Tuesday

“You shall not strip your vineyards bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien.” (v. 10)

Leviticus 19:1-10 Tuesday 3 May 2016

Psalm: Psalm 84
 

Background

Chapter 19 of Leviticus seeks to answer the question raised byverse 2, "You shall be holy". It is part of the Holiness Code (Leviticus chapters 17-26) which invites thewhole people of God - not just the priests addressed in Leviticuschapters 1-16 - to live out the call to holiness. The code makesclear the link between ethics and ritual, establishing that bothare necessary for holiness.

The first section of this chapter alludes to several of the TenCommandments (verses 2-4). After this, there are instructions forthe sacrifice of well-being (verses 5-8). The third part focuses onharvest and specifically on the care of the vulnerable (verses9-10).  In other places, the law is meticulous in its detailedinstruction. But in the teaching about the harvest it appears toencourage a certain carelessness. This is a gentle approach toharvesting, which makes room for the birds and animals, for theRuths and Naomis (Ruth 2), whose story is echoed in Psalm126.

Each set of teachings is concluded with the barest statement: Iam YHWH your God. The name of God is considered reason enough forthe people to keep the law. The law is to be trusted and honouredbecause it is given in the presence of God. It is the means bywhich God calls people into relationships of care, justice andforgiveness.

The divine name YHWH is usually not pronounced within the Jewishtradition. Instead, when reading out loud, the divine name is oftenreplaced by "Adonai", meaning Lord. For this reason, Englishtranslations use the word Lord (sometimes written in smallcapitals) in place of the divine name. But the God of whom theHebrew Bible speaks is not reducible to Lord. Rather this God isthe one who is and is becoming, the one who brings all things intolife, the one who will be.


To Ponder

  • How do you seek to be holy?
  • Where is there mess in your own life? How might God be workingthrough that mess?
  • How might you live generously in the world, so as to leave roomfor others?



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