New Presiders: Leviticus 9

Today’s chapter is another narrative of the sacrifices enumerated in the first 7 chapters. Aaronic priesthood being launched, the newly ordained assume their presiding roles. They call upon the presence of God, and offer up the sacrifices of each type, for themselves and for the people, out by the tent, out in the desert. The historical critical scholars of the 19th and 20th century discerned carefully the layers of tradition tied to the priesthood of the 1st Temple, and that of the 2nd Temple. By the time we read, the temples are long gone.

Moses was a leader with a charismatic or shamanic authority, chosen and set apart by God, marked with signs and mighty acts. For instance, he would go up a mountain, and come back with his face shining, or infused with evidence of having been in the presence, like the tablets of the law.

The Aaronic priesthood – and in turn the kohan and Levitic priesthood – rely upon a more organized claim to authority, in a role or office. But the text will affirm that when they do their thing right, the presence of God is granted to them, too. How do you imagine the presence or glory in v6 – as light, or aura, or special effects in movies? How do you imagine the fire from God in v24?

Do we create or generate the experience of the holy in worship and piety by what we do, or do we do some things that have worked for people before, and trust we will get similar experiences of God? Do we have to perform sacraments right, and if we do, is there a glow? Does it work better for you with good clergy? Is it hard with new and different clergy?

Keep all this in mind as committees are seeking our new presiders in the re-staffing of our church with a new staff team. Do you want a shaman, a priest, a teacher, an administrator? What’s better done by lay volunteers or by lay staff? Can you cut the new minister some slack for not being omni-competent?

On the eighth day Moses summoned Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel.

2 He said to Aaron, ‘Take a bull calf for a sin-offering and a ram for a burnt-offering, without blemish, and offer them before the LORD.

3 And say to the people of Israel, “Take a male goat for a sin-offering; a calf and a lamb, yearlings without blemish, for a burnt-offering;

4 and an ox and a ram for an offering of well-being to sacrifice before the LORD; and a grain-offering mixed with oil. For today the LORD will appear to you.” ’

5 They brought what Moses commanded to the front of the tent of meeting; and the whole congregation drew near and stood before the LORD.

6 And Moses said, ‘This is the thing that the LORD commanded you to do, so that the glory of the LORD may appear to you.’

7 Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘Draw near to the altar and sacrifice your sin-offering and your burnt-offering, and make atonement for yourself and for the people; and sacrifice the offering of the people, and make atonement for them; as the LORD has commanded.’

8 Aaron drew near to the altar, and slaughtered the calf of the sin-offering, which was for himself.

9 The sons of Aaron presented the blood to him, and he dipped his finger in the blood and put it on the horns of the altar; and the rest of the blood he poured out at the base of the altar.

10 But the fat, the kidneys, and the appendage of the liver from the sin-offering he turned into smoke on the altar, as the LORD commanded Moses;

11 and the flesh and the skin he burned with fire outside the camp.

12 Then he slaughtered the burnt-offering. Aaron’s sons brought him the blood, and he dashed it against all sides of the altar.

13 And they brought him the burnt-offering piece by piece, and the head, which he turned into smoke on the altar.

14 He washed the entrails and the legs and, with the burnt-offering, turned them into smoke on the altar.

15 Next he presented the people’s offering. He took the goat of the sin-offering that was for the people, and slaughtered it, and presented it as a sin-offering like the first one.

16 He presented the burnt-offering, and sacrificed it according to regulation.

17 He presented the grain-offering, and, taking a handful of it, he turned it into smoke on the altar, in addition to the burnt-offering of the morning.

18 He slaughtered the ox and the ram as a sacrifice of well-being for the people. Aaron’s sons brought him the blood, which he dashed against all sides of the altar,

19 and the fat of the ox and of the ram—the broad tail, the fat that covers the entrails, the two kidneys and the fat on them, and the appendage of the liver.

20 They first laid the fat on the breasts, and the fat was turned into smoke on the altar;

21 and the breasts and the right thigh Aaron raised as an elevation-offering before the LORD, as Moses had commanded.

22 Aaron lifted his hands towards the people and blessed them; and he came down after sacrificing the sin-offering, the burnt-offering, and the offering of well-being.

23 Moses and Aaron entered the tent of meeting, and then came out and blessed the people; and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people.

24 Fire came out from the LORD and consumed the burnt-offering and the fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.