt-offering, a ewe-lamb for a sin-offering, and a ram for peace-offerings, with cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, wafers, and unleavened bread, and meat-offering, and drink-offerings. As to the peace-offering, because it was presented in thanksgiving, it was by no means inappropriate; nor the burnt-offering either, because they might justly congratulate themselves, and celebrate God’s goodness, when they had discharged their pious duty, since God had vouchsafed them no ordinary honor. But what was meant by the sin-offering may be questioned, since expiation was needless for the pure and holy. Here we clearly perceive, that however cheerfully and earnestly men endeavor to offer themselves altogether to God, yet they never attain to the goal of perfection, nor arrive at what they desire, but are always exposed to God’s judgment, unless He should pardon their sins. For, if ever any supererogation were pleasing to God, the holiness of the Nazarites, being testified to by the Law, was worthy of this honor; yet God, when the work is complete, commands them to confess their guilt, and suffers not this service to intrude into the place of merit, but requires of them a sacrifice, that they may borrow from elsewhere what belongs not to themselves, though they appear to be the most perfect of all men.

  10. So...Chapter 5 v. 11 to the end...the whole thing about if a woman is unfaithful and the water and the curse and uteruses dropping and so forth...what the hell???

    And then back to endless offerings and rules.

  11. @Susan
    one wonders if you could build up a tolerance to this stuff if you got ahold of it ahead of time. Of course no blame falls to the cuckholder; how far we have come in 3 or 4 millenia. (snorting quietly )

  12. @Abbie
    VT does stand for Vermont. I used to teach in White River Junction and miss Vermont tons!

  13. I read the procedure for unfaithful women as causing a miscarriage if she were carrying another man's child. So that if her husband were just jealous he didn't need to provide justification because God would only abort a bastard.

  14. @Barbara - that makes sense, but what is the stuff that they are giving the woman? Seems like a mighty big risk to induce a miscarriage just to prove fidelity. Ugh. It freaked me out.

  15. I read about the Ordeal of Bitter water years ago. It was just some random thing on the internet so take it for what it's worth. But basically that analysis had the theory that there was really nothing special in the water; it was just sand mixed with water. But the stress of being caught cheating would actually cause the abortion for women who had cheated, and the women who hadn't done anything wrong would not be worried so they wouldn't face the stress. And of course this wouldn't work perfectly, but it could work often enough to make it seem like it was actually some magical, divine water.

    Or it could all be a bunch of fluff. Interesting idea though.