Image from Christa Wimmers
I imagine that any reasonable and rational Israelite, after reading the last chapters of Leviticus, would have said something like, "Whoa God, what is up with you?!?" And of course, he would've been met by silence, because it wasn't really God who wrote this stuff, but the priests and Israelite elites.
The last chapters of Leviticus, 25 through 27, paint God as if he's a sociopathic control freak, with a tinge of multiple personality disorder, and paranoid delusion. In Chapter 25, God's kind of a good guy. In Chapter 26, he morphs into a monster. And finally, in Chapter 27, He calms down - a little bit, but gives some rather awkward bits of information regarding the cash value of human life.
As I said, in Chapter 25, God's a half-decent guy. He gives a little bit of advice on real estate, how to treat your slaves, how to purchase your brother as a slave, and he even says some nice, though ironic, things. God almost sounds like Thomas Jefferson when he said, ""Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof."
And like Thomas Jefferson, whom I admire, He was in the odd position of having to justify slavery.
Chapter 26 is where his personality sudden changes. He tells the Israelites, through the scribes who wrote this down, that if they follow his laws (stone nonbelievers, don't boil a kid in its mother's milk, don't eat crustaceans, etc.), then God will give them success. He promises to give them rain when rain is due, to be on their side when the Israelites go to war, to drive away "evil beasts", and to have bountiful harvests.
But if the Israelites don't do this, if they have the audacity to go against Him and His covenant, God lists all the punishments He will put upon them. They be forced to under such hardship that they will have to eat their kids (Leviticus 26:29), at least the ones left over after their enemies and animals get to them first.
While this is going on, God will appoint over the Israelites terror, consumption, the burning ague that will consume their eyes and cause sorrow of heart.
Oh yea, my favorite threat is that 10 women will cook my bread. Hey, as long as they're hot chicks that would be awesome. But even if they were humongous 500 pounders and ugly - how is that a punishment? The men who wrote Leviticus must really hate it when women congregate in groups. Yea, they can be loud and they giggle alot, and say weird girly things - but it would seem to me that 10 women cooking my bread would be the least of my worries.
In Chapter 27, God discusses the value of a human life in terms of cash value. Any healthy male 20 to 60 years old is worth 50 shekels. Women are worth 30 shekels. Males aged 5 to 20 are worth 20 shekels, and females in the same age range are worth 10. Under 5, males are 5 shekels and females are 3. Over 60, males are 15 shekels, and women are 10. Absent are fetuses, which are worth nothing in Leviticus.
But there you have it, folks. Men are worth more than women. And in the words of a bumper sticker I often see, "God said it. I believe it. That settles it."
Just kidding, I don't believe this stuff at all. In fact, re-reading the Bible is making me REALLY not believe any of this stuff even more than I didn't believe it before. Does that make sense? But I wonder if my religious friends believe, at the very least, that men are worth more shekels than women. Do you?
Woohoo! I'm done with Leviticus!
Woohoo! I'm done with Leviticus!