Read the Bible in One Year: Week 6 (Leviticus 16-Numbers 4)

Take a census of the whole congregation of Israelites, in their clans, by ancestral houses according to the number of names, every male individually" (Numbers 1:2)

Overview

Leviticus

Day of Atonement (CH 16)

Holiness Code (CH 17-26)

Chapter 17: Proper Butchery

Chapter 18: Sexual Relations

Chapter 19: Holiness

Chapter 20: Consequences for Violating Holiness

Chapter 21: Holiness of Priests

Chapter 22: Concerning Proper Offerings

Chapter 23: Festivals

Chapter 24: Instruction for Lamp, Loaves, and a Tale of a Blasphemer

Chapter 25: Sabbath Year and Jubilee

Chapter 26: Consequences for Obedience and Disobedience

Chapter 27: Concerning Vows to God

Numbers

Chapter 1: First Census of Israel

Chapter 2: Organization of Camp by Tribe

Chapter 3: Levites Set Aside for Care of Tabernacle OR The First Altar Guild

Chapter 4: Divisions of Levite Labor

Thoughts

  • Retributive Justice: the punishment fits the crime. Eye for an eye, tooth of a tooth, ox for an ox, etc. (Ch. 24). In retributive justice, the punishment is backward looking, atoning for wrong, as opposed to deterrence of other crimes or rehabilitation of the offender. The law enacted by the Israel community limited punishment so that theft and other misdemeanors would not be punished so severely. (see also Exodus 21 AND Matthew 5, the Gospel selection in worship this month).

  • Ecological Justice: a concern for the earth and the well-being of the land is also clarified in the statues given to Israel. Every seven years, the people must refrain from planting and let the land rest during the Sabbath Year. This is to serve as a reminder that the land belongs to God, not to us. We are merely stewards and keepers of it (Genesis 1). Therefore, we are not to exploit it for profit.

  • Our actions have consequences (for better or worse) Chapter 26): While the Lord was speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, God lays out rewards and penalties for obedience and disobedience. IF you keep the commandments, THEN things will go well, you will be healthy, well fed and safe. You will receive the promised land. On the otherhand IF you do not obey and keep the commandments THEN terror, hardships, enemies and disease will fall upon you. Keep reading, and you will see that many of the rewards and punishments happen to Israel. They obey God when they enter the promised land, but then they get comfortable and forget this covenant. In 2 Kings, terror, famine, plague and finally an exile removes the people from their land. BUT God will remember. God will remember his promises. It is never too late to return to God.

  • An Organized Camp: duties and labors designated; army established; moving order; and camp assignments. This organization provided order and certainty in the midst of great uncertainty.

Question for Reflection

One verse out of 67 has been used to condemn homosexuality. Look at Leviticus chapters 18 and 19. What are the five most important laws to you? To our society today? What are the least important? What are some laws that should be included in this text?

For more information about our church (ELCA) stance on homosexuality, see the Leviticus introduction page.

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