Study Guide

Leviticus Chapter 6:8 - 7:10

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Chapter 6:8 - 7:10

A Case of Déjà Vu

  • Next, Leviticus discusses the phenomenon of déjà vu, that strange feeling we sometimes get when we've lived through something before.
  • Oh. Wait. That's not Leviticus. It's a Monty Python sketch.
  • Let's try this again.

The Ten Instructions

  • Beginning with chapter 6 and going through chapter 16, new sections are described with the phrase "This is the set of instructions for..." There are—wait for it—ten different sections, or torot.
  • As Jacob Milgrom notes, these ten sections are like a second Decalogue, or Ten Commandments. They likely refer to ten separate scrolls, each containing its specific set of instructions.
  • These Ten Instructions provide a handy way to break down the next eleven chapters, which otherwise can seem confusing and random.
  • There are two sets of five torot.
  • The five torot of sacrifice: (1) burnt offering, (2) grain offering, (3) sin offering, (4) reparation offering, and (5) peace offering.
  • The five torot of impurity: (1) animals, (2) giving birth, (3) the identification of skin disease, (4) the purification of skin disease, and (5) genital discharges.

Burn, Baby, Burn

  • In chapters 6 and 7, Leviticus examines the procedures for the first five torot: the burnt offering, grain offering, sin offering, reparation offering, and peace offering.
  • Why the do-over? Like the rituals themselves, Leviticus does things over and over again, with a little extra learned on each repeat.
  • In other words, the medium is the message—the offerings shape how Leviticus talks about them.
  • For the burnt offering, grain offering, sin offering, and reparation offering, this time the camera focuses not on the person who brings one, but on the priests.
  • Verse 12 of chapter 6 has a little ceremony for bringing firewood to the altar. In a land without pick-up trucks and Home Depot, getting firewood to the Tabernacle is a Big Deal.
  • The timing of the burnt offering here is different from the burnt offering in chapter 1. The first burnt offering in the book is voluntary and can be made at any time.
  • But the burnt offering in chapter 6 is required to be made every morning and evening. It's what priests used to do before they could start and end each day by checking Facebook.
  • The dress and showmanship are also somewhat different. Here, the burnt offering ritual is a lot like a Nicki Minaj concert, with the priest making costume changes as he goes.
  • After burning the animal, he takes off his ceremonial garb and puts on linens to collect the ash and put it besides the altar. Then he takes off his dirty linens and puts on other clothes for taking the ashes outside the camp. He closes wearing the charred meat and a green wig. (Not really—we don't think.)
  • Oh, and the fire on the altar must never go out, which is a lot harder to do in a land without .gif files.
  • Next, we get the rules for the grain offering, including one that the priests have to make every day and night. We could call this one the whole grain offering, since the priests have to burn it all up without eating any of it.
  • The grain-offering pancake goes to the priest who bakes it. Any priest can have the other less tasty grain offerings. Moral: get to work early on sign-up day for the peace offering schedule.
  • The sin and reparation offerings also get filled out some more, especially in regard to what the priests get to eat.
  • Leviticus notes that the meat from certain offerings is to be eaten only by the priests—not their wives or daughters, just the men. There's probably a deep spiritual explanation for it, but wow, that's harsh. Girl's gotta eat.
  • One thing God emphasizes in all four of the above offerings is that eating or touching them makes a person holy.
  • So why doesn't every Israelite get in on the holiness action? Could there be… danger? Cue the dramatic chipmunk.

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