Thursday, May 4, 2017

Why Not MIxing Seeds, Breeds, and Fabrics Might Mean Something Important to Us Today


Herma and Herman Neutics

Always try to determine the intent or function of  a biblical law or prohibition before laughing it off as strange and irrelevant and wondering why such a thing is in the Bible. Probably the prohibitions in the Holiness Code in Leviticus (chs.17-26) give the best examples. And they are very peculiar to our ears: Don't mix breeds, seeds. or fabrics (Lev.19:19). What can these things mean to a people who do all three and don't see anything wrong with them? What not just laugh as these primitive ideas and move on to something else that seems more relevant?

In these kinds of cases, better ask about the intent or function of the text than laugh it off. Dig a bit and you might discover some surprisingly relevant material! In the case of our trio noted above:

“These and other prohibitions were designed to forbid the Israelites to engage in the fertility cult practices of the Canaanites. The Canaanite believed in sympathetic magic, the idea that symbolic actions can influence the gods and nature . . . mixing animal breeds, seeds, or materials was thought to ‘marry’ them so as to magically produce offspring, that is, agricultural bounty in the future.” (Fee and Stuart)

If this is so, then as Christians today reading these passages, we might ask ourselves how their intent impacts us. What kind of "magic" do we rely on to secure or survival and prosperity on our own and not by total reliance on God? Might the so-called "invisible hand of the market" be such a magical construct that justifies dividing up the goodies unequally in favor of those who have power, wealth, and position? How about the much-vaunted description of humans as those endowed with free and untrammeled "choice" apart from any ties of relationships, culture, and faith? Might operating by that mantra be a form of magic in our time?

Might be worth a thought, huh?

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