Leviticus aka Endless List of Rules

Leviticus 1:1

We start this lovely book off with a detailed description of how offerings are to be brought to God. Not the swag. The dead animals. Each type of animal has its very own, super-special death ritual. Also, lots of blood. Everywhere. Ever thought sacrificing animals is super fucked up? Welcome to the world’s most popular religion. And animals can be slaughtered for a myriad of reasons. Fuck up really badly? Unintentionally sin? That’s ok! The death of an innocent bull can cure that. The sins of a leader, however, require a slaughtered goat to wipe the slate clean. Whichever animal, the breast and the right thigh always go to Aaron and his descendent priests to eat. It makes them holy. Also, no one is allowed to eat the fat or blood of an animal. Tell ya why later.

If ripping animals apart isn’t your thing, worry not. God also likes “pleasing aromas.” You can use all kinds of different ingredients to make an aroma offering, but guess what it can’t have in it? If you didn’t guess yeast, you haven’t been paying attention. No yeast. God does, however, ask that you always use salt. Salt good. Whatever the aroma of your choice, the pleasing-aroma fire must never go out!

Let’s get down to some consecrating. Moses put Aaron’s new pimp clothes on him and his sons, killed some animals, chopped them up, splashed their blood everywhere, burnt the rest, and bam! Aaron and his sons were consecrated. Remember those meat offerings that always go to Aaron and his priests? Only Aaron’s male  descendants could eat offerings, and therefore become holy. So they ate their meat and got all holy. Then it was time for the entire camp to give their offering, so more animals had to die. Then God showed himself to the Israelites. Well, he showed his glory. Whatever that means. His glory must have been pretty fantastic,  because the people loved it and fell facedown in joy.

Two of Aaron’s sons, who shall remain nameless because there’s no point in naming them, offered fire to God, but it was the wrong kind of fire. So they apologized for their accident and went about their day. Just kidding. God killed them. Consumed them in His fire. Moses chose this time, when Aaron and his sons were scared shitless, to lay down some new rules for them. They weren’t allowed to drink any fermented drinks inside God’s tent (alcohol). It would be there job to distinguish between common and holy, clean and unclean. Then Moses changed his tune and said that all of Aaron’s descendants could eat the holy meat that was their share. Even the ladies (but they still can’t become holy.) Maybe he just felt really bad? Then it was discovered that Aaron’s remaining two sons had fucked up and burnt some stuff the wrong day, or eaten it in the wrong place, or some such nonsense. Moses was really angry, but Aaron was like this shit is confusing, so Moses let them off the hook for that one.


Ok, dietary rules. You can only eat clean animals. If you eat unclean animals, you get kicked out the camp. SO, you can only eat animals that live on land. Of those, you can only the ones that have a split hoof, completely divided, whatever that means. And only the ones that chew the cud. Whatever that means. For  example: no camels, no rabbits, no pigs. Those are just examples of what not to eat. Don’t eat them, don’t touch them. I think those rules pretty much narrow it down to cows, sheep, and goats. I think. You can eat animals that live in the water, as long as they fins and scales. No oysters, whales, jellyfish, you get the idea. You can also eat most birds, except for the ones God lists. Owls, bats, eagles, vultures, those sorts of things. There are also edible bugs, but the rules are really specific. Anything the crawls on the ground is a no-go. Like I said, no touching, no eating, and if an unclean animal dies in your pot, you have to break it. Pots, clothes, anything unclean carcasses touch are unclean too and must be destroyed.

Moving on to ladies and their bleeding. A woman is unclean during her monthly bleeding. Keep telling yourselves that, gentlemen. It keeps the viability of the period lie alive and well. A lady is also unclean after giving birth to a child. If she gives birth to a son, she has seven days of being unclean, then she has to snippety snip her sons penis, then she has thirty-three more days of being unclean. If she has a daughter, she has to wait two weeks, and then an extra sixty-six more days to be purified. And once the woman is clean again, she has to make a sin offering to God. Because having your period or giving birth to a human child is a sin. Ok, it never says sin, but you do have to atone for it.

If you get an infectious skin disease, you have to go to the priest to have it inspected by a priest. If it looks really bad you’re unclean. If it only looks sort of bad, you go to quarantine for seven days. If it has cleared up, or if it has covered your entire body, you’re clean again. If it stays the same, back to the pit with you! The fun part is that the really bad ones and the ones with the disease covering their entire bodies get to go be among the people. Only the not so bad ones go to quarantine. Weird huh? Itches differ slightly in that you have to be shaved everywhere except for where the itch actually is. Bald guys get the worst deal. If a guy goes bald and has a red sore on his head, he is unclean. But this one is a special unclean. He has to walk around in torn clothes and yell, “Unclean,” where ever he goes. He also has to live outside the camp, away from everyone. If these rules don’t make sense to you, you aren’t reading it wrong. They don’t make sense.

In order to be cleansed from an infectious disease, you have to be quarantined, you and your clothes have to be washed, you have to shave your head and beard, and you have to do some ceremonial animal sacrificing. The sacrificing part is so that you can atone for having been sick. Bad, sick person!

Most important part of the Bible so far: “Regulations About Mildew.” Thank goodness, I’ve been wondering about this one. If anything you own gets mildew on it, you have to take it to a priest. The priest has to isolate the item for seven days; if the mildew spreads, into the burn pit, but if the mildew doesn’t spread, it can be washed. Good to know, God.Houses are different. If God puts mildew in your house (seriously, the book says He puts it there), you have to take everything out of the house and contact a priest. The priest has to remove any stones inside the house that have mildew on them. If that doesn’t work, you burn the damn thing to the ground. Kind of like with spiders.

Having fun yet? Mildew and periods not gross enough for you? Let’s talk about human discharge. All discharge is unclean, so you have to make sure it doesn’t get blocked up into your body. If you’re all blocked up with discharge, you and anything/anyone you touch will be unclean. So if you are constipated, keep ya damn hands to yourself! Semen is a special case. If a guy cums (no, really) he has to bathe, or he will be unclean. If he cums in a woman, she has to bathe too. Back to periods. Any bleeding woman, anything she touches, anything she sits on, are all unclean. Once her bleeding has stopped, she has to wait seven days and then sacrifice two doves to God to atone for her bleeding. The Israelites have to know these things and stay clean, God says, so that they don’t die while unclean. I’m guessing that would be a bad thing to do.


Every year, on the tenth day of the seventh month, is to be the Day of Atonement. On that day, the priest slaughters some stuff, puts all of the sins of the Israelites onto the shoulders of one lucky goat, and sends that goat out into the desert. (At least the goat doesn’t get slaughtered.) This is supposed to atone for everyone’s sins. Also, no one can sacrifice anything outside of God’s tent area. Because you might be sacrificing to other gods, and God is hella jealous. If you do, you will be guilty of bloodletting, and you’ll be voted off the island. Additionally, when you kill an animal to eat it, you have to drain and bury the blood. That’s because “the life of every creature is its blood.” The life-force of the animal deserves a proper burial, and you can’t eat the life-force.

Finally, we get to sex. First and foremost, no sex with close relatives! Not your mom; not your stepmom; not your sister, your stepsister, or your half-sister; not your niece; not your aunt; not your daughter-in-law; not your sister-in-law. No doing both a mom and her daughter, two sisters, or your neighbor’s wife. No doing women while they are bleeding. Don’t sacrifice your kids to Molech (I can’t tell you why that’s thrown into the sex rules. I also can’t tell you what or whom Molech is. I looked it up. Possibly a Canaanite god or the practice of sacrificing your child to a god. Shoulder shrug.) Do not “lie with a man as one lies with a woman.” We’ll come back to this, because I’m going to need some elbow room. No having sex with animals. Ever. God says that these are the ways that the non-Israelite people defiled themselves, which is why the land is “vomiting” them out. Anyone who breaks these rules will be cut off from his or her people.

Then there a bunch of miscellaneous rules, most of which are repeats form the ten commandments. One new one is that when you harvest your fields, vineyards, etc. you are not to be too careful to pick everything up. And don’t go over it  second time to double-check that you didn’t leave anything behind. You have to let the poor find all of that! Do not deceive one another is a good rule. Don’t mess with the deaf or the blind. Pay your workers on time. Judge everyone equally, do not be partial to the poor or the wealthy. If you’re mad at your family, say it out loud. Don’t keep it to yourself, or you’ll share in the guilt. Do not seek revenge or hold a grudge. Do not mate different types of animals. Don’t plant your field with two different types of seed, or wear clothing made from two different materials. If you sleep with someone else’s “slave girl” you have to pay the man for his slave and do some animal sacrificing. Do not practice divination or sorcery or listen to those who do. Do not cut the hair on the sides of your head or the edges of your beard. Don’t cut yourself or get tattoos. Don’t force your daughter to be a prostitute. Rise in the presence of the elderly and show them respect. Treat foreigners as one of your own people; “Love him as yourself.” Do not try to cheat people with dishonest weights and measures.

So what happens if you do any of these things? Don’t worry, God is very specific. If you sacrifice your kid to Molech, you die by stoning. Because you have defiled God, not because you killed your kid. Priorities are key. If you turn to sorcerers, you get cut off from your people. If you curse your mother or your father, you die. If you sleep with another man’s wife, both you and the wife die. If you break any of those sex rules we talked about earlier, you die. If you have sex with an animal, the animal has to die too. Bad day for the animal.  Ok, I lied. Some of the sex rules end with being cut off or dying childless. Mediums and sorcerers have to die. I hope that cleared everything up for you.


Priests get special rules. They can’t marry prostitutes or divorced women. In fact, let’s make it virgin, they have to marry virgins. If a priest’s daughter becomes a prostitute, she has to be burned alive. Priests have to look respectable, no torn clothing or unkempt hair. If Aaron has any physically disabled or deformed descendents, they don’t get to be priests or come near God’s  altar. They’ll defile it by being all disabledy. God is not  an equal-opportunity employer. You can’t sacrifice any animals with defects, those don’t count. You have to sacrifice a perfect, male specimen. And there better not be anything wrong with its testicles, because then you’re in serious trouble. You also cannot sacrifice an animal given to you by a foreigner. Baby animals have to be at least eight days old before you can sacrifice it. How thoughtful.

Then God goes over the feasts that are to be celebrated. Suffice it to say, a lot of animals are gonna die. Feast=lots of animal sacrificing. Even more than usual. There’s also the Year of Jubilee. Nobody has to do any work for a year! God promises to provide bountiful harvests in the year before to hold them over, so that they won’t have to worry about food. You also have to go back to your homeland, or the place you grew up. Even if you have a buy it back; there are all kinds of weird rules about buying land/houses. Basically, you’re only renting, because God owns it all. We’re just his tenants. Also, don’t screw each other over. If a man is too poor to care for himself, you must help care for him, so that he may continue to live among you. Poor Israelites are not to be slaves, you can hire them as workers, but you have to release them on the Year of Jubilee. The Israelis are God’s slaves, and He doesn’t feel like sharing ownership.

Next, God lists the things He will do for the Israelis. He will provide peace to the land, they will not go to bed afraid. He will make their harvests bountiful, and they will not go hungry. He will make them more powerful than their enemies and remove beasts from their lands. He will walk among them and be their God, because He saved them from slavery. Granted, He only seems to have saved them so that they could be His servants. But that is only if you’re good. If you’re bad He’ll ruthlessly kill you or enslave you to other peoples. Keep being bad and you’ll end up having to eat your own sons and daughters. Yeah, cannibalism. He’ll pile up the dead bodies, without a single fuck given out. And  he won’t even like the pleasing aromas you offer Him. So there. He won’t kill everyone completely, though. He did make a promise. Remember the rainbow He created just to remind Himself not to kill us all?

We’ll close this book out by talking about dedicating people to the Lord as vows. Yes, you can give people to God. Everyone has their monetary equivalent, depending on their sex and age. Guess what? Women are worth way less. Did you guess? You can also dedicate animals, your house, your land. But no firstborns, those already belong to the Lord, remember? And you have to tithe. You have to. The Lord likey the tithing; it is holy to Him.

Ok, we’re done. Rant time. “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman.” The Bible is very clear this time that homosexuality is a no no. I wanted to make a sexist lie joke about how men are liars, but the etymology of the original wording isn’t having it. It’s definitely talking about the love making kind of lying. But that was just going to be for fun. On a more serious note, if you have ever used this line or any other part of Leviticus to hate on someone (let’s say a witch or someone with tattoos) I hope you’re following the rest of the rules as well, or you’re a hypocrite. So unless you’re an animal sacrificing, blood burying, slave-girl having, non-bacon eating, handicapped hating, poor-people supporting, mildew-having-house destroying, no side-hair cutting wearer of only one type of material at a time… shut the fuck up.

Next up, Numbers. Hopefully not the mathy kind.



One thought on “Leviticus aka Endless List of Rules

  1. Some of these rules would seem a lot less weird if they were simply rephrased. Like when your dorm R.A. went through the freshman guidebook on the first day and at the end of each rule said something like “bottom line, folks, just be cool okay?” For example, when God says “don’t eat pigs,” if it were rephrased to “look, y’all live in desert and no one wants trichinosis, right? So just be cool and eat other stuff.” Or when He takes incest off the sex list, it seems like if it started with “look, folks I can’t believe I have to say this out loud, but…” then it wouldn’t seem so weird that He was saying it out loud. Or “You guys are thousands of years away from figuring out penicillin, so maybe just wash your junk off after you get your swerve on, you know, just in case. Just be cool, okay?” But then there are the inexplicably bizarre rules, that can’t be shrugged off. They make no sense. I don’t for a second believe the creator of the animals wants people to chop them up and incinerate them. That part is pure human conceit. People with guilty consciences came up with a way to make themselves feel better: give up things of value in a dramatic way and feel like you balanced out your wicked deed. Lame, lame, lame. if you’re like me and think of a religious document as somewhat divinely inspired but mostly invented by humans, killing animals to please God has to fall into the second group. The treatment of women, children, slaves and basically anyone who’s not male and in a position of authority: same category. The Bible is a fundamentally human document and therefore deeply flawed in much of its logic. As you’re pointing out so well, it is often merely a grand inventory of arrogance. Another excellent post!!


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