Monday, February 07, 2011

New Year: Lv 27; Nm 1-2 for Feb 7

Have preachers been frightened away from Lv 27? Certainly it is not a common sermon topic! Its presence in the Old Testament is another one of those facts, like the numbers of Nm 1-2 as well, that talks as much about the integrity of the overall collection as it talks about the selling of one's property and self, or the numbers of soldiers.

The law (in this case, "the commandments which the Lord commanded Moses for the sons of Israel at Mount Sinai," Lv 27:34) covers aspects regulating and requiring justice, within situations that are declensions from the norm and optimal. The year of jubilee (e.g. Lv 27:18) is also an example of that.

Is it embarrassing that the culture had provisions for selling of persons for debt? Yes. The requirements of justice within a non-optimal, almost embarassing eventuality, go on. In principle, to regulate the selling price of persons, given that persons are going to sell themselves into slavery, shows that the scope of God's will does not stop when the existing entrenched social custom is not ideal, or not even morally neutral, but has already declined. This last chapter of Leviticus is deliberate in this sense too, that there is good to be commanded within a bad situation.

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