I am going to work my way through the Bible, but I can certainly understand why people stop here. Not only does Leviticus lack any story, I am not certain how a reader is supposed to react to this 100? 200? set of laws. I’ll summarize a few.
We learn about peace offerings, sin offerings and guilt offerings as well as the ordainment of priests. All of them involve the killing of a bull or a ram or turtledoves, the splattering of blood upon the altar (or the ear, thumb, and big toe in the case of priests), and much burning because the “odor is pleasing to the lord.”
We learn about the cleansing of lepers which involves killing one bird, dipping a live bird into its blood then sprinkling that blood on the leper. (I think.) We learn which animals can be eaten and which can’t. Lobsters and pigs fall in the latter category. We learn that women were unclean for seven days after the birth of a son but 14 days after the birth of a daughter. We learn what to do if we get semen on our clothes (just wash them, but they are still unclean until evening). We learn that menstruating women are unclean and that if someone sits where a menstruating woman sat, that person becomes unclean.
We learn that priests better be careful about what they do. Two of Aaron’s sons are killed by the Lord because they did something (not sure what exactly) with some fire. And we better not blaspheme during an altercation because the Lord tells Moses to have a man stoned after doing so.
We learn about the origin of the term scapegoat where one goat is killed and its blood is spread on a live goat which symbolically represents the sins of the people and then the live goat is sent out into the wilderness taking the sins with him.
We are also given a value placed upon members of society. Men over sixty are worth 15 shekels; women are worth 10. Men between 20 and 60 are worth 50 shekels; women are worth 30. Between 5 and 20, males are worth 20 shekels and females are worth 10. Between a month and five years, a male is worth 5 shekels and a female 3. There is no value placed on a newborn or a fetus. I wonder what that might mean to the abortion debate.
There is also a section detailing who cannot approach the altar. They include the blind, the lame, and those with broken hands and feet or crushed testicles.
There is information about slavery which would indicate that slavery was approved by God.
We are also told to obey these laws or God will do us much harm, including the sending of wild beasts that will rob them of their children.
I can understand why an ancient group of people might have these laws and why they might feel a need to follow them. But are they relevant today?
For sure there are some good rules. We are reminded not to lie, steal and cheat. We also get the famous “love thy neighbour as thyself” which is a pretty good philosophy to live by. There are also rules on being good to strangers and leaving the corners of fields unplowed for travelers or the poor.
But when people cherry pick a particular verse in Leviticus for example the one about homosexuality being an abomination and use the word of God to advance their argument, I would ask them to read the rest of Leviticus. Much of it makes little sense to our world. And if the word of God, any word of God, doesn’t make sense then I have to question everything that he says. I won’t reject everything; I am just not going to accept it because the Bible tells us so.