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Posts Tagged ‘Leviticus’

The best lies masquerade as self-evident truth. For example, people are to be valued according to their productive capacity.

The code of conduct for the emerging Hebrew nation flies in the face of this pragmatic assessment at every turn. One’s aged parents, potentially a limping, whining, festering drag on forward progress are to be revered. One day a week is to be thrown to the wind against all economic calculation.

You shall each revere your mother and father, and you shall keep my sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.

Both pieces of legislated ethics require a choice. One decides to invest love, treasure, and time in just this way, trusting that the long-term outcome of a society where the aged can grow old without watching their back and the strong do not need to worry about being worked to death trumps the short-term upside of blasting through these restraints and, as we say, going for it.
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When we might have expected paternal wrath or rebellious fury or grief’s loudest howling, Aaron gives us only silence. It is an enigmatic, even mysterious, stillness. In the wake of the summary execution by Yahweh of his sons Nadab and Abihu for the offense of offering unsolicited ‘strange fire’ on Yahweh’s altar, Aaron’s quiet is patient of more than one interpretation:

Now Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, each took his censer, put fire in it, and laid incense on it; and they offered unholy fire before the LORD, such as he had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘This is what the LORD meant when he said,
“Through those who are near me
I will show myself holy,
and before all the people
I will be glorified.”‘

And Aaron was silent.

Perhaps Aaron’s silence speaks of his resignation before YHWH’s judicial response to his sons’ innovation. His closed mouth may even represent assent to the circumstance, a tacit recognition that the death of reckless religionists—even when they are flesh and blood—is right and proper. (more…)

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