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Numbers -- Chapter 8

[18] Then god spoke to Aaron, and said, "You and your sons and your family will bear responsibility for any offenses connected with the sanctuary, but you and your sons alone will bear responsibility for offenses connected with the priesthood. Bring your fellow Levites to assist you when you do my dirty work. They can do the duties of the tent, but must not go near the sanctuary or the altar. If they do you will all die. You will have to do that work so that I don't get angry with the Israelites again. If anyone else comes near the sanctuary, kill them!

"I have put you in charge of killing all those animals. All the offerings that the Israelites are required to bring are given to you as your share. You are to have the parts that are not burned up. Eat them as something holy. All the males will eat them; those despicable females can fend for themselves.

"You can also have all the parts that are set aside from the wave offerings. We'll even let the daughters eat these parts; they're not so holy. You also get the best olive oil and best wine and grain that they bring. Everything that they devote to me is yours. The first offspring from everyone and everything is yours, but you must redeem every firstborn son and male animal at the price of five shekels of silver. However, don't redeem the firstborn of a cow, sheep or goat, because they are holy. Kill those suckers! Splash their blood around really good. I love that blood! The meat is yours, but I get the fat. I love that fat, too!

"You will have no inheritance of the land. I am your share and inheritance. (Read: You are my slaves.)

"I give to the Levites all the tithes in return for their slave labor. The Israelites must not go near the tabernacle or they will bear the consequences of their sin and die. Only the Levites are to do the work of the tabernacle and bear responsibility for any offenses committed against it. This is a lasting ordinance; I give the Levites the tithes as their inheritance."

Then, when he was done harassing Aaron, god turned back to Moses again. "Now, tell the Levites that when they receive the tithe from the people they are to turn around and give one tenth of that to Aaron the priest. Make it the best part. The rest they keep as their wages for doing my slave labor. As long as they present the best part to Aaron they will not die."

[19] Then god spoke to both Moses and Aaron, saying, "This is a requirement that that god of yours has commanded. You know him, right? The Israelites are to bring to you a red heifer without defect or blemish and that has never been under a yoke. Give it to Eleazar the priest, and, yes, of course, he is to kill the damn thing. And, of course, he is to take some of the blood and splash it around. Then the thing is to be burned its hide, flesh, blood and intestines. Throw some cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet wool on the fire, too. Then the priest must wash his clothes and take a bath. He will be unclean until evening, along with the person who burned the thing.

"Someone who is clean will then gather up the ashes and put them in a special place outside the camp. They will be used in a special solution, the water of cleansing, for purification from sin. The man who gathers the ashes must also wash his clothes and will be unclean until evening. This will be a lasting ordinance for Israelites and foreigners both. Whoever touches a human corpse will be unclean for seven days. But that water is magical stuff! They must purify themselves with that magical water on the third and seventh days. Then they will be clean. If they fail to purify themselves after touching a corpse they defile my tabernacle. They must be banished from the people.

"If someone dies in a tent, anyone who is in or enters the tent will be unclean for seven days. Every container without a lid will be unclean. Anyone out in the open the touches someone who has been killed or died a natural death, or anyone who touches a human bone or a grave will be unclean for seven days. Put some of those magic ashes into a jar and pour water over them. Then a clean person will take some hyssop, dip it in the water and sprinkle the tent, furnishings, and any people who were there. You must also sprinkle anyone who touched a human bone, grave or anyone who has been killed or died a natural death. He is to sprinkle them on the third and seventh days, and they will be magically purified on the seventh day. Those who are being purified must wash their clothes and bathe and they will be clean. Any who are unclean and do not purify themselves must be banished. The man who sprinkles the water must also wash his clothes. Anyone touching the water of cleansing will be unclean until evening."