Leviticus 15: More rules about discharge than you ever thought you’d need.
Discharge. The very word conjures up images of gooey yellowish puddles on crumpled up tissues, brown mucus caked under long fingernails, and expired cottage cheese. So important is unusual bodily discharge that the Lord Himself saw fit to dedicate a whole chapter on how to deal with it.
For your average irregular discharge (and/or menstrual flow):
- Anything you sit or lay on becomes unclean.
- Anyone who touches anything you sit or lay on becomes unclean.
- Anyone who touches you becomes unclean.
- Anyone you spit on becomes unclean
- Any clay pots you touch must be broken
- Any wooden things you touch must be rinsed off
For the more ‘intimate’ discharge:
- An emission of semen makes you unclean until sundown. Similarly, any clothing or leather that has had semen on it needs to be rinsed off, and is unclean until sundown. Plan accordingly!
- Be sure to rinse off after sex. Pro-tip: if you do it just before sundown, you minimize your unclean time!
- Keep away from menstruating women, and especially don’t have sex with them. Otherwise you’ll be unclean for seven whole days.
When you’re done discharging or sexing, or whatever you get up to, you need to wait seven days for your ceremonial cleansing. Fortunately this is a simple process of sacrificing two pigeons. Easy peasy, and cleanup is a snap!
Leviticus 13-14: Tips for Smoother Skin
Continuing in his dispensation of infallible medical advice, the Lord provided the following guidelines for dealing with leprosy and various other skin diseases. For convenience, these have been laid out in a Mayo Clinic-esque fashion. Of course, only a licensed professional can give proper medical advice, so be sure to consult your priest.
- Does your skin appear swollen, shiny, or have a rash?
- Does the sore appear to be more than skin-deep?
- Has the hair in the sore turned white?
If you answered YES to 1, 2, and 3, you are ceremonially unclean. See below for treatment.
If you answered YES to 1, you are to be isolated for seven days, then consult your priest again for another assessment. If the sore fades during your quarantine, it was simply a rash. If it spreads, you are likely ceremonially unclean. See below for treatment.
Defiling Skin Disease can present itself in many forms, including but not limited to:
- White swelling in skin that turns hair white
- Raw flesh exposed in swelling
- Boils that heal leaving a white swelling OR reddish-white spot, which is more than skin-deep AND the skin in the sore has turned white AND/OR is spreading
- Burns that turn reddish-white OR white AND are more than skin deep, AND/OR are spreading
- Sores on the head or chin, which are more than skin deep AND have thin, yellow hairs.
- Reddish-white sores on the head causing hair loss.
While there is no real treatment for Defiling Skin Disease, doing the following allegedly help healing:
- Wear torn clothes
- Keep hair unkempt
- Cover lower part of your face
- Become a hermit and live outside the camp
- Whenever in the presence of others, call out repeatedly: “UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!”
As the skin disease miraculously resolves itself, your healthcare professional (i.e. a priest) may prescribe the following preventative measures may help stave off future infections:
- Kill one bird over a clay pot filled with fresh water. Dip a live bird, together with cedar wood, yarn, and hyssop, into the blood of the killed bird. Have a priest sprinkle this aromatic mixture over you seven times before releasing the bloodied bird.
- Live outside for seven days, then shave off all your hair.
- Bring two male lambs and one year-old ewe, a handful of flour mixed with olive oil, and about 1.25 cups of oil to a priest. He will slaughter the lamb, rub some of the blood on your ear, thumb, and big toe, and then rub himself down with oil. Then he’ll burn the carcasses.
A note on defiling molds: Molds can be nasty, persistent, and defiling. Fortunately your healthcare professional (your priest) also happens to be an expert home inspector! If you suspect mold in your home, call your priest. He may prescribe that your home be torn down entirely, or may opt for the sacrificial route:
- Collect two birds, cedar wood, yarn and hyssop
- Kill one bird over a clay pot filled with fresh water
- Dip the other bird, cedar, yarn, and hyssop into the bloody mess in the pot.
- Liberally sprinkle the bloody concoction around the house (makes a great accent wall!)
- Release what’s left of the live bird
Leviticus 12: Post-birth tips for moms!
The Lord, whose wisdom surpassed any medical advice at the time (and arguably – being the infallible word of God – remains superior to any modern medicine developed since), gives the following handy hints for women who have just given birth:
- It’s a Boy! Congratulations – you are only ceremonially unclean for seven days! On the eighth day your beloved baby boy gets to undergo some ritual genital mutilation. For the next 33 days, purify yourself by keeping away from anything sacred, and don’t even think about going to temple.
- It’s a Girl! Tough luck – you are ceremonially unclean for fourteen days, but serves you right for birthing one of those that caused of our fall from grace. For the next 66 days, purify yourself and think about what you’ve done.
When your days of purification are done, haul a year-old lamb and a pigeon down to your local priest so he can make a burnt offering and a sin offering to atone for your filth. Can’t afford a lamb? Just bring two pigeons.
Leviticus 11: Cleanliness is next to godliness
Of all the animals in the world, there is only a select few that we may eat. It is expressly forbidden to eat any of the following:
- Animals that do not have divided hooves (e.g. camels, horses) or animals that don’t chew cud (e.g. pigs, rabbits).
- Sea creatures without fins or scales (e.g. shrimp, otters)
- Eagles, vultures, kites, ravens, owls, cormorants, ospreys, storks, herons, hoopoes, and bats.
- Flying insects that walk on all fours (e.g. beetles, wasps)
- Weasels, rats, or lizards, and any animal that moves along the ground (e.g. snakes)
- Animals with paws (e.g. cats, wolves) or feet other than hooves (e.g. gorillas)
There are, however, a few animals that are permitted:
- Animals that have divided hooves and chew cud (e.g. cows, zebras)
- Sea creatures with fins and scales (e.g. fish)
- Any birds not listed above
- Flying insects with jointed legs for hopping (e.g. grasshoppers, locusts)
Unfortunately, should you accidentally touch the carcass of an unclean animal, you yourself will be deemed unclean till evening. Similarly, should one of these things accidentally die and land on something, it too is unclean until evening (with the exception of containers, which remain permanently unclean). Unwatered seeds are unharmed by unclean carcasses, but watered ones must be discarded.
Real-world example: Suppose a rat is scurrying across a shelf, when suddenly a piece of plaster inopportunely falls from the ceiling, landing on the rat and breaking its neck. The rat then tumbles off the shelf into a clay pot of water, which tips over and spills onto a bag of oat seeds. The rat’s soggy carcass then rolls out of the pot, down the oat bag, and onto your sleeve, as you are napping beside the bag of oats. You wake up startled, throw your arms up, and inadvertently fling the dead rat out an open window, where it lands in a cistern.
Working backwards, in this case”…
- The cistern is clean, as is the water in it, but the poor guy who has to fish it out with his hands will become unclean
- Your shirt is unclean until you wash it
- You are unclean until evening, regardless of whether you bathe
- Any dry oat seeds from the bag are clean, while any wet ones are unclean and must be thrown away
- The clay pot is permanently unclean and should be broken up
- The shelf is unclean for an indefinite amount of time and should be removed for good measure
- The plaster is unclean and your ceiling needs repair
As a result of these rules, we can safely generalize any culture whose cuisine centers around pork, shellfish, or any other unclean food as a generally unclean group of people to be avoided altogether.
Leviticus 10: Problems with authority
One day Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, being precocious young teens with an aptitude for challenging authority, lit some incense without prior authorization from the Lord. Naturally, the Lord swooped down upon them in a pillar of fire, stripping skin from bone in a nuclear rage. What little remained of them was dumped outside the camp by their cousins.
To Aaron’s remaining sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, Moses warned, “don’t lose your cool about this, or else He’ll kill you too and He’ll be angry with all of us! Stay in this tent, because you’ve been marked by the Lord, and He’ll kill you if you leave. Oh, and if you drink alcohol in the tent you’ll die too.”
Moses returned to the distraught boys later, and once again demonstrated his absent-mindedness. Moses was convinced that he had commanded the boys to eat – rather than burn – their sin offering, although he actually hadn’t. Nevertheless, he was angry with them for failing to follow an order he hadn’t given, but then promptly forgot why he was angry.
Leviticus 9: Like a bee to honey
On the eighth day of his ordainment, Aaron called together the Israelites and had them all round up perfectly good calves, goats and lambs for needless slaughter. That day, carcasses piled up outside the tent as hundreds of animals were skinned, bled dry, hacked into pieces, and tossed on the fire for offerings, as per the Lord’s instruction. The tent was stained a deep crimson from all the blood being splashed around the sides.
Aaron blessed the people for their offerings, and he and Moses retreated to the Tent of Meeting. The day’s activities were not all for waste, however, as the pleasing aroma of hundreds of pounds of burning meat attracted the Lord, and He barrelled out of the tent in a giant flame to consume the delicious meat.
After all this time in the desert, the Israelites had finally met their God, and they shouted with joy and fell to their knees.
Leviticus 6-8: “In case you forgot”…”
While it was only five chapters ago that the Lord had told Moses exactly what to do with regards to burnt offerings, grain offerings, sin offerings, and all sorts of other offerings, the Lord once again restated in great detail exactly everything he had said earlier. Presumably Moses was a forgetful man and needed to be told things several times, in which case, one might wonder how accurate his initial account of the Ten Commandments was.
Over the next week, Moses finally got around to following the Lord’s previous instructions for ordaining Aaron and his priests, unnecessarily killing animals and splashing their blood around everywhere.
Leviticus 3-5: Paying for your sins
While Moses now had a collection of tasty sacrificial recipes, the Lord added a footnote that the Israelites must not eat any fat nor blood. He then outlined several possible scenarios in which a person may unintentionally sin, and the various types of animals to be sacrificed, the methods to be used, and where and how to splash the blood. For example:
- If it was a priest unintentionally sins, he must sacrifice a bull, and take a bowl of blood into the tent. He must then dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle it seven times before the Lord, and burn the fat and organs of the bull, but burn the rest of the animal outside the tent.
- If a person accidentally touches something ceremonially unclean, such as the carcass of an unclean animal (whatever that is – we haven’t been advised yet), when they finally do realize their idiotic mistake, they must pay for their sin by sacrificing a female lamb.
- If a person sins, but is so poor that they can’t afford to sacrifice a lamb, they must sacrifice two pigeons. If they’re poorer still and can’t even afford that, they’re not off the hook – everybody pays. The poorest of the poor must sacrifice some of their best grain.
Of course, these don’t override previous punishments. For example, if one accidentally does work on the Sabbath – say by lighting a fire before they realize it’s Sabbath Day – they must be put to death. Similarly, if in a temporary lapse of judgement a person curses his mother or father, they must be put to death.
Leviticus 2: Bread like Bubbe used to make
In a continuing effort to display His culinary know-how, the Lord relayed even more sacrificial guidelines and pleasing recipes to Moses.
Ingredients: Finest flour available. Olive oil. Incense.
Combine handful of flour and equal parts olive oil and incense. Burn on altar.
Give remainder of flour to priests.
Ingredients: Finest flour available. Olive oil. Salt.
For thick loaves: Mix flour and oil. Do not use yeast. Cook on griddle.
Remove from griddle, crumble and douse in oil. Season delicately with salt.
Burn on altar.
Give remainder of fine flour to priests.
For thin loaves: Mix flour and oil. Do not use yeast. Cook in pan.
Remove from pan, and add salt to taste. Burn on altar.
Give remainder of fine flour to priests.
Leviticus 1: Three meat recipes fit for a Lord
When we last left the Israelites, they were following the Lord and his Holy Cloudmobile through the desert. One fine day, the Lord parked his cloud over the Tent of Meeting, as He was prone to do, and gave Moses some guidelines for sacrifice, but more importantly, three surefire recipes that are guaranteed to please the Lord!
Ingredients: One male bull, without defect. Wood.
Arrange wood and light on fire.
While fire is preheating, slaughter bull in front of tent entrance, saving blood. Splash blood against sides of altar.
Skin bull and cut into pieces. Save head. Arrange other pieces on burning wood.
Wash and clean internal organs with water. Place on top of other meat. Top with head.
Cook until ashen.
Ingredients: One sheep, or if preferred, goat. Wood.
Arrange wood and light on fire. While preheating, sacrifice sheep at north side of tent, saving blood.
Splash blood against sides of tent.
Cut goat into pieces as directed in “Burnt Beef” recipe. Arrange on fire and cook until ashen.
Ingredients: One dove or pigeon; no other type of bird. Wood.
Arrange wood and light on fire. While preheating, delicately grasp bird’s head and wrench it off entirely. Drain blood. Discard head.
Pluck bird and remove crop.
Grasp each wing tightly and tear bird open.
Set bird on fire. Cook until ashen.