Monday, August 11, 2014

Leviticus: Chapter 22

The limits within

What cane be ingested
set forth

The hollows within
the hallowed bread

Give perfection

[For full chapter, click here
This chapter continues seamlessly from the last, expanding on the special laws for the priests, The key words remain teh sme: "Hallowed" (kadosh), "Hollowed / desecrated" (halal); protect / guardianship (mishmeret; shamor); and, of course, teh leiwort of this entire book: closeness/ close/ offering (root k'r'b).
In a reflection of the previous laws defining the relationship to the Dwelling, this chapter moves from defining the limitations on the priest's contact with others, to his relationship with his own body and its excretions. As before, entering the space of Meeting demands a containment from the self. In counterpoint, as in the case of Israel, the relationship to the Dwelling is intimately related to questions of food: what can and should be ingested. 
In a return to the fateful "eighth day" which saw the death of the two sons of Aaron, once again there is an ominous parallel between the priests and the offerings they bring to the altar. If the previous chapter demanded physical perfection of the priests--any disfigurement makes them unfit for service--this chapter demands (in almost identical terms) physical perfection from animals. Any animal that is disfigured is disqualified from the altar. The "daughter of a kohen-man" who "desecrates" her father is "to be burned by fire"--a clear echo of the "fire that God burned," which destroyed the "two sons of Aaron." The priests who "come close" are intertwined with the animals they "bring close:" And closeness is dangerous.  ]  

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