Leviticus 17: 1—19: 37

So, we start today with God laying down the law and order with the sacrifices.  This is to keep the sacrificial system holy.  Remember they are still being provided Manna every day, so they don’t need to be sacrificing their animals to eat.  This is also pagan worship prevention.  He is specific about the blood because blood was an important part of the worship of pagan gods.  He even tells them, “I have given you the blog on the altar to purify you, making you wright with the Lord. It is the blood given in exchange for a life, that makes purification (from sin) possible.” You can’t make it plainer than that.  

Because of the way the people in Egypt lived, (ignoring God and setting up a pantheon of fake gods) they received the plagues.  Because of the way the Canaanites live, (sexually immoral grotesque practices in the name of worshiping Molech) they are going to be vomited out of the Promised Land.  The Israelites are called to be different from these nations.  They are meant to be holy, and pure, otherwise, the Land will vomit them out too.  

I also love the protection God puts around women in these verses.  Men could not just run around having sex with whoever they wanted to.  This pureness in the area of sex also goes against pagan worship.  God is very clear about what constitutes sexual sin in these verses. 

Children are also protected.  The Canaanites would offer their children either as sacrifices where they were burned alive or they would dedicate them as temple prostitutes.  The Israelite children were safe from that if their parents worshipped God only.  

Goodness, so many topics covered today.  I feel like this is a color commentary on the 10 Commandments.  This was for the people who said, “Yeah, but what about when (any conceivable situation) happens?  God covers how he wants them to deal with the poverty mentality (holding on to something in case you don’t get more) and institutes a welfare system that will actually allow people to keep their dignity while being provided for.  The main point in what He is addressing is that if they adhered to His commands, they will be a unique (holy) nation with God at the center of their worship.  He is very clear about “spiritual prostitution and seeking mediums to communicate with the dead.  And remember He is having to tell them not to do all these things because these practices are running rampant around them.  If no one was giving their daughters as prostitutes He would not have to tell them NOT to do that.  

I’m going to be honest here and tell you that I stopped short when I read that section about the man having sex with a slave. I circled “not a free woman” and started panicking that God was condoning having sex with slave girls because they “belong” to someone else.  I got scared that He was condoning the rape of a slave girl because she belonged to someone else and had not been set free. And friends, this is the perfect example of the fact that we have to read things in context and allow the bible to define itself.  

I am programmed to see the word “slave” and be repulsed, as I should be because I am an American whose history includes a demonic slave trade and subsequent racial tension.  “Slave” in the bible is not talking about that kind of slavery.  How could it?  This book was written thousands of years before that horrid slave trade started.  Paul calls himself a slave of Jesus Christ in the NT.  A slave in the bible is someone who, because of his or her needs, puts himself under a master.  That master was to treat him or her in a way that lined up with the commandments of the Lord.  In this passage, this girl has been betrothed to another, and not yet freed from her economic obligation to her master.  So, the man who has had sex with her must pay to set her free.  How did they escape death?  Because she was not actually married yet.  If one of them had been married they would both have been put to death. (20:10)

So, does this girl get raped and the guy gets away with it?  Is God saying that these slave girls are laying around available for any guy to do with what he wants?  I asked God all these things this morning.  He brought to my mind the rape of Dinah.  She was the daughter of Jacob.  She went to hang out with the Canaanite women and the king’s son raped her.  Her family was so repulsed by what happened to her, the fallout was epic. (remember a whole town was circumcised then murdered while they were recovering from their minor surgery)  And then I had to look ahead, I couldn’t help myself.  I searched Deuteronomy for “instructions on rape.”  Whew! I found Deuteronomy 22:25-27.  GOD DOES NOT CONDON RAPE. I read back over this passage from today and I noticed that there was no language like “forced” or “captured.”  These instructions are for two consenting people who had sex outside of the context God puts around sex.  The man is responsible for atoning for the sin.  See? When you read things in the bible that makes you panic, you can’t redefine it so it’s palatable to you.  You have to let God teach you the context and let God define and color in what He means.  HE ALWAYS WILL.  

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Sarah Griffith
Sarah Griffith

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