My Mum's Ancient Family Bible

My Mum's Ancient Family Bible
Kept in the garage of all places for so many years, it's finally been put to good use.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I Have Moved to Wordpress


I have moved my blog over to Wordpress because it offers more bells and whistles.

Please go to for future posts. I'll be transferring past posts over to that as soon as I can.

Thank for reading!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ju-ju-jubilee (Leviticus 25-27)

Imagine the title for this post being sung in the cadence of "Susudio" by Phil Collins.

I question God's math. He's given the Israelites land to live in and harvest. They know that they're supposed to rest on the sabbath - that rule has been reiterated ad nauseaum. Now God tells them that every fiftieth year is extra-special. Get this: "And you shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall be to you forty-nine years... And you shall hallow the fiftieth year... it shall be a jubilee for you..." (Lev 25:8-10). What a confusing method of counting. I mean, it's counting; it's not that hard, even without calculators. Maybe God is trying to temporally disorient his people as a means of control.

It's funny to me how, in the thick of all these rules in Leviticus, God likes to throw in a "Don't forget to fear me. I am the LORD". Caps lock. If that isn't enough, he goes on to tell Moses and his people all the terrible things he'll do to them if they don't observe his commandments. Plagues are high on the list. But I personally think this is the worst of them: "When I break the staff of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and shall deliver your bread again by weight; and you shall eat, and not be satisfied" (Lev 26:26). Not be satisfied? Like those Downs kids who lack the hormonal regulation to tell their bodies they're full so they're reduced to ripping off the pantry doors in a frenzied search for Dunk-a-roos? Since I feel like I have Prader-Willi syndrome most of the time (I have an unholy appetite) I would hate to actually have it.

Much of Leviticus 26 is devoted to telling you what to do if you've got a deadbeat brother (or sister, implicitly). You're supposed to be nice to him and take him in but you're not allowed to make him your slave. Oh, no. That's wrong. You can, however, take him on as a "hired servant". Same difference. I don't know how this would look in biblical times but the modern equivalent would be that the brother would live in your finished basement and chaffeur your kids to swimming lessons around while he "works on his screenplay". Have you seen that screenplay yet? I haven't.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Don't Touch My Stuff (Leviticus 22-24)

I wonder if God has OCD. He thinks everything is dirty and he doesn't like people handling his stuff. He can't seem to fess up to this so he makes up a bunch of rules instead.

Leviticus 22 deals with who can and who can't handle holy things (such as blessed bread). "Whoever touches anything that is unclean through contact with the dead or a man who has had an emission of semen and whoever touches a creeping thing by which he may be made unclean or a man from whom he may take uncleanness, whatever his uncleanness may be- the person who touches any such shall be unclean until the evening and shall not eat of the holy things unless he has bathed his body in water" (Lev 22:4-6). This is very vague. What is most unclear to me is if you haven't mastrubated but touch someone who has, are you unclean, too? And how would you be able to tell? I can get a sense if someone hasn't mastrubated in a while but it's harder to tell the other way around.

God lays out the timing of the feast of Passover and a few other holidays in Leviticus 23. One of the weirder ones that's mentioned is on the fifteenth day of the seventh month: the feast of booths. What? During the feast of booths you're supposed to dwell inside booths for seven entire days (and you're supposed to eat as much all-you-can-eat-iceberg-lettuce-based salad as you can). Jewish people should've kept that tradition going. It would be easy to take the whole family to East Side Mario's once a year.

I get excited when I come across a well-known passage in the Bible. We finally get some semi-satisfying context for the whole "eye for an eye" thing in Leviticus 24. There's this Israelite woman who had a kid by an Egyptian guy and her kid uses the name of God to blaspheme so God tells everyone to stone him. As a matter of fact, anyone who blasphemes should be put to death, says God. He goes on to proclaim "He who kills a man shall be put to death. He who kills a beast shall make it good, life for life. When a man causes a disfigurement in his neighbour, as he has done it shall be done to him, fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has disfigured a man, he shall be disfigured" (Lev 24:17-20). If that's the rule, couldn't God have just called the kid a bad name and leave it at that?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

No Dwarfs Allowed (Leviticus 20-21)

One of my favourite movies when I was a kid (and still to this day) was Anne of the Thousand Days. It's based on the story of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, who made him do the impossible in restructuring the relationship between the monarch and the Church in England so he could divorce his barren first wife, Cathering of Aragon, and marry her instead. In some scenes it gets pretty campy with Richard Burton huffing and puffing around the set and screaming things like, "I must have a son! Even if I have to split the world in two like an apple and throw the two halves into the void!". Anyways, Henry rationalizes divorcing Catherine by using a passage from Leviticus: "If a man takes his brother's wife, it is impurity; he has uncovered his brother's nakedness, they shall be childless" (Lev 20:21). Catherine had been married to his younger and sicklier brother Arthur who died after less than a year of marriage. I was tickled to come across this passage, which I heard time and time again while rewatching Anne of the Thousand Days as a kid (I did not care for things like Care Bears).

Another tangent: as a teenager, I participated in one of the worst-ever plays based on the six wives of Henry VIII which was written, directed and starring a very slender homosexual (more slender than Jonathan Rhys Meyers). It was very confusing for all involved. I played Catherine of Aragon (even though I wanted to play Anne Boleyn) and was forced to utter the following garbage when I received the news that Henry was divorcing me: "Hell is freezing over". I also had to deliver this line facing the audience. It was too much for me and I corpsed more than once.

Back to the Bible. You better be a real knock-out if you want to offer up bread to the Lord. There's a pretty lengthy list of people who are deemed unfit for this task. "For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or limbs too long, or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, or a hunchback, or a dwarf, or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles..." (Lev 21:17-20). Harsh. I wonder if "blemish" is the right word in this scenario; it rules out a lot of people. And I can't imagine why crushed testicles are on the list because that seems to be something that would distract your attention away from participating in religious rites.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Goat Whisperer (Leviticus 16-19)

God seems to demand an animal sacrifice every minute. It's a little excessive. He calls upon Aaron to make an animal sacrifice involving two goats. He kills one but is instructed to place his hands on the head of the other and "confess over him all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the goat, and send him away into the wilderness" (Lev 16:21). A goat. To me, a goat is a very disinterested-looking animal. I imagine the goat chewing some metal object and staring off into the distance with glassy eyes, while Aaron earnestly atones for his entire people's sins by whispering them into its hairy ear. How ridiculous.

I think I've mentioned before that God doesn't want people to consume the blood of any animal. The reason comes out in Leviticus 17: "You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off" (Lev 17:14). I looked up some of the kosher rules and this is one of them. All blood is supposed to be drained from meat and poultry, or broiled out of it. How sad. Last night, I was treated by a friend to a delicious medium-rare T-Bone at Jacob's Steakhouse. It was truly a revelation. I personally believe it would be a sin to overcook a nice piece of meat like that.

Levitcus 18 focuses on who you should never see naked; basically, any of your relatives or in-laws (this isn't Europe). If you do try to "uncover the nakedness" of any of them then God threatens that the land will "vomit you out" (Lev 18:28). I'd like to know what some of the other options for translation were on that one.

A bunch of weird rules get served up in Leviticus 19. Some of these I've heard before but some I haven't.

1. You can't wear clothes made with two different kinds of materials (like a poly-cotten blend).

2. You can't sport a shaggy beard [this is how I interpret "You shall not... mar the edges of your beard" (Lev 19:27)].

3. You can't have tattoos.

4. You can't be loose about measuring things (so you can't bake cookies and put in roughly a cup of sugar).

After listing these rules, God says "You shall rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD" (Lev 19:32). Okay, so God is an old guy.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Everyone is Disgusting (Leviticus 14-15)

Leviticus 14 finishes up the discussion on leprosy (I think). If you happen to have leprosy and are lucky enough to kick it then you have to go through a disturbing ritual to cleanse yourself:

1) Get yourself two birds. Doesn't really matter what kind although God seems to have a penchant for turtledoves.

2) Get yourself a priest. Make him kill one of the birds in an earthen vessel and then dip the other bird in its blood.

3) Relase the living, traumatized bird (like Jodie Foster running out of that bar in the first scene of The Accussed).

4) Go wash yourself and shave off all your body hair.

It's been established that lepers are unclean. No argument there. They're covered in nasty sores. But God goes a little far in stating that, "When any man has a discharge from his body, his discharge is unclean" (Lev 15:2). He's talking about semen. Dirty, disgusting semen. If a man ejaculates, his bed is unclean and he is unclean until the evening (this is working under the assumption that all sex happens in the morning). After having sex, the man and the woman are supposed to wash themselves immediately (and separately I'm assuming, lest a shared bath lead to more sexy time). The woman is unclean, too, until the evening. With all this talk of uncleanliness, how did anyone in biblical times ever get in the mood?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I am Leper, Hear me Roar (Leviticus 12-13)

Gentlemen, we're on the subject of periods.

Not surprisingly, a woman is unclean when she's on the rag. Since the Bible was written by men who were in the dark on these important manners, this is for the duration of two whole weeks. Because apparently that's how long periods last. Maybe that's the case if you've grown up on a diet of low-quality hormone-laden dairy and meat but otherwise -- and don't quote me on this -- you're looking at three to six days typically.

If a woman gives birth to a male child, she is unclean for thirty-three days; if she gives birth to a female child, it's sixty-six days because girls are exactly twice as gross as boys. My question is: what if she gives birth to an intersexual child? Huh? I guess she would be unclean for forty-nine and a half days.

Leviticus 13 turns to all things having to do with leprosy. How to diagnose, when to pitch tainted clothing, etc. For example, when you have an open sore (just one?), check to see if the surrounding hairs have turned white. If they're white, you have leprosy. This gets confusing if you're old and already have white hairs on your person. I'd recommend playing it safe and assuming you are indeed a leper.

The Bible instructs the leper to do the following: "wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry, "Unclean, unclean." (Lev 13:45). Seems a tad harsh.

Leprosy is also known as Hansen's disease and according to Wikipedia, World Leprosy Day is January 31. Mark that in your calendars.