Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Leviticus: Chapter 3


bread and spirit

human and divine 

the  broken parts

Do not touch 

the blood 

the glistening milk

[For full chapter, click here
A return to the animal. Once again, a focus on choice (a repeated anaphoric conditional), and a return to the third person. Yet the greater intimacy of the grain offering "thou" has had an impact. No more is this offering completely for God. Now it is split between the human and the divine, some parts offered, some parts left for the offerer.
The split between God and man paradoxically  creates a harsher ambiance. The focus on the chapter is on splitting. We break up the simple unity of the ascension offering, carving the animal to its pieces. Each type of animal is craved differently. Each highlights a different aspect of the offering: cattle is a "pleasing smell"; sheep are "a bread/food offering"; goats bring together this duality--a "bread/food offering" that is also "a pleasing smell."   The offering itself becomes multifaceted. It can be both male or female. It is an offering/ korban for "coming close" (le-hakriv); it is a type of incense (le-haktir); it is a zevakh, a sacrifice,  cognate of "altar", mizbeach. 
In creating a shared "food" for the human and divine, the "peace offering" also introduces duality, and the need for limits. Certain things do not belong to the human realm, cannot be ingested. The primordial blood, and the glistening white fat ( helev, cognate and near synonym of halav, milk) are not to be touched. ]

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