Sunday, January 16, 2011

Leviticus 11-15: Unclean!!!

So after a brief story, we're back into God handing out endless laws and rules. Now we get a big list of what's "clean" and "unclean!" Whatever that means. Of course there's no explanation. The only explanation we get for why we should care is this: "I am the LORD, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy."

Anyway, about food...any land animal that both chews the cud and has a divided hoof is clean. So, no pigs, no camels, etc.

Interestingly, the bible says that rabbits chew the cud. I'm pretty sure they don't. If you want to see how Christians rationalize this, click here. Basically, rabbits eat their own droppings to give their digestive tracts a second chance at getting the nutrients out. And if you assume "chew the cud" means "digest food twice" instead of specifically what you'd think it means, then yeah, fine. But then why was it translated that way?

For sea creatures, anything that has both fins and scales is clean. So, what, no dolphin? Aww!

For birds, there is a list of specific birds which are unclean, which interestingly includes bats, which are not birds. Of course this is rationalized too; apparently the original text said "winged animal," not "bird." Again, fine, but why did it get mistranslated again?

All insects are unclean, except for a few specific exceptions. The bible also says that insects have 4 legs; another glaring error, which is also rationalized. Apparently the back legs are not counted as legs. Who knew?

Also, everything that "moves along the ground" is unclean. This seems to mean things like lizards and snakes.

I guess unclean animals are only unclean when they are dead. Then anything or anyone that touches a dead unclean animal is themselves unclean until that evening.

Also, a woman is unclean after giving birth; 33 days if it's a boy, and 66 days if it's a girl. Uh, why? And why are you unclean for twice as long if it's a girl? Anyway, then she has to have the priest sacrifice a series of animals for her, then she can be clean again.

If you have a rash or boil, you have to go to the priest, who decides whether you're unclean or not. There's a whole chapter of "if it looks like this you're clean, if it looks like that you're unclean, if it looks like this you have to be isolated for this many days" blah blah blah. Funnily, there's a similar thing for moldy fabric. The priest gets to look at it and decide whether it's unclean or not.

If you happen to recover from your skin disease, you're still unclean, and must be "ceremonially cleansed" by the priest. First, you must wash your clothes (hey, that makes sense...) and shave off all your body hair. Then the priest must dip a live bird, wood and yarn into the blood of another bird (who makes this shit up?). Then 8 days later you have to sacrifice a bunch of other animals in really really tedious and stupid ways.

The priest gets to deal with moldy houses too. First, the priest decides whether it's a "defiling mold." Then the moldy bricks are removed. If the mold comes back, your entire house is declared unclean. Wow.

Women are unclean for 7 days a month because of their period. Any man that has sex with her during this time is also unclean for 7 days. Men are unclean until evening whenever they ejaculate. If a man ejaculates during sex, both people are unclean til evening. Hmm, in Genesis, God kills you for pulling out. Here, God talks so casually about ejaculating while not mid-coitus. I guess God changed his mind about that.

If someone has an "unusual discharge" they are unclean for as long as it lasts. Of course, when it stops you are still unclean until your ceremonial cleansing 8 days later! Which, of course, involves animal sacrifice with lots of tedious rules.

Well, that was kind of stupid and boring.

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