Now that we have our port-a-temple, what do we do with it? Well, first we have to make sure that Aaron and his sons are ordained, and we do this by:

  1. Gather together one young bull and two rams without blemish, as well as some unleavened bread, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil, all made of fine wheat flour. Make sure that you put the bread, cakes, and wafers in a basket.
  2. Stand Aaron and his sons at the door of the tent and make them take a bath. (This may or may not be part of the ordination process, or with the fact that Old Spice hasn’t been invented yet.) After they’ve had their baths, tell them to put their clothes on.
  3. Poor anointing oil on Aaron’s head (it’s traditional to anoint kings in this way, so anointing the high priest kinda makes him like a spiritual king – separating out the domains of political power).
  4. Next, bring the bull to the tent and have all the priests lay their hands on the head of the bull. Though not explained in the text, I would assume that this is meant to form a sort of bond between the priests (and, therefore, the Hebrew people) and the bull. That way, when the bull is slain, it’s sort of like performing a human sacrifice, symbolically.
  5. Kill the bull in front of the tent door. Take some of the blood and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger. Pour the rest of the blood at the base of the altar.
  6. Take the fat that covers the entrails, the liver, and the kidneys, and burn them on the altar. Take whatever is left of the bull (including its dung), and burn it outside the camp.
  7. Take the first ram and, once again, Aaron and his sons should lay their hands on its head. Then kill the ram and splash its blood all around the altar.
  8. Cut the ram into pieces and wash its entrails and legs, and then burn the whole ram on the altar. This is a burnt offering, and it gives  off a “pleasing odor” (Exod. 29:18) to God.
  9. Take the remaining ram and have Aaron and his sons once again lay their hands on its head, then kill it. Take part of the blood and have each priest put some of it on the tips of their right ears, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet (symbolically consecrating the whole body without having to get too messy). Take the remaining blood and splash it all around the altar.
  10. Take some of the blood that’s on the altar and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on the priests and their clothes. This will make their garments holy (though not holey, which is an undesirable thing for garments, generally).
  11. Collect the fat from the ram, one loaf of bread, one cake of bread with oil, and one wafer. The priests should wave these around and then set them on fire on the altar because God loves the smell of bread.
  12. Take the ram’s breast and thigh and wave them around. After they have been thoroughly waved, the priests get to keep them.

Exodus 29This should be repeated every day for seven days.

Okay, so now we’ve started the priestly tradition and we had lots of fun waving our breasts and thighs in the air. Now we need to know what to do if one of the priests has to be replaced. Well, when ordaining a new priest:

  1. First, have him wear his priestly robes for seven days, at which point he is considered “ripe.”
  2. At the door of the tent, take the ram of ordination and boil its flesh, which the all the current priests should eat. They can also eat anything from the bread basket because that’s free.
  3. Whatever you do, make sure that you don’t let any outsiders eat your ram flesh or nibble from your bread basket. And if the priests can’t finish everything, you should just burn the remains up. Never, ever, let them have a doggy bag.

Okay, so now we have our priests, so what’s next for Aaron? Well, he’s got to sacrifice two lambs (each one year old) every day – one every morning and one every night. There’s more stuff to do with flour and wine, but I advise anyone thinking of joining the Temple priesthood to just read the passage for themselves. It’s usually better to go straight to the source material, you know?

Creative Accounting

So to recap, the Hebrew people have been wandering around in the desert for a little while now, and they’ve had nothing other than manna to eat since Exodus 16. Despite this, they happen to have a bull and two rams lying around, and enough lambs to be able to spare 2 one year old lambs every single day.

It’s kinda like back in Exodus 9 when he killed all the cattle twice. You’d think shepherds would be able to notice whether there are any animals about. This whole book stinks of really bad accounting, which is surprising because [insert vaguely racist joke here].

For the scent is pleasing

The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible seems to take offence at the blood and guts being splashed around and, in particular, keeps highlighting the passages about the smell of burning flesh being pleasing to God. As if this is evidence of brutality or bloodthirstiness.

But having attended my fair share of barbecues in my all-too-short time on this earth, and I have to say that, yes, sometimes blood does get splashed about (especially if a certain someone – me – forgot to properly wrap the meat before setting it out on the counter), and the smell truly is pleasing. So yeah, I’m on God’s side on this one.