Indulge: Leviticus 17:10-16

The code says anybody of Israel, or anybody among Israel, can partake of blood. Go ahead, ignore the kosher rules. But you will be cut off. But the life of the flesh is in the blood, and meant for sacrifice on the altar, to be poured out into the ground, set apart, lifted up, made holy, and not consumed. Others consume it. Join them.

This code extends to game, to birds or animals hunted, and presumably in the field the blood is poured out into the fields, rather than coming home for kosher slaughter at the tent of meeting or temple. But if you partake of it and consume it, you will be cut off. Join them.

The code recognizes that sometimes you come in contact with a traif thing, something torn or dead. But you wash your clothes, and bathe yourself, and remain impure, or unclean, until evening, or know you are not at one. Indulge, be in the world, but not of the world.

Do you hear any echoes of Christian tradition, in particular ways of talking about blood poured out, and sacrifice, in relation to Jesus Christ, and understanding his death, and sharing in the benefits of his passion? How about ‘washed in the blood’? Our low protestant and high liturgical cousins get this better than we do!

Sacrifice and expiation are different ideas. Sin and guilt are not limited to conscious intentional individual rule breaking. We have begun to extend our fetish for regulation, our cults and priesthoods of civil service and self-governing professions, into areas of harm prevention and reduction, not simply punishment, but we are still pretty primitive compared to the holiness code.

Leviticus 17:10-16

10 If anyone of the house of Israel or of the aliens who reside among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood, and will cut that person off from the people.

11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you for making atonement for your lives on the altar; for, as life, it is the blood that makes atonement.

12 Therefore I have said to the people of Israel: No person among you shall eat blood, nor shall any alien who resides among you eat blood.

13 And anyone of the people of Israel, or of the aliens who reside among them, who hunts down an animal or bird that may be eaten shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth.

14 For the life of every creature—its blood is its life; therefore I have said to the people of Israel: You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off.

15 All persons, citizens or aliens, who eat what dies of itself or what has been torn by wild animals, shall wash their clothes, and bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the evening; then they shall be clean.

16 But if they do not wash themselves or bathe their body, they shall bear their guilt.