Thursday, November 10, 2011

Conversation on Leviticus 21:16-23

It has been a while since I have last posted. This time I wish to post a conversation that I have had on the Web with some persons about some verses of the Scriptures and about G-d. The names have been removed to preserve anonymity. A little editing was applied to correct the spelling of words to what the persons intended to say.

Someone posted in response to Leviticus 21:16-23, 'lol, God made people with defects but he finds them gross. hahah'

16 The LORD said to Moses, 17 “Say to Aaron: ‘For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. 18 No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; 19 no man with a crippled foot or hand, 20 or who is a hunchback or a dwarf, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles. 21 No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the food offerings to the LORD. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God. 22 He may eat the most holy food of his God, as well as the holy food; 23 yet because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the LORD, who makes them holy.
[comment by Person 1 removed]

Person 2: I can't stop laughing. A nice way around this would just be to cure them all, but oh well. Btw, shouldn't the altar have magical properties that could cure them?

Person 2: So I can't go to the altar until my knee gets better?

I responded to the discussion which seem to be about Scripture and the character of G-d.

Me: Interesting questions and issues. What is the reference for this scripture?

Person 2: I'll definitely have to look, but I don't think is very nice regardless.

Me: G-d usually uses phsyical things to teach symbollic and spiritual meaning. In the day that his tabernacle is on earth, there will b categories of ppl who will not b able to come near to him.

Me: Perhaps a prophetic lesson or symbol that parallels the text that no whoremonger, adulterer and spiritual unclean person will inherit the kingdom (Ephesians 5:5 plus others in the New Testament

Ephesians 5:5 "For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person--such a man is an idolater..."
New Living Translation (©2007)"You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy..."

Person 2: The passage Person 1 mentioned clearly states that only people who could be classified as gross aren't allowed in. They did not bring it upon themselves. A whoremonger, adulterer, etc chose to partake in actions that God asked them not to partake in. The others, God Himself made them that way. Thus, I still don't understand.

Me: Found the verses in Leviticus 21 (New International Version).

Me: U r right Person 2. However, because of who is involved - the Levitical priesthood, which is a symbollic and ceremonial role, that parallels who G-d's ppl are, I believe G-d was teaching through the ceremonies a spiritual truth, just as he does with the other ceremonies and rituals in the "OT". Even though we do nothing as babies, we inherit SIN and what we inherit is still detestable to G-d. Likewise there is nothing that we can do to get rid of it, so it takes G-d's action to do so.

Person 2: So if you had one deformed child, in order to teach your other children a lesson, would you ban your deformed child from coming into the bedroom, telling him quite clearly that it's because he's too deformed to come near you?

Me: The deformed Levite ate G-d's holy bread. He was just excluded from the office of going into the temple/tabernacle to work on the altar/mercy seat. However I'll ponder your question some more.

Person 3: To this entire post - my point exactly

Person 2: Okay, Mark, while you ponder it, ponder it in terms of your deformed child having eaten the last slice of Christmas cake (closest thing I could think of to holy bread).

Me: Can't judge G-d by my/our personal standards. Have to evaluate him by his own standards and about what he says about himself. But I will still ponder your question in terms of the context/reference that you have posited.

Person 2: He DOES say He is merciful, so you can judge him by that and explain how the above is merciful.

Me: I'm still pondering, but I know that throughout the Bible G-d selected persons with defects to serve him. Moses was a bad speaker, perhaps with a stutter problem. Jeremiah also complained that he was not eloquent in speech and was young. David was not handsome (relative in comparison to his brothers). Jesus himself was describe as not handsome in Isaiah 53 [Jewish scholars may differ with me on this]. Israel was chosen by G-d as a nation, because it was smaller than any other and insignificant to world events. So it is a matter of pondering what are the differences that lead G-d to act differently in some parts of the same word.

Me: Jacob was chosen over Esau though Esau was more good looking and strong.

Me: I'll continue meditation on the subject and the questions. However I do know that G-d selects some people to be close to him and others, he does not select. He has that right. Not selecting someone to share special knowledge with does not mean that he loves them any less. He is like a CEO who selects the best persons for a job.
Me: Love the points and questions though, as they challenge my existing ideas and knowledge of G-d and who he is. Pushes me to search some more.

[END of conversation]

Now I want to find out what rabbinic literature has to say on the subject and would welcome input from Jewish literature on the subject, as contemporary Christian literature inadequately provides insight on such passages. Then perhaps this conversation is not at an end, but to be continued.

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