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Exodus 24

1 He then said to Moses, ‘Come up to Yahweh, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel and bow down at a distance.

2 Moses alone will approach Yahweh; the others will not approach, nor will the people come up with him.’

3 Moses went and told the people all Yahweh’s words and all the laws, and all the people answered with one voice, ‘All the words Yahweh has spoken we will carry out!’

4 Moses put all Yahweh’s words into writing, and early next morning he built an altar at the foot of the mountain, with twelve standing-stones for the twelve tribes of Israel.

5 Then he sent certain young Israelites to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice bullocks to Yahweh as communion sacrifices.

6 Moses then took half the blood and put it into basins, and the other half he sprinkled on the altar.

7 Then, taking the Book of the Covenant, he read it to the listening people, who then said, ‘We shall do everything that Yahweh has said; we shall obey.’

8 Moses then took the blood and sprinkled it over the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which Yahweh has made with you, entailing all these stipulations.’

9 Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and seventy elders of Israel then went up,

10 and they saw the God of Israel beneath whose feet there was what looked like a sapphire pavement pure as the heavens themselves,

11 but he did no harm to the Israelite notables; they actually gazed on God and then ate and drank.

12 Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain. Stay there, and I will give you the stone tablets — the law and the commandment — which I have written for their instruction.’

13 Moses made ready, with Joshua his assistant, and they went up the mountain of God.

14 He said to the elders, ‘Wait here for us until we come back to you. You have Aaron and Hur with you; if anyone has any matter to settle, let him go to them.’

15 Moses then went up the mountain. Cloud covered the mountain.

16 The glory of Yahweh rested on Mount Sinai and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day Yahweh called to Moses from inside the cloud.

17 To the watching Israelites, the glory of Yahweh looked like a devouring fire on the mountain top.

18 Moses went right into the cloud and went on up the mountain. Moses stayed on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

Leviticus 17

1 Yahweh spoke to Moses and said:

2 ‘Speak to Aaron and his sons and all the Israelites and say: “This is the order that Yahweh has given:

3 “Any man of the House of Israel who slaughters a bull, lamb or goat, whether inside the camp or outside it,

4 without bringing it to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting to make an offering of it to Yahweh in front of his Dwelling, that man will be answerable for bloodshed; he has shed blood, and that man will be outlawed from his people.

5 The purpose of this is that the Israelites should instead bring their sacrifices, which they would otherwise offer in the countryside, to Yahweh at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, to the priest, and offer them as communion sacrifices to Yahweh;

6 and the priest will sprinkle the blood on Yahweh’s altar at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and will burn the fat as a smell pleasing to Yahweh.

7 No longer may they offer their sacrifices to the satyrs in whose service they used to prostitute themselves. This is a perpetual law for them and for their descendants.”

8 ‘You will also say to them, “Any member of the House of Israel or any resident alien who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice

9 without bringing it to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting to offer it to Yahweh, will be outlawed from his people.

10 “If any member of the House of Israel or any resident alien consumes blood of any kind, I shall set my face against that individual who consumes blood and shall outlaw him from his people.

11 For the life of the creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you for performing the rite of expiation on the altar for your lives, for blood is what expiates for a life.

12 That is why I told the Israelites: None of you will consume blood, nor will any resident alien consume blood.

13 “Anyone, whether Israelite or resident alien, who hunts and catches game, whether animal or bird, which it is lawful to eat, must pour out its blood and cover it with earth.

14 For the life of every creature is its blood, and I have told the Israelites: You will not consume the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood, and anyone who consumes it will be outlawed.

15 “Anyone, citizen or alien, who eats an animal that has died a natural death or been savaged, must wash clothing and body, and will be unclean until evening, but will then be clean.

16 But anyone who does not wash clothing and body will bear the consequences of his guilt.” ‘

Leviticus 18

1 Yahweh spoke to Moses and said:

2 ‘Speak to the Israelites and say: “I am Yahweh your God:

3 You must not behave as they do in Egypt where you used to live; you must not behave as they do in Canaan where I am taking you, nor must you follow their laws.

4 You must observe my customs and keep my laws, following them. “I, Yahweh, am your God:

5 hence you will keep my laws and my customs. Whoever complies with them will find life in them. “I am Yahweh.

6 “None of you will approach a woman who is closely related to him, to have intercourse with her. I am Yahweh.

7 “You will not have intercourse with your father or your mother. She is your mother — you will not have intercourse with her.

8 “You will not have intercourse with your father’s wife; it is your father’s sexual prerogative.

9 “You will not have intercourse with your sister, whether she is your father’s or your mother’s daughter. Whether she was born in the same house or elsewhere, you will not have intercourse with her.

10 “You will not have intercourse with your son’s or your daughter’s daughter; for their sexual privacy is your own.

11 “You will not have intercourse with the daughter of your father’s wife, born to your father. She is your sister; you will not have intercourse with her.

12 “You will not have intercourse with your father’s sister; for she is your father’s own flesh and blood.

13 “You will not have intercourse with your mother’s sister; for she is your mother’s own flesh and blood.

14 “You will not have intercourse with your father’s brother; you will not approach his wife. She is your aunt.

15 “You will not have intercourse with your daughter-in-law. She is your son’s wife; you will not have intercourse with her.

16 “You will not have intercourse with your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s sexual prerogative.

17 “You will not have intercourse with a woman and her daughter; nor will you take her son’s or her daughter’s daughter, to have intercourse with them. They are your own flesh and blood; it would be incest.

18 “You will not take a woman and her sister into your harem at the same time, to have intercourse with the latter while the former is still alive.

19 “You will not approach and have intercourse with a woman who is in a state of menstrual pollution.

20 “Furthermore, you will not have intercourse with your fellow-citizen’s wife; you would become unclean by doing so.

21 “You will not allow any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, thus profaning the name of your God. I am Yahweh.

22 “You will not have intercourse with a man as you would with a woman. This is a hateful thing.

23 “You will not have intercourse with any kind of animal; you would become unclean by doing so. Nor will a woman offer herself to an animal, to have intercourse with it. This would be a violation of nature.

24 “Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these practices, for it was by such things that the nations that I am driving out before you made themselves unclean.

25 The country has become unclean; hence I am about to punish it for its guilt, and the country itself will vomit out its inhabitants.

26 “You, however, must keep my laws and customs and not do any of these hateful things: none of your citizens, none of your resident aliens.

27 For all these hateful things were done by the people who lived in the country before you, and the country became unclean.

28 If you make it unclean, will it not vomit you out as it vomited out the nations there before you?

29 Yes, anyone who does any of these hateful things, whatever it may be, any person doing so, will be outlawed from his people;

30 so keep my rules and do not observe any of the hateful laws which were in force before you came; then you will not be made unclean by them. I am Yahweh your God.” ‘

Psalm 78

1 [Psalm Of Asaph] My people, listen to my teaching, pay attention to what I say.

2 I will speak to you in poetry, unfold the mysteries of the past.

3 What we have heard and know, what our ancestors have told us

4 we shall not conceal from their descendants, but will tell to a generation still to come: the praises of Yahweh, his power, the wonderful deeds he has done.

5 He instituted a witness in Jacob, he established a law in Israel, he commanded our ancestors to hand it down to their descendants,

6 that a generation still to come might know it, children yet to be born. They should be sure to tell their own children,

7 and should put their trust in God, never forgetting God’s great deeds, always keeping his commands,

8 and not, like their ancestors, be a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation weak of purpose, their spirit fickle towards God.

9 The archer sons of Ephraim turned tail when the time came for fighting;

10 they failed to keep God’s covenant, they refused to follow his Law;

11 they had forgotten his great deeds, the marvels he had shown them;

12 he did marvels in the sight of their ancestors in Egypt, in the plains of Tanis.

13 He split the sea and brought them through, made the waters stand up like a dam;

14 he led them with a cloud by day, and all the night with the light of a fire;

15 he split rocks in the desert, let them drink as though from the limitless depths;

16 he brought forth streams from a rock, made waters flow down in torrents.

17 But they only sinned against him more than ever, defying the Most High in barren country;

18 they deliberately challenged God by demanding food to their hearts’ content.

19 They insulted God by saying, ‘Can God make a banquet in the desert?

20 True, when he struck the rock, waters gushed out and flowed in torrents; but what of bread? Can he give that, can he provide meat for his people?’

21 When he heard them Yahweh vented his anger, fire blazed against Jacob, his anger mounted against Israel,

22 because they had no faith in God, no trust in his power to save.

23 Even so he gave orders to the skies above, he opened the sluice-gates of heaven;

24 he rained down manna to feed them, he gave them the wheat of heaven;

25 mere mortals ate the bread of the Mighty, he sent them as much food as they could want.

26 He roused an east wind in the heavens, despatched a south wind by his strength;

27 he rained down meat on them like dust, birds thick as sand on the seashore,

28 tumbling into the middle of his camp, all around his dwelling-place.

29 They ate as much food as they wanted, he satisfied all their cravings;

30 but their cravings were still upon them, the food was still in their mouths,

31 when the wrath of God attacked them, slaughtering their strongest men, laying low the flower of Israel.

32 Despite all this, they went on sinning, they put no faith in his marvels.

33 He made their days vanish in mist, their years in sudden ruin.

34 Whenever he slaughtered them, they began to seek him, they turned back and looked eagerly for him,

35 recalling that God was their rock, God the Most High, their redeemer.

36 They tried to hoodwink him with their mouths, their tongues were deceitful towards him;

37 their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant.

38 But in his compassion he forgave their guilt instead of killing them, time and again repressing his anger instead of rousing his full wrath,

39 remembering they were creatures of flesh, a breath of wind that passes, never to return.

40 How often they defied him in the desert! How often they grieved him in the wastelands!

41 Repeatedly they challenged God, provoking the Holy One of Israel,

42 not remembering his hand, the time when he saved them from the oppressor,

43 he who did his signs in Egypt, his miracles in the plains of Tanis,

44 turning their rivers to blood, their streams so that they had nothing to drink.

45 He sent horseflies to eat them up, and frogs to devastate them,

46 consigning their crops to the caterpillar, the fruit of their hard work to the locust;

47 he killed their vines with hail, their sycamore trees with frost,

48 delivering up their cattle to hail, and their flocks to thunderbolts.

49 He loosed against them the full heat of his anger, fury, rage and destruction, a detachment of destroying angels;

50 he gave free course to his anger. He did not exempt their own selves from death, delivering up their lives to the plague.

51 He struck all the first-born in Egypt, the flower of the youth in the tents of Ham.

52 He brought out his people like sheep, guiding them like a flock in the desert,

53 leading them safe and unafraid, while the sea engulfed their enemies.

54 He brought them to his holy land, the hill-country won by his right hand;

55 he dispossessed nations before them, measured out a heritage for each of them, and settled the tribes of Israel in their tents.

56 But still they challenged the Most High God and defied him, refusing to keep his decrees;

57 as perverse and treacherous as their ancestors, they gave way like a faulty bow,

58 provoking him with their high places, rousing his jealousy with their idols.

59 God listened and vented his wrath, he totally rejected Israel;

60 he forsook his dwelling in Shiloh, the tent where he used to dwell on the earth.

61 He abandoned his power to captivity, his splendour to the enemy’s clutches;

62 he gave up his people to the sword, he vented his wrath on his own heritage.

63 Fire devoured their young men, their young girls had no wedding-song;

64 their priests fell by the sword and their widows sang no dirge.

65 The Lord arose as though he had been asleep, like a strong man fighting-mad with wine,

66 he struck his enemies on the rump, and put them to everlasting shame.

67 Rejecting the tents of Joseph, passing over the tribe of Ephraim,

68 he chose the tribe of Judah, his well-loved mountain of Zion;

69 he built his sanctuary like high hills, like the earth set it firm for ever.

70 He chose David to be his servant, took him from the sheepfold,

71 took him from tending ewes to pasture his servant Jacob, and Israel his heritage.

72 He pastured them with unblemished heart, with a sensitive hand he led them.

Thoughts and Reflection

Today we read how Moses took the Israelites to the alter and places half of the animal’s blood on the altar and then he sprinkles the other half on the people. This is something that is done today (not with animal blood, however). We see this publicly done in the Catholic Faith through the RCIA process. This exchange between God and his people is very similar to the exchange of matrimonial vows where the man and woman each offer themselves to each other.

In the words in Exodus 24:8 where Moses says “behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words” we hear and pray at every Mass before receiving the Eucharist ourselves. The Old Testament is not obsolete and this shows that understanding the old, helps us understand the new.

There are three kinds of laws in the Old Testament – laws that govern society specific to the kingdom of Israel, laws regarding proper worship, and laws regarding morality. Since the kingdom of Israel (as constituted in the Old Testament) or the Temple exist any longer, the first two laws are no longer necessary. The morality laws are still in force.

How do we know the morality law didn’t pass away with the other two laws? In Leviticus 18:24 the Lord states that other nations had defiled themselves with sexual immorality. Thus the moral law binds all human beings, not just the Chosen People.

It’s important to realize that these commandments are given to us not to condemn but it’s God’s way of showing that we are truly his beloved and he cares for us.

About This Project

For the year 2022, I decided that my New Year’s Resolution was to read the whole Bible following the Bible in the Year plan presented by Fr. Mike Schmitz. It is a big and bold undertaking. You can follow along by subscribing. Feel free to look at previous day’s post and comment. It’s something we can all learn from together!

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