17 Jul 2017

The Mosaic Law Put the Law Above Men

Religious 1 Comment

Leviticus 9 opens this way (bold is mine):

1On the eighth day Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel, 2and he said to Aaron, “Take for yourself a bull calf for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering, both without blemish, and offer them before the LORD. 3And say to the people of Israel, ‘Take a male goat for a sin offering, and a calf and a lamb, both a year old without blemish, for a burnt offering, 4and an ox and a ram for peace offerings, to sacrifice before the LORD, and a grain offering mixed with oil, for today the LORD will appear to you.’” 5And they brought what Moses commanded in front of the tent of meeting, and all the congregation drew near and stood before the LORD. 6And Moses said, “This is the thing that the LORD commanded you to do, that the glory of the LORD may appear to you.” 7Then Moses said to Aaron, “Draw near to the altar and offer your sin offering and your burnt offering and make atonement for yourself and for the people, and bring the offering of the people and make atonement for them, as the LORD has commanded.”

8So Aaron drew near to the altar and killed the calf of the sin offering, which was for himself.

In his commentary on the Bible, David Guzik writes (and he first quotes verse 8):

a. Aaron therefore went to the altar and killed the calf of the sin offering, which was for himself: This was a display of honesty and humility before the people. Aaron, before offering a sacrifice of atonement for the people, publicly offered one for himself, identifying himself with the people. This sacrifice told the nation, “I am a sinner who needs atonement also.”

Believe me, I understand why modern secular writers argue that theocracies were ways of enhancing men’s power, by convincing the people that God (or the gods) had installed the ruler. But the implementation of the Mosaic Law certainly didn’t elevate the rulers to be “above the law.” They had to acknowledge their own sin, just as the rest of the people.

As I remarked to my study partner: Imagine if the framers of the Constitution not only put in checks and balances, but also required that the winner of a U.S. presidential election had to spend the lame duck session in federal prison, serving time for his crimes before his inauguration. That would definitely change the tone of the incoming administration.

One Response to “The Mosaic Law Put the Law Above Men”

  1. Harold says:

    I was not familiar with the term “lame duck session”. As Wikipedia says, parliamentary systems do not have these. Wiki says “Lame duck sessions since 1935 have typically lasted about a month.”

    So you are suggesting a month in prison as a symbolic atonement for past sins before taking up the presidency. Aaron had to kill a goat, which sems an easier task in practice, if not symbolically.

    I certainly think this would be a good idea. It might make politicians pay more attention to prison conditions. It would depend on there being no special provisions for the prisoner – they should be treated like any other inmate.

    But apart from altering political perspectives on prison conditions, it would be a great symbolic gesture. And as we all know, symbols are important.

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