If you are still riding high of the endorphins from the last chapter, I apologize. The party’s over, people. We have some serious business to attend to.
Leviticus 24 gives us, yet again, an example of a situation that prompts the creation of new laws. The first set was back in chapter 10 after Aaron’s sons gave an incorrect offering. What followed was a multi-chapter adventure of learning about cleanliness. This time, a half-Israelite man uttered a curse against “the Name” while in a fight, prompting the institution of the infamous “Eye for eye” law.
Don’t Be Hasty
Once our blaspheming friend was subdued by the crowd, I expected them to get right on with the whole stoning to death business. But they surprised me. The man is basically held in jail so they can figure out exactly what to do with him.
I like that.
A crazy, unprecedented situation arises and rather than acting impulsively, they inquire of God as to what they should do.
There is probably something to learn from that. But I’m not quite sure what it is.
Life for Life
God uses the incident to teach the people about consequences. They go a little something like this:
- If you kill someone, you die.
- If you chop off someone’s arm, you lose your arm.
- If you punch someone in the throat, you get punched in the throat.
I may have made that last one up.
Moral of the story? Don’t dish out what you aren’t prepared to take.
But what about the blasphemy law? If you blaspheme God, you are to be killed. Since this law is in the same group of laws as “Eye for eye,” does that make blasphemy a form of murder?
One final thought: I have often heard that the Eye for an Eye law was designed to limit retribution. You were not allowed to escalate violence that had been done to you. That may be true, but I’m not sure I see that here. It may show up other places, but not in Leviticus 24.
So our friend, Blaspheme McCurse-a-lot, has been found guilty and is sentenced to death by stoning outside the camp. The people take him out and do what they have been commanded to do.
I wonder, when people have to stone someone else to death, do they enjoy it? I know that’s a morbid thought, but I always picture people gleefully hurling rocks at someone’s head.
Was that the case here? Were people just itching to see who could deliver the death blow? Or was it more somber? Like a duty that no one wanted to perform. Did they do it because it was required of them?
I don’t know. I kind of hope it was the second option.