Study Guide

Leviticus Chapter 8

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Chapter 8

Aaron Levels Up

  • Anyone who has read The Return of the King can spot a false ending a mile away. Still, what follows is truly a surprise:
  • An honest-to-Robert-McKee three-part narrative.
  • Really, no foolin'. Story. Characters. Plot. Special effects. Throw in a talking animal and it's like we never left Genesis.
  • It starts, like all hit movies, with a quick introduction of the characters. God tells Moses what to do. This time, though, instead of disappearing behind of a pile of rules, Moses goes to work on a flashy ceremony to get the people to respect the authority of Aaron and his descendants as priests.
  • First things first: Moses tells brother Aaron and his sons to get all their priestly props together for their inauguration as priests. The precise details of this backroom scene have been lost to history, but it was probably a lot like the time on Glee where Sarah Jessica Parker helps Rachel get a style makeover in the samples closet at the offices of Vogue.

Time to Put on a Show!

  • "This is what THE Lord told me to do," Moses proclaims to the assembled nation of Israel. Can't argue with that, can they?
  • Since this is gonna fly by real quick—no Hobbit in three parts for the producer of Leviticus—we jump straight to Aaron's public makeover montage. It's Princess Diaries meets Pretty Woman in the desert, with Moses playing the role of the fashion-savvy stylist.
  • Aaron gets out of his scrubs to transform into Israel's majestic high priest. Ephod—who knows what it is, but it sounds cool. A spiffy belt adorned with a flashy gold design. The breast-plate adorned with the twelve gems of the mystical Urim and Thummim. And, of course, the crown.
  • The swirl of colors, fabrics, and designs leaves no doubt as to who's set to take charge of the Tabernacle. Moses's anointing Aaron's head with oil (olive, not crude) seals the deal.
  • The King James Version says that Moses then dresses up Aaron's sons in girdles and bonnets. Assuming, as some assert, that the KJV is literally true in every detail, it would seem that the subordinate priests looked something like Mad Men's Harry Crane at his baby shower.
  • Sacrifices! Blood sprinkled on the altar! Heaving thighs and swaying breasts! Oh my!
  • It's the ultimate bar mitzvah: Aaron and his sons are about to make the transition from ordinary people to Israel's holy priests. The main difference between this and modern day traditions is that instead of watching a video of their childhood and dancing to I've Got a Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas, Aaron and sons have to hang out in the Tabernacle for the next seven days.
  • As The Encyclopedia Judaica notes, the Hebrew phrase for ordaining a priest in Leviticus 8:33 "is literally 'to fill your hands'" (v. 12, p. 737). In ancient Near Eastern lingo, this refers to right of religious leaders to get money and sacrifices. Hmmm.

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