The first part of this chapter is about keeping the Passover at its appointed time. Of course, there are people who touched corpses and are unclean and could not keep the Passover. They will just have to observe it as those who are traveling observe it. If they don’t observe the Passover, they will be cut off from the rest of the people.
The second part is about the day that the tabernacle was set and a cloud covered it. During the day, it looked like a cloud, but at night it looked like fire. When the cloud covered the tabernacle, the Israelites were to stay put and camp regardless of how long it was there. When the cloud lifted, the Israelites could get moving. This, of course, was God doing this because he couldn’t just tell them to camp or move. Basically, the rest of this chapter is just God playing a really elaborate game of “Red Light, Green Light.”
God instructs Moses to make two silver trumpets for pretty much anything and everything having to do with calling for attention. It depends on whether one or both are blown and I’m assuming that they’re different sizes or in different musical keys or something. I also hope that these instructions were shared with the Israelites because this could get confusing. If both trumpets are blown, the congregation will go to the tent of meeting, but if only one is blown then only the leaders will show up. If one alarm is blown, then the east side camps will hightail it, but if a second alarm is blown, then the south side camps will make tracks. But will the east side camps still also leave or not? This gets confusing. The trumpets are also to be blown when they go to war. Also, they’re blown in celebration for festivals and at the start of the month. They are to be blown over burnt sacrifices. I guess, the way this book is going, it’s just trumpet sounds day and night.
God finally lifted the cloud from the tabernacle so the Israelites could leave. We get an exhaustive, and way too detailed account of what each different group did. I do have one question: What if God lowers the cloud on the tabernacle while they’re taking it down to get moving? Just asking.
This chapter starts with Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, prepared censers and made an offering to God. Except that it was “unholy fire” that God had not commanded. So being a reasonable, merciful deity, he immolated the pair because that’s normal. Moses had the charcoal remains removed and told Aaron and his two remaining sons that they were not allowed to mourn or else they would be killed too along with the rest of the congregation.
So because did not demand the offering of the sons, he not only did not accept the offering, but he killed the sons. The Oxford Bible Commentary is of no help in giving a reason behind this story. It’s my opinion that this is nothing more than an allegory that tells priests to obey and follow ritual instructions…or else. However, that’s reading too much into the story when it comes to biblical literalists. I can’t even imagine how they would justify God’s reaction to this story. Anyway, moving along.
8And the LORD spoke to Aaron: 9Drink no wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons, when you enter the tent of meeting, that you may not die; it is a statute forever throughout your generations.Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (p. 234). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
The above verse holds a significance to me and other fans of the TV show M*A*S*H, due to an episode Season 3, “Alcoholics Unanimous”, Father Mulcahy attempts to give a sermon on temperance, but due to being drunk never actually gets past this verse. It’s also why I can’t read the sons’ names without hearing them in William Christopher’s drunk voice. That is my explanation for the picture accompanying this chapter.
The rest of this chapter is about the offerings gone wrong. The goat was burned, but it wasn’t eaten and the blood was spread properly and that meant another sin offering was demanded.
I’m not gonna lie, these seven chapters sound like the set design notes for the first Indiana Jones movie. This is basically a long section describing how to make up the offerings for the tabernacle, build the ark of the covenant, how to build and present the table for the bread of the presence, the lampstand, how to make the tabernacle itself, the framework for the aforementioned tabernacle, the curtain, the altar for burnt offerings, the court and hangings for the tabernacle, the oil for the lamp, the vestments, and so on and so forth. I’m not going to go through the details because I’m not running a how-to blog over here.
This is apparently God telling his people how to worship him and what he likes. Go back to my comments on Chapter 23 and read the third paragraph because I really don’t want to repeat myself. I might as well make it the subtitle for this blog. This is the words of men trying to control people and get them to build some pretty stuff.
At one point, God appoints two men to make all of the stuff in the previous chapters. After that, it’s a review of everything that was said in the previous chapters. Finally, God talks about the sabbath laws and tells Moses to tell the Israelites. At the end of all of these laws, God gives Moses all of these laws written on two tablets in God’s finger.