We’re continuing through the book of Numbers. So far there have been a lot of numbers and several rules, many of which are silly and outright crazy. Chapter 19 brings us some cleansing!
“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: ‘This is a requirement of the law that the Lord has commanded: Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect or blemish and that has never been under a yoke. Give it to Eleazar the priest; it is to be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence. Then Eleazar the priest is to take some of its blood on his finger and sprinkle it seven times toward the front of the tent of meeting. While he watches, the heifer is to be burned—its hide, flesh, blood and intestines. The priest is to take some cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet wool and throw them onto the burning heifer. After that, the priest must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water. He may then come into the camp, but he will be ceremonially unclean till evening. The man who burns it must also wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he too will be unclean till evening.’” – Numbers 19:1-8
Poor Eleazar. He has to slaughter the heifer and watch it burn. Something tells me that burning in the Bible is not the same as grilling steaks. 🙂 I understand the need to clean oneself with water after a good heifer slaughtering, but being unclean till evening? Makes no sense! What does the position of the Sun have to do with your cleanliness?
“A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and put them in a ceremonially clean place outside the camp. They are to be kept by the Israelite community for use in the water of cleansing; it is for purification from sin.” – Numbers 19:9
Heifer ashes are to be used for the purification from sin? WTF?!?!?!?
“Whoever touches a human corpse will be unclean for seven days. They must purify themselves with the water on the third day and on the seventh day; then they will be clean. But if they do not purify themselves on the third and seventh days, they will not be clean.” – Numbers 19:11-12
Um…God needs to take a basic middle school health class. If you touch a human corpse, just wash your damn hands and be done with it! Waiting seven days? That’s crazy talk!
“If they fail to purify themselves after touching a human corpse, they defile the Lord’s tabernacle. They must be cut off from Israel.” – Numbers 19:13
Yes, not washing your hands after touching a corpse is not proper hygiene, but to be cut off from the people? That’s overly harsh and not a justified punishment.
“Anyone out in the open who touches someone who has been killed with a sword or someone who has died a natural death, or anyone who touches a human bone or a grave, will be unclean for seven days.” – Numbers 19:16
What if someone is unnaturally killed by a stone?
Following this verse are a few verses on the exact method to go from unclean to clean in seven days. Here’s my hypothesis. God doesn’t want the people to think. There’s not much to do in biblical times, so God fears that in boredom, the people will begin to think. Therefore He gives them ridiculous rules and procedures to follow to keep them “busy” and prevent them from critically thinking. Sneaky move God, sneaky move…or shall I say Moses pretending to by god?!?!
Coming Soon: Numbers – Chapter 20: Water From the Rock