Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Leviticus 20:22-27

Since my random Bible verse generator spit out Leviticus last week, this week I’ll finish discussing the rest of Leviticus 20, verses 22 to 27.

These verses are mainly concerned with God’s desire for people to keep true to the covenant he made with them.  If they obey the laws, they will possess “a land flowing with milk and honey.”  If they break the laws, they may be “vomit[ed] out” of the land.  The way to set yourself apart from other people is to eat only things which are clean, not unclean.  Thus, verse 25 says “Do not defile yourselves by any animal or bird or anything that moves along the ground.”  There’s more about what you can eat and what you should avoid elsewhere in Leviticus (chapter 11), but here’s an interesting verse that no one pays attention to:

Leviticus 20:27  A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death.  You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.

Think of all the mediums we put up with in modern life, from Sylvia Browne to Pat Robertson, from astrologers to psychics.  According to Leviticus, you can kill them by stoning and do so without the consequences of going to jail or, in the afterlife, hell.  I wonder if anyone used this is a defense against murder charges in Biblical times?  “But, your honor, that person was a medium!  The Lord commands us in Leviticus to kill all mediums.”  

As with most Bible verses, believers pick and choose.  An Orthodox Jew still keeps kosher, but he doesn’t murder astrologists.  A fundamentalist Christian claims to follow the Bible, but he ignores the verse about loving one another in favor of the verses that seem to condemn gays.  And to those of us on the outside, deriving meaning from the Bible makes no sense.

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