Leviticus 5:1-14, four specific laws

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Helen, Oct 31, 2002.

  1. Helen

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    Aug 29, 2001
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    There are four specific laws here which are not covered in the regular law, and they are important enough to be inserted right in the middle of the section on sacrifices.

    1. It witnesses are sought and a person who is a witness refuses to come forward, he will be held responsible. This also applies to people who have learned something about which information is being sought.

    For us, today, this flies directly in the face of professional confidentiality! There are no exceptions to the law God has made here. He has not said, “unless the person talks to a priest or lawyer or doctor or psychiatrist.” The focus of this law is on the truth, not on “professional confidences.” Following this law of God’s would make for an interesting change in a number of governments around the world.

    2. Ceremonial uncleanliness occurs whether or not the person is aware of it if the person touches the carcasses of unclean wild animals or of unclean livestock or of unclean creatures of any kind “that move along the ground.” This law says, simply, that whether or not he is aware of it, he is guilty.

    Ceremonial uncleanness means one was not permitted to be involved in any Tabernacle ceremonies or work until the uncleanness was atoned for or, in some cases, a prescribed amount of time had passed.

    3. The same uncleanness occurs if a person touches anything of human origin that would make him unclean (this will be explained later in the law, in chapters 11-15). What it different about this, from the second law, is that the person is not considered guilty until he learns of his transgression

    There is, in the phrasing here, the possibility that not being held guilty until learning one has touched something unclean might apply to both #2 and #3, but it for sure applies to #3.

    4. Oaths taken, even thoughtlessly, are serious matters. The word used for oath here comes from the root meaning to say something seven times, or completely. Thus the derivative word meant to swear to do something. This was more than just saying “Yes, I will do that”. It was to make a point using something about God as a reference as to the accuracy of what you said. The Bible says here that even if you say it carelessly, unawares, in the course of normal conversation, you are guilty of having taken an oath.

    Today, some phrases that might be similar that are used in casual conversation might include “Honest to God”, or “as God is my witness,” or “So help me God”. Hebrew oaths also invoked the objects in the Tabernacle or the Tabernacle or Temple itself later. It was about these oaths Jesus gave Christians the strict rule that we should not swear by anything, but simply let our yes be yes and our no be no. If we don’t mean what we say, in other words, all the oaths ever taken won’t help!

    These four laws, if broken in any way, required confession and the sacrifice of a female lamb or goat, “and the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin.”

    Why a female? There are a couple of interesting possibilities brought up by commentators. Females breed, and the use of a female might have been in part to symbolize a stopping of the type of activity being confessed to here. Each one of these particular laws involves things which may easily become habits -- refusing to become involved, being careless about what is done, being careless about what is spoken. Sacrificing a female is also sacrificing her ability to breed. The symbolism here was probably not lost on the people.

    The other possibility that had any credibility (and if you check a search engine, you can get some really far out stuff!), was that the female was a symbol for submission, and man must submit to God's laws.

    Immediately following this come the notes that allow the poor people to give something of lesser value (although probably as relatively expensive to them as a lamb or goat to a more well-off person). Two young doves or two young pigeons were allowed for the poor. If he could not even afford that, then a tenth of an ephah, which would have been about a couple of quarts, of fine flour would be accepted as the sin offering. Since it was a sin offering, there would be no oil or incense with it. The priest was to take only a handful of this flour and burn it on the altar. The priest was allowed to keep the rest for his own use.

    It is interesting to note that the priests of this, the Aaronic, priesthood, got their livelihood because of the sins of the people.
  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Oct 10, 2001
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