Emor – “Say”

This week’s Parasha is Emor and covers Leviticus 21-24.

Chapter 21 covers the holiness of the priest and the offerings as required by Adonai. It starts with  “and the Lord said to Moses”.  This is a phrase that would be repeated throughout this section of Leviticus.

The Lord tells Moses to speak to the priest and the sons of Aaron and instruct them that they are not to allow themselves to be unclean by touching a dead person.   The only exception to this was the priest’s mother, his father, his son, his daughter, his brother, or his virgin sister.  If she was married, burying her was the responsibility of her husband.  Also, it was instructed that they should not shave bald spots on their heads, or to shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts on their body.  The priests are to be holy to God and not profane the name of  God. Much is expected of the priests and more is expected of the high priest. I will talk about that more later. These requirements of the priests are outlined here, a the priests will handle all of the offerings and the holy objects in the tabernacle. The priest was not to marry a prostitute or a woman who had been defiled or a divorced woman; however, the priest could marry a widow. The high priest must follow these restrictions as well; however, the wife he takes must be a virgin, perhaps this is to make sure that all the children in his house will be of the same mother and father. We have seen in other parasha’s the requirement for the offering; they are to be without blemish or defect of any kind, so is it for the priest. Men who were blind or lame, had a limp or hunchback or a dwarf were prohibited from priesthood.

In chapter 22 the Lord addresses the holiness of the offerings.   This heavy responsibility that El Gabor mighty God demanded of a priest can be seen in verse three which says “say to them if anyone of all your offspring throughout the generations approaches the holy things that the people of Israel dedicated to the Lord while he has an uncleanness, that person shall be cut off from my presence I am the Lord”. It does not say cut off from the people  – they were cut off from the presence of God which means they would no longer be able to work inside the tabernacle. They could go through a process by which they could become clean again, but not on that particular day. The requirements of the offerings that were presented is again repeated here to remind the people that sacrifices are to be unblemished bulls, sheeps and goats, so no matter what the offering was it was required to be perfect.

In chapter 23 the feasts of the Lord are covered. Not as a definitive description but more as a date on the calendar and the main requirement. The first one is the Sabbath,  the seventh day –  a Saturday. No work was to be done on the Sabbath.  This was a day of rest and to be spent with the Lord. The second feast is Passover.  The date and time is given to observe seven days of unleavened bread and that you should do no ordinary work on the first day, also that you should present a food offering to the Lord for seven days.  The third feast of First Fruits is given.  This feast is a reminder to wave the sheave or a stalk of the harvest, and the sacrifices that are to be performed with this. Passover and the feast of first fruits run consecutively. The fourth feast, the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost follows. This feast is 50 days from Passover on the seventh Sabbath. The types of offerings are mentioned and you should do no ordinary work on that day. There is also mention of what to do when you reap the harvest of your land.  You are to leave the corners of your field for the poor and the foreigner to glean from. The fifth feast is the Feast of Trumpets and requirements that go with are followed by the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. The date is given for when it is to be observed as well as the work requirement and what type of food offering to God. Yom Kippur observance has a different requirement than the other feasts, which have a more joyful aspect to them.  In the NIV,  the requirement states that you shall deny yourself.  In the New American Standard, and in the ESV,  the word is to afflict yourself.  I will  talk more about that later. The last feast is the Feast of Booths –  the times and  requirements are given —  no work on that day.

In Chapter 24, we move to the oil for the lampstand and the bread that people were to bring for the tabernacle.   We are being reminded of the daily practice of the oil for the lamp and the bread to be made for the Sabbath. These were offerings that the nation were to bring to the holy place and give to the high priest. The oil was to come from olives and was to supply oil for the solid gold lampstands that the high priest would oversee that they burned throughout the night and the day. The Israelis would  bring fine flour and bake 12 bread loaves from it.  The measurement was to be exact and it would be in the holy place for the entire week,  as these were gifts to the Lord —  not that the Lord ate it, the priests were allowed to do that, but it was for El Elyon , the God most high. The rest of  Chapter 24 we are told of the punishment for blasphemy;  an Israeli woman’s son who has an Egyptian father blasphemes the name of God —  and put to death.  There is also the reminder of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, which is to say that the penalty for the crime committed should be measured against the crime committed, meaning the punishment should not exceed the crime.

Some applications for us to ponder:

When we examine the requirement of the high priest and the priests, this is no small matter that they were anointed and set apart to do the work of God.  We should be reminded that when two of Aaron’s sons performed an unauthorized sacrifice, it cost them their lives. Yet, another reminder for us in leadership that where much is given –  much is expected,  We must use the wisdom that God gives us for His glory and not our own. The high priest wore a crown that had the words inscribed on it that said  “holiness unto the Lord”  as a reminder to remember who God is and who the Priests serve. The requirement as stated earlier was not just internal but external — the priest could not demand purification of defilement if he was defiled himself.  No priest was perfect.  The priest had to make atonement for his sins as well. There would be only one priest, the highest priest our Lord Yeshua, the Messiah who was perfect and is perfect always.

When we look at the feasts as a whole we can also see that they were a time to come together for all the tribes.  As it is now, on these holidays, we gather together as a community and celebrate the glory of God,

For the Day of Atonement,  God’s word told us that we are to deny ourselves or to afflict ourselves during this festival.  It is a somber remembrance that a perishing had to occur to atone for our sins brothers and sisters  — it was a time to humble  our souls.   A sacrifice was made on our behalf in this feast. It is a foreshadowing of what is to come when a perfect human would make sacrifice on our behalf, to take our place and die for our sins that we may have eternal life. On the day of atonement,  the sacrifice of  that day merely covered the sin.  The sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua removed our sin for those who believe in him and our sin is remembered no more.

Chapter 24 gave us the requirements for the lampstand and the showbread. These were a daily requirement —  the lamp was to shine day and night and the bread was always there.  Brothers and sisters, I hope you see that that lamp that brought light and the bread that was always there is still here today and his name is Yeshua he is the light and the bread of life and Yeshua is in our lives every day.