The Show Must Go On

April 15, 2012

Religion

Cute OverloadThe Tabernacle
Leviticus 1:1 to 16:2

1:1 Yahweh talked to Moses in the new tabernacle tent and said things like “Bring me the Israelite’s best cows and slit their throats and smear blood all over.” And of course “Cook those tasty critters extra crispy! I like my steaks well done and extra lean.” Yahweh included all the specific details of just how he wanted his meat to be cleaned and cooked.

Lamb Chop was a sock puppet.“From now on none of you is to eat any fat or blood” Yahweh commanded. Yahweh commanded lots of stuff. “If someone knowingly commits a misdemeanor they will be made to bring a cow to the priest so that it can be butchered and cooked. If one of the leaders screws up, but only through mere ignorance of the law, he has to fork over a goat for slaughter, a male goat. But for a slip up through ignorance by the common people, the cost is a female goat.”

Yahweh legislated lots of the mundane details regarding day to day living. He said “if you touch some guilty unclean creepy thing then you will also be guilty and unclean.” Uncleanliness typically involved a penalty; extra-curricular rituals and a payment of some type of farm animal. Waivers were made available for the very poor, so if someone could not afford to pay a fine of a whole goat, then they could get by with bringing a couple of birds and pulling their heads off but not ripping the guts out. Besides the regular ritual sacrificing to Yahweh, these animal offerings were also to be used to feed the head priest Aaron and his family. But sacrifices on behalf of Aaron’s family members themselves were to be completely burned and not used for food, thus avoiding a strange loop. Improper treatment of sacrificial food could result in being expatriated from the tribes, especially the eating of fat or blood.

Fire from Heaven Consumes the Sacrifice. James Tissot 1836 - 1902.8:1 Aaron and his family were officially installed as the ruling priestly mucky mucks by ceremoniously smearing a bunch of oil and blood here and there, and then burning a fresh pile of bovine entrails on the new altar. Following the ceremony Yahweh made Aaron’s family stay inside the big tent for a whole week under threat of death for leaving early. After that Aaron and his sons set about the job of preparing the main event, an unending series of regularly scheduled bloody matinees for Yahweh’s entertainment. At the climax of the show Aaron would bless the people and suddenly Yahweh would swoop down to the earth as a massive fireball and eat up all the crispy cow guts stacked on the altar. It was a rather macabre presentation.

10:1 Aaron had two sons. Nadab and Abihu. One day they lit some incense in the tabernacle in a slightly different way than Yahweh had spelled out in a long boring lecture about ritualistic dogma. Yahweh sensed the tiny discrepancy. He immediately conjured up a big fireball and heaved it down at the two boys. It engulfed them and burned them to death. As Nadab and Abihu lay dying Aaron went totally ape shit over the brutal injustice of it. Moses tried to calm Aaron and other family members down because they wanted to challenge Yahweh’s insensitivity and unfairness. Moses said to them “Don’t show any distress or you’ll be killed too! Just pretend they had it coming. Go back inside the big tent and stay there for now.”

Aaron’s family headed back inside the tabernacle and Yahweh said “Don’t be getting drunk while you’re in there. But I suppose you can go ahead and have a little bite to eat from the smoldering carcass leftover from the last sacrifice if you want. I hereby declare it to be your right.” Moses got upset when he saw that Aaron’s cousins refused to eat the meat as a protest over the heavy-handedness of Yahweh, but Aaron cooled Moses down, Moses cooled Yahweh down, Aaron cooled the cousins down, and Nadab and Abihu finally cooled down.

Luke Skywalker discovers Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)

11:1 Yahweh gave orders to Moses and Aaron “These are the animals that the people are allowed to eat: animals that are both multi-toed and cud-chewing, like cows and sheep. But animals without that particular combination are not food, like horses or camels.” Yahweh prohibited the eating of rabbits which appear to “cheweth the cud” because of the way they wiggle their noses. The list on Yahweh’s menu of acceptable cuisine continued. “No pig meat ever ever ever! Fish are ok if they have both fins and scales but other aquatic creatures like lobsters, shrimp, and clams are to be hated. All predator birds are off limits but bugs are fine food, eat all the bugs you want. Bugs are yummy. Anything else you see crawling around that you’re not sure about might be unclean so if you touch it, be sure to wash up afterwards. Rodents, lizards, and snails are out, and anyone who touches one of these things is unclean and will be until nightfall.”

Does your yoga mat have that not-so-fresh feeling?Yahweh had lots of rules about what was clean and unclean and what to do if one should find themselves tagged as “unclean” for any of the assorted weird reasons. If an unclean person accidentally touches something before nightfall, like a shoe, then it too becomes unclean and should be put in water until nightfall. If they touch a clay pot, toss it out but smash it first so no one will salvage and reuse it.

Yahweh declared “Hate all the really creepy things! I am God. Be holy, I’m holy, you be holy. I’m the one who brought you out of Egypt to be your God so you better be holy. I am holy. I hate creepy things and I am holy.”

12:1 Yahweh continued with the whole clean-unclean thing. “If a woman gives birth to a son she will be unclean for a month but if she has a daughter she will be unclean for two months. After that she must bring a lamb to be burned by a priest. If she’s poor and can’t afford that, a couple of birds will do.”

13:2 Yahweh had lots of rules regarding personal hygiene. “Anyone with skin problems should go see a priest. There they should be quarantined until it can be determined whether or not they have leprosy. If they do have the disease then the priest will take a live bird and dip it in the blood of a dead bird and sprinkle blood on the leper and then let the bird loose. When the disease gets worse, more animals must be slaughtered.”

“Anything unclean must be washed. If something appears to be growing on the wall of your house, like some algae or bio-slime of some sort, scrape it off. Then wipe down the whole wall with a live bird dipped in blood.”

15:16 “Sperm is unclean. Anything it touches must be washed and even then it will be considered unclean until sunset. Anyone who has sex is definitely unclean and must bathe thoroughly and still be considered unclean until the following sunset.”

The lady and white horse - wallpaper15:19 “When a woman is menstruating she is considered unclean in a major way. Anything she touches is unclean, anyone she touches is unclean. Anyone who touches something that she touched is unclean. Anything that… oh well you get the idea. Even after she is finished having that not-so-fresh time of the month, she must remain completely separated from the rest of society for a whole week, just to be sure. Then she must give a couple of birds to the local priest. Then she will be clean, for the moment.”

16:2 Yahweh said to Moses, “Tell Aaron not to go waltzing into the big holy tent just any ol’ time he wants or I will kill him!”

Yahweh then described another primitive ritual for the tribes to add to their long and ever-growing list of ridiculous requirements. Once per year, after much more than the usual amount of ritualistic killings, a single goat was to be set free to roam alone but alive out on the desert. All of the crimes against Yahweh’s rules that the people had committed that previous year were blamed on this one liberated goat. It was all that stupid damn goat’s fault somehow. Stole grandma’s retirement? Damn goat. Cheated on the wife? Damn goat. The evil essence from all that wrong doing was somehow magically transferred to the goat. The evil would rise from the people’s bodies like so much mist or smoke and enter into the body of the goat, making it responsible, making it the guilty one. This would leave the people fresh to start a whole new year of being jerks all over again from scratch.

Having described the new procedure Yahweh announced oddly “No more will you be making sacrifices to those wild goats that you’ve been lusting after.” Then for good measure Yahweh stressed one more time that he hated people who drink blood.

Joanne's Goats - photo by Brad Snowder

Next: My Way or the Highway
The Bible According to Brad

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One Comment on “The Show Must Go On”

  1. Darlene Says:

    These are always so interesting.

    Reply

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